Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. In response to the feedback regarding his statements to the Japan Times last December 28, where in an article he calls himself a foreigner despite his Japanese citizenship, Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei sends this public statement through his office:

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from: ツルネン マルテイ事務室
date: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:26 PM
subject: ツルネン事務所より

ツルネンマルテイの秘書の山本と申します。
先日はツルネンのインタビュー記事についてのご意見をいただき、ありがとうございました。

ご意見をいただいた件について、ツルネンから以下のような返事をことづかりました。

=====================================================================================
今回のご指摘、ありがたく受け止めます。
ご指摘の通り、私の発言した英単語「foreigner」は不適切な言葉であったと反省しています。
自分が「生まれながらの日本人」ではないことを表現するために「foreigner」と言いましたが、
厳密に表現するためには「foreign-born person」、または記事でも使用している
「finn-born Japanese」と表現すべきでした。
誤解を生む表現をしてしまったことを反省し、お詫び申し上げます。
=====================================================================================

なお、ツルネン事務所には毎日大変多くのご意見を頂戴します。
誠に残念ながら、それらすべてにツルネン本人がお返事することは時間的に難しい状況です。
秘書が代理でお返事することにご理解いただければ幸いです。

このたびは、貴重なご意見ありがとうございました。

参議院議員ツルネンマルテイ
秘書 山本綾子

****************************************
参議院議員 ツルネンマルテイ
秘書 山本綾子
Ayako Yamamoto
Secretary to Mr.Marutei Tsurunen,
Member, House of Councilors, Japan
Tel: +81-3-6550-0923
Fax: +81-3-6551-0923
E-mail: marutei_tsurunen01@sangiin.go.jp
****************************************

Pertinent section by Tsurunen translated by Arudou Debito (not an official translation):
============================
“I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner’, but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person’, or as I said in the article ‘Finn-born Japanese’.

“I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and I would like to offer my apologies.”
============================

ends

Weekend Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent, let me direct your attention to an upcoming lawsuit (Japanese do sue too, as activists and awareness-raisers) regarding two issues that are dear to Debito.org:  1) issues of self-determination of personal identity, and 2) the evils of the Koseki system, which not only separate parent from child post-divorce, but also make a person’s name and family relationships and entitlements the domain of The State.  Other people find this objectionable too — enough to brave all the social opprobrium towards lawsuits in this society.  Good luck to them.  I hope they can stay alive long enough to outlast the slow machinations of the Japanese judiciary.  Arudou Debito

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Japan government to face first suit on surnames
Reuters, Tuesday, January 11 2011, By Yoko Kubota, courtesy SR

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20110111/tsc-oukoe-uk-japan-surnames-011ccfa.html

After nearly fifty years of persevering with a life under her husband’s surname, 75-year-old Kyoko Tsukamoto is taking the Japanese government to court so that she can at least bear her own name when she dies.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” she said.

The former teacher uses her maiden name, but due to Japanese civil law requirements she had to take her husband’s name when she married to make the union legal.

But debate over the surname issue, long a sore point with some women, has heated up as more women stay in jobs after marriage and juggle two names — their maiden name at work and their registered name on legal documents.

“I thought that I would get used to my husband’s name, but I could not, and a sense of loss grew inside me,” Tsukamoto said.

“Now I am 75 and I was shocked to realise that I can’t do things anymore that I used to be able to do last year. That’s when I thought that I am Kyoko Tsukamoto and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”

Tsukamoto is one of five people planning to file a lawsuit against the government and local authorities as early as February, saying the civil code that requires married couples to register under the same surname violates equal rights among married couples, as well as personal rights.

Men are allowed to take their spouses’ name, but it is rare.

The group will seek compensation for what it says is the legislature’s failure to enact change, the first such case to be debated in open court in Japan, the only country in the Group of Eight major industrialised nations with such a surname rule.

Hopes grew that the government would submit a bill to amend the civil code after the Democratic Party of Japan, which has advocated letting married couples keep separate names if they wish, took power in 2009. But opposition from a coalition ally caused the plan to stall.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted but unfortunately this did not take place. They do not want to wait any longer,” said Fujiko Sakakibara, lead lawyer for the group.

TRADITIONAL FAMILY

The rule is tied to Japan’s traditional concept of the family, which in the past ensured that property, businesses, and surnames were passed on to men within the family unit.

Some say it is outdated. In certain cases, couples repeat marriages and divorces between each other to avoid having to register their children as out of wedlock births, partly because the civil code limits inheritance rights for such children.

Tsukamoto, with her husband since 1960, is going through her second marriage with him after divorcing once in 1965 to get her maiden name back. They re-married when they had their third child but her husband has rejected requests for a second divorce.

Those against change say it’s a matter of family unity and are wary of the impact on children’s identities. They also warn of a possible increase in divorce.

Tsukamoto began studying women’s issues at the age of 63, after she was freed of duties to nurse her parents. She has since taken up an activist’s role.

“Others were getting by well in society and I have thought that perhaps I was stupid to insist on this … Now things are changing in a good direction, unimaginable in 1960,” she said.
ends

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Japanese marital surname law faces legal challenge
A lawsuit against the government is being launched by five people who claim their constitutional rights are being violated
Justin McCurry in Tokyo, courtesy of the author’s Twitter feed
guardian.co.uk Tuesday 11 January 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/11/japan-marital-surname-law-challenge?CMP=twt_gu

Five people in Japan are poised to launch an unprecedented lawsuit against the government, claiming that a civil law forcing them to choose a single surname after marriage violates their constitutional rights.

If they succeed, married men and women will for the first time be able to retain their own surnames, dealing a blow to one of the few remaining legal obstacles to gender equality.

