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Hi Blog. Got quoted (and some of Debito.org’s “Japanese Only” signs posted) in BBC Brasil today (thanks Ewerthon for the link). I’ll paste the article below with the Google machine translation in English afterwards. Corrections welcome. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Japão recebe críticas da ONU após onda de xenofobia nas ruas
De Tóquio para a BBC Brasil
Atualizado em 10 de setembro, 2014 – 07:44 (Brasília) 10:44 GMT
Placa contra estrangeiros no Japão / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal
“Estrangeiros só poderão entrar se estiverem acompanhados de um japonês”, diz a placa
Uma recente onda de casos de xenofobia tem causado grande preocupação no Japão e levou a ONU a pedir que o governo do primeiro-ministro Shinzo Abe tomasse medidas concretas para lidar com o problema.
As principais vítimas nesse incidentes têm sido comunidades estrangeiras como a de coreanos e chineses, além de outras minorias chamadas de “inimigas do Japão”.
Um exemplo dos abusos é um vídeo que se tornou viral e circula pelas redes sociais. Mostra um grupo de homens da extrema-direita com megafones em frente a uma escola sul-coreana em Osaka.
Eles insultam os alunos e professores com palavrões, fazem piadas com a cultura do país vizinho e ameaçam de morte os que se atreverem a sair do prédio.
Um relatório do Comitê de Direitos Humanos da ONU encaminhado ao governo japonês, destaca a reação passiva dos policiais em manifestações deste tipo.
As autoridades têm sido criticadas por apenas observarem, sem tomarem nenhuma atitude efetiva para conter os abusos.
No final de agosto, o Comitê das Nações Unidas para a Eliminação da Discriminação Racial solicitou que o país “abordasse com firmeza as manifestações de ódio e racismo, bem como a incitação à violência racial e ódio durante manifestações públicas”.
Desde 2013, o Japão registrou mais de 360 casos de manifestações e discursos racistas.
A questão ganhou os holofotes da mídia e está sendo amplamente debatida pelo partido governista, o Liberal Democrático.
Um caso que está sendo visto como teste para a Justiça japonesa nesta área é a ação movida, no mês passado, por uma jornalista sul-coreana, Lee Sinhae, contra Makoto Sakurai, presidente do grupo de extrema-direita Zaitokukai, por danos morais.
Ela quer uma indenização depois de ser “humilhada” por textos discriminatórios na internet.
“O que me preocupa é que muitos destes discursos estão deixando o anonimato da internet e já chegaram às ruas”, disse Lee em uma coletiva de imprensa.
A jornalista alertou que várias crianças estão tendo contato com este tipo de pensamento e replicam no ambiente escolar, gerando casos de bullying.
No Japão, não há uma lei que proíba discursos difamatórios ou ofensivos. Para os opositores, banir os discursos de ódio pode acabar interferindo no direito das pessoas à liberdade de expressão.
Mas o país é signatário da Convenção Internacional sobre a Eliminação de Todas as Formas de Discriminação Racial, que entrou em vigor em 1969, e que reconhece expressões discriminatórias como crime.
Pela Convenção, os países seriam obrigados a rejeitar todas as formas de propaganda destinadas a justificar ou promover o ódio racial e a discriminação e tomar ações legais contra eles.
Segundo as Nações Unidas, o governo japonês ainda tem muito para fazer nesta área. O comitê da ONU insistiu para que o Japão implemente urgentemente “medidas adequadas para rever a sua legislação”, em particular o seu código penal, para regular o discurso de ódio.
Exclusão dos estrangeiros
Para o escritor, ativista e pesquisador norte-americano naturalizado japonês Arudou Debito, “(essas atitudes discriminatórias) têm se tornado cada vez mais evidentes, organizadas e consideradas ‘normais'”.
Debito coleciona, desde 1999, fotos de placas de lojas, bares, restaurantes, karaokês, muitas delas enviadas por leitores de todo o Japão, com frases em inglês – e até em português – proibindo a entrada de estrangeiros.
A coletânea virou livro, intitulado Somente japoneses: o caso das termas de Otaru e discriminação racial no Japão.
