APRIL 13, 2000
("anti-internationalization", to coin a word)

By Dave Aldwinckle

(The original forum for this information was Issho Kikaku)

Table of Contents and Headlines for Busy People:
Olaf Karthaus and Dave Aldwinckle confirm claims that policies excluding non-Japanese have gone beyond both Otaru as a place and the onsens as an industry. A fact-finding mission last weekend to Wakkanai found that not only does a bathhouse there deny entry to foreigners, but so does a sports shop and a barber. Longtime non-Japanese residents of Wakkanai also assert that the situation has worsened over the past few years, alleging that even Japanese public high schools hesitate or refuse missionary children due to "a lack of facilities" and "too much work for teachers".
2) CHANGES AT THE EPICENTER: One more Otaru onsen removes its "Japanese Only" signs and relaxes its policies, admitting foreigners at their discretion with a "Members Only" system. Translated newspaper article from Yomiuri Shinbun April 7, 2000, page 35.
3) "HIKOKUSAIKA": NON-JAPANESE NOW OFFICIALLY SEEN AS PART OF JAPAN'S SOCIAL ILLS: This comes the very end for it is old news. Tokyo Governor Ishihara charges the Japanese military to be on guard against rioting by "sangokujin" and foreign residents in the event of a natural disaster (AP/Kyodo Article in English, then three short Japanese articles at the very end--sorry for the gibberish if your browser cannot read Japanese)


Issho Kikaku heard reports from Sapporo Russian Consul Nail Latypov that other cities in Hokkaido have businesses refusing service to all Russians, likewise all foreigners. He said that all seaport towns with the heaviest Russian traffic--Wakkanai (3590 ships per year calling in 1998), Nemuro (1728 ships), Monbetsu (1477 ships), Otaru (1163), Abashiri (541), and Rumoi (472)--had exclusionary establishments. (Noteworthy is that Otaru, the most famous Russianed place with 30,000 visits a year, is only fourth on the list, averaging 3-plus ships a day compared to Wakkanai's ten). However, as we did not want to act on the fumes of hearsay, Issho Kikaku and other residents' groups decided to investigate. This is why BENCI Project coordinators Olaf Karthaus and Dave Aldwinckle drove up on April 8 and 9, 2000, on a fact-finding mission to Rumoi and Wakkanai. Our findings follow:

(NB here: Before the impression lingers that we are merely making trouble at the Russian government's bidding, be it known that we are trying to address both sides of the issue. For example, providing information on April 17 to the Sapporo Russian Consulate on bathing manners (using a standardized multilingual poster provided by sento kumiai networks) in order to, say, advise Russian shipping companies of the rules and help in policing their sailors. We are also looking into international communication events; fellow group Welcome House is discussing with the Russian Consulate for the creation of Seamen's Clubs--to act as a communication focal point between locals and visitors (This matters: Seamen's Clubs can be found in places as far-flung as Tomakomai, Yokohama, Capetown, and Hobart (Tasmania); the Tasmanian club resolved problems with unruly Japanese sailors, yes Japanese sailors, 30 years ago.).)

On with our trek:
Rumoi is small seaport town buying fish from and selling used mechanical and electronic goods, cars, used tyres etc to the Russians. Frankly, Olaf and I were a little concerned about Rumoi as our local contacts were tenuous. Latypov's contact had moved away two years ago, allowing the claim of an exclusionary onsen to fade into anecdote. Moreover, out of four of my friends who knew Rumoi, two were unwilling to get involved for personal reasons, and the other two gave us names of two excluders but did not want be cited or act as our guides. Our local reporter at the Hokkaido Shinbun Rumoi had just been assigned a different late-breaking story and was thus indisposed. So we were coming cold into town with two addresses. Fortunately, we would find a string of chance meetings and good luck that would last throughout the weekend.

