World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hello Blog. Got this yesterday. I’ve anonymized it for now because the family fears that the employer will refuse to employ the job candidate further if this article can be traced back to him. Summary: A world-famous company in northern Japan, with branches and products overseas for generations, refuses to employ a young Japanese (despite giving him a job offer)–expressly, despite being a citizen, because he’s “half”.

This could have major repercussions in Japan if other Japanese with international roots get discriminated against similarly. Read on. More details to reporters if they want a story. I have the feeling we have a major lawsuit here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Dear Debito San,

Thank you very much for your advice on the phone on Friday June 13th.
I will give you all the information that I have to date about my son’s problem.

My son, 21 years old, phoned a company in [Tohoku, Northern Japan] [Headhunters KK] to apply for a job advertised in “XXXXX” (a flyer with available jobs). The job he applied for was at the [World Famous Company] factory near [our town in Tohoku]. The job is a full time Syain job with bonus, Kousainenkin and Koyouhoken. Monday to Friday and 850 yen per hour plus 10,000 yen Koutsuhi per month. The return trip to [World Famous Company] is 13km from our home. The [World Famous Company] factory is new and nice with canteen. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays off.

He went for the interview on Tuesday June 10th at 10am. The interviewer a Mr. M of [Headhunters KK]. After the interview my son was told that he had the job at the [World Famous Company] factory and would start work on Monday June 16th.

(My son was very excited that he got the job because when he went for an interview at a different company one week earlier that interviewer told him that because he is half Japanese that he most likely wouldn’t be able to get a job locally and would probably have to go to Tokyo to work. Of course he didn’t get that job, but that interviewer asked him to go out with him for dinner or lunch. Also he has phoned him a few times to ask him to dinner. (My son has a girlfriend and is not gay) what this guy wants I don’t know but I think that it is inappropriate for any job interviewer to ask the applicant out for dinner).

At the interview on Tuesday June 10th my son was asked to get a medical check Kenkoushindan form 5 and to come back on Friday June 13th with it and bank book, mitomein, drivers license, syakensyo, jibaiseki hoken syoumeisyo, nini hoken syoumeisyo and nenkin techo. The medical check includes height, weight, blood pressure, urine check, sight and hearing check, blood check, chest xray and heart check. He passed all checks and cost 10,000 yen.

When he returned on Friday June 13th the same interviewer Mr. M took him away from the other 3 people which also passed for the jobs at [World Famous Company]. And told him that he would be working at a different factory and not at [World Famous Company]. My son knew that he was a victim of racial discrimination but couldn’t say anything for fear of not getting the other job. He was told that it has nothing to do with him being half Japanese. But it seems his katakana name is 面倒くさい、ハーフだからというわけでは無いけれども、[一流の会社]では[東北]の人しか働いていないし、あとあと面倒なことになると困るし、

But the interviewer knows from my son’s rirekisyo that my son was born in this area went to youchien, elementary school, junior high and high school here in [the town which contains this World Famous Company] so he is a Tohoku person and can speak the local dialect and has Japanese Koseki.

The interviewer was very uneasy telling my son this information and was also told that they no longer need the medical check form because that was only for the [World Famous Company] job. Also they never mentioned compensating him the 10,000 yen for that medical check which they asked for and then told him he didn’t need.

The other job which he started today Monday June 16th is only a two month contract, doesn’t include a bonus or any of the other things included in the [World Famous Company] job, the hourly rate is 50yen less than the [World Famous Company] job plus he has to work on some Saturdays with only Sunday off.

The factory is 20km return from out home as compared to 13km at the [World Famous Company] factory. There is no canteen and it is just not a full time position at [World Famous Company] that he was interviewed for and then promised.

My thinking is that Mr. M is a good man and didn’t discriminate against my son for not being 100% Japanese but [World Famous Company] did refuse my son on the grounds of racial discrimination and then Mr. M had to do as [World Famous Company] wished.

My son has been at the new job for just over a week now and doesn’t want to risk losing his job by causing any trouble to [World Famous Company] or [Headhunters KK]. Not for the moment anyway as he doesn’t know how permanent this job will be. The contract is only for two months.

My wife phoned a few government departments and was told that a verbal promise of a job is the same as a written promise, so we have good grounds to take action against [Headhunters KK] and maybe [World Famous Company].

