Is Japan really racist?

Is Japan really racist?

TOKYO —

Much ink has been spilled about the supposed homogeneity of Japan and the dangerous idea of racial purity that goes along with it. Some expats have made entire careers writing — or ranting — about the problems of discrimination in Japan. And yet, the number of foreign residents has more than doubled in the last 20 years and international marriages in the country have been steadily rising, so it can’t be all that hostile either.

So how racist is Japan, really? Here’s my take — admittedly only one perspective — on where things stand.

So, let’s start with where I’m coming from. I grew up in a white, middle-class neighborhood. There were a handful of minorities at my schools, mostly Latino, but I lived my entire life as part of the majority ethnic group. Moving to Japan 10 years ago was the first time in my life that I experienced what it’s like to be in the minority.

Let me be clear. I’m not conflating my experience, which has been largely unproblematic, with the experiences of oppressed minorities. They don’t even compare. However, for the first time in my life, I was visibly “other.” For the first time, I wondered what assumptions people were making about me based on the color of my skin and the shape of my face. For the first time in my life, racial differences stopped being something I thought about abstractly and started being something I confronted daily. It got me thinking about the different forms racism takes and how they work in society.

Many Japanese make three assumptions about me before even speaking to me. One, I am an American (true). Two, I am an English teacher (nope). And three, I don’t speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture (the jury might still be out on this one). None of these assumptions are particularly terrible, but are nonetheless racial stereotypes.

This is the majority of racism I’ve seen in Japan, the so-called “innocent racism,” unchallenged assumptions springing from society or the social mores of the time. It isn’t motivated by animus, the notion just hasn’t been challenged or is unexamined.

That’s not to say that there aren’t more insidious varieties of racism that are driven by hate knocking around. If you’ve ever seen one of the right-wing, Japan-for-Japanese vans driving around Shibuya, you couldn’t deny that, and by some reports, this kind of hate speech is on the rise. However, it’s my impression that this is very much a fringe element, much as you can still find the KKK in the States, but no one would call it a mainstream philosophy.

While my experiences with racial profiling in Japan have been relatively benign, things are much more problematic for other groups. Some of the comments made in casual conversation or even in the media about Africans (or anyone black, really), other Asians (in particular SE Asians and Asians from former Japanese colonies), or minorities within Japan such as the Ainu of Hokkaido, the Ryukyu of Okinawa, ethnic Koreans and the Burakumin betray far more negative stereotypes. While it may bother me that people assume I’m a teacher (I’m not knocking the profession, I just get tired of correcting them), that seems preferable to them assuming that I’m a criminal or only married to a Japanese for the visa. The very comfort with which some people make vast generalization and throw around phrases like “all Chinese” or “we Japanese” is distressing.

There are positive signs that attitudes about race are changing in Japan, though.

There is growing recognition that Japan is in fact multi-ethnic. The government reversed its long-held policy of forced assimilation and recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people, and in 2007, it joined the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Japan doesn’t have laws banning hate speech or protecting non-Japanese against discrimination, but there have nevertheless been some positive outcomes in recent court cases. For example, a court ruled last month that an anti-Korean group that protested outside of a school for ethnic Koreans in Kyoto would have to pay damages, saying the activity “constituted racial discrimination” under the UN convention. In a similar case some years ago in Hamamatsu, a court ordered a jewelry shop that refused to serve a Brazilian resident to pay damages, citing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as the legal standard in the absence of a domestic discrimination law.

Most importantly, average Japanese, concerned about the direction their country is taking, are speaking out. General rallies were held in Tokyo and Osaka recently to protest racism and hate speech. Similarly, when an anti-Korean protest was held in Shin-Okubo, a neighborhood with many ethnic Koreans and immigrants, counter-protesters showed up to support their Korean neighbors.

I’m hopeful that the kind of sweeping generalizations made about entire races or nationalities that currently don’t draw much comment in Japan will one day be censured as backward and close-minded. I think it’s an inevitable result of increasing immigration and globalization. However, I think Japan could be doing a lot more to protect minorities and foster a more friendly environment for foreigners.

The first and most important step would be to codify the international commitments they’ve already made into Japanese law. There should be a law banning hate speech. There should be a law banning discrimination, particularly in employment and housing, on the basis of race or nationality. It also wouldn’t hurt to have more government engagement with relevant groups and NGOs, particularly in crafting the laws that will affect them.

What will ultimately change attitudes in Japan is more discussion, though. Particularly in the media and in education, I would love to see more diversity and more recognition of the presence and contributions of foreigners and minorities in Japan. History classes should cover the darker aspects of Japan’s history so young people will have a more nuanced understanding of lingering conflicts with their neighbors.

In a nutshell, that’s my take on racism in Japan. There are bigots here, just like in every society, but on the whole, people are friendly and open, just lacking in exposure to diversity.

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Jessica Kozuka
Jessica Kozuka
  • 15

    sillygirl

    Yes.

  • 36

    jpn_guy

    Thanks for this excellent article. Those who don't speak Japanese may be unaware how racist assumptions are regularly thrown around in casual everyday conversation. I recently interviewed someone for a job and my colleague asked a question that concluded with the phrase "and is that why country x and country y are so backward?" No-one else in the room batted an eyelid. (Given the dynamic of the interview situation, I also felt unable to intervene). Such statements are just part of everyday normal conversation in Japan where the underlying assumption that Japan does everything better than every other country is, in certain circles and among certain people, never far from the surface.

    Well, to address your well-written piece, I agree with all of the above except the "assumption I do not speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture" being a "not particularly terrible" assumption.

    Sure, if you are just having a casual conversation with someone you just met, there is no need to overreact to any unwanted pigeon-holing. But what if you are working in a Japanese organization trying to have your ideas and professional reputation taken seriously? If the goalposts can be moved at anytime with a dismissive "you don't understand Japanese culture". In such cases this assumption becomes far more insidious. Of course, I made a voluntary decision as a consenting adult to live in Japan (despite the above, the pros do outweigh the cons).

    But what about the mixed-race Japanese university graduate (or the child of two foreign parents who went through local school here) who is looking for a job in the only society they have ever known? Let's say they grew up in Japan, are fluent in the language and culture, but do not look typical Asian. For them, the "assumption they do not speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture" is, far from being a "not particularly terrible". It is a huge millstone around their neck that could change the course of their lives and undermine their very sense of identity.

    Assuming someone does not speak Japanese when first meeting them is not so damaging if the assumption is immediately reversed on hearing evidence to the contrary. But lingering doubts over 'does this person think like me?', 'will this person fit in?' might go someway to explaining why, although one sees foreign and non-traditional Japanese faces all over the TV, people with a "non-traditional" appearance are noticeably lacking from other more prestigious professions.

    Perhaps a good place to start would be to stop indoctrinating kids from an early age that anyone who looks non-Japanese should not be spoken to in Japanese and that the entire world is divided into two groups of people who see the world differently. By the time such children are themselves employers/landlords/schoolteachers, they will have been carrying their own biases for so many years, they will not even notice them.

    If you are perceived as unable to communicate effectively in a society, you are essentially relegated to the fringes of that society, both economically and socially. I think the "three assumptions" can do more damage than you give them credit for, particularly in case of the second generation who known Japan as their only home.

    Again, thanks for your contribution to the debate here - I won't comment on the rest because its all very, very true.

  • 27

    Eric Mueller

    Today we have 20 plus kids sick with the flu in one class .. And as the foreigner teacher is walking to class, one Japanese co worker says "wear a mask!" and the neighboring co workers says "he has that nose, so don't worry" .. unintentional maybe, but I call it racist. I hear these kind of comments so frequently. .. . I just feel that people are either ignorant when it comes to international issues.

  • -28

    Adamwesti

    ****Having lived in Japan for 3 years I don't believe Japan is a racist country as a whole! Adamwesti

  • 8

    melonbarmonster

    LOL Yes.

  • -14

    zico11

    It's not my favourite article. Racism does exist in Japan in a polite way. I just call it a "soft-racism". E.g. no one wants to sit next to you on the train, etc.

  • 25

    missbatten

    Oh yes. Not a week ago, I was at a meeting about cultural understanding, no less, where several people were talking about how "returnees" just weren't the same as "pure Japanese", even decades after they had returned to Japan. When I called them on it, they thought I was disputing their findings. When I said I was more concerned with cutting "returnees" out from the "pure Japanese" group, nobody batted an eyelid, they just patiently explained to me that it was because they aren't "pure Japanese", they're different, everybody knows that....

  • 14

    FightingViking

    Anecdote : After hearing me speak (pretty fluent) Japanese to a Japanese friend, their companion said to me "Do you speak Japanese ?" ! (True, "auburn hair" and "blue eyes" are not very Japanese but just the same... ?)

  • 22

    Sensato

    Japanese is not a race — an ethnicity and a nationality, yes, but not a race.

    As such, bigoted may be a more appropriate label than racist given prevalence of discrimination faced by other Asians in this country.

  • 9

    pointofview

    I guess you can say some people are and some peole arent. Maybe more xenophobic than racist. Who knows? When top political figures make silly statements it doesnt help matters. Government does need to address the institutionalized ignorance.

  • 5

    zaldaus

    "Japanese is not a race"

    Good point, racism gets called upon in too many places these days, and often wrongly. In Japan it's not so much about racism (though there's some of that too) but more about xenophobia and lack of exposure. If a person is not exposed to natural environment and the "allergens" in it, they develop allergies where their body treats even harmless molecules as foreign particles that need to be destroyed. If this works so on a biological level, it only makes sense that it also does so on a social one.

  • 1

    Lilic

    TOTALLY !

  • 11

    Alejandro S. Arashi

    @jpn_guy, I get what you're saying about mixed Japanese kids who grew up in Japan, but I would like to point out that's a game that can be played both ways and to the advantage of the non-Japanese looking halfie.

    I know a lot of halfies who play the I'm foreigner game and milking all the benefits of being foreign while really understanding everything around them and gaming the prejudices for their own benefit. I myself and a lot of my halfie friends are very successful with that game, even in a corporate setting.

