(English translation first, Original Japanese following 日本語の記事は英訳の 次ぎにきます。).

October 6, 1999, Evening Edition, page 10

HUMAN RIGHTS OR BUSINESS RIGHTS? A Disturbing Blurring of the Borders The Problem of Otaru Bathing Establishments Banning Foreigners From Entry

(Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan) "Foreigners Refused Entry". Voices are rising criticizing some Otaru bathing facilities which have instituted this rule. The latter has a point when they say that Russians are noisy and that Japanese customers stay away, but to ban across the board all foreigners from entry is, above all, discrimination. In a seaport town where 30,000 Russians visit per year, with this rule in place, it seems pretty difficult for "bare communication" between different cultures to happen.

According to the Otaru Public Health Center, out of Otaru's 45 bathing facilities, some sento bathhouses and three large onsen hot springs are refusing entry to non-Japanese. Because of a series of complaints against Russian sailors with different bathing customs, including drinking in the bathhouse, swimming in the baths, and using loud voices, it was decided that all foreigners should be banned.

This move has elicited a backlash. On September 19, 16 non-Japanese and Japanese families resident in Hokkaido carried out a survey of the places in question. One of those involved was university instructor Dave Aldwinckle (34), whose wife Ayako and daughters were allowed passage inside, but himself was refused. "I am quite familiar with Japanese customs, so why are you doing this?" he said right to the onsen staff.

Aldwinckle, who has Permanent Residence in Japan, says in strong tones: "Kick out only those who cause trouble. This is a clear infringement of human rights."

Russian sailors, who are being vilified, are also disgruntled. A 53-year-old sailor who came from Nahodka, Russia, said resentfully, "Those drinking and hell-raising sailors are but a tiny number. With this situation at hand, mutual trust won't deepen Russians and Japanese."

Then again, the bathing establishments also have a side to this story. Yuunohana Onsen refused entry to foreigners from its very opening, in July, 1998. They noted a bad experience with one of their affiliated saunas, which had allowed Russian sailors in, lost Japanese customers, and last summer went out of business.

At Otaru Onsen Osupa, the spread of wicked rumors led to their banning foreigners. They say, "Our regular customers are elderly, and they are very finicky. If we let foreigners in, we'll go out of business." They added that some customers even called up before coming to check if there were any Russians there.

However, at Wakkanai, another city where Russian sailors frequent, there was also a cry to ban foreigners from their baths three years ago. That was withdrawn after a call for "friendship first". [NB: This is incorrect; some baths have instead been segregated and there non-Japanese are only allowed in separate saunas--Ed.] Nemuro also says that many Russian sailors have gotten used to the rules, and manners have been improved.

Every time the Otaru Public Health Center or the city government has had complaints from non-Japanese, they have gone to caution each enterprise orally. However, former says, "We don't have any right to suspend business at these places. We can only advise them." The division for the protection of human rights in the Sapporo Ministry of Justice concurs with increasing confusion: "It is clear that there is a problem, but it's a clash between foreigners' rights and the rights of businesses to operate."

(Translation by David Aldwinckle)

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■社会 10月 06日 17:30 更新

人権か経営か、にじむ苦悩 小樽の大型温浴施設の外国人入浴拒否問題

【小樽】「外国人の入浴お断り」。小樽市内の一部入浴施設がこんな方針を打ち出し たことに、批判の声が高まっている。ロシア人が浴場で騒ぐため、日本人客が離れる など、施設側にも言い分はあるが、外国人の入浴を一律に拒否するのは、やはり差別 。ロシア人だけで年間約三万人が訪れる港町での異なる文化の「裸の付き合い」は、 実はなかなか難しい。

小樽市保健所によると、外国人の入浴を拒否しているのは、同市内の四十五施設のう ち、大型施設三カ所と銭湯の一部。浴室で飲酒したり、浴槽で泳ぐ、大声を出すなど 、入浴の習慣が違うロシア人船員らへの苦情が相次ぎ、外国人全体を拒否するように なった。

こうした対応に反発も出ている。九月十九日には、道内在住の外国人と家族十六人が 現地調査を行った。その一人、大学講師のデビッド・アルドウィンクルさん(34)は 、妻文子さんと娘は入浴を認められたが、自身は拒否され、「日本の習慣を熟知して いるのに、なぜ」と従業員に詰め寄った。

日本の永住権も持つアルドウィンクルさんは「トラブルを起こした人だけを排除すれ ばいいのに…。明らかな人権侵害」と語気を強める。

悪者扱いにされているロシア人船員の不満も強い。ナホトカから来た漁船員(53)は 「飲んで騒ぐ船員はごく一部。このままでは、ロシア人と日本人の信頼関係は深まら ない」と憤る。

とはいえ、施設側にも言い分はある。手宮一の「湯の花」は昨年七月の開業から外国 人お断り。ロシア人を受け入れた系列サウナで日本人客が減り、昨夏、閉店に追い込 まれた苦い経験があるという。

築港七の「小樽温泉オスパ」では、悪質なうわさが広まるなどし、入浴拒否に転じた 。施設側は「常連客は高齢者が多く、拒絶反応が強い。外国人受け入れは閉店につな がりかねない」と話す。「きょうはロシア人はいないか」と電話確認してから来店す る客もいるという。

しかし、同じようにロシア人船員が多い稚内市では、三年前に浴場で入浴拒否騒ぎが あったが、「友好第一」の立場からすぐに撤回。根室でも慣れた船員が多いため、マ ナーは改善されている、という。

小樽市保健所や市は外国人から苦情が寄せられる都度、各施設に口頭で注意してきた が、「営業停止などの権限はなく、指導には限界がある」と話す。札幌法務局人権擁 護部も「問題であることは明白だが、外国人の人権と経営者の生活権のぶつかり合い とも言える」と困惑気味だ。


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