Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Table of Contents:



1) Kyoto City issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!
2) Kyoto City manga denigrating “foreigners”, produced by Kyoto Seika University, has naturalized African-Japanese citizen Dr. Oussouby Sacko as University President!

3) Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

… and finally …

4) Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020

By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (,, Twitter @arudoudebito)



1) Kyoto City issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!

As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public. And they do, sometimes with success.

Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum!) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.

That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not residents). Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of all the ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well. (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan. Even an elementary school student knows that. Now!)

The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this pamphlet disappeared! RJO tells his story below. Good job. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting!


2) Kyoto City manga denigrating “foreigners”, produced by Kyoto Seika University, has naturalized African-Japanese citizen Dr. Oussouby Sacko as University President!

A little over a week ago, issued a report from a Kyoto NJ Resident who protested an official comic book, issued by the City of Kyoto to local grade schoolers, depicting NJ only as noisy English-speaking tourists, litterers, and loiterers. And how local residents managed to get Kyoto City to remove that comic with a phone call of protest. (Even that blog post had an impact: It smoked out a Gaijin Handler who tried to blame us as a foreign “troublemaking demographic” wasting Japan’s money.) That’s fine. The irony here was that the people who developed this comic were Kyoto Seika University and the Kyoto International Manga Museum — “international” places you think would know better than to encourage prejudice.

Well, I’m not sure why this didn’t dawn on me sooner, but as pointed out on FB, Kyoto Seika University just happens to have a naturalized Malian-Japanese named Dr. Oussouby Sacko as its President (see posts on him here and here). I wonder if he was aware of this project, and if he would have anything to say about it now? Given Dr. Sacko’s flawed social science training regarding how racism works, and his apparent obliviousness about his own privilege in Japan, I’m not so sure. (Dr. Sacko’s only apparent public contact is at

Anyway, here is Kyoto Seika University’s statement of principles, undersigned by the man himself. How does this square with being involved in encouraging prejudice in Japan’s grade-schoolers?



3) Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

Here’s an interview I had with the Shingetsu News Agency, in one of their “Speakeasys” (YouTube, 25 minutes). I’m making the case that the GOJ could be doing a much worse job taking care of their NJ Residents, but that’s because people have been vigilant about potential human rights abuses. It could very easily revert to racist and exclusionary habits if systems get overloaded or panic hits. Also, I argue that it’s also incumbent upon NJ Residents themselves to step out of their “Guestism” mentalities and claim their due as taxpayers and residents.


… and finally …

4) Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, Visible Minorities col 9, April 20, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

Read the rest at discussion at


That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Do you like what you read on  Want to help keep the archive active and support’s activities?  Please consider donating a little something.  More details here. Or if you prefer something less complicated, just click on an advertisement below.

33 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 18, 2020

  • We already talked about this in the comment during the past 2 months, but now the JapanTimes finally wrote an article about it (took them long enough):

    Like all of us have been saying here for months, Japan is the only first world country which denies entry to almost all foreigners, regardless of their visa status. I was interested in how the apologists will try to spin this one, but to my surprise none of them decided to leave a comment under this article. Looks like even the apologists can‘t manage to defend this act of clear racism and xenophobia. What‘s even worse is that the article mentions how foreigners who flew back from countries which are not on the entry ban list (like India) are still being denied entry, because the immigration officers are claiming „all foreigners are banned“. So, not only do we have a racist regulation by the government here, immigration officers are even expanding this racist regulation thus making things even worse than they already are. This whole situation is just racist, unprofessional and unprecedented in the developed world. The only thing I can say here is shame on Japan. This situation is just disgusting. I hope all these peoole will be able to see their family again one day. And I hope they move out of Japan together with their families once all of this is over. I actually wish all foreigners would move out of Japan at once. The government can then celebrate this together with the right wingers because Japan would finally be racially „pure“. Good luck with the economy and the social safety net though.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Naomi Osaka; ‘Silence (in the face of racism) is betrayal’

    I’ll look forward to hearing her speak out the next time immigration officials crush an NJ to death when the strap him to a plane seat to deport him!
    In the meantime, she ought to STFU and stop pointing the finger at the US and fix the racism problem in ‘her own country’: Japan, no? Or is she black American again now? Just today I saw her introduced on CNN as ‘the tennis world champion from Japan’.

