My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan


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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:


Visible Minorities: The Tokyo Olympics Trap
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 19, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…

Rest is at

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24 comments on “My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan

  • IsOverJapan says:

    In the end Japan reaped what they sowed with them and IOC screwing Turkey out of the Olympics. They both deserve this cluster****.

    Hopefully, no one (athlete or resident) catches a level of COVID that incapacitates them, or worse, causes death.

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens just as much I expect these Olympics to have the lowest TV ratings of them all.

  • Amazing column! It basically covered everything that needs to be covered within a relatively small amount of text.

    „the people of Japan will be paying close attention to your every move as you participate in the Games. In the unlikely event that you are suspected or found to be in infringement of the Playbooks, such activity may be photographed and shared on social media by bystanders.”

    Great scare tactics! If I were a journalist I wouldn‘t care about this at all. I would be there to do my job as a journalist and therefore I shall do my best job, which is to report on the Olympics. Why should I care about what „the people of Japan“ think about me and my job? The people of Japan should maybe pay closer attention to what their government is doing, instead of stalking foreign journalists. Also, photographing and sharing other people on social media without their consent sounds illegal to me. Try doing this to a Japanese person and you‘ll be in trouble. But I foreigners have no rights of course.

    „ Quite, but at least now the world is getting a taste of what it’s like to be a foreigner in Japan, treated as a social bane with limited human rights that requires constant policing. The difference now is the safety valves that keep Japan tolerable—sex, alcohol, and communal activities—are also off-limits.“

    Well said. I have the feeling that Japan will get a free pass in the end though. In the end the general consensus will be that all of this was a necessary evil because of covid. Nevermind that the Euro 2020 tournament has been taking place the last 4 weeks all over Europe, with actual spectators and no draconian rules. But somehow logic goes out the window when dealing with Japan.

    „I bet this will be the last Olympics that Japan holds in our lifetimes.“

    I wouldn‘t be too sure about this. Leave it to the Japanese government to bid on the winter Olmypics in a decade or two.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Excellent article Dr. Debito!
    I agree that I think this will be the last Olympics Japan will host in our lifetimes, but I also think that they wanted it (so desperately!) well, now they are sure as heck getting it!
    I also agree that the IOC is such a malign entity now that with cities refusing to bid for host status, the IOC is seeking out authoritarian police states with poor human rights records as hosts who can rob the public coffers with zero accountability. Ultimately, this will lead to a situation where nations will find it unacceptable to participate in games hosted in nations engaged in ethnic cleansing etc, and that will be the end of the Olympics.

  • David Markle says:

    Chinese Champions are Targeted by Japanese
    Published: 9:46pm, 19 Jul, 2021
    “Footage of three unmasked Japanese fans approaching the Chinese table tennis team at a Tokyo airport has triggered an online backlash in China over enforcement of Covid-19 rules in Japan. In the video posted by China-based online news site Kankan News on Sunday, the Japanese fans followed the Chinese table tennis Olympians as they walked through the arrivals hall at Narita International Airport on Saturday. Two asked to take photos with the team, while the third live-streamed the scene as he approached Liu Shiwen, an Olympic gold medalist and five-time World Cup champion. The fans had masks on but had pulled them down from their faces.”

    “Is this a Japanese tactic to spread the virus to our Chinese athletes to win the events?”

    Yes it is.
    It seems only the countries that suffered under Japanese occupation in the war are knowledgeable about the true nature of the Japanese. The rest of the world is deceived by Japanese propaganda.

    • Wow, 1940s style racist propaganda much?

      “only the countries that suffered under Japanese occupation in the war are knowledgeable about the true nature of the Japanese”

      Seriously? “The ‘true nature’ of the Japanese”? So, what, Dr. Arudou’s “true nature” is to attack Chinese people? Or did you, in your fit of racist vitriole, forget that a Japanese person is a person with Japanese citizenship, without regard to race or ethnicity? Like, are you seriously going to sit there and, on a Web site devoted to debunking the very sort of thinking you are espousing, make that sort of comment?

