Full text of SNA VM column 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019


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Hi Blog. One year after publication, I am archiving all of my Shingetsu News Agency columns here on Debito.org.  Please subscribe to SNA if you want to read my more current pieces.  Excerpt below, full text at https://www.debito.org/?p=15804,  Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Visible Minorities Column 3
Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins
Shingetsu News Agency OCT 23, 2019, by DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

SNA (Tokyo) — It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police…

Rest archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=15804.

And if you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: https://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

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2 comments on “Full text of SNA VM column 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019

  • Since we‘re on the topic of racial profiling, I saw this news story recently. A Black Japanese person was stopped by the police at Tokyo station, when he asked the police why they stopped him, one officer literally told him: „ people wearing stylish clothes and dreadlocks tend to carry drugs.”

    There‘s also a video in the article which shows that the person tries to explain to the officer that this is not an acceptable answer whatsoever, but the officer doesn‘t get it of course and just repeats himself. Unfortunately the video gets cut and we see the police searching his bag after that exchange. I‘m now wondering if he let them search his bag on his own, or if they pressured him to do that, because as all of us here know, you don‘t have to let them search your belongings. It‘s a shame that the video was cut. Still, this is very clear evidence of the racial profiling that‘s going on in Japan. Japan is kinda lucky that no spectators will come to the Olympics, because otherwise we would have much more videos like this one.

    Link to the article and video: https://observers.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20210205-japanese-police-officer-admits-to-searching-black-man-because-of-his-dreadlocks

    • “people wearing stylish clothes and dreadlocks tend to carry drugs”
      Yeah, right. The police officer knows saying “*Black* + dreadlocks” is not acceptable anymore.

      Same article, Mr. Terry Wright: “I never go out without my identity papers, even if it is just a quick trip to the convenience store right by my house”. Absolutely, sad but true for non-Yamato. I actually grab my ID card even when I’m just taking the trash out.


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