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Hello Newsletter Readers. Let me open with a personal message:

One thing that happens after I finish a big writing project is my writing mojo goes on pause. I just want to play video games for a week or two. Well, I’ve just put the finishing touches on my next book, which I’ll tell you about next month. But I still have classes to teach, papers to grade, a newspaper column to write, and a blog to correspond with. One of those had to be paused, so I chose the blog.

That’s why this Newsletter only has details about my SNA columns — this month’s and last month’s. But I know better than to force myself into writing something unenthusiastically, because that makes it a chore for me to write and you to read.

That said, here’s what’s on tap for this month:

1) My SNA Visible Minorities 27, Oct 2021: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No'”: Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan.

2) My SNA Visible Minorities 26, Sept 2021: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

By Debito Arudou (,, Twitter @arudoudebito)
All Newsletters are, as always, freely forwardable


1) Visible Minorities 27: The Bright Side of Japan’s “Culture of No”
Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan.
Shingetsu News Agency, October 18, 2021
By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — As the pandemic stretches into yet another season, the media is starting to assess how Covid is changing the world permanently. At least one pundit has called the situation “epochal,” with the ever-rising worldwide death toll causing disruptions to politics, government, economics, and social life in general. It’s no longer a matter of just getting everyone vaccinated and then everything going back to normal: for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to accept some form of deprivation as the new normal.

Some countries are coping with deprivation (or at least a deferred gratification) less well. The United States is a good example. Despite being one of the most advanced economies and developed civil societies in the world, it has botched the pandemic badly–and it is not only because the previous president was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people to maintain his power. It’s also because of a design flaw deeply embedded in America’s national psyche.

American society is oddly susceptible to charismatic frauds posing as leaders, inept at everything except the uncanny talent of playing off social expectations framed as “freedoms”: 1) “freedom from want” (i.e., in a land of plenty, you should be able to get whatever you want); and 2) “freedom from being told what to do by government” (better known as “liberty,” where, as long as it’s not specifically illegal, you should be able to do whatever you want).

Consider how Covid has devastated American expectations. In terms of want, supply chains worldwide have broken down, meaning Americans have had to defer consumer gratification in places where it hurts, from toilet paper to used cars to sudden exorbitant rents. In terms of government nonintervention, the audacity of a national vaccine mandate demanding people get a Covid shot is being denounced as “tyranny.” Not all societies have reacted like this…

This is where Japan comes in.

At a time of historic stressors around the globe, I realized that my decades living in Japan have come in handy. In fact, Japan has been an excellent training ground for deprivation and deferred gratification. They seem to lack the ability to keep things in perspective, particularly the one I gained from living under Japan’s “Culture of No.”…

Read the rest before it goes behind paywall at
Anchor site for comments at


2) My SNA Visible Minorities 26 Sept 2021: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

SNA: The signature function of the United Nations is to promote world peace, and one way to do that is to encourage ethical standards of behavior from its member countries. They get people to agree on those norms and standards through signing international treaties.

One of the standards that matters most is human rights practices. After all, countries which want to belong to the respected club of “civilized” countries are expected to sign the treaties covering a whole host of noble issues: the elimination of torture; the protection of women, children, and people with disabilities; and the protections of people in general in terms of economic, political, social, civil, and political rights. Signatories are expected to submit periodical reports (usually about every two years) to UN Committees to demonstrate how they are progressing.

Japan has signed most of those treaties. My favorite one, of course, is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which protects people, especially our Visible Minorities, against discrimination by “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” But getting Japan to actually abide by CERD is one of the hobby horses I’ve been riding for decades.

When Japan signed the CERD in 1995, it explicitly agreed to “prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination,” and they were to do it “without delay.” Yet more than a quarter century later, Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination…

So when called upon to justify its record of nasty treatment of its foreign, ethnic, historical, and visible minorities, how does Japan get away with it? By delaying, of course. Let’s take a look at the last time Japan submitted its Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CERD, and reveal its pattern of reporting in bad faith…

Rest is at
It’s behind paywall now, so please subscribe and support your local progressive journalism for about a dollar a week!

Anchor site for comments at

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at


Again, this is a short Newsletter for this month. Next month’s will undoubtedly be bigger, with an announcement about my next big writing project. Stay tuned!


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87 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 18, 2021

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  • Surprisingly good article by the Japan Times on racism and hate speech.

    The article basically talks about things Debito has been talking for years, like immigrants only being seen as temporary workers who will go home one day and that there’s no acknowledgment about foreigners deserving human rights.

    The only part I don’t agree with in the article is the following quote: “Tennis star Naomi Osaka has almost single-handedly forced the country to reckon with its own diversity.”