  • 28

    Jimizo

    @Zico11 Being refused housing on the grounds of race is not 'soft' anything. I'm no Japan basher having lived happily here for 14 years but there is clearly something more problematic than not sitting next to someone on a train. Most Japanese people I meet are unaware that Japan has no law banning discrimination based on race or nationality. Many see images on TV of interviewers fishing for compliments from foreigners ( Japan has an enormous appetite for compliments from foreigners and an equally strong uneasiness with criticism ) about food, onsens etc. and many are unaware of the real problems many face here on issues that really matter. I repeat, I'm not a Japan basher and I love many things about this country but this problem cannot and should not be brushed off casually.

  • -1

    OssanAmerica

    Jessica my dear, as one American to another I urge you to read up on US history as far as racism towards "orientals" go. We aren't talking about fringe groups we are talking about the Federal and State governments openly instituting and upholding purely racist policies. It's very easy to compare other counries to today's America but I was still in grade school when segregation laws still existed in parts of the U.S. As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'.

  • -4

    rickyvee

    no more than any other country in the world. and is it really "racist" to assume that a foreigner doesn't speak japanese and teaches english? i mean, really? how tough it must be on the author to suffer such indignities.

  • 19

    gogogo

    Every country has some racism in it, don't get me wrong, Japan has serious infractions just look at the black vans that drive around yelling at anything not Japanese. Not only is their remarks racism the fact the police allow it and nobody stops them seems racist to me.

    This article should have raised better points, it's very general as not to offend anyone.

  • 26

    Sensato

    @Jimizo

    Being refused housing on the grounds of race is not 'soft' anything.

    I completely agree. Sadly for Japan and its non-Japanese residents, real estate agents still commonly post listings for housing that does not allow foreigners (thousands of such listings online), despite lots of publicity on the matter two decades ago. I don't think any other economically-advanced country allows this form of bigotry. For some reason, though, discrimination against non-Japanese people in Japan does not seem to be regarded by most Japanese nationals as discrimination — yet I've seen many Japanese people up in arms about discrimination they have faced overseas.

    Shockingly to me, even the Japan arm of U.S.-based Century 21 allows Japanese-only postings (入居者日本人のみ) . Here is one such rental unit: http://www.century21chintai.com/bk/%E6%A8%AA%E6%B5%9C%E5%B8%82%E6%88%B8%E5%A1%9A%E5%8C%BA%E8%88%9E%E5%B2%A1%E7%94%BA_%E3%82%A2%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%83%88/dt_c46816.html

  • 8

    AramaTaihenNoYouDidnt

    Yes...Japan is racist.

  • 0

    cleo

    But what about the mixed-race Japanese university graduate (or the child of two foreign parents who went through local school here) who is looking for a job in the only society they have ever known? Let's say they grew up in Japan, are fluent in the language and culture, but do not look typical Asian. For them, the "assumption they do not speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture" is, far from being a "not particularly terrible". It is a huge millstone around their neck that could change the course of their lives and undermine their very sense of identity....you are essentially relegated to the fringes of that society, both economically and socially.

    Sorry, but I think you have a rather strange idea of how university graduates go about looking for employment. We're not talking about people wandering off the street into a conbini and asking to work part-time on the till. University graduates have four or more years of advanced education in Japanese (and maybe another language) under their belt, and the papers to prove it. They have impressive CVs listing their accomplishments, all written in Japanese. Millstone? No. My two kids are not particularly 'Asian-looking' (my son nearly got excluded from the English-lesson part of his university course because the person dealing with registrations assumed that he was a foreign exchange student who should be having extra Japanese lessons instead - something to chuckle over, not get uptight about) and neither of them have had any more trouble than their 'pure Japanese' mates in finding very good jobs in which good language skills and a thorough knowledge of Japanese culture and society are essential. In fact I'd say they had better jobs than most of their pals.

    As you live here for longer though, and as your Japanese ability gets better, you'll start to understand that you are basically not welcome.

    I've never felt unwelcome, and I've been here over 30 years, been fluent in Japanese for most of that time.

  • 8

    AmericanSurfer

    Xenophobia is alive and well here in Japan.

    The Laws are vague and easy to be altered depending on how the Lawyers choose to alter them with words. Some places refuse non Japanese from entering (with a sign posted on the door, No Foreigners allowed). Could it get more Racist than that?

    I like Japan and the Japanese People. They are fair and honest in most situations. But, I think the problem lies within the Japanese Government, Courts, lawyers and Laws, not to mention the Mafia sometimes runs the town.

    With the Olympics due to take place in 2020. I hope Japan begins to expand the way of thinking, Laws and put an end to racism.

  • -9

    ganbatte

    This is the most pointlessly superficial discussion of racism that I have ever read.

  • 26

    CanadianJapan

    A few examples

    • In advertisements for apartments gaikokujin : fuka (foreigners : not allowed)

    • In advertisements for jobs : kokuseki : nihon (nationality : Japanese), for those accepting foreigners it will usually say kokuseki : fumon (nationality : not asking)

    • Go take a walk around Yoshiwara and try to get into a soap, either they will refuse you outright (guaranteed if you don't speak Japanese) or ask for a 10000 yen foreigner tax (you'll have to speak pretty descent Japanese)

    • Ladies handing flyers in public places, they give them to everybody but if you're visibly not Asian they will ignore you and give you no flyer

    • Cabaret clubs, the guy at the door will try to invite Japanese looking men inside but if one or many non-asian looking guys walk by they will be ignored

    • Politicians, I once walked by Akihabara station with a non-Japanese but asian looking friend and a politician was campaigning. He shook the hand of my friend but totally ignored me (I am not asian).

    • I was once stopped by the cops in Asakusa, I didn't even have the time to take out my papers that one of them had already mentioned the word "overstay". After telling him that I was a permanent resident and "local" person, he said I must be married to a Japanese woman. I told him I was single and after they had a very good look at my alien registration card they finally let me go.

    I could go on.

    I am 100% with bilderberg_2015 here. The person on a 2 weeks vacation or a non-Japanese speaking person may not notice anything but as soon as you pick up the language you'll start noticing that in many places you are not welcomed even as a customer.

  • 23

    jpn_guy

    @rickyvee "is it really "racist" to assume that a foreigner doesn't speak japanese and teaches english? i mean, really? how tough it must be on the author to suffer such indignities"

    You are airily dismissive of a serious issue. Of course, such assumption hardly compare with suffering physical violence as a result of your race. But let us look deeper into why some people consider this serious and others, like yourself, are unable to take the matter seriously.

    If the assumptions that someone is can not speak the local language (note this means cannot meaningfully participate in the local society) are completely overturned when they say "no", I would agree - the problem is very superficial (but still probably not worthy of your sarcasm). However, if, as is often the case, the assumptions are a sign of deeper held prejudices and beliefs about foreigners characteristics, capabilities and assumed essential nature, then the issue is more complex. In other words, you are basing your reaction to a wide-ranging issue on a cursory review of one of its most benign symptoms, before erroneously concluding you have addressed the issue in its entirety.

    Can you imagine being a foreign-looking salesman in a Japanese company? I pick the example of salesman as they have to deal with new people day in day out, and cannot always rely on existing goodwill. Having, day after day, to face the assumption that "you don't know what you are doing" must be soul-destroying. The whole "you are just passing through you don't understand us " means the non-Asian looking face is often starting from a position of assumed inferiority and has to prove themselves over and over again.

    For what it's worth, I'm a black man with experience of racism outside Japan.

    Sometimes (the albeit subtler) racism in Japan is harder to take since you have the additional battle of trying to convince people there is a problem, and facing down snide comments about how being pigeon-holed on a daily basis is something you should just laugh off. At least with the racism I have found outside Japan, almost all educated people could agree it was a problem, and that in itself provides some psychological respite, a comfort sadly lacking here.

    Just my two cents then.

  • 15

    Ina0891

    It's one of the most xenophobic country on earth actually

  • 11

    bass4funk

    In a nutshell, yes.

  • 6

    SimondB

    In Japan I began to truly understand what the term "subtle racism" really meant and why it upset some people. Previously having lived in a predominantly white liberal country, when I heard immigrants talking about subtle racism I used to think get over yourself. But not any more. Less than subtle I was once asked to leave a bar for no other reason then being a foreigner. But all in all, the welcoming manner that most Japanese extend to me way out weighs any negative or racist traits.

  • 11

    Jaymann

    Yes, at a systemic level Japan is racist

  • 9

    Saxon Salute

    I'm yet to meet a single non-Japanese person hired in Japan by a Japanese company on a full-time basis as a true seishain. That's after 20 years in the country. The racism here is ingrained and the Japanese are raised to believe in their own superiority by birth right and are do not even understand they are racist half the time. They think it is okay to not rent to a non-Japanese, for example, they don't see it as racism.

    There are no domestic laws against racial discrimination and those black vans can drive into Korean areas and scream for the local people to be culled without penalty, or even comment in the media. There is racism everywhere, but to claim Japan is no different from anywhere else is not really true. The truth is that white people here are not usually on the receiving end, so many people on a site like this may think the issues are all minor ones. Well, I have a couple of friends from Bangladesh and another of South Korean stock. They could tell you what it's really like.

  • 6

    ReformedBasher

    There are bigots here, just like in every society, but on the whole, people are friendly and open, just lacking in exposure to diversity.

    Yep. Also, don't judge a nationality by people you don't like. Racists tend to be idiots (actually "tend to be" is superfluous). Even you if were Japanese, they'd still go out of their way to be unpleasant. Think of all the people who are kind to you, even when they don't have to be (and especially when they are a shoulder for you to cry on). If you dwell on the negative, that's all you'll see and it's your own fault.

  • 18

    sighclops

    I'm with SimonDB on the "subtle racism" angle. Japanese are not always outwardly racist (although I've been on the receiving end of that too!), but most instances are only picked up if you've lived here long enough, especially in the countryside. Some of my first-hand experiences:

    • Supermarket - "Look mum, an alien!"
    • Ex-g/f: "Sorry, her father doesn't want to meet you because you're not Japanese. Oh, and when you're near his workplace, you cannot be seen as a couple. You're staying with us as a "student", okay?" (I had to actually run with that story in public!)
    • Fireworks with said-ex - bottles and rocks hurled at me (I'm not even joking)
    • Want a rental apartment? - Forget it! I managed to get an apartment and I later found out that I was the first foreigner to do so since the building was erected 44 years ago.
    • Guarantor? - Let's not open a can of worms there!
    • Credit card? - Took me 5 YEARS of applying to get one here. I've had a platinum card back home for 10+ years.
    • Chinese or Korean relations? - Let's not go there! This friction goes back generations, though.
    • City office? - Never felt so outcasted in all my life!
    • Media? Not racist, but waaaaay too Japan-centric to an almost ignorant level. They have no idea what's going on in the world!
  • 0

    J.basher

    Not all, but they are too few and too far in between, if the answer is yes or no , sorry it would have to be a Yes.

