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Hi Blog. In Part Six of this retrospective on the Otaru Onsens Case a decade on, I talk about how the J media misinterpreted the issues revolving around the “JAPANESE ONLY” signs up at Otaru Onsen Yunohana et al., and how they wound up fanning the fires of exclusionism by spreading fear of foreigners (particularly vis-a-vis foreign crime).
As I chart in book “JAPANESE ONLY“, when we first started this case in September 1999, NJ were seen as “misunderstood outsiders”, impaired by “culture” as their monkey on their back. But following GOJ policy putsches by politicians like then-PM Koizumi and Tokyo Gov Ishihara (who in April 2000 famously called upon the Nerima SDF to prepare for “foreigner roundups” to prevent riots in the case of a natural disaster), NJ became a public threat to Japan’s safety and internal security (even though NJ crime was always less than J crime both as a proportion and of course in terms of absolute numbers). Then more doors slammed shut and more signs barring NJ from entry went up — some of them direct copies of the signs in Otaru. Hey, as those onsens indicated, exclusionary signs are not illegal.
Thus, although we made progress in the first six months of the Otaru Onsens Case, getting signs down in two of Otaru’s three exclusionary onsen, we could not compete with the national government and media saturation, and lost all the ground we gained and then some. The media’s overfocus on NJ crime to this day affects the debate regarding assimilation.
Embedded videos of how the media could not escape linking NJ rights with foreign crime follow. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.
OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART FOUR
INDEX OF PREVIOUS PARTS HERE
By Arudou Debito (www.debito.org, email@example.com)
6) UHB SUPER NEWS Beginning of the new year special on THE YEAR 2001 (Locally broadcast January 3, 2002) (15 minutes). Discourse on the nature of internationalization. Also brings in the spectre of foreign crime and terrorism, first brought up from April 2000 with the “Ishihara Sangokujin Speech”, and later used to justify further exclusionism towards foreigners. Part One of Two
(Part Two features me trying to explain “kokusaika” in terms of immigration and tolerance; love how the commentators then struggle to square the circles:)
7) NHK CLOSE UP GENDAI on FOREIGN CRIME (Nationally broadcast November 7, 2003) (26 minutes). The fix is in: Foreigners and the crimes they bring is now publicly portrayable as fearful, with no comparison whatsoever made to stats of crimes by Japanese (except those connected again with foreigners). A PSA posing as a news special, to warn Japanese about foreigners and their specific methods of crime.
Part One of Three:
2 comments on “Otaru Onsens 10th Anniv #6: How the J media whipped up fear of foreign crime from 2000 and linked it with lawsuit”
I just finished watching the 3 parts on that ‘onyaku assenya’. Basically, Chinese gangs use ignorant and sometimes desperate (in case of the homeless people) Japanese people to commit bank fraud. I don’t feel this fits in the whole onsen ordeal.
You are right that it’s biased, because they don’t talk about Japanese people that commit these kind of crimes, which there are of course, but I am yet to see a unbiased tv show, where ever in the world for that matter. It’s like ‘Cops’ in the US, making the ‘average’ citizen scared of black people, or Dutch media (where I am from) doing items on crime committed by Moroccan immigrants. The media is screwed up like that in general. It’s not about the truth, but about ratings.
I just had a little epiphany actually. For ‘us white folks’, we’ve never really felt racism in our own worlds, like the US and Europe. So when we get some kinda life in Japan, you might actually experience racism towards yourself and it can be quite shocking. I’ve been there. it’s natural to take action against it, but white people need to realize that it’s not typical Japanese to be racist against foreigners. ‘Of course’ you say, but try and realize it on a more profound level, and you start seeing how screwed up the world is in general. Xenophobia seems to be something embedded in every society in the world, and Japan has been, and still is to a certain extent, a very secluded society, and a lot of Japanese would like to keep it that way. ‘Those damn foreigners’ is a sentiment you hear on a daily basis, where ever you are. Creating awareness is always a good thing, like Debito-san does, but as long as there’s minorities there will be racism; I guess it’s human nature 🙁
“‘Those damn foreigners’ is a sentiment you hear on a daily basis, where ever you are. Creating awareness is always a good thing, like Debito-san does, but as long as there’s minorities there will be racism; I guess it’s human nature”
HJH – while it is something that is not exclusive to Japan, it doesn’t mean that it something that is right and should be excused. Human Nature may dictate that we be exclusionary, but it’s not about that at all. It’s about morals and the rules as made by society. It’s also about fighting for that equality so that we can get even a tiny bit closer to that Utopian ideal that many of us strive for.
While I do agree that it is something you can find everywhere, I’ll be damned if I’m going to just stand by a let someone else treat me and others like sub-human beings just because we may appear to be different. A Human is a Human; we all have the same blood, the same tears, the same feelings. Culturally, we have had different experiences and may have grown up differently, but fundamentally, we are all the same. And as such, we should be treated accordingly; no matter how we look on the outside.