    — Look, I’ve been accused of the same thing: “Talk about racism in America before you talk about racism in Japan.” It’s going down the same track of Whataboutism that will always serve to shut people up from talking about much of anything wrong (because it’s always worse elsewhere). Osaka can talk about racism in the US if she wants.

    What she should ALSO do is talk about racism in Japan. What’s NOT helpful, for example, is her denialism when she whitewashed racism when she herself got whitewashed in that Nissin cup noodle ad some time back.

    Call for consistency, as in: How about her silence in the face of racism there? Nice if the Reuters article had done that. But that would probably be editorializing for them in a facts- and quotes-based article.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      With respect Dr. Debito, I’m not telling Naomi Osaka not to speak out on racism, I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of her own words. She says;
      ‘Silence is betrayal.’
      Yet, she claims to be Japanese and is literally silent about racism in Japan (even when the Japanese portray her as a white girl!).
      And if she doesn’t like the racism in America, shouldn’t she ‘go back to her own country’ (Japan)? That’s what Japanese say to me when I complain of racism in Japan.
      This issue perfectly exposes how Osaka hasn’t got a clue about life in Japan, and keeps forgetting that she is a Japanese citizen. She should try shaming Japan on international media and she how that works out for her.

      — She won’t. She too is a Collaborator of a different stripe: one who will preserve the privilege she only sees in corporate sponsorships (not in self-earned power she has earned after a generation or two of getting to know Japan). It’s all the same result, however: another minority who won’t stand up for other minorities.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Maybe Osaka should display some of that ‘innate Japanese humility’ the press has been ramming down our throats and speak out against the racism she has been subjected to in Japanese noodle adverts.

    • On that same note, I’m absolutely loving the irony of all the press coverage of the race riots in the U.S. with absolutely zero effort to even attempt to analyze the causes of the problem or acknowledge how othering and racism in Japan will give rise to the exact same problems unless dealt with promptly.

        • David Markle says:

          Can you imagine what would happen if Osaka started to take up the ‘racism in Japan’ mantra? Her corporate sponsorships would dry up overnight, she would be denounced immediately by the J sports world as being “unappreciative” of her Japanese masters. She would go from having her Japanese blood being made a magical elixir that overcomes the bad foreign blood, to being a Darth Vader like/ contaminated half foreign, dirty gaijin. She would be unceremoniously kicked into the rubbish bin of over the hill athletes. Forgotten and good riddancest, even if she was still managing to win on the tennis court.

          Give that the professional lives of athletes are short at best especially for those representing Japan, it is in her own self interest to continue to denounce the U.S. racists, while praising her Japan benefactors. Keep riding that gravely train till you get kicked off honey, which will come soon enough.

          • Jim Di Griz says:

            Well, yeah, absolutely this. You’ve hit the nail on the head. She is cynically exploiting her ‘Japaneseness’ for financial gain, which is fine, as long as she doesn’t start with holier-than-thou moral high ground virtue signally preaching to others.
            Oh, wait, that’s exactly what she’s doing. If she’s going to sell out all NJ in Japan and take the money, the she should STFU and take the money and learn to live with herself and sleep at night. But if she’s going to ‘take the money’ and try to stand on the moral high ground, then she better be expecting a comeback.

  • I just wanted to share that there has been a protest against police brutality and police discrimination of foreigners in Tokyo today.

    If anyone wants to know more about the protests, I suggest you follow these two people on Twitter:

    They organized these protests and they do much more stuff, like helping detainees and refugees in Japan and protesting against their treatment by immigration.

    Looking at pictures and videos of the protest and talking to a few people who were there, I‘m really glad about how diverse the group was. There were schoolgirls, salaryman, lawyers and foreign residents all protesting racism and police brutality together.