Debito se diz ainda preocupado que, com a divulgação cada vez maior dos pensamentos da extrema-direita, a causa ganhe cada vez mais “fãs”.
“No Japão ainda há a crença de que é pouco provável haver o extremismo em uma ‘sociedade tão pacífica'”, explicou.
“Eu não acredito que seja tão simples assim. Ignorar os problemas de ódio, intolerância e exclusivismo para com as minorias esperando que eles simplesmente desapareçam é um pensamento positivo demais e historicamente perigoso.”
Placa: “Somente japoneses” / Crédito: Arquivo Pessoal
Aviso em um hotel de águas termais alerta que estrangeiros não podem entrar
A comunidade brasileira no Japão também é alvo constante de atitudes discriminatórias. Quarto maior grupo entre os estrangeiros que vivem no país, os brasileiros estão constantemente reclamando de abusos gerados por discriminação racial e o tema é sempre levantado em discussões com autoridades locais.
O brasileiro Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, é um dos que foi à Justiça depois que o irmão foi confundido com um ladrão em um supermercado de uma grande rede, na cidade de Hamamatsu, província de Shizuoka.
“O problema foi a abordagem. O segurança chegou gritando, como se ele fosse bandido e, mesmo depois de provado que tudo não passou de um engano, ele (o segurança) justificou que faz parte da índole do brasileiro roubar e que não poderíamos reclamar pois deveríamos estar acostumado com este tipo de coisa”, contou o rapaz, ainda indignado.
O caso aconteceu há quatro anos, mas até hoje Ricardo divulga a história para que outros não passem pelo mesmo constrangimento pelo qual ele e a família passaram.
“Acionamos a polícia, fizemos a reclamação na matriz da rede, procuramos um advogado e, por semanas, os gerentes do supermercado tentaram nos convencer a não entrar com processo”, lembra.
Depois de três meses, foi feito um acordo. “A rede trocou a empresa que faz a segurança local, pagou todas as despesas com advogados e exigimos ainda que os gerentes pedissem desculpas em público”, contou Ricardo.
Há 20 anos morando no Japão, o brasileiro lembra que antigamente a situação era bem pior. “Quando entrava brasileiro em supermercados, por exemplo, geralmente tocavam uma música brasileira. Era um sinal para avisar os funcionários de que havia estrangeiro na loja”, contou.
Ricardo já foi barrado em bares e também sofreu todo tipo agressão verbal. “Esse tipo de discriminação existe, é visível e constante. Enquanto as autoridades e a própria mídia não tomarem uma posição, esses abusos vão continuar acontecendo”, destacou.
ENDS. MACHINE TRANSLATION FOLLOWS:
Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets
By Ewerthon Tobace
Tokyo for the BBC Brazil
Updated on September 10, 2014 – 07:44 (GMT) 10:44 GMT
Plate against foreigners in Japan / Credit: Personal Archive
“Foreigners may only enter if accompanied by a Japanese,” says board
A recent spate of incidents of xenophobia has caused great concern in Japan and led the UN to ask the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take concrete measures to deal with the problem.
The main victims in this incident have been foreign communities such as Korean and Chinese, and other minorities called “enemy of Japan.”
An example of abuse is a video that went viral and circulates through social networks. Shows a group of men on the extreme right with megaphones in front of a South Korean school in Osaka.
They insult the students and teachers with profanity, make jokes with the culture of the neighboring country and threaten death to those who dare leave the building.
A report of the UN Human Rights Committee referred to the Japanese government, highlights the passive reaction of the police in demonstrations of this kind.
The authorities have been criticized for only observe, without taking any effective action to curb abuses.
In late August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requested that the country “firmly approached the manifestations of hatred and racism and incitement to racial hatred and violence during public demonstrations.”
Since 2013, Japan has registered more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches.
The issue has gained the media spotlight and is being widely debated by the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic.
A case that is being seen as a test for the Japanese Justice in this area is the lawsuit filed last month by a South Korean journalist, Lee Sinhae against Makoto Sakurai, chairman of the far-right Zaitokukai for moral damage.
She wants compensation after being “humiliated” by discriminatory texts on the Internet.
“What worries me is that many of these speeches are leaving the anonymity of the internet and has already reached the streets,” Lee said in a press conference.
