Get Japan Times today: New JUST BE CAUSE Column out on “Truth Octane”


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.  Sorry to be so late in getting this out to you.  My hotel last night didn’t have internet access!  (Yes, a hotel in Shinjuku without it!)  So I’m writing you from an Ikebukuro Internet cafe after a meeting with Kodansha this morning…

Get yourself a copy of the Japan Times today, Tuesday November 4 (Weds Nov 5 outside major urban areas) for my latest JUST BE CAUSE Column.  

Topic:  “Truth Octane”, talking about how some people simply find too much “truth” in debate too much to take.  And how those activists that can give their side of the story with a slow-drip amount of truth can change the world.  Have a read!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

7 comments on “Get Japan Times today: New JUST BE CAUSE Column out on “Truth Octane”

  • I read the article, but I’m hard pressed to find anything inspirational or motivating in it. I found the whole thing incredibly self-serving and condescending. The subtext seemed to be: “People other than myself are too narrow-minded, prejudiced and reactionary to handle the truth, so it’s best to parcel out criticism in small doses to the small-minded masses and political elite of the world, and eventually they’ll get it, after which I’ll be judged accordingly by posterity for being so sensible and far-sighted.”

    Additionaly, what concrete, applicable ideas are we supposed to take away from this? If this is an article designed to accelerate our collective interest in activism, why is it so centred upon the idea of a single individual shelling out wisdom? Is that what activism is about? Writing things on the web, linking to articles that state the government is rotten, giving vent to political grduges? Is this how change is made, or is it accomplished through different means, through the ways in which we interact with our loved ones and colleagues on a daily basis.

    “That’s how it starts — by speaking truth to power and to the public.” Are you not also part of this ‘public’? Whose ‘truth’ are we talking about, anyways? Who’s to say that ‘your’ truth is the correct one? (No specifics are given in the article as to the resistance you’ve encountered on a regular basis, so how are we to judge you as the dispenser of ‘truth’ if nothing solid is presented?)And are we all so ignorant we have to wait to be enlightened by cyber-prophets who carefully, diligently dole out what our feeble minds can’t handle in a single gulp? Your very tone and stance suggests that YOU know the deal, have figured out the game, are aware of the ins and outs of the ways of the world.

    In the end, activism and making a difference in the world is not about Al Gore, Michael Moore, and the people on coins who history has deemed worthy of enshrining in gold and silver. It is about the millions of people who anonymously toil in their neighbourhoods and community, seeking to make a difference one person at a time, with their friends and families. It is about those who seek neither credit nor glory for their accomplishments. It is not about those who wish to be known as ‘activists’ in the first place. It’s about daily doing what is right around the people whose lives you touch, personally, and whose opinions are the only ones that truly matter.

  • Your column lost me once you invoked Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9-11 as an example of a movie with high “truth octane”. Moore has been accused of many things, but a slavish devotion to the truth is not among them. Even his fans admit that he’s more of a showman than a reporter.

  • Dear Debito,

    Looks like HIS are up to their old tricks. A friend of mine(UK citizen) and his Japanese wife decided to take a trip for the winter break.
    They decided to book the HIS Asia mystery tour. However my friends wife was soon told that it was for Japanese Only. Notwithstanding that he has a spousal visa and they were married (here in Japan). Of course she was willing to deal with any interpretation or other areas where language might be a difficulty.

    I looked up the HIS website and found this in the fine print for the tour. (


    It doesnt seem to imply that the tour is Japanese. He has a spousal visa so surely they should have at least considered his decision.
    I told my friend that he should ask his wife to make a complaint and depending on their reply. Of course if you email them that would be great too!.

    (they have already booked a trip to Okinawa with another company by the way so they dont seek to be considered)

    What are you thoughts on this? Have you heard of other cases like this.

  • I think that sentence in Japanese says that for foreigners there may be some destinations that require visas. But the requirement of a visa wouldn’t be good grounds to turn down non-Japanese person. A visa application could be made for that person.

    It kind of looks like HIS might be up to its racaist ways again.

  • Maybe HIS’ service could be discriminatory, but there could be other explanations.

    The HIS trip is called a “mystery tour” because the 4 destination countries of the trip are kept secret to the tour participants. Now, if a participant needs a visa of one of the destination countries, what will happen? Should the tour company tell the customer the destination and ask him to get the visa to get into that country, thereby spoiling the fun of the “mystery tour”?

    I am not sure if one of the destinations requires a visa for a UK citizen and waives such duty for Japanese citizen, but if that is the case, their response may be justified.

    — Hi HO. Still waiting for your confirmation that NJ are counted as unemployed on a monthly basis. Could you please respond to that before commenting again, or just admit that the assertion is incorrect? Thanks.

  • @HO: I make about 4 or 5 international flights a year, and every travel agent I’ve ever used (including HIS, before I knew about their discriminatory pricing) has inquired about my nationality and used that information to provide a report about visa requirements and entry procedures for the destination country. They have all of that information easily accessible in their databases and could have looked it up within seconds. Please try harder next time to excuse this company’s poor behaviour.

  • Debito, sorry for making you waiting. I did not recognize you were waiting for my reply.

    Number of unemployed workers is the number of people collecting or claiming the unemployment benefit. Since foreign workers are covered by employment insurance, and when they get fired, they claim the unemployment benefit, the official unemployment figures naturally include foreigners.

    — Er, that’s not convincing. A different reply from a different person to the appropriate blog entry directly quoted a GOJ website, which was more convincing. Anyway, it’s not a matter of including, it’s a matter of being reported as included, so that when more NJ get fired, that gets reflected in the reported nationwide unemployment rate. Does this really need explaining, or are we playing with semantics now?


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