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Hello Newsletter Readers. Things have been busy in my corner of the world with the Spring Semester, and I haven’t had much time to put stuff up on, and that means a slimmer Newsletter for this month.

Table of Contents:
1) Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives
2) Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.
3) 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)

By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (,, Twitter @arudoudebito) Newsletters as always are freely forwardable.


1) Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”. Of course, we here at are all in favor of inclusivity. But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science. No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse the article. Here’s the opening, with my comment:

Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment from Debito: So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability? Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan? Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

Article continues, and so do I…


2) Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89. Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc. Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.


…and finally…

3) 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)

Excerpt: 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, with 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

Anchor site for comments at


That’s a brief one for this month! See you in March! Debito


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73 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 21, 2022

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  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Interestingly, the “Russian” language sign was essentially the station name written in Cyrillic… identical to its rendering in Ukrainian…

  • While the GoJ mulls opening the border to tourists abroad ever so slightly (English references here, here, here, and here; Japanese references here and here), New Zealand has already reopened its borders to tourists from visa-waiver countries (including Japan!).

    On the topic of isolationism and closed doors, this op-ed argues that the GoJ shouldn’t be treating refugees differently due to politics, while this op-ed argues that the human rights of foreign residents need protection in Constitution.

    In other news, props to Yokohama for helping Ukrainian children learn Japanese. and to three Ukrainian family members for attending their first day of junior high school.

  • @Jim Di Griz, ah, but you see, there were cases in the past where Yoshinoya had to cancel job offers after foreign nationals were unable to obtain a work visa, so shikata ga arimasen / 仕方がありません: “there was no choice but to decline the application (to attend the event) given those withdrawals of job offers”.

    As it turns out, Yoshinoya apologized, not for refusing a Japanese national entry into a recruitment event based on the erroneous assumption that the applicant was a foreign national, but rather for not explaining to foreign nations beforehand that obtaining a visa was a requirement for recruitment.

    Reference: Yoshinoya refused to let ‘foreign’ student attend recruitment event

    interestingly enough, on the one hand, Yoshinoya states that it “continues to actively promote foreign national employees with the aim of revitalizing the organization” yet on the other hand “it is extremely difficult for a foreign national to obtain a work visa” and that if you are a foreign applicant “there is a possibility that you will not be able to join the company even if you are offered a job.”

    Keep in mind this is the same Yoshinoya that fired one their exec’s for ‘get virgins hooked on beef bowls’ remarks.

    As a gyudon / beef bowl restaurant chain, Yoshinoya was at the bottom of my list before these recent problems came to light; going forward, I am definitely saying ‘no’ to Yoshinoya.

  • David Markle says:

    This Yoshinoya offence is more offensive than it seems to be by reading the JT article. In fact they just assumed the applicant was foreign because of their name being in katakana, despite the fact that they were born in Japan, and have Japanese nationality, the father being a NJ.

    It seems Yoshinoya was just throwing out applicants even if they had the slightest hint of being foreign. Makes you wonder how many other companies have the same unwritten or even written policy. Very nice indeed.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Ha ha ha!
    Golf club ‘gaijin quota rule’ isn’t even a written rule! Just something ‘handed down’ verbally!
    If that’s not discrimination, what is?

  • Quote “But Yoshinoya should have explained beforehand that obtaining a visa was a requirement for recruitment, the [yoshinoya] official said”

    No, Yoshinoya should learn the law and not perpetuate wrong information. Obtaining a visa for recruitment is not necessary if you are a Japanese national, as they were. How does someone so stupid and ignorant rise to the position of an official spokesperson for such a company. Unfathomable.

  • Anonymous says:

    @David Markle

    I’ve often wondered why Japan belongs to the UN if they don’t like the rules, they give, $262.4M a year for what? I assume it’s to belong to the most important international club there is, and that’s about it. The Japanese love clubs and hate exclusion. The UN is there to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. So, where’s the 和?

  • @Niklas, just sickening. As I have argued PR, and even worse, naturalization in Japan just arent worth it as they arent as good as “the real thing”.

    -The man had agonized for ages before deciding to take Japanese citizenship.

    He certainly was right to have doubts. I hope he wins compensation.

    knee jerk conservatism for the sake of conservatism? CHECK.

    has a combined quota of somewhere below 20 for foreign nationals and former foreign nationals who have obtained Japanese citizenship.
    Privat company taking it upon themselves to interpret and apply immigration rules as they are “erai” and get to decide that? CHECK.

    Once a foreigner always a foreigner, a GAIjin, and thus OUTSIDE the club. CHECK indeed.

    Ito said. “It is said that the atmosphere slightly changes when there are foreigners around. The decision may have been made in that train of thought.
    Over emphasis of importance on intangible “feelings” , “mood” or “atmosphere” that cannot be proven? CHECK

    -It is not easy to offer a clear answer because the rules were introduced a long time ago.”


    Ah, the Absolute Authority of THE RULES.
    Fossilized dinosaur Oyaji rule/tradition (cf. Mori and Olympics) still respected for no good or logical reason?

    When asked why those who have obtained Japanese citizenship are includd in the quota for non-Japanese, he said: “That’s how we’ve been doing things. It is our conventional practice, and I hope it will be understood as such.”

    Racism in Japan is “misunderstood” and should be excused on the grounds of tradition, and we hope you will understand that. We need to explain your incorrect understanding of Japan.


    Again, I hope he wins. I was going to type maybe he should give up the fairly useless J nationality but that is probably what these racist xenophobes want, so instead hang on in there and sue them to the hilt.

  • It is said that the atmosphere slightly changes when there are foreigners around.“
    – absurd indeed as unless he is speaking Korean loudly, or wearing a T shirt with a korean flag on, no one is going to notice he isn’t Japanese.

  • Well color me surprised.

