Dejima Award #9: Again to Japan Rugby Football Union, for classifying naturalized Japanese players as “foreign”, in violation of Japan Nationality Law.


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Hi Blog.  Consider this litmus test of “Japaneseness”:  Are you “Japanese enough” to play for the national team?  Not if you naturalized.  Read on, then I’ll comment:


Japan Rugby Football Union
JRFU rules certain Japan passport holders will be regarded as non-Japanese
Sep. 26 2020 By Rich Freeman. Courtesy of lots of people.’t-be-treated-as-locals

TOKYO (Kyodo) Three naturalized Japanese citizens found themselves on the wrong side of a decision that essentially restricts their ability to work as professional rugby players in their adopted homeland.

The Japan Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed that the three, including two who are eligible to play for Japan in the Olympics, will continue to be denied Japanese status within the Top League simply because they are not eligible to play for Japan’s national rugby 15s side, the Brave Blossoms.

The purpose of the rule passed in 2016 to restrict Japanese status to those eligible to play for the Brave Blossoms was, according to Top League Chairman Osamu Ota, to bolster the strength of the national team. The argument that it discriminates against Japanese citizens was not enough to sway the JRFU.

The ruling leaves former All Black Isaac Ross, ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke and former Australia sevens player Brackin Karauria-Henry to be treated in the Top-League as ‘non-Japanese.’

Both Karauria-Henry and Bourke are being considered for Japan’s Olympics sevens team because the Olympic Charter defines a different set of eligibility conditions for naturalized citizens.

Ota said that the ruling could not be changed immediately as “it was not possible for teams to change their budgets and contracts ahead of the new (Top League) season,” which is set to start in January 2021.

The only thing the union did agree to change, for now, was the names of the player categories to remove any discriminatory terms such as Japanese, foreigner and Asian, and replace them with Category A, B, C etc.

“This does not affect the eligibility of the players and is nothing more than a cosmetic change,” said a source who had knowledge of the meetings between the players and the union.

Ota said the rule would be reviewed before Japan’s new league kicks off by early 2022, but that did not appease Ross. The 35-year-old became a citizen in 2017, having started the process in 2015 before the rule took effect.

The eight-time All Black was recently released by NTT Communications Shining Arcs after nine seasons, in part because his continued status as a non-Japanese means he only got limited playing time.

He is particularly upset that clubs are making use of the “eligible to play for Japan” status, even though many of those to whom it applies have no intention of playing for the national team.

World Rugby regulations state that a previously uncapped player must reside in a country for at least three years before they can play for it. But the JRFU deems anyone who has not played for another test team eligible for Japan.

“We had a player at NTT who was in Japan for just two years. He kept a Japanese player out of the starting team even though he himself was never going to play for Japan,” said Ross. “And yet someone who has shown their commitment to Japan like me has shown loyalty and benefited the Japanese game is being punished.”

Hideki Niizuma, a lawmaker in the House of Councilors, said the ruling was wrong.

“It is unreasonable that a player with Japanese nationality due to naturalization must be registered as a foreign player just because he has a history of representing a foreign country,” he told Kyodo News by email.

The 50-year-old Komeito party member, who played rugby at the University of Tokyo, said he would be seeking the opinion of “specialized agencies and experts such as the Japan Sports Law Association and the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency.”

While Bourke and Karauria-Henry look set to carry on in a league run by a union that, as Bourke puts it, “sees me as a foreigner but at the same time Japanese enough” to play for the hosts at the next Olympics, Ross is forced to continue his career overseas.

“The JRFU’s motto of ‘One Team’ and the Top League’s ‘For All’ aren’t consistent with their actions,” he said.


COMMENT:  All this hair-splitting aside, the line to draw is simple:

Do you have legal Japanese citizenship or don’t you?

If yes, then you are a Japanese, and you are to be treated as one like everyone else, regardless of whatever career path you take (or how many “real Japanese” get shut out of NTT).

That’s what the Japanese Nationality Law says.  And any further caveats or qualifiers render the status (and the entire point) of naturalization in Japan meaningless.

