Dr. Debito Arudou's Home Page: Issues of Life and Human Rights in Japan

Upcoming speeches Sept in Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Osaka, Nagano, Sendai and Iwate


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.  Upcoming speeches, FYI.  Debito in transit

  1. Mon Sept 1, 7PM-9PM, Speech for JALT Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (CONFIRMED): Writeup: Hamamatsu- An evening with Debito. One of the leading human rights activists in Japan and co-author of the “Handbook for newcomers, migrants, and immigrants, to Japan” will present on various human rights issues relative to language teachers, working professionals, and members of the community. Following the presentation there will be an informal opportunity to discuss your burning issues with Debito one-to-one. Mon 1 September 19:00 – 21:00; Presentation at Hamamatsu, Machizukuri Center downtown across from Create Hamamatsu; one-day members ¥1000. 21:00 – 23:00 Dialog with Debito to follow at Hamamatsu, Mein Schloss, (see Hamamatsu Chapter website for location directions <>
  2. Thurs Sept 4, 2008, 7PM, Lecture on “The Japanese Legal System–Cognitive Dissonances to Consider”, for Kansai Attorneys Registered Abroad, Osaka (CONFIRMED)
  3. Sat Sept 6, 2008, 6PM Speech for Osaka Forming NGO FRANCA, at Osaka OCAT Building (CONFIRMED)  When: Saturday, September 6th, 6 PM (NOTE EARLIER TIME)
    Where: Namba Shimin Gakushuu Center (難波市民学習センター) (〒556-0017 大阪市浪速区湊町1丁目4番1号  OCATビル4階, Osaka-shi, Namba-ku, Minato-cho 1-4-1, 4th Floor of OCATBldg.)
    Google Map:
    (This is the same place as the last FRANCA meeting in Kansai.)
    Who & What: Arudou Debito will be speaking first, after which we hope to discuss several of the issues that need to be taken care of to move FRANCA forward as a group.
  4. Mon Sept 8 to Weds Sept 10: Nagoya University Intensive Summer Course on Media Professionality 名古屋大学主宰 メディアプロフェッショナル論特殊研究Ⅲ 担当:有道 出人(あるどう でびと)(北海道情報大学 准教授)集中講義 9/8:2・3・4時限、9/9(火):2・3・4時限、9/10(水) (CONFIRMED)
  5. Sat Sept 13, 2008, 1:30-4:30PM, Workshop on Racial Discrimination for N2C2 group in Nagano in Japanese (CONFIRMED)
  6. Sun Sept 14, 2008, Speech for Sendai Forming NGO FRANCA, 2PM-4PM, at: Sendai Chuo Shimin Centre Kaigi Shitsu (CONFIRMED)
  7. Mon Sept 15, 2008, 2PM-4PM, Speech in Japanese, 「21世紀の日本の国際化とは?」in Kitakami, Iwate Pref. in Shougai Gakushuu Center 3F (west exit of Kitakami Stn), (CONFIRMED)





Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim


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.  Long-time readers may find this guffaw-worthy.  I did.  Especially since it’s titled “the third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report”  [Japanese pdfEnglish pdf]–indicating just how late they’re filing a report that is actually due every two years.  What bunkum.  More on the GOJ’s relationship with the UN here.  And more here about how the GOJ seeks input from human rights groups but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year).

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

Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Japan defends steps to end discrimination

Staff writer
OSAKA — In a new report to the United Nations [Japanese pdf, English pdf] the government outlines the situation of ethnic minorities and foreign residents in Japan, claiming it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past several years to eliminate racial discrimination. 

Occasionally sounding on the defensive, the report, released Friday, sidesteps the issue of a comprehensive law prohibiting discrimination between individuals.

Human rights groups and Doudou Diene, the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, have called for the passage of a law clearly against racism and xenophobia, as well as the establishment of an independent national human rights monitoring body.

The government has long held that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, makes any antidiscrimination legislation superfluous, a point reiterated in the report.

“Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination,” the report’s introduction says, later adding that apartheid is unknown in Japan.

The report covers the situation of the Ainu, Korean residents and other foreigners. The government noted that there were an estimated 23,782 Ainu in 2006.

A Hokkaido Prefectural Government survey in 2006 showed 93.5 percent of Ainu youths go on to high school, and 17.4 percent go on to university, an improvement from recent years but below the national average, in which 98.3 percent of all youths enter high school. About 38 percent of all people who live in municipalities where Ainu reside go on to university, the survey noted.

About 30 percent of Hokkaido’s Ainu said they had experienced discrimination at school, in job interviews or when getting married, or that they knew of someone who had experienced such discrimination, the same survey indicated.

The report to the U.N. notes the Diet’s passage of a resolution in June recognizing the Ainu, and that the government has set up an advisory panel to discuss Ainu policies.





Japan Times: GOJ Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes


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

Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes 

The Japan Times August 12, 2008

By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer
Courtesy AW
The government panel on Ainu policies held its first meeting Monday, aiming to look into the lives and discrimination the indigenous group faces and come up with remedial action.    

The group, headed by Koji Sato, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Kyoto University, will meet about once a month and submit proposals to the chief Cabinet secretary by next summer.

“There needs to be broad public understanding and cooperation,” Sato said. “The most important starting point is to have the public accurately understand the history and grasp the situation of the Ainu.”

The panel’s creation followed the Diet passage in June of a resolution to officially recognize for the first time the Ainu as an indigenous people.

Tadashi Kato, who chairs the Ainu Association of Hokkaido and has been active in pursuing their rights, was elected one of the panel members.

After the meeting, he told reporters of the ongoing discrimination against the ethnic minority.

Kato recalled a junior high student who wrote in an essay that “the Ainu should go away from this town” and a little Ainu boy who cried at home because he was teased at school for having more body hair than others.

“I want people to know that (discrimination) is still going on,” Kato said. It “makes me despondent and brings tears to my eyes.”

Up until the June resolution, the government had refused to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people.

“The government seriously accepts the historical fact once again that despite being legally equal as Japanese people, there were many Ainu who were discriminated against and forced to live in poverty in the course of the nation’s modernization,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said at the beginning of Monday’s meeting.

Japan voted in favor of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last September.

“I would like the members of this panel to come up with proposals that lead to establishment of a comprehensive policy that is necessary for the Ainu to hold on to their honor and dignity for generations to come,” he said.



2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses


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

Hello Blog.  Yet another interview with BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura, where he claims that what goes on at 2-Channel is not his responsibility.

Love the section below where he says, “Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.”  That’s a lie.  He’s had a court order since January 2006 to delete the posts on me judged by a court to be libelous.  More than two and a half years later, they’re still there…!  And with copy-pastes the number just keeps rising.

I don’t think this guy realizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be legislation passed that will ultimately deprive the Internet of the privacy he allows his BBS to so wantonly abuse.  More on 2ch on my blog here.  Debito in San Francisco

2channel founder says don't blame him for criminals' posts    

Hiroyuki Nishimura

2channel founder says don’t blame him for criminals’ posts

Courtesy Japan Today, undated, but downloaded August 27, 2008

Over the past few years 2 Channel (2ch) has become the largest online forum in Japan, registering up to 200 million hits a day. Launched by college student Hiroyuki Nishimura in 1999, the site is often at the center of controversy and was criticized in June after it was used by the suspect in the Akihabara stabbing rampage to announce his plans.

Freelance journalist Tetsuya Shibui interviews Nishimura for Shukan Post.

The suspect in the Akihabara rampage has told police he killed people because his messages were ignored on 2ch. 

That case has nothing to do with us. I don’t believe he killed people just because he was ignored online. He says he doesn’t have friends. But it’s not surprising people like him don’t have friends. But that alone cannot be a reason for murder. It’s too simple to think the Internet causes such crimes.

Many crime announcements have been made on 2ch since the Akihabara case. Do you have any plans to change the site?

Not at all. 2Ch has clear rules of use that allow people to request deletion of messages and a system to report inappropriate messages.

Don’t you think it’s irresponsible for you to make your users take all the responsibility?

I don’t think so. I always cooperate with police when I think some messages clearly indicate a crime may be involved and when police request disclosure of posters’ information such as IP addresses, we oblige.

2ch also carries information on how to commit crimes, does it not?

No, no, no. Many people misunderstand 2ch. It has links to other websites which might contain information like how to make a bomb, but that’s a matter for other websites to address, not 2ch.

However, 2ch recently carried detailed information on the spate of hydrogen sulfide gas suicides. 

Yes, 2ch did carry that kind of information. But that’s copy and paste information copied from other websites. It’s the mainstream media which is spreading information that 2ch has that kind of information. Those who were not interested in such information have suddenly become interested in 2ch through newspaper coverage. Why don’t those media criticize themselves?

Are you saying you have no responsibility because other websites have the same information.

Well, let me ask you a question. Is there any evidence that the Internet has led to an increase in crimes? I’ve never seen any such evidence. The Internet is just a tool and all tools have side effects. Look at cars. Do you blame car makers when accidents are caused by speeding? I have my own logic to justify what I’m doing. People can submit information freely on the Internet. Anti-Internet people are just afraid of the unknown potential of the Internet which has a short history.

Perhaps, one reason for the fear is not the “unknown,” as you cal it, but the anonymity of the information. Why don’t make your users post messages using their real names?

I disagree. Even Social Network Services which have greater transparency have trouble and contain inappropriate information. It totally depends on users when dealing with inappropriate information. Those who cannot make judgments by themselves or don’t like 2ch should not use it.

What do you think about the information filter for minors

I support information filtering measures for kids because they are not capable of making proper judgments on information they get from the Internet. If I had a kid, I would give him/her a mobile phone without an Internet connection function. I think the issue has to be debated nationwide.

You’ve been ignoring lawsuits against you for defamation for years, and you don’t pay compensation that courts have ordered you to make.

Yes, that’s correct. I’ve received more than 100 lawsuits so far. It’s time consuming, but recently, I’ve been working on about 30 legal cases. I’m seeing how it goes. The reason why I don’t pay compensation is that I think I am not responsible for what others post. If I were posting death threats or whatever, then I must pay. But I’m just a manager of 2ch. I don’t feel guilty at all.

Why don’t you make a system to check inappropriate messages?

It’s difficult even for legal professionals to distinguish between legal and illegal content. If we were to delete messages, 2ch would cease to be a forum where people can freely post. Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.

Have you ever thought of closing 2ch?

Never. That’s because we currently monopolize this sort of business in Japan.

Your income is reported to be around 100 million yen acquired from online ads and book sales.

Yes, that’s about right.

What do your parents think of your business and all the flak?

My father is an ex-tax officer. But we have never talked about our businesses to each other. When I go home sometimes, he just says to me: “Go ahead with what you’re doing.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors


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.  Have a look at this.  This is long overdue indeed!  Well done Saitama Prefecture!  Debito

Foreigner Friendlier Area

Saitama multicultural real estate agents logoMulticultural real estate agents

To make renting an apartment easier for non-Japanese, and deal with discrimination by apartment landlords and owners, one prefecture in Japan is sponsoring an effort to establish a database of “multicultural” real estate agents.

The government of Saitama Prefecture began it’s effort in 2006. There are now 113 multicultural real estate agents registered. Saitama is located 23 kilometers north of of Tokyo.

Information pamphlets in Chinese, English, Portuguese and Spanish are available, and telephone interpretation is offered by volunteers. (English .pdf)

Saitama multicultural apartment help

The Daily Yomiuri reports the project has become widely known among foreigners by word of mouth.

Phone numbers and addresses of the participating agents are included in the list. Lets Japan viewed 42 websites listed in the multicultural real estate registry, and found the logo displayed on only three sites: RoomspotRisouhouseSaihokujisho



Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan


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.  More attention being given this movie, which I have seen previews of and can attest that it will be worth seeing.  Debito in San Francisco

Coming out of the shadows 

Filmmakers tackle contentious issue of parents’ abduction of children to Japan

THE JAPAN TIMES, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Special to The Japan Times

“We judge that it will be best for the child that the (parent) pray from the shadows for his healthy upbringing. If worried about the child, ask about him through others, secretly watch him from behind a wall, and be satisfied with what is heard about the way he is growing up. Acting in accordance with emotion, even if based on love, will cause the child misfortune. Suppressing emotions for the sake of one’s child — that is the true love of a (parent) toward a child.’