    There are also going to be two more protests mainly about BLM in Osaka tomorrow and next Sunday June 14th. These are organized mostly by foreign residents and BLM will be the main theme instead of racism and discrimination in general, but it‘s still an important movement in my opinion. So, if anyone wants to support those movements please do. I‘m not in Japan anymore so I can just show my support by tweeting about it, but I‘m just glad that people are finally waking up to the fact that Japanese cops are racist too and that racism isn‘t just an American problem of white people discriminating against black people. Racism is a global problem, and it‘s alive and kicking in Japan.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      You got a screenshot of her ‘reply’?
      I just spent 15 mins scrolling though her feed from your link, and it was all anime references. What did Osaka actually say?

      • Hm, weird the link still works perfectly fine for me. I screenshoted some of her replies and tweets. Unfortunately she deleted her best reply. There was a Japanese woman claiming that she has a black husband and that her two “hafu” black kids never faced any discrimination in Japan and that Osaka is terrible for supporting such a movement. Osaka basically just told her that she’s grateful that her mother raised her better and that she feels sorry for her children. I don’t know why she decided to delete that tweet (probably too combative? I don’t know).

        But anyway here are some screenshots I made:

        1. Here she’s showing support for the Black Lives Matter Kansai demonstration:

        2. She also replied a racist moron who thankfully got suspended from Twitter. You can read about his story in this thread (first screenshot is Osaka’s reply):

        Long story short, he’s a racist moron and I’m glad he got suspended.

        3. She also replied to a Japanese person who’s mad about her supporting the BLM event in Japan and doesn’t want to support her because of that anymore (probably never even did so to begin with).

        4. The original Tweet I posted, I had to make two screenshots because it doesn’t fit into a single one.

        What’s happening here is that somebody wrote that there is no racism in Japan and she replied to that by posting an article that proves how she was a victim of racism in Japan and by sarcastically writing “NANIIIIII?!”.

        I’m glad that she acknowledged racism in Japan and that she supports the protests going on. Her tweets probably contributed to the successful outcome of yesterday’s protest. According to the organizers they expected 200 people, but approximately 2000 showed up. I wish more Japanese celebrities, especially non “hafu” would speak out against racism, but that’s wishful thinking of course. Still, this is a positive beginning at least and I’m quite glad about everything that happend the last 2 days. I’m still very sad that a human being had to die for all of this to happen though.

  • David Markle says:

    I would agree that SM is the best way to get the message to her. She probably, like almost every other person of her generation, spends almost every waking minute worshiping at the alter of her Twitter and Facebook accounts, especially since she is a public figure who depends on her image to keep raking in the moola.

  • David Markle says:

    So Naomi is the highest paid female athlete EVER earning in excess of 37 million $ last year according to Forbes.

    These are her biggest sponsors with Nike alone paying her 10 million. I assume she has this in her bank account at this time, but who knows.

    Nike, BodyArmor, Nissan, MasterCard, Shiseido, Yonex and Hyperice.

    It looks like 3 of the 7 are J corps in name but actually they all have deep ties in Japan. Fair enough. Now for fun, etc. let’s watch what these magnificent 7 do with regard to their financial/professional relationship to poor Naomi in the near future.

    This is just to make a point, and for my own entertainment.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      I get your point, but I don’t think anything will happen. With regard to Japan, all she’s done is posted a ‘Nani’ GIF in response to other people’s comments. It’s wide open to broad interpretation. It’s hardly an unambiguous criticism of Japan’s institutional racism. I doubt most Japanese take it as anything other than her expressing miscomprehension. It’s like posting ‘What?!’.
      I’ve said it before, but there are many Japanese with an international platform, many who choose to live overseas, who have got literally nothing to say about Japan on this issue. I could write a whole damn thread on Yoko Ono!
      And as for this virtue-signaling by Utada Hikaru;
      Has everyone got amnesia? About 12 years ago on Twitter she said (whilst owning a NY apartment and a beachfront condo in California) that ‘Foreigners buying homes in Japan was a problem’ (I would find a link, but who’s got time to trawl through a decade of twitter feed).

    • David Markle says:

      There will be a backlash. I can smell it in the air like a septic tank that needs pumping.

  • David Markle says:

    Well, Naomi seems to have found her niche; condemning the U.S. as a racist cesspool, while claiming Japan ‘has a few bad apples.’

