Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Mark in Yayoi pointed out a singular thing to me the other night — that the Tokyo Nerima-ku website lists its population and households in various municipal subsections.  Then puts at the top that “foreigners are not included”.  

Screen capture (click on image to go to website) from:

etc. We already saw in yesterday’s blog entry that NJ workers are not included in official unemployment statistics.  Now NJ taxpayers are also not included as part of the “general population”?

So I did a google search using the words “人口 総数には、外国人登録数を含んでいません” and found that other government websites do the same thing!  It is, in fact, SOP.人口 総数には、外国人登録数を含んでいません。&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

The Nerima-ku page, BTW, does not even mention anywhere on the page I captured above that foreigners even exist in Nerima-ku — you have to go to a separate page, a separate enclave, for the gaijin.

Pedants (meaning the GOJ) will no doubt claim (as is worded at the top) that “we’re only counting registered residents, and NJ aren’t registered residents, therefore we can’t count them“.  But that doesn’t make it a good thing to do, especially when you’re using the context of “人口総数” (total population).  What a nasty thing anyway to do to people who pay your taxes and live there!  It also becomes a tad harder to complain about “Japanese Only” signs on businesses when even the GOJ also excludes foreigners from official statistics.

And it’s also harder to believe the GOJ’s claim to the UN that it has taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.  How about measures like counting (not to mention officially registering) foreigners as taxpayers and members of the population?  

(I bet if any measure actually does get taken in response to this blog entry, the only “conceivable” one to the bureaucrats will be to change the terminology, using the word “juumin” instead of “jinkou sousuu”.  Solve the problem by futzing with the rubric, not changing the law.  Beyond conception.)

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


UPDATE:  And of course, don’t forget this, from too…

Population rises 1st time in 3 years The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug 1, 2008

The nation’s population grew for the first time in three years to 127,066,178 in the year to March 31, up 12,707 from a year earlier, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Thursday.

The figure was based on resident registrations at municipal government offices and does not include foreign residents…

Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. I last reported on this issue in a blog entry last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it.  Sorry to have taken so long to get around to digging deeper.

Long-time readers may find the following entry guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council” [Japanese pdf, English pdf] — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.

Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. More on the rather antigonistic relationship the GOJ has with the UN here. To me, it’s indicative — when you have a government “seeking input from human rights groups”, but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year), you aren’t going to get a report that reflects what’s going on amongst the shomin.

Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”, as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against it, wouldn’t it?  Like South Korea did in 2007.  But no. And look what happens as a result. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Full text here:  [Japanese pdfEnglish pdf]


International Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination

(Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report)

MARCH 2008  Submitted by the Government of Japan

I. Introduction

1. Based on the provisions of Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”), the Government of Japan hereby submits its Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is the updated version of the Initial and Second Periodic Report (CERD/C350/Add. 2) submitted in January 2000. This report also describes the measures that the Government of Japan has taken to eliminate racial discrimination from the time when the Initial and Second Periodic Report was submitted to March 2008.

2. Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination. The Constitution of Japan, the supreme law of Japan, guarantees equality under the law without any form of discrimination, as is evidenced by the provision laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 14 that ‘all of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin’. Based on this principle of the Constitution, Japan has striven to realize a society without any form of racial or ethnic discrimination, and will continue to make efforts to achieve a society in which each person is treated without any discrimination and respected as an individual and can fully develop his or her own personality….


COMMENT:  Just suck on the opening admissions.  Six years overdue on a report due in 2002, updating one that was already two years overdue to begin with.  And does “taking every conceivable measure” include an anti-discrimination law?  South Korea passed one in 2007.  For Japan, the answer is no, the GOJ once again will not pass a law, for justifications we shall see below.


17. The ‘Ninth Basic Plan of Employment Measures’ was adopted by the Cabinet in August 1999. The plan espouses the following principle regarding the acceptance of foreign workers: “From the perspective of further promoting the rejuvenation and internationalization of the Japanese economy and society, the acceptance of foreign workers in professional and technical fields should be more actively promoted. On the other hand, with respect to the matter of accepting workers for so-called unskilled labor, there is a concern that the Japanese economy and society as well as people’s livelihood may be adversely affected by such an action. For example, problems may break out in the domestic labor market as a result of accepting unskilled workers. At the same time, accepting unskilled foreign workers may also adversely affect themselves as well as their countries of origin. For these reasons, the idea of accepting unskilled workers requires careful consideration, while taking into account of a consensus among the Japanese people”.

COMMENT:  Gotta love the logic.  Migration hurts Japan (even though the GOJ has a had a visa regime for nearly 20 years, bringing in unskilled labor with a backdoor system and doubling the registered NJ population, at the very behest of the Keidanren business lobby to prevent the “hollowing out” (kuudouka) of Japanese industry with a labor shortage)?.  It’s what factories wanted.  Now we’re claiming it hurts us, and might even hurt workers and their home countries!  Please don’t make such policy that hurts everyone, including yourself, GOJ.

And to finish up, we’ll appeal to a phantom “Japanese public consensus”.  Have your cake and eat it too.  Just don’t give Trainee Visa workers any Japanese labor law rights protections and the cake has icing.  Who’s hurting whom?


20. The Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement (See Part VII (Article 7) of this Report) takes up the problems concerning the human rights of foreigners as one of the human rights issues to be addressed. The human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expands and strengthens their promotion activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights with the view to fostering a human rights awareness as appropriate for the age of globalisation by eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners, holding an attitude of tolerance towards and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles and customs that people of different origins practice.

COMMENT:  The Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougobu) organ of the Ministry of Justice is a pretty much useless organization, with no sanction or enforcement powers.  It exists merely to be wheeled out at opportune times like this for window dressing.


24. Japanese public schools at the compulsory education level guarantee foreign nationals the opportunity to receive education if they wish to attend such school by accepting them without charge, just as they do with Japanese school children.

COMMENT:  Oh?  In fact, compulsory education only applies to citizens, under the Kyouiku Kihon Hou.  And there are cases of students being refused entry to schools.  “We have no facilities” (setsubi ga nai), is the reported excuse.

The GOJ is, in a word, lying.

In addition, a school subject called “sogo-gakushu” (general learning), which primarily aims at developing children’s learning ability beyond the borders of conventional subjects, allows conversational foreign language classes and opportunities to study traditional cultures, to be provided as part of the education for cultivating international understanding. In the case of children of foreign nationalities, they can even receive education in their native tongues (minority languages) and learn about their native cultures, according to local circumstances and situation of school children such as the number of children of a particular nationality and their command of Japanese.

COMMENT:  Gosh, I’d like to know where those schools are and how widespread this subject is. I’ve never even heard of it.  Instead, we hear of 20-40% of all Brazilian children are not attending school at all because they find it so hard to fit in. I smell Potemkin system.

Furthermore, when these foreign children enter school, maximum attention is given to ensure that they can receive, without undue difficulty, the education in Japanese normally taught to Japanese children. Toward this end, they are provided with, among other things, guidance in learning Japanese and are supported by their regular teachers as well as by others who can speak their native language….

COMMENT:  See above two comments.  Again, “setsubi ga nai”…  And little to no support for ethnic schools in Japan, either. “Maximum attention”??  Hogwash!


55. Regarding the treatment of foreign children in Japan in relation to their education in public schools at the compulsory education level (elementary schools and lower secondary schools) and upper secondary schools in Japan, see Paragraphs 138 to 140 of the Initial and Second Periodic Report.

Those foreigners who wish to attend public schools for compulsory education may do so free of class fee , including the free supply of textbooks and school expense subsidies, thus guaranteeing the same educational opportunities as for Japanese citizens. In addition, Japanese language teachers are dispatched to schools, providing parents with a guidebook on schooling, and conducting meetings with experts on policies to enhance education for foreigners.

Also, in order for foreigners to become accustomed to the living environment in Japan and to be able to receive the same residential services as members of Japanese society, a Program to Accelerate Foreigners’ Adaptation to the Life Environment in Japan was formed in 2007.

This program covers the establishment of language classes for foreigners of Japanese descent, teacher training for foreigners who speak Japanese, consultations with the governments of the children’s country of origin, as well as model programs to support the school enrollment of foreign children and to set up a Japanese language instruction system.

Some schools for foreigners, such as international schools, are approved as miscellaneous schools by prefectural governors, and their independence is respected.

COMMENT:  Just saying they can attend doesn’t mean they can under the same circumstances, see comments in previous section, particularly the question regarding the programs’ widespreadness.  As for that 2007 program, this is a local-level initiative, not a national one, something demanded by the Hamamatsu and Yokkaichi Sengens for nearly a decade now (and duly ignored by the national govt; how nice of them to claim it as their own).

Finally, “their independence is respected” is another way of saying, “They’re on their own.  We don’t even officially recognize them as schools, and we won’t fund them with public money” like “real Japanese schools”. Students (often from low-income families, such as Brazilian workers) don’t even qualify for student discounts for bus passes!


25. Most of the Korean residents who do not wish to be educated in Japanese schools attend North/South Korean schools established in Japan. Most of these schools have been approved by prefectural governors as ‘miscellaneous schools’.

COMMENT:  And again, they don’t get Ministry of Education funding, meaning they pay a heck of a lot more in tuition etc. just for the privilege.  Miscellaneous means separate but unequal.


28… Data on the refugee recognition administration from 1982 to the end of December 2007 are as follows:

Applications accepted 5,698
Results Approved 451
Denied 3,608
Withdrawn and others 584

COMMENT:  This is a pretty shameful ratio, don’t you think?  Look at the timeline — a total of 451 people granted refugee status over 25 years!  More than 90% of a pretty negligible number to begin with rejected or withdrawn.  As I wrote for the Japan Times last December:

“Japan even refuses to fulfill simple obligations as a developed nation–not only because it won’t pass a law against racial discrimination.  It won’t even take people who would come here no matter how poorly they’re treated.  Despite being the third-largest donor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Japan accepted only 34 asylum-seekers in 2006 (compared to 23,296 in the US and 6,330 in Britain that year), and a total of only 1,975 since it signed the Refugee Convention back in 1951!  Take our money, keep your aliens.”

The things you can say with a straight face…


34… The Human Rights Protection Bill, which was repealed in October 2003 and is under further elaboration by the Ministry of Justice, expressly prohibits any unfair treatment or discriminatory acts based on race, ethnicity and other criteria. It provides that the independent human rights committee take redress measures in a simple, quick and flexible manner against these human rights abuses, thereby creating a human rights redress system that is more effective than the existing system.

COMMENT:  This is “Vaporware“, or “unrealized gains”.  You’re talking about the good a law does even though it doesn’t even exist — in fact, was repealed?  What a sorry excuse of a spin.


35. Given that the police becomes deeply involved in human rights issues when it performs its duties such as investigating crimes, the ‘Rules Governing Police Officer’s Ethics and Service’ (National Public Safety Commission Rule No. 1 of 2000) prescribe ‘Fundamentals of Service Ethics’, which rests upon respect for human rights as one of its pillars. The Government also proactively implements human rights education for police since it considers education on service ethics as the top priority among the various themes covered by the education of police officers.

Newly hired police officers and those who are about to be promoted are educated at police academies with regard to human rights through classes of jurisprudence including the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure and service ethics.

Police officers who are engaged in crime investigations, detainment operations, and assistance for victims are thoroughly educated to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure appropriate execution of duties that takes into consideration the human rights of suspects, detainees, crime victims, and others. Such education is offered using every possible occasion such as police academy classes and training sessions provided at police headquarters and police stations.

COMMENT:  Given police’s rights of search, seizure, lack of habeas corpus, and official policy targeting of NJ as potential criminal suspects, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, it’s hard to argue this human rights training is having much effect.


37. Regarding the reservations made by Japan on Paragraphs (a) and (b) of Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, see Paragraphs 72-74 of the Initial and Second Periodic Report.

38. The concept laid down in Article 4 may cover an extremely wide range of acts carried out in various situations and in various manners. Restricting all these acts with punitive laws that go beyond the existing legal system in Japan may conflict with what the Constitution guarantees, including the freedom of expression that strictly demands the necessity and rationale for its restrictions, and with the principle of legality of crime and punishment that requires concreteness and clarity in determining the punishable acts and penalties. It is on the basis of this judgment that the Japanese Government made its reservations about Article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention.

In addition, the Government of Japan does not believe that in present-day Japan racist thoughts are disseminated and racial discrimination are fanned to the extent that would warrant consideration of enactment of laws to administer punishment by retracting the above reservation even at the risk of unduly stifling legitimate speech.

COMMENT:  So once again, for the second decade now, we have Japan saying that we’ll sign the CERD but we won’t enforce it through any anti-discrimination laws.  We don’t need laws (after all, we don’t have racist thoughts being disseminated — never mind GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine — or racial discrimination being fanned) — actually, those laws may even be unconstitutional!  The UN does not agree, as they GOJ says immediately following:

Japan was advised to retract the reservation it made about Article 4 (a) and (b) in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in consideration of the Initial and Second Periodic Report. However, for the reasons given above, Japan does not intend to retract the said reservation.


Right to utilize Places or Services Intended for Use by the General Public

56. In terms of equal treatment in using the services at hotels, restaurants, cafes, and theaters, the Law Concerning Proper Management and Promotion of Businesses related to Environment and Hygiene provides that measures should be taken to safeguard the benefit for users and consumers at such services. For instance, Centers for Environment and Sanitation Management Guidance ensure proper response to complaints from the consumers.

COMMENT:  Sure.  How many of these places fall under these laws have JAPANESE ONLY signs and policies up and in practice?  Those measures are supposed to work, no?  They didn’t in the Otaru Onsens Case, when we were told by the Hokensho and other administrative bodies that laws only covered sanitation and environment, not racial discrimination.

This is another GOJ lie.

In particular, the Hotel Business Law prohibits hotels from refusing a customer merely on the basis of race or ethnicity. Likewise, the Regulations for the Enforcement of the Law for Improvement of International Tourist Hotel Facilities prohibit discriminatory treatment according to the nationality of guests, such as charging different rates depending on guests’ nationality for services such as accommodation and meals provided by registered inns and hotels.

COMMENT:  And this is why we have hotels with JAPANESE ONLY signs up, and why even local government tourist boards (such as Fukushima Prefecture) provides online advertising to hotels that refuse foreigners?  Having it on the books does not mean it gets enforced.


