SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.


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

Hi Blog. It’s going to be a busy next few weeks for if the Olympics-fueled reactionary racism keeps creating conditions like these:

Yesterday Reader XY sent me pictures from a friend from the Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu, which has “Japanese Only” elevators!
〒100-0014 東京都千代田区永田町2-14-3
TEL: 03-3580-2311 FAX: 03-3580-6066

(Photos dated July 10, 2021. Click on photo to expand in browser)

The Shingetsu News Agency has followed up on this, contacting the Excel Tokyu on July 11, 2021, reporting the following exchange on their Twitter feed:

SNA: At the elevator of the Excel Hotel, we have confirmed there are signs asking Japanese and foreigners to use different elevators. Why did you put up those signs?

HOTEL STAFF: We started accepting people involved in the Olympics since a few days ago, and the Organizing Committee gave instructions that facilities should try to avoid contact between foreign and general guests, so we put up the sign of separation as a part of prevention measures against infection, prevention of Covid spread.

SNA: So you received instruction from the Organizing Committee and decided that this was a proper judgment?

HOTEL STAFF: Yes, but regarding the expression, several people pointed out there was a problem, and so we have no withdrawn the sign. We are thinking to make a new sign to separate patron lines.

SNA: Why exactly did you withdraw it?

HOTEL STAFF: We withdrew the sign to consider our response from now on.

SNA: Were you told that it is better to withdraw the sign?

HOTEL STAFF: No, we did not make a judgment about that.

SNA: By separating Japanese and foreigners, were you not afraid of causing misunderstanding for Non-Japanese?

HOTEL STAFF: The signs separating Japanese and foreigners were intended to be a part of prevention measures against infections for each.


Michael Penn at SNA comments: “Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu separated its elevators between “Japanese Only” and “Foreigner Only.” SNA called the hotel to ask them why they did it. The answer is that this was their interpretation of guidance from the Olympic authorities. Seems all non-Japanese are visitors. (MP)”

DEBITO COMMENTS: Where to start?  Okay, how about here:

  1. The assumption is, as usual, that rates of infection for foreigners and Japanese are different.  Never mind that:
  2. “Foreigners” as signposted includes ALL Non-Japanese (including Residents), regardless of whether they’ve actually left Japan and come back  As Michael mentioned above, foreigners are no matter what treated as an exogenous force.
  3. Plenty of Japanese have gotten infected from each other, not from foreigners.  In fact, many cases of variants have been carried in and incubated by Japanese themselves.
  4. Even foreigners who HAVE come in from overseas have been checked and cleared both inside and outside Japan for infection, and if the systems are working properly, the foreigners (only) are barred entry.  That especially goes for people connected with the Olympics, as we have seen.
  5. And many of those foreigners have gotten their vaccines overseas already, and at rates higher and more successful than Japan’s current lackluster (and slowing down) procedures for getting vaccinated.
  6. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I daresay you’re LESS likely to get infected from inbound foreigners going through the current GOJ quarantine procedures than from the average (generally-unvaccinated: current rates are at 16.9%) Japanese clustered in poorly-ventilated urban transportation, non-remote workplaces, and eateries.

This is once again a collision of poor physical and social science, with foreigners (including residents) being blamed for things the Japanese Government is doing wrong. And once again, “Japanese Only” services are being reflexively resorted to by the general public.  As friend Olaf (a scientist) put it, “The failure of the jp education system. Unable to think logically, just follow orders, and unable to forsee the results of their actions.”

Again, SITYS.  I knew this would happen if Japan continued on its course of a “Japanese Only” Olympics. saw these logical fallacies starting as far back as the Diamond Princess cruise ship fiasco last year.