    I don’t understand how anyone could write something like this, but the rest of the article is good, so I’m going to ignore it in the meantime.

    PS: The article is behind a paywall, but you can turn on reader mode to read it.

  • Business people on short-term visits must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will have to quarantine for three days after their arrival…foreign students and technical intern trainees will still have to self-quarantine for up to 14 days after arrival.

    Sooo…let me see if I get this straight:

    ### Social status vs. Self-quarantine period ###

    事業者 (business person): 3 days
    留学生 (foreign student): 14 days
    技能実習生 (technical intern trainee): 14 days
    観光客 (tourist): 立ち入り禁止 (No Entry)

    Seems legit.

    Japan to lift entry ban for business trips, students, interns

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Seems that despite the ‘Japanese miracle’ of making Corona go away in time for the election by merely asking nicely for bars to close at 8pm, it’s still such a serious threat that discriminatory pseudo-scientific measures are required to keep out dangerous foreigners.
    Over 50 NJ researchers complain of being ‘jailed’ with no regard to pre-departure, post-arrival test results nor vaccine status;

    Meanwhile, Japanese business travelers merely asked to promise to isolate at home for 3 days;

    And because PM Kishida is an ‘erai hito’ his body’s natural resistance to Covid is so strong that he can fly to the UK and back for a day trip with no apparent quarantine;

    It’s the sakoku Japanese have been waiting for!

    • @Jim Di Griz, nice catch about Kishida; I guess I need to update my chart:

      ### Social status vs. Self-quarantine period ###

      偉い人 (big-wig): 必要なし (Not Necessary)
      事業者 (business person): 3 days
      留学生 (foreign student): 14 days
      技能実習生 (technical intern trainee): 14 days
      観光客 (tourist): 立ち入り禁止 (No Entry)

      • Despite the GoJ commuting the self-quarantine sentence for 事業者 (business persons), it’s been anything but smooth sailing:

        Employers of returning travelers must submit four to five kinds of documents, such as application forms, written pledges and the travelers’ itineraries after their arrivals, for screening by government ministries and agencies overseeing the process. It may take about three weeks before the screening process is completed.

        Companies are also required to provide detailed information about the plans of the employees’ daily activities after their arrivals, including their workplaces and dinner party venues as well as means of transportation.

        Returning travelers cannot freely move around even after the three days of self-quarantine. They can only board Shinkansen bullet trains and airplanes, where they can reserve seats, and are prohibited from using public trains or buses. When they go to their companies, they are supposed to work in a private room as much as possible. If the retuning employees join a dinner party necessary for their work, their employers must check on the health conditions of all attendees for the following 10 days.

        The conspiracy theory, which I happen to subscribe to, is that changing the self-quarantine period from 10 days down to three was merely sakoku window dressing:

        Some even suspect that the government shortened the self-quarantine period just to make it look like it has eased restrictions.

        So…the TL;DR gist of this post? Japan is still very much closed for business.

        ‘Eased’ entry curbs frustrate employers of returnees | The Asahi Shimbun

    • Baudrillard says:

      Kishida should not have bothered going.

      Indecision/Keeping options open even if unreal expectations? CHECK
      “Japan is Unique” excuse? CHECK & LOL. (below)
      “Stating the obvious?” CHECK
      “Kicking the problem down the road for future generations to clean up the mess?” CHECK
      “Lack of vision/leadership?” CHECK
      “Japan has four seasons” NO, but almost. LOL.
      “In Japan, where resources are scarce and the country is surrounded by the sea, there is no single perfect energy source,” Noboru Takemoto, an industry ministry deputy director, told Reuters.
      Japan Inc? CHECK.

      “For pro-coal corporate Japan, what’s more important is business, not the planet,” said Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, a former senior Japanese government official and chief climate change negotiator. “It’s sad to see there is no vision for a better, more sustainable and more competitive Japan.”

      • Andrew in Saitama says:

        COALition government at work.
        Ironically, it will be the dirty government of my home country (also run by a coalition) which will sell Japan the coal.

  • This [one-way treatment of exchange student agreements], I think, will affect the credibility of Japanese universities or even Japan as a whole. … I feel it’s a selfish approach. We can send our students — ‘please host our students, but we won’t accept your students.’

    What I want Japan to do … is that the government offers not just entry to (foreign students) soon, but also stable acceptance regardless of whether infections spread. Because, if midway through the next intake, the coronavirus sixth wave appears around January, then (admissions to Japan) will stop with the spread of infections and we’ll be in the same position again. … It will be sad for the students, and study abroad in Japan will be seen as a risk.

