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No-foreigners landlord case shows Japan ‘utterly unprepared’ to fight discrimination: expert

by

Staff Writer

A decision last year by the Justice Ministry’s Kyoto bureau not to pursue a complaint against a landlord’s no-foreigners policy showed Japan was “utterly unprepared” to move on instances of discrimination, according to an expert.

The Kyoto case first flared in January 2013 when exchange student Victor Rosenhoj was moving from Ryukoku University’s Shiga campus to Kyoto and hunting for a new apartment.

Rosenhoj, a Belgian national, submitted a rental application through the university’s student co-op, which arranges apartments for its students. But he was told “matter-of-factly,” he said, that the apartment’s landlord had a no-foreigners policy and it was thus not available for him.

Angered by the move, Rosenhoj took his case to the ministry’s Kyoto bureau in June that year in the hope it would intervene. However, it was not until over a year later, in September 2014, that the bureau notified him by mail his case did not constitute a violation of his human rights.

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus of sociology at Hitotsubashi University, says the case underlined the nation’s lukewarm attitude to clamping down on racial discrimination. He also believes Japan should follow other countries and set up a government institution dedicated to preventing human rights violations, as recommended by the United Nations.

“The nation is utterly unprepared to fulfill its responsibility not only to ban discrimination but to safeguard the victims,” Tanaka said.

Rosenhoj, who is no longer an exchange student, told The Japan Times that the bureau’s letter provided no explanation as to why his case had been dismissed. “I thought: ‘Wow, I can’t believe this. This has to be a joke, right?,’ ” he recalled.

Under Justice Ministry policy, its local bureaus can investigate complaints relating to human rights violations, and resolve the dispute through measures that include engaging the concerned parties in dialogue, providing recommendations, or educating people on the issue.

They don’t, however, have the authority to take punitive measures.

Rosenhoj said when he initially filed the complaint, an official at the bureau told him it had no legal authority to resolve the issue and nor could it give him any feedback on the progress of its investigation.

“I thought they were making a fool of me,” Rosenhoj said. “If they can’t tell us anything about their process, or if they don’t have the power to do anything from a legal standpoint, then it’s just a waste of time and resources.”

When contacted by The Japan Times, the Kyoto bureau refused to comment, saying it cannot talk about individual cases.

In Rosenhoj’s case, the bureau notified him in writing that while his claim had been dismissed, it had asked the student co-op to be more sensitive to human rights issues. The letter, however, did not mention the landlord.

Yuko Domen, executive director of Ryukoku University’s student co-op, said she did not recall the bureau talking to her organization about human rights, but acknowledged bureau officials had made some inquiries about Rosenhoj’s case.

The co-op, for its part, has since moved to improve the way it introduces accommodation to foreign students. Starting in fiscal 2014, it began to remove from its brochures details for apartments that have a no-foreigner policy.

Some landlords told the co-op that they were reluctant to take in foreigners because such tenants in the past had occasionally misbehaved or broken rules, such as appropriating a shared item in their apartments.

“If there are foreigners who have broken those rules in the past, they should absolutely be punished,” Rosenhoj said, “but that shouldn’t reflect on other foreigners.”

  • montaigne1

    ‘In Rosenhoj’s case, the bureau notified him in writing that while his claim had been dismissed, it had asked the student co-op to be more sensitive to human rights issues. The letter, however, did not mention the landlord.’

    -Yeah, that should take care of the problem, thanks a lot.

    -I had a situation a few years ago when I was looking for an apartment where a real estate company owner told me he had no apartments for foreigners, despite the fact I went there with my now Japanese wife (we were engaged at the time). I should have complained so the bureau could have told him to be ‘more sensitive.’ I’m sure that would have taught him a lesson.

  • jimbo jones

    what anti-discrimination laws?

  • Ron NJ

    The letter from the ministry continued, “If you don’t like it, you should go back to your own country. This is Japan.”

