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 All. Let me just tie up some loose ends before the UN events get underway:

1) ROGUES’ GALLERY UPDATE MAY 2006: Ikebukuro, Hiroshima, and Okinawa

May 16, 2006

1) ROGUES’ GALLERY UPDATE MAY 2006: Ikebukuro, Hiroshima, and Okinawa

With the UN’s visit, people have been sending me more photos for inclusion on the Rogues’ Gallery
a website cataloging “Japanese Only” signs to demonstrate how discrimination unchecked by any law spreads nationwide.

The new total of twenty cities includes three new entries:

HIROSHIMA (allegedly a bar)

OKINAWA URUMA CITY (a billiards hall)
B-Ball Sutagio, Uruma-shi Midori Machi 4-8-10, ph 098-975-0205

Submitter of the sign Jeff Norman notes:
“I ran into the manager of this store and asked him about this policy… He stated that it wasn’t discrimination, just that no one was able to speak English there. When I asked him if there were a large number of foreign pool players, he said no and that there had never been a problem with any foreign patrons. He went on to add that he had spoken with an American relative by marriage and that relative had suggested to him that he do this to avoid any trouble. He claimed that he would consider my opinion on the matter. The amazing thing here is that there really doesn’t appear to be any need for this sign or discriminatory policy at all, but yet it exists. Lastly, the question that is always left in my mind is how can a ‘Japanese Only’ sign not be considered discriminatory?”

For good measure, I have also added to the very top of the Rogues’ Gallery a map of the Japanese archipelago, pinpointing the cities where “Japanese Only” signs and exclusionary policies have been found. That’s



I wrote over the course of April and early May about major Japanese travel agencies H.I.S. and No. 1 Travel (which make a good living off the foreign community in Japan) having “Japanese Only” fares, and large mark-up fares for non-Japanese customers.

H.I.S. said they would cease this practice. They still, however, maintain a site with different fares by nationality:

I have a feeling this story might have legs. So I created a bilingual information site with screen captures of “Japanese Only” fares on their website, an mp3 recording of an H.I.S. Iidabashi clerk explaining why foreigners are charged more than Japanese (courtesy of Jason and friend), and emailed correspondence from an H.I.S. customer service rep.

Already there is talk of people calling the agencies, creating an elaborate itinerary, then cancelling it later on to drive home just how distasteful and damaging discriminatory pricing is. For after all, apparently this is apparently not the first time these travel agencies have been caught offering differential fares, or promising to stop doing it…



Last month I passed on a April 17 Sankei Shinbun article in Japanese talking about the increase in international marriage (, although the link is now dead). I mentioned that I hadn’t tracked down the source of the Sankei’s stats. Well, friend Nakai-san found it:

In Japanese. There’s a lot there, including marriages, births, divorces, etc. for 2004. Something to print out and pore over (which I will do if and when I find some time). Anyone want to beat me to the punch and put out a report?



Very entertaining site Yamato Damacy keeps putting out weekly video podcasts, offering interviews of people on the street and cute harmless capers.

Then they interviewed me on rights issues in Japan for four hours last March (thanks), and so far have put out three fifteen-minute excerpts:

(NB:  Links are now dead:  now find them on You Tube)

Bilingual. Google video. I think these are a very good introduction to the issues, and to the potential of a multicultural, multilingual Japan.



I received this from friend Larry the other day. Now, while my focus is generally Japan human rights stuff, this article by the Boston Globe (April 30th), on the Bush Administration’s bypassing Congress in legislative enforcement, is stunning. I think the journalist should get a Pulitzer for this.

“President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.” Very thoroughly continued at

Interview on NPR’s Terry Gross with the reporter at (Click on the “LISTEN”)

It’s an amazing portrayal of the rot which ensues when one party pulls the levers.



