Good News #1: Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action


 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

Hi Blog. Good news for a change–the mechanisms for investigating and taking action against claims of discrimination seem to be working at Nihon University, at least. Well done, and thanks to 1) the investigators for doing their job and taking action, and 2) the victim and family for not just naki-neiri-ing this situation.

Additional comment from T3:
“Investigators confirmed that the refusal to allow the 3rd generation korean resident into the university debate team was based on racial discrimination. bizarrely so, because members of the team claimed that they might not be able to assimilate with a foreigner – a 3rd generation “foreigner”.”

One more piece of good news coming up today. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

University debate team suspends activities after resident Korean student claims discrimination

Courtesy of Mak and T3

The debate club of Nihon University’s College of Law suspended activities after a third-generation Korean resident said she was refused entry because of her ethnicity, The Asahi Shimbun learned.

The 21-year-old first-year student said she could not join the club in April because several senior members had a problem with her South Korean nationality.

Along with her mother, she lodged a discrimination complaint to the Tokyo-based university in early June.

The university administration commissioned lawyers to investigate the case and determined that the student was indeed discriminated against because of her nationality and ethnicity.

But members of the club denied that discrimination had anything to do with their refusal to let the student join.

The investigative team found that concerns were raised by senior club members over “how they would get along with a foreigner” and the possibility that she might be involved in a “radical religious activity.”

The club suspended activities in late June after a request from the university’s human rights committee.

Three senior members and two professors serving as club supervisors issued an apology to the student for causing “grief and pain.”

The student has refused to accept the apology because of their denial of discrimination.

The student attended an introductory session for prospective new members in late April, but was told the following day that she could not join.

A senior student told her that her class schedule would likely conflict with the club’s activities and that the club supervisor might dislike “the light color of her hair.”

However, she said she later learned from a friend who was a member of the club that senior members had said to the effect that they would “have a problem with her cultural background as a resident Korean.”

(IHT/Asahi: July 16,2008)


13 comments on “Good News #1: Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action

  • zero abrera says:

    from what i’ve been reading so far in this site (re universities), being brown and all, hmmmm… guess i should get a masters degree elsewhere

  • Barret MacArther says:

    >[M]embers of the club denied that discrimination had anything to do with their refusal to let >the student join.
    >The investigative team found that concerns were raised by senior club members over “how they >would get along with a foreigner” and the possibility that she might be involved in a “radical >religious activity.”

    There is a possible ‘Foot and Mouth’ syndrome outbrake now happening. Be careful.

  • well,this is in the good news section but for me this is dreadful news..

    a 3rd generation korean is not allowed to join because she was a foreigner ,and therefore a religious radical and there would be cultural issues??

    she was actually told directly that she couldnt join because of the colour of her hair?
    theyre doing this to someone who is to all intents and purposes japanese?

    its utterly mindboggling.

    –It’s good news because the administration actually did something about it.

  • i wonder if the young lady is planning to file a discrimination lawsuit against the school, or did they bargain with her for a out of court settlement..oops i forgot this was japan.!

    –Jim, you seem to “forget this is Japan” a little overmuch…

  • the scariest bit is that this is the college of law-it is not unreasonable to expect that these people will be involved in shaping japanese law in the future.

  • “Sorry you can’t join the debate club because you might have ideas that aren’t the same as ours”

    I try to be optimistic about the future of Japan, but when I read of cases like this…

    Topic: Japan is great!

    1st speaker for the affimative: “I think we all know this to be true”

    1st speaker for the negative: “……ehtto….on behalf of my team I concede defeat. Thank you”

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    ‘the club supervisor might dislike “the light color of her hair.”’
    That would count out about half of the university aged females in this country.
    Well done to the university for their action.

  • how do the schools in japan expect to get my foreign students when they cannot even let the ones that are already over here join there TEAM JAPAN CLUBS AND SOCIAL GROUPS.i guess because we think outside the box..

  • I’m student too, and from my personal experience, this stuff happens on daily basis in every university. The sad thing is that you need to yell hard to get someone’s attention,but eventualy you get tired of everything.Teachers make racist remarks in front of the students, send “beware of the gaijin” type mails via the mailing list, demonstrate discriminative attitude towards non-Asian students because 20 years ago during their trip/study/whatever abroad they had bad experience, and all this just goes unnoticed…What will happen with that Korean now? They will let her in the club and will force her to leave it by ijime.Nothing will change…Sorry for being such pesimist.

  • Good on the university authorities for stopping this silliness, however, I am a little dismayed by the commenters on this blog who seem to think racism at university is a uniquely “Japanese” phenomenon. Norik seems also to have claimed “personal experience” “in every university” in Japan. One wonders where he finds the time.

    In any case, I would suggest that students who are really serious about coming to study in Japan shouldn’t really be considering Nihon University anyway. It is one of a number of crappy institutions in Japan that call themselves “universities” and calls their staff “professors” although they would never be afforded that accreditation elsewhere. Nihon has a fairly long history, but apart from that, doesn’t have much to recommend it, and is not even ranked withing the top *1000* schools on the QS international survey of universities. Ask yourself this: would racism or silliness at some po-dunk school in the U.S. put you off studying at, say, NYU or Wisconsin?

  • I have made the same experience at Nanzan University in Nagoya (an international university with a German dean!!).

    Some American guy wanted to join the table tennis club and they told him “no foreigners”, no explanation why… I tried to join the AiKiDo club and they told me that they prefer not to have foreigners, the reasoning was that foreigners are not able to fit in the “senpai-kohai-system”, but that they would accept me on a trial basis. BS!!

  • big b,
    not sure where people are suggesting here its a uniquely japanese
    phenomenon.also your attempts to belittle the discrimination
    as not a big issue as it was a po dunk school are rather distasteful as well as incorrect.
    nihon uni is the biggest uni in japan.
    sure the zainichi rejected from the debating club – and no she didnt come from overseas to study here-will be mollified by your comment that its a crap university anyway.
    having said that,as you said to norik,you have to collect concrete examples,record it and make an official complaint about it (as the zainichi did) if people want anything to change-thats why what debito is doing is so valuable..perhaps joe,norik could give some real evidence of this..its tough but thats the only way things will change..

  • Despite my moniker, big does not mean better. And I’m not the one who ranks the universities.

    In any case, the examples of discrimination mentioned in the article and in Joe’s comments were on the part of clubs. Did Joe complain to the University administration about his experience? Should he therefore blame the university for his discrimination – which I am not belittling, by the way? Nihon university did, after all, castigate the debate club.

    And I’d like to see these “beware of gaijin” emails that Norik has received. Why doesn’t he send them to instead of just asserting that they exist?


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