Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!


Table of Contents:

1) Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable
2) Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

3) MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners
4) Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

5) SNA VM9: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (full text)
6) Debito’s SNA VM8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (full text)

… and finally …

7) My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

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


1) Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable

Asahi: Public prosecutors will drop their case against senior officials from the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau over the death of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration detention facility, according to sources. Wishma Sandamali, 33, died in March 2021 at a facility run by the bureau, in a case that sparked widespread outcry over her mistreatment.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office launched an investigation into whether the senior officials in charge at the time had committed murder or negligence as a guardian resulting in death, responding to criminal complaints against them from Wishma’s family and others. Sources said the prosecutors office concluded it cannot establish criminal liability in this case following discussions with another prosecution office that is higher in rank.

COMMENT: We’ve talked about the Sandamali Case here on before, as we have the many other cases of death and destruction in Japan’s cruel Detention Centers. One of the reasons they remain so cruel is that they face no accountability, as seen here. And prosecutors declining to prosecute those who kill foreigners have been discussed at length in my book Embedded Racism, Chapter 6, “A ‘Chinaman’s Chance’ in Japanese Court” (with 2022 updates of more cases, including Sandamali’s, in the Second Edition).


2) Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

JT: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strange institution. It’s responsible for the way Japan is perceived abroad, and it decides who receives the opportunity to immigrate. But its jurisdiction over the lives of immigrants largely vanishes when they reach Japan. It’s also the most influential agency that does not play a meaningful role in developing the government’s legislative agenda. Senior MoFA officials can only watch in dismay as less prestigious agencies, including some of Japan’s most corrupt, devise legislation that erodes the rights of immigrants and damages Japan’s international reputation.

A proposed overhaul of Japan’s detention system, scuttled in 2021 after the death of detainee Wishma Rathnayake and a resulting wave of protests, was especially unpopular with Japanese diplomats. The Kishida administration has revived it anyway, with parliamentary debate anticipated this summer. Until recently, MoFA relied on the press to guard against legislative aggression toward immigrants, quietly passing sensitive information to reporters who covered the Ministry of Justice, which enforces immigration law.

According to MoFA officials who acted as my sources during the 10 years I covered immigration, their current reluctance to cooperate with journalists is related to the sense, among the agency’s staff, that the media has become “much louder, but much less effective” on issues of immigration.

The officials I spoke with traced this problem to 2019, when a detainee starved to death at a detention center in Nagasaki, following a four-week hunger strike, named Gerald “Sunny” Okafor… Meanwhile, the press has helped to turn Okafor’s death into a non-story, by disseminating state propaganda that diminishes the death’s significance, then responding to that propaganda with opinion essays instead of investigations.


3) MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners

MRI: I have been working and living in Shizuoka City for [close to a decade] now. I have not had any serious illnesses other than a mild case of chronic gastritis but in recent years, I know it has become more serious due to my symptoms becoming more severe regardless of the Takecab that I take daily for it. Due to this health issue becoming more serious, I have been needing to visit various clinics and I have been experiencing what I call indirect refusal.

So, I know that in the past, many foreigners were refused medical care due to not having kokumin kenkou hoken but even though I have a valid card, the doctor will always ignore me while I am trying to explain my symptoms and reason for my visit. Both the doctors and staff of various clinics here in Shizuoka City have almost systematically acted cold, uncaring, unresponsive and even downright rude to me.

After this happened the first couple times, I thought it was just that one particular nurse or doctor that was the problem, but after numerous experiences just like this at a number of other clinics, I realized that this is a big problem that needs to be brought to light.

Every time I am waiting in the lobby of a clinic or hospital here in Japan, I have a constant feeling that I am wasting my time and money. I almost always leave a clinic kicking myself because the doctor did indeed do everything they could to avoid helping me… [Specific names of institutions and their treatment follow.]


4) Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

Kyodo: A Japanese-born American said Thursday she has filed a lawsuit with a Japanese court claiming that the country’s nationality law, which bans its citizens from also holding a foreign nationality, violates the Constitution.