News photo
Better days: Canadian Murray Wood plays with his children, Taka and Mana, before their abduction. COURTESY OF DAVID HEARN


Imagine the trauma of the mother being permanently denied visitation with her own children in this family court decision handed down by the Tokyo High Court. Being told to pray, watch and love “from the shadows.”

Imagine losing contact with your children after your spouse files a domestic-abuse grievance, causing an immediate and renewable six-month restraining order to be issued in response to real or fabricated “abuse” for which not an iota of evidence is required. Next, imagine permanently losing custody of, and contact with, your children when the ruling favors your spouse because he or she has been caring for the children while these orders have kept you away.

As a 4-year-old child, imagine being told that your father murdered your mother by creating and then releasing into her body a demonic bug that crawled up inside of her and festered on her innards.

Sound awful? Well, welcome to the hell of parental child abduction and custody battles, Japanese style.

In January 2006, David Hearn, Matthew Antell and Sean Nichols began research on a documentary film that would dramatically affect their lives over the next few years.

They had heard about high-profile cases of parental child abduction, such as the two children of Murray Wood being abducted from their home in Canada by their Japanese mother, but these filmmakers had not yet realized all the muck they would have to work through in order to gain a clearer understanding of what has increasingly become Japan’s own scarlet letter.

News photo
Capital location: Filmmakers Matthew Antell (left) and David Hearn take a break from filming in Washington, D.C.

For those new to the topic of child abduction, here are the basics:

The parent who has physical custody of the children and has established a routine for them for the duration of at least a few weeks when divorce is filed is granted custody in virtually every case.

Japan has neither statutes nor judicial precedents providing for joint custody. When divorce occurs, either the father or mother receives custody. Visitation is not a substantive right that can be asserted by parents.

In 2006, there were 257,475 divorces involving 150,050 children. Fathers maintained custody of all children 14.9 percent of the time, down from 48.7 percent in 1950, and custody of at least one of several children 3.6 percent of the time, down from 11 percent in 1950.

A parent attempting to take children outside Japan can possibly be arrested if charges are processed before the children exit the country. A married Dutchman was arrested in 2000 and sentenced the following year for doing exactly that after his Japanese wife objected to him taking their daughter to visit the young girl’s dying grandfather. If children are unlawfully removed from Japan, every attempt will usually be made by law enforcement in the destination country to return the children to Japan if the destination country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japan has not signed this treaty so children abducted to Japan are not returned. One source has reported that Japan plans to sign this treaty by 2010.

Now, back to the movie.

Earlier this month, I sat down with director David Hearn to inquire about the progress of his documentary on this most contentious subject.

What is the working title for the film and when do you expect to have it completed? We initially titled the film “For Taka and Mana” in response to the unlimited access and cooperation so generously provided to us by Murray Wood. We have since changed the title to “From the Shadows” because we will also be highlighting cases involving many others who have had to endure the tragedy of losing a child in this often cruel manner.

We have conducted scores of interviews with those involved in these tragedies — parents, children, government officials, and experts on the subject — and we hope to complete the film in time to enter it in several film festivals next year. We have been humbled by the generosity of so many, but how quickly we can finish and the quality of the film is dependent on our fundraising from here forward, so we ask that people do what they can do to be of assistance. Information and clips can be found at our Web site, In custody cases in Japan, possession is actually more than nine-tenths of the law, isn’t it? Certainly. The parent who has the children keeps them 99 percent of the time.

Before divorce occurs, lawyers, divorce advisers and legal experts routinely advise their clients to get the kids and run. The application for divorce can then be submitted from the new setup, and the left-behind parent can be left with absolutely no information about the relocation of the children.

Once the divorce process has begun, the court will all too commonly ignore how the new setup was achieved, and instead justify it as now being “in the best interests of the child” so that a stable environment can be maintained.

And even if the court were to rule in favor of the noncustodial side, there is no legal entity, such as police or a child welfare agency, to enforce the ruling if one side does not live up to its responsibilities as dictated by the court. So, in the very rare case when the court does rule in favor of the noncustodial parent, it can be worth no more than the paper it is printed on if the physical custody-holder simply holds on to the children.

According to Colin P. A. Jones, a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, “With little or no enforcement mechanisms, the family court fails to protect children and their parents.” How are the children affected by these highly emotional clashes? We have interviewed a number of children involved in these battles, and sadly what is most often lost in the shuffle is the psychological damage done to these children caught in the middle. There are numerous horror stories. Unfortunately, the custodial parent often abuses his or her authority by dispensing information to the children about the other parent to paint a scenario that works best for the custodial parent no matter how devious or outright false the information is. This behavior is defined widely as parental alienation syndrome. Despite its acceptance in courts in most Western countries, it is entirely unrecognized in Japan. Aren’t some parents able to individually agree on and work out visitation arrangements? For those custodial parents who permit it, the standard of one visit for a couple of hours a month is about average. Though considerably less than Western standards, most participating parents agree it is better than nothing. This might be the one silver lining of this entire issue. Slowly, more custodial parents are seeing the benefits for the child to meet the noncustodial parent even when by law they are not required to do so.

However, the legal shortcomings make visitation for the noncustodial parent a very touchy situation. He or she must play by the rules of the custodial parent, and visitation is often changed or simply halted, many times for very frivolous reasons, such as if the noncustodial parent begins dating. How did you react to the report that Japan may become a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by 2010? Hopeful, but not yet convinced. This was reported by only one news outlet and the details of the source were very vague. We do not know the source, and we have not been able to confirm the report. But, we remain hopeful.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo puts the number of active abduction cases involving American children at 80. That’s just from the United States. So we have hundreds, if not thousands, of children in this country who have had to endure the loss of a living, usually loving, parent — one who desires to see and interact with his or her children. Our film aims to inspire an open discussion on this issue and encourage a more critical review of this “take the kids and run” mentality that has become so prevalent.

Children are losing contact with their parents every day and one has to wonder, is this the best Japan can do? Do we want to continue to hurt the children involved and push loving parents off into the shadows?

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to

Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations


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

Hi Blog.  Here’s a happy tale–about how a local approached a newcomer, broke the ice, and brought more newcomers on board in the local neighborhood association and helped everyone get along.  Well done.  Here’s hoping it happens more often.  Arudou Debito


A life less complex as foreigners join local board


Courtesy Dave Spector


Yorio Kuramata, center, with Indian residents in Tokyo’s Koto Ward (SHOHEI KAMATA/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

Three Indian nationals have been appointed to the board of the community association at the Ojima 6-chome public apartment complex in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, in a rare move among such buildings.

With Japanese companies recruiting more and more technology experts from India, the number of Indians living in the complex has steadily increased to 80.

The apartment building in Tokyo’s old residential district accommodates nearly 3,000 households.

Locals hope that the trio, who are also IT engineers, will help promote dialogue between Indian and Japanese residents for mutual understanding, and create a harmonious multicultural environment at the complex.

During an annual summer festival in late July organized by residents of the complex, three of 80 food stands sold Indian cuisine, including Indian burgers.

Among the vendors at the booths were the three new board members: Hemant Visal, 34; Naren Desai, 35; and Yogesh Punde, 35, who were appointed in spring 2008.

“Working as a board member of a residents’ association here is a fresh experience, and I do not feel bothered at all,” said Yogesh, although the three are busy working at IT companies in Tokyo.

The three joined the residents’ association after veteran board member Yorio Kuramata approached one of their compatriots in an attempt to open a dialogue with Indian residents during the same festival two years ago.

Kuramata, 74, said he had gone to say “hello” to Sankar Narasimhan, the trio’s friend, believing there was an urgent need for the residents’ association to improve understanding between Japanese and Indian residents.

At the time, Japanese residents were increasingly complaining that Indian residents were unaware of the rules of the complex.

With the building complex located close to an Indian school, the number of Indian residents has increased in the past few years. Of 2,900 households, 55 are Indian, with a total of 80 members.

Residents’ complaints included that some Indian residents talked loudly on cellphones on balconies at night, or that they hosted noisy house parties on weekends, Kuramata said.

Aside from cultural differences, there apparently were lifestyle differences between the relatively young Indian immigrants and aging Japanese residents at the complex, he added.

Sankar, for his part, had trouble finding opportunities to talk with Japanese residents.

“Because Japanese residents seemed to like living quietly, I thought they would feel bothered if I talked to them,” he said.

Once they started talking, Kuramata taught Sankar about the roles played by the local community and its residents’ association in locals’ daily lives and emergencies. For instance, he learned that Japanese communities stock water and emergency foods to help each other in case of a major disaster, Sankar recalled.

While working for the residents’ association, Sankar brought some of his countrymen, including Hemant and Naren, in to the association’s activities.

One of their primary roles was to translate community news on matters such as residents’ events and utility maintenance works into English, to notify Indian and other foreign residents of such information via e-mail.

“It has made it easier for foreign households who do not have Japanese-speaking members to join community life,” Hemant said.

Thanks to their activities, an unprecedented number of Indian participants joined activities at this year’s spring koinobori festival to hang carp-shaped pennants to pray for healthy growing children.

According to the nationwide council of residents’ associations at apartment complexes built by the former Housing and Urban Development Corp., it is quite rare for residents’ associations at public apartment complexes to appoint several foreign residents to a board.

And although residents had asked Sankar to become a board member, he moved to another complex with more spacious rooms this spring so he could invite his mother to live with him.

Despite the move, Sankar said he plans to join residents’ association activities at his new home.

He also said he will introduce himself to his new neighbors, like Kuramata did for him, to establish a dialogue and friendship.

“It is because I want to be part of the community with my neighbors,” Sankar said.(IHT/Asahi: August 19,2008)

Excellent essay on Wikipedia on the origin of “Criticism” sections


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.  Update on my previous blog entry.  I have been proven wrong by the editors on Wikipedia — they have shown themselves to be conscientious and serious about the editing they do.  One even took the trouble yesterday to write an entire essay about how Wikipedia articles on controversial subjects develop.  It answered a lot of questions I had about the media, so I’ll put it up here on for a wider audience.

The Wikipedia entry on me (which I will not touch — I will just bring up points of order on the Talk page) has already been much improved.  My thanks.  Arudou Debito in San Francisco


Criticism section


I want to make a few general comments on criticism sections per se, then one related to this article. I feel the need to do so, because from the comments I’ve seen by newcomers (such as Mr. Arudou) and established Wikipedians, they either seem ignorant of the general trends regarding the need for such sections or have seen no need to explain.

The reason articles on controversial figures such as Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama do not have criticism sections is because the criticism has been integrated into the article. It is considered bad writing to have a biography where the first half says only the good stuff and then the second half says the bad stuff. I’ve seen the integration of criticism happening consistently across Wikipedia. I haven’t looked at those particular politicians article histories, but I’m sure you’ll find that periodically someone will complain on the talk page that the article has been whitewashed. The reason people usually complain about whitewashing when they don’t see a criticism section, is that they don’t actually bother reading the entire article. Those kinds of people come to a biography specifically to read the bad stuff about the person. They are not interested in reading a complete story of someone’s life and career and seeing criticisms and supports in context of the issue they are related to. This should already be a sign that criticism sections are not good. When we design articles so that people can come specifically to read only what fits their POV, we are not doing a good job at all.

I would say there’s a growing movement to eliminate such criticism sections for this and other reasons (see the essay Wikipedia:Criticism). But such improvements only happen on the more prominent articles first. The other articles are stuck with their old-fashioned criticism sections. I say “old fashioned” because this is what people used to do. Mostly, articles would be created by fans, and every time somebody wanted to put something negative in, the fans would say, well put it in a criticism section. The fans know well that relegating stuff to a criticism section at the end is often the same as throwing something into a dust bin. They then create the main part of the article to be flattering, and most people, by the time they get to the end, see “criticism” and think, oh this guy’s great but of course people are going to criticize like they always do. Thus the criticism section actually acts to lessen the impact of the criticism by shunting it aside from the “main” article. Over time, people that wanted to insert criticism forgot this is why such sections were created. When criticism sections would be merged into the main part to create a more balanced picture, such people would protest. Indeed, probably one reason they protest is that they prefer only to read and edit the negative portions of the article, thus it is more convenient for their agenda. Otherwise they would be expected to work at improving the article as a whole.

