Book “Embedded Racism in Japan”, acclaimed as “important, courageous and challenging” and “a must-read” by prominent academic journals, now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code LEX30AUTH16


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Hi Blog. “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” has been receiving acclaim.   Prominent Japan Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki calls it “important, courageous and challenging“, the Pacific Affairs journal finds it “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan“, the Japan Studies Association of Canada says it is “an important contribution to geography, cultural and area studies“, and the Sociology and Ethnic Studies imprint of the American Sociological Association calls it “a brave critique of Japanese society and its failure to look outward in its demographic and economic development, … as it makes an important contribution for those wishing to understand racism in Japan better… The book would easily suit courses that address global conceptions of race and ethnicity and how these are changing in Japan at both the micro and macro levels because of globalization.”

Dr. Robert Aspinall in a review in Social Science Journal Japan concludes:

“There are important academic contributions to the study of racism in Japan in this book, but it is as a must-read text on the crisis facing the shrinking Japanese population and its leaders that it really leaves its mark. Embedded Racism is highly recommended reading to anyone—whether they self-identify as Japanese or foreign or both—who is interested in Japan’s future.” (read more)

“Embedded Racism” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through my publisher (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield) directly.

Go to’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16. (Japan residents have reported getting the book in about a week for $40 including quick shipping.)

More information and reviews on the book at

Download a book flyer and order form at

More than 130 of the world’s major research libraries (including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia…) have in its first year of publication made “Embedded Racism” part of their collections (according to WorldCat).  Add it to yours!

Thanks very much as always for reading!  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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29 comments on “Book “Embedded Racism in Japan”, acclaimed as “important, courageous and challenging” and “a must-read” by prominent academic journals, now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code LEX30AUTH16

  • I would like to order it. I checked the website, but there is no information (or contact info for this particular purpose) on the shipping cost to Japan. Do you happen to know how that is handled? I assume it is more expensive than what one would pay for a delivery within the US.

    — Hi Mak, and thanks for your inquiry. I’m not sure of the shipping rates to other countries, but you can inquire with the publisher for international orders (i.e., outside of the US and Canada). Please order directly via and give the same promo code in the email. Please let us know how that goes, and thanks for your interest.

  • I mentioned this on another thread, but it bears repeating here, even at the risk of sounding like a shill for Debito. This book is one of the most important books to address Japanese racism in a half century and gives voice not only to my personal experience but to the realities of a whole class of people whose voices have been systematically stymied and stamped out by Japanese apologists who refused to apply a critical race model equally to groups outside of the “accepted” categories (e.g., Ainu, Zainichi) in Japan.

    It is with that as background that I am a little dismayed but not surprised by a review of the book by Sheila K. Johnson at the Japan Policy Research Institute. In her review, Sheila presents a sort of lukewarm recital of some of the book’s main themes, but doesn’t lose the opportunity along the way to make repeated passive aggressive jabs at Debito and Japanese racism studies generally and throw up strawman that mischaracterize what the book is really all about.

    Sheila opens with a story about an American freelance writer by the name of Michael Shapiro and a book he wrote based on his brief experience living in Japan. Michael saw around him examples of “Japan enthusiasts” – foreigners who were doing everything right to fit in, but were nonetheless rejected by the Japanese. This leads him to the writings of Lafcadio Hearn and ultimately to an important self-realization about the root cause of his suffering and the suffering of those before him – that he “wanted the relationship with Japan on his terms” and “Japan, as always, would have it on its own.”

    The not-so-subtle suggestion in this lead is that the ultimate issue for Debito and his supporters, as well, is one of misplaced expectations, not any particular problem with Japanese society or racism, per se. The problem all along is that you expected the Japanese to act in a particular way that would suit your needs.

    Of course, anyone that spent any time with Debito’s book knows this is rubbish. Debito is not calling for special treatment – simply the same treatment that is afforded others in Japan and treatment that is not based on race or how “Japanese” someone may happen to look. The “expectation” is that we will be treated as human beings and not sideshows and will be given the same legal protections afforded others.