  • primalxconvoy

    This is nothing new for racist Japan. What’s saddening is the usual Japanese whitewashing of the incident, with the university merely removing racist landlords’ flats from FOREIGN brochures, instead of politely refusing to do business with such landlords.

    Still, who cares, right? China is the go-to place in Asia these days. By the time Japan wakes up and starts welcoming foreigners, everyone else will be part of the Federation, and will be making first contact with extra terrestrials…

  • Tim Johnston

    No way……
    There’s no discrmination in this country??
    Who would ever think that?
    Pmsl

  • Tim Johnston

    I block it out!
    at the end of the day ignorance is a lack of education and a lack of being diverse to different cultures, for being the 3rd largest economy, you’d think there would be more individual freedom and thinking outside the box.

    Unlikely to change anytime soon, everything has to be examined and cross examined and approved by their superiors in Japan. They lack the casual, relax vibe most other countries are fortunate to experience on a daily basis.
    rigid and methodical in every sense of to much seriousness, I try to laugh it off.
    Life is short, Laugh!!

  • Hendrix

    Disgusting , this is a country that is part of the world community and part of the G8 or whatever its called these days etc… but still lives in the 1950s regarding anti discrimination laws and prejudice… and they get rewarded with the olympics in 2020 ! … japan has had a free pass which should have expired a long time ago..

    • Steve Jackman

      Yet, the standard response of the Japanese government when asked why Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination is that such laws are not needed because racial discrimination is not a problem in Japan. The Japanese are the masters of denial!

    • tisho

      People with socialist mentality like yourself believe that everything can be solved by gov. force, you are wrong. If i am a private business owner and i do not desire to do business with someone for whatever reason i might have, regardless of whether my reasons are dumb or anything, then that is my full right, i have the right to deny doing business with anyone i want, it is my own business, the gov. does not have the right to intervene and tell me who i can do business with and who i cannot. Furthermore, if the gov. does intervene and tries to make me do business with someone i don’t want to, that creates an incentive in me to come up with creatives and cunning ways of denying that same person, while otherwise i would’ve just be honest and say that i do not want to do business with him, now i will be forced to come up with a lie to deny him. There are millions of businesses, if someone does not want to do business with you, just go to somebody else. This is what a free society is all about.

      • Minxy Minamoto

        Tisho, I am guessing that you think socialist is an insult and yet socialist democracies like Sweden, Denmark and Australia have very civil societies. Nationalized healthcare, paid parental leave and anti-discrimination laws have been very effective uses of government force. There have by most measures, freer societies than Japan’s.

        Could you please try paragraphing and spell-checking your comments? That’d make your posts easier to read.

      • Hendrix

        Socialist? … I’ve been called many things but that really makes me laugh, your ignorance is plain to see you know f all about me, rant all you like on JT cause you are just digging your own hole

      • Hendrix

        Yes the government doesnt have the right to intervene but it sure has a responsibility to set an example which the J government isn’t doing.

      • MCD

        Tisho, would you argue this way if *you* were denied an apartment in the USA because you’re Japanese? (which I assume you are.)

      • bluetortilla

        There goes Tisho again with that ‘socialist mentality’ stuff. I suppose you find Walmart, Costco, and Starbucks to be real winners for free markets, a great boon to us all? There ain’t gonna be much talk about ideology when the food starts running out.

    • screendummie

      It isn’t just Japan. It is much of East Asia in general. Koreans and Chinese are not much different. People in the West keep thinking the East is just like it. You know the same ideals and philosophy even if it is not true.

    • gigi4747

      Why do you think there is a “right” to live in someone else’s property? There is no such thing. Just like if you owned a place, you shouldn’t have to have anyone there that you don’t want there.

    • lasolitaria

      “lives in the 1950s” is a statement that makes absolutely no sense outside the West. It assumes that changes that happened in Western societies are universal and desirable for all the regions and cultures of the world.

    • Anon

      Sure, as if there was no discrimination in the other countries of G8. Suing Japanese people is definitely the best way to get loved by them!