Now from this mini-history of criticism sections, let’s look at this article. It seems to me originally the same scenario held here. There was a main part, which had support, and a criticism portion. Unfortunately, over time, the main part lost the support element, and the criticism section grew. This seems to be because Mr. Arudou doesn’t have as many fans interested in editing his article as detractors. There were also editors that were concerned about the promotion element and worked to eliminate the more positive references while not scrutinizing the negative ones, as they should have. Basically, the system has been thrown out of wack. The criticism section is now the most prominent of all the parts of the article. Indeed, I am hard-pressed to find a single positive thing said about Mr. Arudou in this article. If I hadn’t done a little reading up, I would be under the impression that nobody has viewed his actions favorably.

It is clear we need to rework this article, possibly from scratch, and using only the best sources. Those who come here with an agenda will probably not like this idea. Criticism should be merged into the main article, as done in all the best articles on Wikipedia. —C S (talk) 03:31, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Debito Arudou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from Arudou Debito)
Debito Arudou

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

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

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




[edit]Early life

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

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

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

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

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

[edit]Japanese naturalization

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

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

[edit]Family and divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[edit]Otaru onsen lawsuit

The original problematic sign             

The original problematic sign

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:  Poor summary of the events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Upcoming speeches in the Bay Area August 23-27


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

    Hi All.  Three speeches coming up, if you’re near the California Bay Area.  More speeches back in Japan in early September too, details here.  Debito in San Francisco


    1. Sat Aug 23, 4PM-7PM, speech in the Bay Area, CA for local human rights group (CONFIRMED) Writeup: Japan-Pacific Resource Network (JPRN) and Trans-Pacific Research & Action Institute for the Hisabetsu Nikkei (TRAI) – US present, with Masataka Okamoto, Ph.D.: A speech presentation by Debito Arudo, who took Japanese businesses’ “Japanese Only/No Foreigners Allowed” practices to court (The Otaru Onsen Lawsuit), and garnered international attention and support for confronting Japan’s xenophobia. Followed by a light reception. Place: Four Corners Room, University Village Community Center, 1123 Jackson Street, Albany CA 94706 (entrance at intersection of San Pablo Ave. and Monroe Ave., one block south of Marin Ave.) Suggested Donation: $7 and up. This is a very special opportunity to welcome Debito Arudo in person and to hear his own account of his experience living as a Caucasian Japanese in Hokkaido. Please come and enjoy his talk and great company! Inquiry: or (510) 823-9514
    2. Mon Aug 25, 6:30PM-8:30PM, speech in Mountain View, CA for Japan Exchange Society (CONFIRMED)
    3. Weds Aug 27, 2008, Noon, University of California Berkeley, Center for Japanese Studies (CONFIRMED)

    Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?


    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

    [poll id=”4″ type=”result”] 

    COMMENT:  Completing the trilogy of “life in Japan” polls, our first talked how easy Japan is as a place to live; the second how easy a place Japan is to work.  Regarding living in Japan, a clear majority–62%–indicated Japan is an easy place.  However, asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited responses that were less clear.  Total 49% of 227 respondents leaned towards “difficult” or “very difficult”, whereas 31% leaned towards “easy” or “very easy”.  Of course, there are more factors at play (and less under the control of the individual) when it comes to workplace versus lifestyle.  So to me it is quite understandable that opinions would be more mixed.  See polls archive here.

    Now, putting the two together, how about making Japan your permanent residence?  The largest number of respondents, 45%, said they were rather or very inclined to live here.  That outnumbered those who were disinclined, which totaled 32%.  So on balance (but not a clear majority), given work/life parameters in Japan, blog readers were prepared to stay.  Good.

    Again, as disclaimers keep pointing out, this is hardly anything scientifically “significant”–just a survey of readers who wished to vote.  

    Next poll:  Let’s deal with the recent firestorm about the word “Gaijin”, and see if readers think it is a word one should avoid using.

    Japan Times readers respond to my “Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin’?” JUST BE CAUSE Column


    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

    The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008


    Zeit Gist Illustration

    Readers respond: Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin’? 

    The Community Page received a large number of responses to Debito Arudou’s last Just Be Cause column on the use of the word “gaijin.” Following is a selection of readers’ views.

    Not an epithet

    That Arudou and others dislike the word “gaijin” and would prefer its retirement, I can understand. What I cannot understand (and I doubt Arudou really believes it either) is the insistence that the word is also an “epithet” comparable to “n–ger,” and that Japanese willfully use the term toward (mostly) non-ethnic Japanese in order to berate, abuse or express hostility towards the listener (what “epithet” means).

    “N–ger” carries all kinds of baggage and was used to define second-class human beings. I cannot — and I am certain Arudou cannot either — imagine being part of a race who were abducted from their homes, transported like cattle across the Atlantic Ocean, forced to work as slaves for centuries, only then to be “freed” into a country that informed them they could not share the same public facilities, restaurants or schools with “whites.” Decades of institutionalized poverty, discrimination, and abuse followed. To suggest a meaningful comparison between the word “n–ger” and “gaijin” on any level exists strikes me as being in very poor taste. Indeed, it starts to trivialize history.

    Postwar dictionaries, both English and Japanese, simply define gaijin as a neutral variation of “gaikokujin.” Even Kojien (which Arudou calls “Japan’s premier dictionary”) informs its readers that the contemporary usage (definition three) is a variation of gaikokujin. These same dictionaries do not label the term as derogatory, unlike other Japanese words.

    And what about foreign language words that also mean “outside + person” — words like “Auslander” (German), “straniero” (Italian) and the English “foreigner” itself, which derives from the Latin “foras,” meaning “outside”? Should we to ban these words, too, because they encourage “us vs. them” differences? Of course not.

    Poll results
    The results of a Japan Times Online poll conducted August 6-12.


    Gaijin might have become offensive to some listeners for reasons both real and imagined in recent years, but it is certainly not an epithet. To make automatically negative assumptions about what the speaker must be thinking and feeling when Japanese use the word says more about the listener than it does about the Japanese speaker.

    Paul J. Scalise, 
    Visiting research fellow, Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies, Temple University

    Thanks for the heads-up

    I very much appreciated this article. I have lived with Japanese roommates for the past two years, and have thus naturally made a strong circle of Japanese acquaintances. (I can never be sure who is a friend.) This experience has opened my world and now I can read “kana,” some “kanji,” and speak a smattering of basic Japanese that has begun to improve rapidly due to my recent decision to study seriously. This December I will travel to Japan to scout ahead and decide if I will take an offered position in teaching at an elementary school.

    It has always been interesting to me that even in my so-called native country (I have also lived in Europe for extended periods) I am referred to as a “gaijin” by these acquaintances, without abandon. I have always been aware of the connotations. I have three friends who were born in Ibaraki Prefecture and have lived there their entire lives, and yet they are still called “gaijin.”

    You article helps me to gain some perspective before I venture out to Japan, and I thank you for your wit and clarity.

    Bradley J. Collier, 
    Oklahoma City

    Get over it and move on

    Were Mr. Arudou to come to Austria, he would be called “Auslander.” Auslander translates as “foreigner” but it literally means “someone from the outside lands,” in contrast to the “Inlander” (the native population). The German language has no politically correct term like “gaikokujin” (yet give it time and our useless politicians will come up with one).

    In my opinion it’s not the terms “gaijin” or “Auslander” that cause the problems; it’s who uses them and how. I’ve been called “gaijin” by friends in Japan, and their families, and I have no problem with that. First of all, they know that I’m not politically correct. For example, I still use the German word “Neger” when referring to black Africans and so-called Afro-Americans (and no, it’s not like the English N-word). I’m with Charlton Heston on this issue: Political correctness is a dictatorship with manners.

    Secondly, I like to communicate fast, without holding things up too much (and “gaijin” is undeniably faster than “gaikokujin” — what a mouthful!).

    In German you can use “Auslander” in a very bad way. Neo-Nazi groups do that all the time (example: “Deutschland den Deutschen, Auslander raus” — Germany to the Germans, out with the foreigners). That, however, doesn’t prompt anyone to scream for a new term. We simply get over it and move on.

    Andreas Kolb, 

    Japanese falls short on slang?

    I understand the author’s perspective, but other countries and cultures have similar words in their vocabularies. Don’t the Jews call all non-Jews “gentiles?” Aren’t there plenty of Americans who call Asian people “Orientals?” Perhaps the Japanese just aren’t sophisticated when it comes to slang for other peoples/cultures; all they have is “gaijin.” Lets see what we can come up with in the English language: n–ger, wop, jap, chink, cracker, whitey, spick, etc.

    The author may have Japanese citizenship but he isn’t ethnic Japanese so the typical Japanese will never consider him to be Japanese. Though Japan does have more foreign residents than in the past, it isn’t a melting pot like America. There are greater injustices taking place in the world . . . lighten up!

    Brad Magick, 
    Phoenix, Ariz.

    Like watching pro wrestling

    I would like to commend you on the article “Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin.’ ” In spite of its being grammatically and logically obtuse, overly simplistic and naive, and hyperbolic to a fault, it was very enlightening and entertaining. Reading it was comparable to watching professional wrestling on TV. Was it supposed to be serious?

    Aside from the mangled, convoluted and inarticulate English that weakens the article, the equating of the plight of the foreigner in Japan to the African-American’s fight for equality and freedom is sad and callous. I am not African-American so I am reluctant to speak for them; however, as one who grew up in the segregated South, I can assure the reader and the author that they are not comparable. The author of the article may have gotten this idea from the movie “Mr. Baseball,” which facetiously alludes to the comparison.

    Since I am partly of Italian-American descent, I am used to the pejoratives “dago,” “wop,” “guinea” and “Mafiosa.” If my immigrant Italian grandfather who was spat on every night at his factory job were alive, he would laugh at the writer’s article and remark, “What’s the problem?”

    “Gaijin” is not essentially “n–ger.” The more we use “gaijin,” the less effective it will be and it will eventually burn itself out like the pejorative “j-p.”

    Tyrone Anthony, 

    Language has alternatives

    After recently returning to Japan after a 12-year absence, I was wondering if I had missed any debate over the use of the G-word. Glad I can throw my two cents in. Whilst many may be able to shrug it off as one of the lesser annoyances, the word is loaded and it is well within the Japanese language for alternatives to be used.

    Yes, “gaikokujin” should complete the appropriate processes to acquire Japanese residence or citizenship, “nyujirandojin” shouldn’t drink as much as they do, and “hakujin” should wear higher SPF sunscreen. Just please don’t call me “gaijin.”

    Jeremy Brocherie, 

    Send comments on this issue and story ideas to


    Third Degree given NJ who wanted Post Office money order


    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 I got through email the other day. Anonymized, reproduced with permission. Debito in San Francisco

    Debito, this a statement / comment …

    Am I the only personl who absolutely HATES changing cash from yen to cash in the Post Office.

    Just bought an item on E-Bay. Cost was $65.00. Watch. Person does not accept PayPal. Fine. Went to convert cash at the Post Office. Should be easy … right. Well, it was, yet again, a living hell.

    Cost to convert from yen to dollars: 2000 yen.

    Wasted well over 90 minutes there, and once it took over 3 hours to convert about $50 (they ran out of paper, machine needed to be cleaned, etc … total nightmare !).

    I think they are either incompetent as hell, or they really hate me. I get there to change the cash. They want my Alien card. Fine. Once they got it, they contacted the City Hall to make certain I’m legal. I showed them my meishi which said I am full time at a university and explained I am a permanent resident of Japan. Nope. They could care less. Person spent forever on the telephone too. I went to the guy saying … can I head out to eat … will be back in 2 hours and perhaps you will be finished by then. Nope. Did not want me to leave.

    I had to rewrite their damn paperwork numerous times — directions were confusing. They wanted my FULL name in the box, JOSEPH, and would not accept the name JOE. They wanted my middle name too, as it was on the Alien card. Why ??? They demanded my home address on the form and not my work address on the application form. They it was my home address in one area and my work address in another area of the form. I was really treated as a criminal there, far far worse than immigration at Narita ever treated me (never a problem w/ Japanese immigration). I think they ran the equivalent of a US FBI check on me, and to remind you this was only to convert a lousy $65.00.

