HOKKAIDO NHK AGAIN ON OTARU ONSENS
HOKKAIDO KUROSU APPU (Close Up)
SAT, FEB 5, 2000, 6:10-6:40 PM, NHK SOUGOU TEREBI
(translation by Dave Aldwinckle with lots of help this time from wife Sugawara Ayako--thirty minutes of airtime is hellishly long)
PROGRAM TITLE: "HOW SHOULD WE FACE AND RELATE TO FOREIGNERS?" (gaikokujin to dou mukiaimasu ka?)
TELEVISED SCENE: Onsen Osupa front and "JAPANESE ONLY" sign, then Dave Aldwinckle and Welcome House's James Mylet entering a conference room, and Osupa's Manager Ohkoshi at the Jan 31 Otaru University of Commerce Public Forum.
NARRATOR: "We refuse entry to foreign bathers" Bathing facilities hanging signs like this in Otaru City have resulted huge social ripples (hamon o hirogete imasu). "This is a violation of human rights", say foreigners who are demanding an immediate removal of the signs. On the other hand, the onsens claim that these signs are crucial for their continued business.
OSUPA'S OHKOSHI: Taking down the signs would mean at this time that we close down. We could not do business.
ALDWINCKLE: If someone said, "You can't enter my facilities only because you're Japanese", how would you feel?
SCENE: Nov 15, 1999 Cover of NY Times article, close up of PREJUDICE IN JAPAN TAKES BODY BLOW IN COURT headline, then onsen "YU" banner in falling snow.
NARRATOR: The dispute resulting from the refusals in the port town of Otaru have even been taken up in an American newspaper. This problem, which geysered up (fukidashita) from these onsens, begs the question of the real meaning of internationalization.
ANNOUNCER ISHII YOUKO: This is Hokkaido Close Up. If you walk around Otaru, you will get the feeling that the number of foreigners walking about has grown. Particularly noticible are Russians. If you look at the Russians who dock at Otaru Port, there have been changes in market economics due to the fact that visitors have grown from 6000 to 30,000 per annum over the past ten years. Also, over the past five years, a university in Otaru has been actively bringing in foreign exchange students, increasing by over 1.5 times. By origin, there are over 35 countries there now. Indeed, the city's internationalization has been proceeding quickly and steadily.
Amidst this, signs saying "Japanese Only" [English]--customers limited to Japanese only--have become the target of much argument. First, let's look at what's happened so far.
SCENE: Mylet and Aldwinckle entering a city hall conference room, Aldwinckle presenting the chinjou appeal to a mayoral representative with a deep bow, then close ups of the chinjou.
NARRATOR: Last month, Jan 13, American university instructors visited Otaru City Hall to submit a chinjou appeal. This chinjou demands Otaru establish an anti-discrimination jourei ordinance. The basis for needing a jourei is because these two onsens are refusing entry to foreigners.
ALDWINCKLE: If we don't create a jourei to forbid racial discrimination, there's nothing for it (shiyou ga nai). We must also put in penalties (bassoku). A place like this might turn from a "tourist's paradise" into a "discrimination paradise".
SCENE: Shin Nihonkai Ferry Terminal with the camera swinging around to show Osupa, interior of Osupa with bathers, then Russians with fir hats walking down snowy streets and around the port.
NARRATOR: The two refusing onsens are near Otaru Port. They have signs refusing all foreigners and reserving entry to Japanese. They let foreigners once when they opened long ago. But when lots of Russian sailors came in, complaints from regular customers rushed in (sattou shimashita). "Russians are ill-mannered", they charged, and the number of customers
dropped by 30 percent. A small number of Russians drank alcohol and made a commotion, jumping into baths with soap still on. The onsens, since the staff could not caution Russians which did not understand Japanese, had no choice but to put up the signs.
OHKOSHI: If Russians were to come in, we would get customers saying, "I'm never coming back". We'd also phone calls asking, "You got any Russians there?". If we said yes, they would summarily hang up. Those were the types of complaints we had.