    Yet, from the very title of the piece – “In the Land of the Brokenhearted” – Sheila tries to frame the issue in different terms – as one of unrequited love. The problem from the very beginning, in Sheila’s and Michael’s eyes, is that you were expecting Japan to love you as much as it loves itself. But, again, that misses the whole point. Debito isn’t asking for love or special treatment; he just wants a basic amount of respect and civility – the same as is afforded everyone else. Is that really a flawed expectation? Do we not demand this as a basic human right in the US as well?

    Continuing through the piece, the review waffles between absurdity (“it must be said that the bathhouse operator [in Otaru] may have had a point”) and sparse and seemingly regrettable support for Debito’s central argument (“but he [Debito] proved his point – it was not about cultural differences but about racial discrimination”). But instead of focusing on the latter – which is really what Debito’s book is all about – the review goes off on strange tangents, like the one where Sheila goes on at length about how fascinating she found it that the Japanese took an expansive view of citizenship during the World War II. I always assumed this was common knowledge. It then presses on with further detours through common academic territory (the zainichi and burakumin) and a discussion of the different type of legal citizenship regimes before quite easily concluding in a feat of extreme intellectual rigor that because other countries share a similar citizenship system (citizenship based on blood), Japan is “on the face of it…no different than other countries,” presumably in an attempt to downplay the significance of Debito’s book, but I have to admit, even I found myself embarrassed reading that passage.

    Sheila juxtaposes Debito’s outlook on the future of Japan with an anonymous friend of hers who lives in Japan. According to that friend, “You can’t turn the TV on or walk down the street without coming across “foreigners.” Walk into convenience store, supermarket, pass the cleaning lady, and you come across the “invisible” minorities. Turn on the TV and you’ll see a rainbow of ethnicities, models and actors and singers and prizefighters and athletes.”

    Of course, you can turn on the TV without seeing foreigners most days. I watched TV for 3 hours last night without a trace of a “visible minority.” And Japanese TV is not exactly a rainbow of ethnicities, unless rainbows are now basically composed of one uniform color throughout.

    That same friend attempts to play down Debito’s ground-greaking achievement by invoking her own form of explicit racism. “In a lot of ways,” she says, “I think privileged white men came to Japan and were shocked to actually face any kind of systematic discrimination at all, something they’ve never experienced before.” This is hardly a veiled attempt to discredit based on popular ad hominem – “privileged white men” are a popular object of attack in this day and age – but even if that were all true, how exactly does that detract from the points made in Debito’s book?

    And finally, to rub salt into open wounds and put a bow on this bizarre package (pardon the mixed metaphors), Sheila makes a huge loop back to the original theme of unrequited love. Debito has left Japan for Hawaii, and blogs about Japanese “racism” (in quotes to imply the pseudo or false nature of the Japanese racism claim) from a distance. “He may not longer be living in the land of the brokenhearted, but I suspect the disorder is not so easily cured.” So now, apparently, Debito has a disorder.

    I just cleared the cache on my browser, filing Sheila’s review where it belongs.

  • Finally ordered my copy! Can’t wait for it to get here.

    @ #3 JP

    Sheila’s review is typical apologist nonsense. Her review assumes a priori that there is no racism in Japan, then from that bias reacts to 有道博士’s work in a patronizing tone. In other words, whether racism exists in Japan is never even analyzed or subjected to any scrutiny in her words; that there is actually no racism is taken as a given, and from that (skewed, warped) perspective, 有道博士’s work is “analyzed.” To play things safe, she pretends to sympathize with his position, but her ultimate (unstated) implication is quite clear: 有道博士 has simply misunderstood things and has not been able to “control things” to his liking. In other words, “Poor boy, you tried hard and wanted positive outcomes, too bad, but no reason to be put out about it, it’s not a big deal and nothing can be done about it.” As if he tried out for the soccer team but didn’t make it.

    Nevermind that the very much real racism affects many, many people of all colors and backgrounds. Typical apologist nonsense indeed; as if equality among human beings without regard to race is just some trivial, selfish desire, to which humans are no more entitled than to a lollypop. Why can’t these people just admit, “I gave up on expecting to be treated like an equal because I don’t have the courage to fight for it, so I think you should too”? Indeed, let’s file Sheila’s disingenuous denialism in with the rest of the trash.

