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


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

Information site outlining what’s new, with excerpts and reviews, and how to get your copy at a discount at

(Or you can download a flyer, take it to your library, have them order the book, and then borrow it for free at EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer)

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan


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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:


Visible Minorities: The Tokyo Olympics Trap
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 19, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…

Rest is at

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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at


UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito


Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021


JOC’s official statement on this:

Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!


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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…

Rest is at

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Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?


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Hi Blog.  In a development that has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.  Read on:


Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as anti-virus measure
Kyodo News/Japan Today Dec. 27, 2020

TOKYO (KYODO) — Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.

“There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer.

Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban nonresident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.


COMMENT:  Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay.  And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters“.  As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there!  Whew.”

Finally, note how this proposed contract tracing and tracking is only being applied to foreigners, not Japanese:

“In doing so, [Kanagawa] prefecture would spend much less time pursuing contact history for what it described as the second most cluster-prone demographic — namely, kindergarten, day care and school teachers — and would completely stop investigating others. With the announcement, Kanagawa became the nation’s first prefecture to forge ahead with such a drastic scaling down of contact-tracing, which had been the linchpin of Japan’s battle against the pandemic.” (Japan Times, Jan 19, 2021, courtesy of JDG, emphasis added)

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.


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Hi Blog.  It turns out Japan has earned a reputation from past experiences hosting international events.

The racism-riddled debacles that were the soccer World Cup 2002 and the G8 Summits (here and here) made me question whether Japan as a society (let alone its politicians and police) was mature enough to handle any temporary influx of NJ, let alone as visa-legal NJ workers and residents of Japan.

But it seems it wasn’t just me. Some months ago, the Rugby World Cup and staff from two embassies actually cautioned the Japanese police to ease up on their overzealousness towards NJ.  As previous blog entries have shown, it’s questionable whether they are actually doing that (as they are bending the law to encourage racial profiling at hotels etc.).

But the following article deserves to be recorded on because it shows at least somebody out there is taking notice, despite all the official “omotenashi” wallpapering over Japan’s latent exclusionism that goes ignored, if not encouraged, by Japanese authorities.  I look forward to seeing what the International Olympic Committee has to say in Tokyo in a year.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.


Rugby – Japan police urged to take ‘light-touch’ approach at World Cup
REUTERS APRIL 18, 2019, By Jack Tarrant, courtesy of JDG

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese police have been encouraged to take a “light-touch approach” during the Rugby World Cup, with organisers telling Reuters they had visited host cities to emphasise that while fans will be boisterous they are unlikely to cause trouble.

More than 400,000 foreign fans are expected to descend on Japan for the Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 tournament and concerns have been raised that police might not have enough experience to deal with the influx.

Staff from two embassies have expressed concern to Reuters that police may overreact to perceived intimidation from fans.

Mick Wright, 2019 executive director for operations, said host cities had received briefings on what to expect and that organisers had downplayed concerns about unruly fans.

“We have been on a bit of a mission, we have had a roadshow going around all the cities talking about … rugby fans and what they expect from their behaviour,” Wright told Reuters.

Wright, who also works as a technical advisor to the International Olympic Committee, said host cities would be swamped by large numbers of fans drinking huge quantities of alcohol but that the mood would be a positive one.

“We have been explaining to all the cities that they better stock up on beer because we know from history that rugby fans will drink a lot,” he said.

“It is part and parcel of rugby’s ethos and culture.

“The way the fans behave, it might be loud and it might be raucous but it won’t be intimidating.

“With the police, I think we have been really successful in explaining to them that the light-touch approach is going to be better,” added Wright.

Yoshiya Takesako, Japan 2019 director of security, said the police had been told what to expect from fans and how to react.

“Rugby fans may seem scary but they are not,” said Takesako, who has been seconded from the Japanese police.

“This has been explained to the police so they have been educated that fans will drink a lot and may sing or be loud but it is not like they will hurt anybody.

“I have told the police forces many, many times to respond to fans in a reasonable way.”

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)


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Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth
Repeat-offender Ibaraki force called to account for backsliding on the issue of hotel snooping
By Debito Arudou.  Column 98 for The Japan Times Community Page, June 6, 2016 Version updated with links to sources.

Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law.

A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.

What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago.

The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.

It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005:

“After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”

Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold?

Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…

But back to Onur, who also took action. He stayed an extra day in Mito and raised the issue with local authorities:

“I went to Mito City Public Health Department (Hokensho), who were very helpful, and confirmed that as a resident I need not show ID at hotels. Then I showed them the poster from the Ibaraki police department. Surprised, they said they had never seen this poster before, and the police had not contacted them about it. They said it is clearly different from the real law, especially the bit about ‘every foreign guest.’

“The Hokensho added that the police have become stricter because of the G-7 (Ise-Shima) summit and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They said they would check the hotel and inform me of the result.”

But Onur wasn’t done yet: “Then I talked with two officers at the Mito City Police Department’s Security Division. They listened without making any comments. I showed them an official announcement from the Health Ministry and said that their poster is clearly different.

“The police read the ministry announcement and took notes like they were unaware of the law, asking questions like ‘Do the other hotels in other parts of Japan ask for your ID card?’ and ‘Isn’t checking the ID card necessary to confirm that a foreigner really has an address in Japan?’ I offered the contact number at Health Ministry for more information, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Finally, I asked them to fix their poster. They said they would check the law and behave accordingly.”

Shortly afterwards, Onur got a call from the Hokensho: “They checked my hotel and saw the poster was now changed. It seems the Ibaraki police had printed a new one and distributed it to all hotels within a few hours! The Hokensho said the new poster clearly states ‘foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan,’ which follows regulations. They said the police warned the hotel not to make the same mistake again. Finally, they thanked me for informing them about this problem.”

Well done. It’s satisfying to have others retrace our steps and get even better results. It’s just a shame that he should have to.

However, two issues still niggle. One is that photocopying requirement, which, according to The Japan Times’ own legal columnist, Colin P. A. Jones, may also be questionable:

“According to the Personal Information Protection Act (Kojin Joho Hogo Ho), the hotel should explain to you why they are collecting personal information from you, which is what they are doing if they take a copy of your passport,” Jones said in an email. “So if they can confirm that you are a resident of Japan by looking at your residence card or driver’s license, they do not need to take a copy because they have confirmed that the Hotel Act no longer applies. If they take a copy they are collecting personal information beyond what is necessary for the expressed purpose. In my experience, once you point this out, hotel staff then start mumbling about ‘their policies,’ but of course those don’t trump the law.”

Second issue: Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is where cops take local grumps seriously when they report a “suspicious foreigner” standing near JR Ushiku Station — seriously enough to arrest him on Aug. 13, 2014, for not carrying his “gaijin card.” Well, that “foreigner” turned out to be a Japanese, and Japanese are not required to carry ID. Whoops.

Ibaraki is also the site of a mysterious and under-reported knife attack on Chinese “trainee” laborers (the Japan Times, Feb. 23, 2015), which resulted in an as-yet-unresolved[*] murder. (Funny that. Imagine the media outcry if foreigners had knifed Japanese!)

Do Ibaraki police have anything to do with this? Actually, yes.

Ibaraki police have posted in public places some of Japan’s most militantly anti-foreign posters. I mean this literally: Since 2008, at least three different versions have depicted cops, bedecked in paramilitary weaponry, physically subduing foreigners. The slogan: “Protect (Japan) by heading (foreigners) off at the shores.”

Ibaraki police have also offered the public online information about “foreign crime infrastructure,” as if it’s somehow separate from or more ominous than the yakuza. They claim that foreigners are responsible for drugs, illegal medical activities, underground taxis, false IDs — and paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship. And, conveniently, the National Police Agency argued within its 2010 white paper that foreign crime infrastructure “cannot be grasped through statistics” (see “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism,” JBC, July 8, 2013). It’s enough to make the public paranoid.

And Ibaraki is a strange place for such militancy. It does not have a particularly high concentration of foreigners. Except for, of course, those behind bars at Ibaraki’s Ushiku Detention Center.

Japan’s infamous immigration detention centers, or “gaijin tanks,” are where foreign visa overstayers and asylum seekers are left to rot indefinitely in what Amnesty International in 2002 called “secret detention facilities.” Gaijin tanks don’t get the oversight governing Japan’s prisons because the former do not officially qualify as “prisons.” They’re pretty bad places to be.

And Ushiku’s gaijin tank is notoriously bad. It has made headlines over the past decade for drugging and subjecting detainees to conditions so horrendous that they have gone on hunger strikes, committed suicide or died having received improper medical care and under other mysterious circumstances.

Therein lies the point I keep banging on about in this column: What happens when racial discrimination is left unrestrained by laws? It just gets normalized and embedded.

Treating people badly without official checks and balances eventually makes abuse tolerated and ignored — like background radiation. And, fueled by the innate fear of The Outsider, the abuses just get worse and worse. Because they can.

In this case, the unfettered xenophobia radiating from the Ushiku Detention Center, Ibaraki’s fast-breeder reactor of foreigner dehumanization and abuse, has clearly corroded Ibaraki police’s judgment — to the point where they feel they can outright lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce, and have their propaganda irradiate hotels, street-corner busybodies and the general public.

It’s time for people to realize that Japanese police’s free rein to maintain our allegedly “safe society” has limits. For officially treating an entire people as potentially “unsafe” is dangerous in itself.

Ibaraki Prefecture thus offers a fascinating case study. Of what happens to a neighborhood when xenophobia goes beyond the occasional international summit or sports event, and becomes regularized into official extralegal standard operating procedure.


Debito’s latest project is the mockumentary film “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin,” which is now being funded on Kickstarter. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send all your comments and story ideas to


[*]  Correction:  According to Chinese media translated into Japanese, the abovementioned knife attack and murder of Chinese “Trainees” has resulted in the arrest of 5 Vietnamese nationals:





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CSM: Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul for mythology


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Hi Blog. For those who think I was exaggerating about the mystical ideology behind the Abe Administration’s aims in my most recent Japan Times JBC column, please consider the following article. Courtesy of MS and GS. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul
Conservatives seek to expand the role of Japan’s indigenous faith in public life. But critics warn that could feed a simmering nationalism.
By Michael Holtz, Christian Science Monitor, October 5, 2015

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s deep adoration for the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shinto site in Japan, is no secret. He visits every New Year and reportedly even postponed a cabinet meeting in 2013 to attend a ceremony on its hallowed ground.

So when Mr. Abe announced this summer that the 2016 summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations would be held in the nearby resort city of Shima, Satoru Otowa wasn’t surprised.

“I believe it has something to do with his Shinto beliefs,” Mr. Otowa, a spokesman for the shrine, said while leading a tour there in August. “When the prime minister visited in January, everyone saw how passionately he prayed.”

The decision to host the G-7 summit near Ise underscores Abe’s devout Shinto faith. Yet his commitment to Japan’s indigenous religion has led to far more than symbolic gestures. He and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have pursued a wide range of Shinto-inspired policies – from more openly embracing Japan’s imperial heritage to reforming aspects of Japanese education and even re-evaluating the country’s wartime record – with the explicit goal of renewing what they say are traditional values.

As old perhaps as Japan itself, Shinto has no explicit creed or major religious texts. Its adherents pray to “kami,” spirits found in objects both living and inanimate, and believe in a complex body of folklore that emphasizes ancestor worship. But as Japan modernized in the late 19th century, officials made Shinto the state religion, and Japanese were taught to view​ the emperor as having divine stature. The religion became closely associated with Japanese militarism, leading to its separation from state institutions after World War II.

Shinto struggled for decades to find a place in postwar Japan, and given the religion’s history, some critics see the country’s newfound interest in it as a sign of simmering nationalism at best. At worst, they describe it as a reprise of the official State Shinto of imperial Japan.

But among conservatives it reflects a palpable fear that Japan has somehow gone adrift after two decades of economic stagnation, rampant materialism, and the rise of neighboring China. Many believe the time has come for the religion to regain its rightful place in the public sphere.

“Shinto is refusing to be restricted to the private and family life,” says Mark Mullins, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “There is this sense that Japan needs to get back what it lost after World War II and that this will be good for the nation.”

Flying the flag
One of Keiji Furuya’s most formative experiences was the three years he spent as an exchange student in New York as a young teenager. Mr. Furuya, who has since become one of Japan’s most conservative LDP lawmakers, recalls marveling at America’s unabashed displays of patriotism. He was astonished to see flags billowing from front porches and students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

Growing up in Japan, Furuya’s never saw such displays. The official Shinto ideology used to promote Japanese superiority and a presumed right to govern Asia was tucked away after Japan’s defeat in 1945. Emperor Hirohito renounced his divine status as a “living god” in early 1946 and the country’s new Constitution, drafted by US occupation forces, enshrined pacifism as national policy.

The Constitution also mandated the separation of state and religion. The US occupation not only ended Shinto’s official designation, it inaugurated a period when Shinto began to disappear from Japanese society altogether. Shinto, along with the nationalism it helped spawn, quickly became taboo.

“For people like me who went through the postwar education system in Japan, raising a flag was not a popular thing to do,” Furuya said in August during an interview in his office conference room. As if to make up for the loss, the room had been adorned with three flags. “But as time went by,” he added, “I came to believe that it was natural to have respect and pride in one’s own country.”

It’s a belief that has come to define much of Furuya’s political career. He was first elected to Japan’s lower house of parliament in 1990 and re-elected to an eighth term in 2012. He also serves in Abe’s cabinet. As a defender of what he calls “true conservatism,” he considers it his duty to protect Japanese traditional values. To do so, he says, “We need drastic reforms.”

Interest in such reform has been building for much of the past decade. Masahiko Fujiwara’s “Dignity of a Nation” sold 2 million copies in 2006 and revived the concept of “bushido,” the honor code of the samurai. The former ultranationalist governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, spoke of the Japan “that could say no” to the US. And the introduction of patriotic education in public schools was one of Abe’s top initiatives during his first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

More recently, a new wave of conservatives – often compared to members of the tea party in the US – helped the LDP win a landslide victory in 2012 and put Abe back in power. Their support helped him pass a package of laws last month that allows Japan to send troops abroad in support of allies for the first time in its postwar era.

Shinto Association
Furuya’s support for a wide range of initiatives that aim to revive pieces of prewar Japanese culture led him to join Shinto Seiji Renmei (the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership). Since its founding in 1969, Seiji Renmei has transformed into one of the most influential political lobbying groups in Japan. According to the most recent count, 302 parliament members are affiliated with the association, compared with 44 two decades ago. Abe and many of his top cabinet officials – including the deputy prime minister, defense minister, and justice minister – are longtime members.

Seiji Renmei’s mission is to reclaim the spiritual values that it says were lost under the US occupation. The association supports efforts to revise Japan’s pacifist Constitution, encourage patriotic and moral education, and promote the return of the emperor to a more prominent place in Japanese society. It also calls for restoring the special status of Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial memorial to Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II.

“After the war, there was an atmosphere that considered all aspects of the prewar era bad,” former Seiji Renmei director Yutaka Yuzawa told Reuters last December. “Policies were adopted weakening the relationship between the imperial household and the people,” he added, “and the most fundamental elements of Japanese history were not taught in the schools.”

Seiji Renmei declined multiple requests for an interview from The Christian Science Monitor.

Iwahashi Katsuji, a spokesman for the Association of Shinto Shrines, a closely linked organization that administers 80,000 shrines in Japan, says it’s time for the Japanese to re-evaluate their past.

“Even after the Meiji Restoration there are many good points,” he says, referring to Japan’s rapid transformation from a feudal farming society into an industrial power at the end of the 19th century. “Just saying that Japan lost the war and that Japan was bad and evil is not constructive.”

A growing influence?
Inoue Nobutaka, a professor of Shinto studies at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, says it’s far from clear how much of the past Abe and his supporters want to revive. But he contends that organizations such as Seiji Renmei and Nippon Kaigi, a like-minded nationalist group, hold more sway over the Abe administration than they did over its predecessors.

“These groups have been politically active for a long time,” Dr. Nobutaka says. “Their influence has grown because Abe has turned to them for support.”

That support is starting to pay off. With the help of Furuya, who heads a group of conservative lawmakers that promotes the cultivation of patriotic values in schools, Seiji Renmei and its allies have gained some of the most ground in education.

The group argues that changes in the education system are essential to restoring Japanese pride, which they say has eroded over decades of teachers imparting “a masochistic view of history” on their students. Its members dispute the death toll of the 1937 massacre in Nanking that the Chinese government says stands at 300,000, and deny that the Japanese Army played a direct role in forcing so-called comfort women to provide sex to its soldiers in China and Korea.

The group launched a campaign this summer to encourage local education boards to adopt revised textbooks that eliminate negative depictions of Japan’s wartime activities. The strategy is gaining attention. Last month, 31 school districts in 14 prefectures had agreed to use the more conservative textbooks in their junior high schools, up from 23 districts in 11 prefectures four years ago.

Those achievements came after Abe pledged in January to fight what he called mistaken views about Japan’s wartime actions. Yet history is an unresolved subject in East Asia. In the eyes of China and South Korea, two victims of Japan’s early 20th-century aggression, Abe and his supporters are historical revisionists who want to whitewash the country’s wartime atrocities.

Abe’s critics warn the new textbooks could weaken an antiwar message they say has helped keep Japan peaceful for seven decades. But supporters like Furuya argue that they are needed to instill a new sense of patriotism among young people.

“That doesn’t mean we’re fostering nationalism,” Furuya says. “I believe it is natural to understand our country’s history correctly and to have respect for our country.”

The Ise mystique
The Ise Grand Shrine is a sprawling, tree-covered complex located in Mie prefecture, about 200 miles southwest of Tokyo near the Pacific coast. The sun goddess Amaterasu, a major Shinto deity who is believed to be an ancestral god of the imperial family, is enshrined in its inner sanctum. Her story is a powerful legend that draws millions of Japanese every year to pray at the shrine. It’s one that Abe is eager to share with the world.

“I wanted to choose a place where world leaders could have a full taste and feel of Japan’s beautiful nature, bountiful culture, and traditions,” he told reporters after announcing the location of the G-7 summit.

Never mind that the governor of Mie prefecture hadn’t even submitted a bid to host the summit when the deadline came and went last August. At the time, Hiroshima and Sendai, a major city in the area ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, were widely considered the frontrunners.

But it soon became clear that the prime minister had other plans. That December his staff contacted the Mie governor to encourage him to enter the race, according to reports in Japanese media. On Jan. 21, just weeks after Abe visited Ise to celebrate the New Year, Shima’s candidacy was announced. He declared it the winner on June 5.

The summit will in fact be held on an island off the coast of Shima. Yet that hasn’t stopped Abe from calling the host city Ise-Shima in an apparent effort to draw more attention to his beloved shrine.

“Every country has its myths,” says Dr. Nobutaka of Kokugakuin University. “Myth has a special place in the heart of the Japanese, regardless of what happened in the past.”

JT: “Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?” Renewed political opportunism to further erode Postwar civil liberties, go soft on right-wing groups


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Hi Blog. Related to the increasingly tightening domestic security over Japanese society in the wake of attacks on Japanese citizens abroad, here is an overlooked article by Eric Johnston in the Japan Times a few days ago. It’s a long one, with contents excerpted below as germane to As we have talked in detail in the wake of other wakes, e.g., the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, the G8 Summit in Nago, the 2002 World Cup, other anti-democratic habits brought out in Japanese society whenever Japan holds an international event, and also a longstanding theory that Gaijin are mere Guinea Pigs (since they have fewer civil or political rights) to test out pupal public policy before applying it to the rest of the Japanese population, I believe what’s going on here is a long arc of further eroding Postwar civil liberties in the name of security and ever-strengthening police power in Japan in favor of rightist elements (see below). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Security blanket: Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?
by Eric Johnston, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, March 21, 2015 [excerpt], courtesy of JDG

[…] Since the exercise in Fukui nearly a decade ago, more than 100 drills in response to some form of security threat have been conducted at prefectures throughout the country. Assumptions behind the threats the drills are based on range from unidentified armed groups landing on the Japan Sea coast and bombing hospitals and medical facilities to railway station bombings in major cities and a widespread chemical weapons attack in central Tokyo.

While the law has prodded various local and central government agencies to coordinate a response, the Aum threat and the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. began a process of rethinking about domestic security that first manifested itself at the 2002 World Cup and later in Hokkaido at the Group of Eight summit in 2008. In recent weeks, support for further measures picked up steam with the deaths of journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa at the hands of the Islamic State group in the Middle East. The deaths of three Japanese tourists in Tunisia last week will simply accelerate what is already a fast-moving debate.