SCENE: Aldwinckle typing away as usual on his iMac keyboard, with the camera panning in to a photograph of his family.
NARRATOR: The appealer, Dave Aldwinckle, came to live in Japan 12 years ago. He is an English instructor at his college. He came to Otaru in September 1999 with his family and tried to get into an onsen. His Japanese wife and family got in, but Aldwinckle was turned away.
ALDWINCKLE: Why does one foreigner equal all foreigners? I cannot understand at all how that equation works. I am living here exactly the same as any Japanese. What am I to do, after living here for 12 years and gotten to this level of language ability, and still wind up getting shut out?
SCENE: Paging-down computer screen showing Aldwinckle and Karthaus pointing to exclusionary signs from a jpegged newspaper photograph, then other exclusionary signs around Otaru. Cut to NY Times cover and headlines, then an Otaru arcade with a banner saying (in English) WELCOME 2000, Meeting of hearts (kokoro no fureai) in Otaru Miyako Doori Shopping Center
NARRATOR: Aldwinckle, charging this as racial discrimination, started a home page with a citizens' group (shimin guruupu) and began protesting. If this problem was left as is, he thought, foreign refusals would spread to other facilities. Last November, the New York Times took this dispute up within a front-page article. The newspaper stated that the roots of discrimination towards foreigners run deep in Japan. This problem with refusals which started with Russians eventually encompassed other foreigners.
FRENCH EXCHANGE STUDENT (in English): I think this is a bad decision because not, uh, all foreigners will have bad conduct in the onsen.
GERMAN EXCHANGE STUDENT (in English): It will take a long, long, long time to get rid of this reputation, so I think it's very important to stop it very quickly.
SCENE: Otaru City Hall front, then policy meeting, then Russian-language pamphlet close-up, then failed Guriin Sauna exterior.
NARRATOR: Otaru, which sloganizes (utau) internationalization, cannot say that this will not lead to an imaging-down of the city. Last autumn they convened an emergency policy meeting on this. As a result, they came up with concrete measures and demanded the facilities remove their signs. Their policy solution: passing out pamphlets warning people of bathing manners at portside, and if there were any problems there would be communication channels with city charges d'affaires.
However, the onsens claimed that that was not enough to take down their signs. There was another bathing facility which let in foreigners over six years, but due to the decrease in Japanese customers it went bankrupt.
OHKOSHI: Taking down the signs would mean at this time that we close down. We could not do business. People might say that it will lead to an imaging-down of Otaru, or that this is international communication, but how about us? Our staff's livelihood? Should we throw all that away by taking down the signs?
SCENE: Chuckling old ladies leaving Osupa after a bath, camera panning over to the exclusionary sign.
NARRATOR: The discussion between the two parties has continued on its course of not seeing eye-to-eye, and a conciliatory policy has yet to be found.
ANNOUNCER ISHII YOUKO: This is the reporter covering the case, Sapporo NHK's Ishii Ken. Mr Ishii, the onsens are asking if they have to throw away their livelihoods by taking down the signs, and of course we cannot ignore their claims. But if they went to another country and were turned away at the door of a shop because they were foreigners, wouldn't they feel sad and discriminated against as well? After all, this is discrimination, isn't it?
ANNOUNCER ISHII KEN: Yes it is. The onsens themselves know that putting signs up like this is not a good thing. If Japanese customers would not stop coming, they would gladly let foreigners in. But it is a fact that if foreigners come in, Japanese complaints from regular customers come in as well. If there is the very appearance of Russians on the premises, customers ask the counter for their money back, and there have been unfounded rumors of contagious diseases from onsens where foreigners frequent. Some staff have apparently quit because of all the complaints. The signs are apparently crucial for the protection of the livelihoods of the staff, so the onsens are in a truly difficult position.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: But this started six years ago, and with it going on so long, it has blown up into this big issue. Were there no problems with the city dealing with it?
ANNOUNCER KEN: The government's response has been to administer guidance (shidou), but they lack power to enforce policy in this case. But one can say that the city's mannner of dealing with this has been flip-flopping and indecisive (gote gote to). For example they had brought forth this 24-hour reception policy much earlier, there is a good chance that this would not have blown up as big.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: Do people really have this much resistance to taking a bath with foreigners?