  • Sheila K. Johnson is mistaken in her denial of the existence of Japanese racism, shown by her absurd quote marks.

    In her illogical book-review (thoroughly debunked by comment #3) Sheila wrote: Debito blogs about Japanese “racism”…

    Note Sheila’s quote marks falsely pretending that Japanese committing Race-Based-Entry-Refusal is not racism.

    Also note, despite her denial of racism in Japan, she then shoots her erroneous stance in the foot via her friend:
    Sheila wrote: My friend living in Japan does not deny that there is racism in Japan… (Thus, drop the quote-mark denial.)
    Sheila even shared her friend’s opinion: Japanese Systematic Racial Discrimination should be accepted without shock.

    Sheila thus admitted Systematic Racial Discrimination in Japan, yet in the same review she denied Japanese racism.
    Sheila and friend chose to criticize Dr. Arudō for his race, rather than criticize Japan’s Systematic Racial Discrimination.
    Sheila’s “book review” claimed: based on his race Dr. Debito’s lifework of Japan enacting a Civil Rights Law is a disorder.

    Does Sheila realize Japan has not outlawed Race-Based-Entry-Refusal, as she must if she actually had read the book?

    Japan signed the supreme law United Nations CERD Treaty in 1995, yet 21 years later Japan still remains in violation.

    Does Sheila think the U.N. CERD Treaty should allow Japan (Japanese Only) to keep Race-Based-Entry-Refusal Legal?
    If Sheila’s child were refused entry to a shop/restaurant/establishment based on race: would Sheila change her stance?

    The surprising reality is Sheila K. Johnson strangely refuses to criticize Racial Discrimination being Legal in 2016 Japan.
    Logical humans properly criticize Japan’s government for refusing to enact a law to outlaw Race-Based-Entry-Refusal.

  • @JP

    Thanks for posting that review.

    I used to live in Japan, and now am back home in the US.

    I have found that most “Japan-related” organizations here exist to raise interest of Japan among Americans. So they might fund a taiko festival or a film festival, or something like that.

    Telling people, bluntly, all the problems that Americans who move to Japan might face, just isn’t part of their agenda. And who knows, it might even jeopardize their funding.

  • KengaiIkken-san says:

    The heart of the review, in not so coded language, is basically quite an unsophisticated ad hominem attack on the author, which is a common resort that reviewers take when they can’t find a way to counter an argument’s empirical evidence. This is a common ploy in academia as elsewhere – undermine the credibility of the framework by casting doubt on the motives of the scholar, by undermining the scholar.

    One of the central ploys is to undermine Debito the person; someone who came to Japan and found it wasn’t the place he wanted it to be. This inference of bias and motive in the scholar then gives room for all manner of weasel words and sideskips the avalanche of empirical evidence of embedded racism in Japan. Because the author cannot agree with the basic premise of the work, but cannot systematically refute the empirical evidence, undermine the framework through the person, not the work. In the end, Debito is another moaner who now doesn’t even live in Japan and snipes at it from his bolthole in Hawaii.

    While Ivan Hall is in many ways the poster boy for academics who have exposed the difficulties of challenging prevalent self-censorship in academic discourse about Japan, I continue to meet this every time I go beyond the accepted parameters of debate that are controlled by Japanese and non-Japanese “collaborators” with a vested interest (grants, foundations, professorships, positions in academic societies) in not rocking the boat.

    A few years back I published a groundbreaking book about a subject which smashed through the prevailing discourse and martialled several hundred pages of narrative contextualized empirical evidence that supported my claims. In the end, the book work was dismissed by the leading Japanese academic in the field because it was written by someone very junior and new to the field, despite the fact that my actual working knowledge of the field, including 15 years at the coalface and evidence from the best part of 300 interviews was far superior to the reviewers. Because I didn’t have a PhD, basically, my work was not credible; because I wasn’t Japanese, I could not understand the field. Those were the two major points.

