does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens


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Hi Blog.  Friend Curzon alerted me to this odd little article yesterday on


Japan invites tourists — but there may be no room at the inn for foreigners
Controversial activist claims dodgy non-Japanese policies blight Japan’s hotel industry despite relaxed VISA laws
By Robert Michael Poole 6 July, 2010

Encouraged by the boost to the economy that Chinese tourists have been giving, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced only last week that VISA restrictions will be eased to allow mid-level income earners from China to make the grade. Previously only wealthy Chinese could make it through immigration, but the necessary income level of VISA applicants is being cut from 250,000 yuan (36,000 U.S. dollars) per year to just 60,000, which the government believes makes a further 16 million Chinese eligible.

The problem though, as highlighted in a column in today’s Japan Times, is that Japanese hotels are not only legally entitled to discriminate and bar non-Japanese, but many make false excuses to avoid foriegners [sic] of any sort staying in their premises. “Japanese only” signs appear not just in hotels, but at onsens (hot springs), bars, restaurants and entertainment venues too.

Despite this sometimes leading to (successful) lawsuits, including a famous case against Yunohana onsen in Otaru, Hokkaido by activist David Schofill in 2001, a government survey in 2008 found 27% of hotels did not want any non-Japanese staying with them. Schofield [sic]– better known today by his Japanese name Debito Arudou and renowned for being an outspoken and sometimes controversial activist — found excuses from hotel staff ranging from “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with non-Japanse [sic] effectively to get them out of a burning building?” to not having western-style beds.

Most curious though, is the Toyoko Inn chain of hotels which has opened a ‘Chinese-friendly’ branch in Susukino, Sapporo. Perhaps they were encouraged by the news of the largest tour group ever to visit Japan — 10,000 workers and families from Pro-Health, a Beijiing [sic]-based health product company. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, they’ll reach Japan on Ocober [sic] 9th. Probably best to avoid the queues at immigration that day.


COMMENT: My name was once Schofill, when I was born and before I was adopted.  The source for my name was Good Ole Wikipedia (see the troubles I’ve had with them here), increasingly the source for busy journalists, it seems.

Anyway, I posted the following response to the article yesterday:


I wish the reporter had at least gotten my name right. I haven’t been called by my last name Schofill (or the permutation Schofield in the next line) since about 1972, and was (as my blog,, has always indicated) David Aldwinckle.

While I appreciate the attention to the issue, I should think a more thorough attempt at research is more appropriate under the banner of CNN.

PS: The hotel in question is [not “Chinese-friendly”] — it is indeed “Chinese Only”. Even the Japanese media has reported it as such, and a call to them revealed that they even refuse Japanese tourists.


The above comment was approved this morning with apologies and corrections to the name (not yet to “foriegner” etc., however).  Here’s hoping reporters at CNNGo enable their computers to run a spell check, and avail themselves of enough time to conduct research on controversial subjects that goes deeper than Wikipedia.

But seriously, thanks again for the attention to the issue.  Arudou Debito

8 comments on “ does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens

  • The hack who put this together obviously got it from the hack’s friend, Wikipedia:
    This is just the tip of the iceberg for the no-standard CNN franchise, which is crumbling away.

    If you look at the rubbish on the CNN.go website, it seems to be aimed at 12-14 year olds.

    CNN.go asked me to write for them: when I saw they drivel put up, I politely declined. I was thinking of pitching stories. But I couldn’t actually serve up the sort of crap demanded.

    Mea Culpa: I’ve written a fair amount of drivel in my time, mainly for quick cash and stop-gap stuff, particularly trade junk that fills spaces between advertising. Hell, you know, mortgages to pay. But I never dressed it as journalism (or dog and pony events as “news conferences,” etc.)

    My point is that really CNN seems to have a sheen of respectability about it, mainly because I think people still remember the first Bush Iraq war. But it’s not deserved.

    Readers who watch the media can see that CNN in the U.S. is going down the toilet as Murdoch leads the race into the depths of the septic tank. CNN at least attempts to maintain the conceit of “balance” in some areas.