Suddenly, it seems, the domestic media, public and the political world are obsessed with threats, real and imagined, to the country’s security and to Japanese who venture abroad. Next year’s G-8 summit (sans Russia) will return to Japan, and seven cities — Hiroshima, Kobe, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Karuizawa, Niigata and Sendai — hope to host the world leaders of Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany and Italy.

The candidate cities have emphasized, in addition to their various cultural assets, their preparedness in the event of a security threat. Meanwhile, this year’s Tokyo Marathon saw an unprecedented level of police protection for the runners and those watching them, while security for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be some of the toughest ever seen. […]

Enemies of the State?

[…] However, former Aum members are not the [Public Security Intelligence Agency’s] only concern. Another four pages are devoted to the activities of groups trying to stop the construction of a replacement facility at Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, voicing support for keeping the 1995 Kono Statement regarding the “comfort women,” criticizing the government’s pro-nuclear energy policy, or protesting collective self-defense and the state secrets law that went into effect late last year.

In the case of the Henoko protesters, the Public Security Intelligence Agency says “Japan Communist Party … members and other anti-base activists from around the country are being dispatched to the Henoko area to engage in protests against the new facility.” The agency also says the Japan Communist Party mobilized supporters to assist two anti-base candidates in local elections last year: Susumu Inamine won the January 2014 Nago mayoral election, while Takashi Onaga won the November gubernatorial election running on anti-base platforms.

Over three pages, the Public Security Intelligence Agency claimed “extremist” groups were cooperating with overseas organizations to criticize the government’s position on the comfort women issue, and that the Japan Communist Party was involved in anti-nuclear demonstrations in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, and in front of the Diet and the prime minister’s office. It further added that extremist groups were infiltrating anti-nuclear demonstrations and passing out flyers that called for all nuclear reactors to be decommissioned.

Two pages were devoted solely to the Japan Communist Party’s leadership and membership, and its criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government. The Public Security Intelligence Agency said the Japan Communist Party’s total membership is around 305,000, down from 410,000 back in 2010, while the average age of all members was 57 years old, up from 55.7 years old five years earlier.

By contrast, only 2½ of the report’s 75 pages were devoted to right-wing groups. The agency said right-wing groups had been involved in protests over the Senaku Islands, had called for the retraction of the Kono Statement on comfort women and had used the Asahi Shimbun’s apology in August over a story on wartime forced prostitutes as an opportunity to conduct protests at the newspaper’s branches nationwide.

There was no mention, by name, in the Public Security Intelligence Agency report of Zaitokukai, merely of a “right-wing-affiliated group” that made racist remarks. However, a separate report put out by the National Policy Agency earlier this month mentioned Zaitokukai by name and noted that 1,654 members of right-wing groups were charged with breaking the law in 2014. This included 291 people who were charged with extortion, although many charges were for traffic-related violations. […]

Among other things, the law attempts to promote increased police monitoring of whomever the government deems a potential threat by making secret materials or plans to prevent “designated harmful activities.” What’s a “designated harmful activity”? That’s the first of many questions as yet unanswered.

It’s the same with measures designed to prevent “terrorism,” an ill-defined legal concept, and critics of the law have warned that, under the pretext of “security,” Japan will see more police monitoring of any individual or group the state deems to be a threat.

Last July, a lawyers’ group for victims of police investigations of Muslims submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on systemic surveillance and profiling of Muslims. In 2010, a report leaked on the Internet showed police collected and stored detailed personal information on Muslims in Japan. Seventeen victims sued the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Policy Agency over the issue.

In January 2014, Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan police to pay for violating the plaintiffs’ privacy by leaking personal data. However, the court also said police information gathering activities on Muslims in Japan constituted “necessary and inevitable measures for the prevention of international terrorism.”

The case is being appealed in the Tokyo High Court, but the initial ruling came down well before Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto were captured and executed by Islamic State militants earlier this year. Given the public shock and political reaction to those killings, extreme security measures of questionable legality are cause for worry, says Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University.

“Despite the fact that the police had no evidence of illegal activities, the record shows they engaged in religious profiling of the Muslim community,” Repeta says. “Now that this intrusive police surveillance has been approved by the court, we should expect it to continue in coming years, as Japan hosts international events like next year’s Group of Seven conference and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

[…] One bright spot was that, despite years of official bureaucratic and right-wing political warnings about the dangers of foreign crime, only 28 percent of respondents in 2012 cited this as a reason for what they felt was a worsening security environment. This is down from the 55 percent who cited it as a major reason for their unease in the 2006 survey.

Read the full article in order at


Amazing non-news: Kyodo: “Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave”


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Hello Blog.  In an amazing bit of non-news completely devoid of historical context, some cub reporter at Kyodo reports that Tokyo bathhouses are taking steps to put up posters to explain Japanese bathing rules to foreigners!!  To “ensure they behave” (those rapscallions!) and “avoid embarrassments” (such as being turned away at the door before they have the chance to display any deviant behavior?).  Even though these types of posters have been up around Japanese bathing facilities for at least a decade (Introduction:  Book JAPANESE ONLY) — thanks in part to the landmark Otaru Onsens Case (which was not even mentioned in the article as background information).  Again, it’s not news.  It’s in fact recycling news from 2010.

This is another reason that Japan’s obsession with hosting international events (such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) is kinda dumb — the domestic media has to reinforce the “Island Society” narrative by manufacturing yet another round of silly navel-gazing articles about how extraordinarily difficult it is for apparently insular Japan to cope with visitors from the outside world.  At least this time the subjects are not hostilely treating all “foreigners” on sight as potential “hooligans” (World Cup 2002) or “terrorists” (2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit), or as the source of discomfort for hotel managers (such as in pre-Fukushima Fukushima Prefecture and other hotel surveys).

Plus these bathhouses are recognizing NJ as an economic force that might help them survive.  As opposed to the even more stupid behavior by, for example, Yuransen Onsen in Wakkanai, which booted out foreigners (okay, consigned them to an unlawful unisex separate “Gaijin Bath” at six times the price) until it finally went bankrupt anyway due to lack of customers.  Good.  But again, Kyodo, do some research.  Arudou Debito


Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave
DEC 30, 2013

Bathhouses in Tokyo are taking greater steps to welcome foreigners visiting the capital by preparing a guidance manual and poster in several languages to help them understand the proper etiquette for communal bathing so they can avoid embarrassments.

“We would like to receive foreigners with warm hospitality so they can enjoy the culture of ordinary Japanese,” said Kazuyuki Kondo, who runs a bathhouse in Ota Ward.

Public bathhouses, or “sento,” which originally became popular during the Edo Period (1603-1868), are still in use, especially by people who do not have bathing facilities in the home.

After bathhouse operators in Ota and the municipal government completed the manual and poster, they distributed them to about 50 sento in the ward in March, with a view to attracting more foreigners visiting Tokyo for business or leisure, as the ward is home to Haneda airport.

The illustrated manual, written in English, Korean and both traditional and simplified Chinese, is intended for use by sento staff to communicate with foreigners.

It contains expressions such as, “The fee is ¥450,” “I’m sorry, but please remove your undergarments before entering the bathing area,” and “Please be mindful of other customers and enjoy yourself quietly.”

The poster, which shows a typical bathhouse layout and a flow chart for using it, also helps customers understand the sometimes complicated system.

Kondo, owner of Hasunuma Onsen, said the signs are effective and foreign customers are having no problems. He said many visit after learning about his bathhouse over the Internet or from acquaintances.

The Tokyo Sento Association followed suit and provided the same contents in manuals and posters to all bathhouses in the metropolitan area in November, and is considering spreading them nationwide in the near future.

“More and more foreigners will come to Tokyo as Haneda airport will increase its slots for international flights. What’s more, we have to prepare to welcome them ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020,” said Kondo, who previously headed the association’s Ota branch.

Every sento usually has several large baths over 50 cm deep. The temperature of the water is usually kept at around 42 degrees, and some even tap hot natural spring water, technically making them “onsen.”

Besides the basic function of bathing, sento are also community gathering venues that cross generational lines.

As of November, there were 709 sento in the capital, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. There are more in areas with many old detached houses and apartment blocks, some of which have no bathing facilities.

Sento have been closing by the dozens in recent years, due largely to the aging of the owners, a lack of successors and rising maintenance costs.

But now they are being re-evaluated as a kind of spa facility in cities and towns where people can relax inexpensively, according to the association.

“I don’t expect a surge in the number of foreign users, but I am sure sento have gradually become popular with them,” Kondo added.

“Sento can be a good tourism resource, as there must be foreigners who are looking forward to bathing in them, especially among repeat visitors to Japan,” said Masaru Suzuki, a professor at Obirin University in Tokyo.

“What is important is how to promote them to travelers. A useful way would be to ask foreigners who are living Japan to help us,” said Suzuki, whose specialty is tourism marketing.

He suggested that foreigners studying or working in Japan be asked to introduce sento through social-networking sites, such as Facebook.

Setting up a “free-of-charge day” for foreigners would also help them seek out their first bathhouse experience in Japan, he added.


Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”


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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013:
“Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
Version with links to sources

Blame news cycles, but I’m coming in late to the discussion on Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. Sorry. The most poignant stuff has already been said, but I would add these thoughts.

Probably unsurprisingly, I was not a supporter of Tokyo’s candidacy. Part of it is because I have a hard time enjoying events where individuals are reduced to national representatives, saddled with the pressure to prove an apparent geopolitical superiority through gold medal tallies. Guess I’m just grouchy about international sports.

That said, this time around, the wheeling and dealing at the International Olympic Committee has been particularly distasteful. Unlike the IOC, I can’t forget Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s denigration of fellow candidate city Istanbul for being “Islamic” (conveniently playing on widespread Western fears of a religion and linking it to social instability). This was especially ironic given rising xenophobia in Japan, where attendees at right-wing rallies have even called for the killing of ethnic Koreans who have lived in and contributed to Japan for generations.

Nor can I pretend to ignore the risk of exposing people to an ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Even if you think the science is still unclear on the health effects of radiation in Tohoku, what’s not in doubt is that there will be incredible amounts of pork sunk into white-elephant projects in Japan’s metropole while thousands of people still languish in northern Japan, homeless and dispossessed. When so much work is incomplete elsewhere, this is neither the time nor place for bread and circuses.

All of this has been said elsewhere, and more eloquently. But for JBC, the most important reason why the Olympics should not come to Japan is because, as I have argued before, Japan as a government or society is not mature enough to handle huge international events.

I know, Japan has held three Olympics before (in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagano), as well as numerous international events (such as the G-8 Summits in Nago and Toyako) and one FIFA World Cup. But with each major event it holds, Japan keeps setting precedents that hemorrhage cash and make life miserable for residents. Especially those who don’t “look Japanese” — Japan’s visible minorities.

Media memories tend to be short, so some refreshers: More money was spent on “security” at Nago’s G-8 Summit in 1998 than at any previous such powwow — by a factor of five (“Summit wicked this way comes,” Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Then Toyako in 2008 spent even more than Nago.

When you devote this much time and energy to policing, consider the effects on those being policed. As reported on these pages before (I have gone as far as to call Japan a “mild police state”), Japan’s police forces have inordinate powers of search, seizure, and detention even at the most mundane of times.

Now, bring in the eyes of the world for an international event, and Japan’s general bunker mentality produces a control-freak guest/host relationship, where nothing is left to chance, and nobody will be allowed to spoil the party.

That means Japan’s authorities get a freer hand to smoosh not only alleged threats to social order, but also dissenters in general. Because our media generally ignores contrarians and naysayers for the sake of putting the best face on Japan for guests, they forget their own duty to act as a check and balance against official over-enforcement and paranoia.

But paranoia tends to peak when there are “foreigners” gadding about. Remember the 2002 World Cup, when politicians, bureaucrats and the media declared open season on “foreigners” (popularizing the word “hooligan” among Japanese), justifying enormous budgets and infrastructure to subdue their international guests if necessary? (It wasn’t.)

Years later, Toyako slingshot off that precedent, with “foreigners” equated with “terrorists,” further normalizing the act of subjecting any foreign face to extra scrutiny and racial profiling.

Plus, you might recall, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, so treating foreigners like crap can happen anytime, anywhere, by any vigilante who can scribble “Japanese Only” on a storefront window.

But wait — there’s something more sinister afoot. In terms of domestic politics, this was in fact the worst possible time to award Japan the Olympics.

Over the past year, this column has charted the re-ascendance of Japan’s right wing into power, and its rout of the more liberal elements who tried to rein in Japan’s endemic corporatism and bigotry.

Now we have government once again run by and for Japan’s ruling class — i.e., the political families, entrenched bureaucrats, corporate conglomerate heads and hereditary elites.

These types can only see the world in terms of power. Their forebears cheered loudest when, for example, Japan triumphed in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It showed both them and the rest of the world that Japan had become mighty enough to defeat a world power!

This victory transformed Japan into a colonial empire, cocksure that it was on the right track because it could beat white people. This hubris led to enormous suffering worldwide, as the elites led Japanese society to a destiny of total war and utter defeat.

Three generations later, these elites still have not learned their lesson. The biggest reason why Japan’s ruling class respected and once emulated America is because they lost a war to them. Now that postwar Japan has rebuilt and re-enriched itself, they believe it’s nigh time to re-militarize, restore Japan to its rightful place in the geopolitical hierarchy and rally Japanese society behind repeating a glorious (yet ultimately tragic) history.

If you read the subtext of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposals for constitutional reform closely, you’ll realize that this is precisely what Japan’s ruling politicians are calling for. From that will flow the restored trappings of a prewar-ordered Japanese society.

And now, these jingoists have had their mind-sets rewarded with an Olympics. What a windfall! Even if Abe were to step down tomorrow (he won’t — he’s got a good three years left to machinate if his health holds up), he will be remembered positively for bagging the 2020 Games. But now he and his ilk can leverage this victory into convincing the general public that Japan is still somehow on the right track.

Even when it’s not. For the fallout still remains: Abe lied about how “safe” and “under control” Japan’s nuclear industry is. And Japan’s already massive public debt will balloon further out of control. And once again, the invisible slush monies available to fund elite projects will remain unaccountable.

After all, Japan won its last Olympics, according to Time magazine (“Japan’s sullied bid,” Feb. 1, 1999), through blatant corruption and bribery of IOC officials. How much corruption? We don’t know, because Japan burned all of the Nagano Olympics financial records!

Slush clearly didn’t bother the IOC this time either, as they seated themselves at the trough. I guess we can’t expect corrupt bedfellows to police each other. So anyone who outspends, outbids and outdoes their rivals, even to the detriment of their respective societies, gets rewarded for it — precisely the wrong geopolitical incentives for societies in flux.

In Japan’s case, the damage will be political as well as economic: Everyone must get behind the Olympic effort or else. Then, when the party’s over, remember those who got steamrollered: The people living outside of greedy Tokyo; our non-Japanese residents, who will once again be targeted as a destabilizing force; and the rest of Japanese society, who will have to live under illiberal regimes where individual rights will be further subordinated to the maintenance of social order.

In sum, international events undermine Japan’s democracy. Shame on you, IOC, for being a party to it.


Arudou Debito’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to

Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama


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Hi Blog.  In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend.  Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns.  It’s another matter of great concern to for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling.  This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it.  An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows.  Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz?  Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito


November 5, 2010

Hey Debito, Just to keep you abreast of a recent NPA excuse for a ‘stop and search’ shambles, here’s my story.

I have been living in Tokyo for around eight years now and this was the first time I have ever been stopped. I was on my way to meet a client in Gotanda in Tokyo on November 3rd and as I went through the ticket gate at approximately XXXpm [daytime] there were two regular police officers waiting on the other side. I saw one of them clock me and registered that he had decided to stop me for whatever purpose. Resigned to my fate, I watched him beeline his way towards me and gesture for me to stop. I took out my earbuds and responded to his question (“Can you speak Japanese?”) with a polite, “just a little.” Suprisingly, he then spoke English to me and continued to do so for the rest of the time I was delayed (I am not a fluent speaker of Japanese so I was quite happy to stay in my native tongue rather than struggle along with what little I know). First he asked if I had any I.D. such as a passport or Registration Card so I obligingly opened my bag, got out my wallet, closed my bag and handed him my I.D. I then asked him why he had stopped me and what he said was, and still is, the shocker of this whole story for me. He said that they were stopping foreigners “because of the APEC meeting being held in Yokohama.” I will refrain from launching into what I think about this ridiculous statement but I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin, so to speak. When I asked him why he had chosen to stop me, he then said that they were focusing on searching foreigners bags for “dangerous goods” and asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have a look inside my bag. I said no, he couldn’t look inside my bag. He was a bit flummoxed at this and had to gather himself in order to proceed correctly. First he called over his sidekick and asked him to fill in the relevant form with my Registration details – sidekick obviously hadn’t done this before as he had a hard time guessing which bits of info to write down and had to check more than twice with the guy I was dealing with – then, he confirmed that I had just said “no” and asked me again if he could look inside my bag. We went back and forth a couple more times. Next he asked me to cooperate and that it wouldn’t take much time; I said I was cooperating and asked him if he thought I wasn’t cooperating. We went back and forth a couple more times. The discussion went round in circles a little longer but I must stress that at no point was he ever threatening or aggressive, and neither was I. In the end, I asked for his name and I.D., which he obligingly gave me. Once I had taken this down I opened my bag to put my notebook back and allowed him to have a look inside – by this time it was getting close to my appointment and I wanted to get on with my day. The one thing I forgot to ask him before I showed him the inside of my bag was if I could leave now, once they had taken my Registration details. It’s easy to think about it in retrospect… He only gave the inside of my (fairly sizable backpack, messenger style) bag a cursory look even after the reason he gave for the search, too! – I guess he supposed I would refuse if he asked to open the other bags which were inside my bag (soft lunch bag, quality waterproof bag with spare clothes, book bag). At least, in the end, he was polite, even though he was persistent. The whole affair took about 10 minutes of my time and I can’t help feeling like I was the victim of some inane body-count for administration purposes only.

Police Officer Seiya NC 217 of the Osaki Police Station looked like he was still in his 20’s and had been tasked with the job of targeting foreigners for the sole purpose of satisfying his superiors that Japan was doing it’s bit to ‘fight’ terrorism. I’m sure he believed in what he was doing and most likely still does but I’m also sure that he and many others like him have no clue that targeting foreigners and not even considering the idea that terror can be home-spun is not only hypocritical (and ironic – sarin gas, anyone?) but ultimately damaging to the good nature, honesty and humility of the vast majority of Japanese people in this country.

Isn’t there something I should download from your blog that would be ideal for explaining why I refuse to have my bag searched?

Best regards, rock on and keep banging that hammer, Debito.


Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.


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Hi Blog.  Let’s see how a vetting media works.  Investigating journalists uncover money being wasted and tell the public about it.  Few apparent fears in the domestic media about spoiling the party for our international guests.  And no apparent trampling on civil liberties.

Should happen in Japan too, as we have freedom of the press.  But no, check out what happened the last two times Japan hosted G8 Summits (here and here).

I think it’s about time we stopped this corrupt nonsense in the guise of international summetry.  It’s like holding an Olympics every year in a sparkling new venue, except nobody can attend but government elites.  Pigs at the trough.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Canadian summitry
A loonie boondoggle
Ostentation in a time of austerity
Jun 17th 2010 | OTTAWA

FOR all his gifts as a political tactician, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, may have miscalculated how much Canadians want to pay to host the G8 and G20 summits from June 25th to 27th. As the government struggles to close a large budget deficit, it is spending C$1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to host the world’s leaders—60% more than Japan, the previous record holder, coughed up for the G8 gathering in Okinawa in 2000.

Mr Harper points out that Canada is holding back-to-back summits—doubling the cost, he says. The government also notes that it can hardly be blamed for providing airtight security. It has built a steel fence around the woodland cottage resort at Muskoka that will receive the G8, and deployed special forces on overtime to lurk in the water and surrounding forest.

But critics counter that Mr Harper could have saved money by inviting the G20 to Muskoka as well, rather than receiving them separately in Toronto, 200 km (125 miles) to the south. Moreover, they note that much of the budget has gone on items of dubious utility and taste. The prime minister has become the butt of jokes for commissioning an artificial lake, complete with mock canoes and recordings of the call of the loon, for the G20 summit’s media centre—which sits just yards from the real Lake Ontario. In Muskoka taxpayers are on the hook for a refurbished steamboat that won’t even float until the summit is over, and new outdoor toilets 20km from the meeting site. So much for small government.