The journalist warned that several children are having contact with this type of thinking and replicate in the school environment, generating instances of bullying.
In Japan, there is no law prohibiting defamatory or offensive speeches. To opponents, banning hate speech they can interfere in people’s right to freedom of expression.
But the country is a signatory of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which entered into force in 1969, and recognizes that discriminatory expressions as crime.
By the Convention, countries would be forced to reject all forms of propaganda designed to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination and to take legal actions against them.
According to the United Nations, the Japanese government still has much to do in this area. The UN committee insisted that Japan urgently implement “appropriate measures to review its legislation,” particularly its criminal code to regulate hate speech.
Exclusion of foreigners
For the writer, activist and American-born researcher naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, “(such discriminatory attitudes) have become increasingly overt, organized, and normalized.”
Debito collects, since 1999, pictures of signs of shops, bars, restaurants, karaoke bars, many of them sent in by readers from all over Japan, with English phrases – and even in Portuguese – prohibiting the entry of foreigners.
The collection became a book entitled Japanese Only: The Otaru case of spa and racial discrimination in Japan. [NB: Not quite right, but my clarification was ignored by editors.]
Debito is said still worried that with the increasing dissemination of the thoughts of the extreme right, the cause get more and more “fans”.
“Japan still has the belief that extremism is less likely to happen in its ‘peaceful society'”,” he explained.
“I do not think it’s that simple. Ignoring the problems of hatred, intolerance and exclusivism towards minorities hoping they simply disappear too is a positive and historically dangerous thought.”
Board: “Japanese Only” / Credit: Personal Archive
Notice in a hotel hot springs warning that foreigners can not enter
The Brazilian community in Japan is also a constant target of discriminatory attitudes. Fourth largest group among the foreigners living in the country, Brazilians are constantly complaining of abuses generated by racial discrimination and the issue is always raised in discussions with local authorities.
The Brazilian Ricardo Yasunori Miyata, 37, is one of those who went to court after brother was mistaken for a thief in a supermarket of a large network in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
“The problem was the approach.’s Security came screaming, like he was crook and even after proven that it was all a mistake, he (the security guard) explained that part of the character of the Brazilian steal and we could not complain because we should be accustomed to this kind of thing, “said the boy, still indignant.
The case happened four years ago, but until today Ricardo discloses the story so that others do not go through the same embarrassment in which he and his family went through.
“Switch-police, made the claim in the network matrix, seek a lawyer, and for weeks, supermarket managers tried to convince us not to enter the process,” he recalls.
After three months, an agreement was made. “The network changed the company that makes local security, paid all the expenses of attorneys and even demand that managers asked apology in public,” said Ricardo.
20 years living in Japan, Brazil recalls that once the situation was much worse. “When I came in Brazilian supermarkets, for example, one usually played Brazilian music. Was a sign to warn employees that the store was abroad,” he said.
Ricardo has been barred in all bars and also suffered verbal aggression type. “This kind of discrimination exists, is visible and constant. Whilst the authorities and the media itself has not taken a position, these abuses will continue happening,” he said.
15 comments on “Quoted in BBC Brasil (original Portuguese & machine E translation): “Japan receives criticism from the UN after wave of xenophobia in the streets””
Dear Debito, I posted the below message to Tokyo Mothers Group on facebook and many moms strongly advised to contact you. I hope you might find it relevant. This is what I posted in their group:
*UPDATE: Confirmed: credit card company セディナ denies credit cards on racist grounds: just because you are a foreigner or anything in your profile has the slightest clue you are not 100% Japanese- no credit card for you. This is the only credit card JR Tokai allows to have in order to subscribe to their shinkansen membership, which then gives 50% discount on shinkansen trips (in other words, because I’m a not Japanese now I must pay double of what a Japanese pays). So that kind of makes JR Tokai a partner in crime, don’t you think?
After an exhausting conversation between my J-husband and セディナ’s representative (and isn’t it ironic how a gaijin-hater company has a foreign name?) , the person admitted they just don’t give it to foreigners. One reason is that (and I quote) “even with a fluent level Japanese, the foreigner isn’t native and therefore won’t understand all the details of the contract” (implying that they will do anything in their power to fail you in the “understand what we say test” and even if you pass they will still deny you just coz they can).