A good primer on a very controversial law, the Kyoubouzai Houan, currently being debated in the Diet, which the media and the lawyers groups have been railing against for quite some time now. It’s another step in the direction of the police-power state, which with enough fears stoked of terrorism may indeed come to pass if we are not careful. Forwarding:

The return of ‘thought crimes’ in Japan
By Scott North
Asia Times May 12, 2006

Japan’s government is pushing for the passage of an anti-conspiracy law with potentially far-reaching consequences. Called the Kyoubouzai Hoan (conspiracy or collusion law), the legislation appears headed for passage in the diet (parliament) as soon as next week. In its present form, it could result in Japanese citizens being detained or punished for merely agreeing with one another.

In combination with another statute that permits detention without charge, the new law could have a chilling effect on civil liberties, including freedoms of speech and assembly and the right to organize. Domestic critics of the plan say it evokes comparison with the pre-World War II Peace Preservation Law, which made opposing the war a thought crime. The proposed statute is a vaguely worded, two-sentence amendment to an existing law. It defines “conspiracy” as an agreement, whether overt or tacit, fanciful or earnest, between two or more people that might be construed as planning to violate any statute for which the minimum sentence is four years or more. There are currently 619 such statutes, and more could be added by changing the minimum sentence guidelines.

Lawyers say that a husband and wife imagining nefarious ways to get back at their landlord for raising their rent fit the amendment’s definition of a “group” planning criminal activity. Labor-union members brainstorming ways to resist harsh workplace practices could be held for colluding to violate laws that prohibit interfering with business activity. Teens discussing how to hot-wire cars could be held on conspiracy charges even if they did not attempt to act on their knowledge.

Simply belonging to a group or being in the same room where such conversations take place could make a person subject to the new law. No crime need be actually carried out for the police to detain suspects. Failing to report overheard conspiratorial talk could be construed collusion.

In the postwar era, Japanese law has generally punished only crimes actually committed or attempted. In cases such as murder or arson, prison time is sometimes given to accomplices who knowingly provide weapons or gasoline. However, punishment for conspiracy alone has been limited to rare cases of sedition.

The statute promises co-conspirators who reveal plans to the police reduced sentences or immunity from prosecution. People fear the new law would encourage self-censorship or spying in non-profit organizations, churches, labor unions, and political groups. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly, as well as protections against searches and seizures, could be rendered null. Various forms of cyber-communication could be mined for incriminating agreements.

Much would depend on enforcement. Japan’s police have a well-documented tendency to assume the guilt of those detained and have been known to conduct lengthy interrogations aimed at extracting confessions, rather than exerting themselves in pursuit of corroborative evidence. New detention facilities currently under construction give domestic observers pause to consider the government’s motives for bringing this law now. The ruling party’s smug reluctance to acknowledge the amendment’s shortcomings or extend debate on the matter is also cause for concern.

The rationale for the legislation is that Japan is a signatory to a United Nations treaty designed to stop international organized criminal activity. But the draft amendment makes no mention of the treaty, which Japan’s UN representatives originally opposed as unnecessary. A Kyoto student group used Japan’s version of the US Freedom of Information Act to get the transcripts of the committee that drafted the amendment. They reportedly received pages in which most of the text had been blackened out.

Japan already has domestic laws against organized criminal groups. The new conspiracy provision raises the specter that much daily speech and activity could be criminalized or made subject to police scrutiny, if not immediately, then at some time in the future.

Japan should reflect on the historical lesson that threats born of free thought and speech are nothing compared with the corrosive power of unchecked authority. One need look no further than Guantanamo Bay or Japan’s own history for persuasive examples of why this amendment is unnecessary.

Scott North PhD is associate professor, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University.


Speaking of policing:

(Quick comment at the end)
New ID card system eyed for foreigners

The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2006
Original Japanese at
Courtesy of Tony and Mark

In an attempt to make it easier to spot illegal aliens, the central government is likely to handle admission and registration services for foreigners, and issue identification cards that prove the holders are legal residents in Japan, sources said Saturday.

For that purpose, the government is likely to change the Alien Registration Law, which stipulates municipal governments must issue foreign residents with registration cards.

Under the new measure, the Immigration Bureau issues a different form of registration card for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for a defined period.