Driving around the harbor, we found the equivalent of a welcoming center for alighting Russians, HOKKO, and within were two very resourceful people--a Mr Alexei Chan (father Korean, mother Japanese, born in Sakhalin--very famous around Rumoi), and a Mr Takano, a local used-tyre salesman who turned out to be very interested in foreigner exclusion, as his business relies on Russian patronage. A simple question about any local onsens had Mr Chan making it clear that we might not be welcome at the biggest one--at certain times of the day, entry was reserved for Japanese only. A mention of Otaru had Mr Takano blinking in recognition: "Oh yeah, you're the guys doing that stuff down south. I saw you in the papers." Remarkably, he got into our car and said that he would guide us to that onsen. Which was:

(Rumoi-shi O-azarumoi-mura Azakamuiwa 495-1, Ph 0164-42-3500)
Entering the hotel, the first thing we saw was a sign explaining the parameters for refusal of service: "no tattoos, no pets, no drunks, no bringing in of alcohol", with slashed-circle illustrations. Nothing indicated that foreigners were being barred for their birth. We went to the counter and chatted with the torishimariyaku shihainin, Mr Ishikura Kouji, who, after we told him who we were (he knew--he too recognized us from the media) confirmed what we had heard. Kamuiwa Onsen does bar foreigners if they come in looking rough or drunk and ready for trouble, but he does (and has done) the same for Japanese too. Foreigners do currently use the baths without problems, quite a few Russians among them. Rule of thumb, he said: if sailors are willing to surrender their vodka bottles or aren't displaying the effects of them yet, they are generally admitted. If they cause trouble once inside they are warned, then if necessary ejected. But the same rules apply for Japanese as for foreigners, Mr Ishikura stressed. I asked if the rules were posted inside multilingually and Mr Ishikura said they weren't. Cautions with gestures generally do the trick.

There was one troublesome caveat: Between 5 pm and 7 pm daily entry was reserved for Japanese patrons. There was no sign up to that effect, and enforcement depended on the person at the counter (who defers to the person in charge at that time). "Which means that as long as the foreigner is not clearly a Russian seaman, we admit him during the Happy Hour as well", Ishikura said and I paraphrase. Why Alexei had cautioned us (as with our raiment and shiny Japanese car we were clearly not Russian seamen) was unclear, but undoubtedly Kamuiwa had sent word through Alexei to the seaport community that Russians oughta let locals bathe at certain times.

We dropped Mr Takano off afterwards with thanks (he told us to contact him if any future assistance was necessary) and followed up on a few more of our leads:

(Kaiun-cho and Nishiki-cho, Rumoi)
Our contact said that he feels watched and followed whenever he drops by these establshments, but Olaf and I, after walking about without saying anything for a bit, found nothing out of the ordinary except the clerks didn't greet us with an "irasshaimase". There were no signs, nothing to indicate that foreigners were being singled out for negative treatment, and when we asked them a few questions in Japanese we got treated like any other Japanese customer. Well and good. Let's hope the policy is the same for non-speakers of Japanese.

Our leads said that they didn't even get in through the door--they got the X-ed arms and were told to begone. Further enquiries with the owners inside confirmed that this had happened, but that other foreigners (as Kotan is in the bar district, there are quite a few Chinese and Filipinas around town working at the water trade) drop by for dinner quite often when work is done. As long as they were first accompanied by a Japanese (afterwards they get perpetually grandfathered in as a familar face) or speak Japanese, they are let in, they said. Russians without the above are generally refused service (due to the average fears--of them getting drunk and rowdy, not paying the bill, etc.). This didn't quite explain our contacts' treatment (as they again don't fit the excludable categories), but that was the story we got.

Let me pause here and explain something to readers used to facts-only posts: Why am I telling you all of this when it seems merely tangental to our case? Actually, it isn't. It is very important for us not only to give you both sides of the story, but also to show what happens when we follow a lead even if it turns out to be different than depicted. This was a fact-finding mission, and as there there are obviously many ways to handle situations like these, it would be fatuous of us to demonize or portray places as always open-or-shut-door, as if we were looking for trouble instead of for facts. Also, I take the liberty to be verbose because this is the Internet, and I do not face a deadline, a space constraint, or an editor. I feel that is an advantage--getting more of the truth out without it ending up on the cutting-room floor. Continuing:

As Olaf and I drove out of town reflecting upon what we found: "Not the best solution, with some non-Japanese residents being unfairly affected by the rules in place, but better than those establishments in Otaru. Nowhere we saw in Rumoi barried all foreigners, period." Given a choice of these two responses to trouble with Russian visitors, Rumoi's was closer to desirable. But still we had to admit this segment of the mission was inconclusive--because we were noise in the equation. People seemed to know who we were. Treatment might differ for people without their faces in the papers.

