TV Anchorman Kume Hiroshi apologizes for anti-foreigner quip made a decade ago, thanks to records on


Bravo! This is the power of a public archive, such as that found on Kume would never have found this otherwise! Debito in Sapporo

Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip

Atonement, it seems, can never come too late.

Newscaster Hiroshi Kume has apologized for a disparaging remark he made 10 years ago about foreigners speaking Japanese.

The comment offended a number of foreign residents in Japan, prompting some people to formally complain to TV Asahi Corp. that aired the remark.

At the time, Kume was a presenter on TV Asahi’s evening news program, then called News Station.

The program aired in October 1996 and featured a report on India in which an Indian spoke fluent Japanese, according to Debito Arudou, 41. Arudou, who was born in the United States as Dave Aldwinckle and is now a naturalized Japanese, is active in efforts to protect the rights of foreigners.

Kume blurted out on the program, “Isn’t it better to see a foreigner speaking in broken Japanese?”

Arudou and others complained to the TV station that many foreign nationals are studying Japanese and trying to integrate into society.

He posted details of the protest on his Web site. Kume did not respond at the time, according to Arudou.

But on Dec. 1, Kume sent an e-mail message to Arudou, saying, “Thinking deeply, I realize this was quite a rude remark and I regret this as being narrow-minded.”

Kume told The Asahi Shimbun: “I recently learned on the Internet about the protest. I didn’t know 10 years ago.”

Arudou, in turn, said, “I was surprised but happy that an influential individual such as Kume did not neglect what he said in the past and tried to make things right.”

(IHT/Asahi: December 22,2006)
Japanese version of this article at
Background on the issue at

1 comment on “TV Anchorman Kume Hiroshi apologizes for anti-foreigner quip made a decade ago, thanks to records on

  • Fuji Television announcer uses the word “gaijin” on TV, causes a storm of protest

    While the Christopher Savoie case is going on, another event happened that may be interesting to readers. I can’t find anything on it in English — apparently so far it has been covered only in Japanese-language media.

    During a live broadcast variety show on Sept 26, Fuji Television announcer Hasegawa Yutaka used the word “gaijin” as a derogatory comment directed at popular announcer Christel Takigawa, who is half French and half Japanese. A video clip of the episode was uploaded to Youtube and caused a furor on Oct 1.

    Complaints came in to Fuji Television. His words were denounced as a racist comment (差別発言) by Fuji Television and by users of the infamous Japanese internet message board 2ch.

    Fuji Television management said ” ‘gaijin’ is an inappropriate word and he should have corrected it immediately.”
    However, Hasegawa Yutaka does not plan to apologize.

    The article appeared in J-Cast News and also republished in Yahoo Japan and Livedoor.

    A followup article on Oct 2 calls his remarks “astonishing.” It also quotes a “Tokyo Sports” articled that said there was a flood of complaints to Fuji Television about his words, and suggests it was caused by years of discontent over the special treatment of Takigawa.

    Now, in this case the object of the racist comment happens to be a very popular and attractive female (Christel Takigawa) and it seems like that probably had an impact on the size of the negative reaction. But it is heartening to me to see that a large group of the Japanese public, and a Japanese media company, recognize this as inappropriate speech.





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