    Yet when I looked through and reviewed the work by the Japanese reviewer later, I found that his own work underpinning his arguments was based on what I assessed (perhaps reflecting my own bias) on an undergraduate level of institutional logics and organizational theory. Because the reviewer speaks English and writes in English and works very hard as a networker, his career has advanced incredibly despite the paucity of his academic work and poor quality of his research.

    When the work was reviewed by specialists and leading western academics, the work was uniformly praised. Now it is regarded as a textbook on the area, but in Japan, it is ignored and I am de facto persona non grata. I have committed the crime of being a troublemaker, upset the applecart.

    Follow-up work has involved me working with a very senior and famous person in a deeply related field. After two years of hard labor and two articles, we recently got one with a very negative review from what we guess is a Japanese scholar (looking at the Japanese English the comments were written in) and high praise by a western scholar. The Japanese scholar merely rejected the premise of the argument by intimating that we were unqualified. The western reviewer took a close look at our framework and suggested highly valuable constructive criticism, tweaks, and reframing of certain parts, suggested other works to reflect on and refer to. The difference was incredible.

    Food for thought for anyone seeking to challenge the consensus who does not have a strong network or a tenured position in the field. But you don’t get to get that unless you toe the line. Cartels of the mind, de facto censorship of academic debate, and ad hominem attacks if they can’t defeat your argument. That’s the long and short of it.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I wouldn’t count Shelia Johnson’s writing as a formal book review. Note the caption on top: “CRITIQUE.” It’s neither a “Book Review” nor a “Review Essay” of new books based on the particular theme. She spends most of the paragraphs on personal anecdotes of naturalized citizen(s), Debito’s brief bio, and his involvement in Otaru Onsen’s case. I doubt if she actually read the whole book since she clearly missed the key points that highlight its significance: 1) problem with public recognition of racism in Japan; 2) problematic research trend among Japan studies scholars focusing on race/ethnicity; 3) complicated characteristics of racism as socio-economic practice of differentiation/alienation/marginalization(scope and magnitude across nationality and color-line; and 4) need for new critical/social constructivist approaches to tackle the issue without cultural/racial/nationality bias. Her critique discusses none of those. Her description of social and legal challenges involving various ethnic minorities could serve as a smokescreen, but it actually is nothing more than a repetition of the fact. She fails to mention that collective attitude of (willful) indifference to racialization practice embedded in peculiar social system is exactly the problem that has been ailing Japanese society for so long.

    What’s even worse is her sweeping generalization in an attempt to simplify/mollify the significance of Japan’s immigration problem. Giving her home country(Netherland) as an example to look Japan’s problem through the lens of international standard is a juggernaut. From her standpoint, it’s counterproductive. If you see some other countries that are adopting similar immigration policy as Netherland, then her attempt to mollify the immigration/naturalization problem surrounding Japan is already failing for its fallacy. You just can’t throw the baby out with bathwater.

    And, finally, caveat. Smacking racism as personal matter of how one feels about Japanese society with someone’s quote: “In a lot of ways, I think privileged white men came to Japan and were shocked to actually face any kind of systematic discrimination at all, something they’ve never experienced before.” Too bad, she clearly overlooks that whites are not alone in encountering “something they’ve never experienced before” in the first place.

    I don’t disagree that Debito is one of those who have a privilege–no matter how you look at it(no offense)–as many whites do. Typically they have two choices. One choice is to look carefully into the matter and utilize their critical scope of lens(whether social-scientific or humanistic) to unpack the magnitude of social injustice affecting NJ community across race, ethnicity, gender, and/or nationality. The other choice is to exercise “white privilege” in a way act like an ignorant jerk who deliberately shuts down anything outside their own cultural borders or pretends that they know anything outside their own world. Example: Politicians, billionaires, hedge-fund managers calling for privatization of public education; David Duke and Donald Trump cheerleaders holding confederation flag to harass blacks and hispanics, right-wingers taunting BLM, Muslim/Mexicans, GLBT community, and pro-choice women. How white privilege is perceived is all up to which choice(s) you make for the implication of power relations.

