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Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination

Like the abused who then go on to abuse, Japan is too psychologically scarred to see discrimination going on within its borders

by Debito Arudou

Readers may be expecting this column to have something to say about the Supreme Court decision of July 18, which decreed that non-Japanese (NJ) residents are not guaranteed social welfare benefits.

But many have already expressed shock and outrage on these pages, pointing out the injustice of paying into a system that may choose to exclude them in their time of need. After all, no explicit law means no absolute guarantee of legal protection, no matter what court or bureaucratic precedents may have been established.

I’m more surprised by the lack of outrage at a similar legal regime running parallel to this: Japan’s lack of a law protecting against racial discrimination (RD). It affects people on a daily basis, yet is accepted as part of “normal” unequal treatment in Japan — and not just of noncitizens, either.

This brings me to an argument I wanted to round off from last month’s column, about how Japan has a hard time admitting RD ever happens here. Some argue it’s because RD does not befit Japan’s self-image as a “civilized” society. But I would go one step further (natch) and say: RD makes people go crazy.

First, let me establish the “hard time admitting it” bit. (Apologies for reprising some old ground.)

As covered in past columns, Japan’s government and media are seemingly allergic to calling discriminatory treatment based upon skin color or “foreign” appearance racial discrimination (specifically, jinshu sabetsu).

For example, take the Otaru onsen case (1993-2005), which revolved around “Japanese only” signs barring entry to hot springs in Otaru, Hokkaido, to anyone who didn’t “look Japanese” enough (including this writer). Only one major Japanese media source, out of hundreds that reported on it, referred to jinshu sabetsu as an objective fact of the case (rather than reporting it as one side’s claim) — even after both the Sapporo district and high courts unequivocally adjudged it as such.

Public discourse still shies away from the term. That is why the reaction to the “Japanese only” banner displayed at the Urawa Reds soccer game in March was such a landmark. After initial wavering (and the probable realization that the World Cup was approaching), the team’s management, the J. League and the media in general specifically called it out as jinshu sabetsu, then came down on it with unprecedented severity.

Bravo. Thank you. But so far, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

This see-no-evil attitude even affects scholarship on Japan, as I discovered during my doctoral dissertation literature review. Within the most-cited sources reviewing discrimination in Japan, not one listed “skin color” as among Japan’s discriminatory stigmata, or included RD as a factor (calling it instead discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, ingrained cultural practice, etc.). Indicatively, none of them (except some obscure law journal articles) mentioned the Otaru onsen ruling either.

Now peer into Japan’s education system. Jinshu sabetsu happens anywhere but Japan. The prototypical examples are the American South under segregation and apartheid-era South Africa. But homogeneous Japan, the argument runs, has no races, therefore it cannot logically practice racial discrimination. (Again, the Otaru onsen ruling disproves that. But, again, see no evil.)

So why can’t Japan own up? Because RD inflicts such deep psychological wounds that whole societies do irrational, paranoid and crazy things.

Consider this: Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima, whose chapter in Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel’s 2013 book “Race and Racism in Modern East Asia” I cited last month, also discussed the aftermath of the United States’ Asian exclusion policy of 1924 — under which Japan, despite all its attempts to “Westernize” and “de-Asianize” itself, was subordinated as a “colored” nation.

Japan’s public reaction was (understandably) furious, and visceral. The Kokumin Shimbun called it “a national dishonor” and demanded that U.S.-Japan ties be severed. In the words of one liberal Japanese journalist at the time: “Discrimination from the United States was due to regarding the Japanese as a colored people. This is a disgrace to the most delicate matter of the Japanese ethnic pride.”

Public outcry morphed into mass hysteria, including countless letters to the government urging war on America. Several people even committed suicide outside the American Embassy!

Although these events subsided, Japan’s elites never let go of this slur. The Japanese ambassador wrote the U.S. secretary of state, saying that the issue was “whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect” that forms “the basis of amicable international intercourse throughout the civilized world.” Emperor Hirohito later called the act “a remote cause of the Pacific War.” It has also been connected to Japan’s rejection of the West and invasion of Manchuria.

See how crazy RD makes people? Mass hysteria? Calls for war? Suicides? International isolation? Invading China?

RD also psychologically wounds people to the point that it can feed illogical exceptionalism, denialism and perpetual victim status.

It short-circuits the ability to run self-diagnostics and see the fundamental hypocrisy behind the idea that, for example, Japanese are perpetual victims of RD, but rarely, if ever, perpetrators of it — as if Japan is somehow an exception from the racialization processes that happen in every society.

Seriously. During Japan’s colonial era, when Japan was “liberating” and colonizing its neighbors under the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, officials argued that under Japan’s Pan-Asianism, where (unlike Western colonization) her new subjects were of the same skin color, Japan could not practice “racism” in the Western sense.

But the historical record indicates that Japan’s colonized subalterns were subordinated and exploited like any racialized minority — something Japan’s similarly psychologically-wounded neighbors have never forgotten.

Then, in the postwar period, Japan’s national narrative mutated from “heterogeneous Asian colonizer” to “pure homogeneous society.” How did official illogic accommodate this shift? Again, with fallacious ideas such as “Japan has no races, therefore it cannot possibly practice racism.”

This claim is easily disproven by pointing to the country’s “Japanese only” signs. But then what happens? Relativism, denialism and counterattack.

Either deniers repeat that Japan has no RD (patently false; again, that pesky Otaru onsen case), or they argue that everyone else in the world is racist and Japanese have been victims of it (citing wartime examples such as the U.S. and Canadian Japanese internment camps, or the atomic bombings) — as if racism is just how the world naturally functions, and two wrongs make a right.

Then the focus turns on you. You face accusations of racism for overgeneralizing about Japan (e.g., with the counterargument that only a few places post “Japanese only” signs — just don’t point out the standard practice of denying NJ apartments . . .). Or you are charged with being remiss for not acknowledging the “positive discrimination” that “esteemed NJ” get (some, that is), and that positive discrimination somehow compensates for and justifies the negative. Then the debate gets tangled in red herrings.

But the point is that the reaction will be as swift, clear and visceral as it was way back when. The milder accusations will be of cultural insensitivity, Japan-bashing or Japan-hating. But as you get closer to the heart of the matter, and the incontrovertible evidence moves from anecdotal to statistical, you’ll be ostracized, slandered, harassed by Japan’s shadowy elements, stalked and issued death threats. Believe me, I know.

Again, racism is not seen as something that “civilized” countries like Japan would do. To call it out is to question Japan’s level of civilization. And it conjures up an irrational denialism wrapped within a historical narrative of racialized victimization.

Thus Japan’s constant self-victimization leads to paranoia and overreaction (justifying even more tangential craziness, such as defenses of whaling and dolphin culls, international child kidnappings after divorce, and historical amnesia) due in part to fears of being besmirched and discriminated against again. Like a jilted suitor heartbroken by an exotic lover, Japan thus takes extreme precautions to avoid ever being hurt again — by forever forsaking close, equal and potentially vulnerable relationships with anyone with a whiff of the exotic.

Until Japan gets over itself and accepts that racialization processes are intrinsic to every society, it will never resolve its constant and unwarranted exceptionalism. Bigots must be dealt with, not denied or justified. Like the abused who becomes the abuser, Japanese society is simply too psychologically damaged by RD to stop its RD.

This remains the fundamental hurdle Japanese society must overcome before it can empathize fully with outsiders as fellow equal human beings. As was evident in last month’s Supreme Court ruling.

There — now you have my comment on it.

Debito Arudou’s most recent publication is the Hokkaido and Tohoku Chapters in Fodor’s 2014 Japan travel guide. Twitter: @arudoudebito. An excerpt of Ayu Majima’s chapter can be read at www.debito.org/?p=12122, and more of Debito’s analysis of the Supreme Court ruling at www.debito.org/?p=12530. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Steve Jackman

    “But as you get closer to the heart of the matter, and the incontrovertible evidence moves from anecdotal to statistical, you’ll be ostracized, slandered, harassed by Japan’s shadowy elements, stalked and issued death threats.”

    Debito, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this sentence. This is the very reason why more people in Japan don’t come out against racial discrimination and other such problems facing Japanese society. It is fear, pure and simple. The “shadowy elements” you refer to are always there lurking behind the shadows. They make sure that no one gets out of line, using all the tactics you have noted. The beauty of such a system is that it has all the makings of a Police State, without ever needing a visible “Police” to carry out the dirty deeds.

  • Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson

    Dr Arudou says:

    “Like the abused who becomes the abuser, Japanese society is simply too psychologically damaged by RD to stop its RD.”

    So, if we accept what he writes to be true, how does he propose the damage is healed? Or does he think that it cannot be healed? Surely such a bold statement by him requires him to advise us or Japanese society how this illness can be stemmed? His usual call for a law against racial discrimination is surely not feasible as he claims that Japanese society, which must includes lawmakers, is too “damaged” to accept a law against racial discrimination.

    • Steve Jackman

      The first step to solving any problem is to admit that a problem exists. A problem cannot be addressed as long as a person or a society is in denial about the very existence of the problem.

      I think Debito’s article is quite clear about how the Japanese are in denial about the existence of racial discrimination in Japan and how they need to move beyond this state of denial in order for any meaningful progress to be made in tackling racial discrimination in Japan.

      • Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson

        Yes, it is clear that he believes they need to move beyond the current state, but how? If they are too damaged to stop it, they cannot move forward, surely?

      • Steve Jackman

        It is no different than any other form of denial. Again, like I said, one has to fess up. You can look at any number of examples, including how alcoholics are asked to stop denying that they have a drinking problem, as a first step to recovery. Alcoholics are damaged too, but the road to recover starts by first admiting to oneself that one has a problem.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        I’ve seen “Doctor” Arudou on panels with Japanese working to stop discrimination. They always make the point, which he never really answers, is that most invidious discrimination in Japan is not based on “race” and that any law on “racial discrimination” would totally miss the point. The long standing issue of 被差別部落民, for example, has nothing to do with “race.” Similarly, the discrimination that people of Korean nationality born in Japan face has nothing to do with race. The discrimination that single elderly Japanese face in renting apartments has nothing to do with race.