Now it was time to shift gears and flip sides. We had seen the least-Russianed place on our list, and were now going to possibly the most-Russianed: Wakkanai. What we would find there would arguably be worse than anything we ever seen within the BENCI Project.

Wakkanai is Japan's northernmost city on the very tip of Hokkaido, separated by about 40 kms of turbulent sea from Sakhalin, and by about 100 kms of depopulated peninsula from just about any place of size in Japan (it is closer to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk than to Asahikawa). From Sapporo proper, it takes about six hours to get to, even at Olaf's Autobahn speeds, and rumor has it that the road designers put curves in the coastal straightaways to prevent people from falling asleep at the wheel. It is not a place for a Sunday drive--more like a outpost trek to see how far away from Japan a place within Japan can get.

And that can be seen with the palpable Russian influence (which has boomed in the past five years with the thawing of Asiatic Russian business initiative). Nowhere else in Japan have I seen blue road signs written in Russian as well as Japanese. Cyrillic seems to be the alphabet of choice on the back of Japanese name cards. And easily-spotted Russians not only walk around town, but also pedal, taxi, and even drive--since Sakhalin is only a few hours away and frequent traders rent local storage space. Russian sailors are creating a sizable trade deficit for the city--cash for enormous quantities of fish, with only sporadic trickleback from trade in used cars, guns, nightlife, and the occasional ferry of richer tourists. The point is that the overwhelming majority of visible white people up here are Russians, and what they do as individuals or groups quickly affects the non-Russian non-Japanese residents. Particularly from a consumer angle. Witness the following:

SHIDOU SPORTS (athletic goods shop)
(Wakkanai Shiomi 2-6-28, Ph 0162-32-9422)
Our contact in this case was Roy Burkholder, a Wakkanai resident for nearly two years and employed as a JET in the Wakkanai Board of Education. He had been refused entry at this establishment twice despite speaking Japanese. The three of us plus a Hokkaido Shinbun Wakkanai reporter, Mr Okazaki, dropped by. Mr Okazaki entered while Olaf and I stood outside and sized the place up. It was a well-to-do store, clearly prospering (there were many customers inside). But there were signs--two above the door saying "No Drinking" (Inshu Kinshi) and "No Smoking in Store" (Tennai Kin'en) in Japanese. One other one was in Russian at doorknob level beside the door. Olaf and I couldn't read it, so we went inside.

Right at the doorjamb inside stood a middle-aged man. He looked like he was going to cross his arms and refuse us entry, but paused as if wondering whether we were Russian or not. Since he was dressed in casual sports clothes, we were unaware that he was a staff member and passed inside. About five other staff were present, and they followed us around the store. Finally, with a smile, I asked a staff member in Japanese if I could talk to the manager about the sign outside. The person replied that the manager wasn't in. Our conversation went something like this:

VISITORS: "May I ask what that sign says outside there says? I can't read Russian." STAFF: "It says, 'No Russians may enter.'" V: "Does this apply to us?" S: "Well, you really shouldn't be in here." V: "Why is that?" S: "Because of Russian customers." V: "What do they do?" S: "They don't speak Japanese and are big and scary. They come in here smoking and throw their cigarette butts on the linoleum. They try on clothes without asking, leave their body smell (taishuu) all over it and make it unsaleable. They shoplift (manbiki). They hang around outside and dump their cigarettes all over the place. They ride up and down the street and make noise. Japanese don't do things like that." V: "Japanese don't vroom their engines outside or drop cigarette butts all over the place?" S: "Not inside our store they don't." V: "But that 'No Smoking' sign is in Japanese. Not in Russian. Have you ever thought about putting up some rules outside in Russian?" S: "None of our staff know Russian." V: "I see. How do you treat Japanese-speaking foreigners? According to our friend Roy over there, he was turned away from here twice." S: "Did he come here alone?" V: "I guess so." S: "That's why. Foreigners need a Japanese with them to take responsibility. Russians are like children and we can't trust them. We have to employ more staff to babysit them (komori suru) and that costs money." V: "But Roy is not Russian." S: "We can't tell foreigners apart." V: "But you let us in." S: "You came in with that reporter." V: "No, actually we came in separately." S: "Oh. Well, your clothes make you look different from Russians." V: "So you can tell us apart." S: "Uh, yes we can." V: "Do you think that a policy that might exclude anybody because he looks like a foreigner is a good way to do business?" S: "We can't help it." V: "Okay, thank you very much for your time. May we take a picture of that sign out front?" S: "No." V: "Okay, may we have your name?" S: "No." V: "Understood. Thanks very much." Out we went. Mr Okazaki, who overheard the entire converstation, stayed inside for a bit asking a few more questions. When he emerged, he said that Sunday was his day off and he had seen enough anyway. He asked us to FAX him a report on our other findings today for him to check up on later. The next lead would be:

(Wakkanai Minato 1 chome 1-19, Ph 0162-24-5045)
Roy had also been excluded from this place at the door and despite speaking Japanese. I decided to try my luck. The place was open and the proprietor was halfway through a head of hair. He left to come to the door, where he made an X-gesture with his hands. I spoke in Japanese, "Do you refuse foreigners?" (gaikokujin, okotowari desu ka). He paused, surprised that I spoke in Nihongo, and left his X-ed hands up. I repeated the question, and he said "That's right." (sou desu), indicating that he understood me. He went back to his head of hair and I stepped outside, thinking it best not to inquire further.

Says I: "What in heaven's name would make him want to refuse foreigners? Onsens claim a hygiene problem. Regular stores claim a pilfering problem. But what here? People aren't getting naked and sharing a bath, and the only thing to pilfer would be shampoo and scissors. What goes?"

It goes further.


(Baputesto Seisho Kyoukai, Wakkanai Sakai 3 chome 1, Ph 0162-33-5734)

As John is Roy's pastor, we were given a hearty introduction and then a full briefing on life up here for permanent residents. John has been in Japan for 19 years, trading places between Hamatonbetsu and Wakkanai during the time. RuthAnna has been here for 37 years, having been born in Japan (the daughter of legendary Souya area missionary Larry Hagen, who retired in 1996). Life was apparently better in the old days. During RuthAnna's high-school years of 1977-9, Wakkanai High approached the Hagens to ask if their daughters would like to attend their school, for the sake of the trendy concern with Japan's internationalization (at this time, Wakkanai's international citizenry was dwindling--the American airbase had been turned over to the JASDF, and Bendex was cutting their early-warning system facility down to a skeleton staff, ultimately pulling out by 1996). As RuthAnna's home-schooling did not permit full-time attendance, the option of part-time (one class in home economics) was offered. She took it, and had some of her happiest childhood memories relating to Japanese kids in their own language and school.

"Nowadays that is hardly possible. Japan has, if anything, de-internationalized," says RuthAnna. Preliminary inquiries for her five kids (born in Japan who speak Japanese) to attend even a sports class was met with an implicit refusal: "We don't have the facilities" (setsubi ga nai). The school officials also apparently said that having their blonde children would make their classrooms into a circus, and that "foreigners attending would be too much work for their teachers." Now, while there are also residency-registration problems involved (the Mathers are still officially Hamatonbetsu residents, and getting reregistered so they could attend Wakkanai schools would involve a remote and lengthy paper chase with both the US and Japan governments), RuthAnna also mentioned a case of a missionary child in Asahikawa, born in Japan, who tried to get into Asahikawa Kita High around 1992. "The same thing--setsubi ga nai--and a blatant refusal. So as long as the child is full-foreign and not a citizen--as opposed to half-Japanese and a citizen--it is possible that Japanese public school officals will refuse them the opportunity for an education."

If readers want to know more about these cases, they are encouraged to contact the Mathers themselves. But Olaf and I were very startled; what seems to be happening is precisely what Olaf and I have been fearing all along: if the onsens go unchecked, what's next? Stores? Barbershops? Restaurants? Hospitals? Schools? The slippery-slope argument no longer seems a stretch at all.