Finally, let me squeeze this in at the bottom.  In addition to enlisting the general public (resulting in the predictable bullying of NJ) to find “illegal foreigners” (including a downloadable app to scan Gaijin Cards like a game of Pokemon Go), the Japanese Government is now asking Duty-Free Stores to check passports and rat on foreigners for breaking quarantine (since after all, we can’t do that to Japanese).  From the Japan Times:

Japan to ask tax-free stores to report visitors breaking quarantine
Japan Times/Kyodo News, July 10, 2021 (excerpt), courtesy of JDG

The government will ask duty-free stores to check the date of entry to Japan in customers’ passports and report if they were shopping during their required 14-day quarantine period, sources close to the matter said Friday.

The government will also ask the stores to provide digital purchase records of violators to the National Tax Agency to ensure travelers follow quarantine rules, as Tokyo grapples with a resurgence of COVID-19 just two weeks before the Tokyo Olympics open, the sources said.

All travelers to Japan are currently required to make a pledge to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival. Travelers from certain countries where highly contagious variants have spread are asked to stay in hotels or other accommodation for several days and take further tests as part of their 14-day quarantine.

Entrants associated with the Olympics are exempt from the usual border controls but are still required to take precautions, such as observing a three-day quarantine period after entering the country.

The quarantine rule has been frequently violated despite penalties for noncompliance such as public shaming or, in the case of foreign nationals, deportation. […]

In the request sent to shop operators, the health ministry asks them to provide information including the names, nationalities and passport numbers of violators to its Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants.

If an Olympic-related visitor is found to be violating the rule, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will report the matter to the Tokyo Organising Committee. […]

Full article at

What a mess. I told you long ago that Japan’s governance and police forces aren’t mature or accountable enough to handle international events.  The place, as Edward Seidensticker pointed out many years ago, becomes a police state whenever a significant influx of “foreigners” is involved.

There are a few weeks left of Olympic-sized ordeal for Japanese society. Again, I’d like to vacation this blog for the summer, but I think might be busy reporting on the latest permutations of racial discrimination. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


UPDATE JULY 12, 2021:  It seems the signs have been amended:

Okay, now foreigners have “priority”.  That makes it all better.  Not.  The hotel management just doesn’t get what they’re doing wrong, and think it’s only a matter of wording.  It’s still differentiation and othering of people based upon faulty science.  

And I pity the staff member who had to carefully match font and font size, print, cut out, and paste the text over the old sign because the hotel management was too cheap to just amend and print up a new one.  Very professional on all counts. — Debito

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.

34 comments on “SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.

  • Tokyo hotel rapped for “Japanese only” notice for elevator use
    Jul 11, 2021 | KYODO NEWS, Courtesy of MMT

    A hotel in central Tokyo has posted “Japanese only” and “foreigners only” notices in front of its elevators in an attempt to step up anti-coronavirus measures ahead of the Olympics, but removed them after facing criticism, hotel officials said Sunday.

    Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu “had no intention to discriminate” against foreigners, and the notices were only intended to separate the flow of movements of guests related to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games from that of general guests, one of the officials said, adding, “We apologize for having caused misunderstanding.”

    The hotel in Chiyoda Ward met a barrage of criticism on the internet that it was discriminating against foreigners after posting the notices to split the use of its four elevators into two units for Japanese and another two for foreigners.

    The measure was based on guidelines provided by the organizing committee of the Olympics and Paralympics to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the officials said.

    Some Japanese guests have asked the hotel whether they were prohibited from using elevators marked as for “foreigners only,” they said.

    Some stakeholders of the games are scheduled to stay in the hotel, located near the parliament building and the Imperial Palace.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    A Canadian journalist who flew in for the games posted on Twitter last week that there was no ‘Olympic bubble’, since those connected to the Olympics were staying at hotels with regular gusts. This is the ‘safe and secure’ Olympics Suga keeps promising.
    It also speaks volumes about Japan’s whole covid response; a total failure to grasp epidemiological science, but rather a lazy ‘gaijin bad, Japanese good’ approach that we’ve seen since the very beginning when infected Japanese were sent home from the Diamond Princess on public transport.

    —- Can we get a link to that tweet?

  • As a Permanent Resident here I wonder which elevator I should use…..or which elevator should my business manager use (she is a Korean tokubetsu eijuken)?

