Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)


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Hi Blog.  Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of the Survey.  Note the editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.


‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan
40% are refused housing because they are not Japanese
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, April 6, 2017, Courtesy of JH
By TSUBASA SURUGA, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO — Nearly 40% of foreign residents seeking housing in Japan are turned down because they are not Japanese, according to a new government survey. Roughly the same percentage also report being refused housing due to the lack of a Japanese guarantor.

[Aha.  So let’s immediately mitigate the problem by saying it’s a systemic issue, one that applies to Japanese too.  Even though it’s a lot tougher for NJ to get guarantors because they don’t have family or other “credible” connections in Japan, meaning it’s still slanted against the NJ renter regardless.]

Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.”

“The landlord told [me and my husband] that the house is not for foreigners,” a Filipino woman in her forties was quoted as saying in the survey, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice.

“We visited a different real estate agent, but they said a Japanese guarantor was required,” she said. “We explained that we were both permanent residents, only to be declined because we did not meet the conditions.”

These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says.  This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation.  And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism?  Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate?  And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!?  How would Nikkei editors feel if they were stationed overseas, but were refused apartments because of landlord “worries” that Japanese eat too much rice and might clog the toilets with their BMs?  (We already get enough Japanese grousing about racism when they get seated in an overseas restaurant too close to the toilet.)  On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism?  I guess Planet Nikkei.]

The survey, the first of its kind conducted by the government, was aimed at obtaining a detailed understanding of human-rights abuses faced by foreigners as Japan at a time when the country is preparing from a dramatic influx in foreign visitors due to the coming of 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign residents reached an all-time high of 2.38 million at the end of 2016, up 6.7% on the year, according to the ministry.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Human Rights Education and Training across 37 areas nationwide between November and December last year. The organization mailed surveys to 18,500 foreign residents and received 4,252 responses.

Chinese and South Koreans combined accounted for over half of the adult respondents, followed by Filipinos, at 6.7%, Brazilians, 5.2%, and Vietnamese, 4.8%.

Of the 2,788 respondents who either worked in Japan or were looking for work here, 25% said they were denied employment because they were not Japanese. The report suggested that language ability did not appear to be the problem, as nearly 95% of those respondents said they spoke conversational, professional-level or fluent Japanese.

About 20% of those working in Japan said they received lower pay than their Japanese counterparts in the same job.

Nearly 30% of all respondents said they had been the target of derogatory remarks or insults due to their ethnic background in the past five years. Of those respondents, about 80% called the experience “unpleasant” or “unacceptable.” However, only 11% had sought help or consultation in response.

[And what’s the point of pointing out like this that they hadn’t sought help or consultation?  That it’s their fault for not seeking help, or that it wasn’t serious enough an issue to bother?  Perhaps they know by now that seeking official assistance in Japan is generally meaningless (see for example here, here, and here)]


So many little needles, Nikkei, so little tolerance for news that reflects badly on Japan.  That’s why getting rid of Japan’s embedded racism is so difficult — it’s embedded in even the most mainstream of publications and discounted for whatever reasons plausible.  Dr. Debito Arudou


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23 comments on “Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

  • Nick Mason says:

    Interesting post. I sadly didn’t get to take part in that survey, but I too would fall into the statistics because I have been denied housing because I am a foreigner. My fiancee who is also a foreigner was simultaneously denied as well (the landlord knew we were both foreigners).

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    >”These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.”