    Japan police urge officers to avoid impression of racial profiling
    May 12, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)

    TOKYO (Kyodo) — The National Police Agency issued an advisory to all prefectural police forces in December to avoid questioning people in a way that could be perceived as racially motivated, according to agency officials.

    The advisory came after the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo tweeted on Dec. 6 that it had received reports of “suspected racial profiling incidents” with several foreigners “detained, questioned and searched” by police…

    As soon as the US embassy said something, something is being done. Now let‘s wait and see if anything will change in real life. Why couldn‘t the embassy and other countries‘ embassies do this years, or even decades ago?

    In other news, Kishida asks German chancelor to remove comfort women statue in Berlin. Japan again forgetting that Germany is a socereign nation that teaches real history, i stead of right wing propaganda.

  • David Markle says:

    Japan police fail to identify bones found near campsite where girl disappeared in 2019 – The Mainichi

    “Police failed to identify whether bone fragments discovered near a campsite in the central Japan prefecture of Yamanashi were those of a girl who disappeared in 2019.”

    Some folks don’t like it when I do this, but I will make a prediction anyway. It really doesn t require ESP anyhow. This was a big humiliation for the police, not finding the body, not uncovering a motive, not being able to do much of anything really in spite of the massive manpower inputs. My prediction is that they will have to come up with a suspect and probably have a short list of people they plan to “question” regarding this case. Pretty soon we will have a “suspect” or two arrested, and shortly after that a “confession” will be gotten. Praise be to the idols! Case solved! Respect for authority restored! Everyone will go back to their cubicles and police boxes, and breath a sigh of relief that this debacle was properly handled.

    Meanwhile some innocent, poor, schmuck who happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time, or just somebody they think deserves it, will be behind bars for the rest of his life. Justice will be served.

    — That, unfortunately, is SOP for police forces around the world. Too embarrassing to let a very visible crime go unsolved, so somebody summarily goes down and hands get washed.

  • In 2021, the GoJ recognized a record total of 74 refugees (references here and here); will they surpass the century mark in 2022?

    In other news, drib, drib: the GoJ is going to open the tap a bit further for daily international arrivals from 10,000 to 20,000  starting June 1st (English references here, here; Japanese references here and here).

    Regarding The Mainichi story about Japan police urging officers to avoid impression of racial profiling, readers know full well that if the NPA were serious about this topic, they would be taking concrete actions (not jut issuing an advisory!).

    To this end, a step in the right direction would be developing a bias-free policing policy that includes, but is not limited to the following:

    1. Definitions for bias-free policing and racial and identity profiling.

    2. KPIs to measure the effectiveness of the policy (including disparities in citations, uses of force, searches, arrests, and stops).

    3. A system for processing complaints regarding biased policing.

    4. A plan to publicly host and analyze demographic data to track changes in arrest data over time.

  • For a variety of reasons, these types of articles never fail to boil my blood:

    Students create video on school rules in easy Japanese for children of foreign origin / ここは「くつばこ」です 学校のルール、やさしい日本語で動画に

    For once, I’d like to see Japanese and foreign students at some J-university create a video / booklet for elementary schools in Japan that introduces terms and culture unique to children of foreign origin!

  • So Japan will accept small-scale tours for vaccinated tourists from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore as a trial later this month toward. But, “during the trial phase, small groups would go on fixed package tours limited to areas where prefectural governments have agreed to accept them so that their activities can be managed.”

    Does this sound like North Korea to anybody else? I think it was user Baudrillard who once said that it seems like Japan only wants tourists if they’re accompanied by “gaijin” handlers and only go to places where they can’t disturb the “wa”.He said this years before corona and closed borders were a thing and he was spot on. I’ve said this a few times, but covid is just a handy excuse for the Japanese government to test out some of their policies for tourists and foreign residents they had planned long ago. But with covid, they can ignore all the complaints about poor human rights and poor science and just say “it’s just temporary while we are in a pandemic.”

    Now my question would be, how long is “temporary”? It’s pretty clear that this virus is here to stay and one day it will become a common virus as the common cold and influenza. To me, it’s pretty clear that some of these discriminatingly policies will stay for good. For example, the card reading app will definitely stay for good. As will the notion that only NJ are carriers of infectious diseases.

  • Does this sound like North Korea to anybody else?


    I completely agree: after reading that article (along with this article, this article, and this video), I came to the same conclusion.

    Now my question would be, how long is “temporary”?

    In this case, I would say that ‘temporary’ can be interpreted as ‘indefinitely’.

    On a related note, the GoJ has adopted a color system for assigning COVID-19 risk to countries and regions as the use of a color system bears a curious (and IMO disturbing) resemblance to the Alipay Health Code app for controlling movement in China.

  • Japan’s acceptance of 1,000 Ukrainian evacuees to date stands in stark contrast to its reluctance to offer shelter to other foreign nationals fleeing persecution.

    The special treatment accorded to Ukrainians is markedly different from the government’s handling of people from other nations, noted an official with the Japan Association for Refugees (JAR), a nonprofit body that for years has worked to assist evacuees from Africa and the Middle East.

    A government official defended the preferential assistance policy for Ukrainians, saying it has received “broad support from the public.” The official labeled the conflict as an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.

    “In a nutshell, the government takes into account how the general public views evacuees,” the official said.

    Here’s my TL;DR version: The other 6 members of the club (read: the G7) would be highly miffed if Japan treated the Ukrainians as poorly as they’ve treated the Africans and the Middle Easterners, so to avoid bad optics, the GoJ is doing everything it can to show solidarity with the other club members (short of actually conferring refugee status upon the Ukrainians, of course!).


    Japan now has 1,000 evacuees from Ukraine; policy under fire

    EDITORIAL: Japan should accept refugees in line with the rest of the world


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