Yuri Kondo, 75, who currently lives in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan and filed the lawsuit at the Fukuoka District Court, said at a press conference with her legal team that acquiring U.S. citizenship should not have automatically stripped her of her Japanese one. Kondo, who was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, moved to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school and began practicing law in Arizona in 1997.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004, she attempted to renew her Japanese passport in 2017 but her application was rejected. She is currently in Japan on her U.S. passport. Kondo claims that Article 11 of the nationality law, which stipulates that Japanese citizens automatically lose their nationality upon gaining a foreign nationality, violates the right to pursue happiness and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

COMMENT: Let’s go through just how arbitrary, complicated, and racialized Japan’s Nationality Law is…


5) SNA VM9: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (full text)

SNA (April 2020) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

Read the full text archived at


6) Debito’s SNA VM8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (full text)

SNA (March 2020) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…

Full text archived at


… and finally …

7) My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

SNA: Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes, patrician among Japan’s foreign correspondents since 1964, recently died in Tokyo at the age of 83, but not before he did untold damage by performing as a foreign handmaid to Japan’s fascists.

A man described as “tweedy” and “entertaining and congenial,” Briton Scott-Stokes was nonetheless a man of privilege, lucky enough to land in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times only three years after graduating from Oxford.

Becoming bureau chief of a major newspaper at the wizened old age of 26 might seem odd today, but back then foreign journalism in Japan had lower standards, and the field was infused with neocolonial attitudes towards the “natives.” Fluency in your assigned country’s language was not required.

Nor was Japanese required at the other “Big Three” English-language newspapers in Japan, as Scott-Stokes later became bureau chief of The Times of London and the New York Times through the 1970s and early 1980s. For a man described as “someone who really understood Japan,” he spent his entire 58 years in Japan as a functional illiterate, unable to fluently read, write, or speak Japanese…

Most hacks in his station moved on to other countries or settled into a quiet life in Japan, living a harmless twilight existence as cottage consultants in their cups. Scott-Stokes didn’t. He didn’t just continue to rely on his privileged access to Japan’s elite for his income; he decided to embrace their fascist tendencies…

Entire article (which stoked much controversy) at
Anchor site for commentary at


That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!

Do you like what you read on  Want to help keep the archive active and support’s activities?  Please consider donating a little something.  More details here. Or if you prefer something less complicated, just click on an advertisement below.

17 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2022

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I saw this story in the Japanese news, but it’s made CNN;

    What’s interesting about this story isn’t just;
    1. No one knew how to put this information on a cloud, so it had to be copied to a USB drive.
    2. That the information included names, addresses, dates of birth, and tax information on EVERY resident of Amagasaki.
    3. That it was lost coz the guy holding the USB got fall down drunk and slept in the street til morning.

    The really interesting thing is that all this info was given to ‘a contractor’ (name withheld). That’s not very reassuring is it. Remember, Abe passed laws to stop Japanese who have too much connection to ‘scary NJ’ from having government jobs, and yet, sensitive information is tossed around like this!

  • I’d like to share a couple of take-aways from this article:

    Racial harassment at universities in focus as Kyoto poll exposes lack of tailored rules

    「レイハラ」対策の遅れ、大学で浮き彫り 実態調査で判明

    1. Apparently ‘racial harassment’ (‘reihara’ / 「レイハラ」) has now entered the Japanese lexicon; add it to the ever-growing list of ‘haras’ along side ‘sekuhara’ / 「セクハラ」 for sexual harassment and ‘pawaharu’ / 「パワハラ」 for ‘power harassment’.

    2. Props to Ritsumeikan University for actually defining ‘racial harassment’:

    Ritsumeikan University specifically classifies “unfair discriminatory speech and behavior from a teacher during class against a specific country, race or ethnicity with no relation to the theme of the class,” “using racial slurs as a form of bullying in class” and “ignoring international students’ cultural backgrounds and forcing them to act according to the same standards as Japanese people,” among other acts, as racial harassment.

    3. More work needs to be done (including at Ritsumeikan University) to get a handle on the problem…

    When universities were asked if they are aware of the nature of racial harassment at their facilities, all of them responded that they were either “not aware” of it or “unable to disclose” information.

    4. …but at the moment, there’s no way to deal with the problem: “there is currently no clear legal basis for universities to take measures against racial harassment in Japan”.

    5. Letting each university in Kyoto cook up its own definition of ‘racial harassment’ (as suggested by an expert cited in the article) will only end up leading to 30 different definitions (or perhaps less: not all universities are necessarily interested in cooking). A far better approach would be to advocate for a single definition at a prefectural (or better yet, national) level.

