My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021


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Hi Blog.  my Second Edition of “Embedded Racism in Japan” (Lexington Books, 2022) has just come out, and I summarize both editions in my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column.

Since the First Edition is probably well-known by frequent readers of, let me excerpt the new arguments of the Second Edition.  Read the whole SNA column for the full context.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Visible Minorities: Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, NOV 22, 2021 by Debito Arudou

(Excerpt) In my new Second Edition of Embedded Racism (2022), I’m now arguing that Japan’s long-ignored racial discrimination undermines the rest of the world, especially its liberal democracies, because Japan is in fact a fast-breeder reactor of radioactive racism.

Since the end of World War II, the capitalistic side of the world, particularly the United States, willfully ignored and indulged Japan’s explicit expressions of racial and ethnic superiority. After all, the conservatives of the world would rather Japan be right-of-center and anti-communist. So they funded conservative governments and offered favorable access to international markets, ensuring that Japan got rich and deferential.

For what do the conservatives care if Japan violates its human rights treaties or inflames regional tensions, through historical denialism and the arrogance of racial superiority? As long as Japan keeps hosting the bases, buying the weapons, and acting as America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier in Asia, they have in them a harmless and controllable ally.

Except that it’s not. Here’s where the chickens come home to roost.

One axiom in this field of study is that if you ignore racism, it spreads. Bigots exist in every society, and if they realize they can get away with discriminating against people, they’ll gleefully do it, especially if they have templates to follow.

Japan offers those templates… In short, embedded racism has made Japan into the world’s template “ethnostate.”

That is to say, to numerous white supremacists worldwide, Japan is the model for a society organized along beliefs of its own ethnic purity. As one of the richest and most-respected countries in the world, Japan, unlike other rich countries, has prospered while keeping minorities and migrants to a minimum…

The conclusion is that my second edition of Embedded Racism is a clarion call for liberals and progressives to wake up, and get ready to defend democracy from the ethnocentrists. Fight with all your might the fiction that the way to deal with a race problem is to exclude and cleanse races from your society. That’s the Japan template. Don’t let it be yours.

Again, if you leave discrimination alone, it spreads. Leaving Japan alone to practice its embedded racism has finally reached the point of blowback. It’s time for a new set of templates to fight racial discrimination in the world, including and especially Japan’s.

Overseas policymakers should also be ready to make Japan take responsibility for what it’s wrought upon the world. It’s time to pressure the Japanese government to observe its treaty promise to the United Nations more than 25 years ago—passing a law against racial discrimination—and begin the process of enfranchising its minority voices.

That includes doing more than just scolding or issuing strongly worded letters. I suggest putting pressure where Japan’s elites care—limiting access to overseas markets. Or else Japan will remain a fast breeder reactor of racism irradiating the rest of the democratic world.

EXCERPT ENDS.  Full article at

If you are interested in reading the fully revised and updated Second Edition, please download this publisher promo flyer (with discounts), take it to your local library, and have them order a copy. Then you can borrow and read it for free.

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13 comments on “My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021

  • Great article. Let’s not forget that western liberal democracies are still widely profiting from white supremacy and exploitative systems of oppression as well, often with little accountability. However, Japan’s inability or lack of willingness to live up to even those countries’ low standards makes it a blueprint for ethnostates envisioned by the far right. Proponents of such a state (i.e. fascists) love to praise Japan for keeping everything foreign out, drawing false conclusions from its economic prosperity and relatively low crime rates, while ignoring its economic stagnation, depressing lack of innovation and impending demographic catastrophe.

    • MT, that’s an interesting comment.
      US right-wingers don’t appreciate that Trumps all out efforts to subvert US democratic processes, free media, the judiciary and free press shamelessly at every opportunity did so much damage in only four years, and yet fail to consider what the LDP could do in almost 75 years of uninterrupted power and the extent to which they could create an alternative narrative of Japan to market to the world that is totally detached from objective reality.
      Cognitive dissonance on display.

      • I was disappointed that Trump ditched his earlier anti Japan rhetoric (Japan as lacklustre, lazy ally) in favor of focussing on Panda bear, but then again this just shows how Japan passing or taking Japan for granted is the norm in Washington. Kind of “Are you against China? Ok, the rest, yeah whatever, don’t have time, bigger fish to fry..”

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      I agree that white supremacy and system of oppression are still real in western liberal democracies, and many governments are capitalizing on that. And I am fully aware that Japan is still not learning anything from foreign countries by refusing to reflect democratic ideas and philosophy upon their irredeemably insulated system. This article just came in when I was following Kyle Rittenhouse trial, which is one of the most controversial cases in the US. I’m not gonna ask commenters and readers here about the case. Instead I will talk how this is relevant to the concerns over racism in Japan.

