Reuters: Biden calls ally Japan ‘xenophobic’ along with rivals China and Russia (May 2, 2024). Bravo Biden!


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Hi Blog.  The next significant development over the past couple of weeks is POTUS Biden sounding off on xenophobia in Japan (and fellow ally India, as well as Russia and China), citing Japan’s inability to accept immigrants and harness their potential as a key issue in Japan’s longstanding economic doldrums.

(Reuters article on this below.)

COMMENT: says “Bravo Biden!”, for obvious reasons we’ve covered on since its beginning back in 1995.  For generations now Japan has gotten a free pass on its racial discrimination (about which I’ve written entire books) simply because it’s an ally.  It’s about time somebody in leadership chided things in the right direction.  Unfortunately, geopolitics and human rights do not mix, and the latter has taken a back seat to the former for too long.

The response will be predictable and obvious.  There will be the requisite handwringing from the diplomats and media, and the knee-jerk reactions from the ethnostatists defending Japan’s putative ethnic purity or sovereignty in various comments sections (although human rights supersede pat claims of sovereignty if you’ve signed the CERD, which Japan did nearly 30 years ago and still has not passed any laws against racial discrimination).

Whatever.  It’s long overdue to state the fact that Japan as a polity simply will not keep its international promises, and agrees with Biden that Japan’s lack of any official immigration policy hurts Japan as a society both economically and demographically.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Biden calls ally Japan ‘xenophobic’ along with rivals China and Russia
Reuters/Japan Times, May 2, 2024

U.S. President Joe Biden included ally Japan along with rivals China and Russia in a list of countries he called “xenophobic” on Wednesday, in a speech at a campaign fundraising event in Washington.

Biden reiterated remarks he made last month linking China’s economic woes to its unwillingness to accept immigration. This time he added Russia, but also longstanding ally Japan, whose Prime Minister Fumio Kishida he welcomed for a summit and state dinner in Washington just three weeks ago.

“You know, one of the reasons our economy is growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden told Asian American and Pacific Islander donors Wednesday. “The reason — think about it — why is China stalling so bad economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia, why is anyone? Because they’re xenophobic, they don’t want immigrants.”

His criticisms and the fact that Japan was mentioned alongside two major U.S. rivals could raise hackles in Tokyo. The U.S. and Japan announced a “significant upgrade” to their defense ties last month, citing the need to counter China’s “dangerous” actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The April summit in Washington was overshadowed by Biden’s stance on a plan for Japan’s Nippon Steel to buy United States Steel, after he said the firm should remain U.S.-owned.

Japan’s government acknowledges its aging and shrinking population is a source of concern, with Kishida himself saying the issue threatens society’s ability to function.

The country is also gradually opening the door to more immigrants, many of whom are filling jobs in sectors where there are shortages of workers.

The number of foreign residents in Japan rose to a record high of 3.4 million in December 2023, up 10% on the previous year and representing about 2.7% of the population of about 124 million.

A survey by the Asahi newspaper published last month found 62% of respondents said more foreign workers should be accepted, compared with 44% in a similar poll in 2018. ENDS


(Prior comments from Readers on the Biden statement starting here.)

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18 comments on “Reuters: Biden calls ally Japan ‘xenophobic’ along with rivals China and Russia (May 2, 2024). Bravo Biden!

    • Canada said it granted refugee status to two Japanese women last September due to widespread discrimination they faced in Japan as lesbians and members of the weaker sex.

      Ottawa also cited the lack of legal marriage in Japan for same-sex couples as a reason to certify the couple as refugees, noting the couple was denied the benefits given under the Japanese system to those in opposite-sex marriages.

      Canadian immigration authorities said the fear of facing persecution in Japan held by the two women was grounded on a sufficient basis.

      In addition to ‘xenophobic’, it’s a shame Biden didn’t also call Japan et. al. ‘homophobic’.

      The Japanese language paywall version can be found here: 日本人の同性カップル、カナダで難民認定 「迫害に根拠ある恐怖」

    • Good going Canada!
      Sadly as Debito’s pointed out many times 外圧 is usually the only way Japan ever changes…

  • Urgh, just where to start with this?
    I just can’t even🙄

    So much wrong with this.

    Tokyo court dismisses foreigner’s claim of police discrimination
    The Tokyo District Court has dismissed a lawsuit by a foreign woman who claimed to have been subject to discriminatory treatment by police. | JIJI
    JIJI/The Japan Times, May 22, 2024

    The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by a foreign woman who claimed to have been subject to discriminatory treatment by police.

    The woman from South Asia in her 40s and her 6-year-old Japanese daughter had sued the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for ¥4.4 million in damages over the alleged discriminatory treatment by officers from the Metropolitan Police Department.

    Presiding Judge Masaki Katano said that “no illegality can be found” in the police’s actions.

    According to the ruling, the woman and her daughter were playing in a park in the Japanese capital in June 2021 when a male stranger approached them, alleging that the woman’s daughter had kicked his son.