  • GBR48

    Yes, the ‘no foreigners’ rule should be illegal, and it should be enforced with a heavy fine every time it crops up, but it won’t happen, not least because the primary ‘no foreigners’ industry remains adult services, and that’s Yakuza-run.

    And even if they did outlaw it, legal alternatives would be implemented, such as a registration procedure requiring Japanese language skills, a Japanese bank account, Japanese ID, and Japanese everything else, as already successfully used by various organisations in other industries to keep the gaijin out.

    The university could stipulate that only landlords that accept foreigners would be considered for any student lodgings, but that would require an inspirational stand for truth and justice, and in Japanese administrative circles, the Force is not strong: the herd instinct prevails. On their wage, having grown up in a pro-conformist society, you probably wouldn’t do a Rosa Parks, either.

    All nations have their flaws, Eastern and Western, and some are more deep-rooted than others. All you can do is hope that future generations may be more pleasant than those that will inexorably pass into prejudiced, small-minded dust.

    In the meantime, welcome to Asia.

    China indoctrinates its kids with pro-Mao propagandist crap, tries to lock down the internet and locks up anyone who voices opposition, keeping the spirit of the 1950s alive for a new century. Thailand kissed goodbye to democracy and is now a military dictatorship – if not a banana republic, then a mangosteen republic. In Malaysia you may endanger your freedom if a visiting Kpop star hugs you because of the local religious crazies, and in South Korea, where social media is monitored, should you say the wrong thing in an academic text, blog post or newspaper article, you may get banged up on a fake ‘libel’ charge, the residue of those years of military dictatorship that the country hasn’t quite managed to entirely shake off.

    And that’s without even considering North Korea, the most ethically bankrupt nation in modern history, abductor of foreign citizens, even kids, with a starving, brutalised population controlled by a military dictatorship, run by an unelected pseudo-monarch with nuclear fireworks for toys, the nation beaten into submission by its armed forces and run on a day-to-day basis by criminal gangs. If you invented North Korea for a book it would be condemned as ridiculous, as nobody would believe it actually existed in the 21st century, much less had political support from nations so lacking in basic humanity and ethics that they permit its continued persecution of its indoctrinated, long-suffering population. North Korea remains the greatest stain on the integrity of Asia, for allowing it to exist in the manner that it does, and as it has nuclear capabilities, one day, the continent may well regret its failure to get the exterminators in and dispose of the bugs.

    In Japan, where you are less likely to get gang-raped on a bus, executed for being a drug-smuggling idiot, or have your business ‘supertaxed’ through a fake corruption charge, than in other parts of the continent, you often have to put up with the ‘no foreigners’ rule that the institutional racism and desire for ethnic purity prevalent within the LDP, unchanged since it was more globally popular in the 1940s, has ensured was never outlawed, despite untold years in government.

    The arms-length lives of citizens of foreign origin means that you are less likely to come up against other flaws, such as the cheerful tolerance of the Yakuza (organised criminals with their own shop, website, magazines and quite possibly yuru-kyara), the doping of kids’ textbooks with propaganda and the inability to reform any of the major economic flaws inherit in the monolithic corporate core of the nation. Regarding the stuff you do have to face, all I can suggest it that you roll with it and accept that you have to pay for the many good things Japan offers by tolerating an occasional bit of unpleasant crap that should have been consigned to history. This is, after all, Asia, where even history isn’t consigned to history.

    There’s plenty of racism, institutional and otherwise back home in the West, plenty of dark alleys full of drunks you need to remember to avoid, lots of glass ceilings, domestic violence, juvenile bullying, xenophobia, child abuse, homophobia, rampant gun-craziness, criminally incompetent governance leading to national bankruptcy, tolerance of organised crime and loony psychopathic jihadists. Nowhere is perfect.

    You just have to pick somewhere that is more pleasant than unpleasant, and accept that into every life some rain is gonna fall.

    If you are of foreign origin and in Japan, just be nice, always. Maybe, at some point, more of the locals might warm to us than recoil from us.