    I suggest this Japanese news writer to take Race 101 class. Diversity for the dummies.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Clearly Nikkei journalists don’t understand the definition of ‘racism’. But then neither does the vast majority of Japanese that I’ve ever met, so whilst deplorable, not a surprise that such denial and apologism is exhibited.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, the vast majority of people raised in Japan that I’ve met claim that:

    “DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE in Japan IS NOT RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, when it’s done by the Japanese Race against non-Japanese Races, because…”

    #1 “…Racial discrimination is an action that only Whites do to non-whites…”

    #2 “…Racial discrimination is an action that only involves Whites enslaving non-whites…”

    #3 “…Racial discrimination is an action that Whites did a lot in the past, so other races like the Japanese race can’t possibly be legally punished for doing it now…”

    #4 “…Racial discrimination in Japan is an action that is not racial discrimination if the victim happens to be White, because Whites hold power in America and Europe…”

    #5 “…Racial discrimination in Japan is an action that is legally allowable if the perpetrator might possibly be bad at speaking English…”

    #6 “…Racial discrimination in Japan (for example Race-Based-Entry-Denial into stores, restaurants, hotels, apartments, etc.) is NOT Racial discrimination if the perpetrator states they ‘don’t have racist feelings’ about the non-Japanese races they denied entry to…”


    #7 “…Even IF Racial discrimination in Japan (for example Race-Based-Entry-Denial into stores, restaurants, hotels, apartments, etc.) is Racial Discrimination, it’s due to Japan copying ‘white racism’ AKA ‘whiteness’ so the real root of the problem here in Japan is the import of ‘white culture’ to Japan!…”

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      True. I’ve been in the receiving end of all of those. I’m ‘white’ and ‘American’ so I’m considered to automatically be the ‘greater racist’.

    • growing up in a period here things were not, shall we say, so “pc” as they might be considered today, I got my fair share of bullying and abuse back home, it was just the times and the culture and it made you stronger. Discrimination is all together something different because there really isnt any strength to be gained from it. It creates hostility, disparity, frustration turned inward, and many other ills. I had never experienced discrimination until I arrived in Japan. Nobody really has a monopoly on discrimination, it is what it is, and it has the same effect no matter the race.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Wow! Thanks for posting that!
      It’s the height of hypocrisy for the Japanese government to literally demand the U.K. does not reduce immigration, and even request that the U.K. increase it!

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      It never ceases to amaze me how clueless and condescending MOFA is. Wanna know since when Japan became a part of EU while they are desperate to maintain the myth of ethnic homogeneity for centralization of Yamato culture. Hypocrisy comes home to roost.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Regarding the post above, I don’t think many Japanese people use #7 as deterrent to racism, because they have no idea what”whiteness” is all about. You won’t get it at all unless you are CLLA/social science major or take courses from such department programs at college in US, Canada, Australia, UK., etc. Very few Japanese universities teach students such a concept. Most global Affair programs or international business majors don’t. Maybe a selective number of schools offering comm programs like Seinangakuin, Tokai, or Rikkyo? Or small regional colleges offering ethnic studies?

    Also, the statement #7 implies the recognition of problem, at least, regardless of one’s position. What’s crucial in this case is how one thinks of racism in a non-western country(such as Japan). A) No big deal(so, let’s put it on the lid) or B) we’ve got to do something about it because its materialistic consequence of discriminatory practice by perpetrators is globally proven(It’s already happening in Japan. Damage is too big to ignore.) That’s different from denying based on ignorance or lack of legal mechanism(#1-6). I don’t think we see many people holding such a contrarian view shown in #7. Even so, such people(mostly, academics) would not even bother mention race in discussing Japan’s problems with discrimination against non-Japanese/naturalized citizens.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      I’m sorry, but #7 is something I’ve experienced, and its exactly the way Japanese rationalize whaling; ‘B, b, but Americans/white people do it/did it!’.
      And these days everything in Japan is about holding Trump up as the ultimate ‘white racist with popular support, therefore the rest of the world MUST be way more racist than Japan’.

      All of these arguments seek to downplay Japanese racism by comparison with others, and therefore ‘justify’ it.

      Just because the average Japanese has not been schooled in the textbook definition of ‘whiteness’ does not mean that they don’t act racist in ways that can be described by the textbooks.

