Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example (UPDATED)


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Hi Blog.  Here’s another one for the archives.  Sono Ayako, famous conservative novelist, has just had a ponderous opinion piece published in the reactionary right-wing Sankei Shinbun daily newspaper.  This is the same newspaper that last decade serialized professional bigot Ishihara Shintaro’sNihon Yo” columns (which, among other things, saw Chinese as criminal due to their “ethnic DNA” (minzokuteki DNA)).  This is what the Sankei is getting up to now:  Publishing opinion pieces advocating Japan institute an Apartheid system for foreign residents, separating their living areas by races.  Seriously:

SONO:  “I have come to believe, after 20-30 years knowing about the actual situation in Republic of South Africa, that when it comes to residential zones, the Whites, Asians, and Blacks should be separated and live in different areas [in Japan].”  

She describes how Black Africans have come to despoil the areas (particularly infrastructurally) that were reserved for Whites in the RSA, and feels that “immigrants” (imin) would do the same thing to Japan.  And there’s lots more to mine from a remarkable capsule of bigotry and ethnic overgeneralizations that only cantankerous eldsters, who live in intellectual sound chambers because they are too old to be criticized properly anymore, can spew.  Huffpost Japan and original article below, followed by one more quick comment:


The Huffington Post Japan, courtesy of SH
投稿日: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST 更新: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST SANKEI


(Entire column; click on image to expand in browser)




(産経新聞 2015/02/11付 7面)


Rest of article at


COMMENT:  While I hope (and I stress:  hope) that nobody is going to take seriously the rants of a octogenarian who has clearly lost touch with the modern world, it is distressing to see that this was not consigned to the regular netto-uyoku far-right internet denizens who regularly preach intolerance and spew xenophobic bile as a matter of reflex.  Shame on you, Sankei, for adding credibility to this article by publishing it.  Let’s hope (and I stress again:  hope) that it is not a bellwether of public policy to come.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS: More on Sono Ayako’s hypocritically misogynistic (yes!) rantings here in a separate article in the Japan Times.

PPS:  This article just made it into The Japan Times, with more details on how Sono was appointed to a PM Abe panel on education reform in 2013, demonstrating how deep the rot goes.

UPDATE FEB 13:  A protest letter in Japanese and English from the Africa-Japan Forum hits the media.  Self-explanatory.  Let’s see if this results in a retraction of the article.

UPDATE FEB 14:  South African Ambassador to Japan protests Sono Ayako’s pro-Apartheid column <産経新聞>曽野氏コラム、南ア大使も抗議文 人種隔離許容(毎日新聞) – Yahoo!ニュース



Courtesy of the Mainichi Shinbun and MS.

UPDATE FEB 20: Gaijin Handlers intervene to rein in Japan-Studies intelligentsia by portraying Sono as somehow culturally-misunderstood:


66 comments on “Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example (UPDATED)

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  • Remember some time ago when Oishinbo went to Fukushima and got a bleeding nose? Everyone freaked out and many called it blatantly lying, discrimination against the people of Fukushima, dishonorable, and of course ‘regretable’ (the last one gets bandied about a lot, but it is totally meaningless). The magazine pulled the comic strip, and it got to the point where the artists involved were about to go into hiding and people were living in fear.

    Now take the reaction to Sono’s article. People say, ‘this is only an opinion, stop over reacting.’ ‘a variety of opinions is an important facet of society.’ ‘she may be a little extreme, but gosh, you know what, she does bring up some pretty important thoughts.’

    Is this type of imbalanced reaction is pretty common regarding justifying illogic as logic by Japanese media? I am asking because I am a dumbass who doesn’t really know anything. I mean, a comic book brings up some issues and opinions on Fukushima (it’s just my opinion but I think Fukushima is a pretty important topic, feel free to disagree with me, lolz) and the ravings of an old hag are less important. But if you look at how the Japanese media reacted to these two news events, could it be possibly used as an example of how some of the social justifications being made are processed by a large section of the social-psyche?

    — Or at least are processed by the ruling elite/media magnates and their editors in thrall.

  • Ah, so the reactions are controlled. And thusly Japanese people are permitted to react in whichever manner. Similar to the tarentos who are pictured in the corner of the TV screen, who are seen reacting to the event on the TV program. The tarento’s reaction to the event is arguably agreeably Japanese. So when a news event happens, the editors/managers will either say, “blatant lies!” or, “varied opinions are important!” and that reaction will be the agreeably, not regrettably, Japanese reaction. As a result, discrimination may persist, and critical thought is quashed into gross squash sauce with regrettable froth.

  • at Matty B, I think you are making an important but slightly incoherently expressed point about the post modern theater and media control we see in Japan.

    SO the tarentos are here to show people how to react? I would argue this is so, not unlike the professional dance leaders in clubs who show the clueless punters how to dance in in a “para para” line.

