Followup: Mark proposes a class-action lawsuit, against Japan Govt for Foreign Resident Travel Ban, to Human Rights Watch Japan


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Hi Blog. Following up on yesterday’s post, Reader Mark proposes that Human Rights Watch Japan, which recently decried Japan’s horrible travel ban on Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, think about organizing a class-action lawsuit against the Japanese Government.  The New York Times just did a good article on the ban, while, has written extensively on it (start here), and there’s an online petition here giving you even more information.  Brief commentary for me only, back to Summer Mode; so Mark, take it away.  Forwarding with permission.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Readers of could write their experiences to:
“Human Rights Watch”
Japan Director – Dr. Doi Kanae

From: Reader “Mark”
To: Human Rights Watch Japan ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチ日本代表
Doi Kanae 土井香苗様,

I am a PhD Student at the Graduate School of Medicine, The University of XXXXXX. I obtained an MD Degree in XXXXXX (my native country).

I would like to point the fact that foreigners in Japan (including me) have been severely affected by a political decision implemented in the form of a travel ban. Here are some details:

As a consequence, thousands of families in Japan have been divided and many have suffered mental distress.

As a majority of foreign residents in Japan have low socioeconomic status, it is almost impossible for most “gaikokujin” to challenge the Travel Ban in courts in Tokyo (due to lawyer’s expenses). I have been in contact with some academics and lawyers in Japan and one of them suggested the idea of filling a “Class Action Lawsuit” in Tokyo because the “Travel Ban” violates Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution:

第十四条 すべて国民は、法の下に平等であつて、人種、信条、性別、社会的身分又は門地により、政治的、経済的又は社会的関係において、差別されない。
Article 14. All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.

An American Lawyer at an International Firm in Tokyo privately agreed but recommended proceeding in court via an NGO.

Would it be possible for Human Rights Watch Japan to fill a “Class Action Lawsuit” to protect migrants, refugees and all the foreign community in Japan?

Sincerely, Mark
Email: (new)

Before sharing your story, please create a “ProtonMail” account for end-to-end encryption.

All the information provided is STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. Your story would be analyzed by:
– [ ]
– Human Rights Watch Japan [ ]
– Embassy/Consulate

PS. My PhD Studies are in the Field of Microbiology, Pathology and Immunology. There are absolutely no medical reasons to support the travel ban. It is just racial discrimination as described on

UPDATE AUG 10, 2020 FROM MARK: readers are welcome to write how the travel ban affected you and your family.

Please send a copy of your experience in your native language to:

We are collecting evidence for a lawsuit and need your help!

PS. Any language is acceptable; English, Japanese, Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian), Chinese, Korean, etc.

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.

39 comments on “Followup: Mark proposes a class-action lawsuit, against Japan Govt for Foreign Resident Travel Ban, to Human Rights Watch Japan

  • I wonder what is the supreme court interpretation of article 14.
    What does exactly “すべて国民は” mean?
    Would it include foreigners or only Japanese citizens?
    Has the supreme court decided about this article in the past?

  • Zig Justice says:

    My guess is that the only people who would have valid standing would be the Japanese spouses/parents/children of non-Japanese residents, due to the specification of “nationals (国民)” in the text of the constitution.

    By their status as non-Japanese, any potential litigants would be summarily dismissed as not being equal under the law due to the fact that they are not Japanese nationals.

    . o O (Pretty sure Debito’s covered similar things before.)

    – Not necessarily. There is legal precedent in both directions. So it will depend on the judge. As it always will anyway given the relative lack of stare decisis in Japanese jurisprudence.

  • I completely support any legal attempt to fight back against this discrimination that has hurt so, so many residents.

    More power to you. Please push forward with this.

  • Good Luck with it. As many often say: the Japanese constitution doesn’t apply to foreigners. It’s designed for Japanese.”