Moreover, it is extremely disrespectful towards the naturalized, who are compelled by the Nationality Law to give up any other citizenships.  What is the point of that sacrifice if naturalization performatively does not award equality?

Sadly, this decision is not surprising for the Japan Rugby Football Union, given their long history of outright racism.  In 2011, they blamed a poor showing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup on “too many foreign-born players on the team”and then ethnically-cleansed their ranks.  Japan JFRU former president Mori Yoshiro, an unreconstituted racist (and extremely unpopular former Prime Minister) who considered the Reid Olympic figure-skating siblings to be “naturalized” (despite having Japanese citizenship since birth) and therefore unworthy to represent Japan, just happens to also head up Japan’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic efforts.  I have little doubt he had a hand in this.  Gotta protect the Kokutai of the “Kami no Kuni” (not to mention “bolster the strength of the national team”) from foreign impurities, after all.  (As seen above, JRFU already had the Apartheid system of classifying athletes as “Japanese, foreigner and Asian”, performatively preserved as “Category A, B, C etc.” Phew, that’s much better!)

So once again, we are in a position to award a rare “ Dejima Award“, reserved only for the most head-spinningly obvious examples of racism in Japan, to the JRFU.  This is only our ninth awarded, but it’s the second time the JRFU has received it.  And four of the nine Dejimas have been for official racism within Japanese sports.

Might it not be time for Japanese-Haitian-American tennis champ Osaka Naomi (already quite vocal over BLM) to consider speaking up against discrimination against her fellow Visible Minorities in Japan’s athletics?  Would be nice.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Dejima Award #8: NJ resident returnees from abroad officially treated like contagion, barred from reentry unlike Japanese returnees. And unlike any other G7 country.


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Hi Blog.  There’s a joke going around to describe this weird era we’re living through.  Where somebody is fretting in bed about how things are, and his partner says, “Go to sleep, dear.  It’ll be all worse tomorrow.”

Another development that qualifies for that would be the Japanese government’s decision to treat all foreigners as more contagious than Japanese, and bar all foreigners only from re-entry from overseas.  Excerpt from The Japan Times (May 19, 2020):


JT:  Foreign residents stranded abroad by Japan’s coronavirus controls
Japan is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents

“…The coronavirus pandemic has prompted authorities worldwide to introduce entry restrictions on border traffic. But regulations in Japan have sparked a particularly strong reaction from its international community, as it is the only Group of Seven member denying entry to long-term and permanent residents and has set no clear criteria for their return.

The approach has left many foreign nationals in limbo — those who had headed overseas in earlier stages of the pandemic are now stuck abroad and face uncertainty about their careers and lives in Japan, whereas those who remain here fear that leaving the country would jeopardize their future as well.

Amid the restrictions, a decision about whether to cross the border due to a medical emergency in one’s immediate family can be agonizing. For Kvien, joining his grieving loved ones and paying tribute in person was an obvious choice. When he left, the travel ban was not yet imposed.

“Let’s say it had happened one week later, I would have (faced) a huge dilemma knowing that if I went (to Denmark), I couldn’t return,” said Kvien, who has a valid working visa in Japan but remains stuck in Copenhagen, on Thursday.

As the virus continued to spread, causing more than 4 million confirmed infections, some countries such as India have even banned their own citizens from returning home in hopes of limiting transmission. But most developed countries, while urging locals to refrain from nonessential travel, have exempted legal residents alongside citizens from their travel bans, albeit under mandatory quarantine.