40. With regard to ‘acts of violence … against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin’, Japan’s position remains unchanged from the last report. Meanwhile, the amendment of the Penal Code in 2004 established the crime of gang rape as an act of violence (Article 178-2), and increased the severity of the punishment for a number of crimes, including that of homicide (Article 199), bodily injury (Article 204), and robbery (Article 236).

COMMENT:  Read the above carefully.  The GOJ is asked about racially-motivated violence, and it answers saying that punishments have been made more severe.  But not pertaining to racially-motivated violence.  Because there is no specific law banning racially-motivated violence in Japan.  The UN is asking a pineapple question and getting a banana answer.


42…In particular, the ‘Guidelines for Defamation and Privacy’, which were adopted by the Telecommunications Carriers Association as a code of conduct for Internet service providers (ISPs) and similar businesses, at the same time of the enforcement of the Provider Liability Limitation Law, were revised in October 2004. The revision introduced a procedure for fighting serious human rights abuse cases, in which the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice are authorized to request ISPs to delete information that infringes on the rights of others. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has supported efforts to widely disseminate awareness of these guidelines.

Furthermore, since August 2005, the Government has convened the ‘Study Group on Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information on the Internet’ comprised of academics and members of industry associations to examine the voluntary measures taken by ISPs against illegal and harmful information on the Internet and to discuss effective ways to support those measures.

COMMENT:  Thanks for discussing.  But that’s just more Vaporware.  Meanwhile, online libel still continues apace, and offenders are not being prosecuted for ignoring court orders because contempt of court in Japan is too weak to convert civil court cases into criminal offenses.


66. Below are examples of civil cases which are recognized as ‘racial discrimination’ cases.

(a) Sapporo District Court Decision on November 11, 2002

A community bathhouse proprietor refused to allow foreign nationals or naturalized citizens to bathe in his bathhouse because they were “foreigners”. The proprietor’s act was judged as constituting an illegal act of racial discrimination that violated Paragraph 1, Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan, Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the spirit of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Recognizing the tort liability of the defendant, the court granted the plaintiffs right to claim compensation for damages from mental suffering etc.

COMMENT:  Nice way to tell half the story (our story, the Otaru Onsens Case) to your apparent advantage.  For one thing, the court did NOT rule that racial discrimination was the illegal activity; “discriminating too much” was, so that’s a lie.

Also not told is that the local government of Otaru was also sued for violating the UN CERD and let off the hook:  The Supreme Court of Japan did not consider this adjudged case of racial discrimination (Sapporo District and High Courts, and this GOJ report) “a Constitutional issue”.  And the case took four years plus to wend its way through court (2001-2005), hardly an effective means of eliminating racial discrimination that isn’t illegal anyway.


71. During the course of 2007, there were 21,506 human rights infringement cases for which remedy procedures were commenced, 115 of which were cases where foreigners were unfairly discriminated against because they were foreigners.

Below are two typical cases of discrimination against foreigners based on race and ethnicity that human rights organs disposed of in 2007.

(a) A rental apartment agent refused to act as an agent for two visitors solely because they looked like foreigners. The human rights organ of the Ministry of Justice investigated and concluded that the agent did not have any reasonable grounds for the refusal and gave a warning to the agent. (The result of the disposition was ‘warning’.)

(b) A food products company canceled the informal dicision [sic] to employ a job applicant solely because he is a Korean resident in Japan. The human rights organ of the Ministry of Justice investigated and concluded that the company did not have any reasonable grounds for the cancellation and gave a warning to the president of the company. (The result of the disposition was ‘warning’.)

COMMENT:  Yes, warnings.  No suspension of business licenses.  No arrests.  Nothing else that would actually stop racial discrimination effectively.  So much for the claims above that the Human Rights organs within the Ministry of Justice mean anything.

It’s not worth the time and energy to take these issues up, for many people — think cosmetic and milquetoast measures from the GOJ if not years in court.  No wonder there were so few cases actually filed in 2007 for NJ discrimination.  What difference would it make?  Dig through the report, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.


AP article proffers cultural reasons for keeping Internet denizens anonymous


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s an article about a subject I hold a bit dear (as I’ve been a target of Internet libel in the past, including a victorious but unrequited lawsuit): a valuable source of information and even social movement being subverted into a source of bullying and character assassination.

At the heart of it is the denial of a fundamental right granted in developed fora such as courtrooms and (until now) the court of public opinion: the right to know who your accuser is. But by allowing near-absolute online anonymity, it makes the arena for discussion, fight, or whatever you want to call the interaction, unfair — when people become targeted by irresponsible anons who can say what they want with complete impunity. I’ve faced that firsthand these past three months just dealing with the snakepit that is a Wikipedia Talk Page.

In the article below, we’re having justifications for it being dressed up on the guise of “Japanese culture” and increased communication “without worrying about whoever’s talking”. That’s all very well until you’re the one being talked about. That issue is very much underdeveloped in the article about Mixi et al. below, even though it applies to Japan (and to other online societies, such as the one connected to the recent celebrity suicide in Korea) as well. Knock off the silly argument that infers that “Japanese are naturally shy so they need a cloaking device in order to speak freely”. That’s precisely the argument that BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura makes as he self-servingly promotes his own impunity.  Culture being used as a shield here, bollocks.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, who has never used an online pseudonym to mask his identity in his life, and takes the slings and arrows for it.


THE JAPAN TIMES Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008


Web society opts to stay anonymous

The Associated Press

Like a lot of 20-year-olds, Kae Takahashi has a page on U.S.-based MySpace, and there is no mistaking it for anyone else’s.

News photo
Clash of cultures: In this Web site image, Kae Takahashi shows her picture, bottom left, on her U.S.-based MySpace page where her photos and personal details can be viewed by anyone. But she reveals little about herself on similar Japanese Web sites. AP PHOTO

It’s got pictures of the funky Tokyoite modeling the clothes she designs in her spare time, along with her name, plus personal details and ramblings in slightly awkward English about her love life.

Switch to her site on Mixi, Japan’s dominant online hangout, and her identity vanishes.

There, Takahashi uses a fake name and says she is an 88-year-old from the town of “Christmas.” Her profile is locked to outsiders.

Takahashi is far from alone: The vast majority of Mixi’s roughly 15 million users don’t reveal anything about themselves.

It’s not just Mixi. It’s Japan.

YouTube is wildly successful here, but rare is the user who follows the site’s enticement to “Broadcast Yourself.” Posting pet videos is far more popular, and has bred a generation of animal celebrities.

On large matchmaking sites like, the whole point is to open up and meet strangers. But fewer than half of Match’s paying members in Japan are willing to post their photos, compared with nearly all members in the United States.

Welcome to Japan’s online social scene, where you’re unlikely to meet anyone you don’t know already. The early promises of a new, open social frontier, akin to the identity-centric world of Facebook and MySpace in the U.S., have been replaced by a realm where people stay safely within their circles of friends and few reveal themselves to strangers.

“There is the sense that, ‘My face just isn’t that interesting, or I’m not attractive — there is nothing special about me to show people,’ ” says Tetsuya Shibui, a writer who has long followed the Internet in Japan.

Indeed, the Japanese virtual world has turned out just like the real one.

People rarely give their first names to those they don’t know well. Spontaneous exchanges are uncommon even on the tightly packed trains and streets of Tokyo. TV news shows often blur the faces of those caught in background footage and photos to protect their privacy.

Takahashi, who joined Mixi three years ago, keeps her profile hidden so that only users she specifically invites can see it. That list of online friends has expanded to nearly 300 people, only a few of whom she didn’t first meet in person, but she has removed personal details and scaled down past postings.

“If I say too much, the wrong people will read it — it could get ugly,” she said.

The penchant for invisibility has made it hard for Western social networks to establish themselves. Belated forays into the Japanese market by Facebook Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace, for instance, have failed to generate much of a buzz.

Google Inc., which operates YouTube, has tried to convince the Japanese to loosen up, running events in Tokyo in which girls in miniskirts roam the streets with giant picture frames and video cameras, soliciting pedestrians to frame themselves and record a clip for the site.

But it has since eased back on such efforts. YouTube’s latest campaign involves people uploading pictures of their pets.

“We can’t change the mind-set of Japanese people,” said Tomoe Makino, in charge of partner development at YouTube’s Japan site. “It’s the uniqueness of Japanese culture — anonymous works in Japan.”

It wasn’t always like that. When Mixi was launched in early 2004, many people registered with their own names and photos.

“It was all friends, or friends of friends, so you could easily search using real names, and it was easy to be found,” Shibui says.

But Mixi quickly grew in popularity, and was heavily featured in the media as it sped toward a public stock offering in 2006. New members can join only with invitations from existing users, but some people began to send out invites randomly. The circle-of-friends concept was broken, and existing users began to lock their profiles and withdraw behind anonymous user names.

Naoko Ito is a typical denizen of Japan’s online scene.

The office worker’s video clips of her cats running amok at her house are among the most popular on YouTube Japan. Her blog features daily pictures of the feline antics and is popular enough to have spawned a book deal. But she doesn’t post her name and in five years of uploading images has only rarely shown her face.

She says Japanese are just not used to putting themselves in the spotlight, and in the rare cases she has uploaded her picture it has been to show she is like everyone else.

“I want people to feel that I’m a very normal person, nothing special, just someone who likes cats,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The reluctance to reveal oneself online is coupled with a general distrust of those who do, and foreign sites like have had to adjust. The site has had a local office since 2004, and has added Japan-only features like identity certification to generate an atmosphere of trust.

“When we did research on Japanese consumers, we found that the No. 1 reason for not using online dating is that they don’t know if people are real or not,” says’s Japan president, Katsu Kuwano.

Match has increased its paying users in Japan by tailoring its approach to better fit marriage-minded women, timing advertising campaigns with national holidays when they travel home and face pressure from parents to find a mate.

But Kuwano says even among the women hunting for a spouse on the site, only 40 percent are willing to post a picture of themselves, and men are far less likely to respond without getting a glimpse first.

The company hopes to make more people show themselves online by defining itself in a less Web-centric way, latching onto the broader “konkatsu” movement, in which people actively seek out marriage partners. Match has also held offline events at Tokyo restaurants.

Even if the Japanese Internet isn’t a place to meet new people, the fixation with anonymity still has led to an explosion in self-expression — a sea change in a culture where strong opinions are usually kept to oneself.

Anonymous bulletin boards like the massive 2channel are highly popular, with active forums popping up to discuss news events just minutes after they occur.

As is true elsewhere in the world, Japan’s online anonymity can bring out the uglier side of human nature, but observers like the writer Shibui find that it is also freeing people to speak their minds.

“In using the Internet to anonymously talk about their troubles, or show off their strong points, or make people laugh, people in Japan can now interact based on what is actually being said, without worrying about who is talking,” he said.


Citizendium, the more responsible replacement for Wikipedia, does better article on Arudou Debito


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Last August I began taking on Wikipedia’s heavily-biased (even by its own standards) entry on Arudou Debito, pointing out some systemic flaws in the media:  among other things, how all manner of anonymous people can launder quotes and alleged criticisms by citing websites as if they were genuine publications (and their authors as if they were established authorities in the field), yet omit published third-party sources and comments by true authorities just because they were archived on (or just because they don’t fit in as “Criticisms”, wink).  It was a good discussion, but now that it’s died down, the Wikipedia entry is just steadily reverting back to the same old biased and laundered references, and losing impartiality all over again.  (And I’m not even bothering with the Japanese version of the entry — there’s no saving it from anonymous net denizens without even an inkling of integrity.)  So forget it.  Wikipedia as a medium is probably unredeemable in its present form.

Meanwhile, arising is an alternative — Citizendium, where contributors must have verified identities. and articles cannot be so easily defaced at whim.  I like how the article on Arudou Debito has come out so far there.  Reproduced below.  I suggest readers start switching to Citizendium particularly when it comes to information on contentious topics and people.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Arudou Debito

Image:Statusbar1.png Main Article Talk Related Articles  [?]  Bibliography  [?]  External Links  [?]   

This is a draft article, under development. These unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer.

© Photo: Arudou Debito Arudou Debito is a Japanese teacher, author and activist.       

© Photo: Arudou Debito 
Arudou Debito is a Japanese teacher, author and activist.

Arudou Debito (有道出人; born 1965) is a Japanese human rights activist, teacher and author. Arudou was born and brought up in the United States and became a naturalised Japanese citizen in 2000.




Arudou was born in California in 1965. As a U.S. citizen, his name was David Aldwinckle; he went to Cornell University and visited Japan in 1986 on an invitation from his future wife. He graduated in 1987, having studied Japanese in his senior year, and spent a year teaching English in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. On his return to the United States, Arudou entered the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He deferred from the programme to return to Japan to get married and spend a year on an internship at theJapan Management Academy in NagaokaNiigata prefecture. He returned to the U.S. in 1990, completing his Masters of Public and International Affairs (MPIA) degree the following year.

In 1991, Arudou joined a small company trading in Sapporo, but working conditions and unhappy experiences there led him to leave after 15 months. In 1993, he obtained a position at the Hokkaido Information University, a private higher education institution, teaching courses in Business English and debate.[1]

Japanese citizenship

Arudou became a permanent resident of Japan in 1996. By 2000, Arudou was established in Japan, with family and a full-time job as an associate professor; he paid taxes, but had no right to vote as a foreigner. For these reasons, Arudou chose to seek Japanese citizenship, which he obtained in 2000.[2] He later changed his name to Arudou Debito,[3] which is formed through selecting the Japanese characters 有道出人 and their appropriate pronunciations. In 2002, Arudou gave up his U.S. citizenship.[4]

Publications and citations

See also: Arudou Debito/Bibliography

Arudou’s first book, in Japanese, was Japaniizu Onrii – Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu (ジャパニーズ・オンリー―小樽温泉入浴拒否問題と人種差別 ‘Japanese Only – Otaru Hot Spring Bathing Refusal Problem and Racial Discrimination’; 2003). The book documented Arudou and two others’ experiences of litigation against aJapanese hot spring business which denied entry to non-Japanese, and the City of Otaru (小樽市 Otaru-shi) itself.[5][6]Arudou published a second book in English on the matter, Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (2004; updated 2006),[7] which included new material and different emphases; this appeared to generally positive reviews,[8] with the Japan Times calling it “an excellent account”[9] and the non-profit Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI) also recommending it.[10]

Arudou’s third work, with administrative solicitor Akira Higuchi (樋口彰 Higuchi Akira), was Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan (2008), which gives information on living in Japan for the medium to long term, including advice on the procedures for entry to the country, taxes, marriagedivorce, going to court, tackling discrimination, and so on.[11] The book appeared to positive reviews,[12] the Japan Times naming it as the best guide to such issues.[13] The content of the book is printed twice, with English and Japanese on opposite pages.

