• Kyodo

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An American-born Japanese citizen on Thursday asked the Hokkaido Prefectural Government to create an ordinance to punish those who discriminate against foreigners.

Debito Arudo, 39, submitted a petition to the prefecture after being refused entry to a hot spring in Otaru, Hokkaido, because he was a “foreigner.”

In 2001, he filed a lawsuit for damages against the Otaru Municipal Government and the hot springs operator. The case is still being pursued in an appeals court.

The operator continues with its policy of refusing entry to foreigners who cannot speak Japanese, and there are restaurants, barber shops and other facilities that reject foreigners in other parts of Hokkaido, including Monbetsu, Wakkanai and Sapporo, Arudo said.

Such discrimination is highlighted in the recently published “Let’s Go Japan” travel guide book, on sale in many countries, which also contains an interview with Arudo.

If Hokkaido decides on an antidiscrimination ordinance, it would be the first of its kind in the country. Among developed nations, Japan is the only one without laws to eliminate racial discrimination, he added.

Such shops can also be found in Aomori, Akita, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Okinawa and other prefectures, Arudo said. In most of the cases, they refused him entry even when he showed his Japanese passport.

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