    I would be happy if something is really done about it. I mentioned in another article, some countries in spite of hundreds of thousands of tests a week won’t test anyone without symptoms. Sarcasm is that J. Gov asks to travel elsewhere, where they do so. Even in the EU, many neighboring countries issued code red or orange which means no essential travel should be avoided.
    Besides, I don’t think they would test someone who pops up from another country while they have their own problems with a rise in infection and priorities lies there.
    I also mentioned before that I don’t mind test, but why second re-entry permit from Embassies? It smells here something.

    Besides, my Japanese wife read yesterday on Japanese news that some countries require test from Japanese before they travel. J.Gov asked a few clinics to focus on doing such tests. I was unable to confirm it on any foreign news or European countries, even though she said that a few in Europe require this.
    All I know most European countries lifted the ban for Japanese tourists and they don’t need to do anything.

    Again, good luck and I do hope HUman Rights Watchdog can help. We may see in this case how independent is the Japanese Court.

  • I believe the logical starting point would be to indicate this policy denies Japanese who have foreign spouses their Constitutional rights. The end game should be to allow for the departure and return of Permanent Residents (as a minimum). I wonder if it would be better for a group of Japanese spouses to file this class action lawsuit.

    I would participate in such a class action suit and I know others that would. I will forward this to other people I know.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      This. Right now government policy is forcing Japanese spouses of NJ citizens to be single income (if they have a job) single parents and putting them into poverty and debt. That’s the angle.

      • Neverawajin says:

        and depriving those international marriages’ Japanese children from the company and protection of one of their parents.

        • Jim Di Griz says:

          Yeah, but it’s Japan, and no one cares about NJ or children’s rights- they have no voice.
          But Japanese spouses (male or female) can verbalize their discontent in a way children can’t and in a way that other Japanese can understand that their rights are being violated.

  • Ridiculous procedure for re-entrants.
    A lot of work for people to do but according to Reedit where the subjects circulate too, many people actually start to do.

    From J Embassy in Belgium

    If a PCR test for asymptomatic person is not available in the country/region of your residence, please be noted lthat the applicant is required to stop at a third country where it is available before leaving for Japan.

    The same website from meeting of Ministers
    Read Point 2. See favorable word?

    “… the list would be made based on the objective consideration of COVID-19 situation in Japan and the favourable Japan-EU relations”

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      Alone the formulation “country of residence” is false bs. The country of residence of the people affected is Japan, and not the country where they’re unnecessarily forced to be stuck in. Those words show the tremendous lack of awareness of the bureaucrats in charge. They don’t see us as legitimate residents of Japan even if we possess valid long-term visas. It’s really about time to take these bigots to court.

      • It changes every time, but I still not see any positive change. My Japanese wife who is with me all the time can go to visit Japan soon, while I decided to stay rather than be turned away at Narita even though we always stay together. We never travel separately either, so it is very hard for us.
        I’m not going to go through the hassle and look for a third country that can do a free test without symptoms.
        Besides, in Europe infection sarge and various warning codes (orange, red, yellow…) are implemented by different European countries to discourage travels within the EU.
        I’m also aware that even if I could go to Tokyo, I would have to stay without the chance of going out again. No prospect when this discrimination will end. I would be stack but on the other side of the globe. I work in Japan and Europe and always I’m a little bit on both sides.

        Meanwhile, my wife can go and back as she pleases. She holds a residency permit in Europe too.
        For her to return to both homes require no tests, no confirmations, nothing. Just slide J passport through machine and viola straight to the plane.
        As for me, I have to suspend my work in Tokyo this time.

        By the way, I’m so happy that Debito uses Protonmail and encourage others to do so.
        BRAVO! I have been using it for quite a while.

  • David Markle says:

    Do you have to have suffered damages to participate in this suit? Suppose one had to cancel plans to attend a funeral abroad because of the fear of not being able to return to their country of residence, i.e. Japan?