Arudou has also extensively published in academic journals, particularly the peer-reviewed Japan Focus, and penned columns for newspapers such as the Japan Times. He is a regular interviewee in various news publications, radio programmes and podcasts,[14] and is cited frequently in academia, the media and on the internet.[15] His website,, contains a substantial amount of information about living and working in Japan, details of Arudou’s activities, and campaigning pages such as a ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ of establishments which appear to restrict or deny entry to non-Japanese.[16]


Arudou founded a group called ‘The Community’ in 1999 to raise awareness of human rights issues in Japan, such as discrimination in employment and denial of services to people of non-ethnically Japanese appearance.[17] In 2008, he co-founded ‘FRANCA’ (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) in the wake of the Japanese government‘s implementation of fingerprinting all foreigners on every entry to the country, regardless of status. Among this forming NGO‘S aims are ensuring non-discriminatory treatment for foreign residents and naturalised citizens, eliminating stereotypical images, and promoting the benefits of immigration and a multicultural society.[18] His website and Japan Times columns have focused on cases involving discrimination.[19]

Otaru hot springs case

Arudou’s best-known discrimination case, the subject of his two books on the subject,[20] is the six-year-long Otaru onsens (hot springs) case. In September 1999, Arudou went to three hot springs in Otaru, Hokkaido, which displayed ‘Japanese Only’ notices. Members of Arudou’s group of families and friends who were white (caucasian) were denied entry. In February 2001, one of the hot springs was taken to civil court for racial discrimination, along with the City of Otaru, which was accused of violating the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), to which Japan acceded in January 1996.[21] The hot spring lost the case in the Sapporo District Court (札幌地方裁判所 Sapporo Chihoo Saiban Sho) in November 2002, and the Sapporo High Court (札幌高等裁判所 Sapporo Kootoo Saiban Sho) in September 2004; the latter rejected the hot spring’s appeal against the district court’s order that they pay Arudou and the other plaintiffs ¥1,000,000 each.[22] However, both courts also ruled in favour of the City of Otaru on the matter of violating the UN CERD treaty, and in April 2005, the Supreme Court of Japan (最高裁判所 Saikoo Saibansho) ruled that constitutional issues were not involved in the case.[23]


  1.  See for more information.
  2. ‘Arudou Debito’s website: Japan Today Columns 1-3‘.
  3.  Japanese use family name first, given name second.
  4. ‘Essay: how to lose your American passport‘.
  5. ‘The Otaru lawsuit information site‘.
  6.  Japan Times: ‘City off hook over bathhouse barring of foreigners ‘. 8th April 2005.
  7. ‘Book ‘Japanese Only’‘.
  8. ‘Reviews of book “Japanese Only”, full text‘ (archive of reviews).
  9.  Japan Times: ‘Bathhouse pushes a foreigner into the doghouse‘. 30th January 2005.
  10.  JPRI: ‘JPRI’S recommended library on Japan‘ (‘politics’ section).
  11. ‘Information site for ordering “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan”‘.
  12. ‘“Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan”: ordering options‘.
  13.  Japan Times: ‘Helping newcomers settle in Japan ‘. 20th April 2008.
  14.  e.g. Trans-Pacific Radio: ‘ Podcast for April 5, 2008‘. 5th April 2008.
  15. ‘Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle’s publications‘.
  16. ‘“The Rogues’ Gallery”: Photos of places in Japan which exclude or restrict non-Japanese customers‘.
  17. ‘The Community‘ and ‘“The Community”: Issues and proposals concerning non-Japanese in Japan.’
  18. ‘Press Release: First NGO FRANCA meetings Sendai Mar 15, Osaka Mar 25‘.
  19.  For example, see the Japan Times columns ‘Twisted legal logic deals rights blow to foreigners‘, 7th February 2006, and ‘Abuse, racism, lost evidence deny justice in Valentine case ‘, 14th August 2007.
  20.  Arudou (2003; 2004).
  21.  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Status of ratifications of the principal international human rights treaties: as of 09 June 2004‘.
  22.  About US$9,500 in September 2008.
  23. ‘The Otaru lawsuit information site‘.


The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. As AdamW sent yesterday, the Aso Cabinet is already starting to show the shortsightedness of a “thoroughbred” cabinet (no fewer than four cabinet members are related to former Prime Ministers!)–with a standard comment about Japan’s monocultural nature being taken to task at last (in the bad old days, i.e. last year, this would probably be let slide without much comment).

Looks as though there is a good legacy happening here for a change. PM Obuchi left us with an anthem and flag which is used to beat the Left over the head and enforce patriotism. Koizumi left us with increased surveillance of NJ. Abe left us with an education system which legally requires people to be taught to love their country. But Fukuda has left us with a resolution that works in our favor for a change… Read on. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

LEAD: Nakayama apologizes over gaffes, opposition demands dismissal+
Sep 26 2008 02:30 AM US/Eastern
TOKYO, Sept. 26 (AP) – (Kyodo)—(EDS: RECASTING, ADDING INFO)New transport minister Nariaki Nakayama on Friday apologized over his controversial remarks that included calling Japan “ethnically homogenous,” in face of criticism triggered not only from opposition parties but from ruling party members.While Nakayama denied resigning over his verbal gaffes, made just a day after he assumed the post under Prime Minister Taro Aso, opposition parties called for his dismissal and said they will question Aso’s responsibility for appointing the minister. Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, called the remarks extremely rude, telling reporters a mere retraction of them is not enough and that Nakayama “needs to give up his post, not the remarks.”

Similar previous remarks by lawmakers that Japan is a mono-racial society drew protests mainly from the Ainu indigenous people in Japan.

Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said, “Is he ignorant of a Diet resolution which all the members (of both houses of the Diet) supported?” referring to the parliamentary resolution that urged the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and to upgrade their status as they have led underprivileged lives under the past assimilation policy.

Fukushima said her party will pursue Aso’s responsibility for appointing a person who is insensitive to human rights to the Cabinet.

Nakayama offered an apology in a news conference Friday, saying, “My recognition is that the Ainu are an indigenous people with various distinctive points.”

He also apologized for another remark in media interviews about those who have engaged in years of struggle against the construction of Narita airport, calling them “more or less squeaky wheels, or I believe they are (the product) of bad postwar education.”

“I’m very sorry for causing much trouble. I retract the comment,” he told a press conference Friday, while refusing to step down to take responsibility over the remarks.

Members of the New Komeito party, the coalition partner of Aso’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also complained about the remarks, with Diet affairs chief Yoshio Urushibara saying, “They are not something that a minister should say.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a regular press conference that he told ministers during an informal session following the day’s official Cabinet meeting “to be careful not to make remarks that would cause misunderstanding among the public.”


My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  I’ve been meaning to get to this for years now. I’m refreshed from my vacation.  Let’s get to it now.

In my most recent Japan Times column (JUST BE CAUSE August 5, 2008), I intimated that I feel rather negatively about Wikipedia (I call it “that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists”).  As much as I don’t think I should touch how historians render my history, Wikipedia’s entry on me has been a source of consternation.  Years of slanted depictions and glaring omissions by anonymous net “historians” are doing a public disservice — exacerbated as Wikipedia increasingly gains credibility and continuously remains the top or near-top site appearing in a search engine search.  

Controversial figures such as myself may naturally invite criticism, but when a couple of “guardian editors” take advantage of the fundamental weakness of Wikipedia (which, according to their interpretation of the rules, means the entry gives priority towards towards third-party opinions, whoever they are, rather than quoting the primary source) with the aim of distorting the record, this must be pointed out and corrected.  Otherwise it is harder to take Wikipedia seriously as a general source.

The issues I have with the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry are, in sum:  

  1. A “Criticism” section not found in the Wikipedia entries of other “controversial figures”, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — meaning there is overwhelming voice given to the critics and no voice given any supporters for balance.
  2. An avoidance of quoting primary source material just because it is archived on my website, — even though it is often archived third-party material published by other authors.
  3. Omissions of books I published months and years ago.
  4. Other historical inaccuracies and misleading summaries of issues and cases.
  5. Privacy issues, such as mentioning my children by name, who are still minors and not public figures.
  6. “Criticism” sources overwhelmingly favoring one defunct website, which seems to be connected to the “editors” standing guard over this entry.
  7. Other information included that is irrelevant to developing this Wikipedia entry of me as a “teacher, author, and activist”, such as my divorce.

In other words, this page comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.  I go into more specifics below, citing the most recent version of the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry below.  My problem with each section is rendered as COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO below.

I will put a “neutrality” tag up on the site and let this blog entry be the anchor site for a call for improvements.  Let’s hope the Wikipedia system as it stands can right itself.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Debito Arudou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from Arudou Debito)
Debito Arudou

Debito Arudou
Born David Christopher Aldwinckle
January 131965 (age 43)
Flag of the United States California U.S.
Residence Flag of Japan Sapporo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Home town GenevaNew York[1]
Known for Activism

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  The picture is more than a decade old, taken 1996.  Many more recent ones are available.

Debito Arudou (有道 出人 Arudō Debito?), a naturalized Japanese citizen, is a teacher, author, and activist.




[edit]Early life

Arudou was born David Christopher Aldwinckle in California in 1965.[2] 

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  That was not my birth name.  And the reference made to my essay on the subject jumps to that conclusion following unrigorous research practices.

He attended Cornell University, first visiting Japan as a tourist on invitation from Ayako Sugawara (菅原文子 Sugawara Ayako?) [3] [4][5], his pen pal and future wife, for several weeks in 1986. Following this experience, he dedicated his senior year as an undergraduate to studying Japanese, graduating in 1987.[6] Aldwinckle then taught English in SapporoHokkaidō, for one year, and “swore against ever being a language teacher again, plunging instead into business.”[2] After returning to the United States to enter theGraduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Aldwinckle deferred from the program in order to return to Japan, whereupon he married in 1989 and spent one year at the Japan Management Academy in NagaokaNiigata Prefecture. In 1990, he returned to California to complete his Masters of Public and International Affairs (MPIA), and received the degree in 1991.[7]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  The above is accurate.  However, why is the sentence about my swearing “never to be a language teacher again” included?  It is irrelevant.

Aldwinckle then joined a small Japanese trading company in Sapporo. It was this experience, he recounts, that started him down the path of the controversial activist that he would later become. “This was a watershed in my life,” Arudou writes. “… and it polarized my views about how I should live it. Although working [in Japan] made my Japanese really good — answering phones and talking to nasty, racist, and bloody-minded construction workers from nine to six — there was hell to pay every single day.”[2] Arudou said that he was the object of racial harassment.[2] Aldwinckle quit the company. In 1993 he joined the faculty of Business Administration and Information Science at the Hokkaido Information University, a private university in Ebetsu,Hokkaidō, teaching courses in English as a foreign language. As of 2007 he is an associate professor.[8]
COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  I wrote these sentiments down on my website, yes.  But why is this section essentially the only one which assiduously cites, while other sections below refrain (as the Discussion page notes, where “editor” “J Readings” states,we really need to stop quoting Arudou’s homepage so much and instead rely much, much more on what journalists and academics are publishing about Arudou and his activities in reliable third-party sources“) from doing the same?  Given that there are plenty of journalists and academics citing and publishing “about Arudou and his activities” (see final paragraph below), why are they not included?
Finally, the year I was promoted to associate professor is incorrect.  Moreover, my university courses are in Business English and Debate.

[edit]Japanese naturalization

Aldwinckle became a permanent resident of Japan in 1996. He obtained Japanese citizenship in 2000, whereupon he changed his name to Debito Arudou (有道出人 Arudō Debito?), whose kanji he says have the figurative meaning of “a person who has a road and is going out on it.” To allow his wife and children to retain their Japanese family name, he adopted the legal name Arudoudebito Sugawara (菅原有道出人 Sugawara Arudōdebito?)[5] — a combination of his wife’s Japanese maiden name and his new transliterated full name.[9]As reasons for naturalization he cited the right to vote, other rights, and increased ability to stand on his rights;[2] he later chose to renounce his U.S. citizenship.[10]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  My motivations for changing my citizenship are not primarily these, as these and other sources on indicate.  Selectively misquoted to make it seem as though I became a Japanese merely in order to stand on my rights.  That is incorrect.

[edit]Family and divorce

Ayako Sugawara gave birth to two children, Amy Sugawara Aldwinckle (Ami Sugawara (菅原 亜美 Sugawara Ami?) in Japanese), and Anna Marina Aldwinckle (Anna Sugawara (菅原 杏奈 Sugawara Anna?) in Japanese).[11] [3][12][13] Aldwinckle described Amy as “viewed as Japanese because of her looks” and Anna as “relegated to gaijin status, same as I” because of physical appearances. [14] 

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Why are my children mentioned by name?  They are not public figures, and they are minors.  In this day when there are lots of Internet crazies out there, this shows an errant disregard for their privacy and safety.  They have indicated to me that they do not want to be included by name in this Wikipedia entry.  Their names should be removed.

According to Arudou’s writings, when he took his family to the Yunohana Onsen to test the rules of the onsen, the establishment allowed for Amy to enter the onsen and refused entry to Anna on the basis of their appearances. [12][13]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  This summary of the case and the interpretations of our motivations are glaringly inaccurate and misquoted.  To wit: it was not only my family who attended our trip to take a bath at a facility open to the general public.

In 2000 he lived in NanporoSorachi DistrictSorachi SubprefectureHokkaidō with his family. [5]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  In 1983 I lived in Ithaca, NY, and in 1988 I lived in San Diego, California… etc.  Why include a historical address?  Especially after giving out the names of my children.  Delete.