  • 11

    jpn_guy

    Cleo, I am really pleased things worked out for your kids. It's hard to write online comments and sound sincere and not sarcastic, but I really mean that. It gives me hope the things might work out likewise for mine.

    On the other hand, the success of your children is not a scientific survey.

    I know of one returnee who, despite being perfectly bilingual, had trouble adjusting to Japan (not least because of the various notions that were involuntarily foisted upon him), dropped out of education altogether, and spend years doing manual labor.

    Of course, that is not a scientific survey either.

    I am also glad you can "chuckle" over people assuming your son does not belong in the land of his birth. In away, I admire you for not being "uptight". Since, in this little anecdote, you seen to be agreeing that people in Japan do make snap judgments based on appearance, how can you be sure that (for example) your son has never been denied an opportunity because someone assumed he would not understand and did not even bother to go and speak to him in the first place? Obviously, it is pretty silly for me to state various hypothetical examples referring to your own son that you will no doubt want to refute, but I hope you can see where I am going with this.

    People' assumptions have consequences. As assumptions are by definition an internal, mental matter, we cannot always be sure what those consequences are. However, many modern societies have decided that the way forward is to educate the younger generation to remove these assumptions - you know, just to be on the safe side.

  • 3

    StormR

    CanadianJapan

    A few examples • In advertisements for apartments gaikokujin : fuka (foreigners : not allowed)

    • In advertisements for jobs : kokuseki : nihon (nationality : Japanese), for those accepting foreigners it will usually say kokuseki : fumon (nationality : not asking)

    • Go take a walk around Yoshiwara and try to get into a soap, either they will refuse you outright (guaranteed if you don't speak Japanese) or ask for a 10000 yen foreigner tax (you'll have to speak pretty descent Japanese)

    • Ladies handing flyers in public places, they give them to everybody but if you're visibly not Asian they will ignore you and give you no flyer

    • Cabaret clubs, the guy at the door will try to invite Japanese looking men inside but if one or many non-asian looking guys walk by they will be ignored

    • Politicians, I once walked by Akihabara station with a non-Japanese but asian looking friend and a politician was campaigning. He shook the hand of my friend but totally ignored me (I am not asian).

    • I was once stopped by the cops in Asakusa, I didn't even have the time to take out my papers that one of them had already mentioned the word "overstay". After telling him that I was a permanent resident and "local" person, he said I must be married to a Japanese woman. I told him I was single and after they had a very good look at my alien registration card they finally let me go.

    I could go on.

    Good post and 100% agree, Japan can be very racist without even realising it, up until recently there were signs openly displayed in many areas at clubs and bars saying "Japanese Only", mostly now though the signs are gone but the sentiment remains.

    You can encounter racism here almost daily just going about your normal activities.

    I had never been on the receiving end of racism until I stepped foot in Japan, not everyone in Japan is a bigot but many are and some just hide it better than others.

    Wait till things turn bad then you'll see more of it.

  • 5

    Fox Cloud Lelean

    I am hopeful in reading this article, that it reflects the general feeling in Japan, that they aren't racist, just not entirely used to foreign residents living in Japan. I plan on moving to Japan in the summer (work and luck permitting), and moving halfway around the world on my own will be stressful enough as it is, without having to deal with racism as well. That being said, I have been receiving racial abuse (technically speaking) over the past 18 months, since moving from my hometown (in Essex) to Wales. Some argue that it's not racist, since I'm White and the people abusing me are white, but that's splitting hairs. The point is, they're discriminating against me because I'm not Welsh. If that's not racist, then I say that the very definition of racism is in itself racist. But I digress. By this point, I am used to racism, but that's not to say it doesn't hurt me anymore, or that I will be indifferent to it upon moving to Japan. Hopefully, by speaking Japanese I will at least reduce the level of hostility. I'm learning Japanese, and I'm probably the only one in Wales doing so. Certainly I am in the region where I live.

  • 6

    ambrosia

    reformedbasher: If you dwell on the negative, that's all you'll see and it's your own fault.

    I don't think the writer or posters are dwelling on the negative so much as they are simply talking about an issue that affects most of us. There's nothing wrong with that. Avoiding honest discussions is a good way to be sure a problem never gets solved.

    zico11: It's not my favourite article. Racism does exist in Japan in a polite way. I just call it a "soft-racism". E.g. no one wants to sit next to you on the train, etc.

    I guess we have a different idea of polite because I found nothing polite about the 7 estate agents who rejected my husband, who's black from an African country and me, who's white and from North America. When I went in alone it was no problem. When I responded to questions as to where my husband was from there was suddenly nothing available. When he went in alone, he speaks fluent Japanese by the way, there was never anything available. Neither do I think there's anything polite about the way he gets stopped by the police every couple of months. We've lived in the same neighborhood for years. There are only 2 other black guys that we see around so you'd think they'd know who he is by now. Racism is never "soft". It's nasty, insidious, degrading and just plain wrong.

    cleo: I've never felt unwelcome, and I've been here over 30 years, been fluent in Japanese for most of that time.

    That's very good for you and no, I'm not being sarcastic. To have chosen another country to call home and to have always felt welcome there is a great thing. That said, you are the only person I know who has been here for any length of time who would say they had never been made to feel unwelcome. What that says to me is that it's not just a matter of attitude or language skills because I've met many, many foreigners here who have great attitudes, open minds and warm hearts and who speak fluent Japanese. Any time this discussion has come up the responses have always included incidences of having been made to feel unwelcome at some point in time. They, we, got past it and just get on with life but that so many people I know would give the same answer indicates that there is a problem and that you have simply been very fortunate.

    Sensato: Japanese is not a race - an ethnicity and a nationality, yes, but not a race. As such, bigoted may be a more appropriate label than racist given prevalence of discrimination faced by other Asians in this country.

    I would be inclined to agree with you but for the fact that Japanese consider themselves to be a race and as racism is all about perception, treating people differently because you think they are a different race than you is racism. You can call it bigotry if you want but that doesn't change how Japanese, in general, view themselves in comparison to the rest of the world.

    OssanAmerica: As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'

    With all due respect, this is where she lives and calls home now so why in the world shouldn't she be examining what goes on around her? If anything it's a good thing for her to be doing that. If she ever does return to the States it may impel her to try and make positive changes to the system there. If she never returns but stays here and raises a family it is in her best interest to examine this issue and do what she can to change it in a positive way so as to ensure that she and her family can live in a place with equal opportunities and equal treatment for all. As far as I'm concerned, it's pretty awkward to encourage someone to pretend to not see what is happening around them.

  • 13

    John Occupythemoon Daly

    I live in Tsukuba, Ibaraki. This is where JAXA, the Japanese space program, is located, along with AIST, NIMS, and other science and tech industries. Because of this, there are many, many foreigners from all over the world, and almost all of them are highly educated, well-employed, and are accepted as part of the community. Western foreigners are well-liked, and many people here speak English very well. What astounded me (and continues to astound me on a regular basis) is how openly anti-Chinese and anti-Korean Japanese people are. I hear doctors, researchers, etc. say things like "China is a barbarian country," or "Koreans just need to get out of Japan." Is Japan racist? Absolutely. Read up on how it's impossible for first generation Koreans who are born in Japan to get jobs if they don't change their name to something Japanese. Or part-Japanese who have to lie about their heritage so they can be accepted by their coworkers/classmates, even though their family has lived in Japan for generations.

  • 6

    bass4funk

    I agree with Canadianjapan and StormR you guys pretty much covered almost every point, I have to say, I like Japan! I there are a lot of good things about the country, "but" there is that other side that the Japanese don't want you to se and especially don't want to admit about themselves. They want to be seen often as a tolerant country, more so, than China or South Korea. What I don't like is sometimes the condensending talk when for example you have a conversation about food social lifeor culture things, many Japanese talk as if their food is the greatest! no matter what it is or how they socially interact with people or the need for change in ANY category. The fact that, foreigners have to listen to their point of view, if we say something, it's often dismissed. I'm not saying EVERY Japanese does this, but there is a pattern of disrespect to foreigners generally speaking. Japan wants to see itself as an equal to the US or Europe as fas as internationalization, but they have a very long way to go and being able to host the Olympics doesn't make them internationalized, not by a long shot. Japan has the potential to be a role model for the rest of Asia, but in order to do that, they need to shed this xenophobia that the foreigners want to take over. No, for us lifers, we want to treated as equal citizens and NOT as eternal "guests."

  • 1

    cleo

    Since, in this little anecdote, you seen to be agreeing that people in Japan do make snap judgments based on appearance, how can you be sure that (for example) your son has never been denied an opportunity because someone assumed he would not understand and did not even bother to go and speak to him in the first place?

    Two points: First of all, it isn't only in Japan. When he was an exchange student in Europe, no one there believed he was Japanese either, in other words people were making snap judgements based on his appearance. People do. It's no big deal. I could get equally uptight about westerners assuming I must be dumb just because I'm short, blonde and curvy, but what's the point? It's their loss, not mine. They lose the chance to converse with a bright, intelligent, friendly lady with a wide range of interests, I am spared having to cope with a one-dimensional, stereotype-bound fool. (The downside is having to cope with the one-dimensional, stereotype-bound fools who think blondes are easy....)

    Secondly, of course I can't state categorically that my kids have never been denied an opportunity on account of someone assuming they wouldn't understand; I'm not hanging over their shoulder 24/7. All I can say is that if they have missed opportunities, it doesn't seem to have done them any harm.

    I would certainly not deny that there is deep-seated xenophobia in Japan, a mixture of fear of the unknown, insecurity and the potential shame of being spoken to in a language one has studied for years and yet still cannot hold a simple conversation in. Over the summer I had a conversation with two ladies in Ishigakijima who had moved there decades ago from Honshu, and they described being on the receiving end of more or less the exact same treatment - exclusion, 'you're an outsider, you can't understand our customs' etc., that we see people complaining of here. I don't think it's racism. It's insecurity, insularism and xenophobia.

