Incidents of confrontationalism toward NJ are on the rise. Debito.org argues that this is standard social bullying of foreigners being disguised as a reaction to alleged “overtourism”. Push back at it.

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Hi Blog.  This is just a quick personal post as what’s happening to others is also happening to me.

We’ve had plenty of reports in recent months of people being confrontational towards NJ (Resident and Tourist), or people who look like NJ, accusing them of all manner of cultural slights and faux pas.

In recent weeks, we’ve had a confrontation at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, and enough tourism in Kyoto and Mt Fuji to warrant bans on people going to certain places — even the recent overkill of a local government putting up a screen to block a view of Mt Fuji around a convenience store, with predictable accusations that foreigners are spoiling everything.  Halloween in Shibuya even became a target, with drinking in the street made out to be a foreign-imported problem (seriously?!).

Some of this is inevitable.  For quite some time now we’ve had grumbles about Chinese consumers’ spending habits in places like Ginza.  And whenever foreigners are about, they tend to be the first people blamed for any problem due to “cultural differences” that are automatically at odds with Japan’s putative “uniqueness”.  They’re a soft target.

It even happened to me yesterday in front of Tokyo Station.  Some ojisan (now they’re actually younger than me) decided to jump his place in line for taxis in front of us, and then cursed me out when I told him that that wasn’t acceptable behavior.  When I cursed him out back, he told me to speak “proper Japanese” peppered with a few “omae”s to establish his dominance.  I told him to get lost and to eat shit, and he jumped into the cab and fumed as the doors closed.  The people behind us in line apologized to me (thanks; appreciated, but not something you’re responsible for), and a visual survey of the crowd behind me reveled no hairy eyeballs being directed at me.  They saw his line jumping too.  So I got the next cab and got on with my day.

But the lesson I took from this incident is that, since bullying is a cultural standard in Japan due to the hierarchical nature of everything here, there are plenty of bullies who naturally believe that anyone who looks NJ is on lower social rung.  Seeing me as a soft target, the bully yesterday decided to enforce that.

And while he didn’t accuse me specifically of being a tourist, it’s easy nowadays to justify the standard bullying that happens to NJ as a reaction to overtourism.

We as Visible Minorities and NJ Residents should be wary of that dynamic and push back at it.  Don’t let overtourism become leverage for bullying.  Make it clear that rules are rules, rudeness is rudeness, and Cool Japan is no longer cool when it becomes knee-jerk disrespectful.

After all, tourism is what Japan wanted.  “Cool Japan” and all that.  And now you’ve got record levels of visitors (not to mention NJ Residents, by the way).  So live with it.  Deal with it (as I’ve found Japan generally has, successfully).

But definitely don’t blame people who look “foreign” for doing what Japanese do too.  I mean, just about everything foreign tourists do here are what Japanese also do at home — from littering to being loud in public to shoplifting (theft by Japanese is by far the largest crime in Japan), etc. etc.  And it’s especially true for Japanese abroad, due to a philosophy of tabi no haji wa kakisute (“shed your shame when traveling”, with both positive and negative connotations).

Lose the racism and quit the bullying.  And stand up to the bullies when necessary.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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41 comments on “Incidents of confrontationalism toward NJ are on the rise. Debito.org argues that this is standard social bullying of foreigners being disguised as a reaction to alleged “overtourism”. Push back at it.

  • How long before all resident NJ are expected to abide by/be confined to services and activities for tourists, resulting in de facto apartheid?

    Reply
  • I think we are going to see a new image for Japan, not Cool Japan or Anime Japan, but “Street Harassment Japan”- I often see anime Weebs on blogs opining, “I like anime but if I go to Japan will I be victimized etc?”

    Doubly ironic considering all the “harra” words coming up in Japan, like “Power Hara”, “Smell Hara” and bizarre new one “Moral Hara”- which has been misused to mean “harassing me to behave responsibly or morally when I dont want to”

    Japan as Victim again. Never the Abuser.

    Reply
    • Yup some people are waking up to the fact that Japan is incredibly racist and that they will experience discrimination sooner or later. Some tourists who only stay 7-14 days are lucky because they get lured in by the fake smiles and bows and since they don‘t speak Japanese they don‘t realise that as soon as you turn your back, the same peoole will speak ill of you in Japanese. They also tend to hang out in touristy places, so they‘re rarely confronted with „Japanese only“ signs. That being said, even though the number of apoligists declined during covid, there‘s still far too many out there. Yesterday the story about the seperate bus got posted on reddit, a few days ago the story about the „great wall to block Mount Fuji“ got posted and most people actually supported these things. Most comments were in the spirit of „This is good, I like that Japan is punishing tourists with bad manners (what about Japanese with bad manners?)“, or there was one guy from France who wished his country would also use a seperate bus for tourists (ironically he doesn‘t understand that something like that would be illegal in France).

      But yeah, I never understood these people. I like anime myself, but that never stopped me from speaking out against racism and injustice, much less support it. I also like a lot of Hollywood movies, or German, British, French movies/music. Never stopped me to call out the racism in those countries either. There are of course a lot of right wingers online who love to to excuse racism in those countries too, but Japan takes the medal when it comes to apologists.

      Like even the far right party AfD in Germany would probably never publicly say that „Germans only“ signs would be a good idea publicly, even though they probably support it in private. In Japan this is not only normal and supported by the native population and all major political parties, but it‘s actively being supported and excused by a lot of foreign residents and tourists themselves and some of them are not even right wingers, but more or less „regular“ people.