In the vast majority of cases, women are required to relinquish their maiden name after marriage, although a small number of men take their wife’s name.

Critics say the time has come to modernise the law in Japan, the only G8 nation with laws governing marital surnames.

The plaintiffs argue that the civil code’s requirement that a single surname be chosen contradicts articles of the constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equal rights to husband and wife. The five are also seeking ¥1m (£7,727) each in compensation from the government.

Kyoko Tsukamoto, who changed her maiden name in the family registry after marrying in 1960 but retained it in daily life, said the law had contributed to a “strong loss of self” and caused psychological damage.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” said the 75-year-old former teacher. “I thought I would get used to my husband’s name, but I couldn’t. I felt a strong sense of loss growing inside me.”

Opposition from conservative politicians delayed previous attempts to change the law. In 1996 the justice ministry devised an amendment that would give married women the right to retain their maiden names, but the move was blocked by MPs who said it would undermine the family unit.

The current government, led by the centre-left Democratic party, supports a change in the law but has yet to act amid opposition from a minor coalition ally.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted, but unfortunately this did not happen. They do not want to wait any longer,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Fujiko Sakakibara.

The law has forced some couples to take drastic action. Tsukamoto and her husband divorced in 1965 so that she could regain her maiden name, but remarried when she became pregnant because civil law can impinge on the inheritance rights of children born out of wedlock.

Critics say the civil code, enacted in 1896 and amended by the US occupation forces after the second world war, ignores dramatic postwar changes to the role of women in the home and workplace.

The movement for change gathered pace in the 1980s when more women entered the workplace. Many complained that changing their names after marriage was detrimental to their career prospects and affected relationships with colleagues.

Yet the Japanese are divided over the issue: in a 2009 survey 49% said they supported a change in the law, while 48% were opposed.

Women still have to use their registered surnames on official documents such as passports and health insurance cards.

Many companies allow married women to retain their maiden names at work, but for Tsukamoto, who married in 1960, unofficial acceptance is not enough.

“Now I am 75, and I was shocked to realise that I can no longer do the things I was able to do even last year,” she said. “That’s when I thought, I am Kyoko Tsukamoto … and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”
ends

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Historical article on the issue (2004) showing how little the debate has changed in nearly a decade:

The Japan Times, Sunday, March 14, 2004, courtesy Justin McCurry
MEDIA MIX
The twisted terminology in Japan’s marriage system
By PHILIP BRASOR

…Marriage as a legal contract allows the state to regulate what goes on in the bedroom. This is basically the argument put forth by Sumiko Tanaka and Noboru Fukukita, a Japanese couple who live together without the state’s blessing and who have an 18-year-old daughter. Because Tanaka and Fukukita are not married, their daughter’s out-of-wedlock status was indicated in both their residence certificate (juminhyo) and family register (koseki). They have been fighting to have such designations changed since 1988, and while they’ve lost lawsuits in court, their efforts have moved the government to change these discriminatory terms. Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa announced last week that children born out-of-wedlock would be designated in family registers in the same way as children born to married couples, though nothing has really changed. Anyone who reads the family register will be able to tell if a child is born in or out of wedlock. The ministry has made the terms less discriminatory, but the register, which codifies parent-child relationships, is unchanged.

Because the United States sees itself as part of a Judeo-Christian heritage, it can couch the marriage debate in moral terms, even if it’s the authorities who decide who can marry. In Japan, the state is the only arbiter and the koseki the instrument of that arbitration. Immorality, therefore, is defined by the government, and has been since the Meiji Period, when the koseki was established for the purposes of census and tax collecting.

Many Japanese couples, therefore, bridle at the idea that they need the state’s permission to cohabit and have children. Some people may think that the controversy over separate names (bessei) is based on the same thing, but it isn’t. In 1996, the Justice Ministry proposed revisions to the Civil Code that would allow married partners to retain separate surnames. As it stands, a married couple must decide on one name (98 percent take the husband’s).

Conservative politicians have repeatedly shot down any effort to allow separate surnames, saying that bessei undermines the integrity of the family, even though it’s clear that the vast majority of Japanese couples will opt for one name even if they can have separate ones.

The irony is that more couples would get married if they were allowed separate names…

Rest of the article at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20040314pb.html

YouTube video showing NPA Bicycle Instant Checkpoint supersedes attention to car accident

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  More word from cyberspace today, courtesy of AT:

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December 13, 2010

Hey Debito, you gotta check out this YouTube video showing a prime example of the incompetence of the Japanese police. A guy riding a bicycle gets stopped by a police officer for no reason, which happens a lot in Japan. As the officer is asking him questions (which the guy is under no obligation to answer), we can hear an obvious traffic accident take place in the background just around the corner, and both the police officer and the bicyclist hear it. A reasonable police officer would realize that that was a traffic accident and that people may be injured and need first aid, etc. But no, this cop continues to question the bicyclist as if nothing happened. At one point he even denies that it may be a traffic accident. After the bicyclist convinces him to do so, he notifies dispatch of the traffic accident, and then continues to question the bicyclist rather than tending to the possibly injured! This cop neglected to tend to a possibly serious and fatal traffic accident, all so he can perform 職務質問 (voluntary questioning) on a bicyclist!

