Fuji TV removes blackface segment after outcry

by

Staff Writer

Anti-racist campaigners are celebrating a decision by Fuji TV to remove from a weekly music show a segment that purportedly showed performers sporting blackface makeup.

The broadcaster’s decision represents a “victory” for people who had petitioned for a rethink of the Saturday edition of”Music Fair,” said Baye McNeil, an African-American author and blogger in Japan who spearheaded the campaign over the past two weeks.

“(The decision) was very gratifying,” said McNeil, who is also a contributor to The Japan Times.

“But at the same time, I would still like to know exactly why they didn’t (air the segment). I imagine the petition had at least been some kind of factor, but I don’t know how much of a factor it played” in Fuji canceling the segment.

A heated debate over racism broke out across the Twittersphere last month when a picture went viral that showed members of the doo-wop-inspired group Rats & Star and idol group Momoiro Clover Z wearing blackface backstage during the filming of the show.

The image, posted by Rats & Star member Yoshio Sato, was posted with a comment by the singer: “We collaborated with Momokuro (short for the idol band’s name) in blackface during the shooting the other day. . . . Look forward to our performance on March 7.”

But the version of “Music Fair” broadcast Saturday contained no footage of anyone wearing blackface. Furthermore, a note appeared at the top of the screen explaining that the show had been “partially edited,” although it didn’t elaborate on what exactly was changed. McNeil also said the TV broadcaster never responded to his campaign.

Fuji TV on Monday acknowledged in a statement it had planned to air the performance but canceled it based on a “comprehensive judgment.” The broadcaster didn’t say if McNeil’s petition influenced its decision.

When the controversy first erupted on social media, the blackface picture was largely decried as evidence of Japan’s insensitivity to racism. Defenders of the image, meanwhile, said the racism likely wasn’t intentional and that it was probably a gesture by the singers to show admiration for black culture.

“I really do believe that their intention is to pay homage to black people and black music. But I think blackface is a horribly inappropriate way to do it,” McNeil said.

“Once you’re made aware of (what blackface means), you should adjust accordingly, especially if you’re going to be a part of the global community. I mean, with the 2020 Olympics coming up, the whole world is coming to Japan,” he said.

In his online campaign, McNeil described blackface minstrels as an “affront” to many African-Americans whose “parents and grandparents had to suffer the denigration and indignities of (the) Jim Crow (racial segregation law) and ‘blackface’d entertainment,’ ” slamming the practice as a “painful and shameful chapter” of history.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    So in Japan blackface is a way in which Japanese entertainers show admiration for African singers, and in America it is a racist derogatory act. But we are in Japan, so why should the American interpretation prevail over the Japanese one? If it was the other way around do you think that the U.S. cable networks would be cancelling an aspect of US entertainment because they want to avoid causing offense in Japan or to Japanese people living in the US? Of course not – it would be laughable to suggest otherwise. This is cultural imperialism. Fuji TV should tell the hyper-sensitive fools who are “offended” where to stick it.

    • Hendrix

      One of the most muddled ignorant statements i have ever read, were you paid to spout this nonsense?

      • Nick

        That isn’t muddled or ignorant and he makes some good points. The history of blackface in the US is totally different, tied with a history of theatrical denigration. That’s why it’s offensive–not because there is something inherently offensive about putting black make up on. By acting as such, we lose sight of the sins that got us here, whitewashing our history and the act of blackfacing. Moreover, consider that in Japan they have no such legacy. The act has a totally different meaning.. It isn’t meant as an act of hate or denigration, and the motivation of an act should determine its interpretation. Basically, this is something 19th century Americans did as part of a cultural program denigrating and ultimately oppressing black Americans. Leave the Japanese out of this.

      • Politically Incorrect

        Agreed.

        BTW, I continue to be puzzled at the use of the term “African-American”.
        It’s absolutely remarkable that a percentage of the black American population spends so much time constantly illustrating their continued and arguable disenfranchised from our society, while simultaneously trying so hard to distinguish themselves as a different and separate class from the rest…

      • Jeffrey

        Like negro, I think you’d find that the designation African-American and Asian-American have their roots either in cultural anthropology or sociology and that historically neither cultural/ethnic identifiers was created by the groups themselves. It’s not dissimilar to Occidental/Oriental. Asian as well is a Western academic term.

