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Table of Contents

1) Reuters: Tennis star Osaka Naomi “a Jesse Owens of Japan”. I don’t think the comparison is apt, yet. She should also speak out for Japan’s Visible Minorities.

2) Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

3) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”


By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (, Twitter @arudoudebito) Newsletters are freely forwardable


1) Reuters: Tennis star Osaka Naomi “a Jesse Owens of Japan”. I don’t think the comparison is apt, yet. She should also speak out for Japan’s Visible Minorities.

I support the fact that Osaka Naomi is bringing to light racial injustice in the world, and is willing to take a stand in public to do so. However, this is a stand against racial injustice in another country. Not in Japan.

This is an easier target because a) Japan has long taught about racism in other countries (particularly America’s) as part of a narrative that racism “happens elsewhere, not here”, so this unfortunately plays into Japan’s grander deflection strategy; and b) this protest doesn’t imperil her sponsorship in Japan, where her money is coming from.

Yet racism, as this blog and my research have covered for more than a quarter century, is alive and “practiced undisturbed” (according to the United Nations) in Japan. That’s worth protesting. So is racism in America, of course. But there are plenty of high-profile voices involved in that already. What is sorely needed is someone standing up for the equal and nondiscriminative treatment of, for example, Japan’s Visible Minorities (a group Osaka is a member of).

Others have tried, such as VM Japanese beauty queens Miyamoto Ariana and Yoshikawa Priyanka, and their careers in Japan suffered as a result. Osaka Naomi, as has argued before, has a stronger immunity card to criticize Japan if she so chooses. It’s still unclear she will ever choose to.


2) Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

Petition: Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.

However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.

Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.


3) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”

SNA: These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.

As covered elsewhere, current Immigration policy dictates that Japanese citizens can leave and re-enter the country at will, as long as they subject themselves to testing and quarantine upon return. But that doesn’t apply to Japan’s resident non-citizens, who still generally get barred from re-entry…

Targeting all foreigners only as vessels of virus makes it clearer than ever that Japan’s requirements for membership are racist. It strips yet another layer of credibility from the “Cool Japan” trope, such as the overhyped “culture of hospitality” (omotenashi) during Japan’s buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since this is an opportune time to remove layers of lies from Japan’s narrative, let’s address another one: That Japan is an unusually hospitable place…


That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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5 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 22, 2020


    “In responding to a request by three foreign-born Japanese citizens that the rule, which was introduced in 2016, be overturned as it constitutes “clear discrimination,” Top League Chairman Osamu Ota said “the union needed to protect players born in Japan” and that the purpose of the rule was “to help develop the Japan national team.”

    • “Help develop the Japan team.” Yeah, where have heard this before? Like the father-in-law who when asked why he hates his n.j. son in law; “Well if his Japanese was better, if he would just drink Japanese sake, if he would just put the bathroom slippers in the correct position, if, if, if…continually raising the bar when it is reached all in the hope the people acting in good faith will give up and go away.

      Its time to stop playing nice with these people.

  • NJ blamed for stealing pigs, cows and farm machinery because a celebrity said NJ stole some cilantro.

    Foreigners to blame for livestock theft, according to Japanese media
    Oct. 1 2020 45 Comments
    By SoraNews24
    Japan has often been touted as a safe country, where theft is so rare you can leave your smartphone, laptop or wallet unattended and rest easy knowing that nobody else will touch it.

    However, this summer there’s been an increase in theft…of livestock, farming equipment and agricultural produce.

    The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) alerted everyone to the problem with this tweet posted to their official account on Sept 3 (translation follows).

    Screen Shot 2020-09-30 at 9.55.15.png
    (Please be alert) “Producers are suffering from theft of livestock and agricultural products grown with tender care, and machines such as tractors. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in conjunction with the National Police Agency, is alerting people and putting points in order to prevent theft. In regards to the producers, please take care against theft in accordance with these points.”

    The farm theft has affected a number of producers throughout Japan, particularly in Ibaraki, Saitama and Gunma prefectures. Saitama Prefecture has been worst hit, with 688 pigs (including piglets), two cows and 28 chickens reported stolen across five areas, while a total of 132 pigs have been stolen from two cities in Gunma Prefecture and six cows from a city in Ibaraki Prefecture have also been reported stolen.

    A spate of farm thefts of this magnitude is extremely unusual, and as reports began gathering, so too did the questions about who might be behind the crimes.

    A number of high-profile people in Japan decided to weigh in on the topic with their two yen, but they waded into murky waters by bringing race into the discussion.

    Japanese actor and musician Takeshi Tsuruno, who has relatives in the farming industry, retweeted the message from MAFF and had this to say:

    Screen Shot 2020-09-30 at 9.56.23.png
    “In our field the coriander/cilantro was recently hit. They were caught red-handed but persistently said “I don’t understand Japanese” so please be careful. It’s sad, but we installed a surveillance camera.”

    Tsuruno’s tweet quickly went viral, receiving more than 34,000 likes and over 16,000 retweets. It also garnered a number of negative comments too:

    “You didn’t have to mention that they didn’t understand Japanese.”

    “It’s strange to make this a Japanese/non-Japanese thing.”

    “A thief is a thief, regardless of race.”

    “So it could be a Japanese person pretending that they don’t understand Japanese, right?”

    “We should be focussing on the crime itself, not the nationality of the criminal.”

    After the backlash, Tsuruno attempted to back-pedal on his original comment with:

    “The act of stealing agricultural produce, whether Japanese or foreign, is a criminal offense. It is a fact, not discrimination. My brother-in-law used a samurai’s compassion and forgave them, but we didn’t expect them to make such an allegation, so we will definitely report it next time. The neighboring fields are also being hit in the same way, so we will work together to prevent crime.”

    This only ignited another heated debate in the replies section, prompting Tsuruno to ask why he, as the victim, was being admonished instead of the criminal. He then exited the argument by saying:

    “I’m sorry everyone is offended!!

    Why should the victim be denounced?!

    This is too outrageous and I’m totally mad.”

    Japanese politician and former governor of Niigata Prefecture Ryuichi Yoneyama then chimed in on the debate by saying that even if the perpetrator was a foreigner in this case, it doesn’t automatically link foreigners to the widespread livestock theft mentioned by MAFF.

    However, on Sept 26, it was reported that a police officer in Gifu Prefecture arrested two foreigners on July 31 in relation to damage to livestock. The officer encountered two Vietnamese men on bicycles at 4 a.m. in the morning, and pursued them after spotting blood stains on their bicycles. At around 6:30 a.m., a cow in the same area was discovered dead and partially dismantled, leading the two men to be arrested on suspicion of building invasion and theft.

    This case appeared to embolden the Japanese news media to pin the crimes against livestock on Vietnamese nationals. After interviewing a Vietnamese food store and restaurant, TV Asahi confirmed that a Vietnamese person had called the store offering to sell them a domestic piglet. Whole pigs aren’t generally sold in Japan, and according to a report by TBS News, it’s common for Vietnamese people to eat whole pigs, cooked on a spit, at big occasions like weddings.

    Screen Shot 2020-09-30 at 9.58.32.png
    As the perpetrators of the widespread livestock theft in Ibaraki, Saitama and Gunma prefectures remain at large, it seems the Japanese media have become preoccupied with determining the possible nationality of the criminals.

    Until the criminals are caught, however, it might be best to stick to reporting the facts of each case as they come to light. And while it’s right to be outraged at the thefts on behalf of Japanese farmers, the nationality of the criminals shouldn’t be more of an issue than the crimes they’ve committed. Because a thief is a thief, regardless of where they come from.

    Source: Jin


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