Note that in my initial application it was not required for me to mention nationality or status of residency in Japan. They rejected solely because they assumed my FIRST name isn’t Japanese, therefore the person isn’t 100% Japanese. I can tolerate minor discrimination, but this involves major corporations! No matter how much you love Japan, pay your taxes, contribute to their economy and birth rate, hold proper visa, residency or even Japanese nationality- even if just your first name isn’t Japanese, apparently you are not a human. The last time someone practiced such policy it ended up in a massacre and WWII. I apologize for sounding so emotional, but I think this unfair policy should be changed T_T
— Original Post—-
Hi fellow mamas, can you please tell me if JR Tokai is being racist toward foreign moms/wives or am I the only one who had the following weird experience?
Currently JR Tokai has this 50 years anniversary fair of nicely discounted shinkansen tickets. The catch is, you need to subscribe to their credit card first in order to be able to reserve. My husband subscribed but then we discovered that the discount is only valid per card. The good news was that the card isn’t limited per family, so naturally I asked to subscribe, too. Before they request to see any documents/detailed info, a potential applicant must first fill name, occupation, year of birth, phone number and home address to which they will then send a letter asking for further info. But then, after one week, instead of getting the letter asking for further info I got a rejection letter! My husband called to ask why and they said they cannot disclose the reason. As I’ve already mentioned, the only info they could “judge” me by was my name (foreign first name but with Japanese family name), age (but I am in my twenties, so I doubt age can be the reason), phone number and address (which shows my husband is already their card’s holder). Needless to say, I don’t have any criminal record/never even borrowed any money/my name doesn’t appear on any weird places that could suggest I am illegal/minor/junkie/whatever. Besides, I am a permanent resident in Japan and married to someone with perfect credit record and a good job. So…the only thing I can think of is a rejection based on my foreign name?? I would really appreciate if you could tell me your experience in reserving/applying for their card/tickets. Sorry for the long post!! I hope it’s appropriate to ask here!
Thank you for the attention!
P.S: I was especially angry with that particular credit card company because it involves JR Tokai. But, there are many other major credit card companies that deny foreign applicants too (without caring that the foreign applicant has a stable job, a residency, etc, etc) and by that not only cutting off foreigners from many great discounts, but also suggesting that ,we, foreigners, who contribute to this country no less than Japanese- are still not good enough…
That’s a shame, because only earlier this year (as I posted at the time), the LDP had this genius idea of inviting the Nikkeijin back, again.
I guess the last resort is to go to their head office and talk directly to the staff and manager by accompanying any Japanese individual. That may cause them to change their mind.
This is just side note. I don’t know about Tokai, but to me, it seems like the JR staff may have some bias toward anything related to foreigners or foreign culture. I remember when I was traveling in Hokkaido two summers ago, I was trying to buy a 5-day-rail pass. I walked in with a flyer(written in English) since I didn’t know where to get the Japanese info. When I asked the staff, she took me as a foreigner as she saw English flyer in my hand. She stood up from her seat, walked away from the counter, talked to her boss in the back, and asked me to show my passport(!) to check the immigration stamp. Funny thing is that she assumed I am a Japanese-speaking foreigner, regardless of my nationality(Japan) and the entire conversation in my first language(Japanese). I was confused a bit, but luckily, the staff got a clue real quick, and it went without a hitch to get the pass.
Makes me wonder how language influences their perception of Japanese/Other. They might likely have responded differently, if I had a much darker skin.
“even with a fluent level Japanese, the foreigner isn’t native and therefore won’t understand all the details of the contract”
I’ve heard that argument before for things like housing loans etc. The stupid thing is, I’m a lawyer so I probably have a better understanding of contracts than most people do, even though I’m not Japanese. In adittion, there must be many many Japanese who don’t understand the tiny little details of their contracts. It’s not just a language issue, it’s a comprehension issue.
Also, you’ll run into Japanese people who claim that such practice is not racial discrimination because it applies to ALL non-Japanese, so therefore it can’t be racist.
But it is racist in the extreme. Imagine you are Ms. Eva Mori, born and raised in Japan, with a Japanese father and a foreign mother. Automatic rejection because of your name – that’s racist.