    For us, we’ll get as many students in as we can when the border opens because we don’t know when it will shut. That’s the same worry, the same point of concern.

    If we don’t hasten this process [of Japan opening its borders], we cannot hope to restore the reputation and credibility of studying in Japan

    So, the current state of study abroad in Japan can be characterized as, at worst, not possible or at best, a risky proposition. Let that sink in for a minute.

    In other news, I want to coin a new phrase to describe the situation we’re witnessing: 天来鎖国 【てんらいさこく】: heaven sent national isolation.

    Japan gov’t remains under scrutiny as it prepares to reopen borders to foreign students

  • One would think that ANN’s stock footage (資料) for this segment would have included, oh, I dunno…video of educational institutes, but nope!

    I surmise this is the case because, the underlying assumption is that if you’re an Asian-looking 外国人留学生, then you’re a 労働者, but if you’re a Caucasian-looking 外国人留学生, then you’re a 観光客.

    外国人留学生ら きょうから入国受け入れ再開(2021年11月8日)

  • We couldn’t see any logical reason to exclude foreign residents from those eligible. Although we’ve heard views that this could lead to (foreigners) getting the franchise for elections, elections with legally binding results and referenda where city residents express their views are clearly positioned differently.

    There is no reason to distinguish between residents due to their citizenship with regard to the local referendum system.


    A positive development — let’s see if it makes it past the Musashino city assembly.

    Foreign residents of Tokyo suburb to get referendum voting rights in local proposal

    Tokyo suburb to grant voting rights to foreign residents

    国籍問わず住民投票に参加資格 東京・武蔵野市が条例案提出へ

    • Its just a proposal, its Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown every time.

      Just a false hope. Which is true of a lot of the illusions Japan puts out to attract indentured servants, hostesses, English teachers, etc like “you can send a lot of money home” when in fact most of your earnings goes on paying into their ailing system to look after the above Gerontocracy.

      (J-eriocracy? J-erai-crats?)

    • “We couldn’t see any logical reason”
      Exactly. Japan doesnt use logical discourse, the reason most people exclude NJ participation is emotive.
      And that cant be reasoned with.

  • Well some nationalists are going to go crazy again.

    Japanese language has been traced back to farmers in China’s northeast. The lead researcher also puts his finger into the wound lol: „Accepting that the roots of one’s language — and to an extent one’s culture — lie beyond present national boundaries can require a kind of reorientation of identity, and this is not always an easy step for people to take.”
    “But the science of human history shows us that the history of all languages, cultures, and peoples is one of extended interaction and mixture.“

    That‘s definitely not going to sit well with Japan.

    • Ah but the Japan decision making process has to be unanimous, to avoid annoying that one maybe disgruntled oyaji in the corner, and he is older and the elders should be respected so…. paralysis. Maintain status quo. No NJ students just in case.

  • This just in: NJ have been reduced to unwitting actors in the GoJ’s political kabuki play.

    Kishida cares deeply about public opinion on the matter because of the “lesson” of the Suga administration. Public approval ratings for Suga’s administration plummeted because of his slow policy response to the Delta variant.

    How we respond (to Omicron) could directly impact the results of the Upper House election.

    Criticism of Suga being too slow drove swift entry ban of foreigners


    “Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said of Japan’s ban on new entries of foreigners, “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident?”

    Well yes, we’ve been saying this for two years now, but Japanese Nazi logic and science isn’t going to be swayed of course. This will only speed up Japan’s demise though. I already saw plenty of people on Twitter yesterday say that they see no reason to continue studying Japanese and that they’ll try to pursue something else. Even hardcore Japanophiles are beginning to realize that it’s not worth it. Japan takes everything away from you, but gives you nothing in return. Every worker, no matter if “skilled” or “unskilled” will just go to countries that don’t treat it’s immigrants like cockroaches. And like I always said, it’s Japan that needs immigrants, not the other way around. So bye bye Japan, I guess. Definitely not going to be an economic powerhouse in the next couple of decades.

  • Japanese government backed research center says Japan’s low Covid cases due to ‘Japan’s unique genetics’ (or some such nazi-era gobbledygook).

    I guess funding pro-nihonjinron giron myths is cheaper than carrying out widespread testing, regular autopsies and opening more ICU beds so that ‘unique’ Japanese don’t have to die in the back of ambulances waiting for a bed, or at home.
    I posted a link here 12 months ago about the total collapse of the ‘track and test’ system in Japan, and another the month after about Japan giving up on testing.
    Japan has no idea how many cases and deaths it really has had.