John added: "Things have definitely gotten worse for us up here these past few years. When driving, I have been tailed by the police and forced to show my drivers' licence, then let go once they realized I was not Russian. I get Gaijin Carded on the street sometimes, even by plain-clothes policemen who, when I ask for ID, will show me nothing but a meishi business card. A bicycle shop refused me service because apparently Russians keep stealing the bikes they leave out front. RuthAnna was invited to the Wakkanai Air Self-Defense Force Base by a friend living inside it--during one of the few days they are open to the public (the annual air show: Wakkanai Bunton Kichi Kaichosai, Heisei 11 Nendo Tenji Hikou, August 7, 1999). RuthAnna and our five kids--I wasn't there--drove over, got stopped at the gate for quite some time, and snarl up traffic. RuthAnna spoke Japanese, showed her Gaijin Card and driver licence, established that they were locals and residents, told them they had an invitation from inside and from whom. Yet still they were kept waiting there for I don't how long until news of their visit was bumped up the chain of command. Security risks I can understand, but how much of a security risk can a wife and five young 'uns be? Any one of those dozens of cars on this public day could equally have been a threat, but they were not given any checkpoint at all."

Confirming their permission to be contacted as a future source, Olaf, Roy, and I then headed out to the lead we had heard the most about--the segregated onsen facility.

(Wakkanai Suehiro 3-6, Ph 0162-24-2619)
A large facility which opened on January 23, 1997, Yuuransen is a very fancy place near the harbor and very convenient for sailors and residents sick of the pokey sento bathhouses around town. As we have reported on our website (see photos at the very bottom of http://www.debito.org/photosubstantiation.html#WAKKANAI), they have three bathhouses: 1) a Family Bath (kazoku buro--a bathing room for a whole family) costing 800 yen; 2) a regular Public Bath (Koushuu Yokujou) costing 360 yen (plus 460 yen if you want access to the sauna); finally 3) a special Foreign Bath (referred to as the Gaijin Buro). The sign to it says "For Foreign Guests" (in English and Russian only), with arrows guiding you to a completely separate facility accessible by a separate doorway around the corner. The cost? 2500 yen--a set cost including bath, sauna, trunks, towel and bathrobe rental. "Take it or leave it," as the management said to me later. I alone walked inside the Public Bath (Olaf was tired and needed to prepare for the long drive home, Roy was indisposed) and asked if I could talk to the management.

The Tenchou of this outlet of the Yuuransen chain, Mr Ohshima Kazumoto, came out and gave me a strong and fearless harangue with in-your-face body language. I calmly pointed out a few things to him about the illegality of not allowing foreign residents into a Public Bath (more on that later), as was acknowledged by the chief of the local department of public health (kankyou eisei kakari Mr Kouno, Ph 0162-32-2250). Mr Ohshima told me to bring Mr Kouno here: "Call the cops, whomever you want. They all know I'm doing this. And I'm not gonna stop." After fifteen minutes we reached a detente of sorts, and he invited me upstairs for a cup of coffee and a full explanation of his situation.

Mr Ohshima: "Y'know, I read the papers, and I know all the arguments about this. I read that Doshin editorial (http://www.debito.org/onsendoshinshasetsu2200.jpg) which says 'isn't there some way this could be done better?', and citing that Noboribetsu onsen with all the bilingual rules. That's fine, but those journalists are just writing highfalutin' principles and have never tried to run an onsen themselves. I have for years, and one thing I have learned is that you cannot keep sitting on the fence. Good things are good things, bad are bad, and I can't run my onsen thinking, 'Gosh, somebody complained. Gotta change the rules again'. The rules are there and fixed for a good reason. Because I know what to expect from these people. You know what those Russians do? Here, let me show you."

We went through a door into the Gaijin Buro area, which was empty, and he pointed a few things out. "This is the relaxation room." It was about 10-jou size. "See that place in the corner? It's a hole in the wall. Yet another Russian sailor smashed the wall in a fight. We've repaired it so many times that we don't even bother to do much more than thumbtack paper over it. This despite how generous we've been with our facilities. Look what they've got in here--a TV, drinks machine, massage chairs, and here," we went into the 16-or-so jou sized bathing area, "we have a hot-water bath, a cold water bath, and a sauna. We even made them all bigger in 1997 shortly after we opened, because as it was we saw that no more than three of those big guys could get in a bath at one time. See, we're being nice. We could just have turned them away, but instead we're giving them their own facility."

"Yes, but smaller at eight times the price, right?" I said.