  • Baudrillard says:

    “That it was lost coz the guy holding the USB got fall down drunk and slept in the street til morning.”

    This is just so Tokyo Clownworld. We have all seen this kind of goofy thing, like characters living in a sitcom then “eh? nani? Ooops (cue zany cartoon sounds). Carousing also normalized to the point that everything else is subordinate to an alcohol (Soma?) fuelled Dreamy Day as after all, its all gonna be “daijobu” if you repeat the daijoubu mantra often enough…..

    This has gotten me thinking about a possible thesis; to what extent is Japanese daily manerisms influenced by goofy, over the proliferation of exaggerated clownlike TV commercials and gameshows? Does this normalize goofy behavior?

    The one I always remember is the middle manager locked out of an international board meeting by the visiting French executives as he acted goofy so they just thought he was a clown and didn’t want to bother with his “you use chopsticks every well’ type attempts to “get to know them”; but his local subordinates loved him.

  • Jaocnanoni says:

    “Asahi Shimbun” on recent activities aiming to introduce a universal anti-discrimination law in Japan (Japanese paywalled article).

    あらゆる差別禁止、法律化求める動き 「包括法」欧州各国で制定進む
    朝日新聞 2022年7月5日 5時00分


















     差別禁止法研究会代表の内田博文・九州大名誉教授(刑事法)の話 法律案にあえて罰則規定は盛り込まなかった。罰則を適用するには差別の言動を法律で明確に規定する必要があるが、様々な言動を網羅するには限界がある。そしてそれは「法の網」をかいくぐる行為を生みかねない。罰則については人権三法のような個別法で検討していくことが望ましい。包括的な差別禁止法と個別法は車の両輪のような関係で、差別の防止と被害救済に役立ててほしい。


     日弁連の国内人権機関実現委員会副委員長を務める藤原精吾弁護士の話 包括的な差別禁止法の制定にはまだ多くの議論が必要なので、当事者の声を取り入れて人権三法などの個別法を充実させていく方が現実的ではないか。それと同時に、被害救済、教育、政策提言など共通した課題を担う国内人権機関を日本でも早く設けるべきだろう。


  • Here we go again:

    Disinformation began to spread online shortly after Abe was shot in the city of Nara during a campaign speech for a candidate in the July 10 House of Councillors election. These included posts reading, “There were foreign forces behind the shooter, including Zainichi Koreans, Chinese and Russians, and they must have been giving orders to the assassin,” and, “The criminal who shot Abe was hired by China and Russia, or is a naturalized citizen or a Zainichi resident.”

    Alarm raised over online disinformation about ex-PM Abe’s assassin / 「犯人は在日」などSNSでヘイトデマ拡散 「投稿前に再考を」

    Ah yes, ‘foreign forces‘…the catch-all phrase for anyone or anything that does not conform with Chinese Communist Party (or in this case, nihonjinron) doctrine.

  • Baudrillard says:

    As someone has now commented on this, I will add what I hesitated to post earlier, which is if someone or their grandfather subvert the democratic process, allying with religious cults, while building up the military, eventually Karma is going to come a calling.

  • ” “There were foreign forces behind”= is straight from the CCP phrasebook, by the way. “Colluding with foreign forces, etc’

    Oh, the irony.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    You can always expect Korean/Chinese disinformation campaign coming from woke right and QAnon-like enablers. The good news is that it’s so easy to detect and flag them down with fake label. What’s really disturbing is the one coming from the mainstream news media. I’m not referring it to Russiagate, Hunter Biden’s laptop, Jan 6 riot, or Ukraine/Russia narrative coming from the liberal wing of corporate news media.

    It’s from state-funded public media– a.k.a. NHK. They deliberately misled the viewers by framing the assassination as “an attempt to suppress free speech with violence,” which is a CNN/MSNBC—level lie.

    Suspect’s motive has nothing to do with his ideology. It has everything to do with Moonies Unification Church(a.k.a. right-wing anti-communist propaganda church). Shamefully, Japanese mainstream media refused to acknowledge or even identify the name until this evening. It makes me wonder where their journalism stands today, when a corporate liberal media Washington Post–filled with series of woke incidents instigated by Taylor Lorentz & Felicia Sonmez– got ahead of any J-mainstream media by doing the basic job.

  • Jaocnanoni says:

    MOFA has set up a website where people can report news and other information about Japan in foreign media which the government either doesn’t agree with or sees as fraudulent or based on “misunderstandings”.