  • 0

    Saxon Salute

    Fox Cloud Lelean, interesting post. Japan is racist to the extent that right-wing nutters can legally drive vans into areas stacked full of Koreans and demand they are destroyed. High school girls can stand up in public and demand the slaughter of Japanese Koreans, without making the news:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oOW6QJfeoo

    Compared to Wales though, and their attitude to the English, Japan is a picnic.

  • 8

    pochan

    I don't feel that the average Japanese person is anymore racist than elsewhere but I feel that institutional discrimination is a huge problem. In my opinion equality for non Japanese won't happen until after it gives equality to Japanese women. As this will be the first small step towards ending institutional discrimination, foreigners in Japan should have an avid interest in women's rights as well.

    Most discrimination isn't based on race but more so on nationality. Like John above said certain groups seem to be disliked more than others and there is definitely some sort of hierarchy of the civilized countries that exists with Japan right at the top.I thought what John occupy themoon said was interesting because the relationship that Japan has with China is really schizophrenic. On the one hand it is the cradle of all civilization in this part of the world and at the same time it is uncivilized. How can the people that gave Japan their civilization be barbarians? Simple they aren't really the same people. But then the attitude towards the US here is a love/hate kind of relationship as well.

    Japan has an enormous appetite for compliments from foreigners and an equally strong uneasiness with criticism

    This is so true but I would also say the reason that many Japanese and Japanese media repeat the mantra that we are the best is because deep down they don't really believe it. If they believed it they wouldn't need this uninformed and insincere flattery from foreigners, who let's face it most other foreigners think are weird.

    In my time in Japan I have learned to be more wary of insincere flattery than people who flat out don't like foreigners. The flatterers also dislike foreigners deep down. They will tell you how amazing you are again and again to your face but as soon as you cross the line and your back is turned they will bite you.

  • 8

    ambrosia

    cleo: I would certainly not deny that there is deep-seated xenophobia in Japan, a mixture of fear of the unknown, insecurity and the potential shame of being spoken to in a language one has studied for years and yet still cannot hold a simple conversation in.

    Why in the world would there be shame involved when someone has spoken to you in fluent Japanese? I'm talking about people such as my husband and others, whose Japanese is better than his English and which is always his go-to language when speaking to Japanese. I have never, seen him speak to a Japanese person in English unless they insist on it.

    Over the summer I had a conversation with two ladies in Ishigakijima who had moved there decades ago from Honshu, and they described being on the receiving end of more or less the exact same treatment - exclusion, 'you're an outsider, you can't understand our customs' etc., that we see people complaining of here. I don't think it's racism. It's insecurity, insularism and xenophobia.

    I'm sorry. I can appreciate that you are trying to make a point and to mitigate what people are saying about their experiences but it's hardly the same. Those ladies may have felt excluded and may well have been excluded but it's unlikely they were denied housing or job opportunities because they weren't originally from Ishigakijima. It's unlikely they were regularly stopped by the police or followed around stores by managers because they were originally from Honshu. It's unlikely that people automatically assumed they couldn't speak or understand the Japanese language and therefore felt perfectly comfortably insulting them to their faces because they came from Honshu. It's unlikely that they even for a second considered changing their names so as to be thought of as coming from Ishgakijima. It's not the same as what people are complaining about, not even close. And again, it can be couched it whatever terms makes people feel better; insecurity, insularism, xenophobia, bigotry, etc. It's still racism, at least according to the OED.

    racism noun

    the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

    prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior:

    As long as Japanese perceive themselves to be a separate race, the treatment people here are talking about is racism. It may be born of insularity, ignorance or fear but it is still racism.

  • -3

    overchan

    Every country thats not mixed is very Racist.

  • 3

    nandakandamanda

    There are two questions in the title:

    Q 1. Is it really? (as some people allege)

    Q 2. Really Racist, (not just average racist).

    Which is the question we are answering?

    In my opinion, Japan is average racist in general, (the article seems to be asking for our generalizations) but you can find extreme examples, and I have heard Asians say they suffer more, especially if they look Japanese but cannot speak the language fluently.

    Personally speaking, Japanese are not particularly racist towards me, but when they are, apart from a few extreme incidents over forty years, I can generally deal with it. Racism in my own country back in Europe, however, is "really racist".

  • 4

    gogogo

    Ever worked at a Japanese company, if there is any problem with what working on it is always a "communication issue", even though you speak perfect Japanese. Or people seem to think it is perfectly to end a disagreement with "you don't understand your not Japanese". Or whenever there is some issue and the client finds out there is a non Japanese on the team the they say "ahhh...." like they know what the "problem" is but wont say anything.

  • 1

    bicultural

    I'm of mixed heritage (part white, part minority), and I can honestly say that I have experienced more racism in my home country, America, the supposed "melting pot," than I have in Japan. There's definitely a lack of cultural understanding and some Japanese people are woefully unaccustomed to dealing with non-Japanese people. I've never felt any hate or malice directed at me, though.

  • 4

    80393

    I have experienced more racism in my home country, America

    this drives me crazy. we all can agree theyre racist people everywhere, no doubt. but there are laws in america protecting people from discrimination. america has gone a step further and given special consideration to minorities with regards to college enrollment and employment through affermative action. in america today are there any signs refusing service based on race or nationality? are you legally denied housing because of your skin color or country of birth? discrimination in japan is government sanctioned and thats what makes it so awful.

  • 2

    cracaphat

    If you're Caucasian and a native English speaker, you've got it better than other nationalities,so you'll be alright.

  • 9

    The Original Wing

    I was once discussing sumo with a middle-aged Japanese man. I asked whether it was popular, and whether he followed it. He said "I used to, but not anymore." I asked why not, and he responded, "There are too many foreigners in it these days." I was absolutely taken back at how calmly and nonchalantly he explained this to me (an American). He was a friendly acquaintance I had a good relationship with. Then I realized how he completely differentiated between foreigners like me and Mongols, for example, to the extent that it never occurred to him that his statement might have offended me.

  • 1

    sf2k

    Yes

  • 7

    Laguna

    Not so much racist (which implies active animosity) as clueless, IMHO. Kind of like this quote from Blazing Saddles (bought the DVD for my son when he was still way too young for it precisely so he could learn this message):

    What did you expect? "Welcome, sonny"? "Make yourself at home"? "Marry my daughter"? You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.

  • -1

    Raymond Chuang

    I think once you look at Japanese society more closely, there are still issues of discrimination even among the Japanese themselves. And it comes down to specifically what dialect of Japanese you speak and what part of Japan you come from.

    It used to be that people looked down on residents of Osaka that spoke fluent Osaka-ben, but I think that's gone away in recent years. (I can cite for example two seasons of the Pretty Cure anime franchise, Fresh Pretty Cure and the recent Smile Precure! In the former season I mentioned, there was a character speaking fluent Osaka-ben that was looked down upon because he spoke that dialect fluently; in the latter season I mentioned, one of the main characters (and her family) spoke Osaka-ben fluently and nobody really looked down on them.) Unfortunately, the Japanese nowadays (well, at least until the March 2011 earthquake) often look down on the fluent speakers of the Touhoku dialects, describing them as unsophisticated rural people. Indeed, there was some criticism of the popular 2004 Japanese movie Swing Girls, where many people from Yamagata Prefecture felt the use of the Yamagata-ben dialect was a bit too patronizing.

    In short, the Japanese--once you get to know the people better--are not as monocultural as you think. Just the differentiation based on what part of Japan you are born in and the dialect you speak most fluently can cause discrimination issues almost as bad as discrimination against non-Japanese.

  • 0

    cleo

    Why in the world would there be shame involved when someone has spoken to you in fluent Japanese?

    it's potential shame that rears its head before the scary foreigner even speaks; the assumption that communication will not be possible is what does folks' heads in. No trouble when people realise you can speak Japanese, at least in my experience. Sometimes then it's hard to shut 'em up.

    It's unlikely they were regularly stopped by the police or followed around stores by managers because they were originally from Honshu. It's unlikely that people automatically assumed they couldn't speak or understand the Japanese language and therefore felt perfectly comfortably insulting them to their faces because they came from Honshu.

    Apart from the people automatically assuming they couldn't speak or understand the Ryukyu dialect and therefore feeling perfectly comfortable insulting them to their faces because they came from Honshu (which they told me did happen), you're right of course, and I agree with you. When it comes to people being denied basic rights (employment, housing) or harassed by the police for the crime of looking different, then that is institutionalized racism and I'm as agin it as you are. But what most posters here are complaining about isn't that; it's the small stuff that isn't worth bothering about and that's driven by ignorance and fear, not malice or any sense of superiority - quite the opposite.

  • 0

    Get Real

    80393,

    discrimination in japan is government sanctioned and thats what makes it so awful.

    Are you able to expand on that?

  • 2

    SenseNotSoCommon

    Well said, Cleo.

    We have too many middle class white kids who have grown up protected from the very real prejudice in their own societies complaining that someone in a country that was never part of any European empire (a rare feat) communicates differently.

    If you want to know prejudice, look to your own inner cities back home, and try walking a mile in your neighbor's shoes.

  • -16

    southsakai

    Some expats have made entire careers writing — or ranting — about the problems of discrimination in Japan.

    These "expats" should look in their own backyard when it comes to racism.

    Japan is a unique country and locals here are very wary of outsiders and that's absolutely understandable. I don't care what any Gaijin thinks or believes. < Oh how dare I said the G word!

    Gaijins will never be a real Japanese like so many try or want to be when they come and live here. Get over it. Japanese people are total different from every other race and they should protect their identity and culture. In fact every race should protect their culture and unique identity. It's not racism.

    I have no problems when I end up in some places where it say's Japanese only. I get it. I really get it. Some foreigners simply don't know how to act or behave. Like the Maori lady at the Onsen who created a ruckus because they did not allow her in for her tattoos. Don't create a ruckus, this is Japan. Follow their rules and respect their way of life.