ANNOUNCER KEN: To measure this, the onsens did a survey last December of their customers. The results indicate their inner feelings and problems.
SCENE: A big stack of survey forms, with comments visible from customers.
NARRATOR: These surveys were sent to more than 4,200 customers with 800 responses. The onsens would think about future foreigner entry policy based upon the results. This completed survey sheet responds to the question [question one], "Should we let foreigners in?". Of the total, eight percent said they should. More than 50% said that foreigners should be refused or they did not want them let in. There were many reasons written down for refusing, including "Foreigners don't mix with Japanese customs", "Their bathing manners are awful".
OLD MAN ON THE STREET: Foreigners' manners just don't fit with us. They get drunk and jump in the pools. That's a bit off. (manaa ga wareware to awanai n da yo ne. yopparatte haitte kitari sa, tobikondari, sore ga ne, chotto)
SECOND OLD MAN ON THE STREET: They don't have baths like these in other countries, now, do they? Foreigners make lots of noise. Scream the same as kids. Because blokes with bodies that big are making all that commotion... (aayuu mono ga nai n deshou, mukou ni wa. dakara oosawaki da. Anou, chiisai kodomo to onaji da, osawagi ga ano dekai yatsu ga yarun da kara)
NARRATOR: We asked Russian sailors stopping over in Otaru what they thought about this problem.
RUSSIAN SAILOR ONE [in Russian]: We don't jump in the bath. We only want to get warm.
RUSSIAN SAILOR TWO [ditto]: Drunks would be refused entry to Russian baths too.
SCENE: Otaru Port and Russian ships, then cameras going inside one of the ships to look inside at how narrow the hallways are, and how grimy and rusty the cold shower room looks.
NARRATOR: The Russians have no choice but spend months at a time within confined quarters of a ship. They only have shower rooms on the boats, and the amount of water they can use is also limited. Russians too have the custom of taking a bath, and said they like to relax in a wide pool when they come ashore.
RUSSIAN SAILOR THREE [ditto]: I know about the entry refusals. I think it's a big pity.
SCENE: Back to pages and pages of onsen surveys, with comments like "gaikokujin wa dame!", etc.
NARRATOR: The problem is not only one of manners, the surveys said. "Above all, I absolutely oppose letting them in" (hokano koto wa tomokaku, gaikokujin nyuuyoku zettai dame), "Things are perfectly secure as they are now, so gaijin are objectionable" (genzai no mama no hou ga nani yori anshin de gaijin wa iya desu). We can get a glimse (kaima) of how people feel about foreigners.
OLD WOMAN ON THE STREET: Well, honestly speaking, it's a little, well, off-putting (shoujiki iu to, chotto hikimasu ne). It's probably hard for people to go in with foreigners (hairizurai ka na?). There's no particular reason I can put my finger on (nan to iu, sashitaru gen'in wa nai desu kedo ne).
ANOTHER OLD MAN ON THE STREET: I don't have any actual experience going in with foreigners, and I don't know how I would feel, but if they were sitting right next to me I would have an objection (issho ni haita koto ga jissai ni nai kara sa, hontou no kimochi ga wakaranai keredomo, yappari tonari ni ittara, nanka, iyasa ga aru).
TWO MORE OLD WOMEN: It's objectionable (iya da yo ne, iya da yo nee). It's sickening (kimochi warui yo ne). They have such big bodies, don't they. (karada ga anmari okii deshou) If they even come close to me I'm at unease. (soba ni kitara nanka iya da)
SCENE: Tokyo Minato-ku, then non-Japanese families walking around, the front of embassies of Germany, Finland, Qatar, then a sentou TAKENOYU, people bathing inside it, and a notice with illustration of bathing manners [NB: this is a nationally-standardized poster provided to all member sentos in Japan. Otaru has them too.]. The camera pans over to the baths, then a sign outside a sauna which says, in Japanese and English, "Please pay extra CHARGE for SAUNA or DO NOT ENTER".