Arudou said that he divorced his wife in September 2006. Following the divorce[15], Arudou petitioned the Sapporo Family Court to delete his ex-wife’s Japanese maiden family name from his koseki, or Family Registry, thus officially changing his name to Debito Arudou in November 2006.[16]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Why is discussion of my divorce necessary in my Wikipedia entry?  What bearing does it have on my life as a “teacher, author, and activist”?

[edit]Otaru onsen lawsuit

The original problematic sign             

The original problematic sign

Arudou was one of three plaintiffs in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Yunohana Onsen in Otaru, Hokkaidō. Yunohana maintained a policy to exclude non-Japanese patrons; the business stated that it implemented the policy after Russian sailors scared away patrons from one of its other facilities. After reading an e-mail posted to a mailing list digest complaining of Yunohana’s policy in 1999,[17]Arudou visited the hot spring (onsen), along with a small group of Japanese, White, and East Asian friends, in order to confirm that only visibly non-Japanese people were excluded.[18]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Poor summary of the events.

Arudou assumed that when he returned in 2000 as a naturalized Japanese citizen, he would not be refused. The manager accepted that Arudou was a Japanese national but refused entry on the grounds that his foreign appearance could cause existing Japanese customers to assume the onsen was admitting foreigners, i.e drunk Russian sailors which were causing problems in that locality, and take their business elsewhere.[19]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Again, poor summary of the events.

Arudou and two co-plaintiffs, Kenneth Lee Sutherland and Olaf Karthaus, in February 2001 then sued Yunohana on the grounds of racial discrimination, and the City of Otaru for violation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty which Japan ratified in 1996. OnNovember 112002, the Sapporo District Court ordered Yunohana to pay the plaintiffs 1 million JPY each (about $25,000 United States dollars in total) in damages.[20] The court stated that “refusing all foreigners without exception is ‘unrational discrimination’ [that] can be said to go beyond permissible societal limits.” [21]The Sapporo High Court dismissed Arudou’s claim against the city of Otaru for failing to create an anti-discrimination ordinance; the court ruled that the claim did not have merit.[22] The Sapporo High Court upheld these rulings on September 162004[23] and the Supreme Court of Japan denied review on April 72005.[22]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Again, poor summary of the case.  Everything on the case is in my book, JAPANESE ONLY, and on, with hundreds of third-party and published references.  Note how fact-confirmed published books in two languages, JAPANESE ONLY, are cited in this Wikipedia entry only once, despite being primary-source materials.

[edit]Kyōgaku no Gaijin Hanzai Ura File – Gaijin Hanzai Hakusho 2007

In February 2007, Arudou commented on Kyōgaku no Gaijin Hanzai Ura File – Gaijin Hanzai Hakusho 2007(Secret Foreigner Crime Files) a mook (magazine/book) published by Eichi Suppan on January 31. The mook contains images and descriptions of what the magazine says are crimes committed in Japan by non-Japanese, including graphs breaking down crimes by nationality. The magazine includes a caption describing a black man as a “nigga“, an article entitled “Chase the Iranian!” and calls Tokyo a “city torn apart by evil foreigners.”[24] Arudou posted a bilingual letter for readers to take to FamilyMart stores protesting against “discriminatory statements and images about non-Japanese residents of Japan.”[25]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Not only is this this a poor summary of the case, the fact remains that I have taken up plenty of other cases like these; this case in particular was not all my efforts alone.  If the Wikipedia entry includes this case, it should include others (such as Tama-chan, published in several newspapers in two languages), archived on, which do have third-party published sources as well.

Note how our works from a group I founded, The Community in Japan, are also completely ignored.  If this is in fact an entry about my activism, as opposed to a page archiving criticisms, these are significant omissions.


Arudou has written a book about the 1999 Otaru hot springs incident. Arudou originally wrote the book in Japanese; the English version, Japanese Only — The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (ISBN 4-7503-2005-6), was published in 2004 and revised in 2006. Jeff Kingston, reviewer for The Japan Times, described the book as an “excellent account of his struggle against prejudice and racial discrimination.”[26]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  There are lots more reviews on this book, many published and listed on  How about the Tom Baker review of the book, published in the Daily Yomiuri?  Also, why are these reviews not given more than a short sentence excerpt?  Considering how assiduously Criticisms are cited below, why are positive reviews not?  This is an editorial bias.  It’s not as if there are necessarily such strict space constraints in the wiki world.

Moreover, as mentioned above, I have written more than one book.  Why is the Japanese version with ISBN not listed?

Arudou has also written several textbooks on business English and debating in addition to many journalistic and academic articles.[27]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  How about listing some of them, from Source 27?  Again, why downplay the subject’s works, “up-play” the criticisms? 

Most glaring is that since March 2008 I have had a co-authored book, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN, on the market. Yet several months and plenty of updates by the “guardian editors” later, this publication is still not listed.  This omission clearly undermines the accuracy and credibility of this entire Wikipedia entry.


COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Why do we have a “Criticism” section at all?  The Wikipedia entries for other controversial figures, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, do not.  Activist and author Michael Moore’s “controversies” get a separate entry, and there is as of this writing a “disputed neutrality” tag attached to that.  

And why not a “Supporters” section for balance? Because the “editors” standing guard (i.e. “J Readings”, whose name appears constantly in the Discussion Section justifying keeping the current entry), say inter alia The criticism section (not page) is supposed to be about criticism, hence the name; it’s not about “adding more balance to this section.  The “editors”, however, later argue against citing other “Supporters” even though they fit their qualifications of, as they put it, “notable author or organization related to Japan or human rights gave their unconditional support for Arudou’s confrontational tactics, writings, etc. in a publicly verifiable newspaper, letter-to-the-editor, academic journal, or peer reviewed non-fiction book (i.e., no vanity press)”.  

The problem is that many of these words of support, even if they are independently published, are only archived on (since other newspapers, such as the Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Kyodo, remove their archives from public view).  This becomes the blanket excuse for not including them on this Wikipedia entry.  

Finally, people cited below as critics do not arguably meet the same criteria for inclusion above:

People, including me, are fascinated by Debito Arudou because we wonder why he wanted to become Japanese in a country where he finds so many wrongs.
—Robert C. Neff [28]

Anna Isozaki, one of Arudou’s former colleagues who was initially active in the BENCI (Business Excluding Non-Japanese CustomerIssho) project (unconnected to Arudou’s “Community in Japan” project), said that Arudou has an unwillingness to co-operate within a larger organization and that Arudou felt resentment against being told to separate “the apparent center of activity from himself.” [29]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Who is Anna Isozaki?  Is this a notable author?  Is this a notable organization?  Issho Kikaku is a defunct group.  And this is a person who merely wrote a letter to defunct website (see source 29), itself not a notable organization, nor a publicly-verifiable source, academic journal, or peer-reviewed non-fiction book.  Including this quote does not fall under Wikipedia or even the “editors” guidelines, and enters the territory of weasel words, cherry-picking opinions to suit an editorial bent.

Bob Neff adjacent, although an author of one book on onsens, is not noted for writing about discrimination issues in Japan.  And the source again is  See how many of these criticisms below come from one source,, run by Yuki Honjo and Paul Scalise, which may indicate the “guardian editors” identities (and their editorial bents, given their highly-biased review of book JAPANESE ONLY)

Alex Kerr, author of Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan (ISBN 0-8090-3943-5), believed that Arudou’s tactics are “too combative.” Kerr said that he was doubtful “whether in the long run it really helps.” According to Kerr, “in Japan… [the combative] approach fails.” Kerr said that “gaijin and theirgaijin ways are now part of the fabric of Japan’s new society,” and feared that Arudou’s activities may “confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.”[30] On 7 April 2007, Arudou publicly criticized Kerr’s comments on his personal blog and mass e-mail newsletter lists. Following Arudou’s public criticisms, Kerr responded in an open e-mail posted by Arudou elaborating on his initial impressions of Arudou’s tactics, his current impressions of Arudou’s newsletter and website, and Kerr’s own distinct techniques for being critical in the field of “traditional culture, tourism, city planning, and the environment” — “to speak quietly, from ‘within.’” Respecting Arudou’s “undoubtedly combative” tactics, Kerr now concluded by stating: “I wholly support [Arudou’s] activities and [his] methods.”[31]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  If one reads the original Japan Times interview with Alex Kerr, it is clear that his comments were in fact about two-thirds supportive of my works.  But only the critical one-third is cited.  Later, when Alex clarifies his comments on (see first comment on site) and acknowledges that he has been misquoted, it is, once again, highly abridged.  And it is tucked away into the Criticisms section as a footnote, as opposed to creating a separate “Supporters” section that qualifies under the “guardian editors'” own guidelines.

Responding to Arudou’s statements regarding the United States Department of State in the Hokkaido International Business Association (HIBA), Alec Wilczynski, Consul General, American Consulate General Sapporo, said that Arudou’s statements contain “antics,” “omissions,” and “absurd statements” as part of an attempt “to revive interest in his flagging ‘human rights’ campaign.” On his website Arudou responded with the statement “A surprising response from a diplomat,” and posted commentary from an associate regarding the renunciation of Arudou’s United States citizenship.[10]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Why should Wikipedia readers care what a Mr. Alec Wilczynski said?  Is he a published author or notable person regarding human rights in Japan?  Moreover, note how editorial constraints are suddenly relaxed to allow to be cited — because it is a criticism.  But the counterarguments also listed on that cited website are not listed in any detail.  Again, the editorial bent is stress the criticism, downplay the counterarguments from supporters.

Gregory ClarkAkita International University Vice-President, views the lawsuit as the product of “ultrasensitivity” and “Western moralizing.”[32][33] Yuki Allyson Honjo, a book critic at, criticized Clark’s statements and referred to him as one of a group of “apologists.” [34] Clark responded to Honjo’s criticism, believing that Honjo mis-characterized his statements. Honjo responded by saying that her use of the word “apologist” applied to Clark’s particular stance on Arudou’s case and not as a sweeping generalization of Clark’s character. Honjo maintained her stance regarding Clark’s statements. [35]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  This Wikipedia entry is about Arudou Debito, not about “book critic” Yuki Allyson Honjo’s debate with Gregory Clark (again, all cited from defunct and non-peer-reviewed website  Look at all the detail given this debate, and how little is accorded other debates which involve detractor and supporter?  To me it makes it clear precisely who “guardian editor” “J Readings” is.

Arudou has been criticized as “fishing for trouble”, and that he “distort[s] the facts”. “If there is insufficient media scrutiny, it is of Arudou’s outlandish claims.”[36]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Same style, same bent, and this time nobody cited by name for verification.  There are plenty of other people who say the opposite (see below).  Why not include them somewhere on this Wikipedia entry?

Robert Neff, author of Japan’s Hidden Hot Springs (ISBN 0-8048-1949-1), believes that much of Arudou’s campaign is divisive, stating: “I think much of his campaign is faux because most of the places he is going after are in Hokkaido trying to protect themselves from drunken Russians. I have bathed and/or stayed at well over 200 onsen establishments and been stopped only once.”[28]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Again, the source is defunct and non-peer-reviewed

Arudou and his family should not have been excluded from the onsen in Otaru, but I suspect I am not alone in objecting to the way this unpleasant, but essentially trivial incident has been parlayed into a career opportunity.
—Peter Tasker [37]

Peter Tasker, author of numerous non-fiction and fiction works on Japan, argues that in “attempting to monster [Japan] into George Wallace‘s Alabama, [Arudou] trivializes the real-life brutal discrimination that still disfigures our world and the heroic campaigners who have put themselves on the line to fight it.”[37]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Again, the source is  And is this novelist a published authority on human rights in Japan?

Alexander Kinmont, a former chief equity strategist of NikkoCitygroup, does not believe that a collection of bath-houses, “soaplands,” massage parlors, and nightclubs is representative of Japan’s civil rights situation in any meaningful sense.[38] 

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Again, the source is  And why is the opinion of a stockbroker cited?  Is he an authority published in the field of human rights?  

Tasker and Kinmont object to Arudou’s statements comparing the institutionalized racial discrimination historically exhibited in the segregated American south with the examples that, according to Arudou, show racial discrimination in Japan.[37][38]

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Again, the source is  Kinmont and Tasker misquote me and the facts of the cases anyway.

That’s the end of the Wikipedia entry.  Sources are available on Wikipedia, so I won’t list them here.  Look how much is cited despite the expressed editorial guidelines.

Finally the REFERENCE LINKS section not only does not mention, but also includes yet another link to Yuki Honjo at  Even though there are lots more reference links out there (many have been included, then deleted in the past by editors) by published third-party sources.  Why only these?  And why, when there are errors in the articles (such as in the Rial article and the Honjo review), aren’t sources listing these errors mentioned as well?

  • Comparative Review of Japanese Only and My Darling is a Foreigner by Yuki Allyson Honjo
  • Patrick Rial,”Debito Arudou: Evangelic Activist or Devilish Demonstrator?,” JapanZine (December 2005)
  • The first of a three-part interview with Arudou Debito onYamato Damacy (February 2006)
  • Interview with Debito Arudou on Trans-Pacific Radio’s Seijigiri(March 82007)
  • ========================================

    FINAL COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  In sum, where are the (positive) quotes from the people and published authors who actually have something verifiably meaningful to say about Japan and social issues, such as Donald Richie (here and here), Ivan Hall, Chalmers Johnson, John Lie, Jeff KingstonRobert Whiting, Mark SchreiberEric Johnston, Terrie LloydBern Mulvey, Lee Soo Im, and Kamata Satoshi?  More citations from academic sources here.

    Omitting the comments and sentiments of these people make the Wikipedia entry sorely lacking in balance, accurate research, and respect for the facts of the case or the works of the person biographied.  Again, this page comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.

    For these reasons, I will put a “neutrality disputed” tag on the “Arudou Debito” Wiki entry and hope Wikipedia has the mechanisms to fix itself.  


    Archive: 2006 Course on how to “slavedrive” your “gaijin” workers


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Oh yes, I remember this… How an email and online campaign got some school (Rock Bay Inc, an apparent transliteration of the boss’s name) advertising English for Shachous (“slavedrive your gaijin, don’t let them diss you–diss them back!” etc.), including a lesson on how to deny a raise to “John” despite his doubling your sales and nearly tripling your profits!  Yow. Talk about widening the divide between J and NJ!  Archiving the series now. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    APRIL 8, 2006

    Here’s a lovely little site, courtesy of a friend, of some company named Rock Bay in Tokyo.