Auditor ready to look at G20 security tab
Sun May 30, 9:45 PM
By The Canadian Press, Courtesy of MMT

OTTAWA – Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month.

”Once the events have occurred and the spending has occurred we can look to see if it was done appropriately,” she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

The billion-dollar tab for security prompted angry clashes in the House of Commons last week, with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews staunchly defending the costs.

”It certainly seems like a lot of money,” Fraser said. ”I think we have to understand better what is it for.”

She said the audit would be routine.

”Given the amount of spending, it is something that we would normally look at in our financial work,” she said.

”I would expect that there are a lot of people involved in this,” she said. ”The costs of housing and overtime and equipment I’m sure are going to be substantial.

”We would have to look at what planning has gone on and was the spending really just for these events or not.”

Toews says he’s fine with an audit.

The G8 is slated for Huntsville, Ont. June 25-26 followed immediately by the G20 in Toronto.

Fraser also said she hasn’t heard formally that MPs and senators have changed their minds about letting her audit the half-billion parliamentary budget.

”I’ve had no communication from them since their letter indicating that they were refusing our request.”

The politicians, though, are saying she’s welcome to come in for an audit. They changed their tune after the public reacted angrily to the news they had turned down Fraser’s request to look at Parliament’s annual half-billion-dollar budget.

Fraser says if she does get a formal invitation, she won’t focus on the expenses of individual MPs and senators.

”What we had proposed was never an audit of MP expenses alone,” she said. ”That would have been part of a financial management audit, but we would also look potentially at issues like human resource management or security on the Hill, contracting, those sort of broader management issues.”

Her auditors would be more interested in procedures and policies.

”We would look to see what kind of rules and procedures and controls are in place,” she said.

”We would expect the House of Commons and the Senator to have good policies and procedures, that they be comprehensive and that they be communicated well. If that is the case, we would do spot checks to make sure that those policies are actually being followed.”

She said such an audit normally takes about a year, so if the invitation comes soon, she could have a report by the middle of 2011.


Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Readers.


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Hi Blog.  What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan.  Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear.  It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that.  Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like).  Please send to by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack.  I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



To Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants:

Date: March 23, 2010  Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for coming to Japan and hearing our side of the story.  We have a lot to say and few domestic forums that will listen to us.  –ARUDOU Debito, Chair, FRANCA Japan (,


Referential documents and articles appear in the following order:

I. On Government-sponsored Xenophobia and Official-level Resistance to Immigration

This section will seek to demonstrate that discrimination is not just a societal issue.  It is something promoted by the Japanese government as part of official policy.

  1. OVERVIEW:  Japan Times article:  “THE MYOPIC STATE WE’RE IN:  Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government” (December 18, 2007).  Point:  How government policy is hard-wiring the Japanese public into fearing and blaming Non-Japanese for Japan’s social ills.
  2. Japan Times article, “Beware the Foreigner as Guinea Pig“, on how denying rights to one segment of the population (NJ) affects everyone badly, as policies that damage civil liberties, once tested on Non-Japanese residents, eventually get applied to citizens too (July 8, 2008).
  3. Japan Times article:  “THE BLAME GAME:  Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community” (August 28, 2007), depicting foreigners as criminal invaders, and thwarting their ability to assimilate properly.
  4. Japan Times article: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004)
  5. Japan Times article, “Demography vs. Demagoguery“, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making “immigration” a taboo for discussion as a possible solution to Japan’s aging society. (November 3, 2009)
  6. Japan Times article: “HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS:  Government effort riddled with bias, bad science” (October 23, 2007), talking about how official government surveys render human rights “optional” for Non-Japanese, and downplays the discrimination against them.
  7. Japan Times article: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003), on how the oft-touted Ministry of Justice’s “Jinken Yōgobu” is in fact a Potemkin System, doing little to assist those with human rights issues in Japan.
  8. Japan Times article, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate“, on the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic from the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination once again from arising (August 4, 2009).
  9. Japan Times article, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy“, on the downfall of Japan’s labor visa policies, e.g., the “April 2009 repatriation bribe” for the Nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians, sending them “home” with a pittance instead of treating them like laborers who made investments and contributions to Japan’s welfare and pension systems.

II. On Abuses of Police Power and Racial Profiling vis-à-vis Non-Japanese

This section will seek to demonstrate that one arm of the government, the National Police Agency, has had a free hand in generating a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave of the 2000s”, by characterizing Non-Japanese in the media as criminals, exaggerating or falsifying foreign crime reportage, bending laws to target them, engaging in flagrant racial profiling of minorities, and otherwise “making Japan the world’s safest country again” by portraying the foreign element as unsafe.

  1. Japan Times article: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new “snitching” Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004), on how online submission sites (which still exist) run by the government are open to the general public, for anonymous reporting of anyone who “looks foreign and suspicious” to the police.
  2. Japan Times article: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004), how the National Research Institute for Police Science has received government grants to study “foreign DNA” (somehow seen as genetically different from all Japanese DNA) for crime scene investigation.
  3. 3. Japan Times article:  “FOREIGN CRIME STATS COVER UP A REAL COP OUT:  Published figures are half the story” (Oct 4, 2002), indicating how the National Police Agency is falsifying and exaggerating foreign crime statistics to create the image of Non-Japanese residents as criminals.
  4. Japan Times article: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005), showing nascent anti-terrorist policy introduced by the Koizumi Administration specifically targeting Non-Japanese as terrorists.
  5. Website:  “Ibaraki Prefectural Police put up new and improved public posters portraying Non-Japanese as coastal invaders” (November 20, 2008), and “Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster” (July 29, 2009), showing how the Japanese police are putting up public posters portraying the issue as defending Japanese shores from foreign invasion, complete with images of beach storming, riot gear and machine guns. and
  6. Japan Times article: “UPPING THE FEAR FACTOR:  There is a disturbing gap between actual crime in Japan and public worry over it” (February 20, 2007), showing the Koizumi policy in full bloom, plus the media’s complicity in abetting the National Police Agency’s generation of a “foreign crime wave”.
  7. Japan Times article: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005), and
  8. Japan Times article: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005), both articles showing how the Japanese police use legal sleight-of-hand to convince hotels to target foreigners for visa and ID checks.
  9. Japan Times article: “‘GAIJIN CARD’ CHECKS SPREAD AS POLICE DEPUTIZE THE NATION” (November 13, 2007), showing how extralegal means are being used to expand the “visa dragnets” to people who are not Immigration Officers, or even police officers.
  10. Japan Times article, “IC You:  Bugging the Alien“, on the new IC Chip Gaijin Cards and national protests (May 19, 2009), how RFID-chipped ID cards (of which 24/7 carrying for Non-Japanese only is mandatory under criminal law) can be converted into remote tracking devices, for even better racial profiling as technology improves.
  11. Japan Times article, “Summit Wicked This Way Comes“, on the Japanese Government’s bad habits brought out by the Hokkaido Toyako 2008 G8 Summit (April 22, 2008) – namely, a clampdown on the peaceful activities of Japan’s civil society, with a focus on targeting people who “look foreign”.
  12. Japan Times article, “Forecast:  Rough with ID checks mainly to the north“, focusing on a protest against Hokkaido Police’s egregious racial profiling during the G8 Summit, and how the police dodged media scrutiny and public accountability (July 1, 2008).
  13. Japan Times article, “Cops Crack Down with ‘I Pee’ Checks“, on the Japanese police stretching their authority to demand urine samples from Non-Japanese on the street without warrants (July 7, 2009).
  14. Japan Times article, “PEDAL PUSHERS COP A LOAD ON YASUKUNI DORI: Japan’s low crime rate has many advantages, although harassment by bored cops certainly isn’t one of them” (June 20, 2002), demonstrating how arbitrarily Tokyo police will nab people at night ostensibly for “bicycle ownership checks”, but really for visa checks – if they are riding while “looking foreign”.

III. On Racism and Hate Speech in Japan

This section talks about other activities that are not state-sponsored or encouraged, but tolerated in society as “rational” or “reasonable” discrimination, or natural ascriptive social ordering.  These unfettered acts of discrimination towards minorities, decried by previous Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene as “deep and profound”, are examples of why we need a law against racial discrimination and hate speech in Japan.

1. OVERVIEWNGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan (33 pages).  Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan, submitted to UNCERD February 2010.  Compiled by Solidarity with Migrants Japan.  Particularly germane to this information packet is Chapter 2 by Arudou Debito, entitled “Race and Nationality-Based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments” (3 pages).

2. Japan Focus paper (14 pages):  “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:  The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007).  This academic paper talks about how a “Foreign Crime Magazine” deliberately distorted data (to the point of accusing Non-Japanese of criminal acts that were not actually crimes), and portrayed Chinese and other minorities as having criminality as part of their innate nature.

3. Japan Times article, “NJ Suffrage and the Racist Element” (February 2, 2010), on xenophobic Japan Dietmember Hiranuma’s racist statements towards fellow Dietmember Renho (who has Taiwanese roots), and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists demanding people take Japanese citizenship if they want the right to vote in local elections – when it clearly makes no difference to them if they do.

4. Japan Times article, “The Issue that dares not speak its name“, on the suppressed debate on racial discrimination in Japan (June 2, 2009), where the term “racial discrimination” itself is not part of the Japanese media’s vocabulary to describe even situations adjudged “racial discrimination” by Japanese courts.

5. Japan Times article:  “HOW TO KILL A BILL:  Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006), on how Japan’s first prefectural-level ordinance against discrimination was actually unpassed months later, due to a hue and cry over the apparent dangers of giving foreigners too many rights.

6. Academic Paper (Linguapax Asia, forthcoming) (14 pages):  “Propaganda in Japan’s Media:  Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of Non-Japanese Residents”, on how government policy, political opportunism, and the Japanese media fomented a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave” in the 2000s, and how that caused quantifiable social damage to Non-Japanese residents.

7. Japan Focus paper (2 pages): “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against ‘Foreigners’ in Japan” (November 2005), a very brief summary explaining Japan’s first case of racial discrimination that made to the Supreme Court (where it was rejected for consideration), and what it means in terms of Japan’s blind-eying of discrimination.

8. Website:  “Tokyo Edogawa-ku Liberal Democratic Party flyer, likens granting Permanent Residents the right to vote in local elections to an alien invasion”.  (February 24, 2010)  Seventeen local politicians of the formerly-ruling LDP lend their names against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s liberalizing policy, illustrated with a UFO targeting the Japanese archipelago.

9. Website:  “More anti-foreigner scare posters and publications, linking Permanent Resident suffrage bill to foreign crime and Chinese invasion”. (March 15, 2010)  Anonymous internet billeters are putting propaganda in home post boxes in Nagoya and Narita, and bookstores are selling books capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan “disappear” by turning into a foreign country.

10. Website:  Anti-foreign suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!” (December 4, 2009).  An overview and summary translation of the invective and arguments being put forth by the xenophobic Far-Right in public demonstrations.

IV. On the Disenfranchisement of the Non-Japanese communities in Japan

This section touches upon how Non-Japanese minorities are shut out of Japan’s debate arenas, public events, even court rooms, making them largely unable to stand up for themselves and assimilate on their own terms.

1. Trans Pacific Radio:  “RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right wingers” (September 10, 2007), demonstrating how the government will not stop hate speech from Right-wingers even when it willfully disrupts their official fact-finding meetings.

2. Japan Times article, McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign:  Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued. (September 1, 2009), showing how McDonald’s, an otherwise racially-tolerant multinational corporation overseas, is able thanks to lax attitudes in Japan to stoop to racial stereotyping to sell product, moreover not engage in constructive public debate about the issues.

3. Japan Times article: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different judicial standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007), where even foreigners’ testimony is overtly dismissed in court expressly because it is foreign.

4. Japan Times article: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS:  McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006), in that a store manager who barred an African-American customer entry, expressly because he dislikes black people, was exonerated in court on a semantic technicality.

5. Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007). An article about the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, who force Non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese to dye their natural hair color black.

6. Japan Times article: “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?: National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit” (Sept 30, 2003), on Japan’s National Sports Meets (kokutai), and how Japan’s amateur sports leagues refuse Non-Japanese residents’ participation:

7. Asahi Shimbun English-language POINT OF VIEW column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003).  A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi Watashi no Shiten column, wondering why cartoon characters and wild sealions (see #9 below) are allowed to be registered as “residents” in Japan under the government’s jūminhyō Residency Certificate system, but not Non-Japanese.

8. Japan Times article, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH: ‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests” (Jan 6, 2004), with several odd, blood-based rules indicating a belief that foreign ancestry gives people an advantage in terms of language ability – even if the foreign ethnicity is not Anglophone!

9. Japan Times article on “SEALING THE DEAL ON PUBLIC MEETINGS: Outdoor gatherings are wrapped in red tape.” (March 4, 2003), on the sealion “Tama-chan” issue and demonstrations over the issue of family registry exclusionism (see #7 above).  Why is it so difficult to raise public awareness about minority issues in Japan?  Because police grant permission to public gatherings.

V. On What Japan should do to face its multicultural future

This section offers suggestions on what Japan ought to be doing:  Engaging immigration, instead of retreating further into a fortress mentality and defaming those who wish to emigrate here.

1. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S COMING INTERNATIONALIZATION:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?” (January 12, 2006)

2. Japan Times article, “A Level Playing Field for Immigrants” (December 1, 2009), offering policy proposals to the new DPJ ruling party on how to make Japan a more attractive place for immigration.

3. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: From Migrants to Immigrants” (October 29, 2007)

4. “Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First“, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1 2008, pgs 19-21.

VI. Japan and the United Nations

1. Academic paper (forthcoming, draft, 21 pages):  “Racial Discrimination in Japan:  Arguments made by the Japanese government to justify the status quo in defiance of United Nations Treaty”.  This paper points out the blind spot in both United Nations and the Japanese government, which continues to overlook the plight of immigrants (viewing them more as temporary migrant workers), and their ethnically-diverse Japanese children, even in their February 2010 UNCERD Review of Japan (please skip to pages 18-19 in the paper).

2. Japan Times article: “PULLING THE WOOL:  Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006), talking about the disinformation the government was giving the UN in its successful bid to have a leadership post on the newfound HRC.

3. Japan Times article: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006).


Topics:  Daycare center teaching “Little Black Sambo” to preschoolers despite requests from international parents to desist, Anonymous statement regarding professional working conditions in Japan for professional and expatriate women (issues of CEDAW), Discriminatory hiring practices at English-language schools (2 cases), Racial profiling at Narita Airport, Harassment of foreign customers by Japanese credit agencies, Hunger strikers at Ibaraki Detention Center, Politician scaremongering regarding a hypothetical  “foreign Arab prince with 50 kids claiming child tax allowance”


Terrie’s Take on Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid, decision due Oct 2. wa hantai.


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Hi Blog.  Something coming up next week of surprising interest to  Guv Ishihara’s pet project to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Tokyo.  We’ll hear the decision on October 2.  Here’s where stands:

While understandable a sentiment (what booster wouldn’t want to bring such a probable economic boon home?), has been unflinching in its criticism both of Ishihara (for his xenophobic rantings over the years, start here) and of the Tokyo Police (keishicho), who will no doubt be given charge of the security at the event.  As history has shown repeatedly (G8 Summits, overt and unapologetic racial profiling — even public scapegoating of NJ, border fingerprinting justified on bigoted grounds, deliberate misconstruing of crime data to whip up public fear, even spoiling one of the last Beatles concerts!), you don’t want to hand over matters of public security to a police force without proper checks and balances — because as even Edward Seidensticker noted, Keishicho will convert Tokyo into a police city if the event is big enough.   The Olympics is just that, and it really complicates things by bringing in foreigners, for the police get particularly carrot-arsed when they feel the outside world is watching.  As I wrote for the Japan Times some months ago:

Point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear and crackdown campaign foisted on the Japanese public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming for a visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins converting Japan into a Police State, cracking down on its already stunted civil society. (Zeit Gist, SUMMIT WICKED THIS WAY COMES, Japan Times April 22, 2008).

Terrie below (understandably) hopes Tokyo gets the Olympics.  I, for the record, hope it doesn’t.  It’s not because I live in Sapporo (I would have mildly supported Fukuoka’s bid, even despite the NPA, simply because Fukuoka never had the chance — unlike Sapporo — to be an Olympic host).  But the fact remains, as Terrie alludes to below, this is just a vanity project for one mean old man, working through Japan’s elite society to get what he wants, who feels as though he’s got one good deed to redeem all his bad works and ill-will over the years.  Other rich elites in their twilight years, such as Andrew Carnegie, have historically felt the same impetus.  But this Olympic bid certainly seems far more half-baked and far less philanthropic than, say, Carnegie’s legacy attempts.

O IOC, don’t fall for Ishihara’s ego.  Spare Tokyo, its tourists, and its ever-more-policed international residents yet another fear and social-control media blitz.  Give the Olympics to somebody else.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, September 27, 2009 Issue No. 535


On October 2nd an important overseas decision will be made that will determine the future of Tokyo as a city of international standing. That decision will be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose members will convene in Copenhagen to decide which of Rio de Janeiro, Chicago, Tokyo, or Madrid will get to host the 2016 summer Olympic games. All the big wigs involved with trying to get the Games for Tokyo, from Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on down, flew out to Copenhagen on Saturday (Sep 26th) for their date with fate.

They won’t have to wait long.

Ishihara is trying his best to swing things Tokyo’s way, and reportedly has even asked newly elected PM Yukio Hatoyama and Seattle Mariners batter Ichiro Suzuki to attend the Copenhagen vote. However, he may have left his final run for the finish line too late. In its report released earlier this month (September), the IOC Evaluation Commission had some criticisms for Tokyo after their visit in April to examine the city’s facilities and planning. They particularly referred to a February poll that the IOC commissioned itself and which found that Tokyoites who “Support Strongly” the Games was just 25.2% — a surprisingly low number compared to any of the other three contenders. Strong support in Madrid, for example was 57.9%.

Indeed, as a result of the poll, the IOC Evaluation Commission specifically noted that Japan’s bid had the strong support of government but correspondingly lacked support by the public. Put another way, we have a classic case of those in charge of the local bid trying hard to get Japan’s “establishment” on board so as to provide sufficient financial support, which was indeed forthcoming, but they somehow forgot to involve the little people — the general public.

When the results of the February poll became public, we don’t know, but the Bid Committee finally “fixed” their PR problem a few days ago (in September, months too late), when a moving, talking 20-meter Gundam character robot was parked in Odaiba to pull in a reported 400,000 people who came to demonstrate their support for the Games bid. As a result, the public support in Tokyo for the Games is now supposed to be around 70%. The only trouble is that few members of the IOC can actually read Japanese newspapers or watch Japanese TV, and so these last minute efforts are unlikely to have much effect.

Indeed, this lack of reach by Japanese media to a world audience is frequently lost on Japanese politicians and governmental organizations, who think that because they can view the media, everyone can. This, in our opinion, is a good reason why Japan fails so frequently in its international bids for just about anything. A good example of this very domestic thinking can be found in the recent “Yokoso Japan” (Visit Japan) campaign. As far as we understand, almost all of the billions of yen allocated by the government to promote tourism were spent in Japan in the Japanese media.

It’s true that domestic tourism was also part of the agenda but foreign tourism was the main target, as proven by setting a high target for increased foreign visitor numbers. As it happened, luckily a short-lived economic boom in China and Korea in 2005-2007 helped pulled in several extra million Asian tourists, but despite some mutual back-patting this was largely accidental, and was certainly not the result of the almost non-existent overseas PR campaign.

Back to the local Bid Committee. In our view, not only did they forget to get buy-in from the man-in-the-street, but they seem have also bypassed 10% of those people who will be paying extra taxes to pay for the extravaganza (Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Chiyoda-ku, etc.). We refer, of course, to the invisible foreign community.

Yes, there is an English-language website, which from the dates of the photos and videos we presume was mainly put together for the benefit of the visiting IOC evaluation committee in April to show how cosmopolitan Tokyo is. But frankly it’s embarrassing to look at. Take the the section that carefully provides one and one-only restaurant (well, OK, there are two French establishments) representing 12 different national cuisines. Why couldn’t they make a proper effort to garner support of those hundreds of English-speaking venues that will actually be called upon to look after tens of thousands of non-Japanese speaking guests if we actually win the games?

You can see the Olympic bid English site at You can see the IOC Evaluation Commission’s report, which includes the Tokyo bid at:

As a further comment to the Bid Committee’s lack of awareness that the Olympics might actually be an international affair, if you go to the site’s organization chart, you will quickly notice that of the 19 officials named on the site, not one is a non-Japanese, and of the 56 “advisors” not one is a non-Japanese either. So we can only assume that foreigners will be asked to keep a low profile while Japan hosts the Games… and to pay their taxes on time.