        None of this has anything to do with a “class” of people.

      • Hendrix

        No he didnt make any good points ..he mentions ” ..but we are in Japan…” .. well Japan is in the world so get in line with the world… also he mentions ” cultural imperialism” thats a projection, the japanese always employ cultural imperialism or cultural superiority on an almost daily basis….so no i wont leave Japan out of this.

      • Nick

        The hell are you talking about? Yes, Japan is in the world but the world is not America. The Japanese have a different cultural history, often imbuing symbols with different meanings. Stop judging the Japanese for American crimes. This is called ‘ethnocentrism’ and you’re guilty of it.

      • Hendrix

        again let me make it clear since you have missed a key point, Japan is in the world, and no i dont mean America is the world, where did you get that assumption from? …ah ethnocentrism , tell me more ..Japan isnt ethnocentric then? … i hope the right wingers are paying you well because you will have to earn it now.

      • Nick

        Who gives a crap whether the Japanese are ethnocentric or not? That’s irrelevant. This is about a particular case where Americans are judging the Japanese for doing something in Japan based on an American context. If they were the most ethnocentric people in the world, that bit of information would not impact the judgment that Americans are being ethnocentric in this instance. And what argument have you even provided? All you’ve managed to do is cast more dispersion on the Japanese.

      • Hendrix

        you are an apologist and an idiot.

      • Nick

        How much education do you have?

      • Guest

        bit of advice: get out of you ivory tower.

      • Hendrix

        bit of advice: get out of your ivory tower

      • Nick

        And really? That’s all you have? No good arguments so you just resort to name calling? Get called out for using plainly fallacious reasoning and I’m “an idiot”? LoL.

      • Hendrix

        The main problem most people with a conscience have about blackface in Japan is that it is another brick in the wall of how Japanese ridicule NJ, for example the ANA airways Ad showing JP guy with blonde wig and big nose, or Mc Donalds Mr James character a few years ago…i could give many more examples.. but you are clearly ok with this immature view of NJ amongst Japanese people…

      • JSS00

        Uh, hello? They’re (supposedly) taking the AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE… which means that yes, it would 100% have American context.

      • Hendrix

        Nick doesnt seem to get it, he is way too up his own arse..

      • JSS00

        Probably paid by the Japanese right-wingers.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Paid to make an irrelevant comment in a irrelevant site…
        I can TOTALLY see that.

      • John Smith

        Another Abe fanboy and brainwashed typical Japanese mental slave like the ones from WW2.

      • Shiki Byakko

        All up-voted by a bunch of brain-dead Americans. Typical. Basically Americans want the whole world to acknowledge the American racial sensibilities, even if those have absolutely NOTHING TO DO with the rest of the world.

        I remember another case like this in Australia, with a KFC commercial were a white guy gave Fried Chicken to Australian ABORIGINAL people, and then the Americans were all offended because in your racist country it was at some point seen that as racist towards African-American or something like that.

        I think NO ONE outside of the US, at least no one that hasn’t studied the story of racism in America, and believe, almost NO ONE does outside of the US, knows all the ways racists white Americans made fun of their black slaves, and now anything that a racist did on your country is internationally baned because of the American sensibilities, even if the context is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

        If the intension isn’t racist and if the action itself isn’t racist, the fact that a bunch of racists in some remote place of this planet did something like to make fun of people makes it automatically racist.
        There is nothing intrinsically racist about wearing black or any color face, if the purpose and performance has no racist connotations.

        Also, and let me remind this to the oh so moral superior Americans, black people =/= African American.
        Guess what, there are a lot of black people on this world, AND MOST OF THEM AREN’T AFRICAN AMERICAN.

      • Hendrix

        Whats this nonsense? “…because in your racist country….” why do you assume im an American? ….also America has anti discrimination laws which cant be said for Japan which is institutionally racist by the way… plenty of examples i can give you of that of you are man enough to listen.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Your country of origin doesn’t matter, I wasn’t even talking about you, but about all the people that up-voted you.

        Also, you say there are no laws against racism in Japan? I don’t understand how people can CLAIM things when they clearly have NO IDEA what they are talking about.

        Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution.
        第十四条 すべて国民は、法の下に平等であつて、人種、信条、性別、社会的身分又は門地により、政治的、経済的又は社会的関係において、差別されない。
        Article 14. All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.

        Japan more than a Racism problem has a xenophobia problem. There is also racism in japan, I’ve never said it doesn’t, but blackface isn’t an example of racism in japan AT ALL.

      • JSS00

        That’s the constitution, which is not the law that binds the citizens. Which, btw, Japan does not have any laws that penalize or incriminate racism.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Please just shut up. Just to put it in veeeery simple legal terms: Any law < Constitution.

        The constitution is the supreme law of the land, everything and everyone is binded by the constitution. That's why people like Mr. Arudo Debito have sued and won in a cases of racial discrimination.
        If you are ignorant, don't try to defend yourself, just please shut up.

      • JSS00

        LOL. You are a clueless idiot. The constitution does NOT apply to citizens, the constitution is pretty much “the law for the government”.

      • Shiki Byakko

        The constitution guarantees the basic rights of the people. Laws can only be created following the constitution as a legal basis, if they don’t, those laws are anti-constitutional.

        There are anti discrimination laws based completely on the article 14 of the constitution, Mr lol-4-chan-man-child.

        You can nitpick the words from my lack of eloquence, but in the end you just took a tangent and never addressed the actual “there are no anti racism laws in japan” argument.

        People have sued and won not only the government but private business based on racial discrimination claims.

      • JSS00

        Yes, the keyword being “sued”, not that it’s illegal (people typically get sued for slander or defamation). If racism WAS illegal, then they would be arrested.

        “There are anti discrimination laws based completely on the article 14 of the constitution”

        lol no. They are not legally binding.

        “there are no anti racism laws in japan”

        There isn’t. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You think constitution = the law, lol.

      • Shiki Byakko

        No stupid. Look at the Arudo Debito case. His case was all about racial discrimination, and he won at the Sapporo District Court because it was found that the Onsen was discriminating against customers based on their race. The court stated that “categorically refusing all foreigners constitutes irrational discrimination, exceeds social norms, and amounts to an illegal act.”

        And just for clarification, no civilized country arrest people just for being racists, because that infringes on freedom of speech. People are penalized when they violate anti racism legislation, that usually has clauses prohibiting discrimination of private-owned public services.

        Can you NOW please shut up?

      • JSS00

        Yes, and even Debito himself says, “Also, bear in mind that this is a court decision, not a law.”

        And uh, yes they do. There are many anti-discrimination laws all over the world.

        Can you NOW please stop being a clueless, ignorant idiot? Jesus… every time you open your mouth it just makes you look even more stupid.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Japan in a Civil law country, not a Common law one, my friend, so a judge cannot make a decision on their own without an statute or law on the books.

        Arudo used as a basis for his argument the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty ratified by japan, and in complete accordance with Japanese law.

        And please, tell me where it is “illegal to be Racist” exactly, because last time I checked there are Racist organizations working on complete legal basis all over the world.

        In the US police even protect Neo-Nazis when doing public demonstrations.

      • JSS00

        The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is only a treaty, Japan still has yet to create any law that prohibit discrimination. The treaty urges Japan to formulate a “comprehensive law prohibiting racial discrimination.” The Japanese government’s (The LDP’s anyway) response is that “there is not enough serious discrimination in Japan to warrant law that prohibit discrimination”.

        And uh, there are some countries in Europe that would arrest people for “hate speech”, or promoting Nazism for example, in say the UK or Germany.

      • Shiki Byakko

        I knew you would say Germany, because that’s the ONLY country that does that, and in fact it is extremely controversial. No other country does that, exactly because of freedom of speech.
        I even doubt your claims about the UK, because they have retained time after time to engage fully on the European Union, in part, because they do not want those kind of laws in their country.
        Have you ever heard about the BNP? That is a United Kingdom political party that is RACIST. The leader of the BNP even have links with KKK organizations in America.

      • JSS00

        Lol, it’s not even only Germany. They are also enforced in Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and so forth. In the UK, people even get arrested for tweeting hate speech on Twitter. And of course, many countries have anti-discrimination acts.