My son’s friend who did get a job in [World Famous Company] said that he has heard my son’s name mentioned a few times in the [World Famous Company] factory and my son’s boss Mr. M also asked my son about a rumor at the [World Famous Company] factory that he was discriminated against for being half. My son said he knew nothing of that rumor.

This is all we have at the moment. I will keep you informed of any changes. If you have any other ideas then we would be very happy to hear them.

Again many thanks for your advice.
Keep up your good work.

Best regards

Anonymous Dad

38 comments on “World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer

  • Quite sad news.
    It is enough bad to be discriminated in any case but I can imagine how one
    would feel if he :
    was born in this area went to youchien, elementary school, junior high and high school here in [the town which contains this World Famous Company] so he is a Tohoku person and can speak the local dialect and has Japanese Koseki.

    I really hope this kid gets justice soon and that he will not bear any
    emotional scar for this….

    Some things, sometimes, bring me very very close to be regretting all the effort put into
    studying Japanese (written and spoken), Japanese culture, history, philosophy etc…..
    But I guess we are like a kind of pioneers, to pave the way for those who will come after us.
    I really like Japan but I hate its government, they should just create very CLEAR laws and
    make people AND companies abide to them (and also make an effort to APPLY existing laws….
    without rounding corners).

  • “If you have any other ideas then we would be very happy to hear them.”
    Another Debito press conference? If it is a world famous company, they would have a lot to loose by being embarrassed…

  • scott lucas says:

    Very saddening. My heart goes out to the lad. Born and bred here but gets treated like this. But what is even sadder is that it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. As mentioned in earlier postings the very use of the word “half” is loaded with negative connotations. Perhaps if the children of international marriages in Japan were called “doubles” things may be different (no pigeon-holing labels at all would be preferable, mind you). Aaaah…..wishful thinking.

  • I have to play devil’s advocate on this one.

    My son knew that he was a victim of racial discrimination…

    1) How did the son know it was racial discrimination?

    2) Why didn’t he ask for clarification concerning the change in position?

    3) What does the paragraph about not being gay have to do with this topic?

    My recommendation, if the family feels there there is some meat to this complaint, they should do something about it. Get, in writing, the government official’s explanation about the verbal promise and take it to the interviewer and ask for an explanation.
    Another thing for the son – he should never have settled for any position. The process of interviewing and getting a job definitely means being respectful to employers and following a certain business ethic, but as soon as they retracted the original offer, he should have left – immediately. There is absolutely no reason to get abused and to accept less simply because. Continue to interview until you find something worth doing, and consider your other options. Maybe Tokyo is something worth thinking about – not because of racial issues, but because of pay and quality of work issues. I’ve seen some truly horrible abuse by companies where I’m from, and it’s very important to be respectful and stay positive, but you should never let the company have the final say in decisions that ultimately affect your life.

  • well this is all just very sad.
    i live in tohoku , and this makes me worried for my sons’ future as well.
    a lot of people think im crazy when i say it to them but,
    i have always thought that the fact that foreigners are forced to use a different alphabet to everyone else for their names is nothing but disgraceful discrimination(japan is the only country that does this,and theres no practical reason for it).its like branding people as not 100% japanese on their forehead for the rest of their lives…
    there are other much minor troubles this causes like for some credit card companies you cant apply online as you cant input katakana,hospital couldnt print me a visiting card,my boss couldnt send a package to me at my house as it wouldnt accept katakana inputting and it had to go in my wifes name(today) etc etc……

    crazy thing about the law is foreigners can change their common law name to kanji,but if you have kids or a wife as they are japanese they have to keep the katakana version..

    theres a whole list of these kind of things-like foreigners cant use the japanese calendar for writing their birth date on official documents-which seem small things but all add up to a discriminatory and exclusionary government policy.
    the whole katakana thing for foreigners needs to be abolished.

  • In Japan, the problem is not only government, it is also nation, specifically ordinary people. They are dead conservative and allergic to any new things.
    Moreover as long as level of job lowers, it is become more difficult to get the job. I applied for several 1000 yen part time job in my student and I felt that it is impossible to get such baito while later I got a 3000 yen baito from an international company.
    Don’t accuse me of discrimination but I guess he should be colored or at least non asian. Some times ago I had a discussion with my Japanese colleague about what would have been happened to current US presidency candidate Mr O. if his father had selected Japan replace US. Probably he was distributing leaflet for clubs in Roppongi.