In contrast, under Japan’s regulations imposed April 3, all foreign nationals, including those with permanent residence status and their non-Japanese spouses, and those who are married to Japanese nationals, will be subject to the measure if they try to return to Japan from any regions affected by the pandemic…”

Read the full article at


The GOJ could have said (as India did, according to the above article) that re-entry was forbidden by anyone regardless of nationality.  Or else they could have put all re-entrants regardless of nationality in 14-day quarantine, as they did for the first several weeks of quarantine.  But no.  Instead, the Ministry of Justice decided that only foreign residents don’t have lives, families, occupations, etc. in Japan that matter and just shut them out.  As if foreigners are somehow more contagious or less worthy of concern than members of The Tribe.  Naturally, if foreign residents have some urgent matter that happens to be overseas, say, oh, the illness/death of a family member from the very pandemic that closed the borders in the first place, tough shit.  (You see, family tragedies only matter if someone in The Tribe dies.)

For that reason, awards a coveted “Dejima Award” (only its eighth so far) to the Ministry of Justice (particularly Justice Minister Mori Masako).  Dejima Awards are reserved for only the most eye-blinkingly obvious and inexcusable examples of racism perpetrated by Japan’s racists and authorities.  Thanks for deciding once again that foreigners’ lives simply don’t matter to you.  Only foreign residents have to make the choice between exiting Japan and losing their livelihoods here or staying in Japan missing a life event there.  How callous and inhumane.  And oh so very typical of the cold-blooded Japanese bureaucracy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


PS: Reader Sven Kramer has notified me that he has created a bilingual petition against this stupidity that you can sign.  In his words:内閣総理大臣-安倍晋三-日本に生活基盤を置いている中長期滞在の外国人一律入国拒否を見直してください?recruiter=1094515521

Change the policy of generically denying entry to all foreign residents of Japan, including permanent residents, family members of Japanese citizens, and other mid- or long-term foreign residents who have their livelihood in Japan

An open petition to Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and Minister of Justice Mori Masako

Initiated by Sven Kramer, long-term foreign resident of Japan and spouse and father of Japanese citizens

As a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, many countries have implemented restrictions on international travel. This includes a generic entry denial of foreign nationals and requiring virus testing and a subsequent two weeks long quarantine from the country’s own citizens upon entering. In most counties, especially developed ones, at least permanent residents and eminent foreign relatives of citizens (spouses and children) are exempt from those entry bans, but not so in Japan.

Since April 3rd, 2020 Japan is implementing a very strict limitation on who can enter the country, after spending even a few hours in the by now more than 100 countries and areas which are designated by the Ministry of Justice of Japan. Only people with Japanese citizenship and special permanent residents (mostly ethnic Koreans and Chinese who lost Japanese citizenship in 1945 and their descendants) are admitted under the condition to test for COVID-19 and go into a two weeks long self-quarantine if tested negatively. Every other foreign national, including even permanent residents who have lived nowhere else but in Japan for decades and long-term foreign relatives holding spouse visas, is subject to the current generic entry ban. Foreign residents with their livelihood in Japan basically get the same treatment as short-term tourists and business travelers at the border now.

This unnecessarily strict policy leads to some dire dilemmas. For example, you live in Japan permanently or long-term as a foreigner while having still close relatives like parents in your home country. If one of your parents dies, you should be able to attend his or her funeral without losing your livelihood, but since Japan denies entry to all foreigners without reasonably defined exceptions, you lose your livelihood if you attend the funeral. If you want to protect your livelihood for sure, you have to make the hard choice of staying away from the funeral of some of your closest relatives. Cases in which long-term and permanent residents of Japan had been denied reentry after attending the funeral of a parent were reported recently by the “Japan Times” and “Tōyō Keizai Online” (links below)

There is one more major problem, and that is the separation of families because of applying the entry denial to foreign spouses and parents of Japanese citizens. If a foreign spouse or mother/father of Japanese citizens has to travel internationally for a very good or unavoidable reason (e.g. the above-mentioned funeral), he/she cannot return to his/her family in Japan because of the ban. If he/she was accompanied by his/her Japanese family members (because other developed countries do not only admit their own citizens, but also their foreign relatives at least when well defined exceptional cases apply), the current border policy of Japan can lead to family separation at the Japanese port of entry. This unnecessary and cold-hearted acceptance of forced family separation by the Japanese government is a major human rights violation and has to be stopped immediately. Japan is reportedly the only G7 member who does this.