    It advertises English language courses with an interesting edge:

    Salespoint: Learning English to exploit your gaijin underlings.

    As it says on the site:


    “Amerikajin ni akogareru na! Kokitsukae!
    “Gaijin ni nameareru na! Name kaese!”


    Or not-very-loosely translated:

    “Don’t feel beneath Americans! Use them up!
    “Don’t get dissed by the gaijin! Diss them back!”


    That’s just the titles. It just goes on from there….

    Have a look for yourself:

    It’s next seminar is Saturday, March 22, in Shibuya, BTW. Anyone want to attend?

    Well, this is one way to approach kokusaika, I guess. Bests, Debito in Sapporo


     皆様こんにちは。有道 出人です。今朝友人からいただいたウェブサイトですが、いまでもびっくり仰天しています!





    11.来月、外国で英語でのプレゼンがある! どうしよう! のあなた。
    13.いきなり海外出張、駐在言い渡された! どうする!?なあなた。


    有道よりクイック コメント:

     宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

    WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?  Rest of the issue at

    From the archives: 2005: Economist on robotizing J health care, contrast with what’s happening nowadays


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Since it’s the summer and I’m trying to take some time off (and have a number of duties what with my students here in California), I’m going to start archiving old newsletters and mailings.  Here’s something I wrote back in December 2005 — a wistful article by The Economist about automating Japanese health care.  In light of all the recent articles on importing workers for Japan’s nursing industry, this comes off as quite antiquated — and it’s only two and a half years old!  My original comments precede article, and current articles follow in the Comments section.  Arudou Debito in the Bay Area

     ================== mailing December 26, 2005
    Subject: Economist on robotics and culture in Japan

    Hi All. From The Economist’s Christmas special. Tries to find a cultural basis for Japanese nonantipathy towards robots, and cites Tetsuwan Atomu (whose name in Japanese “refers to its atomic heart”; huh?), a country “lucky to be uninhibited by robophobia” (when compared to the awkwardness and riskiness of employing Filipina nurses), and how Japanese are loath to ask for directions (not to mention deal with other humans in linguistic honorifics)…

    Am I the only one finds this article annoying? I think the author, not to mention the robotic researchers who paint Japanese society so oddly, should get outside more and have more human interaction. Could be that Japan is good at robotics simply because Japanese industry is world class at complex electronics, and this is merely the next outlet? Moreover, I doubt robots will ever effectively replace the human touch when it comes to health care, especially for the sick and the elderly–call me a Luddite. Bests, Debito in Sapporo


    Japan’s humanoid robots
    Better than people
    Dec 20th 2005 | TOKYO
    From The Economist print edition

    Why the Japanese want their robots to act more like humans

    HER name is MARIE, and her impressive set of skills comes in handy in a nursing home. MARIE can walk around under her own power. She can distinguish among similar-looking objects, such as different bottles of medicine, and has a delicate enough touch to work with frail patients. MARIE can interpret a range of facial expressions and gestures, and respond in ways that suggest compassion. Although her language skills are not ideal, she can recognise speech and respond clearly. Above all, she is inexpensive . Unfortunately for MARIE, however, she has one glaring trait that makes it hard for Japanese patients to accept her: she is a flesh-and-blood human being from the Philippines. If only she were a robot instead.

    Robots, you see, are wonderful creatures, as many a Japanese will tell you. They are getting more adept all the time, and before too long will be able to do cheaply and easily many tasks that human workers do now. They will care for the sick, collect the rubbish, guard homes and offices, and give directions on the street.

    This is great news in Japan, where the population has peaked, and may have begun shrinking in 2005. With too few young workers supporting an ageing population, somebody–or something–needs to fill the gap, especially since many of Japan’s young people will be needed in science, business and other creative or knowledge-intensive jobs.

    Many workers from low-wage countries are eager to work in Japan. The Philippines, for example, has over 350,000 trained nurses, and has been pleading with Japan — which accepts only a token few — to let more in. Foreign pundits keep telling Japan to do itself a favour and make better use of cheap imported labour. But the consensus among Japanese is that visions of a future in which immigrant workers live harmoniously and unobtrusively in Japan are pure fancy. Making humanoid robots is clearly the simple and practical way to go.

    Japan certainly has the technology. It is already the world leader in making industrial robots, which look nothing like pets or people but increasingly do much of the work in its factories. Japan is also racing far ahead of other countries in developing robots with more human features, or that can interact more easily with people. A government report released this May estimated that the market for “service robots” will reach エ1.1 trillion ($10 billion) within a decade.

    The country showed off its newest robots at a world exposition this summer in Aichi prefecture. More than 22m visitors came, 95% of them Japanese. The robots stole the show, from the nanny robot that babysits to a Toyota that plays a trumpet. And Japan’s robots do not confine their talents to controlled environments. As they gain skills and confidence, robots such as Sony’s QRIO (pronounced メcurioモ) and Honda’s ASIMO are venturing to unlikely places. They have attended factory openings, greeted foreign leaders, and rung the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange. ASIMO can even take the stage to accept awards.

    The friendly face of technology

    So Japan will need workers, and it is learning how to make robots that can do many of their jobs. But the country’s keen interest in robots may also reflect something else: it seems that plenty of Japanese really like dealing with robots.

    Few Japanese have the fear of robots that seems to haunt westerners in seminars and Hollywood films. In western popular culture, robots are often a threat, either because they are manipulated by sinister forces or because something goes horribly wrong with them. By contrast, most Japanese view robots as friendly and benign. Robots like people, and can do good.

    The Japanese are well aware of this cultural divide, and commentators devote lots of attention to explaining it. The two most favoured theories, which are assumed to reinforce each other, involve religion and popular culture.

    Most Japanese take an eclectic approach to religious beliefs, and the native religion, Shintoism, is infused with animism: it does not make clear distinctions between inanimate things and organic beings. A popular Japanese theory about robots, therefore, is that there is no need to explain why Japanese are fond of them: what needs explaining, rather, is why westerners allow their Christian hang-ups to get in the way of a good technology. When Honda started making real progress with its humanoid-robot project, it consulted the Vatican on whether westerners would object to a robot made in man’s image.

    Japanese popular culture has also consistently portrayed robots in a positive light, ever since Japan created its first famous cartoon robot, Tetsuwan Atomu, in 1951. Its name in Japanese refers to its atomic heart. Putting a nuclear core into a cartoon robot less than a decade after Hiroshima and Nagasaki might seem an odd way to endear people to the new character. But Tetsuwan Atom — being a robot, rather than a human — was able to use the technology for good.

    Over the past half century, scores of other Japanese cartoons and films have featured benign robots that work with humans, in some cases even blending with them. One of the latest is a film called “Hinokio”, in which a reclusive boy sends a robot to school on his behalf and uses virtual-reality technology to interact with classmates. Among the broad Japanese public, it is a short leap to hope that real-world robots will soon be able to pursue good causes, whether helping to detect landmines in war-zones or finding and rescuing victims of disasters.

    The prevailing view in Japan is that the country is lucky to be uninhibited by robophobia. With fewer of the complexes that trouble many westerners, so the theory goes, Japan is free to make use of a great new tool, just when its needs and abilities are happily about to converge. “Of all the nations involved in such research,” the Japan Times wrote in a 2004 editorial, “Japan is the most inclined to approach it in a spirit of fun.”

    These sanguine explanations, however, may capture only part of the story. Although they are at ease with robots, many Japanese are not as comfortable around other people. That is especially true of foreigners. Immigrants cannot be programmed as robots can. You never know when they will do something spontaneous, ask an awkward question, or use the wrong honorific in conversation. But, even leaving foreigners out of it, being Japanese, and having always to watch what you say and do around others, is no picnic.

    It is no surprise, therefore, that Japanese researchers are forging ahead with research on human interfaces. For many jobs, after all, lifelike features are superfluous. A robotic arm can gently help to lift and reposition hospital patients without being attached to a humanoid form. The same goes for robotic spoons that make it easier for the infirm to feed themselves, power suits that help lift heavy grocery bags, and a variety of machines that watch the house, vacuum the carpet and so on. Yet the demand for better robots in Japan goes far beyond such functionality. Many Japanese seem to like robot versions of living creatures precisely because they are different from the real thing.

    An obvious example is AIBO, the robotic dog that Sony began selling in 1999. The bulk of its sales have been in Japan, and the company says there is a big difference between Japanese and American consumers. American AIBO buyers tend to be computer geeks who want to hack the robotic dog’s programming and delve in its innards. Most Japanese consumers, by contrast, like AIBO because it is a clean, safe and predictable pet.

    AIBO is just a fake dog. As the country gets better at building interactive robots, their advantages for Japanese users will multiply. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a robotocist at Osaka University, cites the example of asking directions. In Japan, says Mr Ishiguro, people are even more reluctant than in other places to approach a stranger. Building robotic traffic police and guides will make it easier for people to overcome their diffidence.
    (Contactable at

    Karl MacDorman, another researcher at Osaka, sees similar social forces at work. Interacting with other people can be difficult for the Japanese, he says, “because they always have to think about what the other person is feeling, and how what they say will affect the other person.” But it is impossible to embarrass a robot, or be embarrassed, by saying the wrong thing.
    (Contactable at

    To understand how Japanese might find robots less intimidating than people, Mr MacDorman has been investigating eye movements, using headsets that monitor where subjects are looking. One oft-cited myth about Japanese, that they rarely make eye contact, is not really true. When answering questions put by another Japanese, Mr MacDorman’s subjects made eye contact around 30% of the time. But Japanese subjects behave intriguingly when they talk to Mr Ishiguro’s android, ReplieeQ1. The android’s face has been modeled on that of a famous newsreader, and sophisticated actuators allow it to mimic her facial movements. When answering the android’s questions, Mr MacDorman’s Japanese subjects were much more likely to look it in the eye than they were a real person. Mr MacDorman wants to do more tests, but he surmises that the discomfort many Japanese feel when dealing with other people has something to do with his results, and that they are much more at ease when talking to an android.

    Eventually, interactive robots are going to become more common, not just in Japan but in other rich countries as well. As children and the elderly begin spending time with them, they are likely to develop emotional reactions to such lifelike machines. That is human nature. Upon meeting Sony’s QRIO, your correspondent promptly referred to it as “him” three times, despite trying to remember that it is just a battery-operated device.


    What seems to set Japan apart from other countries is that few Japanese are all that worried about the effects that hordes of robots might have on its citizens. Nobody seems prepared to ask awkward questions about how it might turn out. If this bold social experiment produces lots of isolated people, there will of course be an outlet for their loneliness: they can confide in their robot pets and partners. Only in Japan could this be thought less risky than having a compassionate Filipina drop by for a chat.


    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6: The case for “Gaijin” as a racist word


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Column Six for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column

    By Arudou Debito
    Tuesday, August 5, 2008
    DRAFT TEN–version submitted to the Editor, with links to sources.


    Gaijin“. It seems we hear the word every day. For some, it’s merely harmless shorthand for “gaikokujin” (foreigner). Even Wikipedia (that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists) had a section on “political correctness“, claiming illiterate and oversensitive Westerners had misunderstood their Japanese word.

    I take a different view. Gaijin is not merely a word. It is an epithet. About the billions of people who are not Japanese. It makes attributions to them that go beyond nationality.

    Let’s deal with basic counterarguments: Calling gaijin a mere contraction of gaikokujin is not historically accurate. According to ancient texts and prewar dictionaries [see Endnote], “gaijin” (or “guwaijin” in the contemporary rendering) once referred to Japanese people too. Anyone not from your village, in-group etc. was one. It was a way of showing you don’t belong here–even (according to my 1978 Kojien, Japan’s premier dictionary) “regarded as an enemy” (tekishi). Back then there were other (even more unsavory) words for foreigners anyway, so gaijin has a separate etymology from words specifically meaning “extranational”.

    Even if you argue modern usage conflates, gaijin is still a loaded word, easily abused. Consider two nasty side effects:

    1) “Gaijin” strips the world of diversity. Japan’s proportion of the world’s population is a little under 2%. In the gaijin binary worldview, you either are a Japanese or you’re not–an “ichi-ro” or a “ze-ro”. Thus you indicate the remaining 98% of the world are outsiders.

    2) And always will be: A gaijin is a gaijin anytime, any place. The word is even used overseas by traveling/resident Japanese to describe non-Japanese, or rather, “foreigners in their own country”. Often without any apparent sense of irony or contradiction. Japanese outside of Japan logically must be foreigners somewhere! Not when everyone else is a gaijin.

    Left unchallenged, this rubric encourages dreadful social science–ultimately creating a constellation of “us and them” differences (as opposed to possible similarities) for the ichiro culture vultures to guide their sextants by.

    For those hung up on gaijin’s apparently harmless kanji (“outside person”), even that is indicative. The “koku” in gaikokujin refers specifically to country–a legal status you can change. The epithet doesn’t, effectively making classification a matter of birth status, physical appearance, race. Meaning once you get relegated to the “gaijin” group, you never get out.

    Allow me to illustrate that with a joke from the American South:

    Question: “What do you call a black man with a PhD in neurobiology from Harvard, who works as a brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins, earns seven figures a year, and runs one of the world’s largest philanthropies?”

    Answer: “N*gg*r” (rhymes with “bigger”).

    Hardy har. Now let’s rephrase:

    Question: “What do you can a white man with degrees from top-tier schools, who has lived in Japan for more than two decades, contributes to Japanese society as an university educator, is fluent in Japanese, and has Japanese citizenship?”

    Answer: “Gaijin”.

    As a naturalized citizen I resemble that remark. But nobody who knows my nationality calls me a gaikokujin anymore–it’s factually incorrect. But there are plenty of people (especially foreigners) who don’t hesitate to call me a gaijin–often pejoratively.

    Thus gaijin is a caste. No matter how hard you try to acculturalize yourself, become literate and lingual, even make yourself legally inseparable from the putative “naikokujin” (whoever they are), you’re still “not one of us”.

    Moreover, factor in Japan’s increasing number of children of international marriages. Based upon whether or not they look like their foreign parent (again, “gaijin-ppoi“), there are cases where they get treated differently, even adversely, by society. Thus the rubric of gaijin even encourages discrimination against its own citizens.