    Your's Sincerely 35 old black male in Japan

  • 10

    smithinjapan

    Japan is most certainly racist. You don't see much of the physical violence that can result from racism (it happens here too, though), but there is a deep, underlying racism that keeps this nation from moving forward. Just look at the current government and their actions towards denying atrocities committed to other nations. Hell, I know Japanese people who say Japan's Imperialism HELPED Asia as a whole! British/American schools here get certain perks, Brazilian schools, no. Why?

    If there's no racism, why do permanent citizens, who pay taxes here while employed, do not get to vote? In my neighbourhood there happens to be a lot of South Americans working for construction companies on jobs Japanese do not want to do. They are treated MUCH differently than even I am as a Caucasian. My wife is Korean, and you should see the hateful comments I get sometimes, even if as 'innocent' as, "Why didn't you marry a Japanese woman?"

  • 5

    80393

    get real

    Are you able to expand on that?

    sure. the japanese government has given businesses permission to refuse service to people based on nationality or race. it allows its police force to racially profile people to stop and search. it lets landlords deny housing to people who are here leagally for reasons of race/nationality. i feel that because the government does nothing to stop these actions, they are complicit.

  • 4

    jj1980

    Someone mentioned about the people who pass out flyers on the streets. I used to hate how they would always pass me up and pretend I wasn't there after they had just looked me straight in the eyes. I always look and smile at everyone of those tissue/flyer ad givers when they come across my path. Me not being Japanese and my wife who is..... Guess who gets the tissue/flyers? Most of the time they will look at me like a deer in the headlights, or nervous like and show signs of not sure what to do. Others will just ignore you and act like those fake sleepers on the train who pretend nobody's there. I always smile and greet them back so there is no intimidation on my part.

    Now when I do get one who decides to give me a tissue/flyer, I ALWAYS take it. My for awhile my wife would laugh and say "Why did you take it? You don't have to take those, and besides it's for make up! LOL!" I tell her and anyone who questions why I collect so many for what looks like no apparent reason. "I take them for the next foreigner who comes along and may actually have a use for this advertisement. If I don't take it, maybe they might assume that foreigners don't like to take flyers and tissues and/or are rude and then there would be less of them handing out to gaijins."

    By the way, those tissues really come in handy in winter.

  • -4

    Magnet

    I wouldn't say Japan is racist... A little xenophobic maybe, but not racist. There is a difference.

  • 5

    The Original Wing

    southsakai: Gaijins will never be a real Japanese like so many try or want to be when they come and live here.... I have no problems when I end up in some places where it say's Japanese only. I get it. I really get it. Some foreigners simply don't know how to act or behave.

    I understand where you're coming from, but there are 2 problems with what you're saying.

    1. This isn't an issue of foreigners wanting to be thought of as "real Japanese." The issue is of foreigners wanting to be thought of as "real PEOPLE." Denying someone entry into a place doesn't offend me as an American (or a Malaysian or an Italian), it offends me as a human being.

    2. Some Japanese people don't know how to behave either. Why would you judge one group by its unfortunate minority but not the other? Should we make it illegal for Japanese people to use the trains in Tokyo because old Japanese women elbow people aside and cut to the front of the line so that they can get a seat? Certainly not. And for the same reason, I don't want to be barred from a restaurant because some British backpackers once got drunk and started a fight there.

  • 6

    Jimizo

    While it's true that racism exists everywhere, the question of why the Japanese government still hasn't implemented anti-discrimination legislation remains. I certainly don't believe that the ills of society can be solved with a lawmaker's pen, but the claims that such legislation is unnecessary as these issues are sufficiently dealt with by the courts is demonstrably false if we look at discrimination in many of the instances already mentioned. Many Japanese people I know are aghast when I mention the problems many non-Japanese face when trying to find a place to live. Many have no idea this goes on. Legislation would acknowledge there is a problem that needs addressing and excluding others based on race or nationality is wholly unacceptable. Maybe it's my suspicious nature, but my thoughts about why the government hasn't enacted legislation have often led me down some pretty dark alleys.

  • 4

    The Original Wing

    Jimizo: Many Japanese people I know are aghast when I mention the problems many non-Japanese face when trying to find a place to live. Many have no idea this goes on.

    Yes, I've had the same experience.

  • -9

    KnowBetter

    'White' is not an ethnicity. White is a colour (actually all colours combined). Caucasian is what I guess Jessica means by white but even then that is not an ethnicity.

    Japan is what is and for the most part it works although it seems to be coming to an end as the younger generations are losing touch with old world values (i.e. respect). Japan is slowly becoming western and its youth are running afoul. 'Tagging' and graffiti over the last 20 years has gotten out of hand in Japan just as an example of the decay of Japanese pride in their surroundings. Too bad we can whack these delinquents up side the head with a 'workgang' detail complete with chains in public to shame them straight.

  • 7

    Scrote

    I feel things are getting better in Japan for non-Japanese, particularly when it comes to employment. These days I know many non-Japanese in full time employment (not time-limited contracts) in Japanese companies of all sizes. As the pool of talented Japanese graduates shrinks those companies are changing their attitude to non-Japanese and if you have the skills they want they will employ you.

    As for the "Japanese only" landlords and shops: I am happy that they advertise their bigotry so that I can spend my money elsewhere.

  • 4

    Get Real

    FoxCloudLelean,

    I'm learning Japanese, and I'm probably the only one in Wales doing so.

    Sssh! Don't tell Bangor, Cardiff, or Glyndŵr Universities!

  • 3

    wtfjapan

    @serano,, yes very true Japanese are not a race, they are a nationality, and to say that there are pure Japanese is also false, Japanese people originally came from different parts of Asia many thousands of years ago and all races originated from Africa many 100s thousands years ago. anybody who thinks otherwise is just ignorant to history and science.

  • 11

    marcelito

    Ossan - >" Jessica my dear, as one American to another I urge you to read up on US history as far as racism towards "orientals" go. We aren't talking about fringe groups we are talking about the Federal and State governments openly instituting and upholding purely racist policies. It's very easy to compare other counries to today's America but I was still in grade school when segregation laws still existed in parts of the U.S. As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'.

    Ossan, you are a smart guy but as you often tell others on JT - on this occasion your argument is invalid . This article is about the situation and experiences people who live here in Japan are having right now and not about what America was like decades ago. Sure every country has racism on some level but telling the author to look at US history is irrelevant to this discussion.

  • 11

    ambrosia

    These "expats" should look in their own backyard when it comes to racism.

    Surely, if they are living in Japan and calling it home then it is their own backyard.

    Japan is a unique country

    Which country isn't?

    Gaijins will never be a real Japanese like so many try or want to be when they come and live here. Get over it.

    Interesting. In my 20+ years being here I've never seen a foreigner try to be Japanese, except of course the ones who get Japanese nationality and become - Japanese. Quite a conundrum that nationality law, isn't it?

    Japanese people are total different from every other race and they should protect their identity and culture.

    How's that? Do they have more heads? Fewer bones? More fingers?

    In fact every race should protect their culture and unique identity. It's not racism.

    Really? To me that sounds pretty much like what comes out of the mouths of KKK-men when talking about racial purity. And no, you don't get a pass on saying stuff like that because you're black.

    I have no problems when I end up in some places where it say's Japanese only. I get it. I really get it.

    So you get segregation and racism. Good for you.

    Some foreigners simply don't know how to act or behave. Like the Maori lady at the Onsen who created a ruckus because they did not allow her in for her tattoos.

    And neither do some Japanese but then again most do, quite like most foreigners. Though I'm sure you think the Japanese understanding is far more unique, right?

    Don't create a ruckus, this is Japan. Follow their rules and respect their way of life.

    Thanks for reminding us. I'm sure we all would've been lost without that.

    magnet: I wouldn't say Japan is racist... A little xenophobic maybe, but not racist. There is a difference.

    Xenophobia is a symptom. Racism is the disease.

    Sensenotsocommon: We have too many middle class white kids who have grown up protected from the very real prejudice in their own societies complaining that someone in a country that was never part of any European empire (a rare feat) communicates differently.

    Not all of us are or are married to middle class white kids so please take your assumptions elsewhere. And even if we were, would that somehow justify discrimination or racism?

    cleo: But what most posters here are complaining about isn't that; it's the small stuff that isn't worth bothering about and that's driven by ignorance and fear, not malice or any sense of superiority - quite the opposite

    Nothing that I mentioned in regards to my husband's or my experiences was "small stuff". It affected our living situations and his comfort in being able to walk down our street without being continuously harassed by the police, among other issues I didn't mention. You may feel that other's experiences aren't worth bothering about but I think that's up to them to decide. As for what drives people to act the way they sometimes do, we'll have to respectfully agree to disagree.

  • 3

    Nessie

    There should be a law banning hate speech.

    This would already be covered under laws against incitement to violence. It was covered there in the case of the Korean school that was targeted. "Hate speech" laws are too open-ended and subject to abuse.

  • -4

    pochan

    While it's true that racism exists everywhere, the question of why the Japanese government still hasn't implemented anti-discrimination legislation remains.

    I think it is because the discrimination and exclusion of others is, on the whole is coming from government institutions and therefore they would have to legislate mainly against themselves. The Japanese establishment wants it to be this way because they are successful in controlling Japanese citizens but it would have problems maintaining the same level of social control with outsiders. The Japanese governments talks out of both sides of it's mouth on this issue. On the one side there is internationalization and welcoming of foreigners but on the other hand there are messages being constantly given through a compliant media about how different we are from them. It is no wonder then that many Japanese have a very skewed view of the outside world but this does not equal racism.

    The average Japanese is not racist in the slightest, in fact many people are kind and considerate Others are a??holes but that is any society. The opinion that many Japanese hold about the outside world seems racist, at least to those from Western countries who have been brought up with a the ideology of political correctness.

    Also the average Japanese person doesn't know much about the deep institutional discrimination that exists here. Why would they, it doesn't effect their daily life. I believe that many people here would be appalled if they did know. The deepest sickness in Japanese society as far as discrimination is concerned is that people have been brought up to believe that they are Japanese first and human beings second. There seems to be a deeply ingrained belief that Japanese are somehow different from other people and taking the Japanese side on any issue because a moral position. The problem here is not if people are racist but which Japanese people are willing to stand up for the rights of foreigners, at the moment it is very few. That is why I say that Japan has to first end workplace discrimination against women and then foreigners can come next. This change will happen very soon because the dinosaurs in the bureaucracy can't stop the flow of information, the influx of new ideas, the education which all equal choice. Communication has changed more in the last 20 years than perhaps all of human history and that is why they won't be able to continue controlling the way people think.

