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On Racism in Japan

Friday, July 22, 2005 Posted: 04:49 PM JST

American born Japanese activist Arudo Debito last Sunday published an excellent review of racism in Japan and his hopes for a policy to protect all residents in Japan, "regardless of nationality and appearance".

Racism in Japan, Arudo says, "is subtler than those found in other societies." The positive side of this is that it will be easier to persuade people of racism's evils because Japanese racism is grounded less in an "inexorable hatred".

However, this subtlety also makes it more difficult to eradicate. "It deprives," says Arudo, "the issue of the power of social shock, alleviating pressure to eliminate racism through clear and expedite legislation."

Arudo is hopeful about the future. "It is entirely conceivable," he says, that Japan will create a policy to protect all of its residents against racial discrimination.

Keywords: national_news

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2 comments so far post your own

1 | At 10:15am on Jan 10 2006, Ali Mirza wrote:
I went to GasPanic club in Roppongi tonight. On my last visit to Japan I was refused entry because I walked up alone to the club, they asked me if I got a member's card. I suspected racism so I tried again tonight, and it happened again. After seeing my Japanese friends they let us in. We complained to the manager of the place, and he said to me "suck it up, if security don't let you in tell them my name, he was very unapologetic and said "this is Japan this is the way it is in Japan". I went to the police station to make a complaint, they told me that in Japanese law the establishment can refuse service to anyone they want. So what is that antidiscrimination law for?? As for me I am Pakistani American, and most of my friends in college were international students. I have traveled to many countries, and since I am accustomed to Asian courtesy I know how to behave in different countries and be respectable to cultural sensitivities. So I believe it was not the matter of me being unreasonable in anyway "I just walked up to the place". I have a Japanese girlfriend for 3+ years and soon we will be married, I would never live in a country that would disrespect people based on their race, and Japan is such a country. I wonder how would some foreigners can live here and have peace of mind and soul, and have the respect as a human beings. How can I raise my children in this country?? Things have to change, I wanted to be the one to bring change, but how sad, it is legal in this country to discriminate against people and get away with it. I am planning a website that would list Japanese businesses denying services based on race, hopefully this will give visitors as well as sensable Japanese people a starting point to combat discrimination in absence of Laws.
2 | At 11:02am on Jul 10 2006, Javier wrote:
Racism sucks I should know, I have lived in japan for 6 years now and have seen it and been trhough it. I dont want to agree with the GP managers comment of thats the way it is but, that is the way it is man. If you wish to change things, by all means become and activist for racial intergration in Japan. The thing is that more and more all I see is people complaining of racism here. I think that japanese (not all) are racist as well, but ussualy towards the darker skinned communitys. In other words if your white you have better chances of not seeing it here. My final point is that for all those who do see it and are shocked by it then maybe it is tottaly new to them to be frowned upon by another race. I am from Ecuador, born in the USA, I have no accent, but I look menacing or trouble to the untrained or closed minded person who may think so in the U.S. I came to japan and witnessed racism and was shocked for a bit as well but then I moved on and I stopped thinking about it and soon enough I really didnt see it anymore. For wahtever reason they would not let you in to that place, if it was racism if it was a private party who really knows, and yet should you worry so much and get yourself angry more? Or do you just make a silent statment, move on continue your studies become somthing good show no resentment towards others and soon enough you might not see resentment towards you.
P.S, there is racism but if you have seen or been through it before which I think you have, were you shocked then as well. Or did you just in the back of your mind think, THATS THE WAY IT IS.
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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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