        You’re REALLY stupid and have no idea what the crap you’re talking about. How about you RESEARCH for once, before you spout some nonsense which you really have no clue about? GOOD GOD. Just how many times have you been wrong so far?

      • Shiki Byakko

        Hate Speech is not Racism, and it is ruled by Hate Speech legislation, not anti racism laws.
        Hate Speech is when you make a public speech to provoke hate and violence against people. Basically like trying to incite a mob.
        Also, Hate Speech legislations are extremely controversial, not just in japan, but all over the world. Most countries are unwilling to make Hate Speech legislations because those would be against freedom of speech.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Also, you don’t seem to understand how the law making works in japan. Most laws date back to the Meji era, and have been almost never renewed or amended. It has to do with the inefficiency of the Japanese Bureaucracy. They claim anything just to not do their work. The only laws they pass in japan are populist ones for more votes, and laws convenient to the Bureucracy.
        But either way, Racial discrimination is not permitted in japan. The only controversy there is with the Treaty is the Hate Speech part. Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Monaco, Switzerland and Tonga, all see the treaty as not having to create a Hate Speech legislation. And the US even goes further and says it “does not accept any obligation under this Convention, in particular under articles 4 and 7, to restrict those [extensive protections of individual freedom of speech, expression and association contained in the Constitution and laws of the United States], through the adoption of legislation or any other measures, to the extent that they are protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”.

        So yes, if you say like “Oh, the United Nations just said Japan needs to create a Hate Speech law” it just show how just are just a pawn of alarmist news organizations that do not tell you the whole story.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Arudo Debito says many things. He has a persecution complex probably created by the way he married and then divorced his wife in Japan, and experiences like the onsen thing.

        What Arudo says is really irrelevant, he has also said stupid things like police can track the Ids of the residence cards using long distance scanners, which is completely insane and technologically impossible.

        What matters is the case and how the japanese justice system works.

      • JSS00

        Lol. First you were all “Mr. Arudo Debito have sued and won” and now you’re saying that what he says is irrelevant, and “said stupid things” and “completely insane”.

        Well, it looks like YOU’RE the completely insane one. Good God… I’m really done talking to idiots like you. You have no hope.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Erm, is it so difficult for you to grasp that a crazy man with a persecution complex sued and won in a anti-discrimination lawsuit?. And just to make it clear, that suit was made by actually 3 persons, the only reason we all remember Arudo’s name is because he is the loud crazy one.

      • Shiki Byakko

        And just for clarification that there is no real Hate Speech legislation to the extent the UN wants to in the US, review the Snyder v. Phelps Supreme Court case. Which by the way, was another crazy person that won in a court house.
        Still don’t understand what is so difficult to understand about that.

      • meneldal

        It would be a good point if it wasn’t proving exactly the opposite here. Thanks to their great translation, this article only protects 国民 (so Japanese citizen). Foreigners (even living in Japan) aren’t protected by this article.
        Plus having a law/constitution and it being enforced correctly isn’t the same thing.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Now, your argument is the only good one against my point I’ve seen in all these comments.

        The recent interpretation of the constitution by the Supreme Court is an extremely tragic and really horrifying incident.

        I think people of the Supreme Court are a bunch of IDIOTS, because they apparently didn’t wanted to say that foreigners are also allowed to have welfare because of the political implementations of saying something like that, and made the IDIOTIC step of trying to interpret 国民 as just those who have the japanese nationality.

        That, right there, can be used to basically strip all foreigners of their rights.

        The constitution as it is written right now, and almost ALL laws, makes use of the word 国民 to refer to the people. The supreme court decision must be re-challenged, because they basically made japan into a country that is violating international law, and even is making the claims of MOFA that all foreign citizens are protected by the Japanese constitution void.

        I think it would be an ironic step to take to sue MOFA for their claims, using the supreme court interpretation as a basis.

      • meneldal

        I have to say I thought you weren’t much of a reasonable person but I stand corrected. You do know what you are talking about.

        I believe using 国民 as a translation for people when they wrote the constitution was on purpose. It’s a clever way to get some escape route for the constitution that was more or less forced on them.

        Refusing to give welfare to foreigners working in Japan since they have no way of abusing the system even if they wanted to. Get sick too long and your company fires you and you lose your visa. Plus if they did the math they would know that someone working and paying for social security is usually a net gain and pays for the elderly who use most of the money now. It was a purely political move as the money saved is peanuts but they turn it like the foreigners are stealing Japanese money.