  • 4

    Akula

    Racist on many levels yes. Japan for me is something I can enjoy in small doses, but no more. Never have and never will work for a Japanese company, they're cheap and don't treat us equally. Try dealing with the Japanese police as a victim of a crime where a Japanese is the perpetrator. They won't give you the time of day.

    Two weeks a year in Japan, great. Living there, no way.

  • 4

    Nessie

    It's very easy to compare other counries to today's America but I was still in grade school when segregation laws still existed in parts of the U.S. As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'.

    Guess what, Ossan? A lot of us have looked at our own history, and we think we can criticize that history *and *the present-day situation in Japan. The "hurt feelings" kind of discrimination doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the racism with practical consequences, like being turned down for apartments every time I move.

  • 4

    marcelito

    **Jimizo - While it's true that racism exists everywhere, the question of why the Japanese government still hasn't implemented anti-discrimination legislation remains. ****

    Agreed - a very good question indeed.

  • 0

    80393

    the question of why the Japanese government still hasn't implemented anti-discrimination legislation remains.

    ive thought about this and have only come up with the following:

    1 they dont know discrimination exists in japan

    2 they know but dont care

    3 they care but not enough to bother

    4 their constituency would not be in favor of anti-discrimination legislation

    honestly, i dont know which of these is the worst, i suppose number 4

  • 0

    justbcuzisay

    Sensenotsocommon: We have too many middle class white kids who have grown up protected from the very real prejudice in their own societies complaining that someone in a country that was never part of any European empire (a rare feat) communicates differently.

    Well, leaving the white people aside. How do you feel about the ethnic Koreans in Japan, do they have the right to complain about racism? Some of us are concerned with HUMAN rights here, and whether we have experienced racism personally or not does not matter.

    That being said, I believe that most Japanese do not have any idea that these kind of bad experiences can happen to foreigners in Japan, and would be equally upset to know about it. Also, since they have not experience being the minority (like us white-middle class kids you speak of) they might not understand how little things can be hurtful.

  • -5

    cleo

    But what most posters here are complaining about isn't that; it's the small stuff that isn't worth bothering about and that's driven by ignorance and fear, not malice or any sense of superiority - quite the opposite

    Nothing that I mentioned in regards to my husband's or my experiences was "small stuff". It affected our living situations and his comfort in being able to walk down our street without being continuously harassed by the police, among other issues I didn't mention. You may feel that other's experiences aren't worth bothering about

    Read my post and it's obvious that the that I referred to is the kind of experience you described and that I stated clearly was not acceptable. If you can't see that complaining about the 'small stuff' as if it were hard-core is what makes light of the kind of thing your husband is subjected to, then I'm sorry, we have to agree to differ. Compared with people being constantly harassed by the police, experiences on the level of being mistaken for an English teacher or people assuming you don't speak Japanese really aren't worth bothering about.

  • -7

    thkanner

    bilderberg is spot on, if you want to live in japan as a foreigner and stay happy DONT LEARN JAPANESE. I like that they racist cos they keep all the bad stuff that foreigners bring out of the country and thats why iam here. we cant have all.

    i just smile cos i know how deep they stuck in their depressions and even a simple honest smile feels painful for them. if you look at the demographics and than you where japan is heading... THE CLIFF. up untill than enjoy it and i dont mind that they racists.

  • 5

    Shinjuku No Yaju

    As an African-American living in Tokyo for 7 years I've experienced very little in the way of what I would call racism. Being mistaken for an African, an English teacher, etc (very along the lines of the author). The worst I've had is being told again and again that I should be a bouncer (I work in finance, hahaha). I think the situation is a bit worse for other Asians. I've heard some very bad things said about Chinese and Koreans from people who are usually extremely openminded and kind. I hope this is fade away with time and improved relations between the countries. Great article!

  • -4

    Joe__American

    I experience the same racism in America

  • -1

    Serrano

    "Most importantly, average Japanese, concerned about the direction their country is taking, are speaking out. General rallies were held in Tokyo and Osaka recently to protest racism and hate speech. Similarly, when an anti-Korean protest was held in Shin-Okubo, a neighborhood with many ethnic Koreans and immigrants, counter-protesters showed up to support their Korean neighbors."

    This is good.

    "I've heard some very bad things said about Chinese and Koreans from people who are usually extremely openminded and kind. I hope this is fade away with time and improved relations between the countries."

    Me too.
    Shinjuku no Yaju - You should definitely be a bouncer, ha ha!

  • -7

    Thunderbird2

    I'd like to offer my own experience of a brief 3 week stay in Japan...

    I rented a flat in Minami Nagareyama in 2011, after the earthquake. While my ex acted as guarantor, I had no problems with payment, etc. I was the only non-Japanese person in the entire town as far as I could tell. No-one stared. I shopped in the supermarket and was treated nicely. People helped me find things. I wandered around and no-one gawped at me. Someone online said that the local koban was policed by a senior officer who would stop and question any foreigner... nope. I don't know how many times I walked past that police box, even photographing their Honda scooters... and nothing.

    Now Minami Nagareyama is not on the tourist trail - no hotels, touristy shops, etc... so would the people around me assume I was a tourist? Why would they? I was staying in a mansion. Even my neighbours were nice to me.

    I'm not arguing about whether or not Japanese are racist - everybody is. Even saying something like "Japanese girls are beautiful" can be taken as racist as you are singling out one group of people. Point I'm trying to make (and probably failing) is that different people have different experiences.

    In another instance I stayed in Nagoya with a friend (Japanese who teaches rich kids English) and she allowed me to go with her to show off as a genuine Briton (which I thought was pretty funny). While the kids were shy, their mother was overjoyed... she treated me like a proper guest. No silly questions, no weird looks. We even went to the Nagoya aquarium as a group... where no-one took a second look at the fat gaijin with the young mother and kids.

  • 3

    DudeDeuce

    Title should be "Is there racism in Japan?"

    Saying Japan is racist means all 130 million people hate foreigners

  • 5

    Phil Stilwell

    Good article. Essentially, Japanese desire predictability. Where personalities are less than predictable, there you see and aversion express towards those personalities. In addition to the immediate psychological need for predictability, the society here works efficiently due to that predictability, and would be less efficient were predictability to decline.

    So I don't mind if, when on the train, Japanese choose not to sit next to the white skinhead. I don't mind children clinging tightly to their mothers when they notice me. I just smile and give them as much exposure to my personality as possible so as to slowly change perceptions. But I am one of those scary unpredictable personalities at times. When I encounter what I consider to be an injustice, I frequently in these infrequent contexts respond aggressively to rectify that injustice. I don't apologize for this, but neither do I blame the Japanese for shunning me subsequently.

    Having said that, there are many Japanese of a more adventurous and independent personality type who feel constrained here and would thrive in a less predictable society. There is a rather deeply entrenched sexism here, but having well-framed parameters within to find identity is a reluctant comfort for many.

    It would be nice if boarders were more open so personalities of various sorts could migrate into whatever society best matches their personality.

  • 1

    spudman

    that Japan has no law banning discrimination based on race or nationality

    Yes it does. Stop spreading mis-truths.

  • 0

    Mike45

    The issue of racism in Japan is very complicated What might seem to be racism sometimes is just cultural differences that can easily be mistaken for racism, at other times there is behavior or speech that is outright racism. I have experienced both. There are works by Japanese authors claiming the superiority of the Japanese race and no doubt many Japanese have read them; whether or not they believe it is something else. I have found that many Japanese look down on the peoples from countries they once conquered. Some feel that Caucasins are devils; others feel inferior to them. It takes about 10 years or residence to really understand racism in Japan, and how profound it is. The people who deny it usually fall into 2 camps: The newbie who stayed for 1 year or less and "never had one problem, whatsoever" usually said in a self complimenting tone, or the long termer, who out of survival, takes the denial route out of defense or justification for their choice or mistake in life. To say there is no racism in Japan is like a Jew denying the Holocaust.

  • -10

    Guru29

    It is through the following education carried out by the Japanese government that made the Japanese racist:

    "From 1890 onwards until 1945, every school child in Japan, for every school day of his life, dedicated himself to his Emperor. Much like the Muslims, who pray to Allah, facing Mecca; every morning, all Japanese pupils bowed in the direction of the Imperial Palace, repeated by heart the long Imperial Rescript on Education, then sang the national anthem, and waited breathlessly for the question, 'What is your dearest ambition? 'To which, in passionate unified response, the entire school replied, 'To die for the Emperor!'

    According to the state-run Shinto cult, the Japanese 'eight hundred myriad' gods, who are the highest beings in the cosmos, are conceived to be the ancestors of the Japanese race, which makes the Japanese themselves gods by descent, and their land 'the land of the gods'. Being direct descendants of the gods, this makes them the highest beings on earth-the master race is thus entrusted with the mandate to rule the inhabitants of the world who are not their equal.

    To endow the Japanese people with a sense of self-confidence, and to confer sustenance to the master race theory, the 'Tokyo Anthropological Society' claimed in 1936,

    "The Japanese people were created on the islands of Japan, and are a superior race supporting an unbroken dynasty for all ages, and having no racial origin outside of the Japanese islands" (Through Japanese Eyes, p.16).

    Otto Tolischus explains further:

    "In this divine hierarchy, the Japanese Emperor, as descendant of the Sun Goddess, the ruler of the Heavens, has been invested with the rule of the earth, and is the highest-ranking god on earth, to whom all men owe obedience. And the Japanese themselves, being descendants of other lesser gods who attended the Sun Goddess's grandson on his descent from Heaven, are also gods, and therefore superior to all men on earth, who at the most are descended from the 'Earthly Deities' against whom the Sun Goddess's descendants had to fight. And when the Japanese die, especially when they die in fulfilling the will of the gods, they are promoted to the rank of higher gods, or kami (at Yasukuni Shrine) and become the patron gods of the Japanese race" ( Tokyo Record, p.148)."

  • 5

    Thunderbird2

    I love how because I haven't been discriminated against I get thumbed down.