      Japan always gets a free pass due to their „ uniqueness“ and „culture“. Of course everytime a Japanese local acts not according to „Japanese culture“ they get a free pass, but „gaijin“ have to tip toe around not disturbing the „wa“ 24/7.

      Reply
      • Interesting point “but „gaijin“ have to tip toe around not disturbing the „wa“ 24/7.”

        There used to be a “gaijin as honored guests by default zeitgesit. (up til 80s)

        Then it was, “Oh they will make allowances for you as you’re foreign, you’re not to know”. (90s)

        Now its, “Don’t disturb the “wa” by existing as a visible minority in bar/park/anywhere. Maintain a low profile. ”

        I think this ties in with the increase in altercations. Most people who came to Japan came for a reason. Some of them set up their own businesses. Or, they came because they liked a specific aspect of Japanese Culture and wanted to take part in it.

        It is a shame that quite often Non Japanese participation is not welcomed. Anthropologist (not apologist) Fiona Graham (the geisha Sayuki, comes to mind “her request was denied on the grounds of her being a foreigner.”) She set up her own independent Geisha house regardless, but suffered a degree of ostracization either way.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiona_Graham

        Incidentally, I am shocked to learn she passed away last year, aged 61.
        https://tributes.theage.com.au/obituaries/470445/fiona-caroline-graham/

        Reply
    • It’s also misleading. Anything can be a communication issue. People with the same background can have those. But only if you don’t it’s your “foreign-ness” that’s to blame. I recall countless times people assumed I didn’t understand them because of language issues and not because they started talking to me without me expecting it or mumbling through a mask behind a shield in a noisy environment. Would that have been referred to as a ‘”communication issue with a NJ customer if they had to repeat their question”?

      Reply
    • 1. Too many people in Control Freak Tokyo are seeking some kind of stress-free Nirvana Dreamy Day without any mendokusai things, you know the really important stuff like someone putting the wrong trash out on the wrong day, *must be those Kurds in Kawaguchi! Mouuuuuuu” There are always going to be “issues”- that’s work. That’s part of getting paid to do something.
      2. Someone commented ‘It has been my experience sometimes that even Japanese people have difficulty communicating with each other.”
      Indeed. The vagarities of the language aside, there is honne/tatemae, indirectness, and one I have witnessed daily firsthand, the elderly boss not understanding all these “new Japanese Katakana” cool words, especiallly tech or internet related jargon.
      “Wordo Fi-ru wa nani?” he asked.
      I do not blame him, I blame the influx of twisted Engrish or bizarre portmanteaus. “Moral Hara” being the latest in hideous Newspeak.

      Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    This ‘then cursed me out when I told him that that wasn’t acceptable behavior. ”
    – he isn’t going to be told what to do by a gaijin? Whatever next, NJs running companies like Nissan and Olympus? Can’t be allowed to stand. Oh, wait…..

    When I cursed him out back, he told me to speak “proper Japanese” peppered with a few “omae”s to establish his dominance.
    – as above, plus “Othering”. And establish dominance, as you mentioned.

    I told him to get lost and to eat shit, and he jumped into the cab and fumed as the doors closed. ”
    – the ultimately impotent, chastened J-bully. Same happened to me, in my case I just ask JR staff to intervene or call the police, then they do a runner, but fume and glare at me through the glass of departing public transport.

    I predict this might be a future tourist “attraction” of Tokyo. Have amusing “interactions” (altercations) with locals who either take advantage of your foreignness, try to lecture you with made up Rules, or bar you from participating.

    In a weird way, these altercations are becoming opportunities for interaction. Negative for the most part, but most of the time in Tokyo at least people ignore each other.

    When the opportunity arises, it could be a Teaching Moment. I am usually being told not to stand or sit in a certain place or way(!) like at Hachiman Jinja.

    “Soko wa suwaru tokoro ja nai zo” shouted the helpful attendant.
    “Aha!” thought I, here comes the Omotenashi. So I followed the wannabe shrine staff, and thanked him for telling us, but could he also tell us where we could sit? Oh, and also several other questions, where is the toilet, the nearest drinks facilities, garbage disposal and so on?”

    I can’t think why, but he beat an immediate retreat, mumbling and grumbling as he stumbled away. I only asked…..
    Another one I recall was being actually pursued by a guy onto a train because he was blocking the escalator on the wrong side (disobeying The Rule) and lecturing me for every so slightly brushing past him with a “sumimasen”. That was enough for him to feel slighted and butt-hurt. So as he berated me on the train, I went into faux Don Corleone mode on him, that is to say, “friendly” patting him on the shoulder, grinning, and trying to see reason and then “everything would be alright, my friend”.

    He didn’t like the shoulder pat, but it kind of took the wind out of his sails. I even threw in the old “Your English is Jouzu, where did you learn that?” – I can’t think where I learnt to do that, seems I had heard a similar phrase said to me in other altercations.

    It certainly was a great show for the onlookers on the train pretending not to look a masterful performance. Tokyo makes actors of us all in the ongoing Postmodern Theatre of the Absurd, however I must say I am quite tried with constantly being on-call and the per diems aren’t great, but I expect to be asked to appear as token NJ on a Japanese TV show any day now.

    Reply
  • Stranger Danger! https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/japan-ranked-worst-country-in-the-world-for-helping-strangers

    Natch, someone blames “lack of English” but its just strangers in general. I recall the Japanese woman in Kawaguchi mistaken for a foreigner and detained as such, who refused to talk to them because …………..
    “she is not good at talking to strangers!” (including the strange police. If it was a policeperson she knew, would she have talked?)