To be fair, the official documents published by the Ministry of Justice state that in rare special circumstances or for humanitarian reasons foreigners might be admitted into Japan. However, those “circumstances” or “reasons” are nowhere well, reasonably, and comprehensively defined, leaving that caveat so vague that it becomes meaningless. Even attendance of one own parent’s funeral is not generally seen or being defined as a reasonable exception.

For the main reasons stated above, I think that the inclusion of permanent and long-term foreign residents, including even family members of Japanese citizens, into the current entry ban at the Japanese ports of entry, is just unnecessarily cruel and cannot be reasonably justified with the intention of preventing the international spread of COVID-19. It also has the potential to seriously damage Japan’s reputation in the world as a major developed country. I and the supporters of this open petition therefore strongly request to the government of Japan, and especially to Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and Minister of Justice Mori Masako, to immediately lift the generic entry ban on permanent, long-term foreign residents and non-Japanese family members of Japanese families, who have their livelihood in Japan and have to travel internationally for very good or unavoidable, well-defined reasons, and applying the exact same conditions to them, that are applied to Japanese citizens and special permanent residents.内閣総理大臣-安倍晋三-日本に生活基盤を置いている中長期滞在の外国人一律入国拒否を見直してください?recruiter=1094515521

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Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.


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Hi Blog.  Alert Reader XY sends me the following cover, for the Nagoya City Next Term General Plan (Intermediate Draft), dated August 2018.

Striking is what’s found on page 62, under official city definitions of terms:

It offers a definition of “Foreign City Citizens/City Denizens” (gaikokujin shimin), which is itself a reasonable category, since we want to attribute citizenry/residency within a city regardless of nationality (which the juuminhyou Residency Certificate system tried to separate and exclude for six decades).

But look who falls under the definition of “foreign” (my translation):

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya City, this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

That pretty much makes it clear that you can’t ever be Japanese without “pure” Japanese blood and culture.  In Nagoya, officially that also means you can’t escape being foreign.  Ever.  Even if you naturalize, or have a Japanese parent (who alas coupled with a foreigner), have any cultural ties to a foreign country, or have any roots in a foreign land.

Any taint or connection means you’re “foreign”.  Not “international” (such as Kokusai Shimin).  Foreign.

This not only defies common sense, it also, like the racist Japanese Sumo Association, violates the Nationality Law.

Granted, the next definition distinguishes between a foreign resident (gaikokujin juumin) and a foreign, er, citizen/city denizen (gaikokujin shimin), where the former is solely made into a matter of foreign nationality.

But in a society like Japan’s that adheres pretty strictly to a binary, where you’re either Japanese or you’re not, i.e., you’re a Nihonjin/Wajin or a Gaikokujin/Gaijin, I doubt that most people will be this sophisticated in their worldview.  You’ve got any foreign ties?  Case closed and door shut.  You’re a foreigner, a gaikokujin.  At best a Japanese with an asterisk.  Even Nagoya City (Japan’s third largest city behind Tokyo/Yokohama and Osaka) officially confirms it.

Therefore, for this blatant and ignorant attempt to further classify, stigmatize, and alienate diverse Japanese away from a mythical “pure” Japan free from any foreign influences, I hereby award the coveted “Dejima Award” to Nagoya City (only the seventh in’s quarter-century of existence), for effectively reviving 19th-century discredited Eugenics theories about thoroughbredness.  That any Japanese tainted by foreign blood, culture, roots or ties is to be classified as a foreigner.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE:  Kawaguchi City’s Mayor answers to say that their intent behind using this term is not to “force” people into “foreigner” categories.

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Hi Blog. As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there.

Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015:


[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

The generous offer — which is temporarily on hold while officials rethink the conditions — includes monthly grants for the first three years of residence, ranging from ¥85,000 a month for a single person to ¥100,000 for married couples. Also on offer are three-bedroom houses for rent at low prices, and subsidies for child delivery.

Sweet. Locals have been trying to lure people here since 1990. That is, until the wrong kind of people began inquiring:


[…] Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday, adding that the village office has also received more than a dozen phone calls from foreigners.

