Author Sono calls for racial segregation in op-ed piece

by and

Staff Writers

A prominent Japanese author and columnist who advised the government has called for Japan to adopt a system to force immigrant workers to live in separate zones based on race.

In a regular column published in the Feb. 11 edition of the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun, Ayako Sono said immigrants, especially those providing elderly care, would ease the difficulties in Japan’s nursing sector.

She also said that, while it was fine for people of all races to work, do research, and socialize with each other, they should also live apart from each other. “Since learning about the situation in South Africa 20 or 30 years ago, I’ve come to think that whites, Asians, and blacks should live separately,” Sono wrote.

Sono, who was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to an education reform panel in 2013, cited an unspecified whites-only apartment complex in Johannesburg that black South Africans moved into after apartheid ended. She said there was a problem because black people tended to bring large families into small apartments.

“Black people basically have a philosophy of large families. Therefore, they would bring their families into the apartment they bought. For whites and Asians, it was common sense for a couple and two children to live in one complex. But blacks ended up having 20 to 30 family members living there,” she wrote.

Sono went on to say that with so many people in such a small space, the water quickly ran out and the white people were forced to leave.”People can work, research, and socialize together. But only in terms of residence should they be separated,” she concluded.

At the same time, a system has to be made to respect their legal identity as immigrants, she said, adding that “making people who are dispatched to Japan for work honor a contract with acceptable conditions is not inhuman.”

Sono’s comments sparked outrage, including on Twitter, where many called them distasteful and shameful, not to mention racist. The Japan Times reached Sono by phone Thursday, but she refused to be quoted for this story.

The Sankei Shimbun, meanwhile, defended its decision to run the piece. “This is a regular column of Ayako Sono,” a spokesman for the daily said. “We carried it . . . as her own opinion. We believe it’s natural that various opinions exist.”

Sono, long an advocate for various conservative causes, has extensive connections to Japanese and international conservative and right-wing politicians. In 2000, she welcomed into her home ex-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who fled the country during a corruption scandal. Fujimori was later impeached, and in 2009 was convicted of human rights violations and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

More recently, Sono got into trouble over an August 2013 weekly magazine article in which she lambasted women who insisted on keeping their jobs after childbirth and urged them to stay home and raise their children instead of dropping them off at day care centers.

Those remarks came about six months after Abe appointed her to an education reform panel, and despite government pledges to increase the number of women in leadership positions to 30 percent by 2020.

On Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Sono was no longer a member of the education reform panel, and had resigned at the end of October 2013. He declined to comment on her remarks.

This story was corrected on Feb. 13, 2015. The original story erroneously stated that Ayako Sono currently advises the government. She only did so as a member of an education reform panel in 2013.

  • Hendrix

    Disgusting, absolutely disgusting woman

  • Ron NJ

    Prime minister-appointed advisors on education reform making comments like this? You couldn’t make this sort of stuff up if you tried, and the worst part is that it’s not even all that surprising – depressing, sure, but not surprising in the slightest in a country where so many of us are already discriminated based on race in our everyday lives, f.e. in securing housing or employment, even in cases where the (scant few) laws should protect us.

  • Btd

    So it’s natural that many opinions be expressed…. My opinion is the lady has some nuts and bolts lose…… Maybe we could heard people like her together and make em live separately from our society….

  • Wayne

    Can you believe the stupidity of this woman?

  • GBR48

    So whilst the rest of the civilised world was condemning apartheid, Sono decided that she rather liked it, and now wants to bring it back. And she is a Govt. appointment on an education panel?

    It’s difficult to think of many ways that could trash the Japanese government’s reputation internationally more effectively than this. It’s one thing for a right-wing govt. to promote right wingers, they all do, but they usually do a bit of due diligence first to check that they aren’t going to embarrass those who appoint them quite this much.

    You get used to bits of the 1970s cropping up in Japan every now and again – family restaurants and trains that allow smoking, guys with performing monkeys dressed like people – but waking up to a call to reintroduce apartheid tops most of them.

    I guess JR East need to start planning a new station: Shin-Soweto.

  • doninjapan

    I rather pity her, as I think it’s quite obvious that she’s suffering from some sort of dementia.