      • Loverilakkuma says:

        Jim, I see your point. What cringes me most about #7 is cynicism containing guilt association (e.g., “Since you are white, you have no room to budge into any RD case). Some apologists could even go so far as to become a theory Nazi by using the term “white guilt.”
        Very few Japanese have deeper and enriched knowledge about racial discrimination. But not all of them are completely ignorant. Some of those can exploit partial historical knowledge from English classes or textbooks or even words of mouth from online blogs(!) Whether they are plain ignorant, openly hostile to NJ, or just simply non-plussed, they can become anything they want to disturb the interest of NJ.

        Also, be reminded that my statement is focused on #7–not all the assumptions(#1-7). Just want to make sure that my point is that no racist thinking or behavior(including speech acts) should be tolerated–regardless of perpetrator’s identity. Whether Japanese or other nationalities, no excuse including historical/cultural ignorance or using English as foreign/second language shall be given to the perpetrators of any discriminatory practice by race, nationality, gender, or religion.

        Hope this will make things clear.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          ‘Very few Japanese have deeper and enriched knowledge about racial discrimination.’

          I’d agree, but then a deep and enriched knowledge is not necessary when Japanese society portrays Japan as being the constant victim of ‘the white man’ from the Black Ships, through losing WW2, and right up to Trumps ‘Japan bashing’.

          The default position is that Japan is ‘unique’, ‘special’, and ‘superior’, and that Japan has been and continues to be cheated out of its rightful entitlement by a conspiracy of ‘western (read ‘white’) powers’ throughout history. The Japanese buy into this unquestioningly since to question it would mean accepting that Japan is not ‘unique’, ‘special’ nor ‘superior’ and that it is in fact not only a deeply flawed society, but also that NJ criticism of Japanese society is at least partly true. And I have never met a Japanese willing to do that in almost 20 years living here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes Jim, as you understand perfectly, #7 is basically:

      “Slightly admit the racist act done now here in Japan,
      but then DIVERTING by bringing up the race of the victim,
      (and/or the race of the person pointing out the injustice)
      and so, gyaku-giri-style, diverting to acts done ELSEWHERE.”

      “Whites did/does racist acts sometime somewhere,
      so, we must discuss those acts over there in detail first,
      …and since that will waste a bunch of time and energy,
      we will end up NOT prosecuting the race-based-entry-denial,
      which this Japanese defendant clearly did today in Japan.”

      A real justice court would rule such a “defense” irrelevant,
      and would give an EXTRA severe penalty for insufficient self-reflection.
      Even courts in Japan penalize “iiwake” (making excuses),
      due to being “hansei tsukunai” (insufficient self-reflection).
      But during conversations with J-racist deniers and excusers,
      this gyaku-giri-style diverting to “the white race” often “succeeds”,
      because the victim or activist allows the topic diversion,
      so the result is the Japanese Racist Act doer isn’t arrested.

      Now, about the idea being currently pushed here by one,
      that we should call Racist Acts in Japan: Acts of Whiteness,
      here is the heart of the reason why that is unacceptable:

      Though labeling Worldwide Racists Acts “Whiteness”
      has be come a term accepted by some who study racism,
      as has labeling the study of racism itself “White Studies”,
      this is a major mistake which denies justice to white victims,
      especially here in Japan where the dominant majority race is Wajin.
      Also, “Black Studies” “Chicano Studies” “Women Studies” focus on positive qualities.
      “White Studies” “Whiteness Studies” label a RACE as INHERENTLY guilty of racist acts.

      Labeling Racists Acts Worldwide “Japaneseness” is wrong,
      even though “The Japanese Race” did/does many Racist Acts.
      Labeling Racists Acts Worldwide “Jewishness” is wrong,
      even though “The Jewish Race” did/does many Racist Acts.
      Labeling Racists Acts Worldwide “Germanness” is wrong,
      even though “The German Race” did/does many Racist Acts.
      Labeling Racists Acts Worldwide “Whiteness” is wrong,
      even though “The White Race” did/does many Racist Acts.