    Reply
  • Well good, even though I think he should‘ve gotten fired, but at least he‘s somehow held accountable. Compare that to the Immigration offcials who literally murder foreigners in detention and face no consequences, this is a small step forward.

    https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20240604/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

    ‘I’m prejudiced against foreigners’: West Japan city worker punished for discrimination
    June 4, 2024 (Mainichi Japan)

    KUSATSU, Shiga — Two public employees, including one who told subordinates of foreign nationality that he is prejudiced against foreigners, have been slapped with pay cuts, the government of the Shiga Prefecture city of Konan has announced.

    According to the city, a deputy manager in his 50s repeatedly made discriminatory remarks toward two subordinates of foreign nationality between June last year and February this year, telling them, among other things, “I have a prejudice against foreigners.” This March, the employees consulted the prefectural human rights center, leading to the deputy manager’s actions being uncovered.

    The Konan Municipal Government on May 31 punished the deputy manager with a three-month 10% pay cut. […]

    Reply
  • Vickie Moore says:

    Everyday we add more than 200,000 more to our global human population. There are no new beaches, mountains, wildlife, food, water, anything that we consider pleasant. There is only new infrastructure for more and more humans. We ain’t seen nothing yet, as far as confrontation goes. I’ll stay in my yard and play, until it all pushes in on me anyway.

    — We should be careful not to treat “overtourism” as an issue of “overpopulation”. They aren’t the same.

    1) One involves people existing, the other involves people moving.

    2) They aren’t related. For even if Thanos snapped his fingers and reduced the world’s population by a half, you could still get overtourism in tourist places. Because overtourism involves too many people coming to crowd IN ONE PLACE. Not crowd the planet in general.

    3) People will come to see things. And people in those places (Japan in particular) have long encouraged that. How to manage that is the issue. Not how to control world population.

    In sum, dealing with overtourism is more an issue of clearing a lake of blue-green algae. Not boiling the ocean.

    Reply
    • I understand what you’re saying- over population is a real (and really serious) problem.
      But what’s happening here is that Japan has spent literally decades pumping geisha, Kyoto, the bright lights of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji etc down the world’s collective throats as a way of compensating for its self perceived inferiority to the west by telling the west that it has a ‘unique culture’ where the ‘modern high tech meets tradition’ in either a blade runner style megalopolis of super tech neon OR scenic ancient backdrops. Really, it’s just a coping mechanism for a society that still cannot reconcile the fact of losing the war with racist cultural superiority narratives that were allowed to persist due to the Reverse Course.
      Anyway, now they’ve devalued their currency to the point where millions of NJ can visit, and these NJ want the ‘unique Japan’ experience they were PROMISED! So now Japanese society is butthurt that millions of NJ are turning up and they are not slack-jawed in awe and admiration of the superiority of Japan culture in exactly the way that Japanese media (especially TV shows and news) have been telling them for decades that NJ are.
      The reaction to NJ tourists that we are seeing in Japan now both on the streets and in the news is the result of cognitive dissonance; it’s anger and resentment that NJ aren’t reacting to Japan the way they’re ‘supposed to’, and rather than asking themselves if their understanding of their own country and culture is based in reality, and that their expectations of NJ reactions to it are based on fact, they are just angry at NJ because that means that they don’t have to challenge any of their (incorrect) worldviews.
      There is no need for every anime fan to visit Tokyo. Many of them will be disappointed. Most long term NJ in Japan know NJ manga/anime geeks who got Paris Syndrome in Japan, and many visitors will also be disappointed by Tokyo’s bland low-rise expanse. But like EVERYONE who has decided not to continue living in Japan, they will discover that when they go home either no one wants to hear truth- they want the myth, or the pressure of others expecting the myth just means that you go along with it. So not underestimate how must people who have never been to Japan will not accept the truth- this is how effective Japan’s decades of marketing have been, and why they are being inundated now (but again, this pro-Japan marketing rebrand started with the US Government in the Reverse Course, that’s a huge government operation to change people’s minds about Japan).
      How long until enough NJ have first hand experience of Japan that the narrative back home changes to ‘it was alright but…’?

      Reply
      • Spot on, JDG. Got any specific examples for this though “Japanese society is butthurt that millions of NJ are turning up and they are not slack-jawed in awe and admiration of the superiority of Japan culture in exactly the way that Japanese media (especially TV shows and news) have been telling them for decades that NJ are.”

        Ah, Japan, “where stereotypes are loved and cherished”. (Powers, Working in Japan, 1990). Sometimes they’re still using the 19th century one.

        There is more to add and its to do with Japanese expectations of “Genki Gaijin” and vice versa. It certainly tends to be true that some things Japanese are proud of, like 4 Unique Seasons, are distinctly “meh” for tourists, who came here for the shopping.

        Or, the aesthetics of rock gardens. I’ll give you that one Japan, its beyond NJs to understand why its beautiful (because tourists aren’t usually interested in that unless they’re practicing Zen Buddhists)

        ‘”You see, you see? This is Bladerunner town!!”, my Japanese guide exclaimed excitedly in Shinjuku” (William Gibson).
        Kawasaki’s industrial area being more apt a comparison aside, the J-guide is usually more excited than the (jetlagged/hungover?) tourist.

        “Chotto genki ja nai ne….”

        “Lock this clown out of our board meeting!” (French director of Tokyo office (Company name omitted) because the popular Japanese manager would act all goofy and ask visiting CEOs if they liked Kabuki and could use chopsticks. Despite cultural training, he quit. I think the training just went too much against his grain.