The government may submit a revision bill for the law to the ordinary Diet session in 2008 at the earliest. The revised law may be enforced in fiscal 2009.

The law stipulates that foreigners, after being admitted by the Immigration Bureau, are supposed to register with the municipal government where they are living within 90 days of their arrival in Japan, providing their name, nationality, address and other information. Foreign residents who wish to change the period of their stay or their residential status are required to report to their municipal office after getting permission from the Immigration Bureau.

As of the end of 2004, about 1.97 million foreigners–a record high–were registered. On the other hand, as an increasing number of foreigners do not register themselves at municipalities after gaining admission at the bureau or fail to report an extension of their stay, it has become increasingly difficult to spot illegal aliens. The Justice Ministry estimates there were at least about 190,000 illegal aliens as of January.

The Alien Registration Law, which covers all foreigners, except those who stay for a short period, does not forbid the issuance of foreign resident registration cards to illegal aliens. The government says banning the issuance of the card to illegal aliens would cause legal contradictions, such as seeing illegal aliens without the card not be defined as foreigners.

Municipalities issue identification cards to illegal aliens that describe their holders as having no right to stay in Japan. However, some companies have mistakenly hired illegal aliens with such cards.

To improve the situation, the Justice Ministry plans to set up a system to issue foreign residents with cards each time they renew their residential admission or extend their stay, so illegal aliens without a card can be more easily spotted.

On each card, the holder’s name, nationality, birthday, passport details, residential status, address, school or company name and other information will be shown. Under the new system, when foreign residents change their workplace or school, their new employer or school will be obliged to report to the bureau. The ministry expects the cards will make it clear their holders are not illegal aliens. Also, foreign residents will not have to visit both the government and municipality offices to go through procedures to get residential status.

The municipalities, which need to hold some information on their foreign residents, are likely to retain lists of foreign residents. The ministry will discuss the matter with the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and other related entities.

The government is likely not to issue the card for special permanent residents, such as South and North Koreans.

(May. 14, 2006)

COMMENT: Tony remarked to say that as written he didn’t see how this would change the current situation, except centralize the database, and plug a hole where illegal aliens could get Gaiijin Cards.

There is, however, no mention in the article of the IC Chip proposed to be imbedded in future Gaijin Cards, or swiping stations to track even legal foreigners as they move about within Japan, as I wrote about last November in the Japan Times:

This being the Yomiuri, inconvenient facts like that are often omitted.

Not to mention misreported. The section reading, “as an increasing number of foreigners do not register themselves at municipalities after gaining admission at the bureau or fail to report an extension of their stay” is blatantly untrue. See , very bottom for an orange bar chart indicating the number of illegal aliens in Japan (courtesy of Immigration). The number has GONE DOWN EVERY YEAR UNINTERRUPTED since 1993. Even the figure cited within the article above, “at least about 190,000 illegal aliens as of January” is still lower than the 2003 figure of 220,000 overstays.

Sorry, sounds like there’s some sugar coating, atop a base of consensus manufacturing, going on. I’d expect nothing less from the Yom. Pity I can’t find a “letters to the editor” section on the Daily Yomiuri website to advise them of their error.


All for now. See you in Osaka and/or Tokyo this week!

Arudou Debito

3 comments on “Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2006

  • I usually do a price comparison when I buy tickets to furusato.

    My first stop is Expedia, and after i find the best price/date match. I go to JTB and HIS for a double check.

    Usually they come up with something more expensive, and only when I give them the exact flight numbers to look for, they come up with the same price, never lower.

    Price issues aside, get your shopping done ahead of time before going the HIS, you will be able to spot a price hike easily, regardless of the reasons.

  • Generally speaking I have always received good deals with HIS, sometimes even 50% off the JTB prices for the same trip. I’ve started dealing directly with the airlines recently, and booking way ahead when I could be sure of dates. Of late, with the fuel surcharges etc. etc. I found it was all hit and miss, and the playing field ceased to have any logic at all. My advice: Caveat emptor, get multiple quotes and strike fast if the iron is hot. (To butcher a few metaphors!)


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