    I don’t have any personal issue with a widow of Chalmers Johnson. But I find it ironic in her misfired critique that calls the Book review, as it obviously tweaks her instinct as the editorial board who tries to save face for the interest of JPRI. Strange. Why did she need bother to write a review herself rather than giving other research fellows or scholars an opportunity for that?Does the institution receive fundings from Japanese government or big public/private institutions? If so, how are they dealing with conflict of interest that could influence on their publications? Hope they are not in the Team Abe’s watch list.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised to see argumentative behavior of some “western” people who love to spend more energy on a specific individual than his/her arguments by making assumption on the ‘white’ body for its sweeping generalization. Becoming a contrarian by using theory Nazi in an attempt to hunt down anyone addressing racism– using white privilege to serve as a bodyguard for defending the structure of Wajin privilege– is a kind of “the disorder,” which I doubt it will be cured easily.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Sheila K. Johnson is priceless!

    Her ‘review’ of Dr. Debito’s book is either a vindictively constructed attempt to undermine Dr. Debito’s, a blatant attempt to troll him, or a exhibition of her own mental illness (it doesn’t matter which is the case).

    She spends more than half of the review presenting her ‘version’ of The Life of David (N.B. she hasn’t even got the good manners to recognize that Debito Arudo is not called ‘David’ anymore! He is a Japanese citizen and legally changed his name! But hey, she can’t resist the Japanese style micro-aggression against him at every chance. Racist.)

    This long and winding tale that she narrates of ‘David’ and his attitudes to Japan is all based on the second hand recollections of her late husband, who knew Dr. Debito as a teacher. They are not even her first hand anecdotes! How ethical is it for a teachers to name and discuss students wit his wife? It doesn’t matter now; he’s dead, so he can’t defend himself, and we only have his wife’s word for it that any of the events she relates with regard to Dr. Debito as a student are even real!

    And on top of that, it displays an amazing degree of unprofessionalism on the part of her husband impart this information to his wife, but even more so for her to repeat it.

    Anyhow, she spends the first part of the ‘review’ citing other research and literary examples that demonstrate that Japan has a history of exclusion, discrimination, and accepts that other westerners have accurately identified this cultural and social problem that Japan has.

    However, despite this, she then blames the victim (Dr. Debito) for the racism he experiences; he doesn’t play up to NJ stereotypes that Japanese want, he is putting his American values on the Japanese, etc, etc.

    In fact, she goes further than blaming Dr. Debito for Japanese racism, she then defends it as part of Japan’s ‘unique culture’! I can only wonder if she would likewise defend Tosa dog fighting in Kochi, Whaling in Antartica, Bullfighting in Okinawa, Enkou in Tokyo (etcetera) as ‘Japan’s unique culture’?

    It’s Japan’s unique culture to be racist? Fine, then we have every right to scream that Japan IS institutionally racist from the rooftops! That is exactly the point of Dr. Debito’s book, after all!

    She is either intentionally trolling (thus presenting self-contradicting arguments), mentally ill and doesn’t REALIZE her argument goes in a bizarre self-defeating circle, or she is a paid anti-Debito shill, a vested interest. Oh! Hang on….

    She’s on the board of directors of The Japan Policy Research Institute! Gee, I wonder what they do and where their funding comes from?
    After all, there’s no future for the JPRI if NJ across the world understand that Japan is discriminatory, institutionally racist, and goes to every extent to socially limit and control NJ with it’s WWII era myths of racial superiority. In fact, I imagine that in such an event interest in Japan would drop off, and the funding for Japan related organizations like JPRI would dry up….

    Unless the Japanese government had recently increased by a factor of 10 it’s budget for managing the image of Japan internationally.

    Wait, they did that last year…

    • This-“he doesn’t play up to NJ stereotypes that Japanese want, ” Why does anyone have to do this? Though I do encounter various guys and gals “running clown game” to be popular. I have done it myself- just fake interest in or FOB ignorance of Japanese temples and tempura and act super genki, and watch a fascinated sparkle appear in your subjects eyes. Just make sure to ask for their sempai like guidance…
      “Our kinda NJ”. This came to mind, Don Cheadle in “Boogie Nights” (no adult scene)

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @JDG, #10

    Shelia Johnson has a Ph.D in cultural anthropology. Interestingly, she actually did make a decent and fair review on the works of other scholars. Obviously, she didn’t apply the sets of her scholarly faculty and professional judgment to Debito’s book. Instead, she just let her discomfort/personal dislike control of her judgment. Anthropologist claiming a sole position of Japan Policy Research Institution knows nothing about the racial politics in Japan. Power of cultural ignorance tweaking academic narcissism surrounding Japan studies.