        There is often an disconnect between the Japan they want to see and the motives of various tourists, obvious things like Anime and electronics aside, though the latter is on the wane.

        Similarly, Japanese are expecting a Genki, outgoing Gesticulating (white) American on the one hand, but a silently respectful one on the other. Cognitive Dissonance indeed. So let me get this straight, you’re supposed to be happy go lucky, easygoing and upbeat, and presumably willing to part with cash without complaint or scrutiny, but at the same time silently respectful when visiting tourist places.

        I speculate that this is because of the Duality of Japanese persona in society, Honne and Tatemae, i.e. an innate ability to make the right noises to show appreciation and false flattery (and disregard who is paying to an extent, which is also contradictory of Okyaku wa Kamisama) and yet also be silent and respectful in e.g. a Ramen Shop (remember “Ramen Culture” and the Mysteries of the Noodle, Bsed by some racist Ramen shop owner recently?)

        I am not excusing loud behavior in a temple, any country with a religion would get that, just that in other situations it seems the WA is too easily and unreasonably disturbed, like e.g. on the street.

        One can’t expect tourists to think or act like a Japanese (except they do, and sometimes something quite oddly and uniquely Japanese is actually thought by Japanese to be “Common Sense” like, e.g. not giving customers or students meaningful feedback for improvement because its rude, but I digress.

        Reply
  • This is worth a read.
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/06/08/japan/society/japan-overtourism-stress/
    Some of the anecdotes feel untrue (are there really that many tourists who decide that they need a haircut WHILST on holiday and will take a chance with a local neighborhood barber even though neither of them can speak the other’s language?).
    Some anecdotes are just NJ policing; NJ eating and walking? It’s so rude! We Japanese can’t take this kind of insult anymore!
    Some anecdotes are totally without self awareness; Japanese tourist complains that the NJ tourists are in the way. Japan ‘doesn’t feel’ like Japan anymore…
    And in the end, finally, the admission of the fact that we here at Debito.org have known for years- they want NJ money, but without the NJ;
    ‘Even though tourism is good for the nation, he added over the drone of a radio, “There’s a part of me that’s not fully content.’”

    — Yeah, what did he do, ask his barber for a quote, or knock on enough barbers’ doors until he found one that would give him a quote that would confirm the thesis of his article? Under-researched piece of writing that wouldn’t qualify for inclusion in any publication that required good social science. Basic hackery.

    Reply
    • Which is why I say Japan should just go back to exporting products and stop with the tourism drive and facade of G7 standards. I am sure Japanese inventiveness can come up with something as they applied for 184,372 patents, compared to ah, err,
      China with 695,000 and USA with 327,000. Still its somewhat more than South Korea.
      And I have confidence Japan will encourage innovation and individual creativity, I mean, look at “Slave Nakamura” setting a precedent there https://www.economist.com/business/2001/11/22/an-end-to-slavery

      Reply
    • “There’s a part of me that’s not fully content.’” He goes on to say he would prefer they took their custom elsewhere……

      I think they largely have, cheap tourism aside. This ties in with JDG’s theory that they would rather go out in some Ragnarok type event or more likely, dwindle to a much smaller, enfeebled level, than slightly change or accept even a bit of immigration (I don’t mean mass immigration, I mean giving the “trainees” their human rights and passports back, for a start)

      Reply
  • With this overturism boom in the last 6-7 years It is interesting to see how we, long term NJ residents, have been migrated from the historical Gaijin category (kawatta foreign person coming to live in Japan) to Inbound tourist here temporarily by the public opinion. now it is impossible for a NJ to speak / interact to somebody local. I have been interviewed by a silly TV program asking foreign tourist at the airport why they are coming to Japan and I replied to work my cotton socks off since this is my life and the interviewer got in short circuit and left.
    Transitioning from Gaijin to Inbound I feel less attention when I go around because Japanese are now used to see NJ tourist even in secondary streets in shitamachi in very unknown areas of the city but a loss in consideration in being treated as a long term resident who is making contribution to the society paying taxes.
    Again unique only in Japan kind of feeling.
    (totally agreed with the overall issue that Japanese, men mainly, use bullying as a way to reiterate superiority towards NJ people to give peace to their latent inferiority complex / wannabe superior complex)

    Reply
    • Its gone full circle. In the 80s all NJs were treated as guests, tourists or just here for a year (phew). My Japanese friends told me this was how society preferred their gaijin and indeed, as soon as I started living there, they expected things like me only to speak Japanese a few days after I arrived(!). Definitely a perceptible shift in attitude.

      The NJs started to make a few inroads as residents. People started to get used to that and tourists were few.

      Now though, its back to treating all NJs as tourists by default, but not so much honored guests as Mendokusai boorish ignoramuses whose wallets need to be emptied.

      Definitely push back at it, if you’re misidentified.

      Reply
    • This is reminiscent to the ANA commercial, plus dumb pikachu facial “nani kore?” ham acting which I find more primitive than the so-called primitives, but I digress. J pop really has dumbed down. Nothing to see here, musical anthropologists especially post Sakamoto , move on to another territory….. ( I find it pathetic that apologists tried to clutch at straws by saying stuff like “Puffy” was somehow subversive because the personality of one of the members (Amiyumi, whatever) was “chotto Kawateru” in their Sony Corporation created cartoon… Now that’s postmodern- the animated character is more interesting than the human its based on.

      Really the Narcissism of Small Differences End Stage there.

      BTW NJ friend says he will never use ANA again as, get this, the attendants wanted all the visible foreigners to sit together because a bunch of Japanese customers wanted to sit together. One NJ guy caved in so all the others did too, but my friend did not want to as he wanted the seat he had paid for naturally, and got the cold shoulder treatment after that!