    If only human beings could accept those wise words of America’s greatest modern philosophers, Bill and Ted, and just be excellent to each other. The world could be such a nice place.

  • Steve Jackman

    It is disgusting and disgraceful that this type of blatant racism and racial discrimination continues to takes place in Japan and that it is sanctioned by the Japanese government. This is a clear abuse of civil and human rights of all foreign residents of Japan.

    Unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise to me. This is a country where “Japanese Only” and “No Foreigners” signs are openly displayed, where Japanese employers abuse foreign workers by telling them that Japanese labor laws do not apply to them since they are not Japanese, foreign residents have no legal recourse because judges and lawyers collude against them by breaking the laws themselves to deny them justice and due process of law, and foreigners are constantly treated and portrayed as inferior to the Japanese. Yet, the Japanese government takes every opportunity to tell the world how it is a responsible, open and democratic country. Hogwash!

  • CaptainAsia

    If you think Japan is bad then you should try China. In China foreigners cant own land or a house. They dont veil their racism in China, it is straightforward and in your face, no second guessing. YOU know when they spit on the ground and point to the exit. If you hang around you are gonna get thumped, just like what happened to that New Zealander who suffered from brain damage after a group of Chinese attacked him while looking for an apartment. BTW, they never were arrested. Not only did he get a damaged brain, his blueprints of his model that he wanted to start manufacturing in China got stolen and reproduced without any regard to his patent. Would this happen in Japan? I dont think so.

  • Vichy

    *News flash: Discrimination in Japan”.

    Well, discrimination happens (most certainly) in every country in the world…
    I’ve seen and been subject to discrimination in various countries across the continents (I’m a caucasian male), including Japan.

    I experienced the ‘no-foreigner landlord’ discimination in Japan as well.
    Did I care? No.
    Did I find a great apartment easily? Yes.
    In the end, the narrow-minded landlord lost, because I took my money elsewhere.

    Does the fact that discrimination towards foreigners is a global issue exonerate Japan of any responsability? Certainly not.
    Could the situation be better? Probably and, in fact, things are improving slowly.

    But I don’t get why some people seem so adamant to transform Japan into a
    model society that fits all their ideals…
    Furthermore, I’m often amazed to meet these people (online or in the ‘real world’, for lack of a better term) who can’t stop complaining about the imperfections of the japanese society and yet live in Japan for decades.
    I find it a rather masochistic way of living one’s life.
    Each to their own, I suppose.

  • AsianReaper

    easy way to solve the issue , do what I did and have a house built.

  • http://www.georgesipos.com/ George T. Sipos

    Discrimination? There is no discrimination in Japan! Ask all your Japanese friends! They’ll confirm…

  • Michael Eamon Osborne

    Why do you think Japan is like this towards Foreigners? the lack of do you think!? . . . . This is nothing new & can be traced back Centuries ago. Got to remember that Japan has always viewed most Foreigners “Gaijin” with great distaste because of our lack of understanding & the showing of great disrespect when living in their culture – Change isn’t going to happen overnight! Oh & for the record, Japan’s racism is no different like any other country – Fact!

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    This is the product of allowing Japan to get away with the “we are so special and unique” argument for all these years. It has resulted in vile racism. The Kyoto bureau chiefs should be named and shamed.

  • less-a-moron

    Sounds familiar. When I was teaching for what was then know as Sony English I had a heck of a time finding a place to live. I was rejected from a number of places because I was not Japanese. Since I was going to work for Sony and they were acting as my gurantor I was able to find a place. The fact I was Amerian was irrelevant. I liked living in Japan and the Japaese and would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Not that I am over 45 there is little chance of being employed there.