"We don't get as many Russians as we do Japanese, of course, and the set price we have for them is about the same price as it would be for a Japanese who rented all the extras."

"But all, and only, foreigners are not being given a choice in rentals."

"I repeat, we're being nice. Most of these Russians don't even come with a change of underwear. They appreciate getting the trunks. And if they think this is too expensive, we refer them to the Hotel Souya downtown. Anyway, we have to keep the price up due to repairs. Let me show you what these people do."

We went back out to the relaxation room where he pointed to an empty fire extinguisher stand. "These gaijin have twice discharged the fire extinguishers and covered these walls with foam, and it's a bitch to clean up. Last time we didn't even bother to refill the cannister--just left it there empty to get past the law. And guess what? They stole the goddamn thing. And see this fire alarm button? They keep hitting it and we have to evacuate the whole building. And see this vending machine here? They keep trying to break into it. And we can't come in here easily and stop them if they are messing about--the counter where we can see them is around the corner here and we have to go down and up a flight of stairs for access. Look, they fight like drunk kids, they stink up the rooms--have you any idea how badly a Russian stinks? They broke--here, look--the glass on this sliding door into the bath." We went back through the duct-taped cracked glass door into the tubs area. "And our sauna? They bring in tree switches and messing the place up with debris. And it's not a steam sauna, as we keep telling them, but these gaijin keep pouring water on it. We put up signs in Russian saying "don't soak the heater", and even put a screen over it for good measure, but still they do it. Last time they doused it so badly it shorted, costing us 470,000 yen to replace. That's why we have this high price. No matter what rules I put up in Russian somebody always breaks them. You want to tell me that I should let these people into the rest of my onsen?"

I nodded in appreciation but not in agreement. "Mr Ohshima, one thing. You have built this place to cater to a segment of the tourist trade, but you also make it so that residents, like me, have to be lumped in. I, for example, cannot take a bath here with my family in the Family Baths. And..."

"We have made special provisions; if people call ahead of time and they have a Japanese family, we can sneak them into the Family Baths. There we also cater to the rich Russian tourists and sea captains who are gentlemen. If they have a Japanese escort who will take responsibility for them, we can talk."

(Later on, when I told Olaf about this in the car back home, he tutted. "I wish I was there when he said that. This is simply not true. We stopped at Yuuransen in 1998, when Roy and I cycled 120 kms up on our cycletrek with our Japanese friend. We had an escort. But Ohshima was the one who came to the front and said that our Japanese friend could come in but not Roy and I. I think Ohshima's talking wind.")

Back to my conversation with Mr Ohshima. Said I: "Another thing. You do realize that what you are doing is illegal, as you are technically a Public Bath." I showed him a copy of the Hokkaido Ordinance on Public Baths (Koushuu Yokujou Houshikou Jourei, passed Shouwa 24 nen Jan 11), courtesy of Mr Kouno at Wakkanai's Board of Health. I read Section 2, Clause 1: "For 'normal baths': using hot water or hot springs, this is a facility which shall allow a sizable number of both men and women at the same time to have separate bathing rooms, and the purpose and form of that use shall be to let regional residents (chiiki juumin) to have the essential and indispensible maintenance of health and hygiene in their daily lives." (futsuu yokujou: on'yu mata wa onsen o shiyou shi, danjo kakuichi yokushitsu ni douji ni tasuunin o nyuuyoku saseru shisetsu de atte, sono riyou no mokuteki oyobi keitai ga chiiki juumin no nichijou seikatsu ni oite sono kenkou no hoji oyobi hoken eisei jou hitsuyou fukaketsu no mono to shite riyou saseru mono to iu.)

Why does this classification matter? Achieving Public Bath status is a plus, as it officially declares the facility as an indispensible part of the well-being of the local economy, allows it to lower its prices to public-facility levels, and apparently qualifies for public funding should it fall into dire financial straits (although the Board of Health told me that Yuuransen as yet receives no subsidy).

I continued: "So by barring people like Olaf entry from a public bath, you are voiding your public-bath status, as we too are residents being denied an offically-acknowledged indispensible service."

Ohshima shrugged. "It's not as if our policies are a big secret. These are our rules and nobody has stopped us yet. So obviously what we are doing is not illegal."