      Anyone else experienced Apartheid style service from ANA(lL)?

      Reply
      • Not ANA, but JAL.
        Flew business class from Naha, after boarding, before takeoff, we were all served complimentary glass of champagne. Japanese guy goes mad for refills before we even get airborne, and staff treat him like the proverbial ‘god’.
        Once airborne, I ask for a refill. They literally pour me half a glass from a now empty bottle explaining that they are out of stock. Only one bottle for ALL business class passengers to share? Don’t ask if anyone wants a refill before giving it all to one guy before takeoff?
        Frankly, at that price point, they shouldn’t be running out of champagne before every business class passenger has had a second glass. Inexcusable.
        There’s a reason JAL survives on government bailouts despite having highest ticket prices in Japan.

        Reply
        • staff treat him like the proverbial ‘god’ reminds me of some inconsequential old codger who harassed a female (blonde) colleague but trying to impress her with his position as director of ANA Sheraton by offering her the room key to a room. She declined.

          However, I have never seen the Japanese staff bend over backwards for anyone as much as this guy, even though it was mostly a front and a pose on his part.

          If some Oyaji looks the Erai part and has the Meishi to present the image, they will excuse all kinds of misdemeanours.

          Another guy comes in “Why did you evaluate my wife’s English at a lower level? I am a doctor of Keio University!” Not sure what that has to do with her speaking ability…..

          Erai hito pulling rank. Might as well be Thailand, where children of the rich cannot fail at university, but I digress…

          Reply
  • I suppose it’s inevitable to a certain extent. Foreign residents have reached record levels. It’s still not a high percentage, but it’s more than it’s ever been before. And society is going through unprecedented changes, many of them induced by things happening outside of Japan. I do think that we need to get more serious about supporting politicians that are friendly to us foreign residents. We can’t vote but I imagine there are other ways we can offer support.

    Reply
  • Below is a hyperlink dump of recent legislation affecting NJs.

    Permanent Residents:

    Lawyer, foreign nationals denounce Japan bill on permanent residence revocation / 「人生設計の安定奪う」 県弁護士会長 入管法改正案巡り /神奈川 (Japanese language paywall version)

    Protesters attack bill on revoking permanent residency status / 永住資格取り消し条項に在日韓国人や華僑ら不安 集会や会見で訴え (Japanese language paywall version)

    Necessary or xenophobic? Permanent residency clampdown talks cause stir in Japan Diet / 永住許可厳格化、賛否 「生活や人権を脅かす」 「義務守ってほしいだけ」 国会審議大詰め

    Laborers:

    Migrant labor law revised to allow longer, flexible stays / 「選ばれる国」になれるのか 外国人労働者の「育成就労」制度創設 (Japanese language paywall version)

    Japan enacts laws for new foreign worker scheme amid labor crisis

    Japan’s new foreign labor system aims to make it top amid regional, int’l hiring scramble / 都市vs地方、日本vs海外… 外国人に「選ばれる」ためのヒントは

    Gist of Japan’s new foreign worker scheme

    Refugees:

    Editorial: Foreigners’ rights must be protected as Japan’s new refugee rules take effect / 改正入管法の施行 難民を追い返さないよう

    Gay African man seeking asylum in Japan for 4 years fears deportation under new law / 身内の迫害逃れ来日4年 同性愛のアフリカ人男性、強制送還おびえ

    Concerns rise as tighter rules on refugee status, deportation near / 「難民」なのに送還、何かあったら ロヒンギャ男性、裁判で不認定覆す

    EDITORIAL: Rights focus a glaring omission in revised immigration law / (社説)改正入管法施行 信頼取り戻す運用を

    Japan now able to deport people with multiple failed asylum claims

    All NJs:

    Japan to step up enrollment of foreign residents in pension system

    Reply
  • In other news, two NJ who mistakenly boarded an out-of-service bus made an emergency call to police after the driver declined to talk to them or stop the vehicle:

    Foreign riders call police during unwanted tour with silent driver / 回送バスに誤乗車の外国人2人、約20分降ろされず110番 京都

    From the article:

    I didn’t know how to respond to the foreigners. I thought it would be better to deal with them at a bus terminal office.

    Wow, that’s some amazing omotenashi!

    Reply
    • Ah, the old “I am silent as I am not accustomed to talking to strangers/outsiders/police officers….”

      This classic but with more “The woman was questioned by an officer at around 7:40 p.m. Saturday in Kawaguchi. She told the officer she was Japanese but refused to answer further questions, the officials said.
      The woman’s family said she is not good at speaking with strangers.”

      “When the woman’s 58-year-old mother was shown a photo of her daughter, she told police she “did not know” her. The woman was released at 7:20 p.m. Sunday after the mother finally said it was her daughter.”

      wow, denying you know your own daugher because…hazukashii?

      Gotta love that Culturally Unique (just plain weird) “We Japanese aren’t accustomed to talking to other Humans”

      https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2006/03/01/national/cops-let-woman-go-after-finding-shes-japanese/

      Reply
  • Himeji mayor wants to exploit foreigners by charging them ‘four times as much’ as Japanese nationals to visit Himeji castle;
    https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2024/06/05324b7eab1f-japans-himeji-castle-entry-fees-could-increase-for-overseas-visitors.html

    But hold on! $5 for Japanese and $30 for ‘foreigners’ is SIX TIMES as much, not four times!
    Also, ‘foreigners’ not ‘tourists’?
    So that’s going to be visible NJ regardless of visa status, whilst those who appear Japanese pay $5?
    Does UNESCO even allow this at world heritage sites?