  • tisho

    I realize my comment and views are probably going to be disliked by many, but i fully support not having laws against discrimination. I think, as written in the US constitution, only the gov. does not have the right to discriminate. If a private citizen/individual/business etc. wants to discriminate, then i think the gov. does not have the right to tell him otherwise. Being free to insult other people is what free society is. In fact, i think by allowing people to discriminate, now it’s more easy to expose them, and that is the ultimate test of how advanced a society is, by allowing them to discriminate against others. If someone is anti-foreigner and wants to put up a sign that says ”only japanese” i say go for it, it is his own property, his own business, his own will, he is free to do trade with whomever he wants. If society is against such believes, then nobody will go shopping or do business with these kind of people and they will go bankrupt, or they will otherwise be forced to re think their behavior, by not by gov. force, but by his own reasoning. If the society has no problem with it, then that is the level of the social development, pure and simple. In the US, if you put a sign that says – no irish allowed, then even if the gov. does not intervene, people will boycott you and you will be bankrupt by the end of the day, that shows the level of social development. I fully oppose gov. intervention into private people’s lives. Only the gov. does not have the right to discriminate, private individuals/businesses should have the right to do so.

  • Paul Martin

    It took me 3 years before I could find an apartment to rent…their IS discrimination there !

  • George C

    Everyone should have a right to associate with whomever they wish for whatever reason they wish, however trivial.

    I have no problem that some Japanese feel uncomfortable around foreigners. I understand it. In the US I seldom associate with non-American Asians not because I dislike them but because I find their social style difficult and exhausting to accommodate. They are extremely shy and often seem nervous, frightened, and sensitive. I understand why this is appropriate in their culture but it becomes tedious to have to walk on eggshells when I’m just trying to get through a busy and stressful day. I have enough on my plate.

    This isn’t racism, or hatred. Its perfectly normal. Japanese, who avoid confrontation, must find it daunting to deal with a foreigner who – however inadvertently – trespasses on others rights. The foreigner isn’t bad, but why should the Japanese have to deal with what is to them a stressful social situation when just getting through everyday life is already stressful? Who needs the extra headache?

    People just want to get through life with a minimum of stress.The idea that this is hateful or racist is narrow minded and absurd.

    There are groups who have a social style, through no fault of theirs (or anyone’s) that is so different from yours that dealing with them is stressful and no one should be faulted for trying to avoid that kind of stress.

    People need to grow up and avoid reflexively reaching for the childish racism charge. No one is obligated to come to Japan, and if they chose to, they should be mature and sensitive enough to understand that some Japanese might be uncomfortable dealing with them for reasons that have nothing to do with hate or racism. If you don’t have that kind of sensitivity to others, maybe you should stay at home.

  • blondein_tokyo

    When I was told by agencies, one after another, “Sorry, we don’t have apartments for foreigners.” all I could think was, “Twenty three years in Japan, huge effort to learn Japanese, trying my best to fit in, paying my taxes, working hard, contributing to society, and THIS is how I get treated. Continually.”

    To be honest, due to that and other such incidents over the years piling up on me, I no longer think of Japan as my home. It’s just where I live.

    And I think that is how Japan wants me to feel. If that weren’t the case, then they wouldn’t keep allowing such blatant acts of discrimination to keep happening, would they? They’d actually make laws with teeth, and enforce them, and make it possible for people to file discrimination suits, and win.

    So I can only conclude that Japan LIKES itself this way, and as that is the case, I don’t know why they continually complain when the media in other countries accuses them of racism, and when Japan gets negative reports from Amnesty International, the UN, and so on. Have the courage of your convictions, Japan.

