My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)


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Visible Minorities Column 30: US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia

SNA (Tokyo) — Shingetsu News Agency has reported for two years on how the Japanese government and media have gone out of their way to blame foreigners for the domestic spread of Covid. Each time we’ve gone out of our way to point out that Covid was usually brought in by Japanese citizens disobeying lenient quarantines.

The government’s exclusionary border policies, treating people without Japanese passports as somehow more contagious, is routinely supported neither by logic nor science.

The latest mutation of this narrative has been the blame targeted at US military bases in Japan for community spread.

For example, Japan Times reported on January 8, stitching together wire reports from Jiji Press and Kyodo News, that “US military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in [Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima]. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the US forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.” […]. But this is contradicted by what the US Forces Japan say are their actual policies, claiming 92-98% vaccination rates and limitations on movement.

So is the blame game grounded in facts and science? Or are these reactions to people trying to find another foreign scapegoat for the latest Covid spike? We don’t know because US Forces Japan aren’t making their practices sufficiently loud and clear. As usual.

The upshot: How US Forces Japan are yet again ignoring being used for domestic political capital is irresponsible. USFJ has the duty to recognize that what they do affects Visible Minorities in Japan, whether it be inspiring “Japanese Only” bigots to slam shop doors in their faces, or giving more ammunition to reactionaries who seek to seal off Japan’s borders.

Full article at

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4 comments on “My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

  • RealityCheck says:

    Excellent points as always by Dr Debito. There’s more to the US Forces Covid-19 policy than the lazy one parroted by the media cartels in Japan.
    The US Embassy needs also to get on to this – despite the Japanese feeling of victimization because the US forces are here to provide a buffer against the PRC and many Japanese have the usual disassociation whereby they want to be protected by the US because any real build up of their military will take decades and their military service age population frankly can’t handle the life in the numbers they need. Yet at the same time they resent the US presence here and it’s not just because of a small number of US soldiers who shouldn’t have been allowed to enlist in the first place.
    If Dr Debito could also clear up the re-entry policy that’d be appreciated. The harsh new border rules from what I see in the original Japanese permit foreigners with valid, existing visas regardless of whether they are Permanent residents or not, to leave and re-enter. There may be exceptions like African countries – despite the fact that from what I know more testing is taking place in many of them than in the so called developed Tokyo.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    The US military told Japan what their policy was, the Japanese government pretended they never heard it so they could scapegoat NJ for their own incompetence in dealing with Covid, and now the US military has called them out on it;

    After all, what’s the J-gov going to do? Ask US forces to leave and defend themselves? Japan talks big but the SDF is understaffed, under-skilled, has no experience of combat, and no other military allies by treaty.
    The US knows it’s all meaningless bread and circuses from the LDP for domestic consumption- it’s all ‘blah blah blah’ from the frogs in the pond who know nothing of the sea.
    You don’t see the Japanese locals roughing up US service members and burning down off-base housing, do you? It’s all just noise, and the US doesn’t really care about that.

  • Dr. Debito, I can’t find the comment on here about Dr. Kasai being accused of racism, but anyway, I was just looking around the net and there doesn’t seem to be anyone talking about this in the Japanese press.
    His name in Japanese is: 葛西武 I think

  • I was turned away from a restaurant in Okinawa recently. When the owner saw I was a foreigner she said they had run out of food.
    Then my wife explained we just wanted to have a beer, and the lady stuttered and asked if we had been fully vaccinated. We said we had. She stuttered again and said we needed to have taken a PCR test.

    I’m certain she hadn’t been imposing the same requirements on the Japanese customers, who were sat in the restaurant. There were no signs anywhere and we were wearing masks.

    I sometimes work on the US bases and the Covid measures have been more stringent than I have seen anywhere off-base in Japan (including some Japanese hospitals). Anyone going onto the bases has to be fully vaccinated, every building has hand sanitizer, masks have been mandatory, and I know staff had been working from home on rotation to minimize contact.


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