NARRATOR: In Tokyo Minato-ku, full of embassies, over 14,000 foreigners live. Their numbers make up nearly ten percent of the population. Lots of foreigners use the neighborhood sento public baths, but all of them are received the same as Japanese. At this sento at which ten percent of the customers are foreign, this poster is put up to explain bathing manners. For people using the baths for the first time, the rules are written carefully to be easily understood in in eight languages [Japanese, English, Korean, Indonesian?, Chinese, Farsi?, Portuguese, Arabic?]. In order to encourage people to follow the rules, managers consulted with non-Japanese to write the signs in expressions that will best get people to follow the rules.
ONSEN MANAGER MATSUI TADASHI: Basically, as long as others do not cause inconvenience to others we don't mind what people do. Of course if Europeans and Americans come here things are different. When people who don't understand how things go come here for the first time, we teach them the rules.
NARRATOR: Recently, people have seen foreigners and Japanese talking together, and foreign regulars have been appearing.
FILIPINO [in Japanese]: Every day I come here I meet people here, they ask me what country I'm from. This boy over here plays with me [camera pans over to father and son].
REGULAR CUSTOMER: Those people want to take a bath do, right? If they follow the rules there's no problem, right? There's no problem at all. Only manners are the problem.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: They've reached a compromise on this at Minato-ku, haven't they? This has become a place for communication. What is the key reason why this has succeeded?
ANNOUNCER KEN: We can say that the managers have worked together with foreigners to make the rules, and have taken the trouble to teach the rules to each individual foreigner.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: Making [unintelligible] together seems to be very important. How is the situation in other places? Are they getting along well?
ANNOUNCER KEN: Not really. Cases like Minato-ku are actually in the minority. When we many visited places in Hokkaido where Russians visit, there were no places with exclusionary signs like Otaru or crystal-clear cases of refusal, but there are many bathing facilities which refuse foreigners. In Honshu, where there are lots of foreign laborers, six years ago there was a case in a Nagano hotel where a sign was put up saying "Foreigners abolutely refused entry". [YOUKO: This is the same situation as in Otaru, right?] Yes. The sign is no longer up, but according to the hotel, the reason why they took the sign down was because of the decreasing number of foreigners due to Japan's recession. So this means that there was not a fundamental solution reached here.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: So that means that left alone the situation will not result in a solution. Returning to Otaru where compromises have not yet been found, Otaru citizens have started moving to find a solution amongst themselves by talking things over between the two sides.
SCENE: Otaru University of Commerce exterior, Prof Funatsu explaining the forum rules to his exchange students, reading papers in his office, then being interviewed.
NARRATOR: At the beginning of this week, there was a debate at Otaru Shouka Daigaku on the exclusionary onsens problem. The coordinator of this event, Professor Funatsu, has experience as the coordinator of the International Center, and works as an advisor to the school's exchange students. He views this problem very seriously and has been seeking a solution.
FUNATSU: We are trying to bring together people who have great concern about this issue, then ask them to argue calmly, and see what comes up. Maybe some solution will come about.
SCENE: Aldwinckle in his Sunday Best walking into the Forum area, then Ohkoshi steeling himself for the event, then Aldwinckle and fellow ISSHO Kikaku BENCIite Karthaus as viewed from Ohkoshi's shoulder.
NARRATOR: This is Aldwinckle, who charges that the exclusionary signs are a violation of human rights. This is onsen manager Ohkoshi, who refuses to take the signs down. This is the first time the two sides have met in a public place. About 70 citizens assembled here today.
ALDWINCKLE [in the middle of his panel speech]: And what will happen to our children? They have Japanese citizenship...
ANNOUNCER: Voices came from the audience one after another critical of the onsens.
[WELCOME HOUSE'S JAMES MYLET]: These onsens are public places, so they have social responsibilities. So if they put up signs like these, these signs become a big problem. If this were America, their business would be forcibly stopped [by the authorities].