        I hope Japan can move on and stop doing these kind of things which are mostly for the political support of stupid people (who believe it is useful) and right wingers (who hate foreigners anyway). But unfortunately doing this kind of thing tends to get you reelected here.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Nah, the translation from the original drafts is extremely sloppy.

        That’s why we have stupid debates like if the constitution prohibits same sex marriage, because the translation almost gives the impression that it was made using Google translate.

        The Japanese courts are known for siding always with the government. Basically they protect their incompetence by bending definitions, ignoring chunks of the law and making assumptions.

        Problem in this matter is, the decision is by many ways invalid. Every one has made the assumption that 国民 means people. The wording is kind of archaic but it is seen as a by product of the meji era. There has been some debate, even before this stupid decision, to start to use the word 人民 to exactly avoid the ambiguity of who is exactly covered.
        The court basically made a populist argument, because of all the propaganda of koreans abuse of the welfare system, but the truth is, I don’t think the courts are even aware of the extent of their stupid decision.

      • JSS00

        You see, the problem is that they’re supposedly taking the AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE! You can’t say that “It’s not America!” when they’re the ones that are taking the American culture! So this whole typical “it’s not racism because it’s not America” excuse by the lame Japanese right-wingers doesn’t work.

      • Shiki Byakko

        I’m not even a right wing guy. I hate nationalism, and all stupid ideologies based on arbitrary things, like this American world pc police.

        No one knows the context of the picture, or the show, because it was banned. No one knows, but everyone likes to speculate, and then that speculation becomes a fact in your distortion chamber.

        And even if they were imitating African Americans, so what?. They are not the KKK or some American white nationalist group trying to assert their superiority to the black race, they are just a bunch of dumb Japanese celebrities doing stupid things in their stupid TV shows like they always do.

        Like I said, if the context isn’t racist, the performance isn’t racist, THEN IT IS NOT RACIST. You can play the card that doing blackface in America is insensitive towards the sensibilities of African American, because it happened in your country.
        There are special sensibilities here in Japan that no one in the rest of the world complies. For example, Japan calls China as Chugoku, even when that’s not the way it was historically refereed to (It was Shina, like China). But there are historical reasons for Japan to not use that word. The rest of the world is FREE to use it, and they do.

        So please, just shut up.

      • JSS00

        You’re an idiot. If they’re taking the African American culture, then they’re also taking the blackface and the black history with them, since you know, black history is part of the African American culture.

        “Shut up”? What are you, a 5 year old? lol.

      • Shiki Byakko

        Yes, after the fact, when they apologized and tried to appeal to be very PC, because the whole thing was started by an African-American living in japan. Like they say, they are just trying to please whatever because the Olympic Games are coming.
        They said that they had NO IDEA before the whole pseudo-controversy.

    • JSS00

      I’m pretty sure most Japanese would also be offended if Americans painted their skin yellow and squinted their eyes, even if it was to show “admiration for the Asians”.

      However, not many complain when the Japanese youth subculture B-kei imitates the hip-hop culture and tan their skin and so forth.

      The fact is, if they admired the African American singers so much, then they should know enough to study the history of blackface.

      • KetsuroOu

        The fact is, if they admired the African American singers so much, then they should know enough to study the history of blackface.

        That is a very good point.

    • Jeffrey

      You’re right. It’s not necessarily racist, but it is stupid. Especially so knowing that Rats and Stars had it pointed out to them at least 30 years ago that African-American entertainers might nots view it as a “tribute.”

    • Jim Jimson

      That argument might make sense if blackface developed independently in Japan. But in fact it was introduced in the 1850s by the US Navy in a series of minstrel shows. Anyone who emulates those deserves to be called a racist.

      As citizens of another country whose wealth was based on imperalism and slavery, the Japanese people should be more sensitive about these issues.

    • cobrawolf

      I wish for once the Japanese would take ownership of their actions. They always play the victim card. The world is watching.

  • Kisai

    Meanwhile in China, blackface is something they do to make fun of Americans. I’d link it, but it’s too easy to find on youtube.