    The man was quoted as telling them, “Foreigners are not worth living.”

    The plaintiffs claimed that one of the police officers who arrived at the scene following a report by the man told the daughter, “You must have kicked (the man’s son) anyway.”

    Based on a sense of discrimination toward foreigners, the officer unilaterally concluded who was wrong in the incident, the plaintiffs also contended.

    The judge said that this alleged behavior by the officer is considered “somewhat abrupt and unnatural” for police staff, expressing doubt that the remark was made.

    The judge also defended police questioning of the daughter, dismissing the allegation that the daughter was questioned unattended without consent and pressed to admit that she had kicked the man’s son.

    At a news conference, the woman said it is very regrettable to see a ruling that encourages racial discrimination.

    Her lawyer, Atsuko Nishiyama, said, “The ruling was based solely on the assumption that a police officer would not engage in such conduct, which is nonsense.” Nishiyama hinted at the possibility of filing an appeal. ENDS

    • She should definitely appeal that, the first thing a judge should know is not to make any assumptions, but only base rulings on available facts.

      “The judge also defended police questioning of the daughter, dismissing the allegation that the daughter was questioned unattended without consent and pressed to admit that she had kicked the man’s son.”

      So is this guy a neutral judge, or the defense lawyer for the police?

      Anyways, what else can you expect when it was the actual government who enabled this man to illegally ask to see her “gaijin card”? This incident only happened a few days after they heavily advertised the new card reader app and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

      Maybe she still wins on appeal like the former Zainichi Korean and now naturalized Japanese citizen who got refused at a golf club for being a foreigner. But since she doesn’t have Japanese nationality, so basically no protection against discrimination, especially when it comes to the police, I’m not too positive.

      In other news, the abuse and cheating of foreign “trainees” goes on.

    • Zensweptandinteresting says:

      If the Age of Criminal Responsibility is 14 in Japan, what were the Police Powers of Arrest/ to detain and Interview the 6 Year Old girl. Anything to do with Japan having an Inquisitorial Justice System? Even if the girl kicked the boy, so what? No crime committed, as no Mens Rea.

    • I have a anecdotal evidence to this “the assumption that a police officer would not engage in such conduct”

      Ex was arrested and detained for working on a study visa, I hired a lawyer who dutifully came with me to visit the Shinagawa detention center. The cop there was visibly riled that I politely “just wanted to check she was OK.”

      “Why wouldn’t she be?” was his pithy comeback. Oh, how mendokusai.

      At the time I thought the lawyer ( a woman, so immediately at a social disadvantage) was quite toothless and useless, but now I think it was at least an insurance policy that we were preemptively watching the situation.

      Who knows? Maybe the cop was annoyed that he would not be able to harass attractive detainee with impunity? Of course, I merely speculate because of course we should just take him at his word that she will be OK.

      I could digress into other cases I have witnessed that strongly suggest harassment of (“easy/powerless”) NJ Asian females is seen as default OK by a certain male demographic. Even incredulously by a hotel staff on a guest (so she ended up staying at my place despite bring a paying customer) and the one where the Taiwanese girl was harassed on her first night of a home-stay (I was then called upon to move out her stuff) was perhaps less surprising than the former (what kind of Omote Nashi is that?). I have many more anecdotes of this ilk. It is doubly disgusting because it has shades of Nanking and Ianfu.

      Its a mindset. Trust the Erai Hito. What could possibly go wrong??

    • The absolute petty ridiculousness that people making holes in a fence to see Mt. Fuji makes the news is just yet another J-Theatre of the Absurd and a nothing burger.

      That’s like someone leaving plastic bowls for street cats making the headlines.

      Someone stole my vinyl white 100 yen umbrella. Must’ve been a Japanese, because it’s their culture to do that (!). A couple of Japanese once said to me it was OK to take it, as they are ubiquitous and cheap. Any reporters interested to report on numbers of umbrellas being stolen from doorways, gyms, etc?

      — Is there a view of Mt. Fuji through the umbrella? If so, the government had better blacken it if you’re a foreigner looking at it.

  • Random J-Karen videos and harasses NJ for ringing bells at Yasaka Jinja ‘too loundly’.
    He asks if she can speak English.
    She can’t.
    He explains that he’s not a tourist, he’s lives here for 8 years and ringing the bells is allowed.
    She won’t let up.
    He switches to English for the benefit of the elderly NJ with him that J-Karen is harassing also.
    J-Karen loses it ‘You’ve been here 8 years, you should speak Japanese! Why are you speaking English! This is discrimination against me!’ She uses ‘Omae’ for you.
    He switches back to Japanese and tells her to shut up, also using Omae for you.
    Japan; killing its tourism golden egg AND any dream of enticing elite NJ to become some sort of regional/international *anything* hub🙄

    This will be misrepresented as a ‘culture clash’, but the truth (as I recently predicted) will turn out to be that this is a result of what happens when ‘we Japanese’ superiority narrative believing locals with plummeting standards of living SLAM straight into flush with cheap ¥ NJ blowing their hard earned cash in a cheap holiday destination.
    It’s going to get harder for the average Suzuki to reconcile the propaganda that they are ‘special’ whilst their country turns into Thailand before their eyes. The cognitive dissonance is already explosive.