OK, enough of the sour grapes. It’s not like Tokyo has no chance of winning, although with the Beijing Olympics only just done here in Asia, and there never having been a Games in South America before, the odds are apparently on Rio taking the honors for 2016. You won’t read that fact in the Japanese press, since they’re all saying Tokyo will win.

But it’s not a shoe-in for Rio. In their review, the IOC evaluation commission was concerned about the fact that Rio’s games facilities are spread out over hilly terrain, and the city will need an overhaul of its public transport systems to get guests around. There was also concern about violent crime.

Chicago also has a strong chance according to observers, but it has the problem of whether or not it can really afford the expense of the Games, given the poor shape the local economy after the meltdown of the U.S. auto industry. Also some of the Chicago venues are apparently a long way out of the city and not currently well serviced by public transport.

The other contender, Madrid, got a reasonably negative response that they may not fully appreciate the complexity of management required to host the Games.

Thinking positively, though, if we do win the right to host the Games, it will give the Tokyo metropolitan government a worthy project to focus on, and will cause them to finally do something with those ugly vacant lots built during the bubble era, that they are stuck with out at Odaiba. The venue plan for Tokyo calls for substantial planting of greenery in the area, as well as making the entire athlete’s village ecologically sound — with the latest solar, waste processing, and transport technologies being employed to give Japan a showcase to the world.

To wrap up, we do in fact hope that by some miracle Tokyo wins the 2016 Olympic Games. It would be a blast to be in the middle of all the buzz that will come with such an event. It will also significantly ramp up the world’s awareness of what a great place Tokyo is to live and visit — doing wonders for tourism.

But, in our heart of hearts, we fear that those handling the city’s bid may not have realized that to play a global game, you need to have a world-class team, not just money and government support. We’re not sure that such a team was brought to bear, and so we’re betting that Rio will probably win the hearts of IOC members — especially since South America is long overdue to host what should be a global event.

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Happy New Year: Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008


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Hi Blog.  Happy New Year.  To open 2009, here’s my annual essay where I note ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year.  Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well.  For what they’re worth, and in no particular order, here goes:


10) IIJIMA AI’S DEATH:  It’s not something that I would admit to Japanese female friends (who pretty much uniformly dislike Ai for what she represents — a porn star that somehow escaped into regular TV land — and for, I might add, her power over men), but I am a fan.  Have been for most of my years here in Japan.  It’s not just because I followed her from her days exposing her backside on the successor to TV show “11PM” (there’s a blast from the past for you readers here from the bubble years!), “Gilgamesh Nights”, enjoying the contrast between her and pneumatic Hosokawa Fumie (who appealed to the J-men who liked their women less spicy).  It’s not just because she was to me pretty all over.  I really liked her personality (yes, the singular):  unafraid of men — unafraid of just about anything, apparently.  I enjoyed her stints as a regular tarento on shows like “Sunday Japon” (where lucky devil Dave Spector sitting behind her got to smell her hair on a weekly basis) even after it did not involve disrobing:  She had an unabashed charm that was both abrasive and funny; you never knew what she was going to say next (or write next:  she had a decent blog and a surprise bestseller in “Platonic Sex”).  She was somebody I would have liked to have had a conversation with.  Now with her death from an apparent suicide near Xmas, that’s impossible, and I’m saddened.  She was too young (36), and I doubt she found much contentment in life aside from money and media attention; I wonder if it was the wrong kind of attention that did her in in the end.


9) CYCLING FROM MIYAZAKI TO KURASHIKI:  Every Golden Week I embark on my get-back-in-shape-after-the-long-Hokkaido-winter sojourn, where I go somewhere warm and cycle to a big airport.  This year, starting from Miyazaki for the second year in a row, I jumped on my mountain bike and went up the northern shore, getting close to Oita before taking a ferry to that funny little peninsula reaching out from Shikoku, then cycled along the coast to Matsuyama, took the odd series of bridges (which have bike paths!) comprising the Shimanami Kaidou to near Hiroshima, then pedaled the odd coast of southern Okayama to Kurashiki, where showers, booze with good friends (who I think still don’t believe I really cycled from that far south), and Scrabble galore awaited.  The biggest shock (for me):  I cycled an average of 100 kms a day for six days.  It was easy.  Yes, easy.  I’m about to turn 44 and as long as my kiester is properly padded, I can pedal all day.  Just plug in the iPod, alternate between podcasts and pump-up music, and I feel like I can go anywhere.  Let’s hope that I don’t get a heart attack on one of these trips when age finally catches up with me.


8) FRANCA:  Stands for Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (, and the idea came forth when long-term NJ residents, furious at being fingerprinted again from November 2007, asked to form a group that would represent their interests.  We’ve been taking it slow over the year and building up awareness and interest, but this year I realized (with the Tohoku region in particular) after a series of speeches that I don’t need to tow this movement along (as I have with other projects I’ve taken up, such as the Kunibengodan).  There is a critical mass of people here who don’t see themselves as “guests”, and are ready to stand up for themselves and claim their due as taxpayers and contributors to Japanese society.  Next step:  formally registering the group as an NPO with the Japanese government.  Readers out there who are used to running businesses (I’m not) are welcome to step forward and help make this organization a paying job for them.


7) TOYOKO G8 SUMMIT:  Yes, it could have been a bonanza for Hokkaido.  Yes, it could have put us on the map like the 1972 Olympics did.  But a G8 Summit is not designed for popular participation or investment in infrastructure like an Olympics.  Summits are events where Secret Service Sherpas parachute in, seal off the entire community, and make sure the riff-raff (as in the electorate, who might have something to say as part of the democratic process) don’t get in and spoil the world leaders’ elaborately-crafted dinner and publicity parties and junkets for their entourages.  What was the payoff for Hokkaido?  Not much:  The media center they built was soon knocked down (“ecologically recycled”), and people like me couldn’t even get a job as a local-hire interpreter (the Sherpas bring their own; again, it’s a hermetic system), and by the grace of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs those allowed in (the media) stayed in officially-approved hotels (who raised their prices appreciably to gouge reporters:  More on life behind the Summit walls in by reporter Eric Johnston at 

Worst of all was Japan’s bad habit of using international events to convert bits of Japan into a police state, spending far more money than anyone else in the G8 on policing and security.  (See my Japan Times article on this at   And with a racial-profiling element to their “anti-terrorist” activities.  I (as well as lots of other people) discovered that when walking through Chitose Airport while non-Asian.  In sum, the G8 Summit inconvenienced thousands of people, and wasted millions of dollars on something that could have been done with a conference video call.  Made me doubt the efficacy of world leaders meeting at all, especially when the Summit didn’t prevent the financial meltdown months later. 


6) CALIFORNIA TRIP 2008:  I spent all of August and two weeks of September on tour both for business and book promotion.  Not only did I get back to see what even the bluest state in America had become under 8 years of Bush II (one mixed-up place, abandoning Gov. Gray Davis for Schwartzenegger thanks to Enron; more below), I also managed to plug back into what could have been my life had I stayed a California Boy in the Bay Area.  It wasn’t my choice to begin with (I was born near Berkeley, and moved to the US East Coast at age five when my mother remarried), but I’m still not sure which would have been the better life.  More at


5) DVDS:  ENRON — THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, and MICHAEL MOORE’S “SICKO”.  These are the two most powerful movies I saw all year.  ENRON doesn’t just talk about the fall of a company — it even manages to show how business gone wild through true laissez-faire (not to mention outright tolerance of lying) destroys economies and people.  It is also the most interesting movie about accounting I have ever seen (just edging out Itami Juzo’s MARUSA NO ONNA movies).  SICKO is the other side of that coin on a more interpersonal level, since similar unethical pricing and qualification schemes and unfettered management of inelastic demand (be it electric power or medical care) destroys lives all the same.  One documentary was an excellent postmortem, the other was a harbinger, singlehandedly putting universal health care back on the US political agenda.  Watch them and think about how markets and government should work.


4) BOOKS:  Francis Wheen’s KARL MARX and HOW MUMBO-JUMBO CONQUERED THE WORLD.  Francis Wheen writes like the smartest kid in the class (I never thought anyone could summarize Marx’s Das Kapital in one paragraph), and makes you want to read more of anything he writes.  He puts a very human face on Marx, as well as on the actors creating the Grand Illusion of free-market capitalism and equitable societal development.  (The biggest dupe of the Postwar Twentieth Century:  “the trickle-down effect”.)  Wheen is as lucid as Bertrand Russell at times (and more amusing) as he traces the arc of economic, political, and social theory for the past forty years.  It’s a wonderful debug.  But don’t expect a mentoring from this author (I doubt he himself would welcome the role), for he prescribes little in return.  Wheen has that veddy British tendency to whale on people by criticizing them intelligently, if not a bit cuttingly, but not offer much ideology of his own for others to criticize back.  It isn’t until you get to the very end, where in a couple of succinct paragraphs he reveals his dogma:  Put reason above emotion and non-science in all respects (even when he gets a bit emotional himself).  He has faith that “truth is great and will prevail”.  Provided that people can be educated enough to think for themselves, and not be duped by the world’s ideological snake-oil salesmen.  Reading Wheen is a valuable antidote to them.  I still think, in the end, Bertrand Russell did it better, but Wheen does it more accessibly and practically for today’s marketplace of ideas.


3) JAPAN TIMES COLUMN:  Last March, my JUST BE CAUSE monthly column started with a focus on human rights.  So far, so good:  Not running out of topics and it’s amazing just how much debate a mere 700 words can spark (viz. the “gaijin” trilogy of essays over the summer).  I also felt like people looked at me differently once this column started going — not just a “blogger” anymore, but an actual pundit in a national newspaper.  If that’s a complimentary status to have, I’ll try to earn readers’ respect over the next few years.  I hope I’m serving well enough now.  Next column out January 6.


2) “HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS”, co-authored with Akira Higuchi.  This was where it all fell into place.  No longer was I just being labeled a “troublemaker” who sues people at a drop of a hat, and writes books about lawsuits as some form of catharsis.  No such dismissal could be made about HANDBOOK, a bilingual bestseller (in the small human-rights book market), clearly written as a means to help people make better lives here in Japan.  It garnered not a single mixed or negative review.  As a person who seems cause controversy just by exhaling, I’m just not used to the unqualified positive.  I hope the book serves well in future too.

And at the end (again, this list was in no particular order):  The Booby Prize for biggest disappointment mediawise of the year:


1) KEN BURNS’ “THE WAR” DOCUMENTARY:  I will watch anything by Ken Burns, the director who revolutionized the historical documentary with his daylong THE CIVIL WAR some decades ago.  I own everything he’s got out on DVD (and yes, there are a few turkeys:  THE CONGRESS is one).  But my appetite was whetted when NPR reviewer David Bianculli called THE WAR (about World War II from an American perspective) “his best”.  I watched it after viewing the even longer British-produced (and now History Channel staple) THE WORLD AT WAR series, made nearly forty years ago. 

I understand Burns’s production was about how a world war affected the US domestically, but his presentation rankled for the first time ever.  Not only was the music and tone of the documentary in places quite inappropriate (upbeat contemporary songs for wartime scenes, for example), but the feeling was cloying, even jingoistic at times, as if boostering for Americana in the face of an international war (TWAW only pandered to its British audience once:  it’s overuse of “Banzai” as Japan invaded British territories in South East Asia.)  Unforgivable was the closing line of the final episode:

“This film is dedicated to all those who fought and won that necessary war on our behalf.”

I see.  Well, maybe I’ve been too influenced by Japan’s need to see everyone (even the aggressor nations, such as itself) as the victims of war.  But a film about a world war should not just herald those who won it.  It should salute those who died in it, who suffered in it, regardless of side.  History already overwhelmingly favors the victors of war.  Why would a historian like Burns repeat that error by just honoring one side, as if those who suffered the historical accident of being on the wrong side do not deserve a modicum of respect for doing what many simply had to do?  There is the victimization, the tragedy of group madness and legally-enforced conformity that leads to war anyway.  It’s not all winners vs. losers, good vs. evil, is it?  Let’s be a bit more sophisticated in our paid tributes, shall we?


Alright, these are the things that made me think quite a bit this year.  Thanks for reading those thoughts, and have a Happy New Year 2009.  Arudou Debito

Irony: Economist reports on Chinese Olympic security; why not on similar Hokkaido G8 security?


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.  Something I saw in The Economist this week raised an eyebrow:


The Beijing Olympics

Five-ring circus

Jul 24th 2008
The Economist print edition

News from the forbidden Citius, Altius, Fortius
FOREIGNERS deemed potential protesters are being kept out of China during the Olympic games (August 8th-24th). Beijing is ringed with police checkpoints to keep troublemakers at bay. But the authorities have named three city parks where demonstrations, in theory, will be allowed. They are well out of earshot of the main Olympic venues and police permits will be needed (five days’ notice required). Chinese rules ban any protest that threatens public security or social stability. This is routinely used to block any demonstration that citizens have the temerity to propose.


COMMENT:  Er, all of these things happened in Japan (in one form or another) before and during the G8 Summit in Hokkaido this month (not to mention all G8 Summits over the past decade, not just Japan, although Japan’s security spending is several times greater than the others).  

Agreed, this isn’t a nice thing for China to do, but why isn’t The Economist (and other media) writing about things like this happening in Japan?  Is it just easier to zero in on China because it’s historically redder?   Or is the G8 just something that merits the extra security, oh well?

Sources start here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times Tokyo Confidential with amusing anecdotes about G8 gifts and local offput business…


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. Some amusing anecdotes on what bennies were on offer for G8 Summit attendees. Some people get all the breaks, it seems.  Not the local businesspeople, however. Debito


TOKYO CONFIDENTIAL:  Japan Times Sunday, July 13, 2008

G8 goes ‘B-class’ as smokers fume

By MARK SCHREIBER, courtesy of the author

After devoting seven pages of punchy news items about the G8 Summit at Toyako in Hokkaido — including a full page concerning the latest gossip about France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla — Shukan Shincho (July 10) provides readers with three pages of amusing tidbits of the kind in which the weekly revels, which is headed “B-class News.”

News photo

One concerns the special souvenir gifts distributed to the foreign-press corps attending the summit.

It seems at the previous summit in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture eight years ago, the government was lambasted for shelling out over ¥60 million on expensive gifts, which included deluxe business bags, IC recorders, stationery, and a limited-edition “Licca-chan” doll dressed as a Ryukyuan folk dancer.

So this time they’re cutting back, with expenditures only about one-fourth that of the Okinawa Summit. Participants will receive a bag embroidered in the style of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu. In keeping with the conference’s ecological message, press kits handed out to reporters in “eco bags” were made from recycled materials. Other commemorative souvenirs such as furoshiki (a wrapping cloth used for carrying items) and chopsticks were also made from recycled materials.

Perhaps, the magazine remarks, foreign newsmen who recall Japan’s magnanimous generosity at the previous Nago Summit were a bit disappointed this year.

Among the local delicacies the foreign visitors could partake, Shukan Shincho continues, was Mame no Bunshiro Kazuno Natto, a gourmet variety of fermented soybeans, which are typically disdained by many foreigners due to their unfamiliar odor and texture, from Donan Hiratsuka Shokuhin Co. The beans also contain reishi (Ganodermalucidum), an edible fungus that boasts medicinal properties.

“We usually sell it in 50-gram packs, but since that’s too big a portion for the breakfast buffet, we supplied an order for 500 25-gram packs,” says Masao Hiratsuka, the company’s president. “This natto doesn’t smell bad, so foreigners can eat it too.

“We’d be honored if the president and first lady of France, where food culture is highly developed, would deign eat some,” says Hiratsuka.Alors, pourquoi non?

While some local businesses benefited from the onslaught of visitors, rigorous police security appears to have heavily cut into turnover at the area’s love hotels.

“Usually, toward the end of the month our business picks up, but in June, it declined,” the owner of an establishment in the vicinity of Toya Spa tells Shukan Shincho. “On Saturdays and Sundays we’re often fully booked, but customers didn’t materialize then either. Business is off by more than 30 percent.”

“With so many security checkpoints, no wonder people are staying away,” sighs a second hotelier. “When they stop you and ask, ‘Where are you going?’ what can you tell them?”

A detachment of riot police took over an entire no-tell hotel for use as their billet. Up to June 28, the hotel had accepted regular customers in its vacant rooms, but the presence of cops lurking on the premises was a major turnoff.

“Would you go in a love hotel crawling with cops?” one sarcastic blogger posted.

Rest of article at:

World media on uselessness of G8 Summit(s)


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. Concomitant to my recent assertion that the world media is waking up to how much of a useless gathering, if not an outright scam, these G8 Summits are, let’s collect some articles on this blog entry demonstrating as such. Feel free to add articles in the comments section below, only please take care to include the name of the media publication, date, full text of article, and link. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kicking off with the Financial Times, London:
Pipe dreams and cigar smoke
Published: July 10 2008 03:00

For proof that the G8 has outlived its usefulness, one need look no further than the inability of the world’s richest democracies to forge an agreed global strategy for tackling climate change. The refusal by China and India to endorse its proposed cuts in carbon dioxide emissions renders this week’s G8 summit in Japan pointless. Any notion a club of eight nations could run the world – never plausible – is now so discredited as to call into question the value of all its declarations.

World leaders have since Monday talked about global warming, rising food and oil prices, African poverty and the financial strains of the global credit squeeze. But what use is a “shared vision” of cutting carbon emissions without the endorsement of the developing world’s fastest-growing and biggest polluters? How is it possible to pronounce on inflation and try to tame soaring oil prices without the involvement of Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil producer? And who in the G8 has the influence or power to isolate Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, when no African nation is present?

The G8’s problem is that it has become so divided and poorly led that its annual summits have deteriorated into little more than photo opportunities and exercises in drafting bland communiqués.

The severity of the current financial crisis only emphasises the G8’s impotence. The world has changed beyond recognition since the original group was formed more than 30 years ago to discuss economic policy. Financial markets are much deeper and the flows between asset classes have grown more complex. The G8’s influence over the markets has diminished with the power of its finance ministers to move them. Moreover, any discussion on exchange rates, where governments and central banks can still be effective, is doomed to be unproductive while China stays a non-member.

The answer lies in reform of the club rather than abolition. A talking shop for like-minded democracies – as the G7, minus Russia, was – serves a purpose. But it cannot be a steering group for the world. Reducing membership to the econ-omic superpowers – US, EU, China and Japan – would be divisive. Instead, it should be extended to fast-growing Brazil and India as well as China. A “G12” of the largest economies would include Spain and ensure nobody was ejected. It would have the virtue of covering more than 70 per cent of global GDP. Chinese ambivalence towards membership reflects fears it will be criticised at summits. But if Beijing wants to project its influence and act in concert with other nations, this is a risk worth taking.

Japan Times Eric Johnston’s July 10 Sapporo speech on G8 Summit–with audio recording, powerpoint, photos


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.  Wrapping up this long-running series on the G8 Summit, here’s a blog entry on last night’s Sapporo speech by Japan Times Deputy Editor Eric Johnston, sponsored by the Hokkaido International Business Association (HIBA).  Photos and links to his powerpoint and an audio recording of the event below.

Brief:  On July 10, 2008, Eric spoke for an hour and change on the state of newspaper media (versus the bloggers, who at times were better connected to Summiteers than the mainstream journalists), the inefficiencies of Summit reporting and how it blocked true journalism (including a press center far away from the Summit site, and a GOJ stranglehold over press schedules–one example given was four hours’ travel and wait time for a sixty-second press conference with PM Fukuda), the incredible economic and ecological waste that goes on at these Summits (including, he says, a ton of lamb meat left uneaten due to journalist time constraints), and the flat-out lying to the local governments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs re getting the local economies involved in Summit events (this was apparently Tokyo’s show all the way–shutting out local pensions for “Ministry-certified hotels”, which gouged the journalists with JPY 60,000 hotel rooms, and not allowing local businesses to take much advantage of the world’s attention).  Thus sequestered and sealed off from the stories they had come a long way to report, the journalists at the media center could have been anywhere in the world, and all that any journalist (working 16 to 18 hour days), who didn’t have the gumption to leave the site and go searching for his or her own stories, saw of Japan was the center’s sushi bar.

