Dejima Award: Setaka Town approves foreigner-free university


Hi Blog. This Letter to the Editor appeared in today’s Japan Times. Thanks to G for the tip. Comment from me follows:

Town opts for isolation policy
The Japan Times, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007

By CHRIS FLYNN in Fukuoka

As the new year begins, we are approaching the “awards” season: the Academy Awards, Grammies and my favorite, the Darwin awards (given to people who improve the human-gene pool as part of the natural-selection process by accidentally killing or sterilizing themselves during a foolish or careless mistake). I would like to propose a new award: the “Dejima Awards,” given to those in Japan who actively try to shield themselves from foreigners and foreign influence, culture and ideas.

I would like to nominate the Setaka Town Assembly (Fukuoka Prefecture) for this year’s award. The town was trying to attract a university to establish a campus in town, and in the process asked for comments from the townsfolk.

A group of residents submitted a deposition opposing a campus that did not reject foreign students. They were worried about the crime such students would bring. That’s right — the residents wanted a university as long as there were no foreign students. The town assembly voted to accept the proposal without debate.

COMMENT: I assume the Japan Times checks its facts before publication, and Chris Flynn is somebody I know and trust from his days at radio station Love FM in Fukuoka. So I doubt the story is bogus.

Anyway, I like his idea of creating this kind of award as a form of raspberry. Too many times these stupidities and rustic paranoia seize the zeitgeist and create idiotic policy. The option of exposure for what this action clearly constitutes–xenophobia–is a viable one.

Thus may I award (if that would be alright with Chris) the first Dejima Award to the Setaka Town Assembly for its foresight in anticipating the criminal element in all foreign students.

Debito in Sapporo

6 comments on “Dejima Award: Setaka Town approves foreigner-free university


    [Archived by Arudou Debito:
    社会 瀬高町留学生排除請願問題 「不適切」と修正採択 町議会本会議


    =2006/12/21付 西日本新聞夕刊=13時36分]

    That’s the only article I could find about the issue. When making plans to invite someone to build a university, the town asked for ideas from the people in the area that the school would be built in what kind of ideas/restrictions they would like to be in place. One of the things that got on the list of demands from the general public was to not allow foreign students. The town government accepted the people’s requests without any questions asked. (Meaning either a, the town government agreed/or didn’t care, or b, they didn’t even bother reading the people’s list of demands. I’ll leave that decision up to everyone as individuals, because the article includes no evidence to support either claim.)

    However later down the line someone found out about it, complained, and the town government then made an announcement that there were portions of the list of demands that were inappropriate and removed the part about the foreign students.

    The people however were not happy at all, and said they can not agree with the revised list of demands as the governments explanation was insufficient. They cited their complains being about the change to allow foreign students. Yet never the less on the 20th of December at a special hearing about the plans, the people agreed on their demands (as well as including foreigns in their little utopian society) without talking specifically about them.

    What interests me is the wording used to describe what the people were upset about.


    They wanted a absolute promise that no students would be accepted from abroad. However it doesn’t specify foreigners, just where they are coming from. This becomes an issue because of 帰国子女 or Japanese students coming from abroad. As I’m sure you know, a Japanese person who has gone to school abroad for example is not treated as a ‘normal’ Japanese applicant to Japanese universities, and depending on the university is lumped together with all other foreign students or handled all together in a separate way.

    I would understand this wording to also demand the exclusion of all Japanese students who will be coming from a foreign country for the purpose of entering the university. I would have liked to see the public from the area explain what they define 外国からは一切入学させない to be, and if 帰国子女 are included or not before the government shot them down. That would have been interesting.

  • I taught in Setaka. Not the best place to be a foreign teacher. Not sure where to start, but to be brief they smack the kids pretty hard in the head when they mis-behave. Really hard. I saw it several times at the junior high school I taught at.
    It was shocking to watch and was like a disease amongst the teachers. I ended up leaving as my wife was pregnant and well, we decided to have the baby in Canada.

