National / Social Issues

Half of foreign nationals in Tokyo experience discrimination, survey shows

Kyodo

Nearly half of foreign nationals living in Tokyo have experienced racial discrimination, according to a survey released Tuesday by a civic group.

In the survey conducted by the Anti-Racism Information Center, a group organized by scholars, activists and university students, 167 of 340 respondents including students said that they have suffered discriminatory treatment such as being told not to talk in a language other than Japanese.

Some working as retail shop cashiers said customers asked for Japanese cashiers, according to the face-to-face questionnaire survey conducted in February and March in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. Among them, a Nepalese man working at a drugstore said one customer told him that they did not like to see foreigners working as cashiers and asked to be served by someone else.

A Chinese respondent who works at a convenience store said that a colleague told the respondent not to speak Chinese when the respondent was asked for directions by a Chinese-speaking customer. There were also cases where foreign nationals had apartment rental applications rejected. Some said they were denied entry into stores, but none of the respondents took their cases to the public offices that deal with such issues.

Ryang Yong-song, a representative of the civic group, told a news conference that foreigners living in Japan tend to “end up letting (their discriminatory experiences) drop.”

“The government should conduct a survey to show what kind of discrimination foreigners face,” Ryang said, calling on schools and employers to deal more proactively with discrimination and establish mechanisms to involve public officials in addressing the problems.

With the country having introduced two new visas this month to bring in more foreign workers, in hope of addressing the deepening labor crunch, there has been criticism about the government’s ability to offer consultations to foreign residents.

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