Oh yes, and Eric talked about the goal of the Summit and appraises whether or not it was successful.  Most people don’t think so.  And despite the relative boosterism by GOJ-influenced press like NHK, the world media is now beginning to see these summits for what they are–basically highly wasteful and expensive parties for politicians, with only one real working day to consider a few major issues and, for the most part, agree that something is “a good idea”, rather than hammer out any specific policy or agreement.  All with us taxpayers footing the bill (particularly us Japanese taxpayers, paying ten or more times more, as usual, than last year’s Summit).

As one of the attendees of tonight’s speech commented, it was like the circus had come to town, set up their tent on a vacant lot, then shut the locals out from their show.  Then they departed, leaving nothing behind but a vacant lot.  

Good riddance to the Summit.  What a scam.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Link to sound file of the speech here (mp3):

Eric Johnston’s Powerpoint Presentation here (English):

Photos of the event and afterwards (courtesy Tom Goetz):

Kyodo: J Man arrested for making bomb threat at Sapporo Chitose airport


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 simultaneously scary and amusing: a bomb threat by a Japanese man during (but unrelated to, he claims) the G8 Summit.  Naturally, as contributor AW points out, he would not have been snagged by the Hokkaido Police’s racial profiling.  And image the hay the police would make if the perp had been NJ.  “Hey, good thing we did all the security checks on the gaijin!.”  Sorry there’s not much hay to be made this time around–wrong race.  Maybe it’s time the police disengaged race and nationality from criminal intent.  But I’ve suggested that both to them and to readers here ad nauseam by now.  Sigh.  Debito in Sapporo


Man arrested for making bomb threat at Chitose airport
Contributed by AW

SAPPORO —A bomb threat by a male passenger on Tuesday grounded a commercial flight bound for Tokyo from New Chitose Airport, the closest major airport to the site of the ongoing Group of Eight nations’ summit, airport and police officials said. Takanari Deto, a 69-year-old realtor living in Sapporo city, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing business by force. He had said his luggage contained a bomb and started making a scene after boarding Air Do Flight 20, which was scheduled for departure at 2 p.m., the officials said.

Police found no suspicious objects in the plane, they said. Deto told the police that his act is not related to the G-8 summit. A total of 215 passengers and crew members had to get off the plane so police could search it. The plane left the airport about three hours behind schedule after safety was confirmed. About 40 passengers were placed on other flights.



PS:  Tangental irony: The airline getting terrorized like this, Air-Do, also has a history of treating passengers differently by nationality

Good news from Summit Sapporo: security cops are mellow


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 today, July 8, is the only real working day the G8 Summit leaders have in Toyako, Hokkaido, I thought it timely for a quick report from the streets of Sapporo, 70 kms away as the crow flies, about the security measures and their effects on us residents.

Between 3 and 5PM this afternoon I cycled around the environs that were listed as “limited” (kisei) in terms of access–the areas between Sapporo Station and Susukino, and the length of Odori Park.  Yes, there were cops (sometimes several) on every corner (see photos below).  Yes, there were checkpoints and riot police and paddy wagons and cop cars with lights flashing and street lanes appropriated for checkpoints.  But the good news is that this was not the same as the World Cup 2002, when cops’ zeal to catch “hooligans” meant stopping anyone foreign-looking several times a stroll down the street.

No, the cops (mostly from Osaka on duty this time, with some Shizuoka mixed in) did not act threateningly, or look tense, or even give me more than a second glance as I took pictures of their security measures with my keitai and zipped about in shorts and a t-shirt.  There was even some sort of heavy-duty meeting taking place at the Hokkaido Government building, yet pedestrians were not cordoned away and I could even walk my bike around the footpath provided by security.

I was not stopped once.  Bravo.  And protesters (one extreme rightist on a megaphone, one clutch of Falun Gong members showing gory photos of how the Chinese government had mutilated their members) were not surrounded and cordoned off by police in hermetically-sealed phalanxes, as a reporter told me he witnessed yesterday with a different downtown demonstration.  Even a right-wing soundtruck patrolled the streets, basking in the glow of attention downtown, with no police escort (i.e. business as usual).  Seems like I missed the bigger protests downtown yesterday and the day before (I was in Niseko on business).

Of course, all is not daisies stuck into gunbarrels.  Every single NJ reporter I talked to the course of this week had been ID-checked by plainclothes police once exiting baggage claim at Chitose Airport (same as I had been two weeks ago), and they confirmed that the police were only targeting foreign-looking people from the plane (their plainclothes cop freely admitted as such).  So racial profiling continues apace.

Domestic business has really suffered from all this security (I find that many Japanese are really quite nervous about cops–rightly so, to my mind–and prefer to stay away from where they prowl), as clerks at Yodobashi Camera and other shops and businesspeople around town and in Niseko admitted with a shrug.  Our local post office even had notice up that mail would be delayed a day or two due to the Summit (see below).   Roads are with lighter traffic all around this part of Hokkaido, even if they are not fortunately blocked off.  I think people are just waiting for the whole damn thing to finish. 

Now then, after all this time, effort, extreme expense, and inconvenience, let’s hope our leaders can actually accomplish something worth writing about in the history books at this Summit.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Some snaps of the events downtown:

Paul Arenson on media coverage of G8, particularly Japan Times


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.  Just received this very thoughtful letter from Paul Arenson of Indymedia, which should not be merely left in a comments section of this blog.  Reproducing as a full-on entry.  Opinions are his.  Arudou Debito


From Paul Arenson | 

Japan Times: What are their priorities?

Ok, this is my concern. The repression by the police and immigration authorities is nothing surprising. Govts have been using the supposed threat of terrorism for a long time, and especially after 9-11, as an excuse to limit freedom of speech. And too intimidate.

Nothing new here. And while the Japan Times has always taken a decidedly bolder step on a number of domestic issues (MAD COW, FOR ONE, SEE BELOW), they have been an enigma as well (THEIR INVOLVEMENT via SEVERAL EDITORS, SUCH AS BRAD GLASSERMAN WITH CSIS, A CIA-RELATED ORGANIZATION IS AN EXAMPLE).

With the G8, I found it curious that while they give voice to complaints about overzelousness by the police, they have mostly had wire service reports, very short. And nothing in them indicates why anybody would want to protest the G-8 or neoliberalism in general.

Maybe too much to be expected. And the fact that they do not publish my letters (2 so far) on this subject (nor any really that detail why anyone would be protesting) makes me wonder if they have their own aganda, which is to appear to be more independent, but only up to a point and not allow any reasoned discussion of the issues.

The net effect is to leave the uninformed reader thinking that maybe these people coming or at least protesting heavyhanded attacks are soft on terrrorism, or perhaps ARE no more than violent hooligans. In fact one or two recent letters attack Debito and the critics have implied just as much.

In my last letter below, I also undertline some of the reasons for the protests. I do this because while the mainstream and wire services are bad, much of the anti-globalization websites are not much better. They detail the harrassment by the authorities, but do little to reach those who may be inclined to question the neoliberal agenda yet need more of an understanding of what is wrong with these meetinfgs of the Elite.

So you will find some references in my letter to some of the sites of those involved in the G8 protests.


July 4

It is undoubtedly true that the Japan Times’s coverage of the G8 Summit is superior to that of the other news media. Only you give voice to the concerns raised over the heavy-handed security, which has already seen entry denied to some non mainstream journalists and activists and has served to intimidate counter-G8 activists from exercising their democratic rights.

As well, you do occasionally carry an article critical of the posturing by G8 leaders, such as ” NGOs worried Africa will get short shrift” in the July 4 issue.

All in all, however, your G8 coverage tends to stick closely to the scripted comments of government leaders and only the most mainstream NGOs. What is missing are the voices of those who are critical of the summit itself. Dozens of international and local GROUPS are attempting to gather near the summit venue and around Japan in order to address the inequalities imposed by the neoliberalism of the G8 economies on the rest of the world. These include drastic reductions in social welfare, the growth of the working poor, food safety held hostage to free trade agreements and pro agro-business policies, wars fought for oil and drastic attacks on civil liberties with post-9-11 hysteria being used to justify increased police surveillance in the US and Japan.

A glance at any of the counter-G8 summit websites will reveal dozens of multi-issue groups, from those representing the homeless of Sanya to people concerned with the possible loss of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, to those who seek dept cancellation. Representatives of these groups have been most affected by the extreme “security” measures. Your lack of coverage only serves to aid and abet the overzealous authorities in silencing their voices, which is certainly not becoming for a newspaper which claims to print all the news “without fear or favor”.


Paul Arenson





WATCH (Watch Human Rights on Summit)
Network of Lawyers observing Human Rights around the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit 2008

WATCH (Watch Human Rights on Summit)
Network of Lawyers observing Human Rights around the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit







Hokkaido Shinbun: Hokkaido Police report 15 requests for demos, grant permission for one


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. In light of all the protests happening in downtown Sapporo (I’ve been nowhere near–was the emcee and press manager for an event yesterday in Niseko), here’s an interesting snippet from the Hokkaido Shinbun about police involvement in “approving demonstrations” (which they do very sparingly, it seems).

Yes, the Japanese police must approve a demonstration. So must the shopkeeps if you’re going through any space where their business might be affected. More on this in a Japan Times article I wrote in 2003 here.

Final thought: The police, according to a friend, have been hiring lawyers for several weeks now to prepare and serve injunctions against any demonstrations they have NOT approved.

All part of the emerging new world order where Constitutional protections for peaceful public assembly and protest are increasingly being subverted for the sake of “keeping order”. Historically, that often produces exactly the opposite effect…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hokkaido Police report 15 requests to demonstrate
Hokkaido Shinbun July 2, 2008

The Hokkaido Prefectural Police have announced that 15 requests to hold demonstrations related to the Hokkaido Toyako Summit were made up to July 1.

According to the police, applications to hold a total of ten demos in Sapporo were lodged from June 2 to 8, and five around Iburi Subprefecture’s Toyako Town were applied for between June 6 and 9. The Hokkaido Public Safety Commission has granted permission for one of them, to be conducted in Sapporo on July 2. The other approaches are now under consideration.

Among the requests, a Sapporo demo on the afternoon of July 5 with approximately 8,000 participants is the largest plan to date. Of the others, the police are considering applications for a demonstration of around 300 participants and 13 events with less than 200 demonstrators.

Hokkaido Shinbun: Summit Activists get sequestered to faraway campsites


Hi Blog.  I guess this is better than Bush’s “Free Speech Zones“, but only marginally.  Places like Tobetsu are more than 100 kms from the Summit site.  Arudou Debito in Niseko


Sapporo and Tobetsu provide campgrounds to civil activists (July 3, 2008)

Campsites for civil activists from around the world who are visiting the area for the Hokkaido Toyako Summit were set up in Sapporo and Ishikari Subprefecture’s Tobetsu Town on July 3. Approximately 30 campers from the United States, Germany and other countries arrived in the morning at the Disaster Reserve Center in Tobetsu Town, which has been set up in a closed school, and immediately pitched tents there.

A total of 300 visitors are expected to flock to the sites between now and July 6, and voluntary study meetings are scheduled to be held there. The Sapporo International Exchange Camp Executive Preparation Council (the organization managing the campgrounds) intends to use the sites as spaces to discuss ways of internationalization in a style different from the talks led by the G8 nations.

The city of Sapporo also opened the Nishioka Youth Campground in Toyohira Ward on July 3. The city had designated the campground to the council in response to its request for such a facility, but because the council rejected the site due to issues with its management, more civil activists are expected to stay at the Tobetsu Town campground.

The Summit’s venue town of Toyako in Iburi Subprefecture will also open four campsites on July 6, the day before the event begins. At one of these sites in the forest park of the subprefecture’s Toyoura Town, JR Hokkaido employees will be dispatched to the unmanned JR Rebun Station nearby. Staffing levels will also be increased to prevent confusion at JR Date-Mombetsu Station, where NGOs will operate shuttle buses.


Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls


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.  Doing some stuff this weekend near the Summit site, not sure if I’ll be able to access the Net, so meanwhile, here’s some important information on just how deep the rot goes when it comes to these Summits.  It’s not just a matter of the public being inconvenienced.  Their taxes are being raided for these events.

I watched NHK’s special on the Summit last night (75 minutes’ worth), and got the lowdown on security (it’s the largest police presence ever assembled for a Summit, they said–10,000 bentos prepared every day, every meal).  But what I thought most interesting was the first 25 minutes spent on what the hotel’s service (particularly the food–this is Japan, natch) was going to be like for Summit attendees.  It’s not as though world leaders get enough privileges, after all.  But all I could do was drool at the amount of time and preparation being put into service (Carla Bruni likes Italian food, Sarcozy likes chocolate) and what looks to be wonderful delicacies (even the potatoes have been aged 4 months underground!).  

Anyway, read on for more facts and figures.  And enjoy Mori’s caviar.  Debito in transit


¥60 billion G8 budget draws flak
Although less than 2000 outlay, critics see amount as excessive amid social shortfalls
Japan Times July 1, 2008

Japan plans to spend more than ¥60 billion in taxpayer money to host next week’s Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido and related events, prompting some to question if that sum could better be used to alleviate the national health-care and social welfare crises.

The summit will be held in Toyako, Hokkaido, from Monday to July 9, when leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia plan to discuss the world economy, climate change, African development and other political issues, including nonproliferation.

Japan last hosted the annual summit in 2000 in Kyushu and Okinawa.

That and related events cost in excess of ¥80 billion, about ¥20 billion more than the budget for this year’s gatherings, said Kenichi Masamoto, a Foreign Ministry official in the G8 summit secretariat.

“The previous (Japanese) summit was held for the first time in a provincial area. So we wanted no mistakes and tried to provide as much hospitality as possible,” Masamoto said. Before the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering, Japan hosted three summits, all in Tokyo.

Masamoto admitted the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering drew public criticism about spending at a time when Japan’s economy was in a prolonged slump.

During the leaders’ banquet hosted by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, they feasted on black Russian caviar, lobster from Bretagne, France, and Foie gras.

Souvenirs were also given to the leaders, their wives and journalists.

They included wine glasses with their names inscribed, clothing by famous designers, lacquer letter boxes, IC recorders and Licca-chan dolls.

This time, the government hopes to stage a “compact” summit, Masamoto said.

“We are trying as much as possible not to be wasteful,” he said.

Of the ¥60 billion-plus to host the meetings, about ¥30 billion will be used by the National Police Agency for patrolling the venues, including taking counterterrorism measures, and about ¥25.5 billion will be spent by the Foreign Ministry.

The Defense Ministry and Japan Coast Guard budgeted around ¥1 billion each for transporting the leaders and patrolling sea areas near the venue.

The Foreign Ministry plans to spend around ¥9 billion on preparing the communications infrastructure between the summit venue in Toyako and Rusutsu, where the international media center will be located.

The ministry budgeted around ¥5 billion for the media center, which is constructed on a parking lot in a ski resort and will accommodate around 3,000 people from the press and governments.

Inside and outside the center, cutting-edge environmental technology, including fuel cells and heat pumps, will be exhibited.

The center itself boasts eco-friendly features, including solar panels, “green” walls and a snow cooling system.

Once the summit is over, however, the building will be demolished.

“Originally, (the site) was a parking lot,” Masamoto said. “The summit is an unusual situation, and when the leaders gather, the world’s eyes will be on them and thousands of journalists will be on hand.

“The building was constructed to handle this temporary, special demand. It will be removed when the event is over.”

In Toyako, five working lunches and dinners are scheduled involving the G8 and other countries’ leaders. Masamoto declined to disclose how much has been budgeted for the meals, because they are still being coordinated.

Japan again plans to pass out souvenirs to the leaders, their aides and the press, he said.

Although Masamoto again refused to fully disclose the budget and planned gifts for the same reason, he said the government wants to give the leaders “something good with the theme of the environment and tradition.”

Gifts being considered include writing implements for the leaders’ aides and chopsticks, “furoshiki” wrapping cloth and “uchiwa” fans for the press corps, he said.

With the gifts, Masamoto said the government hopes the participants and media learn about Japan, Hokkaido and the environment.

Toshio Nagahisa, an executive director at think tank PHP Research Institute specializing in political science, said that although the expenditures for hosting the gatherings must be streamlined, they are necessary outlays.

“The important thing is that the money must be spent to ensure problems do not occur at the meetings,” Nagahisa said. “It is also very important to guarantee the leaders’ safety.”

One expert meanwhile opined that too much public money was being spent just to host the event.

“Why does Japan have to continue being a friend of the advanced countries to this extent?” asked Toshimaru Ogura, a political economy professor at the University of Toyama critical of the annual G8 gathering.

“With the tight fiscal situation stemming from Japan’s aging society, I wonder if (taxpayers) really support spending ¥60 billion over just a few days’ time.

“That ¥60 billion could instead go toward strengthening the manpower of the Social Insurance Agency and coping with various ongoing medical-care and social security issues,” Ogura pointed out.

The Foreign Ministry said it has no comparable data of other countries’ budgets for past G8 meetings.

But according to the British government’s Web site, the U.K. budgeted about £12.1 million, or around ¥2.6 billion in present value, for the 2005 summit it hosted in Gleneagles, Scotland.

The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On-Site Briefing: Summit seeps into Sapporo on little cat feet…


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

Good morning blog. I’ll just put up a brief entry for today, as things are so hectic and full of distractions that it feels like the first week of college. Out every night with journalist friends, corresponding every day with a number of projects (including stringer stuff) both Summit-related and non.

For now, here’s an on-site report from a Sapporo resident (me) re the final days before the Toyako Summit:

The feeling right now is one of holding one’s breath, waiting for the Summit to come in like a great fog and enshroud us for a few days. Media has the perfunctory reports about goals, logistics, and the occasional voice from the curbside decrying inconvenience. But it at times almost feels like the journalists are taking a deep breath for a few days before exhaling.

Security, naturally, is pretty tight. Friend Olaf reports from Chitose (where he works, and where everyone flies in for the Summit) that there are dozens of cops standing guard around bridges, intersections, sidewalks, traffic arteries, you name it. He’s been stopped at the airport for ID checks (same as all foreign-looking passengers), but so far, even when cycling to work, no stoppages so far. He anticipates that will change once the bigwigs fly in, understandibly.

Around Sapporo and environs, the trainspotter-types are playing “collect the cop cars”, i.e. police vehicles from all over Japan (their prefectural affiliations are written on their sides) are now careening, lights flashing, around Sapporo city streets, Hokkaido toll expressways, and all the arteries between Tomakomai and Sapporo (including cities in between of Kitahiroshima and Eniwa). And we aren’t even talking about going into the mountains (something I will be doing tomorrow) where the Summit is being held. One friend remarked about how the pilferers around the rest of Japan must be having fun with the reduced police presence elsewhere.

Police are guarding every corner nearby Sapporo’s five consulates (US, South Korea, Russia, China, and Australia), and are no doubt keeping an eye on the honorary consulates and trade missions. Nearby parks have either daystick-brandishing cops, or else the occasional private-security watchdogs on alert (the Subway between government buildings and Odori has carried marshalls on either end of the car, for one stop only). And of course, major train stations have our boys in blue in reasonable riot gear. Traffic delays are starting to appear (one of my students reported he would be late to class this morning due to them), and yesterday, the toll roads indicated that the security forces would be carrying out a drill to seal off on-ramp entranceways (I missed it, fortunately.)

This is, of course, Sapporo, 70 kilometers as the crow flies from Toyako. I shudder to think what’s happening in Tokyo (700 kms away), Osaka (even further), and elsewhere (where reports in the comments section to indicate similar developments).

Naturally, racial profiling continues at Chitose Airport unabated, with all of my NJ journalist friends (and only them, they say) so far being stopped by police and ID-ed as they exit baggage claim. My complaint seems to have had no effect. All any terrorist group has to do is send an Asian and they pass unscreened.

Final word for now: It seems the Japanese police are more concerned about giving the appearance of security than creating actual security. A friend of mine, trained in undermining infrastructure and assassination (yes, I talk to a lot of people) due to his stint in a foreign military, has eyewitnessed numerous flaws in the Chitose security (such as being able to drive a van into Chitose with tinted windows–and not be stopped! Could have brought in all manner of subversive elements that way). And that any trained assassin is capable of coming months before the event and hiding out in the woods until needed. He doubts that we’re significantly more secure after all this expense, public inconvenience, and precedent renewed of subverting Japan’s civil society.

Forget these summits. How about a video conference for world leaders? Stop putting overreactive societies like Japan through these sorts of things. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times: Foreign reporters covering G8 face harassment: media group


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.  Article I forwarded you from Kimura-san at, about Japan’s security forces zapping NJ media coming in for the Summit, has hit other media outlets. Here’s the Japan Times. Arudou Debito



Foreign reporters covering G8 face harassment: media group
The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 1, 2008
By JUN HONGO Staff writer


When Chu Hoi Dick arrived at Narita International Airport last Thursday to cover events related to next week’s Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, he never imagined it would take nearly 20 hours to clear Immigration and set foot on Japanese soil.