      When I was closely following the development, I just felt that national discourse on race invokes pretty much similar sentiment with Japanese perception of race. I wasn’t surprised to see the outcome of the trial. To me, it’s kind of similar adversary non-Japanese face when it comes to filing a lawsuit at Japanese court. The circumstances feature with a biased judge, flawed state’s self-defense law, and city officials utmost inability that kept a 18-year-old boy from becoming a vigilante shooter. There are so many problems with city and gross negligence of local police and city officials led to the tragic event of white boy shooting 3 people(2 of them fatally) who were white.

      What really shocked me most is the national media’s attempt to racialize the boy like as a white supremacist/domestic terrorist like Dylan Wolfe, Alex Fields, or George Zimmerman. I felt my blood boiling in the vessel when I learned they deliberately hid the basic information about his background–such as, where he lives, how he went to the city, and obtained the assault rifle, how the shooting happened, and who were shot, etc, etc. There are even some heartless people who think he is a crisis actor, saying that his crying in the testimony was fake.

      Below is the article that infuriated me most for author’s motive to paint Rittenhouse as a racist on white-on-white violence.
      that infuriated me most

      I know calling out racism against white in the western society sounds like right-wing talking point, but this one is clearly a red flag because the author intentionally paints Rittenhouse something more than who he is—putting in the same category as white supremacist or domestic terrorist—so that he will fit into the national narrative of anti-racism. It’s like reading Gaijin Hanzai manual or any incendiary articles stigmatizing non-Japanese and Japanese of color in English.

      This doesn’t minimize or trivialize the magnitude of racism in Japan. Many of us have already witnessed countless number of outrageous racializing practices. My biggest fear is that each and every single piece of media lynching like this will give Team Japan an ammo for normalizing more heinous dehumanization of non-Japanese.

    • Compared to Japan’s blatant and institutionalized racism, we can arguably forget it. Not that this is a whataboutism argument.
      Japan should not take after China, and yet it does, in so many ways.
      OK, here is the difference; Japan pretends to be liberal so it attends the COP26, but doesn’t sign anything or ratify anything so really, it’s an observer. China doesn’t bother to turn up at all,That is the difference but same result.

      Or it resembles Russia, as I have argued before, with 3/6 indicators of Hofstede’s being almost identical.
      And its way down in the Reporters without Borders listings.

  • UK shoe manufacturer on buying trip to Japan “They’re so racist/sexist”. She didn’t come again.
    I think this is the only way forward these days as with the Panda Resurgency and Trade Cold War in full swing, ‘Murica is bound to let Japan Inc off with a free pass again.
    Make the shoes in Vietnam or elsewhere instead. Japan is too expensive anyway. Unfortunately anime is still selling well, but not sure if that pays Japan’s bills as last time I was there they were broke.

    • Anime was an interesting reference you made there, as it’s now tainted in the USA with the recent trouble of extreme ring wing Gosar (R) tweeting edited clip of Shin Geki no Kyoujjn featuring him killing a Democrat politician and attacking a Democrat POTUS.
      Commentator on CNN last week pointed out that the anime features a nihilistic fascist state keeping out monstrous ‘others’ by using a ‘wall’ and that the original manga featured central characters drawn after Japanese war-criminals.
      Cats out of bags indeed…

      • Ghibli aside, most J anime does seem (of course) to appeal to the semi formed ideas of pre pubescents, and thus simple totalitarian solutions must seem attractive, like wearing Nazi chic in Akihabara.
        Even when punks wear it as a nihilisitic statement, my gorge rises at it.
        “We need to liberate our children from nationalism,” Miyazaki said. “The nationalistic view suggests the problems in the world come from its multi-ethnicity. [It] creates a possibility for the country we love to turn into something negative for the world as a whole. This is a lesson we learned from the past war and which we cannot forget.”

        I am not sure WE Japanese have all learnt that lesson though.

  • Japan must be broke, why else would they persist with coal and the nuclear fix? (Ditching the latter by the way, would add an estimated staggering 1000 yen to average households’ monthly bills, wow takai ne.

    There was a time that 1,000 yen was nothing to them.

    And in light of no real progress in terms of competitiveness, attractiveness, and flexibility; all deep core issues that require a complete shift in mindset from an early age, I see there can be no progress unless China declines in competitiveness- presumably the zero sum game many in Japan are secretly hoping for.

    Even so, I doubt much manufacturing will return to Japan, regardless.

  • I’m trying to understand what this blurb means:

    “Readers also learn how non-resident citizens have endured an intensified “Othering” during the pandemic that belies official preening on diversity.”

    “non-resident citizens” so… Japanese citizens who live outside Japan?

    — Whoops. I think that should be “non-citizen residents”. Will correct.


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