OTARU CITIZEN PANELIST: This won't do. If you were shut out, how would you feel? I want to ask you all that. Wouldn't it be just awful if you were shut out or discriminated against?
ALDWINCKLE: What's next? Hospitals? Schools? Really, this is the thin edge of the wedge (hadome ga nakunaru). If a foreigner does something unmannerly, why don't people think, "ah, that's just that person"? Please don't think that the reason is because that person is foreign.
NARRATOR: People were also critical of the city government.
OTARU CITIZEN PANELIST TWO: If nobody in the onsen's staff understands Russian, the city should introduce someone to the onsen who understands the language. Now they are proposing a 24-hour standby helper in case of trouble, but if they had done this six years ago, this could all have been avoided. I think the city bears a heavy responsibility for this.
OTARU CITY GENERAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT CHIEF SATOU: As pertains to this problem, this has been going on for many years, and there are many opinions about this, and I personally believe that when times called for action we took possible actions. We hope to continue taking actions at appropriate stages.
NARRATOR: The arguments did not stop at manners.
PRIEST: I do not think this is just a matter of foreigners' bad manners. I came here 21 years ago from the Republic of South Africa, so I know just how big a problem discrimination is.
OHKOSHI: We sent out surveys to 4,300 people, and got 837 responses. If we read what's written there very carefully, it wasn't just a matter of bad manners or hygiene. I had the real feeling that the problem runs much deeper.
NARRATOR: The debate went on for two hours. Just before it ended, the audience came up and made speeches.
OTARU CITIZEN: About this problem, well, this problem happened in Otaru, didn't it. I think this is a big pity (zannen desu). As a Japanese I find this shameful. But this is how Japan is (nihon no jittai). Before foreigners had to point this out, I think we citizens should have carried out a forum like this ourselves. It was important. That's all I wanted to say.
FUNATSU: I think things like this should be done all over Japan for all sorts of social problems. This should be discussed in households and offices. How should we bring out the latent prejudices in Japan and resolve them?
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: That was the Otaru debate [TO SEE ALDWINCKLE'S TAKE ON IT, CLICK HERE]. Well, this is a step forward for the city as a whole, isn't it?
ANNOUNCER KEN: Yes. As the audience at the end said, this became an opportunity for the city as a whole to think about a this problem as a problem they all must face. This is indeed a big advance. But I also think that they must repeat this debate over and over again to make the problems apparent to all people here and get them to deal with them. I think that since this is a deep-seated problem the solution will take a long time.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: This is not just a problem of the onsens, or of the citizens--this is a problem that we must overcome in order for Japan's internationalization to proceed, right?
ANNOUNCER KEN: Quite right. Japan four years ago concluded (teiketsu) the Convention on International Discrimination. There are still no domestic provisions which meet this treaty, but there was a case of a jewelry store in Shizuoka Prefecture which refused to serve a foreign customer. The customer accused the store of racial discrimination in court and won last year, showing that enforcement of internationalization is getting closer. It is also forecast that there will be a labor shortage in Japan. The reality is that we have no choice but to rely on foreigners.
Well, some might say that this is only a rare problem with a few onsen in Otaru. But I think that this could happen in any walk of life, in any industry, in any place where one lives.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: So no matter where one is, no matter where one works, one must think about this problem. I had thought that internationalization had come so far, but this makes me think anew, "what is the real internationalization, real international communication?" What did you think about this as you were covering this topic?
ANNOUNCER KEN: Well, I had the image that internationalization is doing things like learning English. But what it really is is having a non-Japanese living next door, having them in close proximity, internalizing and thinking about this on a personal level. I think this problem in Otaru is something that every citizen there has to think about.
ANNOUNCER YOUKO: Okay, that was NHK Sapporo's Ishii Ken. I felt that this is a problem which Japanese society has not really thought about deeply before advancing this far. How one should feel about foreigners is something that people must consider on an individual level. This program considered the problems which came up when onsen in Otaru refused foreigners.
FEB 5, 2000
NHK SOUGOU TEREBI HOKKAIDO
KUROSU APPU PROGRAM ENDS