  • Scott, whenever someone uses the word “half”, I always correct them as “double”, and I use the word “double” always when I want to refer to the product of an international marriage. (The same way I use “bright” to describe my worldview.) I’m trying to create a new meme. Please, everyone, join me in this.

    –People have been. “Double” has long since entered the lexicon of international couples and their environ. Keep it up!

  • this is one of the reasons why me and my wife have choose to have are child raised and educated in america, we may come back after japan makes new laws to stop human rights vioations and discrimination, maybe in the next 50 years or so..but dont hold your breath, and japan wants to increase the immigration dont make me laugh, how can the GOJ even talk about more immigrants when they still discriminate against people that have had international marriages and kids..again just nonsense but it does not surprise me one bit because i live in osaka and i get treated like a second class citizen everyday over here…

  • I was also shocked when Iread this story,I am a father and my son is half japanese and half American,I would hate for this kind of thing to happen to him as he gets older ,but saddly these are things I am constanly thinking about.Now he’s only 2,lets just hope that by the time he is 21 things will be better.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Aw — are you sure about foreigners using the Japanese calendar? Where is this a law? Whenever I fill out any official forms, if the blank has an era name before it I write my birth date using Showa, and if it says “seireki”, I write the year in the western calendar.

    One thing I think needs to be standardized about personal names is giving foreign people the privilege of having their names expressed the way they like. Japanese people are scrupulous about using the exact name that a person wishes to be known by, including making sure to use the traditional or simplified kanji as need be, but with foreign names, especially in the news, writers can be downright careless. When Mr. Tucker was killed in the bar incident a few months ago, his name was expressed several different ways — last-first-middle, first-middle-last — and it was difficult for a reader even to figure out who he was.

    Most Westerners have middle names, but don’t use them often. Many Brazilians have multiple given names, some or most of which aren’t used. Yet Japanese institutions really want to make us use these often-meaningless middle names.

    I don’t care if the standard becomes first+last or last+first, but foreign people should be able to go through society with one surname and one given name, like Japanese people do. You can of course fashion your “tsuushoumei” this way when registering yourself, but that’s no guarantee that people around you will actually use it.

    The “tsuushoumei” should be the primary legal name once it’s registered. With it, the boy in the story would then be able to be known as whatever he thought would best fit himself into society.

    If I were him, I would become friendly with the old grandmothers who clean the building and see if one of them, born before the war, also has a katakana name. She could give that “mendokusai” boss a piece of her mind!

  • @ Double D

    Dude, I think you’re missing the point here – your son is American AND Japanese. Not half of either. My son is entirely and completely British, a nationality that is, like your own, devoid of any racial connotations. But he also, like your lad, happens to be Japanese – whether other Japanese folk like it or not. If we can’t foster the language of bi-culturality, who else is going to do it?

  • One last point, in British common law if you go along with a change to a previously agreed contract (like taking an alternative job to the one that was previously agreed), you are accepting the breach and cannot later sue for breach of contract. In the UK, this doesn’t matter in a case like this because UK anti-discrimination laws are very tight and would certainly result in a payout of 10’s of thousands of pounds for a case like this, but in Japan I don’t know what the situation is?

  • Dear Debito
    There is possibility that some body wants, to distract you from security alert for Hokkaido summit.the case is a bit vague.

    –I talked to the person down south (whom I’ve met, several months ago) on the phone earlier this month. I also talked to his son, in Japanese. His case is verifiable. It now has to be verifiable in print for the story to have legs. Anyway, it’s not a distraction ploy. Thanks for the concern.

  • debito we need to put this company on your blacklist and we need to boycott all of there products, we need to turn this rascist company into a PR nightmare.

  • Dear David,

    You have mentioned inthe other post that you told the police person about the current numbers of permanent residents, mixed marriages and their children, and other people who might look foreigners but are actually Japanese or in any case resident in the country. Could you please cite these numbers here, or mention a link to where you might have them on your site, please?

    This is just to get a feeling of how much such cases might actually be cropping out there in the course of time.


    –Number of international marriages per year, 40,000 (up from 30,000 in 2000).

    –Number of Permanent Residents: nearly one million (Yomiuri Shimbun June 4)

    –Number of international children with J citizenship: unknown, but estimated at 21,000 born every year (Asahi Shinbun)

    –Number of naturalized citizens: Unknown, but at least 300,000 naturalized between 1968 and 2001 (Japan Times)

    Those are the figures I cited to Mr Kawabe. He had no idea. He knew the exact statistics on how many estimated illegal overstayers there are, however. I pointed that out as part of the problem–seeing NJ only in terms of criminal activity.