    And, then when all finished, and I spent just under 10,000 yen for the $65 money order (recall that extra 2000 yen charge) and wasted over 90 minutes. Then came the question. That QUESTION . They asked me what the cash was for. I said it was for a watch.

    They then said to me: “Is it a North Korean watch?” (while making the cross sign meaning this would be illegal if it were). “WHAT !!” I screamed. I was FURIOUS! First, the person getting the MO was located in Texas, USA, as they checked the name and location on their money order perhaps over a thousand times. Second, the person’s name was “Johnson”, hardly a Korean name. And finally, even if the watch belonged to Kim Jong Ill himself, WHO DA F–K CARES !!!!!!

    This is only for a damn $65 to purchase a friggin watch !!!!!

    Anyway, point. Have you a better way to convert $65.00?

    Thought about this, and here is my solution, and feel free to post this on your web site. I will head to the bank and purchase Traveler’s Checks. The lowest demonimation I can get is for $150 — three $50 Traveler’s Checks. Then I will get $100 in cash, all 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s. All at the proper exchange rates. When I get an item on E-bay (and many sellers do not take personal checks or Pay pal), I will send them Traveler’s Checks worth $50 and the rest in cash. I will then send it via EMS, which is expensive but pretty safe, and moreover it allows me to avoid the ripoff charge of 2000 yen just to be harassed by those bigoted loser bureaucrats!!

    Oh, just a note to you, and to anyone who chooses to read this should you post this on your website.

    Oh, last note: If there is a problem with the Postal Money Order, it takes over 10 months, and perhaps longer to get a replacement. And yes, it happened to me. I sent to my credit card company about three years ago (before I set up direct transfer via the Internet) a letter along with the Postal Money Order. The Credit Card Co opened and read the letter and accidentally tossed the MO.


    I eventually worked it out w/ the credit card company. Went to the Post Office and wanted a replacement. They needed to do a “investigation” and this investigation would last about 10 months.

    Nothing I could do to expedite the process at all. Of course, if I left Japan never to return, I’d never see the money again, that a guarantee.

    OK, all to report for now. L8r. Joe

    IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor


    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.  Another article of note saying what we’ve been saying here all along.  Debito in San Francisco

    International Herald Tribune
    As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor
    Friday, August 15, 2008
    Li Shude, 24, a Chinese man who came to Japan as a so-called foreign trainee, weeding Noriko Yui’s lettuce field in Kawakami. He earns $775 per month. (Courtesy NYT)
    Courtesy Dave Spector

    KAWAKAMI, Japan: After a day’s work in the lettuce fields, the young Chinese men began arriving at their favorite gathering spot here, a short concrete bridge in the center of town. Soon, more than a dozen were leaning against one of the railings, one man leisurely resting his elbow on another’s shoulder, others lighting Chinese cigarettes.

    Some Japanese crossed the bridge on foot, hugging the other railing, followed by a young Japanese man the Chinese recognized on sight. “Japanese?” one of the Chinese workers joked.

    “Japanese, of course,” the passer-by said without slowing down. “You can tell by looking.”

    The brief exchange was a subtle recognition of the conspicuous presence of 615 Chinese living temporarily in Kawakami, a farming community of about 4,400 Japanese residents about 100 miles west of Tokyo. Five years ago, unable to find enough young local residents or to draw seasonal workers, Kawakami’s aging farmers hired about 40 Chinese on seven-month contracts.

    Now half of the town’s 600 farming households depend on temporary workers from China. And Kawakami expects to hire more foreign workers next year, not only from China but also, for the first time, from the Philippines.

    With one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations and lowest birthrates, Japan is facing acute labor shortages not only in farming towns like Kawakami but also in fishing villages, factories, restaurants and nursing homes, and on construction sites. Closed to immigration, Japan has admitted foreign workers through various loopholes, including employing growing numbers of foreign students as part-timers and temporary workers, like the Chinese here, as so-called foreign trainees.

    But that unofficial supply route has left some businesses continually scrambling for a dependable work force and the foreigners vulnerable to abuse. With Japan’s population projected to decline steeply over the next decades, the failure to secure a steady work force could harm the nation’s long-term economic competitiveness.

    “It’s not only in farming but everywhere else,” said Kenichiro Takano, an official at Kawakami’s agriculture cooperative. “If we don’t at least start by allowing in unskilled laborers for a limited period and for a limited number of times, and then come up with long-term solutions, Japan won’t have a sufficient work force. The deadline is approaching.”

    The labor shortage has grown serious enough that a group of influential politicians in the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party recently released a report calling for the admission of 10 million immigrants in the next 50 years.

    Junichi Akashi, an immigration specialist at the University of Tsukuba who advised the group, said its members had come to realize how Japan had come to depend on foreign laborers.

    “There is no doubt about that,” Akashi said. “They’ve increased sharply in the last two to three years.”

    The foreign work force in Japan rose to more than one million in 2006 from fewer than 700,000 in 1996. But experts say that it will have to increase by significantly more to make up for the expected decline in the Japanese population. The government projects that Japan’s population, 127 million, will fall to between 82 million and 99 million by 2055. Moreover, because the population is graying, the share that is of working age is expected to shrink even faster.

    That could pose problems for companies like Yoshinoya, a large restaurant chain. Starting in 2000, with insufficient numbers of Japanese job applicants, the chain turned to foreign students who are allowed to work part time.

    Today, its 3,360 employees include 791 foreigners, 564 of them students. Without the foreign workers, “we probably wouldn’t be able to operate some stores,” said Shinichiro Kawakami, an executive in the Tokyo area.

    What is more, the chain plans to triple the number of its stores nationwide to 3,000. “To reach our target, in a country where the people are getting older and the birthrate is getting lower, we’ll have to hire either older workers or foreigners,” Kawakami said. He added that the chain also needed to hire foreigners as store managers, a category of workers not allowed in under current laws.

    Here in Kawakami — which began growing lettuce, traditionally not part of the Japanese diet, for American soldiers during the postwar occupation — farmers could depend on Japanese college students or part-time workers during the planting and harvesting seasons until five years ago. Then hardly any came, and those who did stayed only a few days, finding the work too hard.

    “Some stayed the night, and in the morning I’d find them gone,” said Noriko Yui, 72, who was working in her field with two Chinese workers on a recent afternoon. “The Chinese have perseverance.”

    Her two Chinese workers, Li Shude, 24, and Jiang Cheng, 25, share a small, stand-alone room behind Yui’s house, where they sleep on two single beds put together. Each had taped a photo of his child on a wall.

    They, like the other Chinese workers here, are from Jilin Province in northeast China and are paid $775 per month, or $5,425 over their seven months here. But most of the Chinese interviewed here said they had paid about half of the total, or about $2,700, to the agency that had arranged their employment here.

    Jiang, who grows corn and Chinese cabbage back home, said he would use part of his earnings to buy pigs and chickens.

    “I like the environment here,” he said. “The air is clean, and I’m not homesick because there are many other Chinese here.”

    By all accounts, the Chinese workers here, who are technically considered foreign trainees and are not counted among Japan’s foreign workers, are treated well compared with others in the same category.

    The foreign trainee system was established in the mid-1990s, in theory to transfer technical expertise to young foreigners who would then apply the knowledge at home. After one year of training, the foreigners are allowed to work for two more years in their area of expertise. But the reality is that the foreign trainees — now numbering about 100,000 — have become a source of cheap labor. They are paid less than the local minimum wage during the first year, and little emphasis is placed on teaching them technical skills. Advocates for the foreign workers have reported abuses, unpaid wages and restrictions on their movements at many job sites. Nakamura, the Liberal Democratic politician, said the foreign trainee system was “shameful,” but added that if it were dismantled, businesses would not be able to find Japanese replacements.

    Most foreign trainees in agriculture, like the Chinese here, end up leaving in less than a year because little work is available after the farming season.

    The Chinese interviewed here said they came to Japan primarily to make money, but some wished they could stay longer to learn more about farming and the country.

    “It’s unfortunate that we have to go back home just as we were getting settled here and learning to speak some Japanese,” said Yang Shangli, 26, one of the men relaxing on the bridge at the center of town.

    The large presence of the Chinese workers has unsettled some Japanese here even as they have become increasingly dependent on them. Some vaguely mentioned the fear of crime, though they acknowledged that crime rates had not risen. No Japanese interviewed welcomed the idea of immigrants here or elsewhere in Japan.

    “I feel a strange sense of oppression,” Toshimitsu Ide, 28, a lettuce farmer who had not hired any Chinese workers, said of seeing large groups of Chinese hanging around town. “They seem hard to approach.”

    Perhaps because of the Japanese unease, the Chinese workers were given directives apparently aimed at curbing their movements, even before they arrived. They said they were told to go home by 8 p.m. and not to ride bicycles except for work. Some even said they had been instructed not to talk to young Japanese women.

    Still, for many residents who had not seen a single foreigner in this area until a few years ago, Kawakami had changed fundamentally.

    “Though I’m in Japan,” said Shimitsu Yuito, 57, who works in construction, “I feel this is not Japan anymore.”



    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




    The Sankei Shinbun (the Japanese equivalent of a Fox News-paper) did a story on international marriage on April 17, 2006 (which was the lead discussion on TV Wide Show “Tokudane”, which is where I first got wind of it).

    It’s a puff piece in Japanese, speculating about what could possibly induce people to tie the knot with a foreigner (gasp!), of course mentioning the obligatory stories of where problems in international relationships arise. Still, the important points to squeeze out of it are these:

    1) One out every fifteen marriages (used to be 1 in 16), or 6.6% of the total marriages in Japan, are international. This was in 2004, mind.

    2) 9.5% of all Tokyo marriages are international.

    3) 80% of all international marriages are Japanese men to foreign women (up, IIRC, from 70% previously). 39% are Chinese brides, 27% Filipina.

    And that’s about it. Can’t find a comparable article on it in the English press, nor easily the original Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare report cited in this article, so there you go.

    Does Japan still hope to get along without a law against racial discrimination as the international children with Japanese citizenship continue to increase?



    The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, M. Doudou Diene, is scheduled to visit Japan again in a followup to his July 2005 visit.

    The outcome of M. Diene’s late 2005 report on unfettered racism in Japan sent shocks to policymakers dealing with issues of human rights, and was a huge shot of substantiation and recognition for the activist community. His preliminary report called Japanese society “still closed, spiritually and intellectually centered.” His formal report, issued January 2006, went even farther, saying “Racial Discrimination is practiced undisturbed in Japan.” “It can hardly be argued that Japan is respecting its international obligations.”

    Full links to what went on last year and what he said this year are at

    Although M. Diene’s schedule and itinerary is not yet set and made in public, he will be in Japan between May 15 and 19. What he will be here to accomplish is yet unpublicized, but FYI. He’ll be giving a press conference at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Tokyo on May 17. I hope to meet the man again myself.



    Just heard this from friend Kevin. He and his wife, both foreign part-time educators at the International University of Health and Welfare (Kokusai Iryou Fukushi Daigaku) in Odawara, Tochigi, have undergone years of negotiations for illegal acts (including egregious contract nonrenewal and pay cuts) and harassment at their workplace.

    The Labor Board hearing their case took their side, and yesterday, they received a settlement (amount undisclosed as yet) which was Japan’s highest for part time teachers in history.

    This made some newspapers, none in English so far. Here’s hoping. Meanwhile, here’s today’s Tokyo Shinbun’s writeup of it in Japanese at

    Well and good. Given that contract labor has been Japan’s way of keeping foreign (and increasingly Japanese) disposable and with no labor rights, this is a definite upturn. Pity it takes so much effort just to enforce the labor laws.

    More on how contract labor has been destroying Japan’s once strong labor rights at

    Contact me if you want to do a story on Kevin.



    Next Tuesday, May 2, my 30th column (hooray!) for the Japan Times Community Page will be coming out. This time on Tottori Prefecture passing Japan’s first human rights local ordinance last autumn, then UNPASSING it in March. Bad form. Bad precedent. What went wrong? What are the lessons of this case?

