Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv.#1: News Station Oct 12, 1999 on Ana Bortz Verdict YouTubed


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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
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All TV shows in Japanese (no subtitles or dubbing) with amateur editing

By Arudou Debito (www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)

Total time:  2 hours 20 minutes.  Recorded on one VHS tape in 3X format.


1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes).  National broadcast.  Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination.

Imbedded video follows.  If you would like to download and watch this broadcast in mp4 format on your iPod, click here:  https://www.debito.org/video/anabortz101299.mp4 (NB:  if you want it to download as a file, not open up in a different browser:  right-click for Windows users, or Control + Click for Macs)

COMMENT:  What’s remarkable about this broadcast is how thoroughly it describes the Bortz Case and the UN CERD.  Also the videotape, from Sebido Jewelry Store security cameras in Hamamatsu, showing the owner refusing Ana quite forcefully.  It is the most sympathetic broadcast to come out during the Otaru Onsens Case, and unfortunately it would come at the very beginning, before the media really lost the point.

(Shortly after being YouTubed, there was a complaint from a viewer in Japanese that this report wasn’t balanced because it didn’t give the store’s perspective.  Actually, the store refused to comment for this broadcast.)

The Ana Bortz Lawsuit would inject new energy into the Otaru Onsens Case (which first started in earnest on September 19, 1999, about a month before), offering positive legal precedent for the onsens to take their signs down.  Shortly afterwards, one did (Onsen Panorama).  The other two, Onsen Osupa, would take until March 2000 and a lot of beers and making friends with the owner.  The last one (in Otaru, at least), Onsen Yunohana would take until January 2001, nearly fifteen months and a lot of events later, on the day that we announced that we would be suing them.  Then, and only then, and Yunohana only replaced it with a new set of exclusionary rules.  It would take several years to prove this, but these moves would be a losing formula for them in court.  More in my book JAPANESE ONLY.

Next up, the broadcasts which painted this issue as a matter of “cultural misunderstandings” and lost the point — that this discrimination is a matter of race, not culture.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

4 comments on “Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv.#1: News Station Oct 12, 1999 on Ana Bortz Verdict YouTubed

  • Not really a comment for your blog, but just between you and me – I was given free reign over my previous school’s English camp over the summer and I was told to give the students an assignment dealing with discrimination. Much to my JTE’s surprise, I asked my students not only to research and perform a play based on Rosa Parks, but I assigned them to do another play based on what happened at the Otaru Onsens. It shook a lot of my students up and a lot of them wrote about their surprise and digust at what happened. My faith was renewed a bit in the younger generation and I hope you take some solace from that if you ever sit down and question whether or not it was worth it. Thanks for all you’ve done Debito.

    — Sorry, don’t want to keep this comment between you and me. That’s lovely to hear, thanks for saying. And for assigning.

  • Excellent video. I showed it to a Japanese friend and it produced a number of good comments:

    ・アナさん正しいよ。 人種差別してはいけない法律を作るべきだよ
    ・日本もいっぱい人種が増えてきたから 昔の日本から、かわったんだから、法律も変えるべきだよ
    ・日本のmartin luther king jr.いないのかな

    The sad thing is that ten years later there has been essentially no progress towards such a law.

  • the man in the video should of also been arrested for assault since he touched the victim. If he were NJ you can bet your last yen that he would of been arrested in a heartbeat. again the double standards in the country in regards to court and trial proceedings are just plain racism and disrimination based on race.


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