    My favorite Setaka story is when the former ALT (who still was in town) took me out for drinks with a teacher and a member of the school board. They got in a fist fight and the police came. I didn’t speak much Japanese at the time, but it was crazy. The former ALT was really fluent in the local dialect
    and had a lot of problems there. As did I. As did the person after me (he left after a short while) and my good friend from the area who took over after the guy after me. Its basically a revolving door of dispatch companies and ALTs at the Junior Highs and Elementary schools.

    The funny thing is that they think that the foreigners are violent and don’t want them in the town, but at the end of the day it is all over the reckless use of corporal punishment and ignorance.

    It was quite the thing to see the former ALT and the a teacher and a supervisor at the BOE get into a shouting match about their treatment of foreigners. Still don’t know what was said, but it was enough for the whole shouting match to be moved outside and include near-by locals and the police. I think the one teacher got a black eye. Not from me – I got to watch. But from the former ALT. I was not involved in any of the hitting at the bar and at the schools. But I do know that it all started because of the hitting at the schools and the schools ignorance toward the ALT. It is not an invisible thing at all.

    Interesting to see it go so far as an award. That is a good turn I suppose.

    Anyways, I taught there in 2005 and returned to Canada for two years and noticed the award on the internet (2007).

    I hope they can sort out the issue of foreigners in Setaka, but first they need to stop hitting their children. I guess it really is a big problem and the foreigner is the one paying the price. Ignorance is not bliss in Setaka.

  • Yes, Setaka is so anti foreigner. I was that foreigner in the previous story. I watched as a PE teacher hit a student repeatedly then stepped in.
    I was told that “I didn’t know Japan and that this was the norm”. I begged to differ. My year there was a nightmare. I actually got in trouble for teaching ABC’s at elementary school, only in the way that my name is spelt July August Sept. Ovt. Nov… I then got a real rap across the nuckles for correcting teachers spelling. Things like a big prop on the board for Ichinensei written….” Hally Potter ” My principal told me I should let it go and change it after class next time. So next time I did that and reminded the teacher 3-4 times before again I ripped it down and changed it after a class. Again rapped. I was with a couple of coolish male teachers and the author of the previous message in a bar one night when one of the other patrons started a little “PROBLEM” lets say. It ended up outside and I never threw a punch but I surely told the teachers that I was with what I thought of them after they deserted me halfway through the ruckus. In hindsight I shoulda knocked the guy out ( not the teacher). They are in their own little world down there. I am glad I got out. I was also with INTERAC at the time…as you can imagine…they were of NO USE in any situation.
    The original post of a no foreigner uni. does not surprise me at all.
    Since I left Japan I keep an eye on things on the net, my wife is also Japanese so there are still ties there.
    [irrelevancies deleted]

  • This is the kind of thing that [Kyung Lah] from CNN should be reporting. Every time you see her on CNN in Japan she is reporting on some silly sh-t like the Karisma Gaijin cartoon, her latest and greatest. Its like Kyung cant seem to find anything worthwhile to report on. How about the overcrowding of the trains for starters?

    — Foreign Correspondents have to earn their keep with periodic reports, and it’s much easier to report on the “Three E’s” in Japan: Economics, Exotica, and Erotica. Charisma Man falls in the middle category.

    If you think there’s a story out there, tell her. has ways of communicating with reporters.

    Anyway, give her credit for reporting on the Savoie Case and getting the Child Abductions Issue on the map.

  • Well she could be a good reporter and research sites like this one and find better material. Seems she is reaching to me, and what she reports is what distorts others views of Japan around the world. Karisma man is newbie news material for somebody just off the plane and is a very distorted image of Japan. There are a small percentage of J women who like foriegn men and go to Roppongi to score, but I find that most J women arent like that. I havent really seen a karisma man in Japan myself unless you count US military but she wont go there.


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