  • Well heres my 2 cents worth. I have 3 sons and because I was afraid they would be in the same boat as the poor lad above I have given them all single kanji names (also did this cause I liked the names) and they also go under their mothers family name to save trouble.
    And I must admit it is great fun when I also decide to use my wife name for booking restaurants and other things… the reaction I get is great!! (yes, I am a little evil, but it is also a good icebreaker)
    My Japanese friends have also said that they do not think this will happen to my kids, but I have learned never to trust the local version of justice and equal rites.
    I have decided that if my kids are made to sing “Kimigayo” then they must sing “God save the queen” after to show their respect to their other cultural heirtage too. (although I don’t think I will ever really enforce this cause would cause the little ones too much trouble, but would be nice to say to see the schools reaction)
    I also refuse to call my kids “doubles” I prefer to call them “Eurasian” which I feel quantifies them better, European and asian.

    Anyway, good luck to the lad above, but don’t hang on one job, if they are really this anal, do you really want to work there?

  • The label “double” (which sounds awfully freakish) won`t change a think. The kid is half this and half that; that is simply a statement of fact. Like Obama is half white and half black, not double something.

    If employers (as this one seems to do) discriminate against against half Japanese, that is of course regrettable and should be addressed. Keep in mind however that on the other side of the coin, there is a lot situations where half-Japanese are favoured. (Just take a look at all the models on TV).

    It seems to me if you complain about one side, you should also complain about the other.

  • “Those are the figures I cited to Mr Kawabe. He had no idea. He knew the exact statistics on how many estimated illegal overstayers there are, however. I pointed that out as part of the problem–seeing NJ only in terms of criminal activity.”

    Well, guy’s a cop, y’know? Makes sense that he’d pay more attention to the law breakers than he would to the legal immigrants unless he specifically worked in the naturalization section, or something. It is his job, afterall. But we understand your point, of course.

    –People who enforce the law should also know how people obey it, as well as break it. That’s called an education. This degree of unbalanced knowledge is not good for somebody who can arrest people.

  • @ rene

    i am interested in your argument that because there are a lot of mixed race models on tv then its ok to discriminate against them in other vocations.
    please elaborate further.
    i have noticed that there are also not a lot of fat models on tv
    are you suggesting that thin people should be discriminated against in non modelling professions as well?
    you mention “a lot of vocations” in which mixed race japanese are favoured over others.
    name them please.

  • About Rene’s comments (20, assuming you are not joking…)
    Rene, I think if you want to judge how a country treats citizens of minority ethnicities, you need to look at their participation in fields that affect a country’s future such as for example the legislature, executive, judiciary, armed forces and the legal, engineering, financial, medical and teaching professions.
    Over-representation of a minority group in specific entertainment or service professions is often a sign of discrimination rather than inclusion, because it reflects the career choices available to these individuals. Such over-representation is also dangerous because it can deceive the public into believing that there is greater progress on racial equality than there actually is, which in turn leads to the dismissal of genuine grievances.

    About using the word “double”

    As the father of two mixed-race children, I would like to see the back of the word “half”, but I don’t think we will get anywhere replacing it with “double”. Debito above comments that “half” is in the “lexicon of international couples” and I think that is where it will stay. It is unlikely to be adopted by the wider population because it appears to suggest that we think mixed-race people are extra special. In the end, our goal is surely to be treated as equal, not special. Additionally, since “double” was clearly coined as a reaction to the word “half”, it will remind people of the word “half” every time you say it. Finally, if we look at the history of terms used to describe black people, handicapped people and other minority groups, we find that new terms can quickly come to serve as abusive labels in the wrong hands.

    Why do we even need a label? I don’t think we need sub-categories of Japanese citizens. In most cases, if referring to individuals, it is quite adequate to say, for example “he is Japanese but his mother is from France”. I find that most Japanese people I talk to are perceptive enough to notice that I avoid using the word “half”, even if I do not offer them an explicit alternative.

  • D in Aichi says:

    A “world famous company”, In “Tohoku” with a “new factory”, “850 yen per hour” – quick yahoo Japan search returns “Toshiba”. No?

    –Nope. Sorry. Anyway, hopefully we’ll get the authors to go public someday. No use in sweeping this sort of thing under the carpet.