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COMMENT:  Yes, it happens aplenty to those riding while foreign in Japan, but as I’ve argued before (in my Japan Times article Gaijin as Public Policy Guinea Pig), things foisted upon the NJ population to increase police powers are soon foisted upon the Japanese population as well.  This video is evidence of that.  Since the Keystones cannot stop people ostensibly without probable cause, stopping people with bicycles (using the excuse that they might have stolen them) or with bags (they might have knives etc.) is one way for the NPA to put the people in their place (i.e., if you can’t avoid cycling or carrying any luggage in public, too bad; suffer our suspicions).  Of course, the Keystones need no excuse to stop NJ: being foreign-looking alone in Japan is probable cause of suspicion for a visa overstay.  Again, this fortifies my theory of Japan as Mild Police State.  One that I believe is trying to increase its power in the name of “making Japan the world’s safest country again“.  Even if, in this case, the safety of others in first-aid cases is subordinated to an individual cop’s power trip.  A bit of a tangent today, but it’s germane to Debito.org.  Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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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 Debito.org 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

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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.

Anonymous

Weekend Tangent: Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. This will no doubt be put into the “shake your head in disbelief at Debito’s stubbornness” file by some, but here goes:

Last Tuesday my Japanese passport expired. Yes, it’s been more than ten years since I became a Japanese citizen. What that means to me is a topic for another blog entry someday. But what happens every time I go in to the Foreign Ministry’s Passport Renewal Office happened again like clockwork — it’s becoming a MOFA tradition.

So I went in on Tuesday and filled out my application as per normal (answer all the “you better say no” questions, mostly along the line of “are you a terrorist or criminal?”, correctly), and got all checked as normal: current passport (MOFA will later give it back cancelled, unlike, for example, international driver licenses issued in Japan), juuminhyou, koseki touhon (these were actually not necessary if the passport is still valid, which it was, darn it), and mug shot.

But as is traditional, we got into a dispute about how to spell my name.

Clerk: “You have to spell it in Hepburn Style. That means ARUDO or ARUDOH, not ARUDOU.”

I pointed to the passport and said that ARUDOU is how it has always been spelled. “And if you check your records, you will see we have had this discussion before, both in 2000 when you first issued me a passport, and in 2007 when my name was changed legally to ARUDOU DEBITO after my divorce.”

She flipped over the application to the back where I had filled out a new special section (once a separate sheet, now as of June 2009 part of the application form) for irregular and foreign spellings/renderings. “Here it is spelled as you want it. ARUDOU DEBITO. But on the obverse of this application you must spell it ARUDO. That’s Hepburn Style. For our records. That is how we officially convert Japanese script into Romaji.” She pointed to the list of complete official transliterations for every set of kana possible in Japanese.

Me:  “I don’t think you know just how flawed the Hepburn System can be, ma’am.  You still have old spellings like Honma rendered as HOMMA. That will not be read “hon-ma” by anyone who does not understand Japanese. I had a friend by the name of Monma who was constantly annoyed because Customs read her name MOMMA. I think you ought to consider allowing more flexibility in Romajinization. That would include me.”

She reiterated that these were the rules and would I not just cross out the U on my last name for the MOFA’s recordkeeping purposes?

“That’s fine,” I said, “but I don’t care about your records. My name is spelled ARUDOU.  Always has been.  I will determine my own identity, thank you very much.”

She called over someone more senior who handled me for the rest of the day, a very friendly but persistent old man who reiterated the drill about how names were supposed to be spelled.

I told him I wasn’t going to be told how to spell my own name. Especially when it’s in my own native language. “I’ve had bureaucrats try to correct me on the stroke order of how I write a number 5.  That’s pretty arrogant.  I know how to write a number 5. I learned it as a native in my schooldays. If you want to correct my stroke order of a 五 in kanji, then fine. But I will not allow bureaucratic cultural insensitivity and arrogance to dictate how I should use the Roman alphabet to alphabetize my own name.”

Mr. Senior said, “But you see, it will come out as you want on the passport thanks to the way you wrote it on the back. ARUDOU. Is there any possible damage that could be done just by deleting that U at the end having it entered in our records properly as ARUDO?”

“Yes. ARUDO is not me. ARUDOU is. I have had many years of dealing with alternate katakanizations of my original names ARUDOUINKURU DEBITTO — so much so that it was difficult to track my nenkin records down. No thanks. It is ARUDOU on my passport now, and I will always have it rendered as ARUDOU in any records of me as such.

“I don’t think you understand just how critical this is to my identity.   Unlike most people, I chose my name.  It is me.  My choice was after a lot of time spent living in Japan, qualifying to be a citizen, and going through a rigorous test to become Japanese.   A name is the most important possession a person can have. I will not bend on this. I didn’t in 2000 or 2007. I won’t now.”

Mr. Senior went back behind the counter and shortly thereafter came out with a frown. He said:

“If you don’t cross this U off your name, I regret to inform you that we will not be able to accept or process your application.”

I gave him the stare I gave the camera for my passport picture (which does not allow smiles).

Only without the Mona Lisa upturned corners of the mouth. And held it.  For quite some time.  And said, “You would deny me my right to travel overseas just because of a letter U? Who do you think you are?

“You accepted my spelling as ARUDOU twice before. Now you will again. Check your records. Back in 2000, I went into the back room with one of your supervisors and handwrote a moushitatesho, which said that if there were any problems arising from the extra U on my name, that I would take full responsibility. Go on. Check.

“If you can find any document where I wrote my name as ARUDO in the past, then I will oblige. Otherwise you will. Because you did before. Now check.”

He did.

About a half hour later (I played a lot of Bejewelled on my iPod), he came back and offered me a deep bow.

“We found your moushitatesho in our records.  It is as you say.  We will accept your application as is. And we apologize for the delay and hassle.”

“I understand.  But don’t you think it’s time for you to relax your rules now that there are more international and multicultural Japanese citizens with more individual name spellings?  Would it really break your computer to render us as we would like to be rendered, within reason?”