“We were taken to an Immigration facility to stay overnight,” Choi, a Hong Kong-based journalist from a small media outlet, told reporters Monday during a news conference in Tokyo. Choi, who has no criminal record, was not permitted to make any phone calls and was denied access to his personal belongings.

Interrogated by Immigration officials, Choi was asked about his past involvement in demonstrations. At one point he was “threatened” by an official, who wanted him to pay $200 to stay overnight at the Immigration facility. He received no food until he paid for his own lunch the next day.

When they released him Friday afternoon, Immigration officials “said thank you very much for your cooperation” but gave no explanation for the detainment, Choi said.

The G8 Media Network, a Japan-based group of journalists from grassroots media outlets, said six people involved with its summit-related events have been wrongfully held and questioned by Immigration officials.

The relentless grilling of journalists and political activists entering Japan constitutes a threat to freedom of expression, the group said.

“This is suppression of freedom of thought and expression,” said Go Hirasawa, a representative of the group. “This is harassment (of journalists).”

Another journalist who was detained for 11 hours after arriving in Tokyo on Friday said she was asked to hand over a detailed itinerary and account for every hour of her stay in Japan. She told The Japan Times that she has no criminal record that would justify the detainment.

The journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, said that attempts by the government to censor journalists are “symptomatic of the G8,” as voices around the world are being silenced while a handful of nations maintain their authority over global issues.

“Those of us who report the stories are silenced” as well, she said. The network of journalists condemned the detainment of so many reporters and activists as unreasonable, calling the practice “a violation of human rights.”

The group said it filed a request with authorities including the Justice Ministry and the National Police Agency demanding that journalists from smaller media outlets be treated properly when arriving in Japan.


Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 5: July forecast: rough, with ID checks mainly in the north


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

By Arudou Debito
Published as “July forecast: rough, with ID checks mainly in the north”
The Japan Times July 1, 2008
DRAFT TWELVE–“Director’s Cut”, text as submitted to editor.

I have suggested before (Zeit Gist Dec. 18, 2007) that Japan shouldn’t host major international events. Unfettered police power and insufficient media scrutiny create a virtual police state inconveniencing everyone.

I’ve likewise criticized the Hokkaido G8 Summit (ZG Apr. 22)–not only as a waste of resources (an estimated $700 million spent, mostly on “security”), but also because police harass foreign-looking people as potential terrorists.

Like me. On June 19, flying from Tokyo to Chitose Airport, Hokkaido, I was snagged by a plainclothes cop (a Mr Ohtomo, Hokkaido Police badge #522874) for exiting Baggage Claim while Caucasian. He wanted to see my Gaijin Card, citing Summit security. I told him I was Japanese. Then he demanded proof of that. Repeatedly. Missing my train, I said I would cooperate if he asked three Asians for ID.

He obliged, but the first Japanese businessman he buttonholed blew him off without breaking his stride. So I said, “If he needn’t show ID, neither should I. By law, you can’t ID citizens without probable cause, right?” He agreed, apologized for confusing me with a foreigner, and let me go.

Fortunately, I made an audio recording of the proceedings and took cellphone photos of the cops’ stakeout–clearly evidencing the cops only zapped the flight’s four White passengers (myself and three Australians).

So I decided to lodge a complaint for racial profiling, as well as wasting resources on ineffective anti-terrorist checks. (Check Asians too. After all, what terrorist worth his saltpeter would fly in and stand out as a gaijin?)

On June 25, I submitted a formal letter of protest to the Hokkaido Police (HP), asking: 1) How do you spot potential terrorists? and 2) How will HP avoid mere “gaijin hunting” in future?

But they weren’t cooperative. Despite my making an appointment in advance, HP wouldn’t let me talk to the department in charge of security. I was sequestered to an interrogation room for a one-on-one with some receptionist, with no authority to give definitive answers.

There would be no verifiable record of our conversation, either. A couple dozen reporters I had invited were denied entry into our meeting, even barred from treading upon HP property (they waited patiently outside the main gate). Although I brought my trusty audio recorder, police forced me to switch it off, even remove its batteries. If I didn’t comply, they threatened to reject my letter (an act of questionable legality).

HP used every trick in the book to avoid accountability. Mr. Flunkey, who didn’t even present his business card, simply denied NJ were being targeted (despite Mr Ohtomo’s recorded admission). He refused to comment for this column, and could not promise any answers to my questions in writing. Or at all.

Afterwards, I gave a press conference attended by, surprisingly, every major media outlet. The vibe was palpable: misgivings about the incredible expense for security overkill, including importing thousands of police (and their cars) from the mainland.

This is not unprecedented. In 2002, Sapporo’s World Cup England vs. Argentina match also imported thousands of police to catch “hooligans”. Yet for all the tax outlay and gaijin harassment, only one NJ was arrested (plus four Japanese)–for scalping. I submitted a letter of protest back then too, but HP refused to issue any written reply, or even apologize for all the meiwaku. “If we hadn’t done all this, the hooligans would have come,” claimed another functionary. That time, alas, the press ignored it.

Not this time. Still, press reportage wound up being mild, with no police feet held to any fires. Yoo-hoo, watchdogs?

Meanwhile, I keep receiving word of more gaijin crackdowns. Kamesei Ryokan, in faraway Nagano, sent word that ministries have just ordered all hotels nationwide to check all “foreign guests”–as potential Summit terrorists. A reporter friend also reported that registered NJ Summit journalists are being detained at the border and deported. And so on.

No doubt HP would aver that NJ are still not being targeted. But given all the evidence, that’s pretty poor detective work.

Hang on, folks–it’s going to be a rough July. And just wait: These Summits happen here every eight years. So if Tokyo also gets the Olympics in 2016, we’ll have a double whammy. Which means, unless Japan develops more public accountability, more money for the police, and more meiwaku for those who unfortunately look foreign.

Arudou Debito is co-author of Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan.  Substantiation, including photos and audio recordings, at

730 words

Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 Summit security overkill


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.  DR sent this article as a comment to yesterday’s blog, but it’s worthy of an entry all it’s own.  It says what has been saying all along–that security overkill sets dangerous precedents for everyone in Japan.  Arudou Debito

G8 security steps hit as dangerous precedent
The Japan Times, Saturday, June 28, 2008
By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer

KYOTO — Their region having played host to three Group of Eight ministerial conferences over the past month, many in Kansai are breathing a sigh of relief and hoping the security measures that residents, and even summit participants, found excessive are now in the past.

But human rights activists warn the heavy police presence and security checks seen in Kansai are setting a dangerous precedent for next month’s G8 summit in Hokkaido and future international events throughout Japan.

In May, Kobe hosted the G8 environment ministers meeting amid unusually tight security.

Several days before the summit, some local media got wind that a ship belonging to Sea Shepherd, the conservation group that clashed with the Japanese whaling fleet earlier this year, might dock in Kobe during the event.

NGOs present in Kobe suspect the rumor, which turned out to be false, was started by Japanese police seeking to justify the huge amount of money being spent on security this year for all of the related summits.

Kobe’s Port Island, the site of the environment ministers conference, was a virtual fortress during the event, with traffic heavily restricted, many roads blocked off and hundreds of uniformed police officers and plainclothesmen patrolling the area.

Inside the Portopia Hotel, where the ministers met, guests and visitors had to undergo strict security checks that surprised even the top U.N. top climate change negotiator.

In Osaka, police began warning commuters in late April of security checks in subways for the two-day G8 finance ministers meeting in mid-June.

Traffic checks on the narrow, always crowded streets around the Osaka International Convention Center — the site of the meeting — tested the patience of many Osakans, a group not noted for their forbearance.

But the Kobe and Osaka events were topped by the security at the foreign ministers meeting in Kyoto on Thursday and Friday. Nearly 6,200 police officers were mobilized for the meeting.

Non-G8 visitors to Kyoto before and during the conference discovered that coin lockers in Kyoto Station were sealed and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the Kyoto Guesthouse is located, was closed off.

The Kobe and Osaka meetings saw no major demonstrations. But on Wednesday night, nearly 300 anti-G8 demonstrators marched peacefully through the streets of Kyoto.

Riot police shepherded the marchers through Maruyama Park and the historic Gion district while plainclothesmen, their faces hidden behind white masks and sunglasses, videotaped the demonstrators.

On June 10, Kyoto police raided the office of a local anti-G8 activist and arrested him on a four-year-old charge of illegally applying for unemployment insurance.

On Thursday, a South Korean labor activist opposed to the G8 meetings was forced to return home after being denied entry to Japan.

Cheong Ui Heon arrived at Kansai International Airport on Wednesday and was planning to take part in a demonstration that night, but was detained by Immigration authorities after allegedly being told the purpose of his trip to Japan was too vague.

Jun Yamamoto, secretary general of Asian Wide Cooperation Kyoto, an anti-G8 NGO, said it was clear both the June 10 arrest and the refusal to allow the South Korean activist into Japan were aimed at intimidating those the government fears, and warned the heavy security seen in Kansai this past month bodes ill.


“The G8 summits have provided a dangerous pretext for the authorities to use preventing terrorism as an excuse to violate the constitutional rights of Japanese and the human rights of foreigners entering Japan. As bad as the security in Kansai was, it’s going to be worse at Hokkaido next month, ” Yamamoto said.


Japan Timesコラム和訳:「魔のG8サミット接近中:7月のG8長談義は日本で悪いことばかり目立ち、ホスト北海道には何の利益もないだろう」


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.  Translation by a journalist of one of my Japan Times articles on the G8 Summit for domestic consumption.  Many thanks.  Pass it around to readers of Japanese.  Debito


Summit Wicked This Way Comes
The G8 Summit gives nothing back, brings out Japan’s bad habits

Original English at


有道出人(Debito Arudou)(www.NikkanBerita.comの木村嘉代子氏 訳)





その良い例が2002年のサッカーワールドカップで、警察とマスコミの過剰行動を直接(札幌でのイングランド対アルゼンチンの試合のとき) 私は目撃した。何ヶ月間もメディアは「反フーリガン」キャンペーンを行い、本州から渡ってきた警官の数え切れないほどの大騒動があり、繁華街のあらゆる場所に夜警の検閲所が設けられた。警察はシステム的に、いかがわしそうな人(私のような)を立ち止まらせ、出身地や滞在の目的について職務質問した。「日本人以外お断り」という表示(いくつかはまだ残っている)が店先に掲げられた。










しかし、誰が地方の田舎者が必要とするものを気にするというのか? 遠いホテルで世界のリーダーたちが仲良くして、潜在的な不愉快な事件で中断されることなくディナーを楽しんでいるときに。


公式発表として、北海道経済連は、サミットにより、今後5年間で379億円の経済効果があると見積もっている(関係のないニセコのスキーブームも含んだ数値だということは疑いもない)。しかし、真面目に考えてみて、「G8饅頭」などというものを買うために、洞爺湖に大勢の人がやってくるだろうか。ここ5年間のサミットの開催地を誰が覚えているというのか? さあ答えてみよう。これで私が言いたいことがわかるだろう。

ヤフー・ニュースによると、首脳たちの3日間のサミットの密会に、185億円(1億8000万ドル)かかるという。小さな注意書きには、そのうちの140億円を「警備」に回す、とある。だとしたら、誰が利益を得るのか? 予算の大部分を配分される警察と、疑わしい民間人を取り締まることでさらなる先例を作り出そうとしている政府。


サミット前症候群の苦しみに関係なく、日本は穏健な警察国家風の兆候がある。司法システムにおいて、捜査、逮捕、尋問、拘留、有罪判決での過剰な力が、すでに検察側に認められているのだ。さらに、(憲法で保障された権利である)市民の集会といった民主主義の根本のようなものには、警察や地域ビジネスの許可が求められるのである。(Zeit Gist、2003年3月4日)。








ポイントは、国際イベントは日本に悪い習慣をもたらす、ということである。それでは、2016年オリンピック開催の候補地に名乗りを上げている東京はどうなる? 一般市民を押さえつける、さらなる騒々しい公式の恐怖と取り締まりキャンペーンのきっかけになり、この幼稚な国家で最も得をするのは、警察なのだ。




Registered overseas journalists being detained, refused entry into Japan due to Summit


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. Forwarding from Ms Kimura Kayoko, freelance writer for online independent internet newspaper Nikkan Berita ( Original Japanese in previous blog entry. Translation mine. Arudou Debito



Recently, as the eve of the G8 Summit approaches, we are seeing incident after incident of non-Japanese being stopped at airports.

NJ who are coming here for G8 Summit activities (including reportage and convocations), without connections to governments or major press outlets, are apparently being subjected to background searches.  24-hour detentions are not unusual.

Last night (June 27), three Hong Kong citizen journalists who have been registered with the Citizens’ Media Center (Sapporo) were detained by Immigration, and were on the verge of being deported.

This morning, Susan George (ATTAC France) was stopped and questioned at the airport.  Ms George is 74 years old, and her detention demonstrates a lack of humanity on the part of authorities.

Similar measures on the part of Immigration are forecast to continue in this vein.

Japan, as host to this Summit, is a developed country with a democracy.  It is shameful for a member of the international community to treat visitors from other countries in this fashion.

And detaining, even refusing entry to, international journalists and media coming in for the Summit is a suppression of freedom of expression.

This is developing into a large international issue, with constraints being placed upon the length of stay for journalists belonging to international journalistic associations.

Journalists and international media people often have to cover unforeseen events, and cannot always tell Immigration in advance their exact itinerary or schedule.  This is normal.  However, people having schedules with free days are apparently being turned away at the border.  

Journalists who are not members of the major media are also coming to Japan, covering the Summit from the point of view of the general public.  Suppressing those people’s activities is depriving the public of a chance to have their voices heard, and only promotes overemphasis on the reports from the powers that be.

We wish to draw more attention to this problem so that more visitors can come overseas and enter Japan more smoothly.  We would like your help.  Anything you can do would be welcome.

Further, here is the phone number for Narita Immigration:


Also, the G8 Media Network will be having a press conference on Monday, June 30, with the detained media figures and Dietmembers in attendance.  More details here as they become available.

Kimura Kayoko

info AT berita DOT jp




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






今朝は、スーザン・ジョージさん(ATTAC France)が空港で足止めされているとのことです。74歳のジョージさんを拘束するのは、人道上の配慮にも欠けていると思われます。










成田入管 電話:0476-32-6774 



(日刊ベリタ 記者 木村嘉代子 著)

info AT berita DOT jp

Full report: Press conference goes well, but Hokkaido Police use every trick in the book to evade responsibility and press scrutiny.


 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. Full report (rewriting previous “quick update” earlier today) on today’s meeting with the Hokkaido Police, and the subsequent press conference.

Meeting with the Hokkaido Police (Doukei) took about 30 minutes, seventeen minutes spent with the police trying to get me to switch off my recording device (which they finally succeeded in doing, after three people warned me to remove the batteries for the sake of “privacy” and “ningen kankei” –or else they wouldn’t even accept my protest letter).  Or rather, I met with Mr Kawabe, alone, just him and me (reporters were kept outside the building, on the public sidewalk outside the Doukei front gate; police in Japan can thus avoid any contact with the press) in a sequestered room inside the Doukei Soudan Madoguchi.  

Our conversation lasted a little over thirty minutes, in which he made clear, inter alia (again, I was not allowed to record it) the following:

  1. They wouldn’t accept my letter as a “Letter of Protest” (kougibun).  It would have to be a “Letter of Request” (youseibun).  Whatever.  Just take the darn thing.
  2. They don’t believe they’re targeting foreigners in particular.  (And say as such in their official statements to the media.  I pointed out that any good detective would not draw this conclusion after all the evidence presented.)  
  3. They make no promises that they will answer any or all of the two questions I presented in writing (i.e. what criteria are they using to target people, and, how will they improve this so they aren’t merely targeting people who look foreign) at any time orally or in writing; and 
  4. No reporters would be allowed entry into our tete-a-tete.  This avoids any secondary witnesses to our conversation, or complete record of what was said between us. Mr Kawabe wasn’t even from the anti-terrorism department (despite his promises when I made an appointment the day before).  All he could do is pass up the information without quotable comment to me (I said I would be writing a Japan Times column on this, and would welcome a comment to include in the article in writing by Friday.  He indicated that would probably not happen.)  Complete evasion of responsibility, plus enabled plausible deniability.

Mr Kawabe did in fact towards the end make a defense of targeting foreigners, in that foreigners might in fact be illegal workers or overstayers, so there was a need to keep them checked on a regular basis.  He seemed to know NJ as criminals well, it seemed, but he knew next to nothing (as I asked, and I had to tell him) about the number of naturalized citizens, permanent residents, international marriages, or international children who fall into the grey area of “visibly foreign yet Japanese/earnest residents of Japan”.  I think he understood my position, and even said that he’d wouldn’t have minded having a beer with me under different circumstances.  Anyway, I received no meishi, and we shook hands as I departed to address the cameras and mikes waiting patiently outside.

The Press Conference at the Hokkaido Govt. Building (Douchou) Press Club took 35 minutes, about ten of them questions from the floor. I have made a recording of the entire thing, and you can listen to it without cuts (34 minutes–excerpting for my trip to the bathroom beforehand and the meishi exchange at the very end) from here:


(Photo credit–Hokkaido Shinbun)


(Photo Credit, Kimura Kayoko, Nikkan Beria)

(For the record, I hate listening to recordings of myself speaking Japanese in public–so much going through my mind–how to speak concisely, how to not show consternation whenever I speak about difficult topics, how to give both TV soundbites and newspaper quotes the reporters can work with, and all in a non-native tongue, which keeps tripping me up mid-sentence time and time again; damned hard work, this, and I’m envious of the Dave Spectors out there who can look composed and deliver under any circumstances.)

I think it went well, despite all my stuttering, broken Japanese in places, and reiterating points in concentric circles, in hopes of ultimately arriving at a sound bite for the TV cameras.  In terms of press attention, it was the third-best press conference I’ve ever done (first and second were our Otaru Onsens Lower and High Court decision days, respectively), with all the major media in attendance (the room was filled with reporters, with at least four TV stations and all the major newspapers). Seemed to truly be the issue du jour this jour.

Meanwhile, eyes peeled for articles, everyone–if you see any, please post them (full text with links) in the comments section below. I have the feeling that a lot of people are getting sick of how expensive this Summit has gotten (think USD 700 million and counting, the lion’s share for security) and will perhaps latch onto this occasion to prove a point. Let’s hope so, anyway.

But with the Hokkaido Police’s attitude towards foreigners, accountability, and press scrutiny, pressure to reform won’t be coming from within.  

You see, that’s three strikes now.  First, the Airport ID Checks in 1998 and 2002 (and the demands for improvement made to the Kouan Iinkai and the Jinken Yougobu, which went completely unrequited), then the 2002 World Cup in which they made every NJ a potential hooligan, and now this with the Summit.  Again, it’s a pattern from which we can now, even under mathematical definitions, triangulate.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

サミット反テロ対策の改善を要請する抗議文(全文)Text of protest letter to Hokkaido Police


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 is the letter of protest I will be delivering to the Hokkaido Police and the Hokkaido Government Press Club tomorrow.  Arudou Debito



午前10:45 道警本部で集合
午前11:00 道警本部に以下の抗議文を渡す(予約済み)
午前11:45 記者会見 道庁記者クラブにて(予約済み)


北海道警察署本部 御中 
警視庁 御中

 冠省 私は北海道情報大学准教授の有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。この度、サミット反テロ対策の改善を要請致します。








2008年6月25日 北海道警察署本部に出頭して提出
連絡先 有道 出人(あるどう でびと)携帯番号:090-xxxx-xxxx



Protest letter to Hokkaido Police for Racial Profiling, presented Weds June 25, 11AM, Hokkaido Police HQ


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

Hello All. Just a quick note to advise:


In the wake of being treated like a suspected terrorist by Hokkaido Police just for exiting Chitose Airport Baggage Claim while Caucasian, I will be handing in a protest letter to Dou Keisatsu Honbu (Sapporo Kita 2 Nishi 7) tomorrow morning asking for the cessation of the Hokkaido Police’s clear policy of racial profiling, targeting people as potential terrorists just because they look foreign.

More background on what happened to me and others at Chitose Airport, Hokkaido, June 19, with photos, mp3 recording, and transcripts of the police questioning, are all blogged and linked at
as well as lots of comments by other people also annoyed at being treated the same way recently.