  • Mr. Arudou: I enjoy reading the posts to your site, as well as your opinions. Here is my contribution:

    As often happens, readers and comments get distracted by the details. The issue remains: There is wide-spread, government sanctioned, socailly accepted racial and ethnic discrimination in Japan. In every aspect of my dealings with Japanese people and institutions (government and private), race is of paramount importance.

    Regarding the Tohouku company: The 21 year old was clearly discriminated against. He is probably not mature enough, or sophisticated enough, to take the fight to them, be it through mass media or otherwise. He is most likely culturally Japanese, and probably averse to drawing attention to himself. He just wants a job.

    Regarding the struggle: The goal of equality is an honorable one that I used to hope for, but I now believe that “traditional Japanese” methods of staying under the radar, and changing the system from inside will result in little change. Only when the establishment desires it will ‘equality’ or something like it prevail.

    Short of strikes, boycotts, and other headline catching efforts, one thing all of us can do is strive for equal treatment in our daily lives – not just getting, but giving as well.

    Toward this end, I make it a point to treat everyone equally, especially in regards to names. If Japanese people call me by my first name, I return the favor. If they omit the honorific san, so do I. I give what I get, and while initially they are shocked, most people learn quickly, and adjust. Remember, THEY are the ones with two systems, and I am the one trying to go by THEIR rules, albeit ajusted to avoid discrimination based on race.

    Many countries have tried “separate but equal” policies, and ALL have failed. In Japan today, all aspects of a non-Japanese citizen’s (or non-Japanese-looking person’s) existence reinforce his ‘separateness’ from the group. Why is this so? How can this status quo be successfully challenged?

    The 21-year old’s attempt to get a job is just the tip of a very big iceberg. I suspect we will see many more of these incidents in the future, as bi-racial children come of age in Japan.

    Thank you.

    –Thank YOU for the thoughtful essay.

  • Poor chap. I wish we knew the name of the company; I don’t want their stuff.

    My 100% Japanese partner doesn’t look Japanese at all – he looks Malaysian or Thai – and he gets grief from other Japanese quite regularly. Given that any kids of ours are not likely to look at all Japanese, I’ll be making sure they do their higher education and look for jobs abroad. It would be Japan’s loss. And at least our kids would be entitled to decent holiday provision.

  • Number of people taking citizenship each year: 15,000

    As for the case in question, I would imagine that the discriminatory decision was made quite low down in the chain of command without the knowledge of anybody higher up. A complaint to somebody higher up in the pecking order at the time may well have solved the problem amicably, because even if we factor out discrimination, negatively changing the terms of a job offer on a whim is certainly a very questionable practice that reputable companies would normally avoid. Unfortunately, by accepting the lower position, his complaint loses a lot of potency should he now choose to pursue it further.

    –Thanks for the update.

  • Dear Mr. Arudou,
    Thanks for putting up this story. Ive worked around “halves” as the Japanese call them, for a long time, either on bases, companies or other places. All of these young people told me they had experienced some sort of discrimination here in Japan. Women usually get off easier then the guys. Im married to a Japanese woman, but I dont want any kids in Japan. Life is tough enough here without that headache. There is something ingrained in the Japanese mind that resist all things from the outside, like its unclean or something. I am treated like an unwanted dog at work, you know, keep it fed and watered just out of sympathy but they really dont want it around, it was somebody elses decision. I, like you, speak up about things here. Its not easy, however. The weird thing I find about Japan is that they are actually all brainwashed (I think you correctly called it “Team Japan”) to think that this country is the best thing on earth and everybody else should think like them. Ive had them come to me and say “Nihon Kokuseki toreba!” because if I dont, as one Japanese guy actually said, I would always be below him. Its difficult for me to understand this mind. How can I be below him? My country (USA) defeated his country and still has, 60 years latter, bases on his soil. Is he not ashamed? Its very weird to understand what is going on in these peoples minds.

    –Carl, I think you’re being too hard on Japan here, or you need to find nicer people to be around.

  • yeah your probally right, but with an added twist, I need to find a nicer place to live. Japan scares me. Because of the experiences I have had, I have went back and read what Japanese did to their subjects in WW2. I did this because I was suspect that the same treatment I was getting was given to the “inferior” subjects of Imperial Japan. I found they had it much worse. Im talking about Hong Kong, Singapore and PI. I think that if Japan would of got their nuke program off the ground faster than the US had, we would all be living under some kind of Japan colonist hell. People can say what they want about the US, but at least when the US defeats a country, they leave it better than they found it, Japan is case in point. This place could easily be a territory of the US, instead its a soverign country, complete with Emperor. I applaud Debito for taking the fight to the bigots in this society. Before there was no such thing as this website. Japan needs to come around, I mean its like behind socially 40 years.