Mr. Senior:  “I will pass your case onto the relevant authorities for consideration.”

“Thanks very much.  But will I have to go through this every ten years?”

“Hopefully not.  But in a decade I’m not sure I’ll still be here.  I’m getting grey, as you can see.”

“I’m sure customers like me aren’t helping with the grey hairs.”

We shared a laugh and eventually parted on very good terms.  Me especially, because I like being listened to (and I like winning arguments, of course).  But I really feel as though he finally came round to understanding why I was being so goddamn stubborn.  It only took about two hours.

I still think it’s about time for the GOJ to loosen its top button a bit and allow for some flexibility in names.  We’ve finally gotten some degree of breathing space in what constitutes a “Japanese name” after naturalization.  We’ve even gotten some flexibility in how a name is rendered on a passport.  Now let’s hope that we can at least have some wriggle room regarding the almighty Hepburn System.  The Monmas of the world who don’t like to be made into mothers (not to mention the 大岡s, who have to live with OOKA (ooka ooka ooka shaka, hooked on a feeling!) or OHOKA (おまえ、アホか?)) I think would sincerely appreciate that.  What’s the point of forcing people to render their names into a system that people can’t read properly?  ArudoU Debito

ENDS

“Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report. Thanks Chand. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

October 7, 2010

Dear Debito,

I’d like to share a recent experience I had with a hotel that was discriminating against NJ and it’s somewhat positive outcome.

I live in Kyushu and took a trip to Nagasaki with a Japanese friend; we decided to stay at the Richmond Hotel in Nagasaki. It’s one of a countrywide chain.

http://www.richmondhotel.jp/en/nagasaki/index.php

When we checked in the staff asked for my passport or gaijin card. Now, since living in Japan I’ve had my share of bad hotel experiences, refused service etc, but I tend not to get too upset when asked for my gaijin card as I realize its often a communication error and what the staff really want is any ID from all customers and they just presume NJ are unlikely to have Japanese driving licenses etc. So I offered the staff my Japanese driving license instead. However they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted a gaijin card or passport only. I explained to them that as a resident of Japan it wasn’t required that I show my gaijin card to a hotel and any ID should suffice. They continued to insist I had to give them my gaijin card and I refused. I brought up the topic of discrimination and the staff seemed to have an automatic English response,

‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand.’

Finally they accepted my driving license, as ID and all seemed ok, check in completed they handed over our keys and wished us a happy stay. I then realized they hadn’t asked my Japanese friend for any ID. I asked them why they hadn’t checked my friend. Their reply was ‘only gaikokujin need to show ID, please understand.”

I started telling them off again much to the embarrassment of my Japanese friend, a supervisor came and said rudely the now all too familiar line. ‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand’

I asked what law, and was told ‘the Ryokan Gyouhou, please understand it is not discrimination.’

As an avid debito.org reader I was pretty sure this was incorrect, but there was the chance the law had changed and more importantly my Japanese friend was becoming frustrated/embarrassed and wanted to get on with sightseeing so I let the issue drop.

When I returned home I check with Debito that the Ryokan Gyouhou hadn’t changed and contacted the hotel again via telephone.

I got explained my unhappiness to various staff who where much more friendly over the phone than they had been in person. The lobby staff still kept saying it was required by law, but when I asked them if they had actually read the Gyouhou as I had they passed me up the management chain.

Finally I got to a lady who told me it wasn’t actually the law but was in fact a request from the Nagasaki police, she listened to my concerns that I basically summarized as:

* NJ are particularly sensitive to discrimination in hotels as we are sometimes refused service.

*NJ aren’t required by law to give their gaijin cards to hotel staff, they should ask for ID only, insisting on the gaijin card could be discrimination and ideally the word ‘gaijin card’ should never come out of hotel staff’s mouths.

* Requiring ID from NJ and not Japanese is discrimination, no argument about it.

*Its racial profiling as my children could look NJ despite holding Japanese citizenship. And why wasn’t my Japanese friend checked in case they were Zainichi Korean as they too hold gaijin cards.

*If they’re collecting this data on NJ what is being done with it?

She said she understood, and that they were just following the police’s instructions. Nothing was done with the copies of the IDs and they were shredded after a month.

I told her as the copy of my ID had been copied under a discriminatory policy I would like it returned to me.

The lady said she couldn’t approve that but would get her boss to call me in a few days.

A few days later the manager, a Mr. Motoyama contacted me, he was very apologetic. They said that they were sorry they had offended me, and they would return the copy of my ID.

I told him I was concerned that this was going to happen again and what was their hotel was going to do about it. Mr. Motoyama said he would inform head office of the error and in his own hotel advise the staff to follow the Gyomhou not the instructions of the police and that this shouldn’t happen again.

I asked him if this was because of the 2005 memo. (previously discussed on debito.org at http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html and www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

However Mr. Motoyama informed me that the police had asked for the information to be collected in 2007 when they visited the hotel in person.

They had been collecting copies of all ‘gaijin’s ‘ cards since then but hadn’t actually been passing them to the police, just shredding them after a month.

A few days later the copy of my ID and an apology letter arrived in the post. (see JPEG attached.)

So this all had a fairly satisfactory outcome, however it’s frustrating to constantly have hassle when traveling. Here the hotel staff were just being stupid. They had an automatic English response ready with their ‘It is not discrimination, it is the law please understand.” so, they must’ve been getting complaints fairly regularly. They should’ve read the Ryokan Gyouhou.

But the real culprits here are the police, I can understand how a Japanese might be tempted to follow instructions from the police without checking first if it was the law or not. Now I haven’t contacted the police (yet), but this hotel problem isn’t going to be solved one hotel at a time or even one police station at a time. It needs sorting out once and for all and I think we can do it.