  • Dr.`s new book must be causing many a “gnashing of teeth” from the other side )

    Havent read it, but good luck on your success!

  • I have nothing to add other than to say that I am reading Debito’s superb book at the moment. It’s a fine thought provoking piece of work of which he can rightly be proud. Who cares what SJ thinks??

    — The people tied in with JPRI, i.e., the people whose work I studied when studying under Chal back in grad school, that’s who. I’m going to have to wait for another academic review before Sheila’s ad hominem piece is countered.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  • 有道博士, I have a question about something I read on pages 83-84 of the paperback copy of Embedded Racism. In listing the conditions for naturalization, you wrote:

    “[R]equirements for qualification are that the candidate…be aged twenty and without criminal record in the country of current citizenship”

    I have checked the nationality law in English ( and Japanese (, as well as read your personal experiences with the naturalization process, as well as 井上さん’s detailed descriptions as well, and nowhere do I see any indication of the “without criminal record in the country of current citizenship” clause.

    I did see that both you and 井上さん were verbally asked about any criminal/police record, but other than this cursory verbal confirmation, was there any other investigation or confirmation (e.g. a submission of a background check from a foreign government)? I don’t see how the Japanese government could possibly enforce a clause like this. Can you clarify this a little?

    — It’s been a while since I wrote that, sorry, and I’m not sure of the source right now outside of what I remember being told during the process. As for enforcement, the Japanese government can enforce just about anything it likes behind closed doors. There is no appeal mechanism for the decision, after all. And I’ve never heard of anyone challenging a rejection (given without reason) in court. Anyway, that was one of the requirements I was told by officials. But actual enforcement seems quite arbitrary: It didn’t seem to matter in the Delfo Zorzi case.

  • @HJ, 13

    Article 5(3) of the Nationality Act addresses this (“(3) that he or she is of upright conduct,” or “素行が善良であること” in Japanese). Although the provision does not expressly require that the applicant not have a criminal record in his or her country of current citizenship, it is drafted broadly enough to capture this and more. See the following link for one analysis of the way this requirement is implemented ( This writeup is not official, of course, but I strongly suspect that the discussion in Section 2.8, generally, and Section 2.8.3, more specifically, apply here.

    Also, as Debito points out, the Japanese government has significant discretion when it comes to applications for citizenship. Without getting into a detailed discussion of Japanese administrative law, the granting of citizenship falls under the category of 特許 (for those of you watching at home, no, this does not mean “patent” in this context – it means the conferring of a new legal power or status to a certain individual generally (“人が本来持っていない新たな法律上の力・地位を特定の人に付与する形成的行為”)), and as such, the government has significant discretion with respect to these applications (this is in contrast to an application for 許可, for example, which as a rule must be approved if the legal requirements for the 許可 have been satisfied). The government’s exercise of this discretion will only be voided if it exceeds the bounds of or abuses such discretion, both of which are difficult hurdles to reach.

  • @JP #14 Thanks for your reply, but you missed my point. Sure, within the bounds of Japan, I know the bureaucrats have essentially discretion to do whatever they want. My point was, outside of making the applicant furnish a background check herself/himself, how can GOJ check applicants’ criminal record (or lack thereof) outside of Japan? What about criminal history in other countries? What if an applicant commits a crime in, say, Western Sahara? Do they seriously claim to police applicants’ history outside of Japan, but then just rely on the honesty policy? It’s an odd discrepancy.

    — I missed that point too. I was asked if I had any criminal record outside of Japan. I said no. But I was not asked for proof. But they still told me that lack of home-country criminality was a requirement.