  • Here’s a bit of news which has been overshadowed by the Abe assassination, but is certain to be of interest to readers: the anti-NJ Sanseito party won a seat in the Diet.

    If you haven’t heard of the party, it’s basically the Japanese version of the Trump-lead Republican party from 2016, but instead of Trump at the helm, it’s someone named Sohei Kamiya. And if you think my description of this party is exaggerated, it isn’t. From the article:

    The party has characterized the pandemic as being staged and has heavily criticized the government’s handling of the health crisis. It uses rhetoric that resembles that of former U.S. President Donald Trump and his calls to “make American great again.”

    In a campaign speech, one of the party’s candidates underscored the need to “restore a true Japan,” calling it “the world’s best” country.

    Asked about parallels with the “America First” policy championed by Trump, Kamiya acknowledged the similarities, saying, “There is no question about it.”

    But rhetoric alone doesn’t account for Sanseito’s success at the polls. According to the article, “the party owes a lot of that success to its strategy of wooing supporters through its YouTube videos.”

    Indeed, as far as populist political parties go, Sanseito beat the anti-NHK party in terms of most video views this election, despite the fact the anti-NHK party has over double the number of subscribers.

    And yet there’s something else at work. According to the article, “the party’s grassroots design is a big draw for supporters.”

    So if someone watching a Sanseito election campaign speech via a YouTube livestream likes what they hear, they can join the party and participate. In fact, Sanseito has four different membership tiers to choose from, depending on how much money you want to spend / influence you desire. Oh, and to boot,  the party “receives no assistance from religious groups or political organizations” — something that, in light the Abe assassination, certainly can’t be said about the LDP.

    In any case, among Sanseito’s populist policies for the Upper House election, the one of interest to readers was “protecting Japan from foreign influences through enactment of legislation regulating purchases of property and companies by non-Japanese players and limiting foreign workers.”

    With such a xenophobic party plank, the only thing Sanseito will be building back better is the Tokugawa shogunate.

  • In other news, Japan is preparing to grant refugee status to a Kurdish man from Turkey.

    Good news, right? Well, not so fast — at first, his application was rejected. In response, he filed a lawsuit seeking revocation of the decision. Sapporo District Court then dismissed the lawsuit, but Sapporo High Court recognized the man as a refugee. Following the ruling, the Immigration Services Agency checked if the man’s circumstances had changed since his application was rejected (lucky for him, they hadn’t).

    The article above states that “human rights lawyers, activists and U.N. experts have criticized Japan’s immigration and refugee policy for continuously failing to meet international standards, pointing to the fact that the country only accepts around 1 percent of refugee applications it receives and some people are detained at immigration centers for years.”

    Yet even for the 1% that are accepted, the journey is anything but smooth sailing.

  • According to Kyodo, the number of foreign visitors to Japan in June exceeded 100,000 for the third consecutive month following the easing of border control measures.

    Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast — according the article, “most arrivals are likely to have come as technical interns, businesspeople, or international students.”

    First, I take issue with the word ‘likely’ — if, in the same paragraph, Kyodo can report that “the largest number of arrivals came from Vietnam at 22,900, followed by China at 14,700, South Korea at 11,200 and the United States at 9,700”, then why the need to invoke conjecture regarding the purpose of their stay? Surely this information would be present in the dataset Kyodo used.

    Second, I take issue with Kyodo lumping technical intern trainees, businesspeople, and international students into the same bucket and calling them ‘visitors’ — doing so gives the false impression that 100,000 tourists visited Japan in June.

    Fun fact: this isn’t the first time Kyodo has engaged in word games. Have a look at this post by Debito back in 2017 and you’ll the same thing, only with with ‘trainees’ and ‘workers’.

    Applying misleading gloss, it seems, is a die-hard habit over at Kyodo.

  • Nearly 30 years after its inception, the GoJ finally acknowledges that there’s elephant in the room:

    Technical intern program will be overhauled, says justice minister

    Japan to conduct full-scale review into foreign trainee program

    The question is, why now?

    Perhaps the constant drib of negative publicity surrounding the Technical Intern Training Program got to be too much for the GoJ to handle?:

    Study: More than half of foreign trainees arrive in Japan with debt

    FOCUS: Abuse of foreign trainees continues under technical internship


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>