    I would say this is deeply engrained in J society, even going back to Awa Odori (a follow the leader dance) or how important point of sale store recommendations are important in J marketing. Ditto celeb endorsements and famous names.

    “The Japanese dont really trust their own feelings” (source-Powers, Working in Japan 1990- a bit dated and I hope this is changing, but there is still a tendency to follow top down examples in Japan, especially when forming or receiving opinions).

    J apologists may say I am stereotyping, but Hofstede does concluide from empirical data that Japanese, while more individual than certain other Asian societies, are still group oriented in decision making. Uncertainty avoidance is strikingly high, and thus the constant need for “approval” to voice certain opinions.

    This the default is conservative neo-fascism- it has been endorsed for so long it just isn’t seen as that extreme as the mainstream itself is moving right.

  • “News Show”. Its an oxymoron, but it exists in postmodern Japan. Think about it. The News as entertainment. Sadly, J consumers must choose between self censoring, biased NHK (“BBC” it aint, wheres the Japanese answer to Jeremy Paxman?) or game shows.

    Matty B is referring to a kind of game show with a news content, although I am not sure it can really be called “news”, more like disinformation or state sanctioned spin. Putin would doubtless approve, and indeed Russia and Japan share similar rankings in press freedom these days.

    it really is news as theater. And I liked Debito’s “editors in thrall” to the J govt. So apt, so pathetic, such a waste of time, energy and our youth. Almost beneath a democrat’s consideration (I suppose thats what “Japan passing” is all about-I mean, why bother? Like trying to avoid talking to that reactionary, senile old relative at family gatherings, other than safe banalities, which goes for conversation in Japan, I mean, in old people homes).

    Thats one of my fave “Japan is..” jokes. Even Tepido might laugh;

    “Japan is an old people’s home run by the yakuza, staffed by inflexible bureaucrats who “explain THE RULES” and what you cannot do upon visiting (you are a visitor, natch), and with hot young 18 year old nurses from Vietnam, no, Indonesia, no, I mean hot young ROBOTS, (work in progress)”.

    BTW, I ran Japan and Russia thru the Hofstede centers cultural comparison software

    They are shockingly similar in several key indicators, including individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and others. Japan is apparently more “masculine” though, which I take to mean more sexist.

    Sad that a wannabe democracy fails compared to a post communist state, but there you have it.

    “Japan is, the freedom to discriminate.”

  • Crackity Flakes says:

    @Baudrillard 55

    “Japan is an old people’s home run by the yakuza, staffed by inflexible bureaucrats who “explain THE RULES” and what you cannot do upon visiting (you are a visitor, natch), and with hot young 18 year old nurses from Vietnam, no, Indonesia, no, I mean hot young ROBOTS, (work in progress)”.

    I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say here. I know of no country with 18-year old nurses. To obtain a nursing qualification requires a number of year training/ education post high school. ‘Hot 18 year old Vietnamese nurses’… Maybe this is more reflective of a strange fantasy of yours than reality. Or maybe I am not sufficiently postmodern to get it.

    My experience with health care in Japan has been positive, and I suggest you may like to spend a week in a cardio ward- as I have done on a number of occasions- and see the dedication of staff there before making ridiculous claims.

    Anyone can write crap about something. The important thing is that people not take that crap to represent fact.

    BTW, ‘I ran Japan and Russia thru the Hofstede centers cultural comparison software’ actually means you selected Japan and Russia from drop down menus. Not quite as impressive as your original text would suggest.

  • @ Crackity Flakes #56

    I think you have to be a long-time reader to catch Baudrillard’s reference.

    I believe that Baudrillard is referencing a story that appeared here on a couple of years ago regarding Indonesian/Filipino health care workers coming to Japan under a trainee system.
    Although said article was generally positive about NJ coming to Japan to work, I clearly remember (and I remember Dr. Debito commenting on this fact) that right at the end, an old Japanese guy in a care home was quoted as saying that he’d much rather have a cute non-Japanese Asian girl look after him, than a robot (with a ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ attitude). It was dehumanizing and demeaning to NJ caregivers, who have been treated appallingly by the J-Gov, and are regarded as little more than ‘objects’ to fulfill old Japanese men’s sex-fantasies.

    I’m sure other readers remember this article.

  • @ Crackity, first time here? My friends joke seems to have hit a nerve with you. The 18 year old vietnamese nurse is a reference to a real case where a local Japanese authority (actually one ojisan in power) personally sponsored an 18 year old to come over and study medicine. As it appeared at this site:

    He went on to say (in other media) that when he retired, he would prefer a cute young thing looking after him than a robot. Creepy much?

    As for the Hofstede site, yes, the software works via drop down menus. I am not trying to impress, merely include websites and sources. This isnt about ego, and it certainly isnt about money-what is there to gain by “impressing” the readers?