    I think the Japanese may have not realized it (much like a lot of “Engrish” signage) that the meaning of blackface, like the swastika, is a hate-crime level of ignorance. Doing it purposely gives the wrong impression, so Fuji-TV might have decided to play it safe because it might otherwise torpedo their international sales arrangements and investors might jump ship.

    Not to mention it might do irreparable damage to the music groups reputations for going along with it.

  • scrying

    Nothing exists in a vacuum. If you want to take on an “appreciation” of black culture, then you agree to take on the baggage that comes with it, and that very well includes understanding what is and isn’t acceptable. Being in another country isn’t an excuse. In much the same way that people here know quite well that the n-word is considered a slur/epithet despite it “not existing” here, selective amnesia isn’t allowed.

  • Guest

    それはアメリカ人の文化では不愉快だろうが、日本語で日本人向けに放送している放送内容をアメリカに意見されるのはどうだろう。ハリウッドではいつも滑稽に表現された異教徒を惨殺しているのに。アメリカ人はいつも身勝手だ。

  • Hendrix

    Is that all you can do is post a wikipedia article? , very weak argument you have there, just because Japan doesnt have a history against black people like America had it dosent mean they can still use black face, what you are saying is japan is special and can be as racially insensitive as it likes.

    Black face was still on UK tv until the 1970s, they dont have the same history as America, but they stopped using blackface.,.. your argument is weak, you are an apologist and a sellout.

    • Nick

      The Wikipedia link wasn’t my argument, you jackass. It was just a little backgrounder for you since you apparently have no idea what you’re talking about. Did I say I say Japan could be as racially insensitive as it likes? No, I didn’t. What I’m saying is you should take into account how words and symbols get their meaning, that there is nothing inherently racist about black face. Rather, what makes this or any symbolic act racist is the intention behind it. The history of black face in the US is sordid. When Americans use is they do so in full knowledge of that history, and therefore the intention is to injure. So what was the intention of these Japanese? Did they have Vaudeville in mind? An intention to humiliate? No, they didn’t. In all likelihood they had something totally different in mind.

      You are judging the Japanese by American values and norms. This is the definition of ethnocentrism. You aren’t helping anyone– you’re not helping black Americans, as you’re inadvertently white washing the sordid history of black face by deemphasizing its importance. You’re insulting the Japanese with your callousness and cultural arrogance.

      However well intentioned, you are worse than weak. You’re ignorant.

      • Hendrix

        you are clearly being paid up by the japanese net uyoku that can be the only reason for your blind ignorance and disgusting apologism for discrimination…

      • Nick

        Do you even know what ‘discrimination’ means? Your intentions are good but you use words incorrectly and ignore any semblance of communications theory when and where your moral judgments are threatened. It doesn’t matter what your conclusions are if you didn’t arrive at them through a traceable reasoning process.

      • tisho

        they are not paid, they are truly believing in what they are doing. Unlike the chinese government that has to pay for people to post absurd propaganda on the internet, the japanese luantics don’t need to get paid, they are doing it from the bottom of their heart with love. it gives them a sense of worth and belonging.

      • Hendrix

        you complete turd, dont bother replying to me again… now run along with your right wing mates..

      • Nick

        Well at least I’m not an ethnocentrist who thinks the entire world needs to keep up with things that might offend me, even if I myself am ignorant as to why those things are offensive in the first place. All the world’s people should just know what offends me! But let me ask you this, how up-to-date are you on what offends the Japanese? What do you know of their culture? Yet you expect them to all be experts on yours. You’re a cultural imperialist pig. You’re not liberal. You’re an arrogant sot.

      • R0ninX3ph

        It is definitely cultural imperialism to expect Japanese people to know everything about every other culture in the world whilst simultaneously ignoring Japanese culture. I agree with you.

        I don’t agree that a band who claims to respect African-American culture, and only wishes to show that respect, shouldn’t do research into how they might respond to blackface. I am not expecting them to research everything about American culture and all of its history. However, I wouldn’t start a band wanting to pay homage to Japan without first making sure whether my actions might cause offence to Japanese people…. I don’t think it is too much to ask that Rats&Star actually research the culture they are emulating…

  • Yamashita_Kei

    You don’t need to paint your face black in order to express admiration for Africans. You just have to enjoy their great culture, which has contributed to world’s musics and arts since the nineteenth century. On the other hand, their skin colors are not great or mean, as well as Asians’ are not.