  • Bizarrely, the Japanese Self Defense Forces are preparing for a tank battle on the streets of Tokyo;
    If the Russians get from Hokkaido to Tokyo, or the Chinese from Okinawa to the capital, then I’d say it’s probably time to give up without subjecting the citizens of Tokyo to a losing fight.
    I’m wondering what other regimes station armor units in the capital, and how they are deployed to quell ‘civil unrest’.
    Makes me wonder if Kishida knows Japan is about to default on its debt or something.

  • To be fair, and to their credit, to the best of my knowledge I believe the Osaka police do not racially profile people. I lived there for 24 years and was never arbitrarily stopped and asked for ID. Maybe other cities in Japan are similar?

  • This worries me “December 15, 2021 at 6:12 am
    TJJ says: 3 against (LDP the current governing party), 3 for, chair made the final vote. So we made it just by a hair…so far.”
    Betcha this will sow the seeds for cancelling the decision. I do recall a bill withdrawn by the gutless J Govt along similar lines in 2010 or so, And I have said before in my experience that even if 9 out of 10 participants vote in favor of something, that skulking Oyaji sulking sultrily in the corner will stank up the “atmosphere” of the Wa enough to either water down or outright negate the change to avoid alienating the Kowaiso postponed retiree they still need to work with for the next few years,
    Don’t want to annoy the urusai demographic.

  • @jim Bizarrely, the Japanese Self Defense Forces are preparing for a tank battle on the streets of Tokyo

    – that of course is because the erai hito politicians just protect themselves and the Capital. Earthquake in an outlying prefecture? We will send you a J pop song to cheer you up, ganbatte!
    Tokyo Uber Alles. Tokyo= Japan. Always has been (well, since at least 1945 anyway)

    It looks more like The Hunger Games every day.

  • Baud says:
    Some choice quotes “A western Tokyo city’s proposal to grant local voting rights to foreign residents has sparked a backlash from legislators and noisy protests around city hall.

    Akihisa Nagashima, a Lower House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party whose electoral base includes Musashino, opposes the plan.

    “The will of the people itself could be distorted (by the proposal),” he said during a soap box speech delivered in front of JR Kichijoji Station on Dec. 9.

    City assembly members who belong to an LDP parliamentary group joined Nagashima’s speech to protest the proposal.

    Yasuhiro Omino, a city assembly member who chairs the LDP parliamentary group, said he and his allies plan to make the city government resubmit the proposal.

    Nagashima also described the city’s proposal as “fast and sloppy,” saying there has not been exhaustive discussions on the issue.

    Mayor Matsushita denied that argument and said the city has had many talks about it since several years ago.


    Still, a propaganda vehicle and other protesters have been blaring criticism about the proposal, including xenophobic remarks, in the area around the Musashino city hall.

    An organization consisting of conservative LDP Diet members on Dec. 9 issued a statement opposing the proposal, saying it “can be a substitute for the enfranchisement of foreign residents.”


    Those in support of the city’s proposal include Koji Aikyo, a Waseda University professor, and Chizuko Ueno, a professor emerita at the University of Tokyo.

    They also said of the protests that “coercive publicity and extortion-like behavior have been widespread.”

    A 35-year-old resident of the city also backed the plan.
    But a 64-year-old female part-time worker is against the proposal, saying, “You can’t understand local issues unless you live here for a long time.”


  • Everyone commenting on JT makes the mistake of thinking this was about the right to vote. It wasn’t, it was about the right to participate in a survey.

  • “You can’t understand local issues unless you live here for a long time.”

    Sooo, an 18 year old Japanese boy shouldn’t have a say.

  • I hate being right about Jaoan never changing. Such false hope, a Charlie Brown getting the ball pulled away at the last second. Every. Time.
    “amid concern voiced by some conservatives ” I did say that Urusai Oyaji will cause even a majority decision to cave in to inertia.

    No point living in Musashino then. Unless you’re not contributing.

    There was a time long ago where NJs got certain unspoken privileges or at least courtesies as “guests” and for many years some did not pay into the insurance pension scheme as they brought their own overseas insurance, but as these loopholes got closed up and the “social guest privileges” have also vanished as the novelty wears off, what benefits at all are you left with?

    However did Zushi and Toyonaka get it passed? Still, Zushi could be a nice place, lets move there.

  • To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Nozomi Shinkansen, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) is offering the public the use of one car free of charge, for a good use of it.

    Well, here’s my idea for a good use: 100-odd activists make a day trip from Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau to the Osaka Immigration Bureau via said Nozomi carriage in order to raise awareness of the plight of NJ caught up in Japan’s legal system!