    Japan is becoming one of those ‘nasty’ tourist destinations with ‘local’ prices for the poverty stricken locals, and ‘foreigner’ prices for the white people from developed countries, right?
    New York, Paris, London don’t have different prices dependent on customers’ skin color.
    If Himeji mayor doesn’t want tourists, he should say so, because dumbass comments like this get him the support of racist voters, but have a massive negative effect on all that O-MO-TE-NA-SHI narrative the government spent ¥millions building.
    He’s an idiot.
    Maybe he should just go to Kansai airport with his loyal supporters and literally mug international tourists as the exit passport control, take all their money, and throw their butts back on the next plane home?
    They ¥¥¥¥ is all he wants.

    Reply
    • Andrew in Saitama says:

      @ JDG
      I love that he has decided that the rest of the world uses U.S. dollars and is paid American salaries…
      I believe the discrepancy in figures is that he wants to reduce the current entrance fee (¥1000) for nationals to the equivelent of $5.00 U.S.

      Someone suggested to me that one would be able to use their Zairyu card to prove that they were not a tourist, but this kind of apartheid shouldn’t be allowed in the first place, eh?

      Reply
    • If this gets approved, Japan residents who look deceptively foreign may have to prove they live in Japan by providing ID to get a “local ” price. So great, while getting unlawfully carded by hotels almost every time we’re staying somewhere, tourist sites might start doing the same thing. I wonder how far we’ll be able to get with the usual “island nation” excuse for blatantly racist behaviour.

      Reply
      • Well, soon the central govt might just start handing out something for resident NJ to wear on their clothes to stop the hassle of having to get out your card?
        The Nazis had a system like this, the Jews were made to wear stars.

        Reply
    • “The food is generally terrible and attractions unexciting, but mostly I can’t stand Phuket because I feel like nothing more than a walking ATM, suitable only for withdrawing cash from. Try as I might I just can’t form relationships with anyone that aren’t built on money, and that makes me sad.”

      This is about a place in Thailand but if this Himeji mayor gets his way it will start to get a bad rep like that.

      Targeting and ripping off visible foreigners is already a thing though, for sure. Japan acting like a 2nd tier city in China (oooh)

      Reply
  • Good! Now apply such a law to all businesses, not just hotels.

    https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20240621/p2g/00m/0na/062000c

    Kyoto hotel’s refusal to accommodate Israeli man illegal: city
    June 21, 2024 (Mainichi Japan)
    KYOTO (Kyodo) — A Kyoto hotel illegally refused accommodation to an Israeli man, citing possible ties with his country’s military engaging in conflict in the Gaza Strip, the local government said Friday.

    The city has instructed Hotel Material in Higashiyama Ward that such an act violates a law prohibiting hotels and other facilities from refusing to accommodate visitors except under special circumstances.

    Israel’s embassy in Tokyo criticized the hotel’s action, calling the incident “a clear case of discrimination that is not in line with Japan’s business law.”

    “This serious incident appears to be due to an employee’s personal political views and is unacceptable by any measure,” the embassy said in a statement issued Friday. “It is crucial that the hotel takes this issue seriously to prevent further harm and to uphold the values of respect and equality.”

    The city, having investigated the matter, said the hotel’s justification for rejecting the man’s online booking “is not a legitimate reason for denying accommodation.”

    The city warned the hotel of the illegal act verbally on Thursday and via a written document on Friday.

    The hotel declined to comment, saying a lawyer representing the facility is handling the situation.

    Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said it is “unacceptable” to refuse accommodation on the basis of nationality.

    “We hope all visitors to Japan will be able to engage in various activities in Japan feeling secure,” she said at a press conference. ENDS

    Reply
  • After being away from her hometown ‘for years’, Japanese woman goes home to countryside to discover local cafe selling ‘avocado on toast’ something ‘no Japanese would order’ (!).
    Conclusion?
    Tax NJ for entering Japan!
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/commentary/2024/06/21/japan/overtourism-arrival-tax-japan/

    It’s a bizarre mix of NIMBYism and the indignation of being poor compared to NJ tourists. Ha ha ha.

    Schadenfreude Level: MAX

    The article:
    How an arrival tax could stem the overtourism tide
    It would dissuade some from coming to Japan while funding cultural preservation

    PHOTO CAPTION: Tourists walk through Nakamise shopping street near Sensoji temple in Tokyo. This year is expected to bring 33 million travelers to Japan, an unprecedented surge and a 30% increase from last year. | AFP-JIJI
    BY REMI KIMURA, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, Japan Times, Jun 21, 2024

    I spent most of my upbringing in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture — an area known for its beautiful mountains and nature, which I adored growing up. Every winter, I would go skiing with my mother on the weekends in locations all over the Japanese Alps, but especially in Hakuba.

    This winter, I went back to Hakuba for the first time in years. I happened upon a restaurant and reacted with a mixture of surprise and amusement when I saw the menu: ¥2,000 for avocado toast and ¥2,300 for cold cuts and bread. Two items virtually no Japanese person would order, much less for those prices.

    It turns out that tourism has transformed the places of my childhood after all.

    Japan has experienced an unprecedented surge in foreign visitors, with this year expected to bring 33 million travelers, a 30% increase from last year. In response, Japan should enact a pay-on-arrival fee for inbound travelers to curb overtourism, raise money to support traditional crafts and build a sustainable tourist infrastructure that creates value for visitors and locals equally.