We need to create some kind of guide/pamphlet/oshirase explaining the law. Maybe use some cute characters, ‘anti-sabetsu chan or something’. Then we need to get it to every hotel in the country.

So if anyone wants to help out with this project over the next few months, has some ideas, or contacts, especially with how to distribute any notices we make to literally 1000’s of hotels drop me a line at my email address:

chandbakshi AT gmail DOT com

To avoid the spam filters mark it ‘hotels’ or something. I’ll look forward to hearing from people.
Chand
ENDS

“Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  I got this a couple of days ago, and am hearing that others are now getting their 5-year Japan Census forms (recently discussed on Debito.org here).

Friend KD writes the following:

////////////////////////////////////

September 23 2010

Hi Debito, Today a lady rang my door and kindly asked me to fill out the census papers. As you probably remember from previous censuses, in the spirit of civil disobedience I refuse to participate with the census, in protest of long-term resident NJ’s not having the right to vote in local elections.

I discussed this with the lady who brought the census papers. She clearly understood my position and also brought up some points herself why it was strange that long-term NJ have no voting rights.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I do not intend to be an activist, but I thought that perhaps other people who follow you might be interested in the idea of protesting our lack of voting rights in this way.

In itself it won’t get us voting rights, but it does send a message. Sending that message, whenever we can, and in every way we can, is important.

////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  I am of two minds about this.  As KD says, one way to make the GOJ take notice of NJ needs is to deny the GOJ something it wants (information from us all).  But then again, I also want the GOJ to record how diverse Japanese society is (even if it won’t do it properly, by providing an optional question to indicate ethnicity; as it stands, it keeps the “pure Japanese society” (as in, no visibly off-color Japanese citizens) discourse secure).

Another person commented back at the previous thread on the Census:

///////////////////////////////////

Anton:  According to this:
http://www.stat.go.jp/data/kokusei/2010/special/english/lecture/lecture_02.htm– the census questionnaire must be available in 27 languages. Got mine yesterday, in Japanese of course. And all foreigners I know got it in Japanese. And the only contact phone is Japanese only. So, OK guys, I can’t help you here, you’ll get no data from my family.

///////////////////////////////////

What do others think about this?  Yet another discussion.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Just got this this morning from friend Sendaiben, about his latest experience with Narita Cops and their racially-profiling ways. Self explanatory, looks like the J-cops are getting free training at the expense of NJ bystanders for being visible while foreign. Have a read. More on this topic previously on Debito.org here. Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Sendaiben
Date: September 5, 2010

Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however.

I have to emphasise that he was very pleasant throughout, and we had a friendly conversation. He was from Akita, seconded to Narita for two years (it seems the Narita police are drawn from all over the country). I mentioned several times that as a long-term resident I loved Japan but was uncomfortable being singled out for special attention like this due to my appearance. He sympathised and said that it also made him uncomfortable.

Some important points:

1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would 🙂

The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away.

The most important thing I got out of this is that these checks may well be voluntary. I am therefore going to refuse (politely) to cooperate next time, and see what happens. I guess in a worst-case scenario they could ask to check my ARC, but I would then not allow them to write anything down.

ENDS

“Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

mytest

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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan.  Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time:  Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes “mendoukusai” for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

Case in point:  I received a good news from a translator yesterday in Debito.org’s comments section:

=========================

JayIII Says:
April 22nd, 2010

I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” 外国人宿泊者 and 旅券もしくは外国人登録証明書を提示 to

Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者 and 旅券を提示

So it’s one little step in the right direction.

=========================

Yes, quite. The law, when it took effect on April 1, 2005, said that NJ guests who had no addresses in Japan (as in tourists) would have to show their passports at all hotels in Japan (this was an “anti-terrorist and contagious disease measure“, problematic in itself; Japanese guests, then as now, need show no ID). The NPA and the MHLW then, deliberately and repeatedlydespite articles in the media, an inquest by the US Government, and various “pinprick protests” by individuals at check in who are aware of the letter of the law — bent the laws to say that all NJ (as in “foreign guests“), must be IDed, and some hotels (such as Toyoko Inn) used this as an excuse to refuse NJ customers entry. As determining who was a “foreign guest” was a matter of physical appearance to many hotels, this led to nationwide racial profiling, inconvenience, and insult (as not all people who look NJ are tourists, naturally).  All sponsored by authorities refusing to enforce their own laws properly.

Now, it seems, cops and ministries are finally giving hotels the correct information, and no longer bending the laws to target all NJ. Good. Pity it only took five years for the GOJ to knock it off.  And I bet it’s not a universal thing at hotels yet, so expect a bit more harassment at check-in.

Download the hotel laws here and continue the “pinprick protests” whenever necessary.  It works.  Over time.  What it takes is informedness, tenacity, and patience.   And the will to believe that we are not merely “foreign guests”, but rather people who have rights in Japan and the will to claim them.  For it is people who do NOT protest who get walked all over by the powers that be, as this case study demonstrates.