  • Shiki Byakko

    Hello and thanks for your reply.

    I read the original text, and yes, it does say what you say… well, not exactly. There is a whole argument about how even thou the facility has economic liberty, it also has a public business license, and that their actions clearly are against not only the international treaty, but also article 14 of the constitution, that even if the article itself cannot be applied to individual business, in this case, because of the ramifications of the business having a public business license, it makes it something of public interest.

    The moment customers are paying for the use of the facility, they are automatically accepting to comply with the manner rules of the establishment, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, and that those who do not comply should just not be allowed.

    Then goes on the rebuttal of the arguments of the onsen, saying that their justification of bad manners of foreign customers really do not hold any water as a rational basis for the discriminatory policy, and then it goes to say that the policy is “Illegal, because it is irrational discrimination, and it is something that surpasses what it is socially acceptable”

    (不合理な差別であって、社会的に許容しうる制度を超えているものといえるから、違法であって不法行為にあたる。)

    The court is basically saying that public accommodations cannot discriminate, because they are of public interest (公共性を有するもの), and therefore article 14 of the constitution does play a role in what the business can or cannot do.

    Personally, I think you are doing an extremely personal interpretation of the ruling because it didn’t ended up in any completely clear anti discrimination legislation, which is all dandy and good, because in the end everyone has their own interpretations of almost anything, but you are mixing it with falsehoods, which is not so good and dandy.

    The court did said it is illegal, and that it constitutes as an illegal act. (違法であって不法行為にあたる。)

    And the quotation you did there is a little bit altered.

    It never said that what was too much was the discrimination. There is a comma between it saying it is an Irrational discrimination (不合理な差別であって、) and that it is something that surpass what is socially acceptable (社会的に許容しうる制度を超えているものといえるから), it no where says, like you quoted 「社会的に許容しうる制度を超える差別」

    It is incredible how much the meaning of this changes just by reading the actual quotation.

    Also, it goes to say about why the city isn’t responsible for not implementing legislation like it is stated in the UN treaty, saying that because the obligations of the treaty on creating legislation that prohibits racial discrimination as they are put in the treaty can be seen as unconstitutional, and therefore it is up to the city to implement what they think it is appropriate.

    Mr. Debito, the constitution was almost completely written by the US. It is a mix between the Meji constitution and the US constitution. As such, it puts a lot of weight on individual liberties.

    You know what other country also has not implemented the treaty in a representative law? The US. The US does negates not only sections of the treaty, but it says that the United States of America “does not accept any obligation under this Convention, in particular under articles 4 and 7, to restrict those [extensive protections of individual freedom of speech, expression and association contained in the Constitution and laws of the United States], through the adoption of legislation or any other measures, to the extent that they are protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

    The UN recommendations mean really not much, because what they are recommending is unconstitutional.

  • Shiki Byakko

    Once again, Japan is not a common law country, something that people from common law countries almost always fail to understand.

    In common law countries, a court can make a decision that is not backed up by any law, there is even what is called Jury nullification, but in civil law countries, the only thing the court can do is to interpret the law, as they do not have the liberties that common law countries judicial systems have.

    Therefore, in Japan all court decision are a legal interpretation of existing law. Meaning, yes, it is the law.
    There is no civil rights-type nor any european style anti-discrimination law. The first is because there has been no Jim Crow Laws in japan. The Jim Crow Laws were created to circumvent the 14th amendment of the US constitution, creating the “separate but equal” argument. And European style anti discrimination laws cannot be implemented in japan because their implementation would violate the law.

    I’m all for creating anti discrimination legislation. I’m a LGBT-rights activist in Japan, and I’m all for that, but the arguments of Mr.Debito holds no water. He wants for Japan to implement foreign legislation that is unconstitutional.

    His legal arguments for the implementation of the UN treaty are weak at much, and they are going to be rejected by Japanese legislators and the population in general because they do not understand the purpose of such legislation, because the rational basis for those are discussions that have not taken place in japan.