Boycott this racist company.
@Erin, par the course I am afraid.”because I’m a not Japanese now I must pay double of what a Japanese pays). So that kind of makes JR Tokai a partner in crime, don’t you think?”
Naturally. Its a gaijin tax, and a big money earner for Japan these days- just like taxing foreigners but giving them no rights or say or representation. Just like forcing the gaijin to pay into a system that refuses to give you any benefits if you are not a Japanese citizen. Ditto the reentry permits you had to buy.
It used to be that the kokumin kenco hoken was kind of, err, “optional” due to vagarities in the law and a lack of drive in chasing people, especially if they move cities, so if you were a gaijin with no rights and therefore not part of the system, you could at least unofficially “opt out” of this especially if you were shorter term (say, under 5-10 years) but those days are gone- yet without the commensurate benefits. Also crazy that they back charge you-what, insuring you for the past?
You pay for the experience, the honor, of living in Japan (haha)and gaijin tax dollars actually help subsidize Japan Inc. Its the CIA/USA funding of the LDP, but at the micro level.
After an exhausting conversation between my J-husband and セディナ’s representative (and isn’t it ironic how a gaijin-hater company has a foreign name?) ,
Again, this is completely normal of a disfunctional postmodern society that doesnt understand its own labels or signs. Hell, even old people dont understand the plethora of new, Katakana loan words. I dont either, even though these are allegedly English as they are often just rendered as meaningless sounds and the meaning has been changed.
E.g. JR’s nonsensical “Traing”(sic) campaign a few years back. No one knew what that meant, its not even Japanese.
I think my story is somewhat related to the ones here – it’s got racism and JR rolled into one! This happened last year at Tokyo station. My aunt had come from abroad and wanted to reserve some tickets for a special train in Hokkaido (some steam locomotive) and I was taking her to the JR counters there that specialized in Hokkaido train tickets. I couldn’t find the right place so I dropped by another place (I can’t remember whether it was Midori no Madoguchi or some other JR travel service center).
Now, I’m an ethnic Asian, so people here assume I’m Japanese until I open my big fat mouth. The man (20-30’s) at the counter called out to me politely, but I noticed his face and attitude change as soon as I spoke. Place names in Hokkaido can be notoriously difficult to pronounce and I made the mistake of not confirming the name of the station (標茶 Shibecha). So I had to assume that it was Hyoucha, but knowing how names here can be difficult, I said 標準のヒョウ、お茶のチャ slowly. This guy was flicking furiously through the thick JR timetable for over a minute, making tutting noises, looking disgusted and just didn’t want to serve me. I doubt there are that many steam locomotives and I tell the guy the kanjis used to write the name of the place. What else do I have to do? When I said something he didn’t hear, he said ‘huh’ loudly with this sour look on his face, as if I’d just woken him up. I was too shocked to know how to react. After spending so many years living here, I don’t really expect this sort of service. Plus, I just didn’t want to kick up a fuss while my aunt was there (luckily she was in the corner and wasn’t listening to the conversation).
At the end, sensing that we were getting nowhere, I asked him where the Hokkaido counters were and walked away. When I finally found the correct JR service counter and asked about the train to ‘Hyocha’, the lady immediately knew what I was talking about and acted very professionally and courteously right til the end.
I later wrote an email to complain about this guy’s atrocious behaviour.
I said that if he doesn’t want to work, then he shouldn’t be there. And if he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he should either say so or ask a colleague, but don’t ever make it out that a customer is bothering him while he’s being paid. A week later, they replied, apologizing and said they’d had a word with the guy or something to that effect. What they actually did, I don’t know, but I just had to let off some steam. I just wished I’d kicked up a fuss there and then, but, as I said, I was too shocked to react, and I just didn’t want to ruin my aunt’s trip.
Not only was this guy racist, but he was lazy and incompetent. I have no doubt in my mind that had I been Japanese, that smile would still have been on his face. Incidentally, I later went to a bookstore to have a look at the JR timetable. I found the map of Hokkaido, found 標茶 (not a main station, but the next category down, so certainly not an insignificant place), then looked up the timetable for the train. And I did all of this within 20 seconds. I’ve found JR staff to be mostly helpful, but this really has left its mark.