The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants. Most who applied gave up on their plans to relocate after they were discouraged by the reality of the situation, or had only been looking for an easy escape from the pressure of daily life.

“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.

“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,” he said, adding that most people seemed discouraged after learning about the hurdles they might face.

“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,” the official said, describing the more appealing aspects of starting a new life there…

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign.

How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before.

So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty. We’ve only granted five of these before in the twenty years has been in existence, so Mishima is in exceptional company. May the mindsets you display die out before all the people do in your isolated little speck of the world. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Entire source article visible at

ENDS Dejima Award to Japan Rugby Football Union, blaming J losses on “too many foreign players”, including naturalized former NJ


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Hi Blog.  Allow me to present a very rare and coveted award (this is only the fifth one in’s history) that only gives out to egregious racists and offenders of the sensibilities.  To people who are basically beyond any sort of appeal to logic or reason regarding treating other humans as equal and dignified human beings:  A Dejima Award.  And once again (this is the third time) it goes to that ever-encouraged admixture of bastion nationalism and Team-Japan-ism:  A Japanese sports league.  One that blames Japan’s apparently poor showing in rugby on the foreigners (apparently even those “foreigners” who are naturalized Japanese citizens). Read the article, then I’ll comment further:


Kirwan under fire for using too many foreign-born players
JAPAN TODAY, SPORTS OCT. 30, 2011, Courtesy of Yokohama John

TOKYO — All Blacks legend John Kirwan, due to quit as Japan coach after the Brave Blossoms’ disappointment at the rugby World Cup, came under fire Saturday for his use of foreign-born players.

The criticism came at a board meeting of the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) which reviewed the World Cup in New Zealand, the union’s chairman Tatsuzo Yabe said.

Japan finished bottom of Pool A with three defeats—by eventual World Cup winners New Zealand, runners-up France and Tonga—and a draw with Canada.

“We talked about how our scrum went or how our breakdown went. We also talked about our mental side,” Yabe said. “Some argued that we had too many foreigners.”

Kirwan picked a record 10 foreign-born players, half of whom have obtained Japanese nationality, for his World Cup squad. The previous highest was seven, also selected by Kirwan for the 2007 World Cup in France.

He used seven of them in the starting line-up against Canada in an effort to break Japan’s World Cup winless streak, which dates back to their 52-8 victory over Zimbabwe 20 years ago. In 2007, Japan also drew with Canada.

Kirwan has insisted Japan must use foreigners to improve their results before 2019 when they host the World Cup.

“Rugby is a world sport, we accept everyone. It’s not political,” he said before the New Zealand tournament.

Earlier this month, the 46-year-old said he would not seek a new contract with Japan when his current five-year deal expires in December.

Former Australia coach Eddie Jones, who led the Wallabies to the 2003 World Cup final, which they lost to England, has been mentioned by some JRFU executives as a candidate to replace Kirwan, according to media reports.

Jones now coaches Japan Top-14 side Suntory Sungoliath.

Yabe said no specific name was named at the board meeting as Kirwan’s successor but they had set up a committee to choose the new coach and staff, hopefully by the end of this year.

“We noted the good things JK (Kirwan) has done. But the results are what matter,” he said. “JK said he would keep watching Japanese rugby beyond December. We will appreciate that.”


COMMENT: One comment from the Japan Today site that resonated with me in its succinct truthiness: “They needed a reason that they didn’t reach their highly unlikely expectations for the World Cup. Stating that their sights were set too high wouldn’t work, and neither would saying they just weren’t good enough. But blaming it about people who are not “pure” Japanese in the team… there’s an excuse all the people high up in the hierarchies can agree with.”