    Is the hotel too ignorant to understand there are foreigners living in Japan? or worse…..

    Are the hotel proprieters stupid enough to think that foreigners are more infectious than Japanese?

    The stupidity of even holding the games in the first place is beyond belief. It will cause trouble and inconvenience for Japanese and non Japanese alike.

    We foreign residents however are going to get a bit of extra special treatment until mid August and I would expect more zairyu card checks, surveillance, and basic crap we will need to deal with.

    The ignorance of this is unreal. I will be contacting the hotel and this is one issue that is worth pursuing to the extreme considering Japan is holding what is supposed to be an international event which brings people together from all over the world.

    The current LDP is a joke.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Japan is a liberal and democratic nation that shares western values! Shut up! Shut up! Stop laughing!

      Or something like that.

      • Baudrillard says:

        I attempted to refer to the same incident in reference to a comment how Japan gets a free pass or exceptionalism, but the result of that (and this thread’s events also) is that elites just dont take Japan seriously on the world stage.
        KInd of like, “its that wacky, zany place at the edge of the earth. Fun anime, but not for grown ups”

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    The wording of the sign inside the elevator (こちらのエレベーターは外国人のお客様ご利用いただけます), with mo, seems to imply that the hotel is having both Japanese and non-Japanese people use it; it’s not exclusively for non-Japanese as the sign on the outside says.

    • Mark: You are correct however in spite of such wording it is very clear that “dirty” foreigners are not to use the elevator at the same time as Japanese.

      I find this a bit troubling.

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      Yeah, on Twitter that was promptly pointed out by apologists. Doesn’t make the fact better that the other two “Japanese only” elevators were likely to not have an inclusive も attached to their insides. Unless someone comes up with evidence for a sign that read “こちらのエレベーターは日本在住で、最近の渡航歴のない外国人のお客様もご利用いただけます” of course. But anyway, how convenient a service to hide such caveats in the inside of the elevators.

      • Mark in Yayoi says:

        @Doug and Jaocnaoni – I point out the “mo” not as an apology for the sign; the “mo” makes it worse. They didn’t even have separate-but-equal elevators (which would be ugly enough); no, they confined the ethnic undesirables to one specific elevator and then helpfully reminded the Japanese guests unlucky enough to be stuck in such an elevator that they would be sharing it with those people, almost as an apology (to the Japanese side) and a health warning.

        But such “misunderstandings” are unavoidable when the only lens you can view the world through is “Japanese and Not-Japanese” rather than “Residents and Recent Arrivals”.

  • 外国人と日本人のエレベーター分ける 都内のホテルが貼り紙 ⇒ 批判受け撤去「誤解招く表記だった」【東京五輪】
    YahooNews 2021/7/11(日)
















  • According to the latest Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (厚生労働省) data, in the last 11 months, about 36% of people tested positive at the airport are Japanese.

    There’s not breakdown by nationality of people breaking the quarantine pledge that I could find, but we know of at least one case of a Japanese man in Osaka who broke the quarantine and it’s not unreasonable to think there are many, many others.

    We know already the “300 people a day breaking quarantine” number previously reported is wrong, the ministry admitted there were errors in using the apps and the number was lowered to 100.

    It’s really misleading to see in the news the wrong number of “people” (not foreigners) breaking quarantine, used to justify the extra policing of foreigners with such a flimsy measure.
    Why not ask all the people in Japan to report anyone else breaking quarantine instead?
    That will be way more effective (and still wrong btw)

    There are better way to monitor anyone breaking quarantine without turning Japanese people into vigilantes.
    It just lowers the quality of life for everyone in the community, Japanese and foreigners.

    — I’m not sure the Tokyo Reporter article helps your argument.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Never have I seen any astounding moment like this. ‘Separate but Equal’ doctrine running amok in Japan. It’s coming from a 1st-class hotel–not a dime-a-dozen business hotel like APA or Toyoko Inn. Way to go, Japanese business establishment. You are the winner of Jim Crow Japan Award 2021.