    Pick up a copy of the Japan Times next Tuesday if you’re still in the country. It was one of the hardest ones I’ve had to write, as there was a lot of information to process and distill down to 1350 words…

    The previous 29 columns available at



    Every now and again, we hear stories of long-lost soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army resurfacing after years overseas, unable to believe that the war ever ended, or finally revealing themselves as alive for their own reasons.

    The case of Uwano Ishinosuke was one of the latter. A native of Iwate Prefecture in northern Honshu, Uwano was stationed in Karafuto (present-day Sakhalin) and taken prisoner after the postwar Soviet Union reassimilated the Japanese half of the island back into its borders. Japanese families were often forced to share houses with Russians, and military veterans were put into concentration camps for years until they were repatriated under the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952.

    Uwano, for reasons best known to himself, wound up in the Ukraine, and has lived abroad for the past 63 years. He came back on April 19 to meet family, and left yesterday, April 27.

    Two things I find interesting about this case:

    1) He lost all ability to speak Japanese, it seems. All of his press conferences were in Russian, and all communication with Japanese family were conducted with a Russian interpreter present. Although he said that his disappeared ability was due to a self-imposed moratorium of speaking Japanese, the reasons for this linguistic exile remain unclear. What is interesting is that apparently someone can rewire their native language given enough time and pressure.

    2) The Japanese government, since they declared him as war dead, stated that Uwano no longer has Japanese citizenship. According to Reuters, the government has said, in their remarkable ability to plumb the depths of callousness, that he may have to give up Ukranian citizenship in order to get Japanese.

    “He is visiting Japan as a foreigner this time. We are trying to restore his family register so that he can be confirmed legally as Japanese citizen,” a Health Ministry official said.,,, “He might have to give up his Ukrainian nationality, but it is up to him whether he picks either Japanese or Ukrainian nationality,” the official said.

    (Link is now dead, but here it was: type=worldNews&storyID=2006-04-19T042934Z_01_T3950_RTRUKOC_0_US-LIFE-

    That’s stunning. Guy serves his country like this and then they treat him like that. I wonder how re-exiled despot Alberto Fujimori got his citizenship then? Prewar births like Fujimori’s got grandfathered in, according to the government (which is also remarkable in its ability to come up with lame excuses, to justify arbitrary political decisions benefiting the elites). So why not Uwano? Guess he’s not elite enough.

    I watched as much press on Uwano as I could. He seems in remarkable physical and mental health, but never seemed all that comfortable during his stay in Japan. He’s made a life for himself in the Ukraine, and I bet that’s where he’ll stay.



    I have followed up on two recent points of contention–travel agents HIS and No. 1 Travel charging foreigners substantially higher fares than Japanese (try 57000 yen for Japanese, 70000 yen for foreigners for NRT to LAX). Friend Kirk even found an HIS website requiring Japanese citizenship for eligibility to purchase some tickets.
    (do a word search for “kokuseki” in Japanese)

    I contacted the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport ( about this. They made it clear that this is not legal.

    I then contacted customer service at HIS and told them I told MLIT all about it.

    I got something from HIS in writing in Japanese saying that they would cease this practice off (I haven’t had time to translate it yet) more than a week ago. Yet the abovementioned link still contains the Japanese-citizens-only fares. More to come.

    Finally, I got contacted from a non-Japanese resident about trying to redeem JAL miles. He tried to book hotels overseas (in Ireland, through JAL-system hotels) only to be told that foreigners must pay double miles than Japanese. He said he would give me more information on them if they didn’t knock this practice off (he even told them he would sic me on them–this is quite an odd feeling…), but so far no word back. Maybe it worked.

    Anyway, more on these two items in a future update if it gels into something conclusive.

    All for today. As always, thanks for reading!
    Best wishes,
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan

    Very good report on Japanese criminal justice system from British Channel 4


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

    Hi Blog.  Here’s a very good report on the Japanese criminal justice system and the upcoming lay judge “reforms” from Britain’s Channel Four.  Courtesy of Gary.


    More information on the issue from

    Some testimonial from somebody who went through the interrogation process here and beat the rap:

    More information on the interrogation process here:

    Do not get arrested in Japan.  Debito

    Tangent: Letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program


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

    Hi Blog.  I’m on vacation, I know, but duty calls.  My school has a tie-up with a (very good) English-language program here in Santa Cruz, California.  And yet budget cuts are eliminating it.  First an article that came out in the local newspaper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel (which, despite the reporting, sees a lot more than three jobs affected).  Then my letter from the perspective of a participant to the people in charge, including the University of California Regents and California Governor Schwarzenegger.  Then a August 19 follow up article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  Arudou Debito in Santa Cruz


    UC Extension to close Santa Cruz office, close two programs


    SANTA CRUZ — After years of fighting a mounting deficit, UC Extension will close its Santa Cruz office and eliminate two instructional programs affecting more than 2,000 students, a university official confirmed Tuesday.

    Alison Galloway, vice provost for academic affairs who oversees UCSC’s Extension programs, said the University Town Center office in downtown will close in the spring after the final classes of the English Language International ELI and Science Illustration courses are taught. Galloway said three full-time jobs in student support services will be cut at the end of September, and other employees will be transferred to the UCSC Extension office in Cupertino.

    Galloway said she made the tough call to shutter the Santa Cruz programs in recent days, and laid-off employees have received notice. Word of the cuts were beginning to spread through the university Tuesday.

    “It’s incredibly upsetting — many of these staff have worked for us for many years,” Galloway said. “It is extremely hard on those who lost their job.”

    Galloway, an anthropology professor who was appointed to her administrative position last September, said the cuts will free an estimated $1 million annually to address a $30 million debt load racked up in recent years by the UCSC Extension. The extension, which does not receive state funding, is supposed to be self supporting through tuition revenue, but in recent years has borrowed money from the university to stay afloat.

    She said the cost of running the ELI and science programs — a combination of instructor pay, facilities costs and support staff salaries — are more than double the $1.8 million in annual revenue brought in by tuition. The cuts come a year after the program closed its arts and humanities course to save money.

    “The problem is we have a very strong program, but it can’t carry the weight of everything else,” she said. “It’s very hard to make enough to cover overhead. We’re not looking to make a profit, but we have to be able to cover payroll.”

    Galloway said closing the office at 1101 Pacific Ave. will save about $750,000 in rent per year, and the overall program will realize more savings by eventually closing classroom space in Sunnyvale. The job savings will amount to more than $200,000.

    The office in Cupertino, which offers a range of high-tech courses, will be UCSC Extension’s only remaining site.

    Galloway said the debt was caused partially by the program’s inability to adjust after the dot-com bust. The extension did offered a number of tech-related courses even after Silicon Valley’s bubble burst about eight years ago.

    “We didn’t adapt quickly enough,” she said.

    The ELI program teaches English to students from across the globe, including Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Faculty and students couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, and several staff members declined to be interviewed or did not immediately return calls.

    Prior students have hailed the program as an effective way to learn English in an idyllic setting.

    “Santa Cruz is one of the most beautiful and wonderful city I have ever seen,” Bill Henney Mikolo Mireilee, a 2005 student from the Congo, wrote for the program’s Web site. “ELI staff is a wonderful team always ready to help at any time. Thanks to all of you.”

    Contact J.M. Brown at 429-2410 or



    From: Arudou Debito, Associate Professor
    Hokkaido Information University
    (contact details omitted)

    To: Professor Galloway, Chancellor Blumenthal, Provost Kliger, President Yudof, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Santa Cruz Sentinel:

    Dear Madams and Sirs:

    I write to you as a participant in UC Santa Cruz’s UC Extension, English Language International Program. Since 2002, I have escorted dozens of students from Hokkaido Information University in Hokkaido, Japan, as an Associate Professor at HIU.

    As a fellow educator, I beg you to reconsider your decision to close down the ELI Program. This letter is to make a case from the position of a customer, offering you a view that the accountants, considering the bottom line, may have underconsidered regarding the importance of this program:


    1) Collegiality. My students are generally low-level in terms of language ability (we have no English majors at our computer- and information science-oriented university), but they have come back every year with rave reviews about the ELI Program. After a month here, they have met students from all over the world (ELI has set attendance records year on year), learning that there are many countries out there they can talk to if they learn English; for Japanese students in particular, who generally grow up in a monolingual environment, this is a prime opportunity to get over their longstanding self-imposed communication barriers. They return to Japan aflush with positive feelings about language learning and other societies in general, with minds more opened to the outside world.

    2) American university style. My students have been given time to settle in (and get over their jetlag) while interfacing with the gorgeous UCSC campus. They experience American-style dorm life and American college dining. What other chance will they have in their life to feel like an American college student?

    3) American family life. My students through their three-week homestays receive a wide spectrum of experiences and lifestyles, reporting back to me every incident of culture shock, then every minor or major victory they felt when overcoming it. They learn more about cultural diversity, tolerance, and more self-assertive lifestyles. They also realize that it is possible to live in a multicultural society–something Japan as a whole (with its aging and falling population) will have to consider in future.

    All of these are reinforced by the professional, courteous, friendly, and helpful staff at the ELI, with whom the atmosphere is like summer camp with classes and extramural activities. The ELI Program has offered us the gamut, and for that reason I fully support its educational aims. Moreover:


    Although the above may be found in other programs, why the UCSC ELI closing in particular is painful is because of the storybook atmosphere of the Santa Cruz community, found in few (if any) other communities in the United States:

    1) The self-contained community of Santa Cruz. I feel secure turning my students loose on this town. The people here are tolerant, friendly and helpful, moreover now used to dealing with non-native speakers due to the ELI’s long tenure here. The bus service is good, meaning cars are not necessary to get around (try saying this about, for example, Los Angeles or San Diego). Students become so self-confident and self-contained that, within a week, I as their escort feel put out to pasture, checking in only once a day to be bombarded with questions from my students about this or that new phrase they kept hearing.

    2) The safe, storybook Downtown area. We have it all. From Farmers Market right outside our front door every Wednesday, to fifteen movies every day in three movie theaters within minutes’ walk. From organic supermarkets to 24-hour drugstores. From Victorian-style homes to a fun and historic Santa Cruz boardwalk, pier, and beach. From Sequoias and a gorgeous UCSC Campus, to nearby attractions in San Francisco, Monterey, and Yosemite. Moreover, the Downtown is laid out in a grid pattern you would find in many textbooks. Again, try saying this about other cities in the United States or coastal California.

    3) The natural beauty and climate. I am sure that Californians are used to the climate, but many students from around the world are not. The Santa Cruz area is perfect in terms of balance of temperature and sunshine. Do your classes, go outside and relax, and join in on ELI’s well-organized afternoon and evening events. You simply aren’t going to find all this in places like Silicon Valley, Berkeley, or the larger metropolises (or more insular small towns) around the country. Again, it’s the perfect balance.

    In sum, Santa Cruz is a gem of a community, and the ELI a gem of a program. Without the UC System adequately considering the benefits given to both our students (who get a very favorable first impression of another country) and to the residents of Santa Cruz (who have the experience of meeting people from overseas, not to mention an influx of tourism dollars, and potential open markets once these students become overseas decisionmakers later in life), I firmly believe you are doing a great disservice by closing down the UCSC’s ELI.

    Again, I beg you to reconsider your decision. My students want to come back to ELI again next year. So would I. It is an unmitigated joy to be here, and a great investment in the future communities of Santa Cruz, California, and the world in general.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Arudou Debito, Associate Professor
    Hokkaido Information University


    Faculty, staff, union question decision to ax Extension program

    By J.M. Brown – Santa Cruz Sentinel staff writer

    SANTA CRUZ – Last week’s announcement that UCSC Extension would close its doors shocked instructors, staff and clients, who had hoped a record summer enrollment would be a life preserver for the program’s sinking debt.

    Chris Fatham, one of several faculty members in the English Language International program who are expected to lose their jobs, said thousands of students from more than 50 countries are the real victims.

    Fathman and other employees question whether the university’s decision to pull the plug in the face of a $30 million deficit was short-sighted given the program’s rising demand. They say the program, which served Fulbright scholars and Humphrey Fellows from Iraq, also met a need for more international students on campus and was a boon to downtown merchants.

    “From what we have been told, ELI was actually making a profit and doing quite well,” said Fatham. “I’m really quite surprised that a small city like Santa Cruz … would want to lose something as valuable as this.”