    I’m not even sure if what is needed is a European or American style anti discrimination law, I think that there must be a discussion about all types of discrimination actually taking place in japan, examine them, see were are the roots of the problem, and understand what can be done to make discrimination something of the past.

    But right now, it is not like there are no legal protections for anyone under the law, and that everyone is target of discrimination. That interpretation is also not true.

    I found impressive and funny see how someone like Debito, who WON a racial discrimination case says that in japan there is no legal protection against discrimination.

  • http://www.BlackTokyo.com/ Zurui

    Hmm! My earlier comment wasn’t approved. Not too happy with items being lifted from my blog or twitter account without proper attribution!

  • melonrose

    I noticed a lot of people saying Americans / African-Americans are just being pretentious..
    I am not sure if non-Japanese people know this or not but, Rats and Star used to use black shoe polish to do their blackface make-up. In fact, many Japanese people will state that fact.
    Black shoe polish was also used as makeup by participants of minstrel shows.

    They researched enough to know that minstrels used black shoe polish for their make-up , which means they certainly saw pictures of minstrels and quite possibly video footage as well. I highly doubt it was a coincidence, as black stage make-up definitely existed during the 80s, oil-based would have done the job just fine. I mean heck, check out any 80s metal band and you will see there was no shortage of black stage makeup, lol.

    I highly doubt anyone could look at an image from a minstrel show and think “Yes, that is obviously a display of respect towards black people. The cartoonishly large lips, the bugged out eyes, the rough and unkempt hair, the lack of intelligence being displayed.. yes let’s copy this. This is the perfect way to show homage!” In fact, I find a lot of the minstrel show performers to look quite scary.

    Similarly, I highly doubt any non-Japanese would look at a World War II propaganda poster and copy the buck-toothed, very slanty eyed character thinking it was a way to show homage and respect to Japanese culture.

    I do believe it was never their intention to harm anyone, however, ignorance and innocence shouldn’t be mistaken for one another in this case.

    If they could do enough research to find out black shoe polish was being used in minstrel shows, I think it’s safe to say they most likely realized that it wasn’t okay at some point.. but being in Japan, and a time before the widespread usage of the internet, they most likely figured no one would come after them for it.

    So, when you say it’s okay because it wasn’t their intention.. Is it still okay when they are copying a group of people who were obviously making a mockery of an entire race?

    And slightly off-topic but..
    There’s a restaurant in Gakugeidaigaku that has a “Picaninny Freeze” poster hanging up on their wall, right outside. lol. Blackface, watermelon, and all. Go take a look.
    I truly believe the owner simply thought it was “cute.”
    But when does it stop being okay?

    Oh,Japan. It’s gonna be okay.

  • cobrawolf

    The Japanese have no understanding on how to behave outside their own culture. They are socially inbred and ignorant to the modern global mindset.

  • cobrawolf

    As a visible minority, the Japanese will always make you feel different, uncomfortable, and scrutinized. They suffer from chronic guestism. They are a group narcissistic, xenophobic, misogynistic, and critically homogeneous inbred society. Their pleasantry is a facade. For example their attitude is akin to Americans calling ALL people that look Asiatic “China-men”, staring at them, making culturally ignorant comments like ” oh look they can use a spoon. We Americans must be building a new railroad somewhere” .To their credit however, there are very few violent crimes against foreigners, the Japanese insecurity is quiet and seething. I have heard the Japanese racism referred to as “mirco-abuse”. They take little out constant sushi sized bites like piranha. The funny thing is that most Japanese consider Japanese a race. It’s not, it is a nationality. So in essence they suffer from extreme nationalism, not racism, On a grander scale, there really is only one race on earth, human. Disagree? It was proven by a little experiment called the genome project in 2006. The Japanese are truly internationally retarded. No excuses. The current Japanese mindset really has no place in the modern global society. The world bank ranks Japan as the 30th best place to do business with … Singapore … #1. Japans enrollment in ivy league colleges has plummeted. Their population is aging. They have low immigration, massive age and sex discrimination in the workplace. They are not open to new ideas and cultural influence from abroad. They have lost their competitive edge in Asia. HOWEVER, Japan does have an ace up it’s sleeve. It has the ability to make massive cultural shifts fast and effectively. They will have to be ready to accept change or Japan will be the land of the setting sun.