      Perhaps unconsciously, or perhaps on purpose, Dr. Debito
      rightly mentioned the theoretical TRAPPINGS of Whiteness Studies,
      well, that’s my point, that term itself is theoretically trapped.

      The term Whiteness perpetuates the current misconception,
      that White is the dominant majority-power race even in Japan.

      We must rally humanity against All Racist Acts Worldwide.
      We must NOT rally humanity against Whiteness or Japaneseness.

      The enemy is not “Whites, the dominant majority race in America/Europe.”
      And the enemy is likewise not “Wajin, the dominant majority race in Japan.”
      The enemy is: Racist Acts going unpunished by courts due to power corruption.
      The enemy is majority groups creating unfair systems which victimize minorities.

      We are against All Racist Acts, so let’s not fall into the
      currently acceptable “theoretical trappings” of using
      racist labels which blame inherently a particular race.

      We do not wish to wipe Whiteness off the face of the map.
      We do not wish to wipe Japaneseness off the face of the map.
      We wish to wipe the Regime of Racism out of Japanese culture.
      We wish to wipe the Regime of Racism out of Humanity culture.

  • Anonymous says:

    The Japanese vast majority just DENY Japan’s racism:
    “‘Gaijin-Okotowari’ wa Jinshu-Sabetsu DEWANAI.”
    “‘Nipponjin-Dake’ wa Jinshu-Sabetsu DEWANAI.”
    (“‘Japanese-Race-Only’ is NOT Racial Discrimination.”)
    (“‘Gaijin-Races-Not-Allowed’ is NOT Racial Discrimination.”)
    …while passively-aggressively bringing up white-status:
    “We feel inferior to you whites whom we deny entry to.”
    “You are taller, cooler, we feel shy, so you can not enter.”
    “Japanese feel ashamed, that’s why we laugh at whites.”
    “Whites rule, even in Japan, so – ‘no gaijin’ is not racism.”
    “White cops kill blacks, so – ‘no gaijin’ signs in Japan is fine.”
    “Forget Japan’s lack of Civil Rights Law, let’s talk about whites.”

    The Japanese rare academic scholar, is “above” mere denial,
    and proud of being “more educated” than average Japanese,
    and feeling his elite pontifications are quite “contrarian”,
    employs complex misdirection about racist acts in Japan,
    in which the main thrust of discussion ironically remains,
    although using a higher level and quantity of vocabulary:
    “Hai, Gaijin-Okotowari wa Jinshu-Sabetsu DESU KEDO,
    you don’t understand the profound complexity here,
    to understand Japanese racial discrimination in Japan,
    one must study WHITE racial discrimination in America
    (the subject which I love to read and write papers about,
    since I was discriminated against, by whites, in America,)
    so first you must deeply read Foucault, Hall & Habermas,
    before you can grok Japanese doing racial discrimination,
    it truly requires multi-disciplinary literacy in humanities,
    and social science, including communication, plus English,
    sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc., to begin to grasp
    the strategic practice of rhetorical discourse featuring
    for masking a tone of racial inequality, and this should
    be labelled, even in Japan, using a very-non-racist term,
    a term created, approved and encouraged by my heroes,
    in the “Study of Racism Perpetrated by Whites” subject,
    which does “Racism Studies” yet calls it “White Studies”,
    and fights “Racial Privilege” yet calls it “White Privilege”,
    and thus in the end after spending 50,000 hours like me,
    studying the racist acts committed by whites in America,
    you must finally come to the profoundly deep realization,
    that wherever racism occurs, worldwide and universally,
    whatever race is committing it, whatever race is victimized,
    even Japanese committing race-based-entry-denial in JAPAN,
    against all racial minorities (including whites) here in JAPAN,
    and all other such acts of racial discrimination here in JAPAN,
    that all such racist acts done by Japanese are acts of: WHITENESS.
    Denial of racism in Japan as well, by Japanese ministry officials,
    the Japanese media, Japanese corporations, Japanese politicians,
    and Japanese academic scholars, all denial of racism is: WHITENESS.
    Dr. Debito Arudou’s book said let’s begin discussing Japan’s Racist Acts,
    but I’m Japanese-Race so I prefer to label Japan’s Racist Acts: WHITENESS.”

