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Although many apartments remain vacant during the prolonged recession, foreign residents in Tokyo are still finding it extremely difficult to rent accommodations, participants of a foreign residents’ advisory panel to the Tokyo governor said Wednesday.

The 25 panel members unanimously said that a number of foreign residents are facing discrimination by landlords in renting apartments.

“For the first time in my eight-year stay in Japan, I was recently able to find a room through a real estate agent. When I was a university student, I was always refused by landlords or real estate agents,” said Li Ke, a panel member from China. “Even this time, I was told to find a Japanese guarantor,” she said.

“Even my friend, who is an affluent permanent Korean resident, couldn’t rent an apartment. The problem is not just that landlords are afraid of foreigners who don’t know Japanese culture,” said Yu Shiyoru, another member.

Many panelists pointed out that housing is a symbol of Japanese prejudice to foreigners. “I believe nearly all foreigners have had disgusting experiences in renting a room (in Japan),” said Peter Barakan, vice chairman of the council. “I wish there was a legal regulation (on landlords and real estate agents regarding apartment rental),” said Amelia Inoue, the chair of the council.

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