  • The Sankei Shinbun published an interview with Humans Rights Watch Director (Dr. Doi Kanae) on August 8, 2020:

    Note: The Interview was held before the epidemic of COVID-19.
    Wikipedia info:

    The Sankei Shimbun is a nationalist[15][16][17][18][19] and conservative[1][2][3][4] newspaper. Some media outlets even reported Sankei Shimbun as far-right newspapers.[20][21]

  • Is there a GoFundMe-type campaign already setup?
    I’d be happy to contribute my share and I suspect I won’t be the only one.

  • International students coming to Japan, are facing severe economical and mental crisis due to vague decision. Many of us have left the jobs in order to arrive on schedule time. We are left with very short time. We are ready to comply any rule upon arrival.

    • When comes to student. One of student who lives in Tokyo and her brother also student leaves in Kyushu planned to move to new place. They have now big problem to rent an appartement.
      Landlords don’t want foreigners again. The reason is that many apartments have been left by foreign students. They left their staff and not pay for it. They blame the students while I think is the ban. I assume that when someone leave their staff behind ( not just single person ) then it might be due to the ban. Maybe they want to come back but cannot. Landlords blame them though.
      This is real story.

  • Here is an article by an associated researcher at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Romania:

    …”Japan is increasingly facing a demographic problem, but this cannot explain the pronounced economic decline which started more than three decades now.”

    …”Japan’s labor productivity in services is not only much lower than in manufacturing, but also fares quite badly in an international comparison. For example, Japan’s tourism industry accounted for only 1.9 percent of gross value added (GVA) in 2016, compared to a share in employment of 9.6 percent, one of the worst ratios among the OECD countries (Graph 6). The relative abundance of labor engaged in low-productivity jobs shows again that labor is not the constraining factor for growth”

    Comment from reader:

    Even despite those facts, international Students are unwelcome according to MOFA and Ministry of Justice. MEXT is hurriedly making a PR campaign to cover the Government distrust of foreigners during the COVID-Discrimination ! (“gaijin > outsiders) !

    Let’s watch MEXT’s website blunders on the WayBack Machine ( ) 😀

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Yeah, that world famous, Japanese unique culture of ‘Omotenashi’ sure evaporated fast once the olympics were cancelled, didn’t it?
      In ‘my culture’ we only have the simple concept of ‘hospitality’ towards guests, but resident’s rights are protected by law…[Japan FAIL]

    • Apparently there is no such thing as a class action lawsuit in Japan, fail:

      “About an answer from Human Rights Watch Japan (HRWJ)

      A few days ago I suggested to every supporter to contact HRWJ. In the meantime I have received an answer from them. Apparently the Japanese legal system does not have a system of class action. That is why they cannot stand in and sue in favor of those people badly affected. However, other activities to support this cause are possible.

      As for me personally, I have still no intention to sue as an individual for several reasons, but I will keep this petition running for the time being. Please continue your kind support.”

      source: page on Sven Kramer’s petition

      • Official message from HRW Tokyo
        HRW Tokyo

        Wednesday, August 12, 2020 8:16 AM
        To [XXXXX]

        Dear XXXXX sama and XXXXX sama,

        Thank you very much for contacting Human Rights Watch and for starting the petition on the immigration policy by the Japanese government. We have received your messages with deep gratitude for sharing this very important issue with your personal stories.

        Japan unfortunately has neither the Class Action lawsuit system you proposed, nor the system for an NGO to become plaintiff on behalf of victims. On top of these Human Rights Watch unfortunately does not file cases so instead we have started looking into what else we can do, from the perspective of international human rights law and standards. Our staffs at the Tokyo office might contact you in the process and we thank you very much in advance for your cooperation.

        We understand that the latest MoJ policy dated July 31 ( resulted from your tireless actions and we would like to congratulate you on making this important step forward possible.

        In order to look into what HRW can do, could we get your advice on the following regarding this policy:

        1. Could you inform us specifically what in the language of this latest MoJ policy (dated July 31) you see as problematic?