    The Japanese vast majority deny J-racism, while simply blaming “Whites”.
    A Japanese scholar admits J-racism, while complexly blaming “Whiteness”.
    The honne is the same, but the Japanese scholar’s tatemae uses longer words.

    Then there are the Japanese who honestly yell their honne, “Gaijin kirai n da yo!”
    “Kokujin kirai! Chuugokujin Kirai! Hakujin Kirai! Gaijin zenin kirai! Mou kaire yo!”
    Such honesty is more respectable than “polite” deniers and the “scholarly” diverters.

    The problem is not the U.N. CERD Treaty, but rather the fact Japan is violating that treaty.
    Just as the problem is not the Hague Treaty, but rather the fact Japan is violating that treaty.
    Racist acts in Japan are not due to “Whiteness”, but instead Embedded Racism in “Japaneseness”.
    Racism denial/excuses in Japan will continue, but Japan must at minimum legislate a Civil Rights Law.

    • Loverilakkuma says:


      Like I said very clear, I would not waste my time discussing the issue with you, since you keep rambling on and on by blowing off your steam as you please.

      I suggest read the following article:

      Etsuko Fujimoto.”Japaneseness, whiteness, and the Other in Japan’s Internationalization(2002).” In M. J. Collier (Ed.), Internationalization, culture, and communication: International and Intercultural Communication Annual, 24 (pp. 1-24). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

      Then, go ahead and read Embedded Racism(especially Introduction and Ch1).

      You should stop rambling. It doesn’t draw sympathy from anyone. And certainly not from me. None of your statements above reflects what I suggest, and most people know that already. Enough is enough.

  • Anonymous says:

    Neither Dr. Debito Arudou’s book Embedded Racism, nor the 24 pages you pushed above, rationalize your posts repeatedly over the past few days which advocate the stance of:

    “Racist Acts committed in Japan by the dominant majority power holding race in Japan [the Wajin Japanese Race]…

    …perpetrated against the minority races in Japan [minority races INCLUDING the white race, surprising as that is for Americans and European scholars without decades of living in Japan to understand]

    …SHOULD BE LABELLED using the same [inherently racist] term which has [wrongly] become acceptable to describe [American and European] racist acts:


    Thus Debito’s gallery of ‘No Gaijin Allowed’ signs should be labelled ‘The WHITENESS in Japan Gallery’.

    Thus ‘Acts of Japanese committing Racial Discrimination in Japan’ should be labelled ‘Acts of WHITENESS in Japan’.

    Thus ‘The study of Japanese committing Racial Discrimination in Japan’ should be labelled ‘The Study of WHITENESS in Japan’.

    Thus let’s take the books and papers which have gotten away with labeling ‘all racist acts’ as ‘ACTS OF WHITENESS’…

    …and now let’s regurgitate that term and misapply it in Japan: let’s start a new trend of labeling ‘racist acts committed by Japanese, against non-Japanese races’ as ALSO being ‘ACTS OF WHITENESS’!”

    No, sorry. try again. None of us here go along with the idea of the WHITENESS label becoming used to describe Japanese Racial Discrimination against Non-Japanese races in Japan.

    A self-proclaimed “critique of Whiteness in Japan” paper is NOT something to be proud of, because such a description is using racist terminology AND because it diverts attention away from the actual problem in Japan: The-JAPANESE-Race institutionally getting away with legally committing Racial Discrimination against Non-Japanese-Races.

    Dr. Debito Arudou’s landmark treatise about racism in Japan: “Embedded Racism”, does NOT advocate the absurd suggestion that “Racism in Japan should be labelled Whiteness in Japan”.