    This must be acknowledged. Even though trying to get people to stop using gaijin overnight would be like swatting flies, people should know of its potential abuses. At least people should stop arguing that it’s the same as gaikokujin.

    For gaijin is essentially “n*gg*r”, and should be likewise obsolesced.

    Fortunately, our media is helping out, long since adding gaijin to the list of “housou kinshi yougo” (words unfit for broadcast).

    So can we. Apply Japan’s slogan against undesirable social actions: “Shinai, sasenai” (I won’t use it, I won’t let it be used.)
    690 words

    Arudou Debito is co-author of Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan. A fuller version of this article at

    Sources for ancient texts and dictionaries concerning the word Gaijin:

    1)言海(大正14年出版)pg 299: 「外人:外(ホカ)ノ人、外国人」(Courtesy 北海道立図書館)
    2)A. Matsumura (ed.), Daijisen (大辞泉), (p. 437, 1st ed., vol. 1). (1998). Tokyo: Shogakukan. “がいじん。【外人】② 仲間以外の人。他人。「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ」〈平家・一〉”
    3)”外人”. Kōjien (5). (1998). Iwanami. ISBN 4000801112. “がいじん【外人】① 仲間以外の人。疎遠の人。連理秘抄「外人など上手多からむ座にては」② 敵視すべきな人。平家一「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ」”
    4)A. Matsumura (ed.), Daijirin (大辞林), (p. 397, 9th ed., vol. 1). (1989). Tokyo: Sanseido. “がいじん【外人】② そのことに関係のない人。第三者。「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ/平家一」”
    5)「外人もなき所に兵具をとゝのへ」 (Assembling arms where there are no gaijin) 高木, 市之助; 小沢正夫, 渥美かをる, 金田一春彦 (1959). 日本古典文学大系: 平家物語 (in Japanese). 岩波書店, 123. ISBN 4-00-060032-X.
    6)「源平両家の童形たちのおのおのござ候ふに、かやうの外人は然るべからず候」(Since the children of both Genji and Heike are here, such a gaijin is not appropriate to stay together.) 鞍馬天狗
    (All courtesy of source footnotes in Wikipedia entry on “Gaijin”, retrieved August 1, 2008.)

    GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.


     Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
     Hi Blog.  Here’s something quite odd.  We have the GOJ saying that the population of Japan is rising (ii n ja nai?).  Then they make it clear that the figures doesn’t include foreign residents.  Now why would any government worth its salt decide to exclude taxpayers thusly?  Aren’t registered foreign residents people too, part of a “population”?  Arudou Debito


    Population rises 1st time in 3 years

    The nation’s population grew for the first time in three years to 127,066,178 in the year to March 31, up 12,707 from a year earlier, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Thursday.

    The figure was based on resident registrations at municipal government offices and does not include foreign residents.

    Over the period, there was a fall in the natural population–the number of births minus the number of deaths in the year through the end of March–of 29,119. However, the figures showed an increase of 41,826 due to social factors such as the rise in the number of repatriates and newly naturalized citizens.

    The survey also showed that the population in Tokyo increased by 100,460, breaking the 100,000 mark for the first time since the government began taking such surveys in 1968 and reflecting the trend toward a concentration of the population in large cities.

    The number of births increased for two consecutive years to 1,096,465, but was offset by the number of the deaths, which went up by 44,410 to 1,125,584. The natural decline was the second for the nation, following the 2006 survey.

    Meanwhile, the so-called social population, which saw a decline of 12,297 in the year through March 31, 2007, rose by 41,826 for this year. The ministry believes that the social population increase can be attributed to an increased number of people returning home after their companies closed their offices overseas. Officials noted therefore that the overall trend of a declining population had not changed.

    (Aug. 1, 2008)



    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan


     きのうの読売によると、「人口3年ぶり増加」という。おめでとう。が、なぜ「人口」を言うのに外国人住民(つまり外国人登録者数)は入らないのでしょうか。国内に住居であり、納税して、社会の貢献者やメンバーではないかと思います。総務省はそうやって人を加算しないメリットはありますか。今後、「人口」を測るなら「人」を測りましょう。有道 出人









    (2008年8月1日02時14分  読売新聞)

    Tangent: Why I don’t debate outside of


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog.  Every now and then (actually, practically every day) I get word that somebody is taking up an issue on another list/blog/what have you and debating something on  Great.  That’s exactly what I want.

    But I rarely ever go on those blogs and answer the claims made (often erroneous — the product of people who either haven’t read what I said thoroughly, or think that nobody will follow up and actually read what I said in context).  Even when they email me individually to say, “C’mon, we’re talking aboutcha.”  

    Thanks for the invites, but I have a very specific reason for not doing that.  I as I wrote in my book, JAPANESE ONLY (pg 298-299), after our announcement that we were going to be suing Yunohana Onsen in Otaru for racial discrimination:

    Olaf:  “I’m being bombarded with emails.  How about you?”

    Debito:  “As usual.  A couple hundred per day.  About two-thirds, actually, are supportive.  The Account I opened for the lawsuit has already collected enough donations to pay for our legal fees, and then some.  Very generous people out there.”

    Olaf:  “But how do we answer the critics?”

    Debito:  “That’s the thing.  We don’t.  There are lots of them and one of you.  If you try to answer them all, or even try to engage in a debate on a list, you’ll find yourself tangled up in shouting matches with a Peanut Gallery that will never see things our way.  They diss people like us for sport. Ultimately you get tired out from all the reading and writing, unable to concentrate on what really matters — keeping the message clear and focused.  So sit back, let the critics weigh in, see what kinds of arguments are out there, and only answer the ones who are earnest or from people whose opinions personally matter to us.

    “This is not an unusual strategy.  Even the Reverend Martin Luther King used it.  In his ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail’ (April 16, 1963), where one of his protests was characterized as ‘unwise and untimely’ by local White liberal clergymen, he opened his letter with: 

    ‘Seldom, if ever, do I ever pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas… But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.’

    “I will issue a long answer over the Internet and on the website fairly soon.  After that, let that be our statement on the case. Send queries and a link and don’t bother saying much more.”

    That was a decision I came to back in 2001.  Nowadays, given that there are whole groups of attack blogs (i.e. people united by a common interest of wasting potentially productive lives attacking me) out there who have no problem whatsoever with issuing outright lies (no longer even deliberate misquotes, not even misreadings due to sloth or political bent), I follow this policy even more so, I’m afraid.  Thanks to the inverse proportion of anonymity and responsibility, the Internet has only gotten nastier over time.

    And even when a particular BBS has a more balanced (and literate) readership who can be bothered to take on the dolts, the debate goes on in circles because the dolts can’t admit they’re wrong and inject sophistry, or else latecomers don’t bother to read all the previous posts in the debate and it goes around in circles.  No thanks.  I think everyone has a better use of their time.

    Here’s an example.  For an entertaining read and seriously good debate (my thanks to the posters who actually bother to read what I write), here is a recent one from Big Daikon on the Hokkaido Police racial profiling issue I brought up last month:

    The point is that even when the debate is enjoyable, when earnestly confronted with errors and facts of the case, critics still would not acquiesce and instead obfuscated.  Sorry, there’s no winning or truth-seeking on most online debate arenas.  I like games that come to a conclusion, thanks.  That’s why I basically confine my comments and thoughts to this blog and my Newsletters.  

    To those who bother to read and quote me accurately, my thanks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Japan Times July 8 2008 45th Zeit Gist Column: Gaijin as Public Policy Guinea Pig


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi All. This came out yesterday in the Japan Times, thought you might find it interesting. Bests, Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Non-Japanese, with fewer rights, are public policy test dummies
    By ARUDOU Debito
    Column 45 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Community Page
    Draft Seventeen, “Director’s Cut”, with links to sources
    Published July 8, 2008, available at

    Anywhere in the world, non-citizens have fewer legal rights than citizens. Japan’s Supreme Court would agree: On June 2, in a landmark case granting citizenship to Japanese children of unmarried Filipina mothers, judges ruled that Japanese citizenship is necessary “for the protection of basic human rights”.

    A shortage of rights for some humans is evident whenever police partake in racial profiling–for example, stopping you for walking, using public transportation, even cycling while gaijin (Zeit Gist Jul. 27, 2004). Japanese citizens are protected against random questioning by the “Police Execution of Duties Act”; requiring probable cause of a crime. But non-citizens, thanks to the Foreign Registry Law, can be questioned at any time, any place, under penalty of arrest (with some caveats; see SIDEBAR below).

    The societal damage caused by this, however, isn’t so easily compartmentalized by nationality. Denying legal rights to some people will eventually affect everyone, especially since non-Japanese (NJ) are being used as a proving ground for embryonic public policy.

    Let’s start with the racial profiling. Mark Butler (a pseudonym), a ten-year Caucasian resident of Japan and Tokyo University student, has been stopped by police a lot–117 times, to be exact. He cycles home at sunrise after working in the financial night markets.

    Never mind that these cops see Mark every night. Or that the same cop has stopped him several times. Or that they sometimes make a scene chasing him down the street, and interrogate him in the cold and rain like a criminal suspect.

    Why do they do this? Cops generally claim a quest for bicycle thieves, never making clear why Mark arouses suspicion. When pressed further they admit: “Sure, we know you’re not a crook, but Chinese gangs are causing trouble, and if we don’t crack down on foreigners, the public thinks we’re not doing our job.”

    But at stoppage #67, at a police box that had checked him more than forty times already, a nervous junior cop admitted that this was his “kunren” (training).

    “It seemed the older officer there remembered I wasn’t a thief,” said Mark, “and saw an opportunity for some on-the-job training–without the risk of dealing with an actual criminal.”

    Mark concluded, “I’d be happy to serve as a paid actor who rides past police stations and cooperates (or not, as directed) with the trainees. But these are officials making use of innocent people–and foreigners at that–for their kunren, with small and large risks forced upon the innocent party.”

    No larger risk imaginable was recently forced upon a gaijin gimp by Narita Customs.

    On May 26, a Customs official planted 124 grams of cannabis in a NJ tourist’s bag. Why again? To train the sniffer dog.

    Unbelievably, the bag got lost. Customs later tracked down the tourist and his bag at a Tokyo hotel, then publicly blamed one bad egg, and one bad dog, for not being up to snuff. Even though Kyodo (June 30) now reports that Narita has laced bags 160 times since last September. The Mainichi in English even called it “common practice”.

    Never mind that anyone else Trojan-Horsing dope would be committing a crime. And if the bag got on a connecting flight to, say, Singapore, the unwitting possessor would be put to death.

    Japan also has stiff penalties for drug possession, so imagine this being your bag, and the police on the beat snagging you for questioning. Do you think “how’d that get there?” would have sufficed? It didn’t for Nick Baker, arrested shortly before World Cup 2002, and sentenced to fourteen years despite evidence he was an unwitting “mule” (ZG Oct. 28, 2003).

    And it didn’t suffice for a Swiss woman, arrested in October 2006 on suspicion of smuggling meth from Malaysia. Despite being found innocent twice in Japanese courts, she still hasn’t been released (because NJ have no right to bail in Japan, either). Thus being arrested under any pretense in Japan will seriously ruin your day–or the rest of your life.

    Narita Customs said reprimands would be issued, paychecks docked, but nobody fired. That’ll learn ’em. But still the lack of transparency, such as whether Mr. Bad Egg knew the suitcase owner’s nationality from the bag tag, is indicative. It’s not inconceivable that his bag selection was judicious: If he’d egged a Japanese, think of the lawsuit. Non-tourists have plenty of time to hire a lawyer, and no language barrier.

    Mr. Bad Egg, who according to Kyodo had spiked bags 90 times, seems a systematic fellow. Apparently determined not to follow what Customs claims is standard procedure (such as stashing the contraband in a dummy bag; although common-sense precautions, like including a GPS locator or labeling the box “Property of Narita Customs”, apparently are not), it seems logical that he would target a gaijin guinea pig and safely hedge his bets.

    But why should citizens care what happens to NJ? Because NJ are crash-test dummies for policy creep.

    For example, systemic full-time contract employment (“ninkisei”) first started with the foreigners. In Japan’s universities (and many of its workplaces), if a Japanese was hired full-time, he got lifetime employment–unable to be sacked unless he did something illegal or really stupid (like, um, plant drugs?).

    However, NJ educators and employees were given contracts, often capped at a certain age or number of renewals. And they didn’t get “fired” in legal terms–their contracts were merely “nonrenewed”. There was no legal recourse, because you agreed to the poison pill by signing the contract. Thus nationality and job stability were correlated, in a practice long derided as “Academic Apartheid”. Who cared? NJ were supposed to “go home” someday anyway.

    However, in the 1990’s, with the low birthrate and declining student numbers, Japan’s universities found themselves in trouble. So in 1997, a new law was passed enabling full-time Japanese educators to be hired on contracts like foreigners. Hey, it had kept the gaijin disposable for the past century–why not use it to downsize everyone?

    Eventually the entire job market recognized how “temping” and “freetering” everyone empowered the bottom line. Now contract employment is now universal–applied, according to Louis Carlet of the National Union of General Workers, to 20% of Japanese men, 50% of Japanese women, and 90% of NJ workers!

    Another example: Back in 2003, the government tried “Gaijin Carding” the entire population with the Juki-Net System. However, it faced a huge (and rare) public backlash; an Osaka High Court Judge even ruled it unconstitutional in 2006 as an invasion of privacy. Oddly, the judge died in an apparent suicide four days after his ruling, and the Supreme Court reversed his decision last March 6. Now the decks are legally cleared to track everyone.

    Meanwhile, new, improved, centralized Gaijin Cards with IC Chips (ZG Nov. 22, 2005) are in the pipeline to keep the policing system evolving.

    Even more examples: 1) Police stopping Japanese and rifling through their backpacks (vernacular articles have even started advising readers that this is in fact still illegal).

    2) More public surveillance cameras appearing nationwide, after Japan’s first neighborhood “foreign crime” cameras were installed in Kabukicho in February 2002. According to NHK (July 1), Tokyo is getting 4000 new ones for the Summit; temporarily, we hope.

    And of course, as readers know full well by now, 3) the G8 Summit security overkill, converting parts of Japan into a temporary police state for the sake of catching “terrorists” (foreigners, natch) (ZG Apr 22).