    Wow! I am sure they are quaking in their slippers at that powerful rebuke.

    “I know I’ve been attacking a lot of racist Japanese tweets the last few days, but Japan is actually a really amazing place. I really don’t want to give the misconception that the entire country is racist, they just have a few bad apples like everyone else. Love you guys.”

    She knows who butters her bread.

    Get it on that Greg Clark gravy train girl!

    The sycophantic article’s editorial conclusion is even more interesting. –Debito.

    “They Just Have A Few Bad Apples” – Naomi Osaka Reemphasizes Her Love For Japan
    BY ARYAN SHARMA, JUNE 14, 2020

    Naomi Osaka has been one of the most vocal tennis players ever since the unfortunate demise of George Floyd that led to widespread protests in the USA. Recently, she had altercations with the people from Japan as well.

    The purpose was to obviously showcase that the problem was not just one specific to the USA. It actually existed within many countries including Japan. However, Osaka clarified in a recent tweet that all Japanese people were not similar.

    Even though there might be some who hold ill-will towards people of color, the vast majority was really empathetic. She conveyed this sentiment through her Twitter account. Let’s find out what she had to say.

    What did Naomi Osaka say?
    Naomi Osaka referred to them as few bad apples. That’s because they are less in number.

    Quote: “I know I’ve been attacking a lot of racist Japanese tweets the last few days, but Japan is actually a really amazing place. I really don’t want to give the misconception that the entire country is racist, they just have a few bad apples like everyone else. Love you guys.”

    That’s an important point that she has highlighted. The nature of social media is such that people tend to make generalizations. Especially Asian people, who already face a lot of stereotypes, are affected by this in the worst manner.

    Naomi Osaka just showed the correct manner to make constructive criticism. You can call out wrong behavior without making that about the person’s community or his entire country. That’s the sort of thing that leads to more conflicts and disagreements.

    People actually need more voices of reconciliation in today’s times than those of discord. A healing society requires its celebrities to step up and make the right choices for peace. The example of Naomi Osaka is certainly one that all people can follow as well as adhere to when engaging in intense online discussions. ENDS

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      For me, third from last paragraph is (disappointingly) mind blowing! ‘A few bad apples’?!? WTF! I guess Osaka missed the last 60 years of how that expression is used by the majority to escape responsibility for confronting and changing systematic and institutional racism, by creating a false narrative that victims fears aren’t justified and minorities everyday experiences are denied by the majority;

      It’s a ‘Yeah, yeah, STFU’ response to the issue.
      Absolutely mind blowing for her to trot out that false narrative show-pony.

      Additionally, this article that set out to talk about her criticizing (weakly) racism in Japan somehow totally inverts the issue and makes the Japanese the victims of ‘others’ racism;
      ‘ Especially Asian people, who already face a lot of stereotypes, are affected by this in the worst manner.’

      A double WTF moment! Japan, please put your victim complex down for a moment, understand that the definition of racism is not ‘white people treating black people badly’, and at least try to make the effort to recognize that many NJ feel discriminated against in Japan by Japanese whether you want to believe NJ opinions are justified or not- you don’t get to demand how other people feel.

      Osaka needs to decide if she’s speaking about racism in America as a black American, or an Asian American, or if she’s speaking as an non-Yamato Japanese being discriminated against in Japan, or as a Japanese being discriminated against in Japan, without flipping between these positions in the same sentence and making it unclear what she is attempting to relate. Her position is just a confusing jumble of words and phrases with no clear message except America=bad, Japan=wonderful.

      How the f*ck would she know how life in Japan is? She doesn’t live there. Can she remember all the complex social interactions, casual and institutional racism, discrimination in employment and housing she faced when she lived here AS A TODDLER?

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        BTW, has she even seen her Wikipedia page? It lists four different instances of Japanese discrimination against others;

        1. ‘The two girls were given their mother’s maiden name due to the Japanese Family Registration Law (Koseki) (a foreign spouse must join the Japanese partner’s koseki and children are registered under that Japanese spouse’s surname).’ A few bad apples?