        (Especially, do you see this new policy is problematic in itself, or, do you consider this policy to be ok but the problem is rather on its implementation – whether it will actually put into practice or not)

        2. If you happen to have problematic cases that have occurred (or have continued) after this July 31 policy is implemented, could you share them with us?

        Again, we thank you very much for this important initiative and we look forward to hearing from you.

        Human Rights Watch Tokyo office

    • Neverawajin says:

      I fully support this initiative. Since having to stop going to work because of the pandemic, I’ve been exploring jobs back in Canada. It’s been frustrating to see the amount and conditions of available options over there looking immensely better on every aspect, but the prospect of not being able to return to my home and wife whenever needed is a major deterrent from going ahead. Therefore I’m basically in a limbo.. While I do believe this to be violation of human rights itself, I’m afraid that unlike those residents who found themselves locked outside Japan, away from their homes and families, or are inside the country but deprived from leaving to take care of urging personal or business matters due to the risk of not being able to reenter, my situation might not be as prominent, as I haven’t specifically faced a tangible need for going abroad since the travel ban — Like many have pointed out, this whole thing might be the final nail in the coffin and I’m now seriously considering leaving for good in the long term once the waters have calmed down… At any rate I would be willing to contribute financially for this cause (as some others have also offered) .. I’m also sending a letter to the Canadian Embassy ( as another Canadian fellow already did) to raise my protest and demand their action about the issue.

      • Readers,

        Please remember your Embassy/Consulate to visit the blog of Professor Debito Arudou, PhD.

        Please be sure to convince the Diplomatic Staff to visit

        We are in negotiation with Human Rights Watch Japan on behalf of foreigners affected by the Travel Ban.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Magdalena Osumi gets it. Surprised JT printed this;

    …Some 90,000 people who left the country before Japan imposed the ban on their destinations have been denied entry to Japan for months, struggling to cover both their bills in Japan and additional expenses during their stay abroad.

    The entry ban has not only affected non-Japanese residents but the operation of business, educational and other institutions relying on them. Last Monday business lobby groups from Europe, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. joined in calls on the Japanese government to lift the restrictions, stressing the policy “can only discourage foreign nationals, and the companies they work for, from investing in Japan.”

    Keeping the divide between Japan’s foreign residents and Japanese nationals may deepen racial divides and non-Japanese residents’ sense of alienation from the society they have long considered themselves part of.

    In the months to come, Japan will face the challenge of regaining the shaken trust of the non-Japanese community undercut by the government’s inaction towards addressing growing criticism of unequal treatment.

    Any pandemic requires planning and preparedness and, in this crisis, Japan has failed to guarantee its foreign residents a place in society by denying especially those who live here on a long-term basis the basic right to access their livelihoods.

    Japan’s entry ban will likely have a long-lasting impact on the entire foreign community, pushing some of its members to leave the country they had invested their entire lives in — a decision that could wipe out their decades of input and impact.”

  • Di Griz; Thanks for sharing. Many I know fall into the last paragraph. I live here but I no longer read the Japan Times much.

    I know several long term residents who are leaving and many have held high positions in foreign companies and some within Japanese companies (primarily banking). I also know of 2 large international corporations who will relocate from Japan once the dust settles. One will relocate to Singapore and the other has not decided where as of yet.

    I fear Japan has allowed this to fester too long and has reached the limit of tolerance of even the most steadfast of apologists.

    For me it is too bad as I have several Japanese friends who think this law us inhuman and atrocious. I place the blame for this issue solely on the shortsighted and bigoted leaders in Tokyo who have had everything handed to them on a silver spoon since birth.

    As I stated previously; this (in my humble opinion) is the top of the Dejima Awards due to its short sightedness, bigotry and total inhumanity.