  • Toolonggone

    I put this woman on dishonor roll for her preaching right-wing hypocrisy. Tolerating racial segregation inside while denouncing its system outside is typical behavior among those who promote national deform narrative under the Abe regime.

  • Oliver Mackie

    Oh calm down. Stop getting riled up by some senile old idiot the possibility of whose ideas getting adopted is lower than that of Hillary Clinton getting elected……………….the next Prime Minister of Japan.
    The fact that she was appointed to some team of ‘advisers’ means nothing other than she was in the queue of ‘academics’ and ‘experts’ who rotate into and out of such panels as a ‘reward’ for climbing the ladder. The policy has already been decided and no-one in power is going to pay any attention to anyone on the panel anyway. This is just your friendly neighbo(u)rhood media trying to stir up some feelings among readers to initiate a ‘discussion.’

  • neville searchwell

    i think this women is a old fossil and has no buisness in politics ,any appointment from the goverment will reflect on the nation. when black people stop buying japanese goods cause they think japanese people are racist, so they dont want to spend money to grow their economy. it would be a terrible blow, goverment and public need to shout her down i have 3 kids in school and they suffer enough from bullies with out it becoming a ignorant sanction , nazism is what her tongue really says ,seperation due to the colour of our skin so sad .i wish she could be black for a day,a week a month and get a real experiance of her own ignorance.its 2015 do we really want to turn the clock back to ignorant times i like japan i like japanese people , its she who needs to be seperated from the public

  • Joe Kurosu, M.D.

    Wow! I suppose she envisions neatly cordoned off areas with gates (locked, of course!), adorned with her version of 「働けば自由になる」…

  • Brian Southwick

    Japan for the Japanese.

  • Dan Knighton

    Can the whites get Shibuya?

  • TeaTown Cowboy

    Former Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara would be so proud of you, Ms. Sono. The rest of us think you are weak and have more fear than love, thus your misguided, racist comments. For those of us who are part Japanese, we especially take offense and also realize that one’s skin tone or culture or other thing which separates people does not determine whether a person is good or bad.

    I would LOVE to live separate from people like you, Ms. Sono!

  • George T. Sipos

    One must wonder to what extent this woman is not simply making herself the public voice of views expressed and circulated on a regular basis within certain circles of the LDP…

  • Tim Groves

    We don’t really need to read the national press to obtain opinions of this caliber. We can usually get them first hand at the local izakaya after the first couple of beers have gone down.

  • simplyshiny

    I’m curious as to what she THINKS happened in South Africa 30 years ago….also where is this “20-30 black people in one family” thing coming from?

  • shanchan

    So what about mixed race couples and interracial families? What does she propose for that? A forced system of divorce? Will the families have to live apart? Will they then bar interracial unions? Clearly this is someone who is very intelligent, and has given this much thought.

    If they have any sense they’ll remove her as an adviser. She’ll just shame the government more…who knows, that might be what’s best.

  • Perry Constantine

    I’d say that Abe should demand this racist bitch’s resignation, but we all know that he probably shares her beliefs.

  • ジョンソン ステイシー

    I bet my unmarried and childless self would melt her brain then. Lol!

  • Teo

    A woman in a critical age + being Japanese. This explains a lot…

  • Vance

    This article isn’t even worthy of comment. Can we just transport her back in time 200 years in Japan so she could be grouped together as a man’s property, with less status than that of a dog?

  • Seth Goss

    Just the latest iteration of that deep-rooted right-wing sentiment that many of Japan’s social ills can be traced back to the arrival of the foreigners…

  • JSS00

    Abe’s “Beautiful Japan”.

  • Rebane

    If I am not misinformed, she is CHRISTIAN. What would the Church possibly say about her intolerance?

  • Jamie Paquin

    Stunning – particularly the use of apartheid South Africa as a model!

  • Kirt Seth Cathey

    Jihad! lol… punch her when you see her.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I can see the movie title now…”Dejima II : The Cleansing”

  • Bogs_Dollocks

    Naive and insular.

    I wonder if she have ever ventured outside of Japan.

  • gpiper

    Maybe Japanese should be cordoned off in camps for their own protection while the rest of us are given the run of the country.

