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