More suggestions for “pinprick protests” later.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

mytest

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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  Regarding an issue I blogged here about earlier this week, about a hotel named “Kyou no Yado” that advertised on its Rakuten Travel listing that it would refuse any customer who did not speak Japanese, an update:

I contacted the Kyoto Tourist Association, the Kyoto City Tourism Board, and the National Tourism Agency in Tokyo about this issue with handwritten letters last Monday.  I received a letter yesterday sokutatsu (included below) from the Kyoto Tourist Association, as well as a personal phone call yesterday afternoon from a Mr Sunagawa there, who told me the following:

  1. The hotel was indeed violating the Hotel Management Law (which holds that people may only be refused lodgings if all rooms were booked, there was threat of contagious disease, or endangerment of “public morals”) by refusing people who could not speak Japanese,
  2. The hotel was hereby advised by KTA to change its rules and open its doors to people regardless of language ability,
  3. The hotel did not protest, and in fact would “fix” (naosu) its writeup on its Rakuten Travel entry,
  4. The hotel hasn’t gotten to it yet, but assuredly would. (It still hasn’t as of this writing.)

I asked what was meant by “fix”, and whether the language would just be shifted to find another way to refuse people again in violation of the Hotel Management Law.  Mr Sunagawa wasn’t sure what would be done, but they would keep an eye on it, he said.

Mr Sunagawa was very apologetic about my treatment, especially given the rudeness of Kyou no Yado’s written reply, and hoped that I would consider coming back to Kyoto soon and not have an unfavorable impression of it.

COMMENT:  This is far better than I expected.  The KTA had told me on Monday that they had no real authority (kyouseiryoku) here to advise a nonmember hotel, yet here they were taking this up and making the call.  I guess Kyou no Yado’s reply was really unbecoming to the situation.  Bravo.  Quite honestly, given the fact that I’ve contacted a number of authorities regarding local exclusionary signs and rules (which usually resulted in nothing being done), I wasn’t even expecting an answer (hey, bureaucrats will get paid anyway even if they sit on their hands; avoiding work is easier for them).

Find another exclusionary hotel like this?  Contact the local town or city tourist agency and include the letter from the KTA below, referring to it as a template for how some government agencies do get off their duff.  Anyone want to do that for the exclusionary hotel in Wakkanai? (“Itsuki”, the one which outright refuses all foreign clients, even cancels reservations if the customer’s name looks to be foreign).  Be my guest.  Don’t be theirs.

Meanwhile, let’s keep an eye on “Kyou no Yado’s” Rakuten Travel listing.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Letter from KTA follows, click to expand in browser:

kyototouristagency111109001

kyototouristagency111109002

ENDS

“Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful

mytest

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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  As is my wont, I don’t like to leave exclusionary business practices alone.  Even if that means letter writing and cajoling people to cease a bad habit.  What gets me is when even cajoling doesn’t work, and the cajoled turns uncharacteristically rude towards a paying customer.  Then I get mad.

Background:  Last October, I attended a writers’ conference in Kyoto, and discovered that even in September just about all hotels in Kyoto were booked (it was approaching peak fall color season).  The only one left was a place in Fushimi that advertised online that they refused anyone who could not speak Japanese.  This is, by the way, contrary to the Hotel Management Law (Ryokan Gyouhou, which can only refuse customers if all rooms are taken, or if there is a health or a “public morals” problem).

I tried to vote with my feet and find alternative accommodation, but wound up having no choice, and made the reservation with the Fushimi place.  I did, however, the night before going down, find last-minute alternative accommodations at an unexclusionary hotel (at more than double the price).  Then I paid in cash by post to the Fushimi place the sizeable cancellation fee for the last-minute switch.

But I also enclosed a handwritten letter telling them why I cancelled, expressing my discontent with the rule that people would be refused for a lack of Japanese language ability (what with this tourist town, there are always ways to communicate — including speaking electronic dictionaries; how does one judge sufficient “language abilities”?  and what about deaf or mute Japanese? etc. etc.).  I also asked them to repeal this exclusionary rule, pointing out that it was an unlawful practice.

I got a rude reply back.  Without addressing me by name, I got a terse letter without any of the formal aisatsu or written tone that a customer-client relationship in this society would warrant.  It also included further spurious insinuated logic that since they couldn’t speak any foreign languages, this business open to the public was somehow not bound to provide service to the general public.  They also categorically denied that their rules are unlawful, coupled with the presumptuous claim that since they didn’t refuse me it was odd for me to feel any disfavor with their system.  And more.  In other words, thanks for your money, but we can do as we please, so sod you.

Now I’m mad.  I sent this exchange off yesterday with a handwritten note to the Kyoto City Government Department of Tourism and the Kyoto Tourist Association, advising them to engage in some Administrative Guidance.  The latter organization has already told me that they are a private-sector institution, and that since this hotel is not one of their members they have no influence in this situation.  And if the city does get back to me (I’ve done this sort of thing before; government agencies in Japan have even abetted “Japanese Only” hotels), I’ll be surprised.  But I’m not letting this nasty place slide without at least notifying the authorities.  This is just one more reason why we need a law against racial discrimination.

Here come the letters I sent, scanned, plus the reply.  Click on any image to expand in your browser. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(And a quick word to the Protest Letter Police:  I’m not in the mood to have my grammar corrected, so don’t bother; my letters below have not been proofread by native speakers, but I think they get my points across just fine.  I’m doing the best that I can, and if you think that a letter has to be perfect before it goes out, and I’m somehow “shaming the entire gaijin community” if it’s not, fuck off.  Here are the letters warts and all.)

My letter to the Hotel, Kyou no Yado Fushimi:

kyotofushimi001

My reservation, two pages, with their exclusionary rule based upon language ability:

kyotofushimi002

kyotofushimi003

The hotel’s reply:

kyotofushimi004

My letter to the Kyoto authorities:

kyotofushimi005

UPDATE:  The Kyoto authorities respond, and the hotel rescinds its exclusionary rules.