    Until receiving word Aug. 11 that the program would be axed, several Language International employees said they had been celebrating enrollment and revenue figures that far exceeded expectations.

    But Alison Galloway, the vice provost for academic affairs, who made the decision to close the program, repeated a claim Monday that she made last week. She said English Language International overhead – including $750,000 in annual rent at the University Town Center, as well as staff and faculty pay – far outpace revenue.


    “It is correct in that they had met the targets – they have done a really good job,” Galloway said of the staff’s efforts to increase revenue. “Unfortunately, the program is extremely expensive to run. Every time they generated more income, they were generating more expenses.”

    Galloway plans by spring to close the language program and trim 14 full-time staff positions plus instructors, who are hired on an as-needed basis. Other jobs will be transferred to the UCSC Extension office in Cupertino.

    But critics have suggested the university, which has been underwriting what is supposed to be a self-supporting program, wipe out the red ink.

    “The university should forgive the debt, not only in the name of continued education services, but in the name of saving jobs,” said Nora Hochman, a representative of the Coalition of University Employees, which represents staff.

    University officials said it was unclear if such a move would be possible, considering the program continues to operate at a deficit and the whole university will suffer if lawmakers agree on education cuts in coming weeks.

    Galloway said there are discussions under way about finding space for English Language International on the main UCSC campus, but she said there are no guarantees.

    “In the heart of campus, I don’t think they want to lose us,” said Carol G. Johnson, sales and marketing manager, who is being laid off next month. “But the need to cut costs was so dire, we were kind of sacrificed.”

    The interpretations of the fiscal picture among administrators and employees has cast a cloud of confusion over the closure. English Language International’s director, Susan Miller, declined to provide exact budget figures.

    But Johnson said the program originally budgeted about $2 million in revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1, but has raised 21 percent more in revenue through increased enrollment. She said the university had asked leaders to produce more income and contribute a greater percentage of the revenue to overhead costs.

    Johnson said exceeding both those goals made the closure all the more shocking. She the summer program’s enrollment of 384 students – who stay in Town Center dorm rooms, with host families or on campus – exceeded last year’s total of 323.

    “We had the biggest summer and the biggest spring,” she said, boasting they had students from 51 countries this summer.

    In an e-mail to university officials, one of the program’s clients, Arudou Debito, an associate professor Hokkaido Information University in Japan, wrote, “As a fellow educator, I beg you to reconsider your decision to close down the ELI program.” He said the course helped his students “return to Japan aflush with positive feelings about language learning and other societies in general, with minds more opened to the outside world” and “learn more about cultural diversity, tolerance and more self-assertive lifestyles.”




    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




    Gov’t promises to improve livelihood of foreign residents
    Friday, April 14, 2006 at 07:07 EDT

    TOKYO The government will map out measures to improve living conditions for foreign residents in Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Thursday. A panel of senior government officials from several ministries and agencies will focus on how foreign workers, their families and longtime residents have led their lives in Japan, he said.

    The panel will take up various problems facing foreign residents, including economic issues and language and other handicaps their children may face, Abe said. It will also try to ascertain how they have been accepted by local communities, he said.

    “Having admitted them into the country, Japan bears a certain degree of responsibility for their well being,” he said.

    Courtesy of Tony at The Community (

    Let’s overlook the misleading headline and focus on the positive. We have Abe, as now the favorite to become the next prime minister in September (and who also has a history of pressuring NHK to censor “unpatriotic” views), saying something as positive as this. Well and good.

    However, less hopeful is the typical composition of these types of “panels”. “Government officials from several ministries and agencies”? Hhrum. Let’s see if they let foreign workers represent themselves in any way in these policymaking discussions.

    The record of shingikai, letting those affected by policy drives to participate in the process, is pretty spotty. I’ve always been amazed how many panels of “experts” in Japan (particularly those involving “foreign issues”) will all be composed of Japanese, and Japanese elites at that (who’ve never experienced much discrimination, except being seated in a chair they didn’t like in a restaurant overseas…). Moreover few in the media seem to decry this overt lack of balance. I saw on the news recently, for example, a panel on beef imports, sans any clear representative of the US beef industry giving any counterperspective. Regardless of your stance on the BSe issue, I find problematic the lack of *even an attempt* to strike a balance. To me, it’s all part of the process of manufacturing consent, which I find highly irritating when it comes to issues that involve national pride or economic embargoes…

    But I digress. Keep an eye on this one–it may mean something if the panel knows what it’s doing…



    In an important interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company, broadcast March 31, 2006, three people talked about the issue of how Japan has become a safe haven for child abductions after international marriages break up.

    Interview excerpt, a quote from Jeremy Morley, a lawyer in New York City specializing in international family law:

    [Morley] Children are not returned from Japan, period, and it is a situation that happens a lot with children of international marriages with kids who are over in Japan, they do not get returned. Usually, the parent who has kept a child is Japanese, and under the Japanese legal system they have a family registration system whereby every Japanese family has their own registration with a local ward office. And the name of registration system is the koseki system. So every Japanese person has their koseki, and a child is listed on the appropriate koseki. Once a child is listed on the family register, the child belongs to that family. Foreigners don’t have a family register and so there is no way for them to actually have a child registered as belonging to them in Japan. There is an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, and Japan is the only G7 country that is not a party to the Hague Convention. I think it’s horrible. It is an international outrage and it is an enormous problem that is not being addressed by the international community.

    The interview opens with the plaintiff, Murray Wood, talking about his case, where he won custody of his children from Canadian courts, but was refused custody by Japanese courts essentially because of “who dares wins”: The judges simply refused to uproot the children (currently residing in Saitama where he is denied any access, let alone custody). Regardless of the international arrest warrant out on ex-wife Ayako Wood.

    See Canadian Ambassador Sadaaki Numata get all defensive and hint at cultural imperialism in his responses to the interview:

    [Numata] That is precisely, precisely, what I am disputing. And to cause suspicions, like saying Japan is a haven for abducted children and so forth, I don’t think it’s just, it’s not the way I go about this business of diplomacy. And, and, and we are considering the question of whether or not to become a party to the convention, but there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account. Its impact on the Japanese Family Law system, and also what I might call the sociological impact on the question of to what extent it would serve, it would be in the interest of the Japanese people. And we are in the process of studying all of these issues carefully.

    Probably by one of those elite “government panels”, no doubt.

    See the interview in transcript with links to the original audio file at

    (Paste the entire link in your browser if it scrolls to the second line. Thanks as always to the Children’s Rights Network of Japan for all their good works!)

    Japan’s unwillingness, both domestically and internationally, to guarantee access to and responsibility for children for BOTH parents, is a tragic shame. One that should be known about before people consider marriage in Japan. More on that in our upcoming book…

    Arudou Debito

    Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight


    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

    Custody battles: an unfair fight

    Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008


    “Sport at its best obliterates divisions between peoples, such as ostentatious flag-waving and exaggerated national sentiment.” New York Times senior writer Howard W. French — who has covered China for the past five years, was Tokyo bureau chief from 1999 to 2003, and has lived overseas for all but 3 1/2 years since 1979 — made this astute observation last month after staying up most of the night in Shanghai to watch the remarkable five-set Wimbledon final between Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Switzerland’s Roger Federer.

    News photo

    Only four days into the long-awaited Beijing Olympics, we can only lament the regression that has taken place after only a month and will most certainly intensify over the next 12 days, in what media often infuses into our very beings as “us vs. them.” Unfortunately, here in Japan, it is not only the media that eagerly participates in this engine of propaganda — it’s the education system itself.

    As many may know, in response to new curriculum guidelines introduced in the 2002 school year that included the fostering of “feelings of love for one’s country” as an objective for sixth-grade social studies, students at a number of public elementary schools around the nation have since been subjected to evaluations on their love for Japan. Moreover, in December 2006 this country’s basso ostinato of excessive pride bordering on jingoistic fanaticism ground on as the ruling bloc in the Diet forced through revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education by removing a reference to “respecting the value of the individual” and instead calling on schools to cultivate in students a “love of the national homeland.”

    But what impact does this have on families here in which one parent is Japanese and the other is not? A relationship between individuals from different countries will generally experience great friction when one or both of the partners remain more committed to their nationality than they do to their spouse — in other words, when they are more married to their country than they are to each other. And this can become exacerbated when children are encouraged to side with one country or the other. Or, in Japan’s case, taught to love Nippon and then graded on patriotism.

    One year ago, The Japan Times (Zeit Gist, Aug. 7) printed some findings of mine that showed that there is a 21.1-percent likelihood that a man who marries a Japanese national will do the following: create at least one child with his spouse (85.2 percent probability), then divorce within the first 20 years of marriage (31 percent), and subsequently lose custody of any children (80 percent). And in a country such as Japan — one that has no visitation rights and neither statutes nor judicial precedents providing for joint custody — loss of custody often translates into complete loss of contact, depending on the desire of the mother.

    And if this figure is not startling enough, this year’s calculation using more current data would leave us with an even higher likelihood: 22 percent. Having this information, we must now ask a question that most of us would dread presenting to a friend in a fog of engagement glee: Is it the behavior of a wise man to pursue a course of action that has such a high probability of leaving your future children without any contact with their own father?

    Most of us enter a marriage with the realization that divorce is a possibility. Of course, we don’t hope for a breakup, but we accept that unions do occasionally dissolve, and heartbreak — usually temporary — will often result. However, do we ever enter marriage thinking beyond our own selves to the realization that there is a substantial likelihood that our own children — our personal flesh and blood — will be ripped from our lives? Doubtful. But in this country, this loss happens to one in every four fathers. Does it happen more to non-Japanese men? Most likely not. The divorce-to-marriage ratio for relationships between Japanese women and foreign men was nearly 39 percent in 2006. For the entire nation it was 41 percent.

    And non-Japanese women married to Japanese men should not rest too comfortably either. Their divorce-to-marriage ratio was over 38 percent in 2006. And even though mothers are usually awarded custody of children, it has been widely reported that foreign parents here in Japan are almost never successful in custody claims, and even if the foreign parent is lucky enough to eventually be granted custody, effecting such a court order may prove very difficult because law enforcement generally prefers to remain uninvolved in these complicated, emotion-filled cases. According to Colin P. A. Jones, a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, “family courts will usually do what is easy, and giving custody to the Japanese parent is usually going to be easier.”

    David Hearn, director of “From the Shadows” ( ), a documentary in production about child abduction by parents and relatives in Japan, says that he has so far come across only two cases in which non-Japanese had physical custody going into divorce proceedings and received custody at the ruling. And in one of these two cases, the Japanese parent did not put up much of a fight for the children.

    According to Hearn, “Whoever has the children when proceedings begin gets sole custody of the children in virtually every case. It’s then easy to understand why parents do such cruel things to each other, and the kids, to get physical custody before divorce is petitioned for and custody is decided in family court.”

    Now, when criticism of Japan or the Japanese system is presented, two forms of rebuttal are common: 1) It’s just as bad or worse elsewhere (as if this somehow justifies poor conditions here); or 2) It has never happened to me (as if a pattern can’t exist unless that particular person is part of it).

    When it comes to comparisons of countries, the United States is generally one that is used as a benchmark. And the likelihood of the above progression — from marriage to parenthood to divorce to loss of custody — is slightly greater, at 25.9 percent, in the United States. However, joint custody has become an integral part of U.S. society, and even though 68 percent of mothers receive both sole legal and physical custody in a U.S. divorce, a man who truly desires custody and makes the effort to obtain such is usually going to be accorded some form of it.

    As for the second type of criticism — it has never happened to me — well, good for you! Me neither.

    So, what is a foreigner deeply in love with a Japanese national and eager to make little Himes and Taros to do? Residing outside Japan is probably the best option. Japan has yet to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but is reportedly planning to do so by 2010. For the most part, overseas courts would accord greater protection of custodial rights for both parents. And we can only hope that changes that will need to be made to comply with this treaty will encourage alterations to law that will encourage the introduction of joint custody here in Japan.