    However, at the same time I have noted that CNN’s blatantly hostile and childish reporting of Japan by a hack called Kyung Lah, who seems to make it a personal goal to rubbish this country, has recently been supplemented by rubbish on CNN.go.

    However, if they HELP you with a feature or give you publicity, all is forgiven, Debito!

    My point is don’t expect too much of CNN, which, as David Klatell told me back in 2000, had already gone to hell in a handbasket.

  • Well, the basic math or numbers seem to have something wrong
    (but who expects a modern journalist to be mathematically, scientifically, economically, historically, or even non-pop-culturally literate, or politically unbiased for that matter)

    Relaxing the minimum income from 250,000 to 60,000. Basically cutting it to less than 1/4 the previous, only frees up an additional 16 million Chinese out of a billion? A 75% cut in the level only nets fewer than 2% more of the population?
    Is the income pyramid really that deformed in China?

    Hey, it could be true. If the middle and upper classes make up just 10% of the population or something, and China is still 90% farmers who don’t even make 60,000 yuan.

    Either the journalist is wrong, or Chinese society is wrong. Well, I know the latter is true, and stongly suspect the former as well.

    And did the article actually say it IS legal to bar non-Japanese.
    Doesn’t the hotel law say it ISN’T legal? I’m not going to assume that the writer was trying to claim it may be de facto legal or some other subtlety, as there was obviously little thought put into the article.
    Such a basic fact. Looks like someone wrote the article in 5 minutes after doing 2 minutes scanning Wikipedia.

  • Dang, at first I was like “David Schofill?! Man, this Schofill guy is getting the credit for what Debito did!”

    Its too bad to see CNN go down like this. Now in days, if you want good news, you have to get it from multiple sources just so that you can get the whole story without having to wade through all the trash articles/segments. Any idea if this article will be corrected?

  • ian mcdougall says:

    Then how about this? from today’s Sydney morning herald.

    Japan invites foreigners to help improve tourist experience
    October 19, 2010 – 12:25PM

    Japan is planning to recruit dozens of foreigners to visit the country and give advice on how to make things more travel-friendly for non-Japanese speaking visitors even as it aims for higher tourist numbers.

    The government will pay travel allowances to about 100 native English, Chinese and Korean speakers to visit key cities and come up with ideas on how to make it easier for travellers to use public transport, stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants, said an official at the Japan Tourism Agency.

    Although Japan has made an effort to provide information in other languages in recent years, especially in major cities, these remain hit-or-miss and English still dominates.

    (yeh right author comment)

    But Japan’s National Tourism Organization projects that the number of visitors from China will reach a record 1.5 million this year, many of them high-spending tourists eager to shop for Japanese electronics and other goods.

    “What we hear is that there really isn’t enough information on things like how to buy train tickets, or how to use the baths in traditional Japanese inns,” said the official.

    “It’s hard for us Japanese to judge how prepared different parts of the country are — we need people to use as monitors who really don’t know Japan at all.”

    The official said one way to recruit these travellers could be over the Internet but that they would look at other methods such as asking the relatives of foreign students studying in Japan.

    All expenses within Japan will be paid by branch offices of the Transport Ministry, which oversees the Tourism Agency. Part of plane fares to Japan may also be covered.

    The information will be compiled by the government as part of a survey of tourism preparedness by late March next year.


    — Sweet.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    CNN makes some stupid mistakes like this. They are actually one of the biased media (slanted to the right, though not much as the Fox News, in my impression) in the US. Maybe they misconstrued you as David Sirota (a liberal media activist, currently living in Denver, CO) at first, and they learned he’s not the one looking for. So they made an 11th-hour fix-work.

    It’s like, “Oh wait, not that guy. The one in Japan! Go check out! Shoot, I can’t find it. Let’s google it!…. David A, David B, David C….., David Sc, maybe this one. Cut and paste it…., gotcha! Done!!”

  • Honestly it was 100% CNN’s fault. While they got it from Wikipedia, from the start the article made it clear that your name changed to Aldwinckle early in your life. It’s bad if a journalist doesn’t even read source material properly.


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