Ninety minutes of this kind of talk had made me hungry, so after thanking Mr Ohshima for his time, the three of us went downtown to grab some grub. We stopped at an area which Roy said had good ramen, and after decarring I saw a Russian flag flapping by a hotel and several signs in Cyrllic. This is where we would see the other extreme in Wakkanai--the economy which caters instead of excludes.

(Wakkanai Ohguro 2 chome 13-11, Ph 0162-22-4141)
We walked into an izakaya called Ushio and asked the lady inside, Ms Fujisawa, what the signs outside said. She replied: "They explain what we have on the menus, and the rules for entry. We don't accept drunks in here." And they leave smartly when you tell them to? No communication problems? "Haven't had much trouble, really. They leave if we tell them to leave. Signs outside help. We get lots of Russians in here and they really like our food. We even got picture menus in Russian here. See?"

We asked if they could fix us up some ramen and yes, they had a set all ready for the day. And as we were slurping up our noodles, who should come in but a dapper middle-aged man named Izumi Hisashi who would just happen to be the General Manager of the Wakkanai Grand Hotel. He made small talk with Roy and Olaf (I was all talked out and kept on eating), until he looked at Olaf and me closely and began to click.

"Aren't you the guys who have been doing all that stuff in Otaru?" Uh, yes, how did you know? "You're all over the news, the papers, the TV." He drew close to shake our hands. Seriously. "I want to say I admire how brave you guys are for doing all this. Japanese wouldn't." Well, the laws don't discriminate against Japanese, right?

He ducked out for a minute and had his dinner brought in. And he sat with us, chewing his steak and the fat with us, jawing on for a good thirty minutes about the idiocies of the situation in town and in Hokkaido these days. Japanese are doing the wrong thing by deciding to exclude instead of putting up signs. Basically, all that was necessary was making the rules clear to people with frontier ethics. Boy, hearing that helped my digestion. After we had seen so much pandering and meandering in public policy, the Wakkanai Grand Hotel's solution seemed so simple: make the rules clear and enforce them--sort of like "don't do a miracle diet--just eat less and exercise". And as we departed, Mr Izumi shook our hands again and said, "Anything I can do to help, you let me know. What's next on your plate?"

New ingredients into the melding pot: Submitting a Petititon (chinjou) for an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (jourei) to the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly (like we did to the Otaru City Assembly on Jan 13, 2000) on April 17. Talking to the Russian Government on April 17 and having them talk with Otaru city on April 19. On April 20, holding a presentation at the Japanese National Diet with several prominent speakers on discrimination--how it affects society and how it can be ameliorated. A press conference at the FCCJ afterwards. More to come.

Let me now forgo a conclusion and bring this overlong essay to a close for now, abruptly switching to the two other topics for the record because they are part of the same picture. The first is an arguably positive development on the Otaru Onsens front. The second a negative development on a regional government front, moreover in one of the world's biggest and most cosmopolitan cities, where the governor is targeting foreigners as a socially-destabilizing factor.



Yomiuri Shinbun April 7, 2000, page 35.
Translated by Dave Aldwinckle
Original at: http://www.debito.org/onsenyomiuri4700.jpg

Yomiuri Shinbun, April 7, 2000, page 35

Concerning the problem of the few Otaru bathing facilities which refuse entry to foreigners, one facility which by April 6 had replaced its sign saying "JAPANESE ONLY" with one saying "MEMBERS ONLY" (see photo) and started letting in foreigners.

According to the establishment, there have been no problems between foreigners and Japanese since they removed the signs. To become a member, one has to fill out their name, their address, their contact details, but there is no membership charge.

Dave Aldwinckle (35), a Hokkaido representative for Issho Kikaku, a human rights protection group (gaikokujin no jinken yougo dantai) for foreigners, which has taken up this problem, said:

"This is proceeding in a good direction, and is a first step forward (ippo zenshin da)"

Despite this appraisal, he pointed out the conditions for gaining membership are 1) a person who can speak Japanese, 2) people not coming in groups, 3) odd-looking people (fushinsha) will not be made members--etc.

"This is not a full admission policy (zenmenteki na ukeire de wa naku), so this does not mean that this is a solution."

[NB: I did not say anything about full admission policies.]