Just so. But in any case, savor just how stoneheaded this is. Like a fine wine, the flavor of this incident of clear and public racist scapegoating keeps unfolding on the tongue and in the mind, leading to a lingering despair for the future social dynamic of Japanese society.  No doubt for many people this will become SITYS cannon fodder for justifying a negative disposition towards Japan, and an understanding why it’s in decline. Not for me. I just give the Japan Rugby Football Union a golden razzie in the form of The Dejima Award. And create a permanent record for others to set their mental compasses by. Arudou Debito

Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”


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Hi Blog.  In one more step to define Japan’s slide into international irrelevance, the national sport (kokugi) has decided to turn not only exclusionary, but also undeniably racist.  The Japan Sumo Association announced this week that it will no longer count naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers as “real Japanese”.  Then it will limit each stable to one “foreign” wrestler, meaning “foreignness” is a matter of birth, not a legal status.  This is a move, we are told by the media, to stop sumo from being “overrun with foreign wrestlers”.

That means that if I wanted to become a sumo wrestler, I would become a foreigner again.  Even though I’ve spent nearly a quarter of my life (as in close to ten years) as a Japanese citizen in Japan.

Well, fuck you very much, Sumo Kyoukai.  You are the shame of Japan.  And I present you with your special Dejima Award (complete with a big loogie on top) reserved only for the most breathtakingly exclusionary moves seen in a society that even the UN says allows “deep and profound” racism.

You’d think with Takanohana’s coup-ascension to the upper echelons of the JSA, that things would be liberalizing.  Nope.  They’re going the other way.  I thought as much.

How about having some international sports leagues limit their Japanese players to one — say, Japanese in Major League Baseball teams? Including those Japanese who have naturalized?  Oh wait, do I hear calls of racism from the Japanese Peanut Galleries?  Yes, the shoe on the other foot would pinch, wouldn’t it?  And the sport as a whole would suffer since innate talent (as we have seen by the number of talented sumo rikishi from overseas) is hardly a nativist issue.  But try telling that to the racist JSA.

Arudou Debito in transit, wondering what kind of a Japan he’s returning home to.


JSA to change rule on foreign sumo wrestlers
Japan Today Wednesday 24th February 2010, Courtesy lots of people

TOKYO — The Japan Sumo Association decided on Tuesday it will allow only one foreign-born wrestler per stable, meaning the one slot reserved for foreigners, which until now would become vacant when wrestlers took Japanese citizenship, cannot be filled.

For example, if a Mongolian-born wrestler belonging to a stable were to gain Japanese citizenship, other foreign wrestlers would be prohibited from joining the same stable.

JSA Chairman Musashigawa notified stablemasters of the decision made at an extraordinary meeting at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan the same day.

The existing restriction on foreigners will be in effect until newcomers for next month’s spring tournament undergo physicals, after which the new rule will be imposed.

‘‘You get the impression it is a severe measure but if the brakes are not applied somewhere, there will be more and more stables overrun with foreign wrestlers, so it can’t be helped,’’ said one stablemaster.

In recent years, the number of foreign wrestlers has been on the rise, as the existing loophole leaves a vacancy once someone from a respective stable gains Japanese citizenship.

Four Mongolian-born wrestlers and two Chinese-born wrestlers have taken Japanese citizenship since April last year.

The JSA decided in February 2002 to ‘‘limit the number of foreign wrestlers who can be recruited to one per stable.’‘

The latest shakeup in the JSA comes after Mongolian-born former grand champion Asashoryu quit the sport just weeks earlier following allegations he attacked a man outside a Tokyo night club in a drunken rage.

Sumo has been rocked to the core in recent years by a spate of scandals, including charges of drug violations, a death threat and a six-year prison term meted out to a stablemaster over physical abuse leading to the death of a 17-year-old wrestler.

There are nearly 60 foreign wrestlers in sumo today.


Kyodo & JT: Osaka JH school reluctantly takes preteen NJ kid despite teacher opposition!


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Hi Blog.  This article has made a few waves.  Read and then I’ll comment:


Foreign schoolgirl’s admittance delayed due to teachers’ opposition

Kyodo News/Japan Today Tuesday 28th July, 02:35 PM JST.