  • LiAn Ulbrich

    A lot of people are posting their distaste for this situation that has arisen in Japan. I understand that, yes, to us looking in, it is rude. That is, in our culture. In Japan, they have a lot of customs and mannerisms that foreigners tend to look over and dismiss as politeness. Their culture is very different from ours, and foreigners do certain things that often appall and sometimes even severely irritate the Japanese. We need to learn to respect this.
    I understand why these owners wouldn’t like to have foreigners in the vicinity which they own. It may be bad publicity if a foreigner is often bothering neighbors, or it may be that they don’t know how to deal with them. Recall that in the sixteenth paragraph that the landlords expressed their concerns about foreigners breaking rules and ignoring sound policies.
    Yes, many foreigners have the potential, knowledge, and/or respect to follow these guidelines, but because of the disregard for these standards, the privilege has been revoked.
    Instead of bashing on the government, we should try to see both sides of the problem and acknowledge every variable. If we expect foreigners coming to our countries to adapt to the lifestyle they have moved to, we should expect ourselves to do the same in another country.
    Ultimately, I see problems on both sides. Though it is justifiable to fight against this, sometimes it is better to leave these people be, so as not to uproot their vicinities. Complaints like this can put out businesses, which doesn’t just put the owner out of business, but also all of their employees.
    Of course, there are the rare exceptions, but we sometimes just need to turn the other cheek and move on. Criticizing a country will infuriate it faster than it will change it.

  • AsianReaper

    JP times sure like to edit and delete comments. This site deletes more comments then the Chinese Censors…

  • AsianReaper

    Edit monkeys

  • bluetortilla

    Does this article have a Japanese version somewhere and if not, why?

  • George C

    Why don’t you delete the answers too if you deleted my comment? Might as well be consistent fascists. Sorry for politely posting a dissenting view. Next time I’ll stick to the party line. I probably need to be sent to reeducation camp. I’m sure you guys can arrange it.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    If you read carefully you’ll see I didn’t claim they called me an animal as such, I said they lumped me in the same basket as a dog. Thank you for your 2 cents worth however, though strangely I can’t recall you being with me at the time…

  • bluetortilla

    Whatever merits these platonian arguments have, at the root of it all is the fact that any racism is cruel, disgusting, and violent. Anyone who has experienced it is not likely to forget it, and anyone with a shred of dignity would never let himself get used to it.

  • Chris Ramesh

    To play devil’s advocate, maybe this isn’t an issue of discrimination motivated by just plain malignant racism. For example, around urban universities around the US, a frequent practice by landlords to off-campus students is to only rent to girls (various reasons given including to cleaner, more trust-worthy, less likely to host parties – granted these are all generalizations too and obviously will have exceptions, but landlords feel there is a measurable correlation). I don’t think these landlords maintain a deep-seeded hate for guys, but instead are making a business call on clientele. It also seems like Japanese people (again on avg.) hold themselves up to a different standard of order and cleanliness than most any group of people (see JPY ppl picking up trash at Brazil world cup, also see most public bathrooms in Japan – I’d eat off the floor). One could argue that these two examples aren’t really that different.

    Really, the point is to say that if this is wrong, shouldn’t the “landlord only renting to girls” example also be wrong (despite being widely tolerated without mass grievance). Would it be okay if a landlord charged foreigners more? (The way car insurance for guys is more expensive than for girls with all else equal). Disclosure: I don’t know much about Japanese culture and historical issues around racial tension, but just though I’d see what people think about the parallel we face everyday.

  • gigi4747

    So happy this guy lost his case. Welcome to reality – there is no right to live on someone else’s property, whatever imaginary “rights” the courts have conjured up over the years.

  • Volt Man

    He probably have negro boyfriend or tattoo.

  • Paul Martin

    After 7 years in Japan and Japanese in my family I have found the problem is NOT with the Japanese people per say but those with the REAL power and wealth who control EVERY aspect of Japanese life. At least in other countries you can appeal bureacratic decisions but in Japan it even states on the bottom of immigration,etc forms NO APPEAL…that’s NOT freedom or democracy but blatant dictatorship by the FEW ! I am resolved that I and other gaijin cannot influence change…but we can expose the veritas to the World !

  • Josh

    what’s wrong with discriminating on the basis of race? Leftists do it all the time with affirmative action.

  • SprSynJn

    With all the hate filled comments for this article, you’d think that the Japanese were egging us and threatening our lives and families with lynching. I understand there are some problems here, but y’all need to calm down.