      • Steve Jackman

        Listen, I’m of a different race than the Japanese and have been living in Japan for over a decade. I do not need any panels to tell me the nature and extent of discrimination faced by myself and other non-Japanese residents of Japan.

        As a non-Japanese resident of Japan, I encounter widespread racial discrimination on a regular basis. So do many other non-Japanese residents of Japan who I know. The Japanese who subject me to racial discrimination do not know my nationality, so their discrimination against me is very much based on race.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        You must work very hard at it. I’ve been in Japan off and on since 1971, permanently since 1997. I’ve lived in Japan long enough to draw a state pension. I can’t really think of any experiences in Japan that I would label “racial discrimination” for the simple reason that I’ve had very similar close encounters of the wrong kind in Britain and my English-Scotch-Irish ancestry makes me the same “race” as the vast majority of Brits. Please give some examples of what you consider to have been personal “racial discrimination” in Japan.

      • K T

        So you, based solely on your experiences in Japan, have determined that racial discrimination in Japan does not exist? How British of you.

        The institutional racism of employment & housing are not enough? This is government sanctioned, you know.

        You want personal examples?
        How about being told a restaurant is closed while other (Japanese) customers are entering and leaving – at lunch time?
        How about waiting outside a popular restaurant (in Tokyo) in winter, being told “your group is next”, but being constantly passed over by Japanese groups? Is that personal enough?
        Or, being told that your company cannot send a gaijin (you) to service client “A” – because client “A” would take it as an insult… WTF?

        Or, being told that Japanese men would consider it humiliating to be supervised by a gaijin (you), so while you deserve the promotion, you cannot take the higher paying job which involves supervising Japanese male employees? Oh, but you can supervise Japanese females, at lower pay.
        Do any of these ring your bell? I have more:
        My Brazilian friend explained how the factory he worked at paid employees:
        Monthly salary – all people do the SAME job:
        He (Brazilian male) 300,000 yen
        His wife (Nikkei Brazilian female) 240,000 yen.
        Iranians 160,000 yen.
        Isn’t that wonderful?

        So, the suffering of others is not on your list. You are doing ok, so all stories to the contrary must be exaggerations.

        Stay in your bubble. The reality of how bad some groups in Japan are treated might spoil your martini.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        (1) I’m not British. (2) I don’t drink alcohol. (3) None of the anecdotes you offer strike me as “racism” that could be litigated under US or UK law. (4) It is quite common in Japan for two Japanese citizens to be doing the same job yet receive quite different pay. (5) You and others writing in this thread are confusing class discrimination with racial discrimination because the only lower class people you know happen to be foreign.

      • K T

        1. You don’t have to be British to act British.

        2. Your loss.

        3. Housing discrimination doesn’t strike you as discrimination? what planet are you from?

        4. When the determining factor is race, we adults call it RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

        5. You are very generous with your incorrect assumptions.

        A. Lumping others in with me? I have not read all the comments. Further, I do not know which comments you are referencing. I can only respond to your criticism of my comments.

        B. Racial discrimination, like the name suggests, is discrimination based on race. When people of the same race are treated differently, there are other words used to describe the situation.

        C. You seem to want to deflect all claims that racism does exist in Japan. I wonder why? The housing discrimination situation in Japan is FAMOUS! Anyone with eyes can see the “no foreigners” signs on real estate agency windows. Yet you still cling to your “you are confusing the issue” argument.

        Race-based discrimination is alive and well in Japan in 2014. Apparently everyone (except you) is able to see it. You are not, by chance related to Neville Chamberlain (who went to meet Hitler in 1938), are you? Because you exhibit many of the same errors in judgement.

        Stay happy!

      • Earl Kinmonth

        Where have you seen a “no foreigners” sign in an estate agents window? Haven’t seen any in decades. You must live in a very backward part of Japan. Usually, it’s not the estate agents but rather landlords who discriminate. Estate agents want their commissions. Further, “no foreigners” is NOT equivalent to “racial discrimination.” A landlord who does not, for example, want to rent to Chinese or Koreans, probably the most common case of discrimination in housing in Japan, is not engaging in “racial discrimination” any more than I would be if I said I did not want to rent my house in England to a white European without British nationality. Further, it has been my experience that if you have PR (permanent residency), are fluent in Japanese, and have a permanent job with a well known Japanese entity, there are very few landlords who are not happy to take your money. (I just rented a new apartment in June. Race and nationality never came up.) I do not want to “deflect all claims of that racism does exist in Japan.” Sure, it exists. Japan is a very normal country. It has racists just like the US or the UK have racists. BUT, compared to the US, racism in Japan is low key and non-violent. If you want to know what real racism is, do a search on “Ferguson, Missouri.” Try to find some black Americans. Ask them about “racism in Japan.” Further, “discrimination” in Japan is not exclusively negative. For example, the Japanese police will often cut slack for a gaijin where they would nail a Japanese for the same offense. Indeed, I know a certain gaijin rights activists who in the past bragged about talking his way out of speeding tickets by playing the dumb gaijin. Finally, since you seem very concerned about “racism,” I am curious as to your anti-racist activities before coming to Japan. Did you belong to any groups fighting discrimination? Did you participate in any forums debating racism? Or, did you discover racism only after you came to Japan?

      • Steve Jackman

        You must live in some alternate version of Japan, since the real Japan which I inhabit is rife with Japanese landlords and real estate agents who will not rent to non-Japanese. This is happening right now and this is the current state of affairs in Japan.

        This problem has even been reported in this newspaper recently, not decades ago as you have wrongly stated. Take a look at the article published in this newspaper on April 23, 2013, titled, “Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed”.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        As I said in a previous posting it is usually LANDLORDS who do not want rent to foreigners, not the estate agents who are only interested in getting their fees. The case you site fits my model. When I came to Japan in 1971 most landlords in Tokyo would not rent to foreigners. Now, such landlords are few and far between but certainly still exist. The last time I encountered one was about 10 years ago. When I was in the rental market in June, I did not encounter any. But, this is not a simple matter of being racist or anti-foreign. Class and income are important. If you have PR, are fluent in Japanese, and have a 15 year blemish free credit rating, far more landlords will be happy to take your money than if you are student with an undefined income and an uncertain status in Japan. Some Japanese landlords do not want to take students whatever their nationality or race. Speaking as a landlord myself, I would prefer not to have students. If you do a search on “refusing to rent to students,” you will find that in the US and Canada the situation is quite ambiguous for students in general and particularly for foreign nationals. One common dodge is to insist upon a credit rating or require that parents be signatories to the contract. If Japanese landlords were as sophisticated as their US, Canadian, or UK counterparts, most “racial discrimination” in housing in Japan would disappear. They would just say “we don’t rent to anyone without a solid Japanese credit rating” or “we don’t rent to anyone without a permanent job in Japan.” One almost certain outcome of any legislation against “racial discrimination” in Japan is that Japanese landlords and estate agents would look at US, Canadian, and UK models to find out how landlords discriminate without breaking the law.

      • Steve Jackman

        You are wrong, again. As another article published in this newspaper on November 10, 2007, under the heading, “Foreigners still dogged by housing barriers” shows, landlords and real estate agents are both culpable in discriminating against foreigners.

      • 6810

        2007. Currently 2014. “Foreigners” = what? There are many kinds, and many of whom, like me have neither never made the pages of the JT nor faced housing barriers. It’s all about context.

        I’ve said it elsewhere but many of these so called “race” issues are often to do with socio-economic status, lack of familiarity with cultural customs and lack of language.

      • Steve Jackman

        No, racial discrimination in Japan is based on race and not on socio–economic status. Since you bring up class, I can say categorically that upper-class, highly educated, white collar professionals, who happen to be foreign, are subjected to discrimination in all walks of life, in ways that lower-class blue collar Japanese are not. So, the discrimination is clearly race-based.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        (1) I have not asserted that estate agents never discriminate but rather it is typically the LANDLORD who sets the “Japanese only” requirement NOT the estate agent. Given the zillions of hole in the wall estate agents in Japan, I’m sure you can find some that have a “Japanese only” policy if you spend enough time looking. Similarly, if you spend enough time looking, you can find other facilities with a “Japanese only” policy but these are a microscopic fraction of all businesses in Japan. (2) Can’t you find anything newer than 2007? I can, except it’s for Chicago. http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Investigation-exposes-housing-discrimination-in-suburbs/48649.html http://www.wbez.org/news/new-report-reveals-pervasive-discrimination-housing-voucher-program-109946 http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/01/248039354/a-battle-for-fair-housing-still-raging-but-mostly-forgotten (I picked Chicago because I grew up in the Chicago area.) I can’t prove it, but I’ll bet it’s easier for foreign nationals to find suitable housing almost anywhere in Japan than it is for a black or Hispanic to rent anything in some parts of Chicago or its suburbs. (Other large US cities are probably similar.) You can line up all your stories of alleged and proven racial discrimination in Japan, and I would imagine that any American black or Hispanic would find your hyperventilation over Japanese racism to be laughable. And to answer the inevitable rebuttal – No, rampant racism in the US does not excuse racism in Japan. BUT, knowledge of rampant racism in the US does put Japanese racism in perspective.

      • Steve Jackman

        First, I already provided you the heading and date of a more recent article from last year about racial discrimination in housing in Japan, which was published in this newspaper. Is 2013 not recent enough for you?

        Second, things have not changed in this regard in Japan since 2007. If anything, they’ve actually gotten worse for foreign residents of Japan.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        Evidence for a deterioration of the situation of foreign residents in Japan? And, at the risk of repeating the obvious, discrimination on the basis of nationality is NOT the same thing as racial discrimination. To be foreign in Japan means not to have Japanese nationality. The single largest group of foreign nationals in Japan are Chinese (ROC and PRC) followed by Koreans (ROK and DPRK). Non-Asian foreign nationals are a tiny fraction of the foreign population of Japan. US citizens, many of whom who are of Asian ancestry and appearance, are the largest “Western” group but even US citizens are outnumbered by Vietnamese according to the latest census data. Discrimination by nationality in Japan can potentially involve “race” but the probability is low because most foreign nationals in Japan are of the same “race” as the Japanese. Got it?