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    I’m just DYING to meet her! Just give me 5 minutes with her, I’ll sort her out.

  • Justin Sawchuk

    Finally a women that makes sense.

  • Chris Clancy

    Time and time again…ass-backwards!

  • Autumn Fae

    I am not surprised about her comments , especially from her generation. I have a student around her age who complained about Obama marrying a dark skinned Black woman. She also thought that Michelle Obama was not smart enough to go to a good university because she had dark skin. Those comments were the tip of the iceberg but I have met people like that bitch Sono. THey look down on everyone.

  • exit11

    Good idea let the Yamato inbreed themselves to extinction

  • GreatBong

    This is the most fascinating pro-immigration piece I have ever read.

  • Marubobo

    Not only her, we’d have to remove.
    I’m for a petitition to remove all Japanese politicians and exchange them to foreigners.

  • Swim Bike-Run

    Let robots change her diapers when she goes into elderly care.

  • BB

    an extremist is always out of the line. she is not an exception.

  • arrotoxieta

    Japan is still vastly overpopulated to have an open-door immigration.
    Besides, there is basically no welfare accessible to foreigners. The country is approaching financial bankruptcy so there will be no welfare for foreigners in the future as well. Besides, the era of mass immigration is getting to a close everywhere, and its effects are far from being particularly positive (see Europe), it would be silly for the Japanese to embark in such self-defeating policy.

  • Henry Stradford

    She’s an ignorant bigot!

  • Raansu

    Apparently I went back in time to 1920….

  • Autumn Fae

    This is why people from her generation and older easily sided with the Nazis. They see themselves as superior to all races except Whites… I have had people from her generation tell me how they would never want other Asians or Blacks to come into their country but Whites were okay for them to “mix their blood with.” You think this is shocking? Pfft, I have met so many people like her in Japan.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Yokosu Japan. Come here and do your work, then get out of our sight until it’s time to work again. Should put that woman in a museum somewhere.

  • taitai

    I’m Japanese and Most Japanese are astonished and appalled at Ayako Sono.She is a a great novelist but She sometimes puts the cart before the horse so Some Japanese think she is a bit of an eccentric but We didn’t think she expresses such a racist view at all.

  • Vlad Poliakovsky

    With all my respect, particularly enjoy all the westerners in the comments saying smt along the lines of, let us rule Japan, send the Japanese politicians to the remote islands, can we get Tokyo and such. This attitude is the exact reason why so many Japanese people are scared of the mass immigration. The deeply rooted feeling of being right which a lot of western people have a proclivity to, is actually as racist.

  • John R. Yamamoto-Wilson

    > On Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Sono was no longer a member of the education reform panel, and had resigned at the end of October 2013.


  • Zizal

    Good,no need for the gaymerican cancer to spread into the east.

  • tisho

    This kind of thinking is created from the belief that one is superior to others. That women simply believes Japanese people are better and superior to others and therefore others are not equal and should be treated as such. She doesn’t even consider Japanese to fall into the same category as all the other Asian people. How delusional. I wonder who exactly what to come to Japan ? Maybe instead of debating on allowing immigrants and treating them like inferior dogs, they should debate how to actually make other people want to come to their country. There are just so many people in Japan that believe they are better than others, even thought they wouldn’t show it. The whole attitude of arrogance is just that. The believe that one is better than somebody else. These people are so delusional and detached from reality it’s just scary isn’t it. But the roots of all comes from their educational system and governance.

  • WeebM@STERilan

    Zyklon Ben”Burnin gooks by day, lynchin spooks by night” Garrison approves this idea

  • Gotterdamm

    A nation is a nation because of its people. The will of the people have the ultimate authority in how the destiny of their nation unfolds.

    If the Japanese say no to immigration and want to keep Japan a nation of Japanese, then that’s for them to decide.

    In the west, our ethics and values come from different sources – the Greeks, the Romans, God, The Enlightenment. In the Far East, the origins of morality come from far different sources. Do not label someone as “xenophobic” because they have a different view of immigration and multi-culturalism than you. You can advocate mass immigration in the West as much as you want, but you have no place to decide how Japan should determine her fate.

    Living in a foreign country is a privilege, not a right. To think that westerners should impose their world view on the Japanese is the height of hubris.