A more critical, but still untranslated, pair of articles on this and the Wakkanai situation appeared in Hokkaido Shinbun, April 11, 2000, pg 35, jpegged at http://www.debito.org/onsendoshin41100.jpg

And now the final bit. For some this is already old news, but for the record. In the same vein as the Miwa Lock Ads (http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#gaijinimages), which tried to create fear of foreign crime to sell foreigner-proof locks, in 21st Century Japan there is a definite groundswell of xenophobia being reported in the mass media. Quotes from Tokyo Governor Ishihara, alerting the Japanese Self Defense Forces to the possibility of foreigner riots in a crisis, certainly does not help prevent the overall imaging-down of foreigners or discourage the spread of illegal exclusionary practices. Worse yet, according to a preliminary public poll by Asahi Shinbun, 60% of respondents support Ishihara's sentiment despite heavy initial criticism. (http://cnn.co.jp/2000/JAPAN/04/12/asahic12019.asahi/index.html, for those who can read Japanese). This may be the birth of a new word to counter the old buzzword of "kokusaika" (internationalization):

3) "HIKOKUSAIKA" ("anti-internationalization"):

WIRE:04/09/2000 03:44:00 ET
Japan Troops Told 'Foreigners' Likely to Loot, Riot

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese troops were told on Sunday to target foreigners to prevent looting and rioting in the event of a major earthquake, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said in an address to Ground Self-Defense Force troops that foreigners were likely to riot and commit crimes because of the breakdown in order.

"Atrocious crimes have been committed again and again by sangokujin and other foreigners," he was quoted as saying.

"We can expect them to riot in the event of a disastrous earthquake."

The Japanese slang term "sangokujin" means "people from Third World countries" and was used in post World War Two Japan as an insult for residents from the former Japanese colonies of Korea and Taiwan.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials could not be reached immediately for comment due to the weekend holiday.

A fervent nationalist, Ishihara has angered China by doubting its accounts of Japanese wartime atrocities and referring to it by the derogatory term "Shina."

After the Great Tokyo Earthquake of 1923, which killed about 100,000 people, unfounded rumors about riots among Tokyo's Korean residents led to Japanese mobs attacking and killing several hundred Koreans, many of whom were brought to Japan as slave labor.


Thus Japan is starting to feel the tugs of a pluralist, multicultural society. Some degree of social hesitancy is natural. One of our jobs in this society will be helping make the transition smoother--by urging a more representative legal infrastructure and a more tolerant social policy approach. We do this in hopes that the future will herald a better place for everyone--citizen, immigrant, or visitor--to live. More to come.

Dave Aldwinckle

(in Japanese--sorry for the gibberish if your browser cannot read it)


 石原慎太郎東京都知事は九日、陸上自衛隊練馬駐屯地の創隊記念 式典であいさつし「三国人、外国人の凶悪な犯罪が繰り返されてお り、震災が起きたら騒擾(そうじょう)事件が予想される。警察には限度があり、災害でなく治安の維持も遂行してもらいたい」と述べた。                           



 姜徳相・滋賀県立大教授(朝鮮現代史)の話 石原都知事が排外主義的な認識を依然として持っていることの表れだ。「第三国人」という言い方は敗戦後、それまで日本人だった在日朝鮮人らは「もう日本に用はない。出ていけ」という認識から出た。その結果、国籍を奪われ、あらゆる立法から無視され、無権利状態に置かれた。在日朝鮮人への差別を正当化した言葉だ。なぜ石原知事がここまで韓国などに排外心を持っているのか、理解できない。多くの外国人が日本にいて、国際化が進んでいる中で、かなり時代錯誤な発言だ。[2000-04-09-15:09]


 田中宏・一橋大名誉教授(日本アジア関係史)の話 一九二三(大正十二)年の関東大震災では、出所不明のうわさが流れて、朝鮮人虐殺の悲劇につながった。偏見をあおることの罪深さを示した。日本全体に排外主義がはびこっている中で、上に立つ人はそれを抑えるのが本来の仕事だ。それなのに逆に偏見をあおって拡大させる発言はとんでもない。さらに武器を持つ自衛隊を持ち出すのは言語道断だ。外国人とどう共存していくかのソフトをつくらなければならない時代に、こうした発言をするようでは知事の知性が問われる。[2000-04-09-15:58]

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