        2. ‘Osaka decided to relinquish her citizenship in 2019 so that she could represent Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and also in accordance with Japan’s Nationality Act, which requires dual citizens to choose a nationality by the age of 22.’ A few bad apples?

        3. ‘In Japan, she is referred to as a hāfu, meaning that she is half-Japanese.’ A few bad apples?

        4. ‘ Her Japanese grandparents did not initially accept her parents’ relationship. This led to her parents relocating from Hokkaido to the city of Osaka, where she and her sister were born. As a result, her mother did not have contact with her family for nearly 15 years’. A few bad apples?

        A few here, a few there, it all adds up.

        — Not to excuse her relativism, but maybe getting rich from Japan is her way of getting her own back.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          Well, that would be the sweetest for of revenge Dr. Debito, and I wouldn’t begrudge it. But if that’s the case, maybe she should pipe down instead of insulting NJ’s intelligence.

        • Denying Japanese racism without having had to suffer it is called having your cake and eating it too.

          Osaka most certainly had a better life for moving abroad, to the US. Baseball player Louis Okoye is the real deal. And Ariana Miyamoto. And Priyanka Yoshikawa. Their lives are what Osaka’s would have been like if she had grown up in Japan, like they did.

          Kudos to her as an athlete, and good for her for making money representing Japan. But it’s sad to see people giving credibility to somebody who knows squat about life in Japan: indeed she hasn’t lived here since she was 3. Being 100% Japanese and knowing little about Japan are not irreconcilable.

    • Ty for sharing.
      At a loss for words. A society that makes a kindergartener think about suicide… What a rotten world we live in.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      That’s heartbreaking. Good on him for speaking out, he’s a hero I can tell my kids about.

  • David Markle says:

    Here is actually a pretty good article for a change. It talks about racism in Japan.


    I liked the quote from the black talent who says TBS doesn’t have a clue as to what racism even is, much less how to deal responsibly with it.

    How many black talents are there in Japan?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    EU nations realize Japan isn’t honoring Hague Convention and gives Japan a mouthful;'abduction'-of-children-by-a-parent

    For Japan, it’s all about ‘blood’, but EU sees it a case of Japan abducting EU citizens (since EU states endorse dual nationality). Imagine how Japan would act if another nation abducted its citizens…
    Oh, wait! Abe made his whole career on the NK abduction issue.

    • Thank you for posting this. I follwed the original discussion of this petition back in February and I briefly wrote about it on You can watch the full recorded livestream here:

      This was extremely interesting for me, since I‘m an EU citizen and I wanted to see how the EU would act on this. I‘m surprised that they took action so quickly. My problem with the article is that it says that these fathers have been lobbying the EU lawmakers, which is just false. They submitted a petition to the European Parliament Committee on Petitions and every EU citizen has the right to do that. If the Committee thinks that the petition is valid they will act on it as had happened. This has nothing to do with lobbying.

      Also, did anyone catch this? „ An official at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government had no comment, adding that it would continue to explain its actions to the EU and member states.“

      „Continue to explain its actions…“, so basically more of „We are Japan and we will continue to do what we want.“ The EU should really introduce some sactions for such arogant behavior from Japanese officials. They just don‘t give a damn about children‘s and parent‘s human rights.

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Yeah, other countries have got to wake up to Japan’s ‘continue to explain/increase understanding’ BS. It might wash when the LDP are ignoring the will of the domestic population, but international audiences really ought to have learned it means ‘ignore you and prevaricate whilst stalking for time until you give up and move on, letting us have our own way’.
        Treaty obligations are *obligations* and other nations really should stop pussyfooting around Japan on this abuse of children’s human rights and start looking to serious penalties instead.

    • This is an atrocious human rights violation, and how typical of JapanToday to try to downplay it, adding quotation marks to abduction to try to suggest it’s not “real” abduction. Absolutely disgusting.

      Obviously the plight of immigrant parents is unacceptable, but in the article a charity group is noted as pointing out that this problem plagues like 150,000 people.

      How barbaric and backwards do you have to be to proclaim that parents do not have a right to see their own children just because they got divorced? An absolute embarrassment for our country.

Leave a Reply to HJ Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>