      • Steve Jackman

        I tried to “get it”, but got lost in your mumbo jumbo and semantics.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        How about this – foreigners are not a race.

      • Steve Jackman

        Everyone knows that and no one is saying foreigners are one race. You seem confused.

      • 6810

        THen you have severe comprehension problems. I suggest re-reading and re-posting. Luckily for you, Mr Kinmonth clearly summarised what he was saying.

        Let me quote it for you:

        “How about this – foreigners are not a race.”

        Real estate “discrimination” based on preference dependent on whether potential clients are bonafide locals as defined under the law or else as temporary visitors (regardless of their future intentions) is entirely to do with the bottom line.

        Would you prefer to rent rent **your** property to a local with references, credit rating and ties to the community or a transient but outspoken yet unproven, credit rating less, reference-less, “well intentioned” and obviously more special foreigner?

      • anoninjapan

        “…and have a permanent job with a well known Japanese entity…”

        What has the nationality of the company one works for, got to do with it?…oh wait the nationality IS the key factor in getting accommodation is what you’re saying.

        Interesting!!

      • Earl Kinmonth

        The nationality of the company is not the issue. It is whether the entity is well known in Japan or not. IBM is not a Japanese company. It is well known in Japan. It is regarded as a highly desirable company to work for. If you have a job with such a company, Japanese or non-Japanese, a landlord will probably think you are a more desirable tenant, whatever your nationality, than if your job is with the Fly By Night School of English or you work as a bouncer at a soapland. Is that so difficult to understand? Do you really think that foreign nationals who work for foreign companies of the type that rent whole floors of the ultra expensive office space in Ark Hills and other similar venues have to deal with estate agents and landlords who have a “Japanese only policy?” I’ve known people who worked for such companies. In the most recent case I know of the company was paying 770000 yen just in rent for a one bedroom apartment albeit a large one. My friend is British, the company is Hong Kong based. Nationality is NOT the key factor in getting accommodation if you are a foreign national. Money and prestige are.

      • Steve Jackman

        Man, all I can say is, you are blind!

      • anoninjapan

        If the nationality is not the issue, why raise it?…you are clearly blind of your own duplicity and apologisms.

        “It is well known in Japan”…and please define this…”more desirable”… than one who earns the same amount of money from a company that the land lord wont have heard of such as say ZTE or Raytheon or ESAB; all global companies.

        Since your premise is to be “known in Japan”…that’s racism mate, since all the landlord needs is proof of earnings, to pay the rent….beyond that is is subjective/selective choosing, i.e discrimination/racism.

        “Do you really think….and other similar venues have to deal with estate agents and landlords who have a “Japanese only policy?”

        So, you admit it does exits then?

      • Earl Kinmonth

        “Do you really think….and other similar venues have to deal with
        estate agents and landlords who have a “Japanese only policy?” No. In the Chicago suburbs I am familiar with, it would be a whites only policy. There would not, of course, be a sign in the window. But, the policy would be there just the same. Don’t take my word for it. Just do a Google search on “housing discrimination.” It’s still rampant in the US. If you never encountered it before Japan, then (1) you were lucky or (2) white. Further, I trust you know that US fair housing law exempts owner occupied buildings with a small number of apartments. Employment law applies to establishments with 15 or more employees. For example, I rent an apartment in a unit with a total of four apartments. The owner uses one. Under US law, it would be perfectly legal for him to discriminate. Punch line? Some (not all) of the housing discrimination foreign nationals encounter in Japan would also be legal in the US. Verify this for yourself by searching on “fair housing laws.”

      • anoninjapan

        “… In the Chicago suburbs I am familiar with..”

        Hey why not say in London, or Sydney, or Rome or….Oh wait…the debate is Japan. Duh..!!!

        Classic misdirection. If you can’t debate the issue, that being…discrimination in Japan, for the hard of reading.. then why misdirect to a totally unrelated debate?

        Oh wait…yeah…saves answering the question to begin with, ugh. Hopeless!

      • Gordon Graham

        The degree of discrimination in other countries is the barometer for assessing the degree of discrimination in Japan. How racist is Japan? Hard to compare Japan with Japan to gauge the severity of racism, especially when you are a foreigner. The measuring stick of our experiences in our own countries is how we view our experiences in other countries. I wonder as a Canadian why is it that First Nation Peoples of my country comprise 3% of the population yet make up 40% of the prison population. Whatever may or may not be written in the law books is irrelevant. How about the prison population in America? Does the law apply equally to blacks and whites? What is written in the hearts of white cops who shoot blacks at an alarming rate in America? The degree of racism in countries I’m familiar with is far greater than that of Japan…in my experience. That said, racism in any degree should be unacceptable. Even the racism in the articles of Mr.Arbuckle, that make sweeping generalisations about “The Japanese”.

      • anoninjapan

        Sorry beg to differ. Discrimination is not nationality/country definition.

        It is quiet simply to act on a difference between or a difference that distinguishes one from another.

        There is no “..in Canada”…or “..in the US”..etc etc. in the definition. Funny that!

        You can make up your own definitions to suit your myopic point of view, but it wont wash with those that prefer to use universally accepted definition of words and their meanings.

        What else would you like to redefine to suit your argument….left actually means right…or cheese actually means meat??

      • Gordon Graham

        I haven’t attempted to redefine racism in the least. I’ve clearly stated that it is unacceptable in any degree. In making sweeping condemning generalisations about “The Japanese” character for example.

      • anoninjapan

        The problem with such a position/view is that it must also be valid from both sides. Ergo:

        That accusation is an “act” that distinguishes “The foreigner” as being different from others,…not so funny that.

      • Gordon Graham

        Foreigner meaning not a citizen seems an acceptable definition to me . Foreigner meaning somehow inferior or superior or as having equal traits positive or negative en masse is unacceptable in my experience. I’m certainly against acts of racism from whomever. I’d prefer to be informed about such acts in detail when they occur so I know what I’m up against and where not to go etc. “The Japanese” are this and that is not helpful…in my opinion.

      • anoninjapan

        Hmmm…nice misdirection, again -yawn-, but missed.

        Being a citizen means nationality. Ergo discrimination based upon nationality.

      • Gordon Graham

        So forget that bit then…instead of using it to avoid the point.

      • anoninjapan

        So…what is it you’re trying to say then?

      • Gordon Graham

        Racism anywhere, bad
        Racism in Japan? Yes
        How bad? Not as bad as North America and Most of Europe
        Mr.Arbuckle’s racist articles not helpful

      • anoninjapan

        As noted before, your premise must work both ways to be valid.

        “..not as bad as….(take your pick)..”

        You cite Debito has hyperbolating examples of racism to the point of it being non-existent and purely “subjective” i.e. without basis or evidence. And now you are dong the same, but in reverse, citing it as not as bad as…..XX or YYY. ..your evidence is??? You can’t have it both ways.

        So, since you now acknowledge that racism in Japan exits, what do you think should be done about it?..or does your answer depend upon the “amount” of racism.?

        Since you appear to be saying it’s ok to shoot one person -because it is a small number – and thus excusable. But to shoot 1000 people, well, that’s plain criminal….neh!

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m for pointing it out and dealing with it. Like in the Otaru bathhouse case. That was pointed out and dealt with by the State (That was 15 years ago…what’s happening now?). Or the Urawa Reds case. That was pointed out and dealt with by the JFA. I’m pointing out the constant character attack on “The Japanese” en masse by a particular racist contributor to the JT.

      • anoninjapan

        You have not answered the question about where is YOUR evidence, as you are all too quick to seek such from others who proclaim the diametric opposite position to yours.

        As for pointing out by the state or the JFA…prevention is better than cure. So since this has now been raised, what measures are in place to prevent such incidents occurring again and what penalties are imposed to enforce such behaviour?

        Since that is the acid test…or are you saying that to shoot one person is acceptable, since the frequency is negligible?

      • Gordon Graham

        Evidence about what? Racism in other nations? In my country the First Nation Peoples make up 3% of the population yet 40% of the prison population. Don’t you think this reflects a disparity in the socio-economic/justice scale based on race? As for prevention, I believe punishment acts as a deterrent. What penalties? I believe a fine was levied in the Otaru case and a loss of gate in the Urawa case. In other words punishment should be issued accordingly on a case by case basis, the degree and nature of punishment depending on the crime. For a business that refuses to serve foreigners, hit them in the wallet. In the Ferguson, Missouri case I believe the white cop who killed an unarmed black youth who was on his knees with his hands in the air should be charged with murder. As for those who threw stones at children in Kyushu, they should be charged with aggravated assault and punished according to the law.

      • anoninjapan

        “…Evidence about what? Racism in other nations?
        ..”

        No, the debate is about Japan’s, as you raised this. So, please stay awake.

        “..Don’t you think this reflects a disparity in the socio-economic/justice scale based on race?..”

        No idea and not bothered…since the discussion is about racism in Japan, NOT another country.

        “…other words punishment should be issued accordingly on a case by case basis..”

        So if it were to occur again…what precedent is set in Law and penalties attributed accordingly?…or in your opinion a case by case is sufficient? In other words a law is not required?

        And of course…if the same occurred outside the football stadium…i.e. not subjected to FIFA…which is an international body not a Japanese body…what penalties then?

        “…For a business that refuses to serve foreigners, hit them in the wallet…”

        Ah ok. So you don’t think Laws to prevent such behaviour is necessary..(I see your true colours now)…just don’t frequent such places. Well..if they all behaved like that..where do you go then?

        “…In the Ferguson, Missouri case..”

        Yet again, misdirection. What on earth has Ferguson in the US got do do with this??…pluuuueaseee!!! Same tired old record of misdirection.

        “…As for those who threw stones at children in Kyushu, they should be charged with aggravated assault and punished according to the law….”

        And which Laws are these?

      • Gordon Graham

        Laws concerning aggravated assault. If I’m not mistaken the Otaru case was settled in a court of law. What penalties for a Japanese only sign outside of a business or stadium? None. What penalty against Mr.Arbuckles monthly attack on the character of “The Japanese”? The Ferguson, Missouri case is an example of the kind of racist act that deserves a murder charge. In answer to the appropriate penalty question. I’m sorry, I can’t think of any race motivated murders in Japan off the top of my head, to cite.