  • Piro Ichiro

    When, like in Western Europe, 30% of the population in Japan will be non-Japanese, will you still call this country “Japan”? Or will it be yet another globish USA avatar?

  • leconfidant

    Maybe the government could create special zones just for racists.

    Suits me.

  • Joe

    We can’t blame Sono for this… Because most foreigners in Japan shows a treat to their culture and society…

  • Gerardo Gallo

    probably the two Japanese deaths are still not enough to make it clear to the Japanese people that many people outside Japan have a culture (or a way of behaving) like animal cultures. Just think that many ISIS activists are resident in Britain, France, etc. People (but in this case, animals) that have never adapted to the culture that housed them. I do not say that Japanese culture is a superior culture, but at least is a different culture. I don’t say japanese is A+ and arab, negger,indian, are B-. I say that If you take a taxi in Egypt or in the US, you must give the tip. But not in Japan. I am only saying that the Japanese culture is too different from many countries. and as with all things, there is the need of a period of “acclimatization” to live without problems. Can you imagen an arab inside a Maid Cafe? but the problem can come in the future, when newcomers can oppose Japanese traditions, in Japan. Exactly wath happens now in Britain, France, Italy, etc. Countries that have accepted wild immigration without providing an adequate program of “acclimatization”. Japan, wake up! do not be fooled. Defend your culture ! Even when “Others” say “it’s racism”. Because, in truth, the “Others” are just jealous

  • Perry Dace

    As a South African-born resident of Japan I was horrified to read this. apartheid was our country’s greatest shame; an inhuman system that required torture and brutality on a huge scale to uphold and scorned every notion of democracy. Dear Japanese people, do not listen to this awful idea.

  • Even Ørjasæter

    So apartheid is a good thing… Now I’ve heard that too…

  • Gerardo Gallo

    i am for Ms Sono. Prevention better than cure. Today, The result of a bad prevention ( or “Inadequate training” of new immigrants ) can be observed in many european cities, …riots, violence… Japan, Wake Up!

  • Oliver Mackie

    Wow, that was clever. You managed to smoothly incorporate an adage. [Ignore the the fact that it a questionable one, it sounds SO poetic.] So, it being a ‘crack’ (as if the fact that it’s humo(u)r doesn’t make it any more smug) makes it o.k. to assert something as blatantly ethnocentric as that, because public discourse in another democracy doesn’t function exactly the way it does in your country of birth means that it’s narrow? The fact that this has been espoused by others before proves nothing other than that there have been NJ who have failed to understand Japan throughout it’s existence, just as there have been those who have have managed to. To paraphrase Edward T.Hall, the fact that you find some behavio(u)r in another culture to be ‘childish’ is about as sure a sign as there is that you have failed to understand it in context.

    Racism doesn’t have to be as blunt and simple as ‘I hate foreigners’ to still be racism. In fact, the type which is ostensibly ‘intellectual’ is even more dangerous, as its proponents deceive themselves into thinking that they are being intellectually rigo(u)ous, when they are not, and some who listen to them fall for the sheep’s clothing.

  • Jiru Ryōichi Cazzano Kawasumi

    I am launching a quick post here regarding my own familystory. I am Italo-Japanese. Mother is from Italy, father from Japan. I do not look Japanese in particular in contrary to my brother but I have never felt a desire to wish i could change one country for the “complete bloodness” of Japan or Italy.

    Now, I am not naive, I know there are people in both countries who would see me as “not genuine” but you know what, it doesnt offend me.

    To me, the comment of Sono appears strange, abit scary and to me sounds like something of “personal desire” rather than something that would help a nation.

  • NoneOfYourBusiness

    It’s opinions like hers that made me rethink my plan of going to Japan to visit my relatives in Kyoto. In my family’s case, I’m the one who’s of Japanese descent (Dad came from Kyoto in 1956 to Canada; my mother was a Japanese-Canadian). I married an Irish girl.

    I wonder what that woman’d think of my Japanese/Irish-Canadian children?
    And the oldest one plays hockey. Probably think that they’d be some unique specimen to lock up in a zoo.
    Bakayaro kichigai bakemono-oba.