    I've never had people refuse to sit next to me on a train, or get into a lift, or sit next to me on a bench. Could be I'm just lucky... who knows.

  • 1

    taiko666

    The thing about Japanese 'racism' is that it's not, on the whole, malicious. But the concept of race seems deeply, deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. AFAIK, it's the only culture that claims actual physical, cerebral uniqueness (nihonjinron). Some (most?) intelligent Japanese people think that Japanese people UNIQUELY have a different body temperature to other humans. So cold-climate dwelling Hokkaido people and sub tropical Okinawans share that same UNIQUE body temperature. And to be "Japanese" means to be "of the Japanese race." Anyone not of the "Japanese race", or even who has some "non-Japanese race" characteristics, is an outsider and always will be. My wife's ancestry is 100% Japanese, yet she has very dark brown, rather than black, hair. She was therefore teased and bullied at school. When her parents complained to the school, the school suggested a solution: that she die her hair black.

    So 'racism' - yes, but not as we know it Jim. Rather, a deep, overriding belief in the paramount importance of race, and the 'uniqueness' of the "Japanese race."

  • 4

    JSTOKYO

    The key difference between Japan and other developed countries is that, while other developed countries may have people who are racist, in Japan racism and discrimination against non-Japanese is systemic, institutionalized and ever-present. If you have ever had to deal with the Japanese courts and lawyers, you will be shocked at the extreme and blatant form of institutionalized racism and discrimination that exists in Japan.

  • -2

    cleo

    I once saw a Japanese on the train tell a tall black dude (seemed African) to get out of his country and called him every vile racist Japanese word for blacks there is.

    Yeah, the slight-of-build Japanese are well known for their propensity to take on tall black dudes. Or was the Japanese you once saw a Sumo wrestler?

    Until you have an "experience" you will be blissfully ignorant of the obvious. The "experience" usually comes after a long day at work, usually Thurs or Friday, and a Japanese will vent their pent up frustrations on the first forienger they find.

    While I wouldn't say it never happens (there are plonkers everywhere), well over thirty years here and not a single 'experience' either experienced or witnessed leads me to believe these 'experiences' are not as obvious or as frequent as you claim.

  • 5

    pochan

    I love how because I haven't been discriminated against I get thumbed down.

    Because many of the people on here venting their frustrations about how racist Japanese people are themselves prejudice against Japanese. Don't take it personally, it says more about that person than you. They go around with angry faces and bad attitudes and then wonder why people don't want to sit next to them.

  • -1

    Jimizo

    @spudman 'Stop spreading mis-truths' I'd never deliberately spread 'mis-truths'. I'd apologise wholeheartedly and stand corrected if you can show me where the law prohibits discrimination based on race and nationality.

  • 0

    taiko666

    @cleo

    Come on Cleo, you can't just dismiss that anecdote as a lie simply because you think that no Japanese other than a sumo wrestler would ever be rude to "tall black dude." If an idiot is on a mission, body sizes are irrelevant. I've seen drunken salarymen square up to totally inappropriate targets! I can well believe however that you've never experience or witnessed a similar incident. But that sort of incident is indeed rare, and is not indicative of Japanese racism (which I believe is a different beast entirely...)

  • -3

    Dennis Smit

    nationalism should not be mixed up with rasism, every country, culture or race has besides the modern demanded things still the duty to their ancestors to keep, maintain and give on what they had. read to many stupid remarks, to be honest to much, offcourse japan is better for the japanese, that is what i like about this country. if you don't like it then you are free to go, they should have maintained that rule also in western countries then they would still be a save and pleasant but mostly dignified place to live and not the criminal unsafe and downfalling system and societies they are now. ganbate nippon ichi ban and NO i am not japanese but i do know my place in this world. americans can easily say they are rasist but they al live on soil not of their ancestors bot stolen, just like canadians, australians and new zealanders. people from poor countries allway's hide their un ability to get along in a society that they are not used to or do not want to be a part of just profit from it's developement, look around in europe i would say. evey country is a rasist country if japan is, as all the things i read you will find everywhere as again i say do not mix up rasism with nationalism, every country has a duty to be nationalistic and that's a problem where the whole world is dealing with since wwII as nationalism is seen as evil but it is not as long as it is in the line of the ancestors.

  • 4

    Mike45

    @Taiko666 Yeah the J guy was some nerdy looking squirm and was spewing hate, and dude said "omae kiotsukite ho ga ii" and it enflamed him more. It was an uncomfortable situation, but I have seen this many times here. The idiot was getting a rise out of it, especially as the black dude spoke more japanese. To say it doesnt happen shows a lack of experience or just denial.

  • -3

    Cos

    People...over 100 millions, some good, some bad.

    What bothers me is the racism with practical consequences,

    Exactly. Racist (machist, homophobic, you name it...rants from bar drunkards and bitter old witches, extreme-right, that's worldwide. Badmouthing and coldness toward minorities, that's like anywhere. But there is more than the blah blah.

    I know people who have been living in Japan for fifteen, twenty years, and who cannot speak a lick of Japanese. They are usually the happiest foreigners I know,

    Sure, there are a dozen of people like princess Kennedy that don't need nihongo.

    Is Japan really

    The country ? Yes. Nowhere is perfect, but they are on the lower end of developed countries. The system is deeply xenophobic, like 1920 in European countries, and most mainstream people don't even see the problem , even some foreigners, as newbies, or housewife foreigners that live in sort of bubbles don't perceive it as long as it's cosy for them. I've survived here, but never got the equivalent of Japanese people. That's extremely restrictive and hard to live and that even made life here impossible. I find it unfair. And I know many zainichi persons that have tested it even longer. You can be born and live here all your life, you never become a full-right local, no matter your efforts. And with lesser rights, it's not a question of words, you struggle materially.

    Gaijins will never be a real Japanese

    Nobody cares about becoming pure-blood nihojin. What for ? To walk in costume at those race pride matsuri or marry into the Imperial family ? No, the issue is you are going to pay more for housing, for bank services, you'll be excluded lifelong from a huge part of the work market... you'll be maintained in the ghetto. In all legality. Even hospitals are allowed to reject you with "we don't think we have an eigo speaking doctor, so we don't take the risk to take you", regardless of your fluency as they don't come to test your in them ambulance. And it's legal, normal. I went to the koban, talked to lawyers, you can't complain, their freedom as only them as competent to judge if they can accept patients. I've been in groups trying to work on it with Japanese authorities and actually the assessment of the situation by the "zainichi" is quite bad, but always more optimistic than what Japanese civil servants and politicians think of their compatriots. They think a lot more of xenophobia and possible violence is "hidden". We tried awareness campaigns. But there is not much that can be done as long laws don't deal with it. And the crowd won't move to help you, they'll tell you "don't make a fuss".

    While my ex acted as guarantor,

    You've spent what in the country ? 5 minutes. What you see from your seat, being the "guest" (to not say the pet) of a Japanese is not the whole picture. A friend told me she fell from high when she divorced. Before, during 25 yrs, she was getting everything under her Japanese hubby's name, so she had many credit cards, she could buy cars, a house, start businesses, etc, everybody was kind to her. No, kind to her husband's wife. Then later, single, that was another world, with doors slamming at her nose in all directions, people became cold, only her ex-mother-in-law suddenly became friendlier (apparently she realized she's need some support in old age, visits from grand-kids). She bought a mansion cash, with the money in a suitcase, since she had no Japanese bank (they propose insane interest rates to risky borrowers). She had to borrow a part in her old country, and saved the rest in advance. And if she changes of car, her son will buy one for her, while she'll pay. He is nihonjin, even if he has no income, he is trusted more. Same situation for a friend (40 yrs of Japan) remarried with another foreigner that is not employed by a big company, so they are both people nobody trusts, by definition, they have no credit cards from J-banks and I really doubt that's due to bad finance they got rejected.

    isn't based on race but more so on nationality.

    Race doesn't mean much, but burakumin, ryukyujin, zainichi (even holders of J-nationality)... are nationals, and discriminated. Also, even if nationals with haafu faces are seen in show-biz, I don't see exotic faces nor exotic names in Japanese government. Tell me if I failed to notice the local Obamas. Would someone like Masayoshi Son be taken in government ? As a PM ?

    experiences on the level of being mistaken for an English teacher or people assuming you don't speak Japanese really aren't worth bothering about.

    Not worth bothering ? Are you in people's shoes ? You said you admitted that posed problems for jobs and housing, but you imagine what ? That the persons that assume you are genetically too dumb for nihongo in the street when you meet them later as potential employers and landlords, they become more open-minded ? What if everywhere I look for a job, they tell me I should stick to eikaiwa as I have a face of mickey so that proves I speak eigo and not nihongo ? And replace "English teacher" by whatever stereotype going with your apparent ethnicity (due to your face or your nationality). That's how 95% of 2 generations of zainichi people have been kept out of seishain employment till the mid-90's.

    University graduates have four or more years of advanced education in Japanese (and maybe another language) under their belt, and the papers to prove it. They have impressive CVs listing their accomplishments, all written in Japanese.

    And, they get discriminated and told they don't speak nihongo. Among acquaintances, a Taiwanese (that came to Japan near bilingual aged 16), a zainichi Korean (grand-parents born in Kyoto) and they are so bad at nihongo that have graduate degrees in the subject. They have even taught the kokugo class ( full nihonjin parents have never suspected the cheating). If they get to say their name, which is exotic, people turn to the person standing next and ask them to translate ... That's the one for the anecdote. The really painful thing is if they apply for jobs, they get rejected and told "we'd prefer someone that speaks really good nihongo". They tried sending the CVs with Japanese alias, and they were told it the same way, just later, when they revealed their origins.

    (and especially when they are a shoulder for you to cry on).

    The best to get rid of Japanese people is to explain them the actual problems. They disappear instantly, too embarrassed to answer.

  • 6

    Gudni Gudnason

    Innocence and non malicious behaviors.....ok but you know what, that excuse can only go so far and its getting old. I have lived in several countries in the last 35 years including an area with many red-necks in the US and by far, Japan is the most racists country that I have ever lived in. They cannot see us Gajin (foreigners) as anything but foreigner and they define us as: Useful Gajin: I can learn something from this person but then he/she should go away. I have been working here for 15 years and I am still just a "useful object" but never do they "truly let me in"!