ENDS

NJ company “J Hewitt” advertises “Japanese Only” jobs in the Japan Times!

mytest

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 what came as a shock to me, alert reader Rob sent me scans of yesterday’s (March 9, 2009) Japan Times Classified Ads, with three sections advertising for “Japanese Only” applicants!  See scans:

japaneseonlyjapantimesjobad2009309

Sounds a bit like a forklift operator.  But Japanese Only?

japaneseonlyjapantimesjobad20093092

“Must be bilingual”.  So then why Japanese Only?

japaneseonlyjapantimesjobad20093093

Selling soap and ear piercing products.  Okay, again, why Japanese Only?

Nice company, this J. Hewitt KK (http://www.jhewitt.co.jp/).  Seems to be run by a NJ named Jon Knight.  Feel free to drop the company a line to say how you feel at info@jhewitt.co.jp

Rob also sent a message of complaint to the Japan Times.  (You can too.  Classified Ads Dept at jtad@japantimes.co.jp, and all other departments at  https://form.japantimes.co.jp/info/contact_us.html).

For by their own guidelines:

japaneseonlyjapantimesjobad20093094

Advertising jobs that discriminate by nationality may not be “offensive” to some, but they certainly may easily be construed to be illegal.  They violate Japan’s Labor Standards Law Article 3:  “An employer shall not engage in discriminatory treatment with respect to wages, working hours or other working conditions by reason of the nationality, creed or social status of any worker.”  That’s before we even get to the Japanese Constitution Article 14

I shouldn’t have to be barking about this.  I expected more from the Japan Times when it comes to promoting equality in the workplace.  Shame on them, and especially on their client.

JT, screen your advertisements and stop abetting discrimination.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

“Japanese Only” at Tokyo Takadanobaba private-sector job placement agency

mytest

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 received from a friend:  A private-sector job placement agency which explicitly says that foreign applicants cannot register (and I have telephoned to confirm, means they will not allow foreigners to apply):

The sign reads “Workers KK”.

Below, “We accept applicants for day-paid jobs, walk-ins fine.  Construction, jobs within storage facilities, transport work etc.”

And in parenthesis:  “People with foreign nationalities cannot register for our services.”

Address (gleaned from the general website at http://www.workers.co.jp/) for this, the Takadanobaba Branch, is:

〒169-0075
東京都新宿区高田馬場3-3-9山下ビル4F

From their site:

■ 高田馬場支店 ■

所在地: 〒169-0075
東京都新宿区高田馬場3-3-9
              山下ビル4F
TEL: 03-3365-7701
FAX: 03-3365-7702

【登録スタッフ・登録のお問合せ専用TEL】

TEL:   03-3365-7703

登録予約可能時間 月~土 11:00~15:00
※登録は予約制になっております。

■お給料のお支払い■
作業後当日からお支払い可能です。
お支払い時間 16:00~19:00
月~金(※祝・祭日除く)

Well, it goes without saying by now for readers of this site, but this exclusionary sign is unconstitutional and goes against international treaty.  It also goes against the Labor Standards Law (Articles 3 and 4), which does not permit discrimination of workers on the basis of nationality etc. (More on that from NUGW site here.)

I called the number on the sign today and talked to a Mr Yoshimura, who confirmed that they do in fact refuse service to foreign workers.  That includes all their branches, yes.  When I mentioned that this is in violation of the LSL, he said that they are, as of now, considering a revision (doryoku shimasu, was how he put it).  I gave him my phone number and email address should they decide to revise their rules and their sign.  Meanwhile, another entry for the Rogues’ Gallery within a few days, and I’ll let the labor unions know.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

“Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s a sign I received a couple of days ago from a friend in the Kansai. “JAPANESE People ONLY” in a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers.

How urusai. Problem is, they indicate that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.

Click on photo to expand in your browser. Anyone want to run down to Tsukiji for me and get a definitive picture of the storefront with the sign? (These things usually need two photos–the sign and the storefront with the sign). And a confirmation of what the name of the restaurant (and the address if possible?) Thanks.
TsukijiJapaneseOnly.jpg

Again, this is what happens when this kind of discrimination is not illegal in this society. More of this genre here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

——————————-

UPDATE FEB 12: Readers at site “Occidentalism.org” contacted the owner of the restaurant and say they got the sign down. Well done. Details (highly critical of Debito.org, mind; ah well) available here.
ENDS

Rogues’ Gallery: Kansai Kensetsu Inc., a “No Foreigners” realtor in Osaka–according to its catalog

mytest

Hi Blog. Martin Oickle was kind enough to send me one page of a housing/apartment catalog from “Heartful Fukushima Ten”–an Osaka realtor (Fukushima 7-5-1, Fukushima-ku, Osaka-shi, KK Kansai Kensetsu Fukushima Ten, Ph 06-6455-7101).

It has a system for refusing foreigners that is so clear it’s even got a special snappy logo:

heartfulrealtynogaijin005.jpg
very kindly abbreviated to “‘gaijin’ are allowed” for your handy-dandy reference. Cute.

Here’s the original page in its entirety, from page nine of its catalog:
(click on the image to see a very detailed 300 dpi scan close up)

heartfulrealtynogaijin001.jpg

You’ll notice the very clever logos at the bottom, for “Auto Lock”, “Satellite TV”, “Students Allowed”, “Pianos Allowed”, “Children Allowed”, “Sink for Shampooing”, “Pets Allowed”, “Toilet and Bath Unit Separate”, “Shower Included”, “Flooring”, “Piped in Radio”, “Specially for Women”, “Hot Water Pot Included”, “Staff Constantly On Duty”, “Cable TV”, “Parking Allowed”, “Handicapped Access”, “Contract with Legal Entity”, “Air Conditioning”, “Elevator”, “Rentable in Portions”, “Furnished”, “Phone Included”, “Refrigerator Included”, and finally… “Foreigners Allowed”.