    Try reading it WITHOUT all the projection baggage of “Japanese victim of white racism in America, who came back to Japan and immersed in studying the field of whiteness.”

    Debito used as a springboard to begin worldwide discussion of Japan, THE MAIN POINT LEARNED from the improperly-named field of ‘whiteness studies’ in America…

    (that the dominant-majority power-holding race in a society becomes corrupted by that power, which results in acts of racial discrimination – violating the human rights of other races – becoming institutionalized by the justice system when it does not properly penalize the dominant-majority power-holding race for such acts)

    … and thus Debito’s book helped people to escape the trappings of assuming that since whites hold power in America and Europe they hold power everywhere even in Japan…

    … because Debito’s book proved that it is the Wajin Japanese Race which holds power in Japan, NOT WHITES…

    …thus THE LESSON LEARNED from the studies of the now-outlawed problem in America (Racial Discrimination against minorities in America)…

    …can be applied to the new studies of the not-yet-outlawed problem in Japan (Racial Discrimination against minorities in Japan)…

    …Repeat: THE LESSON LEARNED from such studies can be applied here, but the label ‘WHITENESS’ can not be applied here (nor should it be applied anywhere) the correct term for Racial Discrimination in Japan is: Racial Discrimination in Japan = Jinshu Kubetsu = Sabetsu.

    Wrong Stance:
    “Race-based-entry-denial done by Whites has already become called ‘WHITENESS’,
    Race-based-entry-denial done by Japanese should now also be called ‘WHITENESS’.
    THAT will help Japanese people to realize that race-based-entry-denial is indeed Racial Discrimination.”

    Correct Stance:
    “Race-based-entry-denial done by Whites should be called “Racial Discrimination = Jinshu Kubetsu = Sabetsu”.
    Race-based-entry-denial done by Japanese should be called “Racial Discrimination = Jinshu Kubetsu = Sabetsu”.
    THIS will help Japanese people to realize that race-based-entry-denial is indeed Racial Discrimination.”

    Final Summary:

    “Acts of Racial Discrimination (such as race based-entry-denial to businesses) perpetrated by Whites towards Non-Whites were made illegal in America by the Civil Rights Law in 1964…

    …but most people living outside Japan don’t know, and most people living inside Japan neither admit nor care about the fact that…

    …those same acts of Racial Discrimination (such as race based-entry-denial to businesses) are being perpetrated by Japanese towards Non-Japanese in Japan and are still legal in Japan in 2017.”

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      Sigh. My entire point does not deny any of the points in your summation. Your pokeholing(bitching on label) does not help you to disprove my point both theoretically and methodologically. Applying the concept of whiteness to Japan’s racism doesn’t deflect people from critiquing its discriminatory practice. If not, then, you need to put exactly the same scrutiny on Critical Race Theory(CRT) in the first place, because that’s exactly a part of its theoretical foundation(Yes. Debito’s book and several writings embrace CRT.) CRT is primarily derived from Marxist theories and it has been primarily used for critique of dominant discourse of racism perpetrated by majority in the west. And it has been refined and widely applied to various fields across the disciplines. That’s essentially the same as whiteness.

      If you still insist whiteness is so evil, anyone who brings that issue in Japan studies causes disservice to NJ(so such person(s) must be barred from this blog!), your position on CRT should be pretty much negative too. If not, then, the problem lies with your assumptions.

  • Atricle quote: “Nearly 40% of foreign residents seeking housing in Japan are turned down because they are not Japanese, according to a new government survey. Roughly the same percentage also report being refused housing due to the lack of a Japanese guarantor.”

    This is so badly written. I think they mean that 40% of foreign residents got turned down because they are not Japanese and ON OTHER OCCASIONS they also got turned down due to lack of having a Japanese guarantor. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise. Did they only get turned down once in their lives? (I doubt it) Did they always get told the reason for being turned down (I doubt it – when the very ads themselves specify “no foriegners” without giving any reason).

    Just bad writing.


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