      • anoninjapan

        “…If I’m not mistaken the Otaru case was settled in a court of law….”

        Indeed it was. So is there a Law banning such signs now then?

        “..The Ferguson, Missouri case is an example..”

        Again, for the hard of reading, what has that got to do with Japan?

        “..I’m sorry, I can’t think of any race motivated murders in Japan off the top of my head, to cite..”

        No need to apologise. Just don’t dismiss such citations when others note them simply because you’re not aware of them or their frequency of being cited. Ignorance is no excuse.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m not familiar enough with the law to comment, only in as much as there is evidence that there is recourse for justice in cases of racial discrimination in Japan. Sign laws? How about print laws? Laws against monthly racial attacks on a nationality en masse? I’m against that kind of law. I prefer to know where people stand, so I know how close or far to stand from them. As for frequency…I think bringing up the same incident once a month over a 15 year period speaks more of the paucity of incidents than anything else.

      • anoninjapan

        “…I’m not familiar enough with the law to comment,…”

        So why cite them if you’re unfamiliar with them?

        “…How about print laws?..”

        Makes no difference whether printed/oral etc, a Law is a Law. Thus where are said Laws?

        “…as there is evidence that there is recourse for justice in cases of racial discrimination in Japan..”

        And what evidence is this?

      • Gordon Graham

        The Otaru bathhouse case in which the plaintiff was awarded a substantial sum by the State for being refused service on the basis of being a foreigner. I’m familiar with that which I cite. I’m not familiar with print or freedom of speech laws.

      • anoninjapan

        Oh…is that it. In 15 years..just that one?

        And is it a Law against racial discrimination that was used in favour of the plaintiff, or some other….?

      • anoninjapan

        So, if you’re familiar with that which you cite, can you refer to the Law(s) that were broken for the said plaintiff to receive such an award?

      • Gordon Graham

        The court determined a fine of ¥1 million for each plaintiff for what it deemed racial discrimination

      • anoninjapan

        I understand that. But since you are so familiar with that which you cite, I assumed you knew which Law was used for prosecution. But it appears you do not know.

      • Gordon Graham

        You’re right. I don’t know which law…or even if there is a law. I only know that the State determined racial discrimination as the reason for the penalty. I don’t know the laws of astro-physics either, but I know there’s been a man on the moon. And I know there’s legal recourse in this country for those who have been discriminated against on the basis of race.

      • anoninjapan

        Well, you cited that you’re familiar with things you cite and now you say you’re not familiar with it. Curious!

        Well, it didn’t take more than a few clicks to find the case and its ruling:

        “.. the Court ruled that the illegal activity was not racial discrimination per se, but “unrational discrimination”, i.e. “discriminating too much”, thus avoiding clear litmus tests for future lawsuits…”

        and goes on:

        “..Sapporo District Court also ruled that Otaru City was not liable for failing to pass laws against years of racial discrimination in its jurisdiction, as there is no law in specific which requires legal infrastructure to protect human rights.

        Thus there is no Law…in addition foreigners have no human rights in Japan.

        The ping pong is owing to your constant misdirections in a very poor and lame attempt to ignore the elephant in the room. Which is Ergo, the point of the article posted at the top of the page…and thus QED!

      • Gordon Graham

        You sound exactly like the animated gaijin in the picture above with the “end racism” sign looks…That was the most interesting of all your tedious posts. Thanks for the chuckle. Cheers!

      • anoninjapan

        I’m sorry to hear that you find racism amusing, most people do not. What a strange person you are.

        But considering your lack of knowledge on your own citations, the Law and so many other things which you are ignorant of and demonstrated so many times by endless misdirection rather than attempt to answer the question at hand and the endless predicable non-sequiturs ad nauseam it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

      • Gordon Graham

        You must be as bored as you are boring. Try a girlfriend or boyfriend perhaps. Or try looking up the specific law for “unrational discrimination” and while doing so try to ignore the de facto judgement against racial discrimination so you can drag out your tedium even longer. Here’s a tip for becoming less of a bore at parties…know when the conversation is over.

      • anoninjapan

        Oh dear…you cannot stop your endless sermonising. Same old tedious repetitive nonsense. Still what does one expect from one that finds racism amusing…

      • Gordon Graham

        What I find amusing is the disproportionate self-inflated sense of victimhood and the hypocritical racist response that follows. But, hey…you love Japan and want to remedy her. More like all your pseudo-intellectuall undergraduate 101 babble will get you back home is a $10 an hour customer service job. So you’re stuck here feeling resentful and begrudging people for recognising what a bore you are.

      • anoninjapan

        Aaahh, i see now, the last resort of those with no defence and nothing intelligent to say, very predictable (yawn) ad hominem rants as justification.

        So, you find racism amusing (very disturbing) and you’re also happy to call those you do not know racist (without any shred of evidence, again, disturbing) because you are incapable of understanding the logic of a simple argument. Way to go…

        I have no idea what 101 means…

        I’m afraid you come across as a very sad individual that is incapable of opening ones mind to a position that is different from yours, even more so when support by facts that you selective choose to ignore, owing to fear of being exposed as….well, take your pick. Your paranoia is immense!

        You find the ping-pong tedious, yet you cannot, simply cannot stop; you must have the last word to feel vindicated and righteous. You feel compelled to answer and rebuke any thoughts or questions, no matter how indirectly related and how small an accusation it is, against the façade that you live behind.

        I think you summed up your situation very well yourself:

        “…So you’re stuck here feeling resentful and begrudging people for recognising what a bore you are..”

      • Scott Reynolds

        I’m also a long-term resident of Japan, but I must say I find your claim of “widespread racial discrimination on a regular basis” to be pretty questionable. Could you provide some examples, please?

      • Steve Jackman

        I and other non-Japanese residents of Japan regularly face racial discrimination in employment, housing, dealings with the police, using Japan’s highly racist judicial system, police searches on the street (stop and frisk), and using all matters of Japanese businesses such as department stores (followed around by security guards), barber shops, restaurants and sports clubs (being hassled, followed and repeatedly bumped into). In short, constant and relentless racial discrimination exists in all walks of life.

        Then there is the physical violence, which foreign residents of Japan have to contend with. Have you not read about the Korean-American and African guys who were killed in Shinjuku, the Nepali restaurant worker who was killed in Osaka, or the foreign students in Kyushu who were pelted with eggs and stones over many months as they went back and forth from their school? These and other examples can be found easily by searching the archives of this newspaper and the website run by Dr. Arudou.

      • Scott Reynolds

        I do not claim that non-Japanese residents never have unpleasant experiences. What I question is your claim of “widespread racial discrimination on a regular basis.” In your response you broadened your scope to include not only you, but all non-Japanese residents of Japan. But what about individuals? Can you really claim that individual non-Japanese residents of Japan are encountering “frequent” racism on a “regular” basis? I don’t think so. Not if you’re honest.
        Frankly, I think that by overstating your case, as you tend to do in your comments on JT articles, you end up undermining your own credibility. I think that Debito does the same thing, BTW. Constantly accusing “the Japanese” of being irredeemable racists is not constructive.

      • Steve Jackman

        So, in your opinion, denying racial discrimination in Japan is more constructive? I think, not.

      • Scott Reynolds

        If you were more specific about what it is you are upset about, that might lead to something constructive. Who knows?
        But I am quite sure that exaggerated claims of widespread persecution are not useful. People who have no interest in promoting equality can just shrug them off, and people who actually do care about equality are left scratching their heads.

      • Steve Jackman

        Don’t try to trivialize the problem of racial discrimination in Japan by making it sound like I’m upset at something. Yes, I’m upset at racial discrimination in Japan the same way as black South Africans were upset at apartheid. Your comment is akin to if someone had asked them back then, “but, what are you really upset about?”

      • Scott Reynolds

        Your reply is an excellent example of just the sort of exaggeration I was talking about: racial discrimination in Japan is comparable to apartheid in South Africa? I don’t for a moment think you actually believe this. I’m forced to conclude that one of the following is true: a) You are engaging in your usual hyperbole, or b) This whole “outraged gaijin” routine of yours is just an act and you’re having a big laugh at everyone’s expense (including everyone who claims to agree with you).

      • Francesca Nakauchi

        There is deep racism in Japan, they were defeated in WW2 and shamed in the eyes of the world. Japan has no honor or pride. Their defeat is what makes them hateful and resentful towards other ethnic groups. I have no sympathy for subhumans like them. I’ve always thought that Japan is a alien country that does not belong to Planet Earth. It’s them “Japanese” and WE human beings.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I second that, and would like to add sexual harassment of foreign women by Japanese men, who very *specifically* chose foreign women to harass

      • Steve Jackman

        I agree and sorry for the oversight. My bad.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        They do? By far and away the largest group of foreigners in Japan are those with Chinese nationality (ROC and PRC). (Koreans and Filipinos are 2nd and 3rd in terms of numbers.) Any idea how those Japanese guys can identify those foreign (aka Chinese) women so they can harass them? I generally find it hard to differentiate between Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese unless they are speaking in Chinese or Korean. Perhaps the British model of equal opportunity harassment would be better? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10767784/UN-Britains-sexism-more-pervasive-than-any-other-country.html

      • blondein_tokyo

        Yes, certain types of men do specifically chose foreign women, for several reasons.

        1. Racism. They don’t identify with foreign women, have no empathy for their feelings, and don’t have any respect for them. They feel free to say things that they would not dare say to Japanese women.

        2. They target foreign women because they are more vulnerable. They know they can get away with the harassment because they count on them not being able to speak Japanese well enough to report them, being visitors and not knowing HOW to report them, or they harass women whom they know do not have visas because they know the women will not report them to the police because they would risk arrest and deportation.

        3. Some men have an image of foreign women as being more slutty/lose, so think it is perfectly okay to harass them, aka, they “deserve” it. There is a belief, for example, that blonde girls are all Eastern European or Russian, and that they are all either hostesses or some sort of sex worker.

        As for how they identify foreign women, either they recognize them by facial features, (hair, skin, eye color) the language they hear them speaking, their accent when they speak Japanese, or else because they already know they are foreigners. For example, many of the women who are on the JITCO program reported sexual harassment, as do women who work in hostess bars or do other types of (legal or illeagal) sex work.