    • -“This is discrimination against me!’
      Of course, because Japanese never do it, right? (sarcasm). Poor Likkle J-Karen. Why couldn’t she just tell them off once and leave it there? No, she has to follow and berate them. Perhaps the guide could have just refused to speak to the “crazy Japanese person” and using Logical Discourse rarely persuades anyone in Japan so walking away would have been the sensible thing to do, but maybe he had a long day or felt he had to take a stand for his customers. Or he felt unconfident dealing with conflict in Japanese, i.e. at an immediate disadvantage.

      -“This is discrimination against me!’ Certainly an escalation from “Don’t ring the bell loudly”.

      Some blog comments have said its Wacist to use English in Japan, i.e. if you live there you have to speak Japanese. OK, but this was a group of tourists.
      The guide has since been ostracized and his business outed as not entirely certified and he has gone into hiding. I think this is the real message here;
      If an angry J-rando takes a dislike to you, they can film you and an online mob will hound you out of business. Way to go, Omotenashi. This isn’t unlike the train photo crasher but the NJ won that one, in the Court of Online. They surround him and demand money for the ruined photo shot. Though here on Reddit, seems other NJs are blaming him.
      N.B. Why is it “Foreigner” interference? Why not, “guy on bike”? Well, we know why. Because its an “Us vs them” mentality.

      A telling comment elsewhere was “Japanese tend to expect foreigners to understand Japanese and their rules/customs”

      That’s funny, whatever happened to the mysterious inscrutable Yamato and its Cultural Uniqueness, difficult for a foreigner to ever understand?

      So, which one is it? (answer; whichever suits them at the time).

    • -they are ‘special’ whilst their country turns into Thailand before their eyes

      A lot of people abroad probably weigh them up in the some light.

      Except Japan isn’t perceived as friendly as Thailand. I can remember western business people saying thirty years ago Japan was just seen as too “difficult” to bother dealing with. There was an interview with a major fashion brand and the Japanese asked why they didnt have a presence in Japan. The interviewee squirmed a bit because
      1. Japan had never even crossed their mind and then
      2. Came up with “Japan is seen as “doing its own thing” and also there is a language barrier. And it’s far away. (Clearly trying to answer diplomatically on the spot)

  • THIS is how Japan polices NJ with racial profiling whilst avoiding accusations of institutional racism;
    1. Make a rule, NOT a law.
    2. Have absolutely NO PENALTIES whatsoever for breaking the rule.
    3. Publicize the rule.
    4. Enlist uniformed security, NOT THE POLICE, to choose when and for whom the rule is to be enforced.
    5. Stand back as NJ as expected to accept bullying and rules as ‘Japanese culture’ whilst Japanese just ignore the whole thing.

    This is a direct continuation of the xenophobic Shibuya Mayor’s decision to ban street partying and drinking at Halloween and New Year because (he claimed) NJ were coming to Japan just for these nights and not respecting Japan’s rules. Xenophobic NJ blaming over-reaction now endorsed by the poverty ridden populace’s jealously of NJ tourist spending power.
    The ‘customer is god!’
    Unless they are an NJ tourist who spent $1000s on flights and hotels- in that case Japan is trying to give them the N Korea tour treatment.

    • Insightful post and points no one has really listed before. It certainly makes sense as its easy to make rules, anyone can, and then easy to bully “naive” tourists and NJ into accepting them and walking on tip toe afraid to even switch a fan on in an onsen (Debito’s auntie, I believe).

      [Yes, that is correct. Good memory. My ex-wife’s aunt, born and raised in Japan, had left the Japan in the 1950s and still believed even in the 1990s there was a Kenpeitai-level of enforcement of social mores anywhere in public. — Ed.]

      It is really going to mar anyone’s trip. I was in Tokyo for just a few days visiting my old residence and some guy’s gotta to jump out and say “This is my private road you cant walk here”.

      Except on the other side of the road is a small school so presumably he only owns half of the road (and we were walking on the school side). I asked how I can enter the school (I was a former student) and he just said “I don’t know”. Well, thank you for the helpful instructions.

      The Japan that Can Bully Tourists.

  • Kyoto City tourist bus service starts to combat ‘over tourism’!
    For just DOUBLE the price of a normal ticket, tourists can enjoy a service where the WHOLE bus IS the BACK OF THE BUS!!
    But only on Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays (no points for guessing that the Kyoto City officials behind this have never heard that unlike Japanese, NJ can have whole a whole fortnight (including weekdays!) holiday).
    NB promo shot features Geiko on the bus! In other news, Kyoto City is policing tourists with fines in Gion! MIXED MESSAGING by them is causing these problems!


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