    But the Hofstede Center offers facts, or at least supportive data.

    Finally, I have spent time in Japanese hospitals (sigh, needless tangent), I am not knocking them and I have spent time in them, and other than the time when it took them ten visits to misdiagnose what I had, they have been pretty good. I am surprised Debito didnt say your comment was off topic.

    I am afraid you have missed the point. We were talking about the media and how info, the “news”, is processed by Japanese society which my friend’s joke compared to an old people’s home.

    I dont understand how you can leap from media/society to old people’s homes to an attack on Japanese health care.

    I conclude this is a sensitive issue for you and somehow it brings back literally painful memories of your time in the cardio ward, which was not my intention.

  • @Breaudrillard 54

    I agree that my points may have incorherent aspects to them. It is because I am not a very serious person. I am however curious, and believe that understanding subtextual patterns helps me to process the reasons why something happens around me. In this case, the pattern of having reactions controlled either through editors or tarentos was enlightening for me. The context of the situation (serious equals news, light-hearted equals tarentos) may change, but the dissemination of information is very much the same. Because of this conversation, I am now able to see how a certain A and B is connected to a C and my brain feels better. Now that I know this, I can tell people who try to control my brain in this manner to go jump off a cliff and play in traffic. Or now that their trick is exposed, the magician looks like a fool.
    It is true that follow the leader is pretty much a daily thing in Japan. The language has been designed to make communication specifically operate in such a manner. The formal structures kind of let everyone know who in which hierarchical position said what, so that everyone knows who to follow and who to henpeck.
    I don’t really have a dog in this fight. As a foreigner in Japan, I have to accept a lot of the rules even if I don’t like them, but getting angry and going on a mission takes a lot of time. I work and play music and I try to benefit from being in fringe society. However, one thing that we can all do is spread information to others which will hopefully add to our intellectual arsenals for future, similar events.

  • I don’t know which is worse. Ayako’s article or the so-called intellectuals trying to cover her butt. My favorite part is the first commenter trying to argue how NJ mentalities are so obviously different that we would misinterpret miss Ayakos comments as negative when she was clearly just making an observation. Oh, and can’t forget the pathetic attempt at comparing communities in the US that CHOSE to be ethnically diverse with apartheid in South Africa where people were forcibly segregated. Really, these guys just need to quit. Everyone knows what she meant so there’s really no point in trying to twist it.

    • Thanks for sharing that article, Baud.

      Yes, let’s practice more English, to prepare for all those international visitors from non-English speaking countries.

      I love the weaselly “English-speaking actors” bit. (See “non-native speakers.”)

      Also, this line: “Tour guides will ensure students refrain from speaking in Japanese…”
      Yeah, cause we all know those “no Japanese environments” always get enforced.
      Who wants to take bets that the “tour guide” will be a semi-literate Wajin who uses Japanese liberally?

      That’s ultimately the problem with all these organizations that boast “English only”-Japanese students’ only real experience with English is always based in Japanese and revolves around a fictitious one-to-one correspondence between Japanese and English, constructed to facilitate the meaningless translation activities that form the core of school English. Thus, students are left wholely unprepared to actually use English in any meaningful way. At best, all they can do is provide the prescribed “correct answer” based on patterns they memorize. This is especially obvious if you ask them to translate an English sentence into natural Japanese using their own words. The concept is foreign to them. All they know is piece for piece machine-like translation.

      • J-customers want SERVICE and LETS ENJOY GENKI HAPPY ENGLISH TIME, so any tour guide insisting too strictly on English only will be severely chastised by management.
        Error Correction coupled with J-political correctness has also made any kind of meaningful or direct correction anathema in many lessons.

        Lest the Child and Man Child Doth Cry.

        In my experience, anywhere outside Japan, visiting Japanese kids and students are waaaay behind others, and seem much, much younger than their years. There were 8 year olds who cried when mummy left them. And yet mummy made excuses like “The Present Tense in English is difficult for Japanese”. I was absolutely dumbfounded here this. The PRESENT tense. They should just give up right now, if that is the case.

        The reality of most of the EFL industry in Japan is that it is a customer service industry, and the customers have to be handled with kid gloves.

        They are spoilt and when put into a sink or swim immersion type situation, they will instead wail for swimming pads.

      • Also, unlike say, in Singapore, the other students/participants will almost certainly be fellow Japanese, so you’ ll either get people asking questions to each other in Japanese, or Japanese English. At the very best, you will get English but from a Japanese mindset, things like “downtown”,which sounds correct but in fact is a translation of 下道, (actually, “uptown”), and I ve had Japanese students argue vehemently that “downtown” means a “low” class area as well as not the centre of town. Perhaps “Uptown” for any J snobs would sound a nice area?

        It’s easier just to let it go uncorrected. Especially on a guided tour of …….””downtown” (lol).


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