        Them’s the facts. There are certain types of men who specifically, for various reasons, chose foreign women to harass.

      • 6810

        So, as usual, more generic platitudes about the “horrors” being committed against “we” gaijin. Mr Reynolds, I believe might have been interested in YOUR **actual** experience rather than a catalog of events pulled from the collective gaijin internet psyche.

        But, should some of “us” dare to disagree and say “but this has never happened to me or mine” then “we” are shouted down as inauthentic and/or apologists…

        The argument further extends that should this misguided “we” dare to speak to the actual scale and seriousness of discrimination/human rights/this week’s taken out of perspective fluff piece topic “we” are “corrected” by those loudly bellowing – “Your experience is not mine, it does not invalidate mine. Mine is true! You are a bad person for denying my rights!” Wait… what?

        And yet, “our” point was that “aww shucks, it’s a complex issue with many different people and other issues at stake, I just wanted to say my bit…”

        The true fun, games and shenanigans in all this is that articles such as this and the comments that follow simply fuel the ceaseless (but ultimately one sided) war between internet career warriors/temporary English teachers/deluded soul seekers/out of date colonial mindset heroes and those of “us” actually live here…

      • K T

        Your post seemed almost intelligent until your last paragraph. Why do so many expat snobs (like you) have it in for English teachers and the like? They are people too.
        I strongly believe that you cannot discount an opinion based on what job the person does, or their race, etc. But that is what you are doing.

        You were making an intelligent, fact-based argument, and then you just threw it all away! Pity that.

      • Gordon Graham

        African guys killed in Shinjuku? That’s turf not race…Would those foreign students in Kyushu be North Korean by any chance…You know, the country that is sending missiles over Japan and threatening them with nuclear annihilation, that’s fear not racism. The Napali restaurant owner is as random as the Peruvian who raped and dismembered a 7 year old Japanese girl.

      • Steve Jackman

        Try to read the news once in a while, so you can get a clue. No, none of the international students pelted with eggs and stones in Kyushu were from North Korea. Also, check out Debito’s website, since under the comments section to this article, a poster has compiled a list of ten most noteworthy foreigners murdered in Japan. No, these were not random murders.

      • Gordon Graham

        They were Japan killing foreigners

      • Professor Smith

        Dear Dr. Kinmonth, I am very surprised at your comment(s) questioning Dr. Arudou’s credentials with the scare quotes around “Doctor”.

        As you yourself got your Ph.D. in 1975, you should be aware that it is very unprofessional of you as an academic to question Dr. Arudou’s credentials in this manner. I should like to think that Taisho University would not think this was appropriate behavior for one of their (nontenured lecturers) either.

        I am sure that if you need to verify Dr. Arudou’s credentials, I can have his alma mater, Meiji Gakuin University and his dissertation committee members contact Taisho to do so.

        I would suggest you publicly retract these posts and apologize to Dr. Arudou immediately.

      • Francesca Nakauchi

        Japanese people are NOT white/western and will never be. They are yellow skinned and asian. They must accept themselves as they are. I’m disgusted at the countless whitening products they sell in this country. Japanese people got no pride in their racial heritage.

    • Really? Ken !

      Really Ken?
      I think Dr. Arudou has made many suggestions on how we as Japanese can move forward as a whole and as individuals who want to take a stand.
      Laws guarantee that those who are denied then have a leg to stand on in society. I know I’d like that for my Japanese – British children.

      It seems to me that you are in major denial, after all you have a whole website dedicated to this denial and take it one step further by bashing, threatening those who want to make a difference. Perhaps your time could be spent more productively by trying to come up with a single suggestion on how we might move forward?

    • Francesca Nakauchi

      Do “we” have accept yet another bigot in denial on this forum? For Japanese Society, Suicide is cultural and well accepted. Wouldn’t you commit suicide in order to prove your point? Please be my dear guest.

    • K T

      Some people, apparently not you, feel the process for making things better is to first identify a problem, then determine how best to fix it.
      In the real world, where most people live (apparently not you), the person who highlights the problem is not always the person who fixes the problem.
      This is a widely accepted, time honored process. I am surprised you have not heard of it before.
      But it seems that you don’t think Japan has a problem. And we all know it is difficult to help someone who won’t admit that a problem exists…

      • 6810

        So, exactly what are you doing about this “problem”?

      • K T

        Well, since you asked:
        1. I tried to fight stereotypes while living in Japan (Tokyo), and kept hitting the same attitudes. So I did a thorough analysis, and determined the the problems were too widespread, and attitudes too deeply entrenched for little old me to affect change.
        2. So I left Japan. I moved back to my home country.
        3. I ran a Japanese company here for over a decade, and now run my own company.
        4. I deal with a lot of Japanese clients – but I am not the underdog as I was in Japan – we are on equal footing in my country.
        5. Oh, yeah – my favorite part: I got so tired of hearing Japanese teens (& adults) saying ignorant things like “I hate Chinese”, or “I would never ride in a Korean car”, that I decided to boycott as many Japanese products as possible!!!
        HOW COOL IS THAT???

        I drive a non-Japanese car.
        My TV is not Japanese.
        My computer is a Lenovo.
        Before I buy a Japanese product, I check to see if a non-Japanese brand product is available. It usually is – so I consistently buy non-Japan brands.

        When I fly to Japan, I WILL NOT fly JAL or ANA. I always fly non Japanese airlines. (I got tired of their condescending comments. Even when flying business class or first class, the flight attendants would either not speak to me in Japanese, or if they spoke Japanese, they would not speak to me in the same keigo they used for Japanese passengers sitting near me).

        I WILL NOT use a Japanese travel company – like H.I.S. (remember the higher prices for non Japanese a few years back), JAL, JALPAK, etc. to book anything.

        I do deal with Japanese people often. But we interact as individuals. And, as I said, in my country, legally, we are equal (which is all I want).

        You see, Japanese people, institutions and laws treated me as “less than equal” for 7 years while I lived in Tokyo. Shame on them. But if I accept inadequate treatment and keep supporting the system that treats me this way, well, its like I am condoning / encouraging their treatment of me, and people like me. Its like I am saying “treat me badly, and I will still buy your products, support your institutionalized racism, and keep putting money in your pockets” i.e. “there are no consequences to your discriminatory actions”.

        So I voted with my feet and wallet, and continue to do so.

        What are you doing?

      • Steve Jackman

        I think you raise a really important point. We live in a world where the power of branding is extremely important. Consumers are much more well informed these days and they have many choices. I have felt for a long time now that Japan’s rising nationalisn and its racism and discrimination have been damaging brand-Japan.

        You are not the only person who I’ve heard say that they have boycotted Japanese brands and that they try to buy non-Japanese brands whenever possible. I think this is a growing trend as more people become aware in this information age about what brand-Japan stands for. They may have lived in Japan and were subjected to racial discrimination and xenophobia, they may be against Japan’s sexist attitudes, they may habe watched The Cove about the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, they may be against Japan’s whaling for “scientific purposes”, or one of many other possible reasons.

        Japan continues with these outdated and backward attitudes at its own peril, since it hurts Japan where it really matters, which is in the wallet.

      • Gordon Graham

        Yet Chinese continue to flock in droves to spend their neveau riches…Step off, guys. You’re no longer needed.

      • Steve Jackman

        Yeh, to buy European brands like Hermes, Gucci and LV. Get a clue, dude!

      • Gordon Graham

        That’s not what I saw of the busloads of Chinese tourists in Akihabara loaded up with Hitatchi, Panasonic and Sony boxes…Nor on the streets of Shanghai that were congested with Toyotas as far as the eye could see. I’ll take my clues from what I can actually see ,not what you hope.

      • Steve Jackman

        Again, try to read the news once in a while to get a clue. Toyota sales in China have been down on a year-over-year basis, while other car makers sales have increased.

      • Gordon Graham

        One would expect so after such a glut.

      • Wuppimon

        Excellent statement and I’m thinking the same way too (of leaving and NEVER buying their products). Good for you! I always say to myself if only the world knew what Japanese people were REALLY like (‘Japanese only’ etc etc) then they’d think twice before buying anything Japanese!

      • Gordon Graham

        Start with boycotting the Japan Times then take your whimper and coddle and pet it

      • Wuppimon

        It’s not a whimper, it’s a loud, strong statement!!!

      • Gordon Graham

        Loud is what Americans and Germans do best.

      • Manfred Deutschmann

        I also try my best to spread the world about the true character of the Japanese. We should also complain to companies like Apple who still use *some* parts manufactured by Japanese companies in their products. Granted, Japan will not recover from their economic problems anyway, but it is still helpful to speed up things so they can soon learn their lessons.

      • Gordon Graham

        Buy German, they’re not racist

      • Wuppimon

        And better quality and original!!!

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with any original German products.

      • 6810

        wait, what?

        “1. I tried to fight stereotypes while living in Japan (Tokyo), and kept
        hitting the same attitudes. So I did a thorough analysis, and determined
        the the problems were too widespread, and attitudes too deeply
        entrenched for little old me to affect change.”

        Generic. What stereotypes? Who were perpetuating them (aside from a nebulous, collective “the Japanese!” [exclamation point intentional])? What kind of stereotypes? In what contexts? What did you do exactly in these unending earnest “fights?”

        “2. So I left Japan. I moved back to my home country.”

        Just like Debito. I guess you win (./? [choose the punctuation that applies])

        “3. I ran a Japanese company here for over a decade, and now run my own company.”

        You. ***Ran***. A. Japanese. Company. That makes you a rather… dare I say, singular individual. I guess it is possible to say anything over the internet. By the way, for confidentiality’s sake, you need not mention the company… but what size/type/industry are we talking here? Did you have Japanese employees? Does this information (“Japanese Company”) really mean anything?

        “4. I deal with a lot of Japanese clients – but I am not the underdog as I was in Japan – we are on equal footing in my country. ”

        Some of the most successful people in the world have self-esteem issues. I don’t see how this goes anyway toward teaching “them” (ie – “the Japanese”) anything new.