  • “Please avoid traveling with Japanese customers”.

    Gladly, but first please tell me how to know who is a Japanese customer or not. If they are zainichi Chinese or Korean, maybe they won’t want to tell a foreign stranger who they are. Or what about a Korean couple who look Japanese, what should I do? Or what about the black girl who is a Japanese native and has never even been outside Japan in her life.

    Please don’t change your answer and tell me to just travel by myself, because I really want to know how to know who is Japanese just by looking at them, as your sign tells me to. Thanks!

    • Andrew in Saitama says:

      Even if you’re Thomas Bach and accidently say “Chinese people” instead of “Japanese people”?

      (And guess which blunder got more TV news coverage…)

    • This is a joke, right? They just cant kick that Japanese Vs “Foreigner” axis thinking can they?
      Just. Stop. Using. The. Word.
      (I mean two extremes at the end of an axis, not the shameful WW2 alliance)
      What if someone is dual ethnicity, or a teen with two passports?
      Its an interesting question, why are certain words/ideas so deeply engrained in the Japanese psyche when they are plainly not descriptive of current reality?

      • Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. I don’t think the insistence on this false dichotomy is mere laziness. I think it is quite intentional.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    This story made CNN;

    Tokyo hotel apologizes for ‘Japanese only’ elevator sign
    CNN/Reuters • 12th July 2021

    (Reuters) — A Tokyo hotel has apologized and removed signs reading “Japanese only” and “foreigners only” from elevators after the anti-COVID-19 precaution sparked outrage on social media ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

    Tokyo entered a state of emergency on July 12 amid concerns that an influx of tens of thousands of athletes and officials during the July 23–August 8 Games will spread the coronavirus, cases of which are already rising in the Japanese capital.

    Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu in downtown Tokyo put up the signs on Friday in response to guidance from Tokyo 2020 organizers to ensure the movements of guests related to the Games were separated from others staying at the hotel, a hotel official told Reuters on Monday.

    The official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said there was no intention to discriminate against foreigners.

    “We tried to make it easy to understand but ended up causing misunderstanding,” the official said. He said the signs were removed on Sunday morning and the hotel was now discussing with its headquarters what expression to use instead.

    The signs triggered harsh criticism on social media, with one Twitter user tweeting “Apartheid has been revived in Japan.”

    Another likened the signs to U.S. “Jim Crow” measures, since struck down by courts, designed to keep Blacks from voting in the U.S. Deep South.

    “The virus has nothing to do with nationality,” tweeted Twitter user Anna.

    Japan’s top Covid-19 adviser says holding the Olympics without spectators is ‘desirable’
    Japan has not seen the explosive coronavirus outbreak seen elsewhere but has recorded more than 815,440 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths. Tokyo alone recorded 614 new cases on Sunday, the 22nd straight day of week-on-week gains.

    Japan’s vaccination rollout got off to a slow start and although it later accelerated, supply glitches are causing it to stumble. Only about 28% of the population have received at least one vaccine shot.

  • Tokyo hotel comes under fire for labeling elevators ‘foreigners only,’ ‘Japanese only’
    July 12, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)

    TOKYO — A hotel in Japan’s capital came under fire after it labeled its elevators “foreigners only” and “Japanese only,” the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

    Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward intended to separate lifts for those involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games from those for general guests, but it took down the signs after they were criticized as discriminatory.

    According to the hotel, it designated two of its elevators as being for “foreigners only” and the other two “Japanese only,” and posted signs in front of and inside the elevators on July 9 because it had reservations for overnight stays for people involved in the games. After it was pointed out that the signs were discriminatory and being asked, “Can’t Japanese people use them (if they are designated for foreigners)?” the hotel later changed the wording to phrases such as “foreigners prioritized,” but by July 11 it had pulled them down.

    A representative at the hotel commented, “We did not mean to discriminate, but we would like to apologize for a lack of consideration.”