  • Hi Guys,

    Abe announced today to allow re-entry from Sep. 1st. There are many excited people on Japan Today posts, but…hey! it`s the same as it was. Nothing new and even worse.
    Foreign PR is still required to get a test with 72h prior to the flight and get a confirmation letter from the Embassy. WTF! Besides, at Narita foreigner must take PCR test again and if it`s positive then one gets kicked out. Yes, no entry will be allowed even though the test was negative in another country.
    Thank you Sir PM for making it easier with positive announcements to allow PR to re-enter on the same conditions as before. Now, find me a country where they will do PCR without any reason and sign a Japanese written document. I think they want to filter residents via confirmation letter.
    All those business lobbies and news brought did nothing. At least they tried.

  • And here are the requirements for us to re-enter Japan.

    It is not possible to meet the requirements set by the Japanese government. Furthermore we need to apply in advance and receive permission before leaving. It is more difficult a requirement than it is for tourists.

    As for Osumi-san; watch her confrontation Motegi kun in the video

    The article about their confrontation is here

    I am not a journalist (I am a scientist) but I will do everything I can to spread this information to as many people I know (including unsolicited emails to journalists)

    • Wow, haha, if you listen to the (painful) “English translation” of the video, it’s clearly been censored.

      When Motegi switches to English, his English is recorded, and then the recording of the reporter replying, “Japanese is fine. You don’t need to make fun of me like that” in Japanese, to which Motegi repeats (three times) “I’m not making fun of you” is also included, but this is not translated, and when the reporter’s speech resumes, the bit of her saying “When I’m speaking Japanese, please respond to me in Japanese” is also obfuscated.

      Blatant propagandistic misinformation.

    • @Dave I was about to post the same link to pdf. It supposed to be the same rules like Japanese but after all is worse and seems like more control. When I leave Japan I always indicate return between 2-3 years to stay safe. I cannot give them exact return date as it depends. I’m usually 50-50 here and there. I work in Japan and Europe. Now it complicates everything.
      Japanese nationals can swipe their passport via readers and proceed to aircraft while foreigners with reentry must ask for privilege to re-enter. While abroad one must find health facility who will be willing to test for covid without symptoms which may cost as much as £200 in UK according to poster from JapanToday. Some countries don’t have even such facilities.
      Everywhere I see title: Japan eases restriction and allow foreigners to re-enter…BS! for what price ? I say again with J Passport they don’t need anything because only foreigners bring viruses. And only residents foreigners must be fingerprinted and photographed as potential criminals. Later only foreigners will require to be vaccinated to re-enter.
      I would blame partly ACCJ and other biz lobbies for the situation. They were soft on PCR requirements prior return to Japan. Now it gots worse.

  • Wow what a racist moron this Motegi guy is. This is even worse than the video from last month I posted where you and I argued that his body language changed when talking to foreign reporters and how condescending he was. This press conference proves it once and for all. He doesn’t even try to hide behind body language anymore, he straight out switches to English even though the reporter is clearly fluent in Japanese and in the end asks “Do you understand my Japanese?”

    Looks like the mask is fully off now and government officials don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re disgusted by foreigners asking questions. Yes, please try to spread this video Dave, everybody who has an interest in Japan needs to see and hear this.

    • Motegi’s response was unquestionably inappropriate and condescending. I was really relieved when the reporter reproved him for it. Of course, he couldn’t resist taking one last pot shot at the end with the “Could you understand my Japanese?” Seriously grade school level behavior.

      That being said, the reporter’s Japanese was painful to listen to. I know nothing about the woman, so I’m assuming she was just really nervous and couldn’t quite collect her thoughts, but she should have written out the questions or practiced them in advance. Maybe this is her first time, and she’ll do better as she gets more practice? I’ve questioned bureaucrats at public hearings like this before, and it absolutely gets your pulse pounding, so I understand, but honestly I could barely understand what she was trying to ask with the first question. Here’s hoping she stays on the case.

