South African ambassador slams Sankei op-ed by Sono praising apartheid

Kyodo, Staff Report

South Africa’s ambassador to Japan has sent a letter of protest to the Sankei Shimbun over a column by prominent author Ayako Sono praising the racial segregation of apartheid as a model for Japanese immigration policy, according to the daily’s publisher.

Sankei Shimbun Co. said that Ambassador Mohau Pheko took aim at the column published in the newspaper’s Wednesday editions, in which Sono wrote that it is better for people of different races to live separately, just as they did under South Africa’s former policy of racial segregation.

In the letter, received Saturday, Pheko was quoted as calling apartheid a crime against humanity that cannot be justified in the 21st century, adding discrimination on the basis of skin color is unacceptable in any country.

Sono, who had served on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s education reform panel in 2013, wrote in her column that, based on her knowledge of the situation in South Africa 20 to 30 years ago, she came to believe that whites, Asians and blacks should live separately.

She made the argument while discussing the need for Japan to accept more immigrants, particularly to care for the increasing elderly population — on condition that immigrants live separately from Japanese.

“Humans can do everything together from business, research to sports. But it is better to separate living quarters,” Sono wrote.

Sono, who has long been an advocate for various conservative causes, has extensive connections to Japanese and international conservative politicians.

Her comments sparked outrage, including on Twitter, where many called them distasteful and shameful, not to mention racist.

Takeshi Kobayashi, an executive of the newspaper, said in a statement Saturday that Sono’s column only reflected her personal view. He said the Sankei has always upheld the position that racial and all other forms of discrimination are intolerable, including apartheid.

The Sankei had earlier 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,” the spokesman said.

  • Nic

    Ambassador Pheko is a woman… at least do some rudimentary research before publishing articles (rightfully) condemning ignorance on the part of others.

  • Charles Burns

    So immigrants are good enough to come here and take are of your elderly population (which is growing day by day) as long as they return to their cage at the end of the day? This people/culture is a total joke.

  • Douglas

    A bit of an over reaction, its just one persons opinion and she’s entitled to express it.

  • Dipak Bose

    Japan has never signed the UN declaration to abolish racial discrimination. Thus, officially Japan is a racist country as it was always. This is particularly true about the Meiji Japan which had declared that Japanese are European unfortunately born in Asia.
    That is also true about Chinese even Sun Yat Sen, who used to live in Nagasaki, financed by Japan and wrote that the White and Yellow are the only civilized people and all others are barbarians. Other Chinese are much worse.

  • tisho

    That’s good but why sent the letter to Sankei ? They should’ve sent the letter to the government of Japan, in particular to Abe, he is the one that appointed that women.

  • Testerty

    Everybody knows Japanese are the most racist people in the world.

  • James

    “adding discrimination on the basis of skin color” What is Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment?

    “apartheid a crime against humanity” Brought to the UN by Russia who did not even have a democracy and backed by China who still has no democracy. Its like the pot calling the kettle black.

  • etchasketch

    While inflammatory I wouldn’t judge the rest of Japan and its people based on this article.

    That’s akin to condemning America for every article on Breitbart or the Drudge Report. (or whenever Sarah Palin opens her mouth)

  • HKskill

    So shall we also made Japanese to stay in the forest when they arrive in our countries? Chinese made them to live in the forest around Guilin only, America create a home close to Mexico around Texas? So poor thinking in 2015, I’m really sure she will prefer to be white.

  • Tangerine 18

    “Just one person’s opinion”.

    What a strange and inaccurate comment. Ms. Sono has been in the vanguard of ultra-nationalism in Japan for many years now. She was the leader of Nippon Foundation, the “philanthropic” organisation founded by fascist war-profiteer Ryoichi Sasakawa from 1996 to 2005. She was nominated to the board of Japan Post Holdings Co by former LDP bigwig Shizuka Kamei, who was a strong supporter of Shintaro Ishihara, and who also acknowledged receiving money from yakuza-linked loan sharks. She sheltered convicted murderer Alberto Fujimori in her house in Tokyo while he was on the run from Peru. Add to all that her role as advisor to the historical revisionist Shinzo Abe and her comments in the nationalist Sankei Shimbun should come as no surprise to anyone.

  • Chris Clancy

    Sure. I wonder how many foreigners the Sankei employs.

  • Gordon Graham

    I assume you are also addressing your comment to the people who have chimed in with the likes of “the Japanese are the most racist people” or “this people/culture is a total joke”…I’ve given you a thumbs up on your contribution. Cheers!

  • sdfqef

    Coming from a Japanese politician…doesn’t even surprise me anymore.