    The hotel staff are apparently considering how to respond to instructions from the Tokyo Games organizing committee to separate the lines for those associated with the games from those for general guests.
    (Japanese original by Kazuhiro Toyama, Tokyo City News Department)

    ホテルエレベーターに「外国人専用」掲示 差別批判受け撤去
    毎日新聞 2021/7/12




  • Jim Di Griz says:

    This is worrying;

    It’s bad enough that Japanese people suffer ZERO penalties for not complying with quarantine but NJ can be deported (even resident NJ), but now this;
    ‘ In light of the incident, Marukawa said, “Nonessential outings at night will not be tolerated, even after the quarantine period is over.”’

    So let’s get this straight- it’s bad enough that resident NJ are being tarred as ‘covid spreaders’ whilst Japanese are oblivious of epidemiology, now EVEN AFTER QUARANTINE, NJ are under some kind of impromptu CURFEW!
    Breaking curfew ‘will not be tolerated’?!?
    Welcome to Neo-Japan! Twinned with North Korea?

  • One man “trespassed,” so four men were given a drug test and arrested, and their employer, a “foreign-owned” company (show me any serious English language newspaper that uses this kind of ethnocentric, obfuscated wording) apologized for the “incident” before anyone has even been convicted of anything. Insanity.

    Of course, curfews are human rights violations that cannot exist in a free society, but even in the US and the UK, statist bootlickers have come to cheer them in response to the state and its lapdog MSM’s drummed up coronavirus panic. It’s no surprise to see them happening here, where even my phone’s weather app reports case and casualty numbers to me daily. In a state-manufactured emergency, the culprit is almost always freedom.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Well HJ, to be fair, my ‘freedom’ to drink and drive in my car is curtailed to prevent me from hurting others, so enforcing anti-virus measures for the benefit of the wider society as a whole is something I don’t have a problem with provided they are EQUALLY APPLIED.
      In this case they’re not;
      NJ residents subjected to quarantine enforcement, penalties, and post quarantine restrictions that Japanese and Olympic VIPs are not. What’s up with that?

      (And for any apologists reading, ‘Drugs are bad, m’kay’).

      • Jim, that is a false equivalence.

        Obviously, without question, drunk driving is wrong, and no one should ever do it.

        That being said,
        ①”There is a risk of others being hurt” is a statement which is true about sober driving, as well as many other activities. This alone is not reason to use state force against others.
        ② Similar to curfews, lockdowns, and other uses of state force ostensibly done in the name of preventing coronavirus infection, drunk driving laws do not appear to directly correlate with a decrease in fatalities, nor could I find a firm figure indicating the likelihood that any given drunk driver will cause a crash, injury, or fatality.
        ③ Nevertheless, when drunk driving-related traffic accidents do occur, they can be fatal or otherwise cause extreme bodily harm; the drunk driving itself is ostensibly the direct and theoretically preventable cause; what constitutes legal impairment is clearly defined (albeit while differing based on locale); and the restriction of the single act of operating a vehicle on the road while impaired is not detrimental to the general public’s right to life, liberty, and property (or the pursuit of happiness).

        Therefore, drunk driving laws are not the same thing as lockdowns (remember, that’s a policy copied straight from the CCP), curfews, etc.

        If state overreach is okay as long as we’re all in it together, then just give the LDP some more time. Just like with the universities giving yearly contracts, it starts with us, the weakest members of society, but it doesn’t end there.

          • Jim Di Griz says:

            HJ, we’re getting stuck in the weeds here.
            We have different opinions about lockdowns, etc maybe, but I think that we can both agree that the important point is this;
            If NJ are to be subjected to one set of ‘rules’, then the same rules MUST be applied equally to Japanese.
            In this case they are not, and that is the definition of discrimination.

          • Jim, it’s fine. I said what I needed to say, and if you disagree, that’s your prerogative. No hard feelings.

            I most certainly do agree with your point that whatever the rules are, they must be equal.

  • If you stay here long enough, these stories, whilst needing to be shared and exposed, lose their shock value; just par for the course in Japan. Its always there, just under the surface and with the right catalyst, will always appear.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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>