  • @HJ, #15

    You made a few points, one of which was that you could not find in the Nationality Act the requirement that an applicant not have a criminal record in their country of citizenship, so I will quietly disregard your somewhat inflammatory claim that I missed your point (in the future, I would suggest that you frame your question presented more clearly), but setting that aside, I would just say that I agree that there is no practical way to investigate an applicant’s criminal record on a worldwide basis, but the Japanese government wants to make clear that a criminal history anywhere may disqualify a person’s application for citizenship and it sounds like they are taking some (admittedly limited) measures to verify this. I am sure that the Japanese government is well aware that they cannot fully investigate an applicant’s criminal history and, to some extent, it sounds like they do rely on the honesty of the applicant. I don’t think that’s necessarily a fatal flaw and I suspect that many other countries have similar provisions in their laws.

  • @JP #16

    I did not intend to insult you in saying that you missed my point. I can see how it came across that way, and I apologize. I appreciated your response. I’m sorry I didn’t express that well in my reply.

  • @kengaiikkensan,

    I found your post to be very fascinating; it reveals much and makes one wonder that if such logic is also being used by other academics, who have been crowned as leading experts on other wordly subjects that the media etc alway use for reference. The Japan experience has taught me the very uncomfortable truth that nothing is what it seems. While I have not obtained the level of education as many here, the truths are self evident to any honest observer and these experiences can collectively become empirical evidence of exclusion of non Japanese in Japan.

  • Arudou, I wonder if this has hit your radar:

    This is intended to a racial/ethnic analysis of productivity by NJ academics. Only a little thought reveal deep problems with the framing, research design analysis, and conclusions, yet this is J. gov. sponsored research, which presumably may have influence on policy. Perhaps you will enjoy this morsel of very bad social science.

    — Thanks for it.

  • I read Ms. Johnson’s review of the book twice. I did not see a scathing review by her and in some cases she seemed to agree with Debito. She seems to disagree with Debito on the issue of citizenship.
    However, in the end she makes the statement “He may no longer be living in the land of the brokenhearted, but I suspect the disorder is not so easily cured.” Her last statement (in my humble opinion) discredited her whole article.
    Afterwards I checked her CV (or an abbreviated version thereof). Unless I am wrong it appears Ms. Johnson made several trips to Japan but never actually lived here. This further discredits her piece.

  • AnonymousOG says:

    Racism in Japan is such an undeniable suffering-causing problem that one of the few reasons a person can use to legally change one’s name (right next to “My name causes people to wrongly think I might be an infamous criminal”) is the following reason which the courts are thus silently admitting is a situation which no person living in Japanese culture would ever want to continue enduring: “My [katakana] name causes people to wrongly think I might be [gasp] … a non-Japanese-race person.” 外国人とまぎわらしい。

    Hmm, I wonder why the courts of Japan have decided that a Japanese person “being thought of as a foreigner” is a suffering-causing problem? The courts are thus silently admitting that apartment-rental-refusal, hotel-entry-refusal, restaurant-entry-refusal, onsen-entry-refusal, employment-consideration-refual, credit-consideration-refusal, groundless-business-refusal-in-general, initiated by katakana “foreigner” marking, are things which no citizen of Japan should ever have to endure?

    Notice, a resident of Japan who happens to be a citizen of Japan is thus ALLOWED by the courts in Japan to legally change their official Jūminhyō-recorded name to kanji (surname, or first name, or both) to avoid the pain of being treated as non-Japanese-race people are treated in Japan.

    So if you are Japanese you are allowed to hide the unfortunate katakana “non-Japanese-race person” marking which you received from your parents having not blessed you with a 100% kanji name.

    Meanwhile, a resident of Japan who does NOT happen to be a citizen of Japan is NOT allowed to legally change their official Jūminhyō-recorded name to kanji.

    Although I often tell residents of Japan who are not citizens of Japan to “kanjify thyself”, the fact remains: that Tsūshōmei technique only adds a “kanji nickname” to your Jūminhyō, and that “kanji nickname” doesn’t even appear on any government-issued photo I.D. anymore.

    So, if you are a resident of Japan and you want to attempt to minimize the undeniable suffering-causing racism in Japan caused by your katakana name, you must first become a Japanese citizen to make your official Jūminhyō-recorded name become kanji.