  • Andy.

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    But seriously, you said exactly what I think.

  • Somebody has to say it – Carl rages about Japanese racism and the brainwashing of `team Japan`. But Carl himself is a racist – making negative comments about all Japanese. The American military that you seem to be so proud of is killing civilians, torturing, etc. right now. The Japanese that he seems to think are 40 years behind socially are not doing any of this.

    There may be problems in Japan but there are also people who have lived here for a long, learned the language, and find their lives to be positive and find it to be worth working for change for the better. The purpose of this website is to make those lives more positive, not to denigrate Japan, widen gaps that exist, and cheer on the US military. Is Iraq really better off for hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees? Japan, past or present, does not have a monopoly on human rights problems.

  • Dearest Randy,
    Please take the time to reread my post. Im not cheering on the US military, just stating facts. The fact is that if the US had not of won WW2, most of Asia would be under Imperialistic Japanese rule aka Team Japan. There is only one reason that Japan is not violating human rights worldwide as you put it and thats because there military regime was overthrown and Douglas M. wrote them a new constitution. I do seem to recall a terrorist by the name of Osama Bin Ladin, utlizing the same tatics that kamikaze pilots used, attacking the US. Japan herself provoked a war with the US, not the other way around and attacked all of her neighbors. Only after she was defeated did she become the “pacifist” country she is today. There is still much residue of the prewar Japan here today, just visit shibuya on the weekend and listen to the right wing rant about it. Its this residue that I belive Arudou is fighting against. There are many things I dont like about the US, but what I do like, I like alot. I like the idea of freedom and equality for all and the enforcement of it. National security comes first as it should before civil rights, but Japan has its national security taken care of by the US-Japan security treaty. Civil rights is much more advanced in the US than here, and we have more races to deal with than Japna. Japan still is dragging its feet when it comes to civil rights and it has no excuse.

    –For the record, my use of “Team Japan” is generally restricted to those who would defend Japan because it is Japan, simply put. And take any criticism of Japan as a personal affront. Being under Imperialistic Japanese rule doesn’t quite qualify in my book…

  • `Please take the time to reread my post. Im not cheering on the US military, just stating facts.`

    Those facts, as they relate to the US (which you describe as improving the countries that it wars with), seem to contradict the majority of America`s postwar record which is well documented. Yes, the USA put an end to Japanese militarism (which was shockingly horrible), and then went on to kill millions in those very neighbouring countries that were liberated (Korea, Vietnam). Let`s also not forget that when Japan was doing its dirt, the United States was an imperialist power in the Philippines where tens to hundreds of thousands were massacred over the first half of the 20th century. Wikipeida lists 200,000 to 1,500,000 civilian deaths during the initial occupation (I think that the high number is too high but it is still a good example of the excesses of American military rule that you generalize as being positive).

    On the issue of Japan – yeah, Dougie Mac came in and changed things, but the American also basically outlawed leftist thought in Japan and handed power to those very conservatives (Kishi down to his grandson Abe, etc.) who who have made things more difficult for foreigners here. Japanese voters bear responsibility for not kicking them out, but the US occupation was not all golden and certainly didn`t give different political ideas and equal spot on the starting line.

    `Civil rights is much more advanced in the US than here, and we have more races to deal with than Japna.`

    And once more, you ignore the American move toward imprisoning people (of color) without charge and torturing them. There are also these types of incidents which do not have any precident in Japan at present-

    There is justifiable outrage with foreigners being stopped on bikes and racist signs here on but, as a foreigner / racial minority living in Japan, I`m very glad that I`m not reading stories about unarmed foreigners having 50 bullets pumped into them. Or we can reference the NYPD plunger sodomy case or any number of other examples of violence by the establishment that appear to have serious racial consequences. Does Japan have a human rights problem to equal to the fact that there are more young black men in jail than in college? Its nothing like this statistically for Ainu or Zainichi or Burakumin. I take it that you are a white American, as an African American who grew up in America but has lived abroad, I don`t think that we have the same POV on the problem.

