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.