    And then, as all of us who proudly own Dr. Arudou’s must-read definitive book on the subject (the scholarly and heartfelt lifework book which deeply expounds upon and dovetails with our decades of life experience living in Japan) have ample evidence to prove: becoming a Japanese citizen and changing one’s official Jūminhyō-recorded name to 100% kanji STILL doesn’t change stop the daily acts of racism in Japan, since as long as one’s physical racial appearance remains a visible minority here, one is always treated as a sub-Japanese-race (thus “sub-human”) 外国人 in Japan.

    The discrimination in Japan is not based on one’s birth nationality, nor one’s birth culture. The discrimination in Japan is based on one’s birth race, which one can never change.

    The discrimination in Japan is based on race.

    Racism in Japan is indeed deeply embedded.

  • UPDATE, related to my “Racism in Japan is deeply Embedded 外国人とまぎわらしい” comment above:

    Japan Family Court approved a name change for my wife & kids: no more Katakana marking for them!

    My wife’s name was KATAKANA, Kanji (she naively thought it would be “cool” to take my surname)
    Our 1st child’s name was KATAKANA, KanjiKATAKANA (naively gave our 1st child a “middle” name)
    Our 2nd child’s name was KATAKANA, KanjiKATAKANA (naively gave our 2nd child a “middle” name)
    Our 3rd child’s name was KATAKANA, Kanji
    Our 4th child’s name was KATAKANA, Kanji

    Thanks to the ruling, their names are now officially on Koseki Touhon & Juuminhyou & everywhere:
    KANJI, Kanji
    KANJI, Kanji
    KANJI, Kanji
    KANJI, Kanji
    KANJI, Kanji

    We used the “外国人とまぎわらしい” “Don’t want to be mistakenly thought of as a foreigner” reason
    which I had shared in this post:

    And we added the “Wife and kids have been using Dad’s surname’s Ateji for a long time” reason too.
    Meaning, ever since I gave myself a Kanji Tsūshōmei, they consistently always used that everywhere.
    For example, our kids’ schools’ principals agreed to my personal request to only use Kanji for my kids.
    I showed my Kanjify-Thyself Kokuho and said: my “Born-Japanese-Citizen” kids deserve “Kanji Only”.
    So, from the first day of school: the schools used exclusively Kanji whenever writing our kids’ names.
    Class Lists, Report Cards, Awards: all exclusively Kanji, even though the Koseki-reality was Katakana.

    Our kids’ schools’ principals warned us that their upcoming graduation certificates must match Koseki.
    So, with Junior High School graduation (and thus High School application) looming, we went to court.
    We petitioned for my “Born-Japanese-Citizen” wife & kids to become Kanji Only: family court agreed.
    The family court ruling was passed to City Hall, then passed to the schools. No more 外国人 marking.
    Katakana (外国人 parent) marking prevents high schools from focusing on: The Child’s Achievements.
    Deciders might notice the “haafu foreign” visually, but at least the application will have no Katakana.
    Thanks to Kanji Only, the chances of our kids being accepted into a good high school have increased.
    The Racism in Japan remains deeply Embedded, my kids’ name-change is a sad “hide the race” effort.

    PS – I’m once again recommending Dr. Arudou’s book, it has truly helped me: YOU deserve to have it! 🙂

    • AnonymousOG says:

      For all those who choose to utilize the technique explained above,
      (to have the Court of Japan duly approve the legal name change)
      (Surname and/or First name of your J-citizen spouse and/or kids)
      my comment above contained a typo, which I should now correct:

      Incorrect: 外国人とまぎわらしい Gaikokujin to magiwarashii.
      Correct: 外国人と紛らわしい Gaikokujin to magirawashii. 🙂

      As I wrote above, the Racism in Japan remains deeply Embedded,
      so this legal name-change technique is a sad “hide the race” effort,
      but it is highly recommended to change their names to 100% Kanji.

      Again, here is the Paperwork for Free:

      And again, here is the Successful Result:

      And again, any grateful fellow humans
      please pass your donations to Debito,
      or purchase his books which taught me
      everything I share about living in Japan. 🙂

      — Many thanks!


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