    Free Nozomi train car offered to celebrate its 30th anniversary

  • What’s really disturbing about that sign is that either the owner hasn’t noticed that NJ have been locked out of Japan for the last 18 months (I mean, c’mon, who else BUT tourists would go into a souvenir shop of cheap plastic garbage?), or…
    The sign is out up (English only! Because all Japanese know foreigners ALL speak English) to reassure Japanese customers that all the ‘right measures’ are being taken to protect them, because the institutional racism is so deep that the owner will potentially lose Japanese customers if he isn’t seen to be piling on the xenophobic narrative.
    Which is it?

  • My guess is that not much in the article below will shock regular readers. However…

    If distribution was ordered by someone in a top managerial position with a high level of authority, it would be difficult for employees to resist.

    If it is hard for employees of a company to resist disseminating racist material, then that company has zero ethics. At the risk of stating the obvious: one must not distribute racist material regardless of whether the order to do so comes from senpai / 先輩, shachou / 社長 or The Sun Goddess / Amaterasu Oomikami / 天照大神!

    What cannot be overlooked is that this problem was caused by a major firm listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. As such, the company has a great deal of societal influence demanding a high ethical standard.

    Agreed! Can you imagine this happening at a company listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ? See my prior paragraph regarding corporate ethics.

    Last year, the Japanese government formulated its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. It urges businesses to protect the rights of workers including foreign technical intern trainees, and to take appropriate responses to online hate speech.

    The Financial Services Agency and Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. this year included a passage on respecting human rights in Japan’s Corporate Governance Code, which listed companies are called on to follow.

    Efforts to address environmental and societal issues are being emphasized in corporate management appraisals, and are becoming a standard for investment and lending. Among Japanese banks, too, there are moves to clearly make environmental protection and respect for human rights a standard.

    Firms bearing societal responsibilities must not engage in activities that fuel discrimination. Business managers are called on to be aware of this issue, and work toward rooting out discrimination.

    Soooo…what are the penalties a company can expect to face if the above guidance / suggestions / recommendations have been disregarded? Public shaming? Steep financial penalties? Oh, what’s that? There aren’t any consequences?! Well isn’t that convenient!

    Editorial: Osaka firm’s distribution of racist documents unacceptable

    職場で「ヘイト文書」配布 企業の人権侵害許されぬ

  • ‘I don’t want to make light of these people’s plight, but man, this story sounds all too familiar’

    30 years in Japan and where empathy doesn’t work, which 99.9% of the time it doesn’t in Japan, reciprocity does the job. I’d like to believe otherwise but it’s not the case here. Sad.

  • So…if all NJ are locked out of Japan, how did this disease-ridden gaijin slip though?

    He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.

    All this time I thought Japan was a safe country!

    Central Japan prefecture’s 1st omicron case linked to contact with foreigners at job: mayor

    静岡市でオミクロン株初確認 海外から来た人と接触 市中感染は否定的

    Central Japan prefecture’s 1st omicron case linked to contact with foreigners at job: mayor
    December 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)

    SHIZUOKA — Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.”

    According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus.

    The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.

    The man received his second coronavirus vaccine by August. He developed symptoms on Dec. 23, was tested the following day, and hospitalized on Dec. 25. He was confirmed positive for the omicron variant the next day.

    Other than the two people deemed close contacts, 12 of the 13 people involved in the same work tested negative. One still awaits their results.

    (Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

    静岡市でオミクロン株初確認 海外から来た人と接触 市中感染は否定的
    毎日新聞 2021/12/27

  • Hang on! How can this Japanese guy have caught Omicron from ‘foreign nationals at work’? How is this possible since Kishida had kept borders closed to NJ?
    And if the NJ in question is one of the many NJ residents stranded in Japan, then its community transmission (except that resident NJ aren’t Japanese so they can’t be part of the community).
    Typical nihonjinron giron rubbish; reality conflicting with official pronouncements that superior Japanese DNA just ‘doesn’t do’ corona? Throw out the ‘foreigner’ line and all logic collapses in a nation devoid of critical thinking skills development.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    The reporting of the Omicron variant is confusing. We get told that the borders are essentially closed while at the same time being told that the government are strengthening the borders while being told that people from overseas are bringing it in. All while the Japanese returning are being counted as 入国 .

    Oh, and another thing. IF (and that is a big if) it is true that Japanese are less likely to contract COVID due to genes, just remember: THAT COMES DOWN TO PURE DUMB LUCK.

  • “came into contact with foreign nationals at work.”

    No one in Japan even knows who the “foreign nationals” are. So this bit of “news” is pure bullshit.


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