    But as we continue through this Olympic week and into the next — weeks that are sure to be filled with intense, core-emanating, possibly desperate cries for the success of ‘ol “NI-PPON,” followed by tears that deprive one of breath, or jubilation that rivals life’s greatest climaxes — perhaps we should review the intended purpose of these games, as exemplified in the Olympic Creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

    This creed could also apply to marriage, parenthood and divorce. There is a reason why pride is one of the seven deadly sins: When winning takes precedence in any of these joint endeavors, a great mess is usually left by the one who has triumphed and conquered, and the remaining institution is left blackened. Those in mixed marriages would be wise to tread carefully during these Olympic weeks. Or better yet, cheer for Iceland!

    Send comments on this issue and story ideas to

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


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

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

    APRIL 8, 2006

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

    It advertises English language courses with an interesting edge:

    Salespoint: Learning English to exploit your gaijin underlings.

    As it says on the site:


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


    Or not-very-loosely translated:

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


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

    Have a look for yourself:

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

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


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





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


    有道よりクイック コメント:

     宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

    WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?  Rest of the issue at

    Results of our second poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?


    [poll id=”3″ type=”result”] 

    COMMENT:  As opposed to the previous poll, whether or not Japan is an easy place to live (a clear majority–62%–indicated it was), asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited responses that were less clear.  Total 49% of 227 respondents leaned towards “difficult” or “very difficult”, whereas 31% leaned towards “easy” or “very easy”.  Of course, there are more factors at play (and less under the control of the individual) when it comes to workplace versus lifestyle.  So to me it is quite understandable that opinions would be more mixed.

    Again, as disclaimers keep pointing out, this is hardly anything scientifically “significant”–just a survey of readers who wished to vote.  

    Next poll:  Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?  Let’s group the two previous questions together and draw a conclusion.  Debito



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


    Released April 7, 2006


    Welcome to the future of law enforcement. Introducing… Gaijin Mapping! So you can tell where the “hotspots” are for foreign crime (kinda like Cancer Maps for insurance companies; pity foreigners are the cancer.) Never mind Japanese crime, of course; I don’t understand why they don’t just biochip everyone and be done with it… Well, again, because they can’t. Just do it to the foreigners, because they can. But as the article hints, I don’t think this sort of thing is going to stop at the foreigners… Article follows:

    New tool eyed to find foreigners staying illegally
    04/07/2006 The Asahi Shimbun

    In another controversial plan, the Justice Ministry will use electronic maps to locate foreigners believed to be staying here illegally, as well as businesses that have hired illegal workers, sources said.

    The system is expected to start in fiscal 2007. Immigration personnel will carry hand-held terminals showing such maps to speed up the process of taking suspected illegal foreigners into custody, they said.

    Criticism had already been lodged against the plan, much like the Justice Ministry’s system set up in 2004 of having the public send e-mail information about foreigners who seem to be living in the country illegally. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has criticized the e-mail tip-off system for encouraging citizens to betray their neighbors.

    Critics say the ministry’s map plan will unfairly treat overstayers as hard-core criminals. “It’s wrong to treat overstaying foreigners as if they constitute a hotbed for serious crimes,” Manami Yano, a member of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, said.

    But the ministry is determined to reach the government’s goal of halving the number of illegal foreigners by the end of 2008 from the estimated 250,000 who overstayed their visas or entered Japan illegally in 2003.

    An estimated 193,000 foreigners were living in Japan illegally in January this year.

    The ministry receives about 16,000 pieces of information annually via e-mail, letters and telephone calls about suspicious foreigners, ministry officials said.

    In addition, about 19,000 foreigners around the nation in 2004 registered their names and addresses with city, town and village offices, although they did not have proper visas.

    Ministry officials said many register because registry as a foreigner is needed as a form of ID to open bank accounts or buy cellphones.

    Such information is available in writing, but it has been difficult to piece that data together with the information given by informants in different municipalities, even if all the information concerns the same individual.

    Ministry officials said the electronic maps will combine all the information and plot the likely whereabouts of the suspicious foreigners.

    But human rights groups and those who help non-Japanese say foreigners without the proper visa status often register to allow their children to attend public schools.

    Yano also noted that it is rare for foreigners without proper visas to get involved in serious crimes in Japan.(IHT/Asahi: April 7,2006)



    Former Peru Prez and refugee of Japan Alberto Fujimori is up to his old tricks again…. outsourcing through a newfound bride in yet another attempt to somehow get relected in Peru after deserting his safe haven via citizenship in Japan…. Boy this guy is a character! Hope he gets what’s coming to him.

    Fujimori to wed hotelier before poll

    The Japan Times: March 14, 2006

    LIMA (AP) Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will wed longtime girlfriend Satomi Kataoka, a Japanese hotel magnate, ahead of Peru’s presidential election, a spokesman for the jailed ex-leader said Sunday.

    Kataoka, who owns many luxury hotels and is known for her political pull in Japan, made the announcement to 2,000 Fujimori supporters in a Lima discotheque Saturday, spokesman Carlos Raffo told The Associated Press. She did not specify a date, but Peru’s election is set for April 9.

    Kataoka arrived in Peru on Friday to support pro-Fujimori candidates in the election, and traveled Sunday to Santiago, where Fujimori has been held since his surprise arrival in Chile in November.

    Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000 when his 10-year autocratic regime collapsed amid growing scandals. He had said Chile was to be a stopover on his way back to Peru, but Chilean authorities arrested him at Peru’s request.

    Fujimori, who is fighting extradition, faces charges in Peru including sanctioning a death squad accused of murdering 25 people, illegal phone tapping, diversion of public funds to the intelligence service, bribing lawmakers and transferring $ 15 million to his spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.




    Here’s something to consider before buying any more plane tickets–shop around a bit.
    Forwarding collated emails with permission:

    From: gameboy rock
    Date: March 17, 2006 9:30:15 PM JST
    Subject: H.I.S. travel agency, different ticket prices for japanese/gaijin

    Hi Debito. Just a heads up, you might consider writing about:

    My girlfriend called H.I.S. travel agency in Shinjuku about tickets from Narita to LA this May. After my GF gave all the details (dates, etc), the staff asked if the buyer was Japanese. she told them no, Canadian. The price for me was quoted at 70000yen, and for Japanese customers it was 57000yen.

    The justification was vague, something about a cancelled tour, so they were offering the tickets at a discount, to Japanese only.

    We called another HIS-affilliated travel agent “No.1 Travel” in Shinjuku, which serves a large majority of foreigners here in Tokyo. They had the same deal.

    Finally, my GF went to the HIS Iidabashi branch office with a mic and recorder, and recorded a conversation with the staff about the tickets, giving the different prices, and claiming it was legal, and saying that they do these Japanese-only campaigns regularly. That recording is available at
    (There’s a lot of silence as the agent checks the ticket info. Near the end, you can hear the agent explain the pricing difference. Also, the general volume is low.)

    I don’t know how legal this is, but if you’d like to talk to HIS yourself, the website is:

    I spoke to a cabin attendant I know at ANA, and she said it was unlikely that the pricing is from ANA. Debito: feel free to post it on the forums. I figure the more people who stop dealing with HIS, the better.

    Contact email for this information (in case the above email address doesn’t come out): the6955 AT yahoo dot com



    Another horror story from the annals of people who get taken into custody and interrogated by Japan’s police forces. Under suspicion because he happened to be a foreign neighbor of a suspected foreign drug dealer. Result: 23 days of hell, then turfed out without so much as an apology or a written acknowledgement of innocence, or incarceration! Have a look at it. It’s a harrowing tale:
    (Starts out with introduction in German, then switches to English…)


    That’s all for this update. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito



    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2006 (excerpt)

    Hello all. Just got back from nearly two weeks down south. Some issues I collected along the way:



    March 1, 2006 Freely forwardable

    First up…
    File this under “I told you this would happen” Part 647:


    Lots of people have emailed me this article (thanks!), and it’s deservedly gotten a lot of press in Japan. This is the best one I’ve found so far:

    —————————ARTICLE BEGINS————————-

    Police left red-faced after arresting Japanese woman they thought was a foreigner

    Mainichi Shinbun Feb 28, 2006

    KAWAGUCHI, Saitama — Red-faced police released a woman they had arrested for not carrying her passport after she proved to be Japanese, police officials said.

    The officials said local police had deemed that she was non-Japanese because she looked like a foreigner and did not say anything in response to questions in Japanese.

    Local police were apologetic about the mistake. “We caused great trouble to the woman. We’ll take measures to prevent a recurrence,” the head of Kawaguchi Police Station said.

    At around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, three officers spoke to a 28-year-old woman walking on a street in Kawaguchi, and asked her name and nationality because she looked like a woman from Southeast Asia, according to the officials.

    After saying, “I’m Japanese,” she refused to talk to the officers, who took her to the police station. After she refused to respond to the questions officers asked her in Japanese, police deemed that she was a foreigner.

    The officers confirmed that she was not carrying her passport, and arrested her for violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. She subsequently wrote down the name of one of her family members on a sheet of paper. One of the officers contacted her family and found out she is a Japanese national.

    Police quoted the woman’s mother as telling them, “My daughter wouldn’t talk to anybody she doesn’t know.” (Mainichi)

    —————————ARTICLE ENDS————————-
    Links to some Japanese articles on this:










    (読売新聞) – 2月28日3時2分更新




    誤認逮捕:旅券不携帯で逮捕の女性、実は日本人 埼玉






    毎日新聞 2006年2月28日 0時38分 (最終更新時間 2月28日 0時53分)


    COMMENT: You just knew I would jump on something like this. As I’ve been saying all along, it’s getting harder to tell a Japanese on sight anymore, and even in this case there’s no indication there was any international parentage. Her only crime was walking past the Police Box and looking foreign, despite claims to the contrary. An honest mistake, worthy of interrogation and arrest, surely.

    But let’s go beyond any possibly simple mistake. A person is by law NOT REQUIRED to carry any ID on them if they are Japanese. And foreign residents of Japan are NOT REQUIRED to carry passports around either (that’s why they have Gaijin Cards). Being arrested for not carrying a passport is in fact illegal behavior by the police. But as you know, the police in Japan are bending the laws these days whenever they can claim foreign involvement.

    Moreover, by law (the Keisatsukan Shoukumu Shikkou Hou), the police are not allowed to to ask people personal questions unless there is probable cause, notably the suspicion of connection with a past or future crime. However, foreigners (and only foreigners) can be asked for ID without probable cause, but foreigners can ask cops for ID back. Full details at

    Back to the miscreant. According to friend Ben citing other news sources, she was held by police for 14 hours. How nice. I look forward to the same treatment–as there’s little I can do to look more Japanese. If I wink off the mailing lists for awhile, start inquiring at some cop shops, huh?

    Such is the price one pays nowadays when foreigners in Japan are viewed and treated as criminals…



    In response to United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s recent fantastic report, which tells it pretty much like it is for minorities in Japan (full details at ), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to be feeling some heat. They have put out a public notice asking for NGOs and other groups to join a hearing for some input into their next report to the UN (now years overdue) regarding the status of racial discrimination in Japan. This will take place on March 7, 2006, between 3PM and 5PM. Journalists, book a seat now.

    It is open by application to the MOFA, to the Gaimusho Kokusai Shakai Kyouryoku bu Jinken Jindou ka, a Mr Nakano, phone 03-5501-8240, email Application deadline is today, March 1, 2006. Sorry for the short notice.

    I applied, FYI. Hope I get in. Sounds like fun. I’m sure we can fill the two-hour audience granted us.