      Dr. Arudou, I can’t believe you even approved this. If this maniac commented that the riots in America are due to the “true nature” of blacks, would you approve that too?

      Our enemy is racism, not Wajin. If you can’t understand that, you don’t belong here.

      • Baudrillard says:

        I thought the OP at least showed the level of misttrust between the Chinese and Japanese.
        Furthermore, why did they pull their masks down?

        What about social distancing?

        This should be done for the Olympics but clearly a lot of people are not bothering to do so.

        Personally if someone with no mask on approaches me, I just leave. Oh dear, how rude but come on, Health trumps “manners”

        Not that in Tokyo anyone feels obliged to anyone outside their social circle. Thus, according to Japanese norms, the Chinese athletes have no obligation to interact with (maskless) strangers on the street.

        After all This is Japan. Follow the (social distancing RULES. Wear the Mask! “Youre not a real Japanese” if you dont wear a mask?
        Or is this another J myth busted?

    • Baudrillard says:

      The fans had masks on but had pulled them down from their faces.”

      Social Distancing?
      Japanese always follow rules?
      Japanese wear masks?
      Japanese do not bother strangers?
      Crowd control/safety of athletes for Olympics?


      Darashinai, fumajime Nippon Olympics.

  • realitycheck says:

    As a society, Japan is distinguished by its appalling lack of internationalisation and maturity in the real sense and it is now 2021.
    I think some of us know that the Olympic Games is not the reason for Japan’s woeful, undeveloped approach to dealing with Covid-19. Nor for the increase in infections – just look at the fact that 43,000 Japanese returned from abroad in June and it is reasonable to guess that most of them were unvaccinated. I am not reading about this in the Japanese media.

    The fundamental reason is clear – the pathological ethno-superiority complex that runs through this society including the young generations who have not been given any balanced and true historical or social education. In fact under Abe, the shift towards the extreme right masquerading as mere conservatism has assisted the dysfunction we are caught up in now.

    Remember – Japan was supposedly going to ‘beat the virus the Japanese way’. Right. As infections increase owing to immature social behaviour that prioritises eating and drinking maskless and whining about how the Japanese are supposedly ‘tired of restraint’ and the goverment ‘is confusing them with mixed messages’, foreigners including of course those in the Olympics are being blamed openly by the Japanese politicians, public and media.

    You cannot fix such delusional behaviour when it is continually reinforced as normal. The Mainichi currently has an editorial whining about the ‘failure’ of the Olympic Bubble that asserts ‘The people’ meaning Japanese public ‘are in the middle of limiting their meetings and meals out together’.

    I guess the Mainichi lives in some kind of alternate universe because everyday we are seeing irresponsible, seflish, immature behaviour in Tokyo which is 98 percent Japanese in population. Eating and drinking maskless in cafes, restaurants and bars, Japanese people laughing and sometimes screaming while they do so. This is only one example of such reckless, selfish behaviour by the Japanese public

    The problem lies in the unwilligness of Japanese society to follow what have become norms in most countries – test, trace and isolate. Instead the arrogance of ‘We wear paper masks and that makes us better than all the outsiders’ is apprently enough.
    I haven’t seen Japanese people giving up much at all except for small businesses and part time/casual workers in all industries cruelly abandoned yet expected to pay fresh rounds of new taxes.
    Now we see the real self-centredness that is at the heart of Japanese ethnocentricism.

    It aint the Olympics Japan, it’s YOU.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Bwah, ha, ha, ha!
    Sang froid at MAXIMUM!
    This is the reason why Japan shouldn’t bid for these international events; they think it’s going to be a chance for Japan show the world how wonderful it is, but the reality is that it just embarrasses them by showing the world how normalized and institutionalized discrimination and human rights abuses are in Japan!
    Exhibit A; Mori (misogyny)

    Exhibit B; Sasaki (misogyny)

    Exhibit C; Oyamada (sexual and physical abuse of a disabled child)

    And today,
    Exhibit D; Kobayashi (anti-sematism)

    Yeah, these racist, sexist bigots are EXACTLY the kind of people to ‘bring joy to the world’ through the Olympics; by giving the rest of the world a really good laugh at just how insular Japan is.
    It just like the UN guy, but it proves he was the norm, not the exception!
    (And the video coz it still makes me laugh)

    • Baudrillard says:

      Kobayashi is …… known overseas for comedy series including “The Japanese Tradition.”