        “5. Oh, yeah – my favorite part: I got so tired of hearing Japanese teens
        (& adults) saying ignorant things like “I hate Chinese”, or “I
        would never ride in a Korean car”, that I decided to boycott as many
        Japanese products as possible!!!
        HOW COOL IS THAT???”

        Don’t know why you got to meet so many teens in your life as a high flying corporate executive in Japan. I am a qualified and experienced teacher in my “home country” and can tell you that racist epithets are merely one of the standard colors that youth draw from their linguistic pallets to find their place in the world, bully and demean others.

        ps – my home country is one of the “civilized” ones which although with a history of “progressive” laws and other initiatives has failed to ameliorate the ongoing, pervasive and in my opinion worsening problems around race and culture.

        “I drive a non-Japanese car.
        My TV is not Japanese.
        My computer is a Lenovo.
        Before
        I buy a Japanese product, I check to see if a non-Japanese brand
        product is available. It usually is – so I consistently buy non-Japan
        brands.”

        Your personal consumer choices are your own. Evidence points to “voting with your wallet” as more of a placebo feel good effect than actually being an effective tool of activism.

        “When I fly to Japan, I WILL NOT fly JAL or ANA. I always fly non
        Japanese airlines. (I got tired of their condescending comments. Even
        when flying business class or first class, the flight attendants would
        either not speak to me in Japanese, or if they spoke Japanese, they
        would not speak to me in the same keigo they used for Japanese
        passengers sitting near me).”

        You must be a confrontational individual. On Japanese airlines and non-Japanese airlines travelling to or from Japan, Japanese staff have only *ever* spoken to me in either polite English or the keigo required for the conduct of their duties in order to receive a pay packet . That’s the thing about understanding Japanese as opposed to “understanding” it.

        If I had a problem due to quality of service, I would not hesitate to file a complaint through the correct channels and as in the past when I have done so (not in any way related to racism, mind) I have been treated with the highest levels of courtesy, received refunds and gifts of apology.

        “What are you doing?”

        Living my life well. Taking care of my family. Executing the duties of my employment to the highest standards of which I am capable. Making friends with the folk in my neighborhood. Listening over time and deepening relationships rather than expediently judging people. Twelve years and counting and racism… well, there was that drunk ojisan on the local train line in the middle of the day who wanted to talk war… and my wife’s aunt did compliment my ability to use chopsticks…

      • Gordon Graham

        One more step…

  • Earl Kinmonth

    Amusing that the good “doctor” should be fulminating over “Japanese only” signs while people in St. Louis, Missouri, are mourning the death of yet another unarmed young black man shot by cops. If Japan is “racist,” what terminology is left for the US?

    • Steve Jackman

      Tell me again the connection between racial discrimination in Japan and what happened in Missouri?

      By the way, Dr. Arudou is a citizen of Japan, not of Missouri, so it would make sense for him to address problems in his own country of Japan first and foremost.

      • JLunar

        He may still retain a Japanese citizenship but he lives/works in Honolulu three years now so the “Dr. Arudou is a citizen of Japan” is highly debatable.

    • Pat

      Perhaps to you racism is Japan is just a matter of discriminatory signs, but to Abubakar Awudu Suraj it was more.

  • Richard Solomon

    As Koreans are also considered to be ‘Asian,’ how would one categorize the discrimination which they have encountered in Japan? Even when there were 600,000+ of them who were and had been living in Japan for many years at the end of WW II the government decided not to allow them Japanese citizenship. This was done with the blessings of the American Occupation, by the way. So, the USA decided to sanction this ‘law’ with which Japan continued its colonial relationship with Koreans even after the Japanese had lost the war and adopted democracy.

    • Scott Reynolds

      I believe you are mistaken, and that the Japanese government revoked the Japanese nationality of Korean and Taiwanese residents of Japan after the occupation ended in 1952. I have also heard this act characterized as “illegal under international law,” but I don’t know the basis for this claim. In any case, it was certainly a dirty, rotten thing to do.

      • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

        Depends how you view it. In many people’s eyes, these people were “given” Japanese nationality against their will due to annexations and empire building.

        From Korea/Taiwan’s/etc point of view at the time, it wasn’t the Japanese Empire’s right to bestow Japanese nationality on these people, at birth or afterwards. Like territory/land that was taken by the Empire at that time, Japan had to “give back” these Chinese/Korean nationals in addition to territory acquired during the War by restoring the nationality of these people to what they should have had, even if they were not born with it, can’t speak the language, have never lived in the country, or did not want to leave Japan.

      • Scott Reynolds

        We are talking about people who were residents of Japan and suddenly had their Japanese nationality taken away, which required them to register as foreign residents, apply for visas, etc. Many (most?) of these people were long-term residents of Japan. Some sources I’ve read indicate that the majority had come to Japan before the war, in contrast to the common perception that they were mostly people forced to come to Japan to work against their will. Most of the forced workers left Japan soon after the war. The people I’m saying the Japanese government mistreated wanted to stay in Japan and continue their lives here.
        Another point is that Japan, then or now, cannot “restore” or otherwise confer on people another country’s citizenship. What happened was that immediately after the occupation ended (1952) the Japanese government unilaterally revoked the Japanese nationality of the Zainichi Koreans and Taiwanese.

      • saitamarama

        I think you both make fair arguments. However, I think that characterizing as a “Dirty, rotten thing” confers a sentiment that may not have been as present as historical revisionists make out to be. The Japanese Empire was a far more grey thing than most would care to care to admit. That’s not to say that there wasn’t unspeakable cruelty committed. I find it comparable to the French colonialization of Indochina – certainly weighted to benefit the powerful but not completely without benefit to those under it’s power. Witness how Taiwanese bear little of the resentment or bad blood that Korea and China do despite not being under a similar oppression.

    • Andrew

      Japan developed a Nazi-style Darwinian heirarchy of races in Asia to justify their colonial empire, similar also to the “white man’s burden”

    • Mark Makino

      Considered by whom? The borders between races are culturally defined. I don’t believe most Japanese or Koreans consider themselves to be of the same race.

  • K T

    A well worded, if long, article, by Debito Arudou.
    While many of you argue over;
    - Japan’s racial discrimination vs. that of other countries,
    - What good would laws in Japan outlawing racial discrimination do when discrimination against ethnic Koreans is not racial, therefore would not be covered?
    - and my favorite = “don’t even mention a problem, unless you also bring a palpable solution”

    For those of you who got lost in the fog, here is the solution:
    Whatever the problem – START with something. Then build on it.
    But while the boat sinks, don’t sit around and argue the pros & cons of plugging one hole over another. Start with the biggest, and continue from there.

    The fact is that Japan is behind all other developed nations in NOT protecting the human rights of non-Japanese. It is behind all other developed nations in NOT having laws against racial discrimination.

    Going forward:
    It is the tactic of people who want to shut down a conversation to question the credentials of people expressing their opinions. I honestly don’t care if someone has a PhD – I will judge them by their comments, not by their degree. Further, someone with a higher level of education is not more “correct” than me – or anyone else, for that matter – just because they have a degree.

    I think some of the expat community in Japan is confused about their place in the Universe (or Japan) – you don’t have basic human rights protection in your country of residence. The locals who may discriminate against you don’t care if you have a degree..

    I hope the more vocal members of the foreign community can put their insignificant differences aside, and cooperate towards a common goal – equal legal protection for all humans that will level the playing field, and bring Japan up to the level of other civilized nations.

    Thank you Debito Arudou for another thought provoking topic.

    • Scott Reynolds

      Thank you, KT, for neatly summarizing the issue:
      “The fact is that Japan is behind all other developed nations in NOT protecting the human rights of non-Japanese. It is behind all other developed nations in NOT having laws against racial discrimination.”

      I don’t think that this is a factual statement, but I do believe that many of those making comments believe it to be so. That is the root of the disagreement: one group thinks that Japan is basically on par with other developed nations, and one thinks it is way behind.

      • K T

        Scott – so you think other developed nations discriminate against people based on race? Can you give me ONE example? A real, top-tier country, mind you.
        You think any other developed nation denies foreigners and immigrants due process and basic human rights? Again, ONE example please.

        Japan IS unique in the way it denies human rights to non-citizens, and has no laws making racial discrimination illegal. This IS a factual statement.

        Again, the foreign community residing in Japan needs to speak with one voice on this issue – but they are too divided. Without pressure to change, Japan will have no motivation – and the status quo will prevail.

      • Scott Reynolds

        Do I think “other developed nations discriminate against people based on race”? No, and I do not think that Japan, as a nation, does this either. Do individuals and perhaps even some institutions in developed nations sometimes behave in racist ways? Yes, and I deplore such cases, wherever they may occur.

        As to denying foreigners and immigrants due process and basic human rights, yes, this does happen some times. Have you been paying attention to the coverage of the treatment of underage migrants from central America to the US recently? That’s just one example, but only one of many. I really do not think that Japan is uniquely culpable in this area.

        Japan “has no laws making racial discrimination illegal” you say, and yet people, such as Debito, have obtained redress through the courts in cases of racial discrimination. How can this be?

      • K T

        wow – you are either hard-headed, or thick – or both.
        1. Japanese institutions behave this way because Japanese laws allow them to do so. Therefore, their actions are in effect sanctioned by the government of Japan. And no, this is not the same as countless other countries.
        Discrimination by individuals exists everywhere. But I am not talking about individuals here – I am talking about policies – “foreigners can’t rent this apartment” that the Japanese government does nothing to stop.
        I can handle the occasional racist idiot. They exist in every country.
        2. You are like a guy who shoplifts – and gets caught. Your excuse/defense is that “the other people stole more”?
        In pressing you (and other apologists) on Japan, you inevitably bring up other countries, call them worse, therefore Japan is better, therefore there is no problem. I.e. shut up.
        But Japan is Japan. And bringing up events in other countries does not lessen Japan’s “guilt”.
        Like the shoplifter, you may have stolen less, but you still stole. Face the accusation. Don’t deflect. I don’t think anyone is calling Japan the worst place on the planet to live. I think they are all saying that with a little effort, Japan could be better.
        3. Debito fought long and hard for that judgement – which should not have happened at all. As for how it came to pass – ask Debito.