    In any case, these types of incidents and trends are not uncommon. If comparisons are going to be made, I think that you need to take a more honest look at the situation in America. What exactly does `WE have more races to DEAL WITH` mean? Is that your vision of human rights in the United States? Isn`t this type of thinking part of the problem? This `dealing with` African Americans idea (as it is for Hispanics, etc.) is always going to make us see American human rights as flawed. Japan is flawed in one way, America in another and that means that you should think about things more deeply rather than one-sidedly knocking Japan.

    –I think we’re getting pretty far off the original topic in this blog entry. One more response from each person, then we’ll wrap it up. Unless you can relate it more closely to this blog page topic.

  • Part of the issue is city verses country people. I have had little trouble with my mixed daugher (in the Tokyo area). Most people seem excited to meet her. Also, seeing foreigners is not such a rare thing around here (although mostly Chinese and Korean).

    On the other hand, in mostly subtle ways I experience bias and discrimination on a daily basis… just part on not living back in my home country.

    It would be nice if there were some good laws on the books with proper enforcement, but that will not come with out a social movement.

  • Randy says:

    “Let`s also not forget that when Japan was doing its dirt, the United States was an imperialist power in the Philippines where tens to hundreds of thousands were massacred over the first half of the 20th century. Wikipeida lists 200,000 to 1,500,000 civilian deaths during the initial occupation (I think that the high number is too high but it is still a good example of the excesses of American military rule that you generalize as being positive)”.

    Strange thing there Randy because every Fillipino I have ever met from PI tells me Dougie Mac as you call him is right up there with Jesus Christ down in PI and I have never met a Filipino in Japan that likes it here in Japan hell. I know many living and working here. Most hate it worse than I do. Im not an English teacher, Ive worked in the kojos and other places where it was quite hellish. Somebody is going to be #1 one way or the other and I prefer that somebody to be the USA.

    —Okay, that’s Carl. Randy, your prerogative to answer, and that’ll wrap up this thread.

  • `Strange thing there Randy because every Fillipino I have ever met from PI tells me Dougie Mac as you call him is right up there with Jesus Christ down in PI.`

    MacArthur didn`t participate in that massacre that I mentioned. If you think that he was in Charge of the Philippines in the early 1900s, you obviously don`t know the first thing about that country`s history. Also, are you implying that Fillipinos liking the United States now some how erases hundreds of thousands of murdered civilians?

    `Somebody is going to be #1 one way or the other and I prefer that somebody to be the USA.`

    Well Carl, you show up on this blog talk about how hellish Japan is, how the people here should basically bow to their American conquerers, how American always improves countries that it takes over, and now how America is #1. Who, outside of jingoistic Americans, wants to listen to this? It seems like you have a big attitude problem. And you are confused that the Japanese people at your work don`t like you? Maybe its not your Japanese co-workers, maybe its you.

    As for your ignoring my points about African Americans, think about this for a moment. If you or other foreigners that you talk to in Japan think that it is `hell` here, you are of course, free to go home. The alternative would be to stay and try to better your life. What about African Americans who put up with worse levels of police abuse and outright violence than anyone in Japan? Where are we supposed to `go home` to?

    I love American and Japan and I don`t think that looking honestly at past and present problems hurts either one bit.

    –Okay, that wraps up this exchange. No more comments regarding this tangent will be approved.

  • Hirashima Setsuho says:

    In this site I have read about some strange experiences about using katakana and other names. I wonder.
    “…hospital couldnt print me a visiting card.”. In my home town all hospital visiting cards (hard plastic, bank card types) are written in katakana because you cannot print readable kanji on such a hard plastic.
    “branding people as not 100% japanese on their forehead for the rest of their lives” (for using katakana name). What earth is this? Japan requires Japanese kanji family and personal names for all citizens even if they looked like a dog. Or does the writer mean that he intends to live in Japan all his life without naturalization. Not credible, what would be point in that?

    And there was someone who used his Japanese wife’s family name in places and told about it as follows. “And I must admit it is great fun when I also decide to use my wife name for booking restaurants and other things… the reaction I get is great!!” What on earth is that? I am naturalized, and I use my only legal name, the Japanese one, everywhere. Why is that fun? And I never got any reaction at all.
    There are some other incredible stories but let us close here.

  • Mark Mino-Thompson says:


    Any updates on this thread to report. It seems too important to let it slide.

    — The kid didn’t pursue it. He got a job elsewhere.


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