    Tourism has had undeniable impacts on locals’ daily lives, including my own. I live in suburban Tokyo and the nearest major hub is Shibuya. Nowadays, there are so many people holding their phones above their heads as they walk across Shibuya scramble crossing that I feel like I have entered an elaborate game of pinball as I try to avoid smacking into them.

    I have always enjoyed shopping in Shibuya but, lately, have given up on going there almost entirely because of how bad the crowds are.

    Anyone who has taken even a quick glance at headlines or social media recently has likely seen the news of Fujikawaguchiko, a small town in Yamanashi Prefecture, blocking the view of Mount Fuji from a Lawson’s parking lot with a black screen (only for holes to be poked into it soon after) to stop visitors from flocking there. Or of Kyoto creating a bus service exclusively for tourists as locals have been left out to dry. Or of tourists sitting on the floor of a Tokyo subway car having a drinking party.

    Ugly reports on social media of locals deliberately seeking out and slamming into foreigners in train stations reveal a despicable but deeply held resentment — one that signals that something needs to change.

    Tokyo ranks fourth among worldwide budget travel destinations — after cities in Vietnam, South Africa and Kenya — according to the British Post Office’s ​​Holiday Money Report 2024, a fact made possible by the yen’s record-breaking weakness. Another major reason behind the overtourism phenomenon has been social media: Because of these platforms’ algorithms, many people consume content about destinations that are already popular.

    Moreover, Japan’s new status as a cheap destination not only means a surge in tourists but in budget travelers. This results, generally, in more money going to cheap chain restaurants rather than locally owned joints and an increase in price-gouging businesses that target tourists and promote unauthentic, cheap souvenirs instead of traditional crafts.

    Budget travel is not just bad for locals but for travelers too as it tends to drive out authenticity in favor of mass-produced copies.

    Since 2006, the Japanese government has set the goal of making Japan into a “tourism nation” (kankō rikkoku). But the question remains how to encourage sustainable travel that benefits locals and communities while also contributing to the economy.

    Spending by foreign visitors still accounts for less than 1% of Japan’s gross domestic product — in comparison, in Spain, this figure is approximately 7%. The truth is that Japan’s economy is woefully unprepared to depend on tourism.

    To tackle this issue, the government should implement an arrival visa for foreign travelers. I propose one of around ¥6,000 ($40), an amount that is neither insignificant nor prohibitive and is less than what an average budget traveler would spend in a day, at least according to some estimates.

    Japan is not the only global destination coping with overtourism and the model I propose is being employed elsewhere. For example, tourism hotspots Venice and Bali adopted a tourist tax starting this year and in Bhutan — known as the “happiest country in the world” — visitors are currently charged $100 per night to fund nature and cultural preservation.

    While a departure tax exists in Japan, it is not enough. Since 2019, travelers have been levied ¥1,000 when leaving the country to help develop infrastructure such as smooth Wi-Fi and multilingual signs — a mere $6.30 as of the time of writing.

    While creating an arrival fee would discourage some tourists from traveling to Japan, this would not hurt. Any lost visitors would be more than made up for by the revenue earned by such a program — for example, 30 million arrivals in a year would raise ¥180 billion ($1.1 billion).

    This money could be spent on improving tourist infrastructure and addressing issues such as the decline of traditional crafts. For reference, the estimated tax revenue alone would exceed the Cultural Affairs Agency’s entire budget for this year, which is ¥106 billion.

    Alongside an arrival tax, the Japanese government could create new tax-exempt visa programs, such as an art tourism visa that allows young people, retirees or lower-income travelers to learn about traditional Japanese crafts and culture in rural areas. These programs would bring locals not only revenue, but new ideas and cross-cultural dialogue via thoughtful exchanges.

    Of course, overtourism requires more than just one solution. For example, the Japanese government is planning to design model routes for foreign travelers. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that many people choose their travel destinations based on social media content and may be visiting Japan for the first time.

    Social media creators’ influence should therefore be used to Japan’s advantage. For example, in early 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining traction, some Japanese influencers advocated for people to stay home, encouraging cooperation from the broader public. One potential campaign could involve foreign-language creators showing off Japan’s hidden gems — namely, the more crowd-proof routes the government wants to promote.

    Admittedly, a tourist tax might be controversial. In Venice, where there are now more tourists than residents, the levy is not popular with some locals because they say it makes the city feel like a theme park. Locals might also reasonably fear that such a tax would affect Japan’s image as a country of omotenashi, or “hospitality.” (There have already been cases of restaurants and izakaya provoking outrage by not allowing foreigners to enter.)

    However, omotenashi rests on the concept of equality and reciprocity: The person who offers hospitality does not ask for anything in return as the spirit of omotenashi does not hinge on a business transaction but on taking care of the customer or guest. If the overtourism problem continues, however, it is not sustainable for locals to offer hospitality unconditionally without knowing that visitors will offer respect in return.

    Therefore, it is important to intervene early on to create an environment that allows the spirit of hospitality to thrive.

    Japan does not need hordes of tourists overflowing from Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto or Takeshita Street in Tokyo. We should want small groups exploring towns and villages and interacting with crafts and industry, or curious travelers engaged in sustainable retreats that support local communities.

    This could even generate a virtuous cycle where the fun images and experiences that get posted on social media are not trend-chasing and generic, but educational and respectful — leading yet more travelers to pursue deep experiences that enrich the lives of tourists and locals alike, both materially and culturally.