  • Alex

    I went through the same problem ( I may say even worst). In a few lines: The landlord ( an old 50 years old lady), accepted my rent for one year ( through bank transfer) and then after a year called the police and told them that I wasn’t a tenant, that she doesn’t want a foreigner in her house ( she wanted to bring a friend in ). Though everyone in the neighborhood had only positive things to say about me… Landlord broke into the house two times ( with a friend), and tried to drag me out of the house without my belongs). The police came 5 times and tried to force me to sign a paper which – after I understood- stated that I agree to leave ( which I refused to sign without a lawyer). Landlord aggressed me physically, and then went to the post office declaring that she was scared of me. The police accepted to take my complain / declaration ONLY one month after, when I hired a lawyer. Lawyer which after reassuring me that I went to obvious abuse and discrimination, came back to me and told me that no matter how right I am, no one will admit that as a foreigner I have right to be protected myself from abuse against a Japanese person. Case dismiss… The landlord panicked when she heard that I hired a lawyer, called and told to the lawyer that she is having a beginning of mental problems and that she doesn’t remember what she is doing. After a year I’m still under the shock and have nightmares. I thought that if I’ll do everything by the rules and with the full respect and consideration, nothing bad can happen to me in this beautiful country. I was wrong. One really must Love Japan to put up with such regrettable experiences, and is what the Japanese people who despite foreigners must understand. [ I move into another house in the neighborhood, and the old landlord is going house to house to incite the neighbors to reject me ].

  • Alex

    I went through the same problem ( I may say even worst). In a few lines: The landlord ( an old 50 years old lady), accepted my rent for one year ( through bank transfer) and then after a year called the police and told them that I wasn’t a tenant, that she doesn’t want a foreigner in her house ( she wanted to bring a friend in ). Though everyone in the neighborhood had only positive things to say about me… Landlord broke into the house two times ( with a friend), and tried to drag me out of the house without my belongs). The police came 5 times and tried to force me to sign a paper which – after I understood- stated that I agree to leave ( which I refused to sign without a lawyer). Landlord aggressed me physically, and then went to the post office declaring that she was scared of me. The police accepted to take my complain / declaration ONLY one month after, when I hired a lawyer. Lawyer which after reassuring me that I went to obvious abuse and discrimination, came back to me and told me that no matter how right I am, no one will admit that as a foreigner I have right to be protected myself from abuse against a Japanese person. Case dismiss… The landlord panicked when she heard that I hired a lawyer, called and told to the lawyer that she is having a beginning of mental problems and that she doesn’t remember what she is doing. After a year I’m still under the shock and have nightmares. I thought that if I’ll do everything by the rules and with the full respect and consideration, nothing bad can happen to me in this beautiful country. I was wrong. One really must Love Japan to put up with such regrettable experiences, and is what the Japanese people who despite foreigners must understand. [ I move into another house in the neighborhood, and the old landlord is going house to house to incite the neighbors to reject me ].

  • lasolitaria

    Go ahead, make it illegal to discriminate against people. There’s a vast array of ways to achieve the same result -i.e. keeping you out of someone’s home/business- while complying with the law.

    It’s a fact that some people don’t like you and don’t want you nearby. You can change this by addressing it and that’s only possible as long as it’s evident. Once you involve the Law, there’s no chance for a candid discussion anymore.

  • leconfidant

    Very poor article.

    The reason a lot of landlords don’t want foreign tenants derives from a long history of rather major problems occurring, not the appropriation of cups from the kitchen.

    I met a guy who fell on hard times and begged his landlord for one month without paying his rent. Then two months. Then he was going past the deadline for three months, promising to pay the whole thing ‘any day now’ when he decided to just do a runner and go back home. By not even leaving a note to say goodbye, he prevents the landlord from touching any of his belongings for a month. A law prevents landlords intruding when the tenant may have just gone on holiday.

    A lot of foreigners in the past have broken the rules and the landlords are sick of it, because they consistently got their heads kicked in. If you think this tenant’s having a hard time, put your feet in the shoes of the landlord who has to hire lawyers in Australia to recover his money from someone virtually guaranteed not to have it on him.