(click below to see whole image in your browser)
heartfulrealtynogaijin004.jpg

Thanks for making it so clear, I guess. Very Heartful. You’ll also notice that there is only one apartment of the twelve on this page which will deign to take “gaijin”:

heartfulrealtynogaijin003.jpg

And it’s nearly the cheapest and quite possibly the crappiest one on the entire page–only a one-room (1R). Now what a coincidence…

==========================

Now some quick counterarguments for the pedants, for what they’re worth:

Yes, there are restrictions on other things, such as pianos, but pianos and other material effects are not people. Same with pets, of course.

Yes, there are restrictions on students and children. But one does not remain a student or a child all their life, so it’s not the same as discrimination by nationality. (And for the record, I do not support “Women Only” apartments by the same logic. In any case, the default mode for apartments is accepting women, whereas the default for “gaijin” is rejection.)

What a lovely way to welcome newcomers who have enough hurdles to jump over in this society, without having the most fundamental thing they need in their life–a place to rest their head every day–denied them when they first arrive or need to move. Moreover relegate them to lousy housing regardless of income.

And the fact that this company is bold enough to make exclusionism so explicit (the realtor will no doubt counterargue that this is done by the landlord’s wishes; they’re just following orders) makes them an accessory to the discrimination in black and white.

Debito.org wishes to discourage this type of systematic discrimination in any way possible. I have put this company on the “Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments”.

Suggest you take your business elsewhere if you’re looking for apartments in Fukushima-ku, Osaka. Someplace less tolerant of intolerance.

Like some of these places, mentioned in a Japan Times article of November 10, 2007, blogged here.

Pertinent references from the article:
The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry launched the Web site Anshin Chintai (safe rental housing) in June to provide rental housing information and lists of real estate agents and NPOs that can support foreign apartment-seekers. So far, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka and Miyagi prefectures and Kawasaki have joined the project. For example, 237 real estate agents in Tokyo are listed as supportive firms.

The site — www.anshin-chintai.jp — is available in Japanese only, but foreigners who have difficulties with the language can ask local governments to explain the information on the site to them, according to the ministry.

The Japan Property Management Association, involving about 1,000 real estate agencies, also launched the Web site Welcome Chintai — www.jpm.jp/welcome/ — in September to introduce rental properties in six languages — Chinese, English, Korean, Mongolian, Spanish and Russian.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

mytest

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

By Jim Dunlop
August 30, 2007
drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

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

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

Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan. http://www.holiday-sc.jp/

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

Race and Age Discrimination at Holiday Sports Club:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Dunlop
August 30, 2007
ENDS

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

McGowan Case: Steve wins case on appeal at Osaka High Court

mytest

Good news at last. Comment follows at bottom:

ARTICLE BEGINS
==========================

African-American wins Y350,000 in damages for being denied entry into Osaka shop
Japan Today, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 19:41 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/387820/all
Courtesy Kyodo News

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court ordered an Osaka optical shop owner to pay 350,000 yen in damages to an African-American living in Kyoto Prefecture for denying him entry to the shop in 2004, altering a lower court ruling in January which rejected the plaintiff’s damages claim.

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka recognized the owner told Steve McGowan, 42, a designer living in the town of Seika, to go away when he was in front of the shop, and acknowledged damages for McGowan’s emotional pain, saying the entry denial “is a one-sided and outrageous act beyond common sense.”

However, the remark “is not enough to be recognized as racially discriminatory,” he said. McGowan had demanded 5.5 million yen.

According to the ruling, the owner told McGowan to go away to the other side of the road in a strong language several times when he was about to enter the shop with an acquaintance in September 2004.

The plaintiff had claimed the owner said, “Go away. I hate black people,” but the ruling dismissed the claim, as the possibility that he misheard the owner cannot be eliminated.
A plaintiff attorney said, “It’s unreasonable that discrimination was not recognized, but the court ordered a relatively large amount of damages payment for just demanding the plaintiff leave the shop. It seems that the court shows some understanding.”
==========================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT:
I am very happy Steve McGowan appealed his case, as it shows just how ludicrous the previous District Court ruling was last January.

Full information on the case at
http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html

The previous decision disqualified McGowan and his wife as credible witnesses to any discrimination, by ruling:

1) McGowan’s testimony inadmissible, as he apparently does not understand enough Japanese to reliably prove that the store-owner used discriminatory language toward him.

2) McGowan’s wife’s testimony as negatively admissable. In her follow up investigation, McGowan’s wife didn’t confirm whether the store-owner had excluded McGowan because he is black (“kokujin”); she apparently asked him if it was because her husband is *foreign*.

Put another way: A guy gets struck by a motor vehicle. The pedestrian takes him to court, claiming that getting hit by a car hurt him. The judge says, “You weren’t in fact hit by a car. It was a truck. Compensation denied.”

This was a huge step backward. As I argued in a Japan Times column (Feb 7, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7), the McGowan decision thus established the following litmus tests for successfully claiming racial discrimination. You must:

* Avoid being a foreigner.

* Avoid being a non-native speaker of Japanese.

* Have a native-speaker witness with you at all times.

* Record on tape or video every public interaction you have 24 hours a day.

* Hope your defendant admits he dislikes people for their race.

Actually, scratch the last one. The eyeglass shop owner did admit a distaste for black people, yet the judge still let him off.

Now this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, although it pays McGowan a pittance (35 man yen will not even cover his legal fees!) and will not acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination.

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if he did not appeal. Gotta pray for the small favors.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Arudou Debito in Seattle, USA