      The tradition of allying itself with Nazi genocide? That would explain it.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    ‘Security’ for Olympic cycling event assumes NJ cyclist is trespassing NJ and hauls her from her bike, injuring her!
    So, if she wasn’t a participating athlete it is ok for ‘security’ (not even police!) to man-handle and effectively assault NJ breaking ‘rules’ (not even laws!)?
    How DARE a ‘gaijin’ have the temerity to wander round ignoring Japanese people!
    So much for that oh-so-harped-on-about-uniquely Japanese ‘O-MO-TE-NASHI’ hospitality bragging.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Please stop! The laughter is LITERALLY killing me!

    ‘ Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said… “We, as the government, believe any discrimination should not be allowed,”’


    Yeah right Katsunobu. Let me fix that for you; ‘discrimination against Japanese should not be allowed, but discrimination BY Japanese is our unique traditional culture, please understand’.

    • Indeed, because theyre getting online hate. Its unfortunate however, that its coming from China trolls/ aka the 50 Cent army of CP.
      Two hypersensitive wannabe victim-states with racial superiority myths deck it out forever, replaying their animosity to the detriment of themselves.

      A shame really, I used to read books predicting a Sino Japanese rapprochement leading to economic ascendancy through cooperation… err, nope. Not in this universe, sadly.

      J-Pot, meet PRC-Kettle.

  • — A much more sanguine take on sports and racism in Japan than I would make. Olmsted should read sections of my book Embedded Racism. — Debito

    USA TODAY Opinion
    The biggest loser at the Olympics? Japanese racism
    Larry Olmsted
    Thu, July 29, 2021, courtesy of MS

    There has been a lot of concerned talk about proceeding with the first “pandemic Olympics” in Tokyo. But one glaring omission from this media conversation has been the importance of the Summer Games in combating racism, specifically the host country’s “hafu” issue.

    Hafu literally means half, but it’s used as a derisive term meaning “half-breed,” someone born to one ethnically Japanese and one non-Japanese parent. Japan remains one of the most racially insular developed nations, and those considered less than pure Japanese have long faced bullying and discrimination.

    Discrimination based on race in Japan

    The latest 2018 census identified 98% of citizens as ethnically Japanese, and while we are used to forms asking our ethnicity from a dozen choices, in Japan most paperwork offers only two options: Japanese or foreigner.

    CNN related the typical story of David Yano, a half-Japanese, half-Ghanaian citizen who was bullied at school and, in all too familiar fashion, says his looks have caused him to be stopped by police in Tokyo and discriminated against when renting housing.

    Ariana Miyamoto, whose father’s African American, was born and raised in Japan and speaks the language perfectly – linguistic fluency is a culturally integral part of what it means to be considered “Japanese.” Yet she says most people view her as a foreigner. Growing up, children threw garbage at her and refused to swim in the same pool. After the suicide of a mixed-race friend, she decided to enter a beauty pageant and try to change perceptions. After Miyamoto became the first half-Japanese, half-Black Miss Japan winner, social media was a mixed bag, with some supportive messages, others questioning the validity of a “nonpure” winner.

    Fascination with Western music and culture led the entertainment, fashion and makeup industries to market the hafu image, glamorizing an international modelling look. But according to Hyoue Okamura, a Japanese scholar studying the country’s racial history, instead of unity, the fashionable buzz created a divisive “us and them” mentality.

    So what has worked? Sports.

    Megumi Nishikura, co-director of the documentary “Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan,” said, “Anybody who is able to represent Japan in a public way who is ‘hafu’ will open Japanese minds and hearts to being more accepting.”