    The solution is already established :- work through a guarantor or guarantor agency, who will normally impose a deposit in advance.

    There are some right-wing lunatics in Japan, but this is not that and it would be better to research the culture we live in before we try to impose PC liberalism over everything as if it was the only way to live life.

  • Paul Martin

    I have lived here on and off since 2008, I have a Japanese daughter in law and grandchildren. It took me 3 years to get an apartment after agents repeatedly declined because owners wanted only Japanese ! But if you pay key money ( a month’s rent really disguised bribe) and thousands of $ a month plus huge deposits well you might just get into some packing case sized place. Japan, as I have said before is a beautiful,friendly country, if you are a gaijin and kowtow,grovel,smile and bow to everyone and don’t complain about discrimination or anything else, just accept and tolerate that you will always be treated as inferior especially by bureaucrats,

    then you’ll be fine !

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    He should have hired a lawyer and submitted a petition for redress which he clearly did not to the Kyoto District Court.

  • Pablo Diablo

    Only truly civilized country on planet earth. Stay true to your values Japan and do not listen to the leftist nuts in America! BTW, having lived there, you people might want to be especially resolute in keeping out the Nigerians. Just a suggestion.

  • http://moderntokyotimes.com/ Lee Jay

    Just a note, a lot of black people seem to be getting shot in America. Hey, just saying! If only America did what it preached….

    Also, discrimination is a reality all over the world. In South Africa many African migrants have been killed recently and many dead bodies are also floating near Europe.

  • 無買デージャパン

    When I was a grad student in Kyoto, my colleagues from Taiwan and Philippines had great trouble finding accomodation, even with Japanese hoshonin (guarantors). My Philippine colleague (now a tenured professor outside Japan) had one potential landlord telling her openly she was probably a prostitute.

  • Hikari

    I love Japan. The Western mind is so hostile, any unfavorable decision made to different race must be racism and is immediately an offense that’s punishable. Foreigners are also treated differently by Japan very positively in many other aspects, but you hardly even appreciate it do you. Or is it somehow your born right when it benefits you? TUITION IS LOWER for non JP nationals and JR PASS, a free pass for unlimited bullet train rides, is only available to you foreigners.
    Did an Asian rejecting you mighty Caucasian hurt your ego? Why conclude it’s racism? Maybe it’s just because the owner wants to be able to communicate with you in their own language. Maybe s/he thinks you might keep your shoes on. Maybe you’re a smoker. Who knows.
    I myself have been rejected apartment IN EUROPE because they had no foreigner policy after they had one Indian student live in one of their property for a year and no one would rent it after that because of the condition it was left in, when I myself am not from India. Apparently there was no misbehavior, just the lingering of scent of spices. I never took offense, why? Maybe because I come from a country that differentiates and not discriminates. If this differentiation sorted me out, fine. They have the right to have preferences.

  • fromanotherplanet

    White people whining about discrimination is just music to my ears. Now you know what the minorities and immigrants in your home countries go through every day. Keep on Japan. Let them feel the sting of being otherized and shunned LOL!!!

  • Hikari

    I have removed my comments, because I do not want to offend you and my opinions are offensive to you. I’m sorry for any discomfort I have caused you. It was not my intention. This is how much we can not understand each other. I also never meant to argue, so please forgive me if my tone in the imperfect English came out as harsh.
    The Japanese likes assurance. They are cautious people, and the unexpectedness of thinking and doing of people of other culture, even if by race a Japanese, puts this person on their proceed with caution list. This offends you, and I feel I can not fault them. Japanese are into being homogeneous. They worry about doing business with persons of different culture because we could be full of surprises to each other, and that’s interesting and fun if hanging out as friends but not so if this was in business setting. Weather it is renting you their property or letting you represent their company I think the cause is the same. It is not to do with race. It is the inevitable difference in thinking. We don’t claim our culture is superior. It’s just different. Besides, Japan can not be generalized. There are many, many foreigners working in Japan just fine.