If you would like to drop by and express your opinion or experience to the Hokkaido police (at least one Japanese media outlet will be represented), please meet me at Hokkaido Police HQ at 10:45AM on June 25 in the lobby. Be prompt, as people will have to be cleared for entry if we are granted an audience in one of their conference rooms (I’ve done this before).

I will make my rough draft of the protest letter public on my blog in Japanese by tonight, after I find a native speaker to check it.

The Summit is nigh, and things are only going to get worse before the event finishes. Make your voice heard. Don’t let the police they can treat people like “terrorists” the same way they did gaijin “hooligans” during the 2002 World Cup.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

「外人狩り」反テロ措置6月25日(水)午前10:45 道警本部で集合、改善要請の抗議文を提出


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

6月25日(水) 午前10:45 道警本部で集合、有道 出人は改善要請の抗議文を提出

皆様おはようございます。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。




 宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人 とりいそぎ


Japan Times Eric Johnston speaks for HIBA Sapporo July 10 on G8 Summit aftermath


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
****** Post Summit HIBA meeting*****
Please keep Thursday the 10th of July free. The Hokkaido International Business Association will deliver and provide a very interesting meeting.

Eric Johnston from the Japan times will be speaking to HIBA and invited guests. Topic:

By ERIC JOHNSTON, Deputy Editor, The Japan Times


With the Group of Eight (G-8) Leaders’ Summit concluding on July 9th, the world is now asking what next for progress on a post Kyoto Protocol climate change treaty, aid for Africa, the price of oil, the food crisis, and other issues that G-8 leaders addressed. Did the Lake Toya Summit make any progress on these issues, or was it a waste of time and taxpayer money?


At the same time, many in Hokkaido are anxiously wondering what, exactly, the effect of hosting the summit will have the region’s economic and social development. Hopes are high, but are they too high? Meanwhile, Japan’s English language media, seeing the sharp increase in international tourists to Hokkaido these last few years, are now wondering if the summit will lead to more foreigners visiting and moving to Hokkaido.


Eric Johnston, deputy editor of The Japan Times, will address these summit-related questions in a presentation on July 10th, the day after the summit’s conclusion. A two-decade resident of the Kansai region, Eric covered the U.S. delegation at the Lake Toya summit. He has been a frequent visitor to Hokkaido since 2001, having visited the region over a dozen times. Eric is especially eager to meet HIBA members, and get their advice on how The Japan Times might better service the Hokkaido region.

A room at Kaderu 2.7, downtown Sapporo, has been reserved. Meeting from 7pm.
Please find the URL re the location of Kaderu 2 7.

We are in room 110 (1st floor) which has a capacity of about 30 people.

A wrap up of the summit as well as media issues in Japan will be discussed by Eric. It is not every day we have someone like Eric agree to speak at one of our meetings. Please support by your attendance. An RSVP is required to ensure you get somewhere to sit.

Regards, Craig Parkhill, HIBA




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

皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。









有道 出人:はい、こんにちは。














































有道:北海道情報大学准教授の有道 出人と申します。
























有道:はい。但し、白人だけか外国人に見える人だけを標的しないで下さい。それはレイシャル・プロファイリング(racial profiling)なんですので、人種差別の一種だと言われるかもしれません。

































 宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人



Hokkaido Police at Chitose Airport only stop non-Asian passengers for G8 Summit anti-terrorist ID Checks, ask me for ID three times. Voice recording as proof (UPDATED)


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 was told this would happen–people of color (i.e. non-Asians) are getting racially profiled at Hokkaido’s airports as they exit baggage claim.  (Shin-Chitose and Memanbetsu are confirmed, as also acknowledged by an officer of the Hokkaido Police in the sound recording below).

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, on my way back from Tokyo, I was stopped at 3:12PM at Shin-Chitose Airport by a Mr Ohtomo (Hokkaido Police Badge #522874) at the JAL exit and demanded at least three times my ID.  I recorded the entire exchange as an mp3 sound file (edited down to seven minutes, with no cuts once the police questioning begins).  Download it from here:

It includes the complete exchange in Japanese between Mr Ohtomo and myself, which essentially runs like this:

1) Mr Ohtomo identifies himself as a (plainclothes) police officer, and that for the needs of G8 Summit security, he needs to see ID from me as a foreigner. 


2) When I tell him I’m I’m a Japanese, he keeps asking whether or not I’m a Permanent Resident and continues the quest for my ID, saying that he asks everyone thusly.


3) When I tell him that I’d been watching them and they hadn’t stopped anyone until now, he apologizes and admits that he mistook me for a foreigner (meaning that that was in fact the criterion used).  But he still keeps asking for ID.


4) Eventually I tell him my name and job affiliation (after he allows me to read his badge number out loud for the record), and I say I will cooperate if he will ask three Asians for their ID.  He goes off and tries, but (it’s hard to hear, but I did not cut this section, for the record) the businessman he corners refuses to give his ID.  So I say that if he doesn’t have to, neither should I.  Under the Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou, which he acknowledges is binding here.


5) Mr Ohtomo is very apologetic for stopping me, saying that it’s only his job, and that these checks will continue until the Summit ends.  And that it will probably happen to me again and again, but he doesn’t want me to have a bad impression.  He also says (this guy’s a very gentle, conscientious cop) that he has been told a number of times by people he’s stopped that he’s being racist in his activities, and feels bad when they say they are getting a bad impression of Japan due to these ID checks (NB:  Bravo to those people speaking out!–Police are people too and it does have an effect.)


6) The final few minutes of this seven-minute recording is me asking three Australians in English who were on the same plane whether they got ID checked.  They woman said yes, she had been.  Thus verifiably no other passengers (since they were all Asian) from that domestic flight were ID checked by the police.

Further, as visual proof that the two police offers were only stopping non-Asians, I took these photos with my keitai while still in baggage claim.  Easy to spot the cops (Mr Ohtomo is wearing black).  And note how they stay in position regardless of other people exiting (photo four)–they were only checking the White people. 

I missed my train, but no, in the end, I did not have to show my ID.  But when I tried to give this story to a Hokkaido Shinbun reporter I had lined up specially, he didn’t bite, deep sigh.

Listen to the music.  The refrain is familiar and now ever verifiably so.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



ARUDOU: Hello there.

OHTOMO: Sorry to bother you.  May I speak Japanese?


OHTOMO: I’m from the Hokkaido Police.  With the G8 Summit, we’re asking people to display their Gaijin Cards.

ARUDOU: Yeah, but I’m not a foreigner.

OHTOMO: Really?

ARUDOU: Yep.  I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: You’re a permanent resident?

ARUDOU: I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: Oh really.  What are you, a half-breed or something?

ARUDOU: I’m a Japanese.

OHTOMO: Are you carrying a drivers license or some proof of that?

ARUDOU: Why do you ask?

OHTOMO: Sorry, could you please step over here out of the way?

ARUDOU: I’d like to get on my train.

OHTOMO: Are you a foreigner?

ARUDOU: Nope.  Japanese.

OHTOMO: Aren’t you carrying proof of that?

ARUDOU: What do you want?

OHTOMO: A drivers license or somesuch.

ARUDOU: Why’s that?

OHTOMO: Do you have any proof of your identity?

ARUDOU: Why do you ask?

OHTOMO: We’re confirming this sort of thing with everyone.

ARUDOU: Uh, sorry, but I have been watching you for quite some time, and you haven’t confirmed anyone’s identity with anyone at all thus far.

OHTOMO: Thus far?

ARUDOU: Yes, lots of people have emerged from baggage claim, but I’m the only one you’ve checked so far.  Isn’t that right?

OHTOMO: Sorry.  It’s because you look like a foreigner.

ARUDOU: Sorry to break it to you, but I’m not a foreigner.

OHTOMO: Oh, really.  Okay, I understand.

ARUDOU: May I go now?

OHTOMO: Sorry, but do you come through here frequently?  Because from now, we’re going to be doing this sort of thing until July 9, and there’s a possibility that somebody’s going to call on you like this.

ARUDOU: There is that distinct possibility, yes.

OHTOMO: Well, please don’t take umbrage.

ARUDOU: Well, I understand that, but do explain yourselves.  And please don’t target people just because they’re white or because they look foreign.

OHTOMO: I understand.

ARUDOU: Now, may I go?

OHTOMO: Sorry about that.

ARUDOU: May I ask your name?

OHTOMO: Ohtomo.

ARUDOU: Mr Ohtomo, from the Hokkaido Police Department, right?

OHTOMO: That’s right.  Shall I show you my ID?

ARUDOU: Thanks.  May I read the number out loud?  522874.  Thanks a bunch.

OHTOMO: Now may I ask you for your ID?

ARUDOU: Er, why?

OHTOMO: Okay, sorry, may I ask your name?

ARUDOU: I’m Arudou Debito, Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University.

OHTOMO: Associate Professor?

ARUDOU: That’s right.

OHTOMO: I see.  And where were you going and coming back from?

ARUDOU: I’d like to get on my train now.

OHTOMO: So you’re heading towards Sapporo.

ARUDOU: May I go now?

OHTOMO: Understood.

ARUDOU: You’re aren’t asking anyone else these kinds of questions now, are you?

OHTOMO: (demurrer)

ARUDOU: Well, if you want my cooperation, I’d like to ask you to ask three Asians for their ID.  Do so and I’ll cooperate.  How’s that?

OHTOMO: Okay.  Would you be so kind as to wait right here?

ARUDOU: Sic ’em.

[Ohtomo asks a middle-aged Japanese businessman, who never breaks his stride, for his ID.  Following him down the escalator towards the trains, Ohtomo eventually breaks off the chase when his quarry refuses to cooperate and show his ID.]

ARUDOU: Well, he didn’t show his ID, now, did he?


ARUDOU: Well, you can’t rightly ask him, under the Police Execution of Duties Law, now can you?

OHTOMO: Right.

ARUDOU: So I guess that means that if he doesn’t have to show his, I don’t have to show mine, either, right?

OHTOMO: I take it you’ve been stopped like this many times before.

ARUDOU: Well, I’m a naturalized Japanese.  I get treated a lot of different ways by the police as a White person.

OHTOMO: You’ve probably had a lot of bad experiences.

ARUDOU: Well, it’s happened many times.

OHTOMO: I see.  Well, one time when I was talking to a university professor and asked him for his ID under the law, telling him this sort of thing goes on.  He understood what we were up to.  Anyway, we police are only doing this as part of our jobs, part of the activities associated with the Summit.

ARUDOU: I’m sure.  However, please don’t just target people who look foreign or are White.  That’s racial profiling.  Some might even say it’s a kind of racial discrimination.

OHTOMO: Yes, up to now it’s been said to me many times.  “This is racism, this is racial discrimination!”

ARUDOU: It’s not very pleasant, is it?

OHTOMO: But we police aren’t doing this with any prejudicial feelings.  We haven’t even done this all that frequently.  If we had, perhaps people would be more understanding.  But suddenly here we start in June as the Summit approaches, so probably some people are going to find this hard to take.

ARUDOU: It is hard to take.  Think about it for a minute.  As of now, all terrorism in Japan has been caused by Japanese.  From Aum Shinrikyo to the Red Army, all of it.  So why are you only targeting people who look foreign?  That’s the issue.

OHTOMO: I’m very sorry about that.

ARUDOU: Well, never mind.

OHTOMO: Are you going to make your 3:19 train?

ARUDOU: If possible.  Alright, may I go now?

OHTOMO: It’s already 3:15.  Cutting it fine.  Anyway, take care.

ARUDOU: Thanks.

OHTOMO: And also, please remember that you may be asked like this all over again, by somebody other than me.  Could you please not take offense?

ARUDOU: I’ll make an effort (laughs).

OHTOMO: Well, I’ve said this before, but there have been cases where people I’ve questioned have said, “I used to like Japan, but because of things like this, I can’t stand the place anymore.”

ARUDOU: You’re kidding!

OHTOMO: People react like that sometimes.  We aren’t doing this sort of thing just to offend people.

ARUDOU: I understand it’s your job.

OHTOMO: Again, I’m sorry about that.

ARUDOU: No problem.  Look, do what you can to thwart terrorism.

OHTOMO: We’ll be doing this only until the end of the Summit.

ARUDOU: I’m looking forward to that.

OHTOMO: It’s happening in other airports in Hokkaido too.

ARUDOU: Such as Memanbetsu, right?

OHTOMO: Er, yes, right.  Anyway, take care on your way home.

ARUDOU: Thanks.  You too.  Bye.


G8 Summit Security in Roppongi: Flyers asking NJ for cooperation “in carrying out security inspections and police checkups”


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.  Your taxes at work again, steeling the foreign enclaves in Tokyo for being carded and treated like criminal suspects during the G8 Summit–more than 700 kilometers away in Hokkaido.

Received from a NJ friend, who got his on Friday, June 13, 2008, 6:30PM at Roppongi Crossing right as he exited the subway station.  Not handed out as far as I know to the general public in an area without a NJ population:

Never mind that Roppongi isn’t a hitherto designated “security zone” (unlike, as the Yomiuri reported in their April 14, 2008 podcast, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro), and that this notice wasn’t handed out AFAIK in other parts of Tokyo.  I guess this notice isn’t necessary where there aren’t enough foreigners.  Or something.  Doesn’t matter.  Any excuse to keep expanding the security radius.

It’s of a genre so far.  More police warnings so far related to the G8 Summit on here.  

And I too was stopped (along with other White, and only other White, people) in Chitose Airport for a security and ID check after baggage claim.  I voice recorded it and took photos.  I should have that up by tomorrow, if I have time.  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

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

Hokkaido Police G8 anti-terrorism measures: deputizing coke machines with scare posters, police checkpoints in Chitose Airport…


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.  With less than a month to go before the G8 Summit comes to Hokkaido, here’s some information on how the public is being steeled for the event.  I expect things are only going to get worse (like they did for the Sapporo leg of the 2002 World Cup), when walking while White in public is going to be cause for suspicion, with street corner ID checks by overtrained paranoid cops indulging in racial profiling.

Eric Johnston and I have already talked about the oversecuritization for both the blog and for the Japan Times.

Here’s the first evidence of that:  Deputized coke machines… (and other places with this poster up; I peeled my copy off the wall at Odori Subway Station):

Here’s a closeup, split into to (the poster is A3 size):



Left-hand slogan:  “For terrorists, the SUMMIT is the perfect opportunity to show their own existence.”

Lower slogan in red:  “JAPAN IS NOT UNCONNECTED TO TERRORISM!” (i.e. is no exception to being a target)

Bottom caption:  “2008 HOKKAIDO TOYAKO SUMMIT: Notify us if you see anyone or anything suspicious.  HOKKAIDO POLICE.”

Poster found in Sapporo Odori Station on May 27, 2008.  Coke machine photos taken June 3, 2008, in a quiet business district of Sapporo Chuo-ku.

As for the visuals, gotta love the soft fat squidgy likeable alert cop (unlike the evil lean gray terrorists).  Good news is that the Japanese police have learned to make the terrorists not ethnic- or foreign-looking.  That’s a positive development, compared to the police’s past poster handiwork.

More on the G8’s effects on Hokkaido residents when information becomes apparent.  Here’s another one, courtesy of Sean, from Kasugai, near Nagoya–a long, long way from the Summit Site (think about 900 kilometers; I don’t remember this radius of security during the Nago Summit 8 years ago).  Received July 9, 2008:

Translation, from what I can make out:


Saluting Policeman: “The police are carrying out policing measures in an attempt to pre-empt international terrorism incidents etc. (nado)”


Sweating housewife:  REPORT TO 110 (the police number, Japan’s equivalent of 911)

Happy nuclear family:  USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

That’s all I can read.

Another Sapporo resident, Olaf Karthaus, just sent this to The Community on Saturday evening, June 7:

Quick update on police activities related to The Summit

1. increased traffic checks on highways: Beware of new Toyota Crowns in Hokkaido. I have heard that the Hokkaido police got new vehicles for the summit and they are using them now to increasingly check people who speed. So if you see a car that seemingly erratically changes speed, takes over cars, suddenly decelerates and let other cars takes them over, beware.


2. Car checks when on your way to the airport. One lane of the two-lane access street is blocked and police is waving cars down. Dunno how they determine who is going to be flagged. Random?


3. Gaijin card checks at New Chitose airport: Plainclothes policemen (but easy to spot if you look, since they have earphones). I was politely asked (in broken English) to show my passport because of increased security measures for the summit. He immediately and unasked flashed his badge (not stolen or fake? How can I know? Never seen the real thing before). Of course I didn’t carry my passport, so he wanted to see my gaijin card. He put a pen to paper and asked if I mind if he takes down my name. I said yes, I do mind, and he complied. A quick check of the pronunciation of my name, and I was waved through. He told me that these measures will continue until the summit is over. All foreign-looking people will be checked. I still could catch my train (didn’t leave for another few minutes), but I didn’t feel to have enough time to ask him how they determine who is a foreigner and who is not. Also didn’t ask what kind of measures I could take that would ensure that I am waved through quicker (since I have a couple of more trips down south before the summit. I can already imagine the chaos when a full load of foreigners happens to be on my flight. Then I will definitely miss my train!


4. By the way, I was in Yokohama during the Africa Summit two weeks ago. Our conference happened to be in the same complex (Pacifico) as the Summit. Extremely high security (found out that evening from the news that PM Fukuda and the Tenno were there, too), but no gaijincard check whatsoever. And I was going in and out for three consecutive days!


Anyway, the inconvenience is going to increase up here. 🙁  Olaf

There are some more reports down in the comments section of what’s going on elsewhere in Japan as security nationwide tightens.  Debito in Sapporo


UPDATE JUNE 11:  Received posters from Nezu Subway Station, central Tokyo (near Tokyo University):


Eric Johnston on extreme security at Kobe G8 Environmental Ministers Summit


 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 a report exclusive to from Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston, fresh from the recent mess that passed for the G8 Environmental Ministers’ Summit in Kobe.  Part one of a series that will show the wind-up to the even bigger mess I see coming up in Hokkaido this July for the grand G8 Summit…  

Read on, and gasp at how ludicrously unaccountable things are getting in the name of “security” and information control.  And savor one of my favorite emotions… vindication!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Big Brother Comes to Kobe


Exclusive to (copyright resides with the author)

As a staff writer for The Japan Times, I’ve had the opportunity to cover more than my fair share of international conferences over the years. In most cases, they took place in Japan, where their organization has always been superb and the security has always been politely restrained.

Until last week’s G8 Environmental Ministers’ summit in Kobe.

Readers of this website are no doubt familiar with Debito’s warning about Sapporo and parts of Hokkaido becoming a virtual police state during the main Leaders’ Summit, which takes place at Lake Toya in early July. Here, I owe Debito something of an apology, as I originally thought he may have been a bit hyperbolic, as I often am, for dramatic effect in order to emphasize a larger truth. Surely things weren’t that bad? Unfortunately, after my experience at the G8 Environment Ministers’ conference, I’m wondering if he might not have been prophetic.

The general sense of failure regarding the environmental summit itself has been documented in my paper and elsewhere, so I’ll not go into that here. But the monumental incompetence of the Environment Ministry in organizing the event, and the security arrangements that even the more distinguished participants for whom they were designed found excessive, made those of us in the media, and not a few delegates, shake our heads in disbelief at the way Japanese officials spent the vast majority of their time and budget on making sure “terrorists” (and I’ll get to that below) didn’t launch a pre-emptive attack instead of on the kind of advance planning needed to ensure a well-run conference.

Of course, the kind of money needed to host huge international conferences is often in short supply, especially at the Environment Ministry. It is not one of the more politically powerful ministries, as we all know. Its ministers are often up-and-coming politicians in their first Cabinet post, and hope to sit at their desks just long enough to figure out where the paper clips are before the Prime Minister reassigns them to a more glamorous ministry.

But that doesn’t explain the police state mentality in Kobe. At several past events at the same hotel where the environment ministers met, including far-larger and more prominent United Nations’ conferences on disaster relief (which came just weeks after the 2004 Asian tsunami) and AIDS, reporters, delegates, and NGOs were allowed to mingle fairly freely in the hallways, side rooms, hotel lobby, and press center. Security was present, but it was in the background and comparatively low-key.

Not this time. The day before the ministers’ summit, I arrived to attend a related NGO symposium at the Kobe International Convention Center, right beside the Kobe Portopia Hotel where the G8 Environment ministers were due to gather the following day.