    What’s next? How about fingerprinting everyone, and forcing them to carry RFID tracking devices? Hey, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear from extra surveillance, right? Besides, the gaijin have already set the precedent.

    The moral here is as below, so above. Our fellow native residents should not think that they won’t be “gaijinized” just because they are citizens. No matter what the Supreme Court writes about the power of citizenship, when it comes to the erosion of civil rights, non-citizens are the canaries in the coal mine.
    1320 words

    SIDEBAR (180 words)
    Checks and balances in ID Checks

    According to Mark Butler’s consultations with the police, without probable cause of a crime, police cannot stop and demand ID from citizens (see full article). However, “probable cause” goes grey when, for example, you are on a bicycle (“I need to check it’s not stolen”) or you look foreign (“is your visa valid?”).

    That’s why their first question is about your nationality. If not Japanese, they can apply the Foreign Registry Law and demand your Gaijin Card. If Japanese, legally they have to let you go.

    But cops are now finding excuses to stop Japanese: Backpackers might be carrying drugs or knives, high schoolers tobacco or alcohol, etc. That’s how they’ve been circumventing the law for Summit security overkill.

    Imagine interrogating a non-Asian who turns out to be naturalized or with NJ roots. With no Gaijin Card, and no way to prove he’s Japanese. If there’s no “bike or backpack” excuse, and an audio recording of the proceedings hits the media, this extralegal harassment may be unmasked as racial profiling.

    We’re waiting for that test case. Or rather, I am.


    American tarento Pakkun bullies eager language learners at G8 Summit Site


    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog.  Saw something on NHK last night (General, 11PM) that made me see red.

    International comedy team Pakkun and Makkun (Pakkun is the American, Makkun the Japanese) were part of a comedy troupe who descended on the G8 Summit Site to test people’s language ability.

    Perhaps this is part of their act (I have avoided Pakkun in particular for quite some time–so far I have only found him humorlessly obnoxious), but NHK was exploring how Hokkaido locals around Toyako had spent years preparing for the G8 Summit beefing up their English language ability.

    First bit I saw (I came in late and left early) was a roundtable with a group of Japanese locals acting as a model UN, all speaking English to each other in the guise of several countries.  They were doing a decent job, had been learning from native volunteers (the TV show said) for about seventeen years.  Nice try, anyway, but Makkun told the Japanese woman to speak with her chest like a “typical American” (yeah, right); that’s pretty ignorant, but Pakkun told the guy posing as a Russian to learn a Russian accent–and essentially misled him into a German accent…!  Yeah, I’m sure that’ll help these people communicate.

    It went on in this vein–Pakkun telling people that if they make a mistake in English, they’ll cause an “international incident” (yeah, sure).  Pakkun putting a hotel owner (who had studied English language tapes in his car for two years) on the spot and in his place by using a complicated English question (about whether he was using English geared for the workplace or general conversation–or something like that–it was pretty mumbled) and occasioning a “pardon”?  And Pakkun walking into an onsen area with slippers and a towel, and acting dumb about being cautioned (“Uh… take off your slip…” “I’m not wearing a dress.” “Um… your shoes, take to locker…” “You want me to go back to my locker and take my shoes in there?”, and so on) in particular showed incredible insensitivity and ignorance, particularly given Hokkaido’s past difficulties with NJ in places like Otaru onsens.

    I had had enough.  I switched it off.  Way to go, Pakkun.  Japanese people in general have glass jaws when it comes to foreign languages in the first place.  And your going up there to nameru people with your native tongue, and doing it incorrectly and insensitively (it went beyond IMO a simple playfulness–it was making sport of them), did nobody any favors.  Least of all those earnest people who were trying so hard after so many years to cope with NJ.  Hardy har har.  Go to hell.  Arudou Debito in transit

    Kyodo says foreign crime down in 2007, yet NPA stresses need for further crackdown (UPDATED)


    Hi Blog. Quick article with comment following:


    No. of crimes committed by visiting foreigners down

    Courtesy of COJ

    TOKYO, Feb. 28 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The number of crimes committed by foreigners visiting Japan dropped for the second straight year to 35,800 last year, down 10.8 percent from the previous year, after hitting a peak in 2005, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

    However, the number of crimes detected by police during the five-year period from 2003 to 2007 increased some 70 percent from the period of with an NPA official stressing the need for further crackdown on them.

    Of the 35,800 cases, 25,753 cases were violations of the criminal code, down 6.2 percent from the previous year, while 10,047 cases were violations of special law, such as immigrant control and refugee recognition act, down 20.7 percent, according to the NPA.

    The number of foreign criminals arrested, excluding permanent residents in Japan, in the reporting year fell 15.6 percent to 15,923, of whom Chinese constituted 5,346, South Koreans 2,037, Filipinos 1,807, Brazilians 1,255 and Vietnamese 806.

    For nine criminals, Tokyo asked their home countries to punish them as they fled from Japan after committing crimes, bringing the number of such criminals to 48 since 1999.

    COMMENT: Pretty lousy social science. Not sure what “foreigners visiting Japan” refers to. Tourists? As opposed to “foreigners living in Japan”? Rainichi gaikokujin I assume is the original Japanese (that’s the word frequently used in this context by the NPA). That means residents.

    And what an odd sentence to make it through the editing process:

    “However, the number of crimes detected by police during the five-year period from 2003 to 2007 increased some 70 percent from the period of with an NPA official stressing the need for further crackdown on them.”

    From the period of what? From the period of the NPA official stressing the need for a further crackdown between 2003-7? No, that doesn’t make sense. It makes more sense that there’s an NPA official commenting for this article, meaning once again the NPA stresses a need for further crackdown. That’s illogical given this news.

    Which means the press is once again merely parroting without analysis. And we really need some better translators at Kyodo.

    The point is: the NPA will say anything, even make bad news out of good, to keep budgetary monies flowing in… Debito in Okinawa


    Here’s the original Japanese (and yes, it’s rainichi gaikokujin, and it does not include Permanent Residents. That still doesn’t mean “visitors”–there are hundreds of thousands of people who live here without PR as residents, not tourists.)

    外国人犯罪、2年連続で減 警察庁「高止まりの状態」



    (Literally: “On the other hand, when looking at the number of cases committed within five year periods, comparing the number of crimes committed between 2003-2007 and 1993-1997, there has been been a 70% rise. The NPA says, “Although there have been some rises and falls, in recent years it’s ‘been stopped at a high point’. From now on it’ll be necessary to for us to strengthen our crackdown even more.”)




    FURTHER COMMENT: So how many more years are we going to back up and say crime has increased? Why not go back to a time when there were a lot fewer NJ and look at crime stats back then? Calculating this way will always give you a higher number. Then you get perpetual justification for cracking down in the face of falling crime.

    Under this method, when can the police say, “We’ve done enough, we don’t have crack down any more on foreign crime”? Answer: Never. Because even if foreign crime fell to zero, they could still say that their past crackdowns have brought that about and we’ll have to continue cracking down.

    This is no longer anything even approaching a scientific method. Or even a logical method. It’s clearly just a political method.  And the Japanese press swallows it whole.  Debito in Okinawa

    Interesting forthcoming book: “Another Japan is Possible”, citing Tony Laszlo of long-defunct “Issho Kikaku”


    Hi Blog. Speaking of books…

    We have another book on Japan’s internationalization coming out. Press release below. It looks to be a serious and interesting study of the forces of minority voices in Japan. Well done Professor Chan.

    There is one thing I found odd. Chapter 42 below reads:

    42. Issho Kikaku
    Tony Laszlo
    Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration

    Hang on. Tony Laszlo of “Issho Kikaku”? Issho Kikaku has been a moribund organization for more than two years now (its archives taken offline for “site renewal” December 4, 2005! Here’s today’s screen capture:).

    By taking the work of hundreds of activists offline like this, Laszlo in fact has a history of deleting the historical record of Japan’s internationalization. Likewise, the Shakai Mailing List Archives, which he was also involved in, also mysteriously disappeared about a year ago. Substantiation for all these assertions here.

    How can a “non-active” activist representing a non-existent organization pop up like this in a serious academic work? Well, Jennifer by sheer coincidence contacted me a couple of weeks ago for some introductions into Japan’s Muslim Community. When queried about this situation, she said she conducted the interviews with Laszlo about two years ago. Probably before Laszlo deep-sixed his site. So she probably didn’t know about his impending conversion to cartoon character and cute keitai mascot (beats sullying his hands in real activism, anyway, or tainting his cutie-pie salability with any connection to controversial topics). I wish Jennifer had done a follow-up check before publication, though. Perpetuates an incorrect job description for other serious researchers.

    Anyway, without any sarcasm, I think this looks to be a great book. Bonne chance. I’ll be getting a copy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    Another Japan is Possible: New Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education
    Edited by Jennifer Chan, Stanford University Press 2008.
    ISBN: 0804757828
    Price: USD 27.95

    Book summary:
    This edited volume, a sequel to my first book – Gender and Human Rights Politics in Japan – looks at the emergence of internationally linked Japanese advocacy nongovernmental networks that have grown since the 1990s in the context of three conjunctural forces of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism. It connects three disparate literatures on the global justice movement, Japanese civil society, and global citizenship education. Through the narratives of 50 activists in eight overlapping issue areas—global governance, labor, food sovereignty, peace, HIV/AIDS, gender, minority and human rights, and youth—this book examines the genesis of these new social movements; their critiques of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism; their local, regional, and global connections; relationships with the Japanese government; and their role in constructing a new identity of Japanese as global citizens. Its purpose is to highlight the interactions between the global and local—that is, how international human rights and global governance issues resonate within Japan and how in turn local alternatives are articulated by Japanese advocacy groups—and to analyze citizenship from a postnational and postmodern perspective.

    Advanced Praise
    “A surprise for observers who view Japan as a developmental state, run by a powerful central bureaucracy and aligned with a conservative party whose policies often override public interest, this book casts new light on a vital aspect of Japan’s emerging political economy. A remarkable group of scholars, professionals, and citizen activists reveal the growing numbers of committed Japanese participating energetically in local and global organizations.”
    ˜Daniel I. Okimoto, Stanford University

    “Jennifer Chan vividly illustrates the recent flourishing of nongovernmental organizations in Japan. With good contextualizing narratives and rich, informative examples of the thinking and sentiments nongovernmental organizations generate, she delivers a must-read in the study of globalization and localization.”
    ˜Inoguchi Takashi, University of Tokyo

    “This book is rich in primary material on the human side of NGO activity in Japan, along a wide spectrum of organizations. This is a nuanced view of advocacy, strategies, and institutions, sometimes against the grain of existing views, and it adds the perspectives of new global citizens of Japan, engaged in knowledge production.
    ˜Merry White, Boston University

    Table of Contents:

    Introduction: Global Governance and Japanese Advocacy Nongovernmental Networks
    I. Global Governance
    1. AM-Net/Advocacy and Monitoring Network on Sustainable Development
    Kawakami Toyoyuki Global Governance Monitoring and Japan
    2. Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society
    Sakuma Tomoko Education, Empowerment and Alternatives to Neoliberalism
    3. Peoples’ Plan Study Group
    Ogura Toshimaru Building a People-based Peace and Democracy Movement in Asia
    4. Association for the Tobin Tax for the Aid of Citizens, Kyoto
    Komori Masataka Tobin Tax, Kyoto Social Forum and Pluralism
    5. Pacific Asia Resource Center
    Fukawa Yoko Education for Civil Society Capacity Building
    6. Japan International Volunteer Center
    Takahashi Kiyotaka Community Development, Peace and Global Citizenship

    II. Labor
    7. Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo)
    Kumagai Ken’ichi Globalization and Labor Restructuring
    8. Shinjuku Homeless Support Center
    Kasai Kazuaki Corporate Restructuring and Homelessness
    9. Equality Action 21
    Sakai Kazuko Gender, Part-time Labor and Indirect Discrimination
    10. Filipino Migrants Center Nagoya
    Ishihara Virgie Migration, Trafficking and Free Trade Agreements
    11. Labor Net
    Yasuda Yukihiro Neoliberalism and Labor Organizing
    12. All-Japan Water Supply Workers’ Union
    Mizukoshi Takashi Water, Global Commons and Peace

    III. Food Sovereignty
    13. No to WTO – Voice from the Grassroots in Japan
    Ohno Kazuoki Agricultural Liberalization, World Trade Organization and Peace
    14. Food Action 21
    Yamaura Yasuaki Multifunctionality of Agriculture over Free Trade
    15. No! GMO Campaign
    Amagasa Keisuke Citizens’ Movement against Genetically Modified Foods
    16. Watch Out for WTO! Japan
    Imamura Kazuhiko Self-sufficiency, Safety and Food Liberalization

    IV. Peace
    17. Grassroots Movement to Remove US Bases from Okinawa and the World
    Hirayama Motoh “We Want Blue Sky in Peaceful Okinawa”
    18. World Peace Now
    Hanawa Machiko, Tsukushi Takehiko and Cazman World Peace Now
    19. No to Constitutional Revision! Citizens’ Network
    Takada Ken Article 9 and the Peace Movement
    20. Japan Teachers’ Union
    Nishihara Nobuaki Fundamental Law of Education, Peace and the Marketization of Education
    21. International Criminal Bar
    Higashizawa Yasushi Japan and International War Crimes
    22. Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines
    Kitagawa Yasuhiro Landmine Ban and Peace Education
    23. Peace Depot
    Nakamura Keiko Nuclear Disarmament, Advocacy and Peace Education
    24. Asia-Pacific Peace Forum
    Ôtsuka Teruyo Building a Citizens’ Peace Movement in Japan and Asia

    25. Japan AIDS and Society Association
    Tarui Masayoshi HIV/AIDS from a Human Rights Perspective
    26. Place Tokyo
    Hyôdô Chika HIV/AIDS, Gender and Backlash
    27. Africa Japan Forum
    Inaba Masaki Migrant Workers and HIV/AIDS

    VI. Gender
    28. Japan NGO Network for CEDAW
    Watanabe Miho International Lobbying and Japanese Women’s Networks
    29. Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons
    Hara Yuriko Gender, Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons
    30. Soshiren/Starting from a Female Body
    Ohashi Yukako Gender, Reproductive Rights and Technology
    31. Regumi Studio Tokyo
    Wakabayashi Naeko As a Lesbian Feminist in Japan
    32. Sex Workers and Sexual Health
    Kaname Yukiko Sex Workers’ Movement in Japan
    33. Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace
    Watanabe Mina Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace
    34. Feminist Art Action Brigade
    Shimada Yoshiko Art, Feminism and Activism

    VII. Minority and Human Rights
    35. Japan Civil Liberties Union Subcommittee for the Rights of Foreigners
    Fujimoto Mie A Proposal for the Law on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
    36. The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    Morihara Hideki Antidiscrimination, Grassroots Empowerment and Horizontal Networking
    37. Buraku Liberation League
    Mori Maya Multiple Identities and Buraku Liberation
    38. Citizens’ Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Shimin Gaikô Centre)
    Uemura Hideaki Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Multicultural Coexistence
    39. Association of Rera
    Sakai Mina On the Recognition of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights of the Ainu
    40. Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryûkyûs
    Taira Satoko “I would like to be able to speak Uchinâguchi when I grow up!”
    41. Mirine
    Hwangbo Kangja Art Activism and Korean Minority Rights
    42. Issho Kikaku
    Tony Laszlo Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration
    43. Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International
    Hirukawa Ryôko Disability and Gender
    44. Japan Association for Refugees
    Ishikawa Eri The UN Convention on Refugee and Asylum Protection in Japan
    45. Center for Prisoners’ Rights Japan
    Akiyama Emi Torture, Penal Reform and Prisoners’ Rights
    46. Forum 90
    Takada Akiko Death Penalty and Human Rights

    VIII. Youth Groups
    47. Peace Boat
    Yoshioka Tatsuya Experience, Action and the Floating Peace Village
    48. A Seed Japan
    Mitsumoto Yuko Ecology, Youth Action and International Advocacy
    49. BeGood Cafe
    Shikita Kiyoshi Organic Food, Education and Peace
    50. Body and Soul
    Takahashi Kenkichi “Another Work is Possible”: Slow Life, Ecology and Peace

    Conclusion: Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education

    Target audience:
    Japanese studies, Asian studies, feminist studies, human rights and globalization researchers, transnational and local social movement studies.