      – I could parse her Japanese in the end just fine. Motegi is as usual for these language bigots just trying to put her in her place by alienating her. Using the Kokugo as a weapon. Good for her for standing up to it.

      • Loverilakkuma says:

        I agree that her Japanese is not perfect, but it is no problem. Motegi answered without asking for clarification on her first question. Most of the time she struggled in articulation is a long sentence explaining the contextual background. On the other hand, her short speech line was crystal clear. Motegi could hear her saying “Kagakuteki Konkyo,” which he missed. But he chose to stonewall her through his pretense.

        I just briefly checked his background. Like many other ministry leaders, Motegi is a Kennedy School graduate, a qualification for elitism. Last year, he boasted that ministers should be able to speak English in press conference involving foreign diplomats. Guess what, he spoke all the time in Japanese at press conferences accompanying a translator. I cannot find any footages he speaks English at all. Maybe he wasn’t pleased with Taro Kono(who was his predecessor) for communicating with foreign diplomats in English all the time. So I guess his seemingly contorted facial expression in his body language is a sign of inadequacy and insecurity.

        He’s a kind of guy who weaponizes Kokugo ideology to claim the ethos of cultural superiority so that he could shield himself from vulnerabilities to professional jealousy.
        He’s not the only one, and he won’t be the last.

    • ShaunInMiyagi says:

      This is the same racist Motegi who apparently is now a contender to be the next Prime Minister. Heaven help us and heaven help Japan if he gets in.

  • The newest update on re-entry. It seems like Japanese returnees are now exempted from any tests. However continuation of more strict re-entry requirement is explained as control of spreading virus. I say again, this means only foreigners carry disease.
    Beter check the article

    I wonder if any lobby will finally be able to push it and do something about it. This is total discrimination.

  • The Case for Reciprocity.

    Western countries, pretty much without exception, I think have operated on the unspoken assumption that we should lead by example about how we treat other people be they citizens or not. We don’t look to other countries for examples to follow but have our own common or largely common understanding that the right thing to do is treat people with equality, as far as possible. If other countries don’t reciprocate with our fair play, we use international pressure to try to ask them to change. They often refuse to change. Yet we continue to extend the generous gift of equality because failing to do so is viewed as repugnant by our guiding principles.

    So a Japanese (or Chinese) person, living in, for example, Australia (my country so I use it as an example because I know the law there) as a permanent resident has exactly the same rights and expectation of fulfillment of those rights as any other person living there. The exceptions to this are:
    1. The non-citizen cannot vote in federal or state elections (but may be able to vote in local elections).
    2. The non-citizen cannot get an Australian passport.
    3. The non-citizen cannot work in some jobs within the federal government.

    That’s basically it.

    Now compare the rights of a non-citizen permanent resident in Japan (and China). Can you vote in local elections? No. Can you work in a prefectural government position?. Not in any real sense (you can be an ALT/CIR which is a temp job with no prospects, but that’s about it).

    Instead they have the right to be discriminated by the public, the police and by the legal system. It’s a right of the Japanese people to do so because the legal system does not protect them. Most leading Japanese politicians belong to Nippon Kaigi, which is an organization devoted eradicating human rights from Japan. Human rights is the idea that all humans should be treated equally and it is antithetical to confucianism. Japan has a natural order and non-Japanese are at the bottom of that order.

    A Japanese person in Australia can book in to any hotel and be treated with exactly the same level of service as anyone else. But an Australian in Japan will often be talked down to or questioned about their ID before being allowed to check in . Apologists say “that’s OK because with just a 5 minute explanation I can convince them they don’t need to ask me for ID”. But they already did ask you, so you have already been othered and had your time wasted. You’ve got shit on your face, even if you can’t smell it, others can.

    How long should western countries keep on putting up with this disparity in treatment? Is there a case for finally demanding that from now on we treat countries the same way that they treat us? It is food for thought.


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