    There are few more prominent stages than Japan’s worshipped baseball fields, and before departing for the Chicago Cubs, wildly beloved Yu Darvish was the nation’s best pitcher. Adoration came despite his Iranian father, and in 2015, the Japan Times featured Darvish in an article, “Biracial athletes making strides in changing Japanese society.”

    But the watershed moment was 2018, when Naomi Osaka’s U.S. Open victory made her the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam tennis trophy. Osaka, whose father is Haitian American, was a starker example of the hafu phenomenon, as she spent most of her life in the United States and English is her first language.

    Sporting pride is a priority over racism

    Nonetheless, Japan’s sporting pride prevailed, and the country claimed her as its own. “The first from the country to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title, which has upstaged most questions about her mixed background,” wrote local Associated Press reporters. “Japan has embraced the 20-year-old Osaka. … But her victory also challenges public attitudes about identity in a homogeneous culture that is being pushed to change.”

    The New York Times wrote that “Ms. Osaka, 20, is helping to challenge Japan’s longstanding sense of racial purity and cultural identity.” Indeed, her victory ignited a widespread social media discussion of what it means to be Japanese.

    Japanese banker Tak Kawamoto read my new book, “Fans,” and sent me this e-mail: “Thank you for mentioning Naomi Osaka. She is probably the most impactful mixed race Japanese ever. … Recently, there have been other mixed race athletes like basketball star Rui Hachimura that have increased the visibility of mixed race Japanese in Japan. Watching YouTube videos, I get the sense that young mixed race Japanese are going from trying to hide their background to feeling a sense of pride thanks to fandom. I think if Naomi Osaka can win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, it will be a game changer and I am praying for it.”

    “No one will be prouder than me when I compete for Japan in the Olympics,” Osaka recently said. But even though she didn’t get a medal, the Tokyo Games look to be a big mover of the social progress needle.

    She shares the stage with other mixed-race stars like Hachimura and track phenom Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, a legitimate gold medal contender and Japanese record holder (9.97 seconds) in the 100 meter – one of the highest profile events.

    The Japan Times noted, “Some of these children, however, grow up to be Olympians – flying the flag for Japan and challenging the conventional definition of what it means to be Japanese.”

    Many unknown athletes will also showcase this issue because the host country has cast a global net to find enough competitors of some Japanese descent to field teams in sports it has traditionally skipped, creating a historically diverse squad. The world’s most famous sprinter, Usain Bolt, was born in Jamaica, and so was Team Japan’s Asuka Cambridge.

    So while it is easy to argue that the Olympics should have been canceled due to COVID, there would be other costly prices to be paid, one by Japan’s minority communities.


    Larry Olmsted is the author of “Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding.” Follow him on Twitter: @TravelFoodGuy

    You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

  • “The latest 2018 census identified 98% of citizens as ethnically Japanese”

    I don’t recall there being a “what race do you identify as” question in the census. Am I mistaken? So how could the census identify such a fact? Is this just lazy journalism?

    • Jaocnanoni says:

      Do you know what’s even more funny? There wasn’t even a census in 2018. Incredibly sloppy article indeed.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Interesting article explains how at Abe’s explicit instruction, extreme right-wing war crime denying ‘messages’ were sneaked into Olympic opening ceremony for those in the know.

    My personal take in the whole Olympics is that the IOC’s reach and wealth must be considerable considering the extent to which NJ news sources like BBC and CNN have consistently presented the whole thing with rose tinted spectacles during the booming 5th wave of Covid.
    I’ve never heard the daytime low-rise backdrop of the landfilled bay at Odaiba described as ‘a simply stunning backdrop’ before.
    There was one day at the end of last week when Mariko Oi for BBC was on the streets of Shinsaibashi reporting angrily that PM Suga had found time to personally tweet congratulations to each individual Japanese gold medal winner but had failed to tweet once about the covid wave (I guess she has relatives in Tokyo?) but BBC have put her back in her box.
    Must maintain the fiction! The Olympics is not daylight privatization of public funds and assets, it a celebration of being ripped off!


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