    To order:
    Chicago Distribution Center
    11030 South Langley Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60628
    Tel. 1-800-621-2736
    Fax: 1-800-621-8471
    or through

    For more information, please contact:
    Jennifer Chan, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor,
    Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education; and
    Faculty Associate, the Centre for Japanese Research, the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies; and Institute for European Studies.
    University of British Columbia
    2125 Main Mall,
    Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
    Tel: (604) 822-5353
    Fax: (604) 822-4244

    Sankei snipes at Chinese workers, comparing Pension System temp inputters with toxic gyouza



    Hi Blog. Get a load of this. The Sankei trowels on the insinuations–by comparing the Chinese gyouza poisonings with Chinese temporary workers inputting data into the troubled Japanese pension system. As if letting in Chinese workers to do a Japanese’s work is like letting in toxic gyouza.

    Whatta headline. True colors disguised as wry humor by the good ol’ Sankei Shinbun. Somebody reel in the editor… Arudou Debito


    Sankei Shinbun January 30, 2008
    Courtesy of C, translated by Arudou Debito and online assistants

    On January 29, it became clear at a DPJ General Meeting for Health Welfare and Labor issues that Chinese temporary workers (haken sha-in), have caused problems with digital conversion of handwritten data into online computer databases.

    The old system using handwritten passbooks has resulted in about 14,660,000 future pensioners, who have paid into the system but are not yet recorded as eligible for benefits, going unrecorded digitally.

    According to the Social Insurance Agency, between December 10 and 20 of last year, about 60 foreign temp workers were inputting data. However, their inability to input correct kanji readings, or separate surname and first names of entrants, had caused errors in the system. The Social Insurance Agency says that by switching all these workers with Japanese people, they’ve corrected all errors, and are now considering lowering the amount of money paid out to the companies brokering their temp workers.

    Historical artifact: NJ Jobs in 1984 (Tokyo Shinbun)


    Here’s a little something friend Mark S sent on to me after cleaning off his bookshelves:


    Yep, according to some magazine in Feb 88 citing Tokyo Shinbun January 8, 1988, the most popular jobs for foreigners in 1984 were:

    1. Entertainers and Pro Sports
    2. People working in regular companies
    3. Foreign-language educators
    4. Cooks of foreign foods
    5. Artists and artisans
    6. Academics in higher education
    7. Technical specialists
    (a mere 13 counted)

    The article also mentions the concurrent Eikaiwa boom (with a snipe at why Japanese foreign language abilities seem to be going down).

    It doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of Zainichi generational foreigners (probably by only counting “zairyuu gaikokujin”, even though only doing that still gives a very slanted account of how many foreigners are here), or the trades they engage in (entertainment, pachinko, regular corporate, and the olive-oil-style front businesses). And even if you total the numbers given, less than 15,000 people still seems artificially low. I guess either this is within Tokyo-to itself, or else bad social science isn’t only the province of the present day.

    In any case, those were the days, for some. Now with the NJ population more than doubled since then, and most NJ residents are not from Anglophone countries (so lose the big gaijin noses whenever you try to depict a foreigner), I bet the highest number of NJ in one job sector would be factory worker.

    Any other insights out there on the numbers then and now? Go for it. Debito in Sapporo

    Human Rights Violations at a J Gym Chain: “Young, Healthy Japanese Only” By Jim Dunlop


    Human Rights Violations at a Well-Known Japanese Gym Chain
    “Young, Healthy Japanese people only, please!”

    By Jim Dunlop
    August 30, 2007
    drinkacupofcoffee AT

    Writing this report made my think of a line from an old song, “Signs” by 5 Man Electrical Band:

    And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply,
    So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why.
    He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do,
    So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you…

    Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.

    There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido… This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:

    Race and Age Discrimination at Holiday Sports Club:

    1. Racial discrimination. First and foremost, foreigners are routinely barred from joining the gym on the grounds that they “cannot read/write their name and address in Japanese.” This is always given as a requirement to prospective members. I suppose that the “standard” argument given here is that everyone must know some Japanese in case of an emergency, or perhaps in order to understand the rules and regulations and the club. That, however is a bit of a farce, and a HUGE contradiction, considering the club actually has an English rulebook that they give to new members to read through. But yet, the double standard arises when it comes to Japanese literacy. When the club first opened, my wife and I were the first foreign members and we were able to do this so we were given almost no problems in joining, however a friend of mine was told “no, he couldn’t join” because his Japanese was insufficient. When he brought in his Japanese wife, they were all apologetic and then, of course he could join without a hitch. Most recently, in past couple weeks three young women from Iowa who are here on a teacher exchange program were barred membership because their Japanese knowledge was deemed insufficient. Also worth noting (but nothing that can be done) is that a common secondary reason for disallowing people (foreigners and Japanese alike) is having a tattoo, even though many members have them (but cover them up with bandages when in the gym).

    2. Discrimination against the elderly / people with limited mobility.

    This was brought to my attention today by good friends of mine. They are a mixed couple (husband is Japanese and wife is American). They are both seniors and the American wife has lived in Japan for over 30 years. Her husband was born here and is a lifelong resident of the city. He still remembers the war and American bombing raids over the city during WWII when he was a child in elementary school. (But yet, he married an American when he got older. Interesting stuff! That just goes to show you how love can overcome even war, hatred and racism). As my friends are older, Takao (the Japanese husband) has troubles walking so he walks with a cane. He has been prohibited from entering Holiday Sports Club with his cane. The official reason given: the cane could be used as a weapon! Another elderly woman who needs a cane to walk (following an operation) has similarly been disallowed, and therefore been unable to join the gym for this reason. Furthermore, because Takao is forced to leave his cane in the car when he attends the gym, (thus leaning on his wife for support) both Takao and his wife have requested that several parking spaces near the entrance be marked as “handicapped” with those with limited mobility. This request has been effectively turned down.

    The facility, incidentally also is NOT wheelchair accessible or open to those with impaired mobility. It should go without saying that it’s not only young, healthy people who go to gyms. Many people, regardless of age and physical ability attend for health reasons. First and foremost, gyms should be open and welcoming to such individuals, many of whom use gyms as part of physiotherapy or rehabilitation programs. This form of discrimination is both shocking and contemptible.

    I question, whether it is even legal for them to prohibit someone from using a cane for SECURITY reasons! I asked my friends several times if there could have been some misunderstanding with what the gym staff told them… But they assured me, “Oh no. They were very clear as to the reason why canes are not allowed in.” Remember, we are talking about a Japanese man here, not a foreigner. There was no language barrier involved.

    It really upsets me that our local gym (which is so close to my house) have chosen to be so difficult and unwelcoming to certain groups of people. The staff are often very friendly! In fact, my wife and I have gone out with some of them on a few occasions. But they are forced to enforce this company’s strange “rules” that really put many people off, now including myself.

    Please give this report some consideration when you are shopping around for a gym to work out in. Please also let your friends know, whether they be Japanese or not, that Holiday Sports Club seems to only be interested in people who fall into a narrow view of what is acceptable. You must be young, Japanese, free from any body modifications, (which includes you ladies too, by the way. All jewelry, including earrings MUST be removed (without exception) prior to entering the pool area), and anyone who does not “fit in” will be denied entry or declined membership.

    As the saying goes, “caveat emptor” — buyer beware.

    Jim Dunlop
    August 30, 2007

    PS: If someone wants to call my local gym and check the information out for themselves, please contact me directly (drinkacupofcoffee AT and I can pass along the details (like a local phone number). If they wish to contact the company (in general) then all they need to do is go to the website link I provided above in the article. JD

    Asahi Sep 15 06: Kitakyushu prof discusses problems with English language education


    COMMENT: For archival purposes: Kitakyushu University Prof argues (in one of Japan’s premier opinion columns) that one problem with English education is that foreigners stay here too long. Quote: “…native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”

    I assume that this means we should not give tenure to foreigners, and that the Gwen Gallagher vs Asahikawa University Case (fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see is moot.

    POINT OF VIEW/ Shinichiro Noriguchi:English education leaves much to be desired

    More than 100 years ago Natsume Soseki, a great writer in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), wrote, “These days young people studying abroad and coming back to Japan speak English fluently, but the content is shallow, almost nothing. Why? They do not possess the spiritual backbone–Chinese classics.”

    This situation seems not to have changed since then; indeed, it may have become worse, because the number of shallow-minded youths is ever increasing.

    Why has this happened? Who is responsible? What should we do to correct what is clearly a deplorable situation?

    Based upon my 40 years of experience as an English teacher I would like to make some suggestions about the teaching of English at both the high school and university levels.

    First, let me clearly say that Japanese society has been completely duped by the idea that the TOEIC test and the development of “communicative” skills in English will finally solve the long-standing problem of inept English education.

    Japan’s higher education is helplessly caught in the trap of the TOEIC and “communicative English” diseases. TOEIC is simply another version of the university entrance examination, a form of assessment that has been severely criticized in the past. The TOEIC has simply been skillfully masked by corporations to appear up-to-date. The content is shallow and does not present any real challenge to the test-taker. Students can achieve higher scores by taking TOEIC-focused classes and cramming. It is for this reason that Japanese English instructors can do a better job teaching TOEIC classes than native-speaking English teachers.

    Second, many teachers have been corrupted by the lax attitude toward teaching the English language in Japan. Since not much is expected of students, teachers expect little of themselves. They have created and perpetuated an unhealthy situation in which students who are eager to better their English have in fact little opportunity to improve their skills.

    The government, in particular the education ministry, together with Japanese corporations, have been accomplices in creating this lamentable situation. They are blindly intoning the mantra of “communicative English” and the benefits of TOEIC, which is now in fact established as the standard by which English ability is measured. Many have come to believe that “communication” simply means the ability to speak English.

    They no longer think that reading and writing in English are a true means of communication. As a result, a strange phenomenon has occurred. Our society has once more revealed its weakness as a homogeneous society, swinging from one extreme to the other. The companies that create and cater to the TOEIC test probably can’t stop laughing at this situation from which they derive great profit.

    We should recall the now-forgotten fact that it was through the ability to read English that Japan was able to catch up with Western culture and technology in the Meiji and Taisho (1912-1926) eras. Many university English teachers have been complicit in these developments. They do not spend sufficient time and energy testing what students have learned in class or correcting what they have written in English.

    We should fully grasp the extent of the change that has taken place and acknowledge that there is a clear difference between spoken and written English.

    There are many people who, despite errors and despite the frivolous subjects about which they talk, can speak English with reasonable fluency, but they cannot write even a few sentences in correct English. The point here is that if we can write our ideas in English correctly, we will become skilled communicators.

    The best way to correct this problem is to have our writing in English corrected by native English teachers, but this is not always possible. They must earn a living. Many are part-timers teaching a large number of classes at various universities, where they often simply go through the motions of teaching. But blame should not be placed upon the native speakers, because our society has allowed them to take advantage of Japan’s lax attitudes toward English education.

    In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students. Some of these teachers are not aware of this.

    It is, of course, Japanese university teachers of English who are most responsible for the depressing results of university-level English instruction.

    It is a fact, however odd, that some university teachers of English failed the public junior and senior high school English teacher’s examinations, and then entered post-graduate schools only as a second choice.

    Within a few years, however, they start teaching English at universities and are qualified to issue credits to students studying for the high school English teacher’s license. University teachers, of course, do not need a license of any sort to teach at universities. The education ministry often creates rules and standards that defy common sense.

    The English ability of English-teaching staff is, frankly speaking, often poorer than that of capable students, especially when it comes to speaking and listening comprehension. Regardless of their academic fields–American or English literature, transformational grammar, phonetics, cultural studies–university instructors should possess thorough knowledge of the language and solid practical English skills. To improve university English education, I would propose the following:

    ・English teachers should have passed the first grade of STEP or achieved a score of over 600 on the TOEFL test;

    ・Teachers should study abroad, for at least one year, in an English-speaking country;

    ・The university English curriculum should place far greater emphasis on the reading and writing of English;

    ・English teachers should spend at least three years teaching English in high schools or prep-schools;

    ・The education ministry should devise a licensing system for university English teachers.

       *   *   *

    The author is professor of English at the University of Kitakyushu.(IHT/Asahi: September 15,2006)