    =======================
    Remi Kimura is a former volunteer tour guide who currently works in the social media content industry.
    ENDS

    Reply
    • Lol at that article. Love this gem:

      „Alongside an arrival tax, the Japanese government could create new tax-exempt visa programs, such as an art tourism visa that allows young people, retirees or lower-income travelers to learn about traditional Japanese crafts and culture in rural areas. These programs would bring locals not only revenue, but new ideas and cross-cultural dialogue via thoughtful exchanges.“

      Typical Japanese mindset of „you are a guest and you will enjoy Japan the way I want you to.“

      The sheer arrogance is amazing. Why would young people, retirees, or low-budget travelers want to go to some random inaka to learn traditional crafts? When Japanese people go to Europe, they also mostly visit Paris, Rome, Berlin etc. I‘ve never seen Japanese tourists in the French countryside learning about how to make wine, or champagne.

      Yes, large crowds suck, but Tokyo is literally the biggest metropolian area in the world with 38 million residents, most of them Japanese. So please spare me your whining about how foreign tourist are to blame for Shibuya being crowded.

      Also just lol:

      „However, omotenashi rests on the concept of equality and reciprocity: The person who offers hospitality does not ask for anything in return as the spirit of omotenashi does not hinge on a business transaction but on taking care of the customer or guest. If the overtourism problem continues, however, it is not sustainable for locals to offer hospitality unconditionally without knowing that visitors will offer respect in return.“

      Yeah, because Japanese only signs totally rest on the concept of equality. Also „ The person who offers hospitality does not ask for anything in return as the spirit of omotenashi does not hinge on a business transaction…“

      Really? I can‘t remember the last time I entered a shop or restaurant in Japan and got something for free. Mind you, I don‘t expect to get something for free, but her definition of omotenashi couldn‘t be further from the truth

      Reply
    • 2000 yen for toast!? What an absolute rip-off!
      I used to have a set lunch in posh Hiroo for 800 Yen. Unless Japan now has massive inflation, 2000 yen is hugely overpriced.

      Reply
  • @MT:

    Japan residents who look deceptively foreign may have to prove they live in Japan by providing ID to get a “local ” price.

    @JDG:

    Someone suggested to me that one would be able to use their Zairyu card to prove that they were not a tourist, but this kind of apartheid shouldn’t be allowed in the first place, eh?

    I think this model; ‘higher prices for tourists’ is the new ‘no foreigners’ sign.

    I’ve given this subject a fair bit thought and have come to the conclusion that adopting a ‘dual price system’ (二重価格制 / nijyū kakakusei) is actually worse than putting up a ‘Japanese only’ sign.

    Why? Well, a ‘Japanese only’ sign effectively punishes the discriminating establishment financially for their exclusionary behavior. It is the literal price of being a racial gatekeeper!

    Now in the ‘dual price system’ there’s no entry barrier to maintain, but there’s also no financial incentive for the establishment to maintain an even playing field price-wise between Wajin and non-Wajin, so there is still discrimination taking place, but now the establishment is rewarded for its exclusionary behavior (i.e. excluding non-Wajin from Wajin pricing for the same exact thing).

    Here’s a thought experiment worth doing: assume that back in September of 1999, Dr. Debito et. al. had gone toYunohana Onsen and instead of being denied entry, were allowed to enter the facility, but were told that unless they could provide proof of residency in Japan, they would be charged a higher price.

    Whether being outright barred entry or carded in order to gain entry, the distinction with respect to racial discrimination is IMO, one without a meaningful difference.

    Also, in the case of ‘Japanese only’ signs, it is at least possible to get them taken down (e.g. name and shame, litigation). But in the case of the ‘dual price system’, what levers are available to pull in order to get an establishment to return to a non-discriminatory single price system?

    Finally, like Dr. Debito once said, ‘Japanese only’ signs if not stopped, spread. Well, guess what? The governor of Osaka prefecture is all gung-ho about introducing a ‘dual price system’ for entry into Osaka Castle!:

    外国人入城料値上げ 吉村知事「大賛成。大阪城も」 所管の大阪市は

    Reply
    • Yes, I knew that this would spread, as soon as that one restaurant made the news for its dual price system. And I kinda agree, it‘s actually even more ridiculous than a Japanese only sign. You‘re right, at least when I see a Japanese only sign I can assume that that person doesn‘t want my money and go somewhere else (to be clear such signs still infuriate me, but you just learn to more or less accept it after seeing it so often. After all you can‘t sue, or write to the „Human Rights Bureau“ for every sign, even Debito can‘t lol). The dual prices are worse, especially if we‘re considering the fact that it‘s not only private establishments doing it, but now even local governments are trying to literally rob NJ tourists at world heritage sites. Seriously, the UN should revoke the classification of „world heritage“ for such racist behavior.

      I already said this a few months ago, but I have to say it again. When Japan closed for covid I knew that when it would finally open up (and I predicted way back in 2020 here on debito.org that Japan will be one of the last countries to do so) racism would escalate, but even I didn‘t expect it to turn out so badly. We desperately need a national anti-discrimination law to stop this madness. Japan is really becoming like Vietnam or Thailand, where you have a taxi, bar, restaurant price for locals and tourists.

      To be fair, I don‘t really care, as I wrote several times I will boycott trips to Japan as long as they treat NJ tourists this way and I sure as hell won‘t become a resident again any time soon (unless Japan does a 180 in the next years, but keep dreaming, I say), but I feel sorry for all the tourists that are being ripped off and of course NJ residents shouldn‘t be carded at a restaurant/hotel, much less at an international heritage site. The Japanese economy is really done for if they have to resort to Vietnam and Thailand levels of tourist discrimination.

      Reply

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