        I hope you can find it in your heart to open your eyes. Japan has a lot of good, but the bad is right there in plain sight, and should be handled through a few laws (the ones you say aren’t needed).

      • Scott Reynolds

        This will be my last reply to you, since you have descended to personal insult and comparing me to an unrepentant thief. I think your comments reflect far more poorly on you than on me.

        You insist over and over on generalizing anything bad that has happened to you in Japan or that involves a Japanese person to being the fault of “Japan” the country as a whole, but you do not seem to apply the same standard to bad behavior by individuals or organizations elsewhere.

        You clearly have some serious issues with Japan and the Japanese, and I doubt anything I or anyone else could say will change that.

      • K T

        I did not call you a thief. I do not know you. It was an example. It was intended to make you think. It did not work. You took it the wrong way.

        Wow – “foreigners cant rent this apartment” – you see that as the act of a single Japanese person? I see it as people discriminating because the law allows it. If the law were changed, their behavior would change. And I do apply the same standard across the board.
        Scroll up. A comment mentioned institutional racism. You asked if he had any personal examples of stuff that happened to him. I replied with specific, personal examples. And now you take this attitude? The acts I cited were my personal experiences. I do not blame “Japan, the country” for the racist idiots. But I do blame “Japan, the country” for not having laws that at least make people think twice before discriminating in business, housing, employment, etc.
        And BTW – There are a lot of nice Japanese people.

        You take my mild critique of some aspects of Japan as if I was insulting your mother (which I am not. In case you missed it – this, too is an example).

        BTW – I think your pouting and piss poor attitude reflect poorly on you as a gay man. You should never have to resort to ultimatums. You should also not bring other nations into the discussion when we are clearly talking about Japan.

        I am pleased that we were able to have an amicable exchange of ideas, even though we clearly disagree on some major issues.

        Have a wonderful day.

      • tisho

        I agree with your views, in fact i think the situation in Japan is even worse. But i do not agree with your understanding for the solution. First of all, if the apartment is private, then the owner has all the right to deny it to whomever he wishes to. He can be all racist as he wants, he owns the property and he can rent it to whoever he wants to, based on his own personal beliefs or reasons. I have not heard of public apartments being denied to foreigners, if there are such cases, then yes, that would be an institutionalized racism and discrimination. But i do not believe in forcing people to do anything, i think if someone wants to be racist and discriminate, then it’s his individual right to do so. You may try to help him get educated and change his believes through education/understanding, but not using force. Also, forcing him to ”not be racist” is not going to make him ”not racist”, it will only make him use other tactics to continue acting the way he beliefs, i.e. he is not going to deny you an apartment based on the reason that you are a foreigner, but he will come out with something else, in order to not get into trouble with the law.

        I believe allowing people to say what they want is the ultimate test on how racist and backwards a society is. The results are obviously to everybody.

      • Steve Jackman

        I don’t know where you’re coming from or what your motives are, but you are just plain wrong. Racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination in Japan are institutionalized, accepted and widespread in a way that they are not in any other developed country.

        You and a small army of other commenters always comes out comparing racist acts by individuals in other countries to the institutionalized and government sanctioned racial discrimination which is so common everywhere in Japan. You are comparing apples and oranges.

      • Steve Jackman

        “Have you been paying attention to the coverage of the treatment of underage migrants from central America to the US recently?”

        Wow, wow, hold on! You’re comparing the way America treats illegal immigrants who have no legal right to enter the U.S, to the way Japan treats its long-term foreign residents who are in Japan legally? You can’t be serious, are you?

        Secondly, please get your facts straight. Japan does not have laws to make racial discrimination illegal. Period.

      • Scott Reynolds

        The example you site was my response to KT’s request that I supply even ONE example where “other developed nations discriminate against people based on race.” The issue of the mistreatment of underage migrants from central America is currently in the news, so I mentioned it. I think I am not alone in thinking that race has a lot to do with how these kids are being treated, though you may disagree. In any case, I was not trying to claim that this matter is exactly equivalent to some particular thing that is happening in Japan.

        Since you made the comparison, though, I don’t think “the way Japan treats its long-term foreign residents” is anything like how the US warehouses underage migrants from central America. (And though they may be illegal immigrants, as you say, they are not without legal rights, and if they claim to be refugees fleeing violence and in fear of their lives they deserve to have their cases examined in accordance with the applicable procedures for processing persons claiming refugee status.)

        Finally, as we have seen with the famous Otaru Onsen and Anna Bortz cases, there is legal recourse available in Japan for victims of racial discrimination.

      • Gordon Graham

        America

      • Gordon Graham

        Canada

      • Steve Jackman

        If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years in Japan, it is that things are rarely what they seem. You and a small group of other commenters would like everyone to believe that there are two groups of foreigners in Japan, one which thinks that Japan lags far behind the rest of the developed world in addressing racial discrimination and the other which disagrees with this.

        However, I’m quite certain that the later group who disagrees that Japan has a serious racial discrimination problem is much smaller, but you guys are certainly vocal. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I’d venture a guess that this group is less than 10 percent of all foreign residents of Japan. I honestly don’t know what your motives are in denying the huge problems which racial discrimination causes Japan’s foreign residents, but I for one am extremely sceptical.

      • Scott Reynolds

        Just to clarify, I never said there was no racial discrimination in Japan (though as Professor Kinmonth points out, race per se may not be the main issue in many cases). Where I disagree with you is in the matter of degree. I think Japan is not so different from other advanced nations, on the whole. The specific cases of injustice you can point to may differ, of course. But it does not follow from this that Japan has “a serious racial discrimination problem” that is substantially worse than other nations.

        If you want to discuss specific instances and what should be done about them, fine. What I object to is the blanket condemnation.

    • Gordon Graham

      albeit the same article

  • iago

    “RD also psychologically wounds people to the point that it can feed illogical exceptionalism, denialism and perpetual victim status.

    It short-circuits the ability to run self-diagnostics and see the fundamental hypocrisy behind the idea that, for example, [the subjects] are perpetual victims of RD, but rarely, if ever, perpetrators of it…”
    Yes. Indeed.
    (Though I believe RD could equally stand for “Reading Debito.”)

  • MZ

    Some data would have been helpful. The article is just a rant in its current form, despite some relevant point.

  • Mark Flanigan

    Seems like this gent has a PhD in whinging, lol…living in Japan may not be perfect, but I’d be willing to bet that most of the world’s population would happily relocate there in a heartbeat, RD notwithstanding.

  • Steve Jackman

    That is only because one cannot make a legal case for damages against another party in Japan based on racial discrimination, since racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan. Got that?

  • Michieie

    There must be an pride issue in this whole thing, too. Being called out for racism and whaling and other stuff Japan does that the world doesn’t like certainly rubs them in the wrong way.

    • Steve Jackman

      You are absolutely right. The Japanese hate airing their dirty laundry in public and will do everything possible to sweep dirt under the rug, including using proxies to do so (as is evident from some of the comments here).

      • Michieie

        Pretty much every country has its dirty business and everyone else like to press on them just to piss one another; yet, Japan tries its best to keep the appearance and stuff and sometimes it’s pretty clear it doesn’t know how the world works and that any more problems and conflicts could be avoided if they at least aknowledge they screw up, too.

        In a sense, the world is 4chan in terms of messing with one another and Japan acts as a sort of summerf*g.

  • Pat

    To my eyes, bringing up the US here comes off a rather tacky attempt to obscure the struggles of individual immigrants to Japan, most of whom come from backgrounds poorer than the average Japanese person, in favor of a caricature of Debito shaking his fist at a few lone signs. Of course the US, UK and other liberal states are racist. Is that really up for debate?

    You go on say that you don’t condone police brutality, then attempt to deflect criticism of Japanese police brutality through relativist arguments for the rest of your comment. In effect you DO condone it by:

    - Arguing that it’s something that happens of its own accord, while neglecting to the examine the underlying power dynamics between majority-ethnic government officials and minority immigrants from less-developed countries.
    - Ignoring the more fundamental point that immigration detention centers are racialized places in which, by your own admission, authorities routinely abuse disfavored classes of people for the crime of living peacefully within a given geographical region.
    - Disregarding the fact that there are Japanese people of Yamato ethnicity who do recognize the discriminatory nature of the case and its relation to wider social problems (週刊『前進』06頁(2567号6面5)), instead dismissing it as a marginal “foreign” opinion. Although the family’s public statements should be taken into consideration, it seems bizarre to grant those statements a central position as social analysis.
    - Expecting that racism will in all instances boldly declare its name. This standard of proof obscures more than it reveals, which is likely why white supremacists in English-speaking are so apt to fall back on it. Opposition to the civil rights movement in the US, for example, often took the form of dismissive statements that Soviet Union was trying to rile up black people.

    Little about Japan is unique, certainly least of all its racism. But as one of the wealthiest and most populous countries in the world, it can surely do better.

    • Earl Kinmonth

      Most of your examples look to me like discrimination based on social class, not race.

      • Pat

        It’s almost like there’s some intersectionality between categories of race and class. Huh.

      • Steve Jackman

        That is an implicitly racist statement, since many Japanese like to think that foreigners in Japan belong to a lower class than they.

        I have observed such racist and xenophobic sentiments among many Japanese, who seem to think that the only reason foreigners come to Japan are economic (therefore, they must belong to a lower socio-economic class). In my opinion, this does not reflect poorly on the foreigners, but rather it sheds light on the sheer ignorance, insularity and arrogance of those who think this way.

  • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

    Where are you copy/pasting your snippets of the Japanese Constitution from? A traditional Chinese website? Those are not the characters that are used in the original.

  • Scott Reynolds

    Surely Japan is not the only advanced nation that periodically receives criticism from the UN? I hope the issues with the legal system are addressed, BTW. But being criticized by some UN body or another is hardly unusual or unique to Japan. Many countries have deficiencies pointed out in these reports, and sometimes steps are taken to correct the problem. That is the whole point of constructive criticism.

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  • Earl Kinmonth

    I know where he got his doctorate. I put it in quotes because I find it amusing that anyone should feel the need to advertise that they have a doctorate.