As soon as one exited the train station beside the convention center and hotel, there was a battalion of Japanese police officers lined up along the covered walkway leading to both the center and the hotel. They were letting through only those with G8-releated ID badges. Uniformed and plainclothes cops stood every 100 meters or so, keeping a wary eye on visitors. Those without Environment Ministry-issued IDs were directed to take the long way around to the entrance. The chill in the air was not just due to the breeze blowing off Kobe harbor.

The media center was located right beside the hall where the NGOs were scheduled to conduct a day-long symposium. I was surprised to see several police blocking the entrance to the media center, standing at parade rest or in what appeared to be a slight jujitsu position. The cops were staring at everyone who entered the hall, or scanning the room with their eyes. Clearly, they expected trouble from the Japanese and international NGOs, and from the ordinary citizens who had come for the symposium. Needless to say, there was no trouble of any sort.

In my decade and a half experience as a reporter in Japan, this was the first time I’d ever seen such an in-yer-face display of police power on the eve of an international conference that, although important, was still to be attended by just a few Environment Ministers. “As far as I am aware, nobody has ever attempted to assassinate an Environment Minister,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commented to me wryly upon seeing the heavy security presence the next day.

Among those of us in the foreign press who have an inkling as to how Japan works, the consensus was the prominent display of force was less about beefing up security for visiting dignitaries and more about beefing up the police and security budget. In my case, I had good circumstantial evidence for drawing that conclusion.

A couple weeks before, friends in Japan’s right-wing media, upon hearing I was going to Kobe for the Environment Ministers’ summit, said, “Oh, we’ve heard the “Sea Shepherd’, the ship involved with the clash with Japanese whalers a few months back, will be docking in Kobe during the summit.” They didn’t say where they got that bit of information. But I’ll bet readers of a drink at the microbeer pub of their choice that it was from-who else?-the cops. Need I mention that the “Sea Shepherd” rumor turned out to be completely false?

The heavy police presence was surprising. But far more irritating, and what made everybody’s blood boil, was the slipshod management of the Environment Ministry. At past conferences, reporters and NGOs were able to gain entrance to most of the areas the delegates can access. At the very least, NGOs were allowed into the press room while the hacks were usually allowed to move freely between wherever the media center was and wherever the delegates were meeting.

Again, not this time. In order to get a seat in the press section of the room at the adjacent hotel where the ministers were assembled, reporters had to gather at the media center reception desk at a certain time each day in order be led over to the hotel by somebody from the Environment Ministry. Once we entered the hotel and passed through the metal detectors leading to the lobby area surrounding the meeting room, reporters were told they had two choices. Stay in the lobby area until it was time to be led into the meeting room, or leave while the meeting was still going on and not be allowed to re-enter not only the meeting room (which would have been more understandable) but also the entire floor where the meeting room was located -a floor the size of a football field with at least a dozen other rooms and a huge lobby.

And what of those who showed up at the media center reception desk even a few minutes after ministry officials had led the group of reporters, like a busload of tourists, to the hotel (sometimes well over an hour before the meeting actually began)? Sorry, too late. You can’t go in by yourself. Sit in the media center and wait until the meeting is over. And those who might need to leave the cordoned-off area beside the meeting room for a quick interview upstairs in the hotel lobby? Go ahead. But don’t expect to be allowed back in, even if you have a proper press badge that got you in the first time! Thankfully, after, as diplomats say, a frank exchange of views on the matter with one overzealous Environment Ministry official, I managed to argue my way back in. But the amount of time wasted arguing with the bull-headed bureaucrats over the issue was a surprise, as it had never happened before.

Two actions in particular by the Environment Ministry demonstrated the arrogance and contempt Tokyo bureaucrats feel towards the Fourth Estate. In the first instance, Japanese reporters in the media room were preparing to go over to the hotel for an informal briefing of the day’s events. The time of the briefing had been clearly posted for all to see and had been verbally confirmed with the ministry. Furthermore, the briefing was not in a restricted area of the hotel. Thus, reporters were free to go over to the briefing room individually, and without having to worry about passing through metal detectors and paranoid cops and bureaucrats.

There was still about 10 minutes to go until the briefing, and most reporters were in the media center. Suddenly, somebody rushed in and shouted, “The briefing has started already!” A mad scramble ensued, as reporters grabbed phones, computers, and notepads and raced over to the briefing room, about a five minute jog away.

We arrived to find a ministry official talking rapidly to the very few reporters who had bothered to show up early. A few minutes later, he wrapped up his remarks and left with no apology, no explanation as to why his briefing started early, and no explanation as to why the ministry had failed to notify the media center of that fact.

To those unfamiliar with the way the Japanese media works, this may not seem noteworthy. But it is unprecedented in my experience. Briefings at international conferences that start late are par for the course. Briefings that start early but with an announcement to all they will start early are not unknown. But briefings that start early with no announcement from anybody that they will start early and then conducted in front of a nearly empty room until other reporters start rushing in are unimaginable. To put it politely, that’s a very serious way to piss off reporters whom you want to write nice things about your event.

Needless to say, the majority of press members were furious. After the guy who did the briefing ran out of the room like a frightened rabbit, the other Environment Ministry officials present got verbally abused by the hacks in a manner one does not hear often enough from Japanese reporters. These officials, perfect examples of the stereotypical spineless and cowardly Tokyo bureaucrat, just kept repeating, “moshiwake gozaimasen” over and over, bowing slightly and frowning when the abuse from reporters became particularly intense.

Worse was to come. On the last day of the conference, some members of the press nearly came to physical blows with the ministry’s press section. Normally at these conferences, groups of reporters wait around for a final statement from the delegates, as that’s the main news story for the day. If you’re on a tight deadline, as you usually are, it’s imperative to get a copy of the statement as quickly as possible.

How it works in Japan is that, once the final statement is ready, copies are made and then brought to wherever the reporters are. A mad rush ensues to get a copy from harried officials, and a reporter has to have the physical agility of an Olympic gymnast and the body checking skills of a Philadelphia Flyers thug-on-ice in order to squeeze through the scrum of reporters and snatch a copy.

Normally, paper copies will either be placed on a table or passed out by hand by the press officials (this is their job, after all). But when stacks of copies of the Environment Minister’s statement arrived hot off the presses from some back office and given to Environment Ministry press officials, they held the copies above their heads for all of the eagerly waiting press to see. . .and then dropped or threw the copies on the floor and backed away as the press had to dive like dogs on a bone. Of course, and is usually the case, there weren’t enough copies to go around. So, it was first come, first serve until the second batch came along 10 minutes later.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How pathetic on the part of all concerned. Why not avoid all of the nonsense and just post the statement on the ministry homepage and let everybody download the information with no fuss or muss? Especially at a conference on the environment where one might expect the organizers to show environmental concern by cutting down on the amount of paper used. Good question, and one you can be sure is being asked in Tokyo at the moment.

The final coup de grace, at least for the overseas media who came to Kobe thinking they were in highly organized, polite, and efficient Japan and at a G8 meeting where English language materials would be available, was not the slipshod organization, the hordes of stern-faced cops, or the childish and unprofessional attitudes of the Environment Ministry press bureau. It was the paucity of English language information.

Ministry officials would rush into the press room where the overseas media were gathered, make an announcement in Japanese and then leave quickly with no English interpretation. Thus, foreign reporters from abroad were reliant for the first day and a half or so of the conference on the kindness of Japanese reporters who took the time to interpret, or of resident foreign reporters fluent in Japanese, like myself and Archbishop Pio d’Emilia, of the Unreformed Church of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

After watching the chaos for a day or so, Pio, who does not suffer fools gladly, decided to intervene. On behalf of those reporters from abroad, Pio told the Environment Ministry in a polite but firm voice to stop running around like headless chickens, to remember this was not a domestic event but an international, G8 event, and to get its act together and provide English information to those who couldn’t understand.

To the ministry’s credit, they increased the amount of English information after that, although I can’t say if it was sufficient or not for the foreign reporters who so desperately needed it. Pio later interviewed me (wearing a “Japanese Only” T-shirt on-camera) for the Italian TV station he works for, where I spoke on the security and chaos of the conference. The damage had been done, though, and you have to wonder if the ministry officials directly involved in the G8 Environment Ministers conference will ever be reprimanded. What am I saying? Of course they won’t be.

At this point, many readers are no doubt thinking, so what? Isn’t this just all a teapot tempest, anyway, the moaning and groaning of a spoiled, arrogant American reporter who expects to be waited on hand and foot? Yes and no. Obviously in the grand scheme of things, this experience is not important and it’s hard, perhaps, impossible, not to sound like whining idiot to those who weren’t there.

I have also covered conferences in places like China and Indonesia, and, certainly, the kind of treatment dished out in Kobe to reporters is nothing compared to what foreign reporters have seen and experienced in those countries. Nobody was arrested, detained, physically abused or even shouted at by the cops or by security at the Kobe summit. In fact, the cops weren’t nearly as surly as some of the Environment Ministry officials I was forced to deal with.

But there are a number of reasons why I overcome my hesitancy about putting keystroke to Word Perfect and decided to write this story. First and foremost, many readers of will be in or around not only Hokkaido during the main G8 Leaders Summit in July, but also Tokyo, Kansai, and other areas of Japan where the lesser ministerial summits are taking place. The security of the Environment Ministers conference may foreshadow the kinds of security measures that will be seen around Japan over the next month, as we approach the Toyako Summit. More ominously, these may be the kind of security measures we may yet see for more “international conferences” following the Hokkaido summit, as the government and their police and media allies bray on and on about possible “terrorist attacks.”

The second reason is to illustrate, in a small way, just what your tax money is buying -a stronger police state and a bureaucracy that is balkanized and increasingly unable, in my experience at least, to get the simple things done at these huge international conferences to the extent that they once could. Again, a little perspective. I’ve attended far more chaotic conferences elsewhere, as, I’m sure, all foreign reporters and delegates have, and as I’m sure many of you have. But long-term residents of whatever country they happen to reside in do have historical memory. I know many readers in particular are likely to recall the not-too-distant past when much of the above would have been unthinkable at any type of conference in Japan.

Still, are these the cranky ramblings of a guy in middle-age who sounds like your father? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make the grumbling any less accurate, does it? NGOs in Hokkaido I have spoken to, as well as activists like Debito, who warn of G8 security measures are the thin end of the wedge, need to be taken seriously by the public and by those in the media, myself included.

Of course, human nature being what it is, incidents of bureaucratic arrogance and stupidity in the heat of the moment are often forgiven, both in the press room and among members of the public, if the bureaucrats prove themselves to be competent in the end. But that was not the case in Kobe and it may be part of a trend. As I write this, reports have reached me that the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama was a logistical nightmare and also extremely poorly organized.

In Osaka, the police have been out in force for the past month, ostensibly conducting security checks in advance the upcoming G8 Finance Ministers summit in mid-June. But it’s clearly overkill and, as one friend in the local media said, it might actually backfire. The current Osaka governor has indicated he wants to cut the prefectural police budget, and what better way to garner support for the idea than by having the boys in blue out in force, harassing motorists and pedestrians who are registered voters, all for a two-day event that is unlikely to get more than a few minutes notice in the local media, if that. Still, I will be very interested, as I know Debito and many of you will be, to hear from readers after all of the hoopla is over, and to learn, once and for all, if the comments made now were reflected too much of a concern about the security measures, or too little.

(The opinions contained within this piece are those of Eric Johnston and not those of The Japan Times)


“Japanese Only” T-Shirt appears in Italian SkyTG24 report on G8 Pre-Summit


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.  Was sent this a few days ago from journalist Pio D–him reporting on May 25, 2008, from the recent ecological G8 “Pre-Summit” in Kobe.  See the report from Sky TG24 in Italian here.  A screen capture:

Yes, he’s wearing an authentic “Japanese Only” T-shirt from, from an authentic “Japanese Only” sign from the Rogues’ Gallery!

And there is more to report–I just heard from another reporter on the scene that security at the Pre-Summit was tighter than ever seen before–and will vindicate my recent Japan Times article on how international events, such as G8 Summits, bring out the worst in Japan vis-a-vis security measures (where civil liberties are lost and the police get the lion’s share of the budget).  I was promised a report in a few days…

Anyhow, hearty thanks to Pio!  I’ll be sending him a replacement Blue T-Shirt ASAP…  

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan


Hi Blog. I’m on the road from tomorrow, so let me put this article I wrote for the Japan Times up today. It also feeds into the current series subtext of policing in Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


The G8 Summit gives nothing back, brings out Japan’s bad habits
By Arudou Debito

Column 43 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Community Page
“Director’s Cut”, Draft 19, as submitted to the JT, with links to sources
Article as appeared in Japan Times Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You’ve probably heard about July’s G8 Summit in Toyako, in my home prefecture of Hokkaido. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, a primer from the Foreign Affairs Ministry (

“The Group of Eight (G8) Summit is an annual meeting attended by… Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the President of the European Commission; …leaders freely and vigorously exchange opinions on a variety of issues facing the global community centering on economic and social problems.”

While I do support people (especially those with armies behind them) talking things over peacefully, let’s consider the societal damage this event is wreaking upon its host.

International events tend to bring out the worst in Japan. Given the “control freak” nature of our bureaucracy (exacerbated manifold when the world is watching), the government opportunely invokes extralegal powers in the name of “security”.

A good example is the 2002 World Cup, where I witnessed firsthand (given Sapporo’s England vs. Argentina match) the overreaction by the police and the press. We had months of “anti-hooligan” media campaigns, several thousand riot police ferried up from the mainland, and Checkpoint Charlies on every downtown corner. Police were systematically stopping and questioning off-color people (such as your correspondent) regarding their roots and intentions. Not to mention “Japanese Only” signs appearing on businesses (some still up to this day).

It spoiled things for the locals: Not only were foreign-looking peoples subjected to fearful and derisive looks at curbside and coffee shop, but also shopkeeps, hunkered down behind shuttered doors, missed business opportunities. Despite no incidents of Non-Japanese violence, official apologies for the inconvenience never came.

This is not unprecedented in Japan. Flash back to 1966 when The Beatles performed in the Budokan. 10,000 spectators had to share seats with 3000–yes, 3000–cops. The Fuzz allowed no more than measured applause; cameras were readied to photograph anyone waving a banner or even standing up to cheer.

It spoiled things back then too. According to interviews from the Beatles Anthology, the Fab Four felt like prisoners in their hotel rooms. George compared the atmosphere to “a military maneuver”; Ringo said people had gone “barmy”. They never came back to Japan as a group.

Now factor in the omnipresent “terrorist threat” rocking our world. Remember last November when Immigration regained power to fingerprint almost all foreigners, including Permanent Residents? It was first justified as a means to control terrorism and infectious diseases. Then foreign crime. Now for the Summit, according to last December 31’s Yomiuri Shimbun, the Justice Ministry has expanded the catchnet to “antiglobalization activists” (whatever that means).

The dolphin in the tuna: According to Kiyokazu Koshida, Director of the Hokkaido Peoples’ Forum on G8 Summit (, earlier this year South Korean activist Kim Aehaw, of the Committee of Asian Women, was denied entry into Japan for advocating women workers’ rights. She later got in as a private citizen, but this demonstrates the government moving even months in advance to thwart infiltration.

Meanwhile for those already here, The Summit is eroding civil liberties. It’s not just that Toyako and environs are closed to the public for the duration. The Sapporo City Government, at the behest of the Sapporo Police, announced last December that between July 1 and 11, the three major parks in Sapporo would be off-limits to “gatherings” (“shuukai”). This was, after protests, amended to ask gatherers to “restrain themselves” (“jishuku”), but the effect is the same.

Needless to say, these parks are public spaces, and about 80 kms from the Summit site. So it’s like saying an event in the Imperial Palace forbids public gatherings in Hakone; in fact, a security radius this big covers just about all of Tokyo Prefecture.

So what of the alternate summits ( under the Hokkaido People’s Forum–on world poverty, indigenous peoples, peace studies, even economic and environmental issues that matter to host Hokkaido? Tough. Deemed equally dangerous are coincidental Sapporo fests, such as the Flower Festival, the Pacific Music Festival, the Nakajima Koen Flea Market, and the Sapporo Summer Festival.

But who cares about the needs of the local yokels, as long as the world’s leaders can enjoy their sequestration in distant hotels, dinners uninterrupted by potential unpleasantries.

Look, I’m all for bringing international events to impoverished Hokkaido. As long as we get something back from our hard-earned taxes to enjoy. We don’t from a Summit. It is not, for example, an Olympics, where in 1972, Sapporo got games, buildings, arenas, and a subway to enjoy. Nor a World Cup, where we inherited one of Japan’s best stadiums for our champion baseball team. With a Summit, little will remain in Toyako except an afterglow; according to the Hokkaido Shimbun (Sept. 4, 2007), even the Summit’s International Media Center will be razed.

Officially, the Hokkaido Business Federation does somehow estimate a 37.9 billion yen income over the next five years (no doubt including the unrelated ski bum boom in Niseko). But seriously now, will people flock to Toyako to buy, say, “G8-Summit manju”? Who even remembers the past five Summit sites? Go ahead. Name them. See what I mean?

But in terms of expense, the Summit’s three days of leaders in love is projected to cost, according to Yahoo News last year, 18.5 billion yen (about 180 million US dollars). Fine print: 14 billion of it is earmarked for “security”. Therefore who profits? Security forces, which get the lion’s share of the budget, and the government, which creates another precedent of cracking down on the distrusted public.

That’s the biggest irony of these Summits: Despite the Great Powers’ sloganeering about fostering democracy worldwide, their meetings employ very anti-democratic methods to quash debate and public participation. If the Great Powers are this afraid of dissidents spoiling their party, might it not be opportune for a democratic rethink of their policies?

Especially when you consider what these bunker mentalities encourage in Japan.

Even a relaxed Japan has the trappings of a mild police state. For example, extreme powers of search, seizure, interrogation, detention, and conviction already granted the prosecution in our criminal justice system. Moreover, something as fundamental to a democracy as an outdoor public assembly (a right guaranteed by our Constitution) requires permission from police and local businesses (Zeit Gist March 4, 2003).

Furthermore, Japan’s biggest police forces–Tokyo’s–can at times like these slip the leash of public accountability. To quote Edward Seidensticker, an author not given to intemperate criticisms:

“The chief of the Tokyo prefectural police is appointed by a national police agency with the approval of the prime minister and upon the advice of a prefectural police commission, which is ineffectual. None of these agencies is under the control of governor and council. Tokyo becomes a police city when it is thought necessary to guard against the embarrassment of having someone shoot at a president or a queen or a pope.” (TOKYO RISING, page 169)

Now send 1000 Tokyo “security police” (plus 300 “advisors”, according to April 14’s Yomiuri), along with another 2000 planned cops to Hokkaido, and watch what happens. Dollars to donuts the same outcome as Japan’s G8 Summit in Nago, Okinawa:

“Of the 81 billion yen Japan spent on hosting the summit–ten times more than any country ever spent before–about half went for security. Some 22,000 policemen specially flown in from across Japan, backed up by twenty aircraft and one hundred naval vessels (including destroyers), patrolled the land, sea, and sky of Okinawa,” reported the Japan Policy Research Institute in September 2000.

JPRI continued: “Swimmers and divers were flushed from surrounding seas, the cavernous insides of ancient tombs were carefully inspected, and elaborate security precautions around all major roads used by the G8 motorcades made it virtually impossible for local Okinawans to leave their homes, let alone get near the precincts of the summit conference.

“If anyone tried, police were quick to take down name and license number, and secret service officials in black suits stealthily recorded on camera the faces of local demonstrators conducting an innocuous ‘Nago peace walk.'”

Finally, citing a Manchester Guardian reporter, the report concluded, “Holding the G8 meeting in a remote island setting, briefly converted into a deluxe version of Alcatraz, did the trick.”

Hokkaido, with 20% of Japan’s land mass, is clearly too big to Alcatraz. But the bureaucrats are giving it a good old college try. They aren’t just stifling social movements in Hokkaido’s biggest city. According to the Yomiuri (April 14), the police are deputizing about 3000 amateur “local residents” and “neighborhood associations” in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, to “watch for suspicious people” around “stations and important facilities”. That now widens the security radius to 800 kilometers!
Source: Yomiuri News podcast April 14, 2008, from minute 13

Point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear and crackdown campaign foisted on the Japanese public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming for a visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins converting Japan into a Police State, cracking down on its already stunted civil society.

Otherwise, Japan will remain amongst its G8 brethren, as scholar Chalmers Johnson put it, “an economic giant, but political pygmy.”

1640 WORDS
(Previous five G8 Summits: Heiligendamm, Saint Petersburg, Gleneagles, Sea Island, Evian. How many did you remember?)