Courtesy lots of people.  A more concise version in the Japan Times July 30

A 12-year-old girl from a Southeast Asian nation ran into problems earlier this year in trying to attend a public junior high school in Osaka due to opposition from some teachers who resisted her enrollment, the Osaka municipal board of education said Tuesday. She was ultimately enrolled in the school’s first-year level on July 1, a month after she applied for admission.

The girl, accompanied by her parents, visited the school in the city of Osaka on June 1 to say she wanted to be enrolled, but the school, whose name has been withheld, advised the girl to attend the sixth grade in elementary school, citing her inability to speak Japanese, board officials said.

On June 17, the parents again tried to enroll her in the junior high school, but several teachers expressed opposition at a faculty meeting, saying she should go to a different school and that their school could not make adequate preparations to accept her, the officials said.

The junior high school, acting on an instruction from the municipal board of education, finally gave an application form to the parents on June 24.

The girl was admitted to the school on July 1, but she could not attend any classes for the first 10 days, they said.

The municipal board of education said it is impermissible to reject a foreign student at a public school, noting that the school in question should have the girl receive lessons at a Japanese language school or depend on an interpreter.



COMMENT:  How nice.  A NJ kid tries to get an education and these teachers try to fob her off on another school (as if that changes the circumstances), claiming… well, let’s come up with something.  Oh, I know.  A language barrier!  We all know how difficult Japanese is for foreigners, and it requires that we be somehow certified in Japanese language training from the MOE to teach them!  (Even though kids, as we all know and gnash our teeth about, soak up languages like a sponge; she’ll adapt, wouldn’t you think?)

It’s times like these I wish we had a Hippocratic Oath for teachers too (not that it always binds Japanese doctors dealing with NJ patients).  For don’t these teachers feel any obligation to teach children regardless of background?   No, I guess not.  Compulsory education is only compulsory for citizens.  Not foreigners.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard about schools refusing NJ children, either.  Check out this report I released April 13, 2000 (almost ten years ago; I’ve been doing these things that long now), and witness the excuses made for local Hokkaido schools refusing children of missionaries (who were even born in Japan and speak Japanese):

Olaf Karthaus and Dave Aldwinckle confirm claims that policies excluding non-Japanese have gone beyond both Otaru as a place and the onsens as an industry. A fact-finding mission last weekend to Wakkanai found that not only does a bathhouse there deny entry to foreigners, but so does a sports shop and a barber. Longtime non-Japanese residents of Wakkanai also assert that the situation has worsened over the past few years, alleging that even Japanese public high schools hesitate or refuse missionary children due to “a lack of facilities” and “too much work for teachers”.


I’d give this Osaka school a coveted Dejima Award (reserved for only the most stupid of the stupid when it comes to exclusionists).  But the article decided not to tell us the school’s name.  Accountability, anyone?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Dejima Award 2: NJ students barred from starting Ekiden footrace (Asahi)


Hi Blog. In what is sure to be a continuing series, I would like to award the Second Dejima Award to the All Japan High School Athletic Federation.

Suggested by Chris Flynn, the Dejima Award is a showcase for those small-minded people in this society who feel the need to keep foreign peoples, ideas, and influences from these pristine shores. In much the same spirit as Feudal Japan kept foreigners secluded on an island off Nagasaki named Dejima centuries ago.

The obvious prescience displayed by the people who organize these footraces for students, when deciding to “keep the race more interesting for disgruntled fans” by shutting foreigners out of the starting lineup, is sure to make foreign students feel more welcome, and help keep Japan’s education system (struggling with our low birthrate, desperately courting foreign students) solvent and equal-opportunity. Not.

More from the Asahi Shinbun on this issue immediately following, with Japanese articles in the Comments section.

More on Japan’s nasty habit of shutting foreigners out of its sports and other competitions (again, sometimes using the same argument that foreigners have an unfair advantage due to physical or mental prowess) archived at

Avoid katou kyousou as best you can if it’s tainted with foreignness, I guess… Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Foreign students can’t start ekiden
Courtesy of Glenn Boothe

Bowing to pressure from disgruntled fans, a high school athletic association will prohibit foreign students from running the first leg of the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships relay marathon starting next year.

