Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of another positive review of a screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


News photo
Debito Arudou

 Japan Times Tuesday, April 14, 2009

‘Sour Strawberries’ spotlights plight of non-Japanese ‘trainees’

Staff writer

The plight of foreign “trainees” in Japan, who often provide cheap labor at factories and in farm fields with no access to labor rights protection, is usually not something you discuss leisurely over a cup of coffee or a mug of beer. But people who showed up last month at Ben’s Cafe in Tokyo had an opportunity to do just that — at the screening of a German-Japanese collaboration, the documentary film “Sour Strawberries.”

News photo
Screening: Human-rights activist Debito Arudou leads a discussion in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba after the screening of “Sour Strawberries,” a documentary about the often exploitative working conditions of foreign “trainees” in Japan. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTOS

The night’s event, organized by Amnesty International Tokyo English Network (AITEN), started with a brief background briefing by Debito Arudou, a human-rights activist and Japan Times columnist who also appears in the hourlong documentary…

Tensions rise toward the end of the film, when Chinese trainees who sought help from a labor union are forcibly taken to Narita airport to be sent back to their countries.

The subsequent scuffle — between the workers and the private security guards hired by the employer — was videotaped by union officials — and provided to the filmmakers to be incorporated into the film. Another highlight is where Arudou takes the film crew to Kabukicho — Tokyo’s night-life mecca in Shinjuku — for a showdown with officials from a nightclub with a sign out front saying “Japanese only.”

Read the rest of the review at:


Get yourself a copy of SOUR STRAWBERRIES by going to:



2 comments on “Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Once again, Debito, thank-you for working so hard on issues like this. The highlight of the article was the teacher saying she wanted to show her students how they are connected to strawberries. This is what activism is all about. Do rest sometimes, though. I wonder about your health, with the schedule you keep.

    — Thanks for the concern! I get enough comedy in my life and know when to take breaks. Plus I still get 8 hours of sleep a night, believe it or not…

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Hi Debito. I ordered the DVD and have watched it. Like all good documentaries, it doesn’t directly give the main message, rather it just offers up juicy tidbits and let’s the viewer do the concluding. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard-hitting as I expected. I did enjoy, if that’s the right word, the “Japanese Only” encounter. I only wish the program could have included the plight of children of Brazilians who are now leaving. Likely, we will use this in our advanced English lessons to prompt discusion and we will definitely use it as part of our Global Issues course work. Thanks again for promoting it and the messages it contains.


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