  • Roan Suda

    I have long said that there are two advantages to holding a Ph.D. or its
    equivalent: (1) it enables (or may enable) one to obtain a cushy academic job;
    (2) it allows one to make cynical remarks, with no appearance of sour grapes,
    about those who parade their degrees. As the years have gone by, I have come to put more emphasis on (2). When I heard that Arudou Debito was working on a doctorate, I correctly predicted that he would (1) make much of being “Dr.
    Arudou” and (2) be otherwise even more insufferable than ever.

    The latest Just Be Cause once again consists of rambling arguments and unproven assertions, hardly something that any self-respecting academic journal would publish. Arudou-san reveals just how ethnocentric he himself is by tacitly assuming that just because Americans are obsessed with skin color, so must be the Japanese, even if they are in denial. (Actually, even in the bad old days, Americans were inconsistent in that regard: It was not so much pigment as class and ethnic identification that counted.)

    Arudou-san has, it seems to me, two problems: (1) he is an incurable egomaniac, as anyone who has had even slight dealings with him can testify; (2) he hasn’t been around long enough to gain perspective. For one thing, he simply does not remember when, about the time he was born, racial discrimination in his homeland was still truly vicious, far worse than it was and is in Japan. Moreover, it was not confined to the much-maligned Deep South, and its victims were not only African-Americans. Japanese-Americans (I am not making this up) would call up a real estate agency in California and ask about a property in a lily-white neighborhood. “Oh, come on over and see it,” they would be told. And then on showing up, they would get first funny looks and then mumbled excuses: “Oh, too bad! We just sold it.” RD in one country certainly does not excuse the same in another country, but the goal is to get rid of it, not to exploit it endlessly for one’s own purposes. America’s Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are not civil rights leaders; they are race mongers. Japan does not need their ilk, and neither does the Japan Times.

    • 1derer

      The vast majority of PhDs are unable to succeed in academia, and those who do are finding it increasingly difficult to get on to the tenure-track or to even hold full-time positions.

  • http://www.helloyoga.com/ HelloYoga

    Question: is there any kind of education in Japanese schools about what racism is and what is/isn’t appropriate behavior for a harmonious global society?

    • Ron NJ

      Not really. Generally Japanese students learn about things that happened in America and the west – slavery in America and the civil rights movement, mostly, but at no point do they learn about racism in Japan (the oppression of the Ainu & Ryukyu people would be a good place to start, but no). They might, if they’re lucky, have the burakumin issue briefly mentioned as a sidepoint during one of the human rights lectures that are sporadically held throughout high school, but that’s as close as they get to anything that isn’t gender/age/disability discrimination.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Just another in a long line of public rants by some overly paranoid guy with a giant ego. Each column some combination of complain, refer to a past article, mention the onsen incident, make up a new word, complain some more. Zzzzzz.

    • qwerty

      ridiculous comment – guaranteed the usual thumbs up

      • Gordon Graham

        Actually, it IS pretty much the same article he always writes

  • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

    Interesting find, thanks. The technology to represent all the characters digitally in the original usually common tech is a relatively new development (it’s not possible to represent it faithfully with JIS X 0208, and even with Unicode, there are a few characters outside the BMP/Plane 0 for supporting JIS X 0213, which not all computers/browsers/phones/fonts can render).

  • HSSL

    As a West-European Caucasian, for the first time in my life I have the privilege to experience actual racism in Japan sometimes. I find it hilarious and strangely compelling.

    • Steve Jackman

      Racism in Japan affects foreigners of pretty much every race and background. That’s why some commenters here are wrong when they say that discrimination in Japan is more about socio-economic class and less about race.

  • Earl Kinmonth

    I don’t recall asking for your help.

    • K T

      But it is good – and we agree – that you need it. Good on you – admitting that you need help is the first (of many) steps.
      You obviously like Japan. That, in and of itself, is fine.
      But you seem to have bought into the Japanese mindset that rights are not a starting place, but rather, they have to be earned – which i find disturbing.

      If a Japanese person, in say, New York, did not speak adequate English, and was somehow taken advantage of, you would champion the victim, and scold the abuser.

      But when an English speaker, in say, Tokyo, exhibits similar behavior, and suffers in a similar way, your answer is scold the “ignorant English teacher” and tell them to learn Japanese.

      I hope you are able to see the double standard that defines your life in Japan.

      You are obviously not Japanese, but you want to be accepted into the group. So how hard do you have to work to continually earn your place?

      Many years back, a predominately african american high school band from the U.S. visited Japan. On their way out of the country, they stopped at Akihabara. Many dozens of the students shoplifted, and ran back to their buses. Needless to say, this caused an incident, and police arrived. After this, many Japanese people, judging all blacks by the actions of a few dozen, commented that “blacks are bad” using Japan’s group responsibility standard. Obviously, an entire race cannot be judged by the actions of a few. However, I doubt that you corrected Japanese people for their erroneous and racist attitudes.

      Currently, there are black people rioting and looting in Ferguson, MO, You decry how (white) America is handling it, and you hold this up as racist? I honestly cannot buy in to your double standard. You champion the majority’s right to set the rules however they like in Japan (this is Japan, adapt, do things the Japanese way, fit in!), but call a similar effort in the U.S. racist.

      If you buy into Japan’s group responsibility morals, then you will forever be judged by your racial group.

      You really should pick a methodology, and stick to it. At least then you would be consistent.

      I know you are busy in Japan – re-earning your place at the table on a daily basis must get very tiring.

      With deep respect to you and your situation, K T

      • Earl Kinmonth

        You are arguing with yourself or possibly confusing me with someone else. I have nowhere suggested that English teachers, ignorant or otherwise, should learn Japanese.

      • K T

        My bad – I apologize. I was thinking of Eido Inoue.
        But you essentially agree with everything else I said.

        I know you are intelligent – but be careful. Intelligence without compassion can be dangerous. You enjoy a coveted position as a published academic in Japan. You could use it to level the playing field, benefit the greater good – but will you?

        It is how we treat minorities, foreigners, and the people w/o voices in our society that defines us.

  • Testerty

    Racism in Japan is kind of ironic. The Japanese won’t mind been racially discriminated by Whites, but they felt racially superior to other Asians.

  • tiger

    i think the japanese people are entitled to run their country their own way. even if foreigners have to pay their government and not get anything back, they can go if they benefit from being in japan despite paying for it. japanese people are entitled to disrespect other nations or deny their own past sins, but other people are also entitled to hate them a little for it. they choose their destiny just like they chose Abe as their PM, and like foreigners choose whether to hate them or go to their land.

  • Thomas Ralph Nissen

    Shorter Debito: Not only does Japan have RD, the society is FUBAR.

  • Steve Jackman

    First, you insisted that discrimination in Japan is class-based and not race based, and now you are comparing Yellow Fever to the problems faced by foreign women in Japan. You are WRONG on both counts.

    You seem to have a basic lack of understanding of Yellow Fever. It is generally referred to in the West in the context of Western men who have a preference for Asian women in terms of dating or marraige. It does not mean that these Western men sexually harass, physically and emotionally abuse, inflict violence, rale or murder these women, as is often the case with Japanese men who are infatuated with foreign women.

    In contrast to the passive and romantic nature of Yellow Fever in the West, the problems often reported by foreign women in Japan have to do with encountering physical and sexual violence, harassment and abuse by Japanese men (not to mention, the high profile murders of foreign women by Japanese men). Does this make it clear enough for you that the problems encountered by foreign women in Japan are worlds apart from Yellow Fever?

    • Earl Kinmonth

      You are arguing with your own assertions, not with anything I have said. (1) “discrimination in Japan is class-based and not race based.” That is your assertion, not mine. I would say that a PORTION of what gaijin call racial discrimination is in fact class discrimination because many Japanese at the low end of the socio-economic scale experience the same thing. (2) Do a Google search on “stalking asian women.” You will find that “Asian fever” is NOT always “passive and romantic.” My Japanese women colleagues in Britain experienced harassment from Brit males. My wife reported harassment from Brit males. (3) Exactly how many “high profile murders of foreign women by Japanese men” can you document? I can think of only one high profile case involving a Japanese man. (The other high-profile case involved a Korean.) To be sure, Japan has its weirdos just as does any country, but I would like to see some hard evidence that foreign women are at greater risk in Japan than in their home countries. Just because harassment is played up in gaijin venues does not mean the problem is proportionately greater in say Tokyo than NYC. I have repeatedly raised the issue of safety with foreign women of various nationalities and ages. I have yet to find one who did not think that overall Japan in general and Tokyo in particular was a very safe environment for women. Do you have any hard evidence that a foreign woman in Japan has a higher probability of encountering harassment or sexual violence than she would in any major country? (Use the OECD members if you want a proxy for “major country.”)

      • Steve Jackman

        I suggest you read a couple of past articles and their comments sections in this newspaper to get a better understanding of the serious and widespread nature of problems faced by foreign women in Japan. The first article from 2013 is titled, “Japan: no safe country for foreign women”, and the second from 2014 is, “Harassers exploit Gaba’s ‘man-to-man’ lesson format”

        As blondein_tokyo said in the comment above, you are not interested in a sincere discussion, as evidenced by your use of red herrings and disingenuous arguments. Like blondein_tokyo, I don’t want to waste my time, so I’m done with you, too.

  • blondein_tokyo

    This reply is nonsensical and a red herring.

    You are not interested in sincere discussion, so we’re done here. It’s a waste of my time.

  • Gordon Graham

    Ho hum…different day, same article

    • Steve Jackman

      Ho hum…different day, same comment

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m sure we’ll be right back at it next month…I’m confident the sheer laziness of the unimaginative staff at the JT will readily accept the exact same article Mr.Arbuckle has been submitting for the past 15 years. I look forward to another reference to the Otaru bathhouse incident.

      • J.P. Bunny

        Shouldn’t be long as most of his paranoid rants usually refer to Otaru or several of his previous paranoid articles.

      • Gordon Graham

        Makes you wonder about the paucity of examples when he keeps on regurgitating ones from the past…

  • Tharaka Namal

    The thing is that most Japanese think they are above (superior) to those of the rest of the world . We (humans) in general are all racists which proves that they (Japanese) are just mere mortals just like the rest of us . At lease they haven’t started a Japanese KKK . Oh i forget they do have the national party don’t they ?