    For those who wish to show their support of foreign workers, given their sometimes astonishingly bad working conditions and lack of legal protections, feel free to join the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, as well as several other labor unions, this Sunday from 1:30 PM in Kashiwaki Park, Shinjuku, Tokyo, for their second annual march to draw attention to the issues. More details at

    There really is no other recourse to effectively secure your right to work in Japan (which is actually guaranteed in the Japanese Constitution, Article 27) except to join a union (even I did). See how I reached that conclusion at

    Anyway, come to the march. It’ll be fun. Live music, dances, speakers, even a NOVA Bunny Show. I’ll be there. And you’ll probably hear my voice through a megaphone at some point…



    Now for something a little lighter. I was in Kyoto two weekends ago staying at the Palace Side Hotel (, a rather pleasant but certainly cheap (and therefore recommended) hotel right next to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. I did get asked for my passport when I checked in (over 70% of their guests are tourists, I later found out), and got some nonplussed looks from the staff when I refused to do so and showed them the law (yes, I carry them; get your own at saying it wasn’t required for residents of Japan regardless of nationality. I made sure to have a few words with the manager, who promised to do better about obeying the law in future. Anyhoo…

    What made the trip interesting was the fact that my (non-Japanese) friend and I tried to get into the Kyoto Imperial Palace (you must make an appointment with the Kunaichou offices next door). They have a few tours each weekday, one in English at 10AM. I saw on the forms that the English version requires you give your Gaijin Card number, whereas the Japanese version only needs an address without ID. So when I asked for the Japanese version, they gave me it with a caution to reveal my numbers. When I told them of my nationality, they said:

    “This tour in English is for foreigners only. Moreover, unlike foreigners, who can sign up for tours on the day, Japanese must register at least the day before for any tours. So you cannot partake. However, you can have your foreign friend sponsor you and bring you in as interpretee…”

    I guffawed and begged off. Also asked if the Imperial Agency would consider a bit of kisei kanwa… Funny how these things work, isn’t it. Friend Olaf told me I should be pleased they did in fact treat me like a Japanese. Well… A stupid rule is a stupid rule, regardless of application, is what I put it all down to. No wonder these people drive Commoner Imperial wives nuts…



    Those who have been holding out for a copy of my book “JAPANESE ONLY–The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” are in for a treat. The revised 2006 EDITION has just come out, which includes a translation of the 2005 Supreme Court decision rejecting the case, and an Index for your researching ease. Those who have the 2004 version (which sold out, thanks) can get an index applicable to their pagination at

    Want a copy of the book? See

    Moreover, I can now reveal that my proposal for my third book has just been accepted by publishers. More details later…


    Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito
    Sapporo, Japan

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

    Why the Japanese want their robots to act more like humans

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The friendly face of technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hardy har. Now let’s rephrase:

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

    Answer: “Gaijin”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sources for ancient texts and dictionaries concerning the word Gaijin:

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

    First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights


    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.  Writing you from California, arrived safely.  Here we have an article talking about how the sights are turning from the Mainichi Waiwai to the Japan Times “Tokyo Confidential” column–in the same spirit of making sure outsiders don’t “misunderstand” Japan (by reading potentially negative stuff already found in the domestic press).  The Japanese language is only supposed to be for domestic consumption, after all, right?  How dare non-natives translate the secret code?  Anyway, it’s one more good reason why you don’t deal with anonymous Internet bullies–giving in to them only makes them stronger–and more hypocritical given press freedom and the freedom of speech they wallow in.  Let’s hope the Japan Times has the guts to stand up to them.  Arudou Debito in the Bay Area


    ジャパンタイムズの性的記事配信 「海外に誤解与える」と批判出る

    7月31日19時5分配信 J-CASTニュース

    ジャパンタイムズの性的記事配信 「海外に誤解与える」と批判出る  




    ■「主婦のセックス もっと金を稼ぐために」




     このサイトは、「TOKYO CONFIDENTIAL」。毎週日曜日に、週刊誌から性に限らず様々なストーリーを3本ほど紹介している。週刊朝日の記事は、ジャパンタイムズの米国人記者が書いた02年6月2日付サイト記事で紹介された。「主婦のセックス もっと金を稼ぐために、もっと無貞操になるために」と刺激的なタイトルが付けられている。

     サイトには、この記事のほかに、性的に特異な行動を紹介する多数の記事がストックされている。例えば、06年5月14日付記事では、週刊プレイボーイから引用し、田舎の子どもたちは楽しみごとが少ないため、飲酒やセックスに耽るという医師の話を紹介。また、07年8月5日の記事では、日本人女性100人が少なくとも1回は即エッチを認める主義になったと告白したというSPA!の記事を報じている。タイトルは、それぞれ「田舎のセックス暴走に踏み殺される少女」「即エッチ 性ホルモンが論理を凌駕するとき」とかなり刺激的だ。







     ちなみに、サイトの米国人記者は、毎日の紙媒体(当時)「WaiWai」で記事を書いた後、ジャパンタイムズに移籍していた。処分を受けた毎日のライアン・コネル記者とは、「Tabloid Tokyo」の共著者に名を連ねている。





    Heading to California tomorrow for a month: Blog updated less often


    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.  Off to the California Bay Area for a month from tomorrow on business.  Not sure what my Internet access will be like, and it’s summertime anyway, so let’s all take it easy.  My next JUST BE CAUSE column comes out in the Japan Times on Tues, August 5, anyway.  Topic:  Making the case that “Gaijin” is a racist word.

    And a personal confession to make:  I’m actually not looking forward to going to The States.  It’s not just that San Francisco is pretty cold (think Kushiro cold) and grey during August.  There’s something I call the “Christmas Syndrome”, in that whenever you try to celebrate Christmas (especially when everyone around you doesn’t understand what the fuss is about), you feel all that much more pressure to be happy, and wonder why you’re so glum.  The seasonal expectation of being happy actually makes it worse.

    Same thing with a trip to the US.  Yes, I was born and raised there.  But going there I feel inchoate pressure to feel some kind of link with the place, some feeling of “at home”. I don’t.  I’m afraid twenty one years in Japan (and eight years of a failed and arrogant US presidential administration) have made me unable to feel any real affinity.  So I’d much rather stay in Hokkaido and enjoy the summer, or go to some other country (Canada would be nice) than head back and be a foreigner in contemporary America.  Ah well.  As they say, it’s my made bed to sleep in.

    Anyway, enjoy your summer, everyone! I’ll still be writing, only probably not every day. Check back in from time to time! Debito in Sapporo

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


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


    Population rises 1st time in 3 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Aug. 1, 2008)



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


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









    (2008年8月1日02時14分  読売新聞)

    Bankruptcy of a monopoly: Good riddance to Yohan foreign book distributor


    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.  This hasn’t been all that noticed in the English-language vernacular media, but it’s big news in the publishing industry.  And for authors who sell books in Japan.

    Yohan (Nihon Yousho Hanbai), the monopolist distributors of foreign-language books, just went bankrupt. Its websites are even offline (Japanese, English)  

    Well, good.  To quote Nelson Muntz: “Haa haa”.  

    Yohan is essentially the Darth Vader of Japanese book distributors.  I know from personal experience (trying to sell my books published by Akashi Shoten Inc., which refused to pay Yohan’s extortionate subscription rates or meet its restrictive conditions) that if you want to sell even Japan-published books written in English, you either go through Yohan, or your books don’t sell.  They don’t get shelf space.  

    We already see book stores (check out Maruzen or Kinokuniya) selling imported English-language books (i.e. best sellers, novels, and classic literature) at exchange rates not seen in Japan for more than two decades (think between 150-200 yen to the dollar).  But the banditry doesn’t stop there.  Whenever I went to bookstores and asked them nicely to stock my books (be they JAPANESE ONLY or HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS), almost everyone agreed to, thanks.  Of course, I’d go back a couple of weeks later to see if they stocked it and how it’s selling, and in many cases I’d find no copies in the “books on Japan” section.  Then I’d check with the cashier and on more than one occasion be told they had stocked it.  But Yohan didn’t want any books that “weren’t theirs” on those shelves, so Yohan had actually SENT MY BOOKS BACK TO THE PUBLISHER.  When the store agreed to restock them, they said the only place they were *allowed* was in the “foreign language learning section” (i.e. Eikaiwa), a market with more publishers and distributors.  But that’s definitely not my genre, so many a browsing sale was indubitably lost.  Yes, Yohan had that much control.

    So to repeat:  Here we have a cartel masquerading as a company, with exclusive rights to sell cash cows like Harry Potter in English, way overcharging us for books, controlling stores’ contents and shelf space, and keeping out rivals.  And they STILL couldn’t stay in business!

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.  Here’s hoping we can get my and other people’s non-Yohan books (particularly minority-press views on Japan) on the shelves now.   Germane articles about the Yohan bankruptcy follow.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    Japanese Import Book Seller Yohan Goes Bust

    Tokyo, July 31, 2008 (Jiji Press) – Major Japanese import book retailer Yohan Inc. on Thursday filed for bankruptcy with Tokyo District Court with debts of some 6.5 billion yen, Teikoku Databank Ltd. said.

    Yohan Book Service Inc., which is receiving business turnaround support from Yohan Inc., also went bust, filing for protection from creditors with the same court under the Civil Rehabilitation Law, according to the credit research agency.

    Yohan Book Service, which operates Aoyama Book Center, left debts of about 5.4 billion yen.

    Established in 1953, Tokyo-based Yohan Inc. imports such books as U.S. magazine Newsweek and runs bookstores.

    The company has run into financial difficulties since its interest-bearing debts mounted following its aggressive investments.

    In the year that ended in November 2007, the firm incurred a net loss of 1,065 million yen.


    Online competition drives foreign book seller bankrupt

    A leading importer and seller of foreign books in Japan has filed for bankruptcy amid the prevalence of online sales of foreign books.

    Nihon Yosho Hanbai, known familiarly as Yohan, filed for bankruptcy at the Tokyo District Court on Thursday. The company has incurred 6.5 billion yen in debts.

    Also on Thursday, Yohan Book Service filed for court protection from creditors under the Civil Rehabilitation Law. The affiliate company, which runs Aoyama Book Center and Ryushui Shobo, has incurred 5.4 billion yen in debts.

    Established in 1953, Yohan sold a wide variety of books, from the general to the technical. The company had business relationships with about 150 publishers in about 20 countries — most of them English-speaking nations.

    In September 1992, the company boasted annual sales of 9.638 billion yen. However, as online sales of books became more prevalent, Yohan’s annual sales dropped to 5.563 billion yen as of August 2005. By November 2007, sales had plummeted to 3.125 billion yen.

    Bookoff Corp., a leading used book dealer, has shown interest in supporting the affiliate company Yohan Book Service.


    Yohan In Bankruptcy  Posted at 10:24AM Thursday 31 Jul 2008

    Yohan, the long standing distributor of foreign books and magazines in Japan, went into bankruptcy today and all their employees were dismissed at once, the office was closed down immediately and the website appears to be closed.It is understood that it has gone down the bankruptcy route, rather than a supervised corporate reorganization. Yohan did not have any significant property and assets and reports suggest that there will be no payment of debts.

    The affiliated bookshop chains, Aoyama Book Center and Ryusui Shobo are applying to the Corporate Reorganization Law to try and keep going. The bookstores are still operating and it is believed that the name of the company that will take on the business will be announced shortly.

    It really is getting tough out there…everywhere.


    Cody’s Owner, Yohan, Files for Bankruptcy  

    Publishers’ Weekly, July 31, 2008

    With today’s news that Japanese book distributor, bookseller and publisher Yohan Inc. filed for bankruptcy with Tokyo District Court, it becomes clearer why the company closed Berkeley, Calif., icon Cody’s Books earlier this summer. Ironically, at the time of the purchase in September 2006, Cody’s owner Andy Ross stated that Yohan’s financial resources would strengthen existing the store’s operations. Yohan also owns Stone Bridge Press in the U.S.

    As reported in JiJi Press, 55-year-old Yohan was 6.5 billion yen in debt. Yohan Book Service Inc., which operates the bookshop chain Aoyama Book Center, has also filed for protection from creditors and has debts of 5.4 billion yen.

    According to Book2Book, all Yohan employees were laid off and the office was closed. The bookstores are still operating.

    Submitted by: Peter Goodman (
    7/31/2008 10:57:03 AM PT
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    Occupation: President, Stone Bridge Press

    This is a much more complicated story, but one thing I need to make clear: Stone Bridge Press is NOT owned by Yohan. Our owner company did NOT go bankrupt. Stone Bridge is NOT a part of any bankruptcy filing. That said, the Yohan people are long-time friends, and we feel terrible about all the very good and experienced book people who have lost their jobs. Peter Goodman, Publisher Stone Bridge Press


    洋販:自己破産を申請 洋書販売の最大手、ネットで打撃

    毎日新聞 2008年7月31日 20時10分






    「洋販」自己破産 ブックオフが青山ブックセンター支援

    朝日新聞 2008年7月31日22時34分