The All Japan High School Athletic Federation said the decision, reached Tuesday, is intended to make the races more interesting for fans.

But others say the move reeks of discrimination against foreign students.

In recent years, many students from Kenya have started the first–and longest–section of the ekiden races.

They have often built such wide leads that rival teams have had almost no chance to catch up in the later legs.

Ekiden fans and organizers said the strategies of those teams have made the races dull because the huge early leads all but eliminate the chances for the drama of a close finish.

Teams with foreign students running the first leg have won the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships five times in the past 10 years. Three of those victories were achieved after the first runner broke well ahead of the pack.

Of the five foreign students selected for the 2006 All Japan High School Ekiden Championships, four ran the first section for their teams.

“We looked into the issue in a constructive manner after angry fans complained it is a turnoff to see foreign students scoring an insurmountable lead in the first section,” said Kazunobu Umemura, executive managing director of the federation.

The rule will also apply to prefecture-level qualifying events.

The boys’ 42-kilometer ekiden consists of seven sections, with a 10-km first leg. The girls’ race, totaling 21 km, consists of five sections, starting with a 6-km leg.

Keisuke Sawaki, a director of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, said the high school federation likely had an “agonizing” time coming up with its decision.

“From the standpoints of ‘internationalization’ and school education, it would be ideal not to have any restrictions,” he said. “In reality, however, the differences in physical capabilities between Japanese and foreign students are far beyond imagination.”

Under rules established in 1994 by the All Japan High School Athletic Federation, the number of foreign students attending any competition under its supervision must be about 20 percent or less of all participating students.

In accordance with the rules, the number of foreign students who can enter the ekiden race has been limited to one from each school since 1995.

Koji Watanabe, coach of the track team at Nishiwaki Technical High School in Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture, said new rules are needed to give public high schools with no foreign students a chance to win.

His team won the ekiden race in the boys’ division a record eight times.

But Takao Watanabe, coach of the track team at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School in Sendai, disagreed.

“It remains questionable to distinguish runners by nationality,” said Watanabe, whose team won the ekiden race for three straight years with Kenyan students through 2005. “The decision is not good from an educational point of view because it can be viewed as excluding foreign students.”(IHT/Asahi: May 24,2007)

Dejima Award: Setaka Town approves foreigner-free university


Hi Blog. This Letter to the Editor appeared in today’s Japan Times. Thanks to G for the tip. Comment from me follows:

Town opts for isolation policy
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007

By CHRIS FLYNN in Fukuoka

As the new year begins, we are approaching the “awards” season: the Academy Awards, Grammies and my favorite, the Darwin awards (given to people who improve the human-gene pool as part of the natural-selection process by accidentally killing or sterilizing themselves during a foolish or careless mistake). I would like to propose a new award: the “Dejima Awards,” given to those in Japan who actively try to shield themselves from foreigners and foreign influence, culture and ideas.

I would like to nominate the Setaka Town Assembly (Fukuoka Prefecture) for this year’s award. The town was trying to attract a university to establish a campus in town, and in the process asked for comments from the townsfolk.

A group of residents submitted a deposition opposing a campus that did not reject foreign students. They were worried about the crime such students would bring. That’s right — the residents wanted a university as long as there were no foreign students. The town assembly voted to accept the proposal without debate.

COMMENT: I assume the Japan Times checks its facts before publication, and Chris Flynn is somebody I know and trust from his days at radio station Love FM in Fukuoka. So I doubt the story is bogus.

Anyway, I like his idea of creating this kind of award as a form of raspberry. Too many times these stupidities and rustic paranoia seize the zeitgeist and create idiotic policy. The option of exposure for what this action clearly constitutes–xenophobia–is a viable one.

Thus may I award (if that would be alright with Chris) the first Dejima Award to the Setaka Town Assembly for its foresight in anticipating the criminal element in all foreign students.

Debito in Sapporo