@TJJ Yes, we tend to think of legal stuff when we say “details of the contract”, but after having lived in Japan I sometimes do wonder if there aren’t peculiarities about the culture that Japanese “just know”, but foreigners are too naive to even let into their thinking? Like, you that when you make contracts with certain companies, you actually make contracts with Yakuza fronts, and you are supposed to know your place as a customer and especially know better than to complain.
This might be the thing the Japanese talk about when they tell us “you don’t understand Japanese culture”, because Western people are too used to their home countries with their “mendokusai” constitutional democracies and rule of law that only the most cynical (like me) would even fathom that written contracts are mainly just for show and people know they’re not supposed to go to court over them.
This would explain why there is often this illogical barrier for Non-Japanese to get the same experience despite fluidity in the Japanese language. “Yes, you can read the contract, but you don’t understand the nature or meaning of the concept of a contract in Japanese society.”
Maybe it’s for our best – who knows what happens to you when you take, for instance, Sumitomo to court over a piece of land. My guess is that you’ll not make it to the trial.
I once went to look at a house in Hiroshima a Japanese acquaintance was considering buying, and as I was visiting him at the time, I attended too. When I asked where the prior owners went, he just said “they had to disappear overnight”. But regardless how much I pushed for more info about this thriller I just heard about, all he said “maybe they made contracts with the wrong people”. Could be gambling or other debt, but who knows.
Apart from some awkward sentences, the translation is almost perfect.
“Switch-police, made the claim in the network matrix, seek a lawyer, and for weeks, supermarket managers tried to convince us not to enter the process,”
“We contacted the police, filed a complaint with the headquarters of the supermarket chain, and for weeks, the managers tried to talk us out of suing them”
“When I came in Brazilian supermarkets, for example, one usually played Brazilian music. Was a sign to warn employees that the store was abroad,”
“When a Brazilian goes into a supermarket, for example, they usually played Brazilian music. It was their way of letting their employees know there was a foreigner in the store”.
Please attach the Japanese language email you sent to JR about your case, and their reply. Could be good for a bitter laugh and useful for all of us.
You did good calling and complaining. I had an incident with a rude and insolent girl who was at a counter giving me some attitude before. Her attitude got me worked up. I called the management of the franchise, and latter I noticed she was gone, hopefully fired.
Ive encountered this enraging behavior many times. I just take names and report; sometimes action is taken.
Are you seriously saying that people born in Japan should be left out of the system?
Ive encountered the rude and arrogant behavior just about everywhere Ive been in Japan. Ive seen Japanese do it to each other as well. Hospitality in Japan is overrated. Service is good, but since Japan goes to extremes with it, I think some people behind the counter take out their stress on the foriegner, as they wouldnt be about to do it to a native okyakusama. Ive come to expect this as normal, so Ive become immune to it.
@TJJ Not sure if I understand the question. Do you mean Non-Japanese who are born in Japan? Yes, it would probably be better for them to leave the country before primary school and not get entangled in a culture that doesn’t respect them as equals.
@ ToshiBart #10
I sent a message to JR via their website (there’s a page specifically for customers’ opinions and complaints), so I don’t have a record of it in my mailbox. However, I did keep a copy somewhere and I’ll try to post it if I manage to find it. Their reply via email is as follows:
Basically they apologized for the bad feelings caused by the member of staff’s behaviour and that they should usually consult manuals or with their colleagues should they be unsure of something. Also, the guy is reflecting deeply on how his lack of consideration and lack of knowledge (I’d say!) had caused such unpleasantness.
As far as I can recall, I had given JR some advice. I told them that members of staff shouldn’t act as if they don’t want to work, that it’s ok to say you don’t know and point me to someone who does and if he or she didn’t hear what the customer just said, ask the customer politely to repeat themselves – don’t growl at them (growl is the correct word to describe what the guy did. Not sure how to translate that word but I remember using うめく).
I also remember saying that the steam locomotive started from Kushiro and I am sure most educated Japanese (forget about JR members of staff for a moment) know how to locate that city on a map of Hokkaido. This guy seriously needs re-training in more than one area.