    Its about common courtesy to just be nice to people, not on the surface, that the Japanese got down but to truly just care for others. When a nation has superiority complex and think they are "better then others" they will not welcome others into their midst. I think that a lot of dialogue and explanations is needed so that the Japanese understand their own way of being. I think it is important for us who live in Japan to not give up but to continue to educate those around us and voice our feelings instead of holding them inside. This is how we can create a better community where we are not Gajin or a Stranger in a Strange Land anymore but rather we are just all humans, living as one..... dreaming, oh well, I will dream on....

  • 1

    Mike45

    "This is how we can create a better community where we are not Gajin or a Stranger in a Strange Land anymore but rather we are just all humans, living as one..... dreaming, oh well, I will dream on...."

    Keep dreamin bro, it aint going change. You can only colaborate with others of your kind or leave. If anything, with the facist back in charge, things will be rolling backwards.

  • 4

    tmarie

    **While I wouldn't say it never happens (there are plonkers everywhere), well over thirty years here and not a single 'experience' either experienced or witnessed leads me to believe these 'experiences' are not as obvious or as frequent as you claim. **

    Don't you live in the middle of nowhere where perhaps the locals are used to you? Many of us live in cities and don't see the same person twice. I have had more racist experiences I care to remember. Perhaps YOU haven't had issues and great for you. Many of us have and you're constant "It hasn't happened to me so it can't be that bad" is nothing less than patronizing and dismissive. My Japanese husband is shocked pretty much monthly when I tell him some of my experiences or coworkers. He lived abroad, he's well aware of the racism I, and others, face in Japan. Shame you just can't seem to understand it. It isn't something to just laugh off or ignore. It is a serious issue and serious causes problems for some.

  • -2

    JSTOKYO

    @ Phil Stilwell

    Good article. Essentially, Japanese desire predictability. Where personalities are less than predictable, there you see and aversion express towards those personalities.

    I'm sorry, but this is a pretty lame argument. It is the same flawed argument that was used by people in America who opposed the abolition of slavery - the boogeyman of who know's what those unpredictable black slaves will do if they are set free to roam freely in society unchecked. This argument was wrong back then in the context of American slavery and it is wrong now in the context of foreign residents of Japan.

  • 8

    Vast Right-Wing Conspirator

    While the legalized discrimination is a problem- I was denied a rental for my family despite having a steady job, permanent residence, and an iron-clad guarantor, there is a bigger one. I think the simple, binary way that so many japanese look at the world is a real problem. The world has only two places, Japan and Gaikoku. It is so natural for people, no matter their education and background, to ask questions that start, "In Gaikoku,....?", or say things like "People in gaikoku...". THIS is something that holds Japan back in so many ways. So, when my students ask, "Do people in gaikoku eat rice?", I ask them which gaikoku they mean- China, India, Egypt, Brazil... they usually get it, but it is a tough habit to break.

  • -5

    Gaijin Desi

    No not at all

  • 4

    justbcuzisay

    The world has only two places, Japan and Gaikoku. It is so natural for people, no matter their education and background, to ask questions that start, "In Gaikoku,....?", or say things like "People in gaikoku...".

    It was really shocking when I realized how very true this belief is. And amusing when I went to Korea with my Japanese boyfriend, and he was shocked at how many similarities he noticed. Could not believe there could be a single thing that resembles Japan in 'gaikoku' but he also realized from that trip a lot of what he has been told to be 'undeniable truth' might be subject to some further investigation.

  • -6

    Thunderbird2

    You've spent what in the country ? 5 minutes. What you see from your seat, being the "guest" (to not say the pet) of a Japanese is not the whole picture.

    Wow, so I'm my ex GF's pet? That's a new one. Must tell her that, she'll love it, lol

    Seriously, I think different people have different experiences. I'm not doubting the horror stories.

  • 0

    HaileG

    I could give 100 examples of racism/xenophobia but I will tell one story. I was having dinner with an American friend and his Japanese wife many years ago. When he was out of the room she told a story about the two of them being taken to a local festival by a Japanese acquaintance. When the husband was not there the Japanese remarked to another Japanese what a pain in the a%% it was to have to take care of this stupid gaijin. After she told the story she said to me, "The truth is that Japanese don't think foreigners are human." This comment of course shocked me. For years I had tried everything possible to fit in but with no success.

    Later that evening I was at home talking to my girlfriend. We had talked about this subject many times and she had always put the blame for my lack of success on me. She said I needed to try harder. Anyway I told her this story...Can you predict her reaction? She immediately said it was true. No hesitation. Just that it was true. I have told this story to many Japanese and to many westerners over the years. The reaction from the westerners has almost universally been disbelief or scepticism (sp?) Every Japanese I have told this story has said it was true. Every one. No argument. No hedging. Try an experiment...tell a Japanese person that another Japanese person told you this. It is important to say it came from a Japanese.(If you say you heard it from a foreigner, they will deny it) See what they say..

  • -5

    Thunderbird2

    HaileG... so you're saying your girlfriend thinks you are a non-human? Something else to chat about with my Japanese friends and loved ones.

  • -9

    OssanAmerica

    marcelitoNov. 11, 2013 - 03:45PM JST Ossan - >" Jessica my dear, as one American to another I urge you to read up on US history as far as racism towards "orientals" go. We aren't talking about fringe groups we are talking about the Federal and State governments openly instituting and upholding purely racist policies. It's very easy to compare other counries to today's America but I was still in grade school when segregation laws still existed in parts of the U.S. As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'.

    Ossan, you are a smart guy but as you often tell others on JT - on this occasion your argument is invalid . This article >is about the situation and experiences people who live here in Japan are having right now and not about what America >was like decades ago. Sure every country has racism on some level but telling the author to look at US history is >irrelevant to this discussion.

    No you are wrong. It is far more relevant than either you or he author realizes. I see that many have not grasped what I am saying. Far too often people who have not experienced or observed racism historically complain about what they see "today in the now". I am telling the author to gain background knowledge of her/my own country's history before going on about what she sees today in another country. Such an understanding throws a different light on what they see today. I was in Japan in the late 60s and I can assure you that the degree of "racism" I perceived from Japanese, many of whom had older family members living with them who experienced the US bombings of the cities in WWII was 10,000 times greater than anything you can perceive as racism today. To Jessica, frankly, I say what do YOU know? Doesn't mean she shouldn't or can't write about what she sees as racism today, it simply means that the more you know about history the less things are black and white. I can also assure you that Japan today in terms of racism, which EVERY country has, is slowly changing. And y "racism" I am including unintentional aspects, such as ignorance of another's culture. Decades ago when I asked my parents in law for their daughter's hand in marriage, ,my future mother-in-law asked me if I thought all "Japanese women were geisha girls". I can still remember feeling like I got punched in the stomach until she started laughing. My comment isn't an argument, so it's neither valid nor invalid.

    NessieNov. 11, 2013 - 04:37PM JST "It's very easy to compare other countries to today's America but I was still in grade school when segregation laws still existed in parts of the U.S. As far as I am concerned until you really look at our own history it's pretty awkward to be "examining" others'."

    Guess what, Ossan? A lot of us have looked at our own history, and we think we can criticize that history *and *the >present-day situation in Japan. The "hurt feelings" kind of discrimination doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the >racism with practical consequences, like being turned down for apartments every time I move.

    Some people have looked at our own history Nessie, but many have not. Those who criticize without an understanding of the past project a view that is not "whole" or "complete". I'm not saying the latter can not criticize, I'm merely saying that the views of someone like cleo, for example carry far more weight in my mind than those of a 6 month visitor. Racism with practical consequences is EXACTLY what I am talking about. If being turned down for an apartment because of the landlord's personal racist views is infuriating,(and well it should be), imagine how you would feel if it were by law, by municipal ordinance that you may not live there because of color, religion or nationality. That was my country when I was a kid.

  • -2

    serendipitous

    Humans always assume things based on what they see. If someone looks unfriendly, we will assume they are. If someone looks different, we will assume they are. It's not that strange, really. I'd say some Japanese people are racist, in the same way that some Americans are, some British are, some Aussies are etc. I don't think Japanese people are any more or any less racist than others, but they may be quicker to assume things perhaps. They rely on statistics when asking, "Are you American?" (the majority of Westerners in Japan are from the US of course) and, "Are you an English teacher?" (because that job would employ the largest number of Westerners).

    Those who say Japanese people are unfriendly or don't seem to want to help should probably learn to smile more and learn to look friendlier. Believe me, it makes a huge difference. I am not surprised some Japanese people have a negative view of Westerners especially because there are some bloody unfriendly-looking examples around!

  • -3

    HaileG

    Thunderbird

    As I said..the westerners never believe it.

  • 0

    justbcuzisay

    Try an experiment...tell a Japanese person that another Japanese person told you this. It is important to say it came from a Japanese.(If you say you heard it from a foreigner, they will deny it) See what they say..

    I had heard this thinking exists, but the closet I get to asking is when my boyfriend is shocked that I 'get' something that is a totally basic human characteristic (again, he is just now starting to realize we humans have a lot in common) I just joke and say 'I am a human, you know. not an alien' and he says 'oh, really. I thought you had green blood'

  • 6

    tmarie

    Ossan, we all grasp what you're saying. We just don't agree with you. I am well aware of issues in the country I lived in before Japan. However, this is my home now so I think I, and others like me, have a "right" to discuss behaviour and attitudes by the locals that affect us. Perhaps you could gain some knowledge about Japan and how it treats non-Japanese. Might be better than just arguing with people and trying to bring the US into a discussion that is about Japan?

  • -2

    Rohet Pokrel Nepali

    Here we go another blog about how racist one of the Asian country is? I am a brown skin guy from Nepal but never came across any racial discrimination in Japan in almost two years, let alone, an American,whom they have a great respect for being confident and ultra modern. Yes, we go unnoticed in Japan but I don't consider it to be an act of racism especially in the workaholic country like Japan and whats wrong with their thinking about foreigners can't speak Japanese, when foreigner not able to speak Japanese is actually a fact. 90 out of 100 foreigner are well preoccupied in writing blog like this and not actually focus in the task that really matters and end up not learning the language even after they have lived there for 3 decades and later complain that they could not find the job, as they were not Japanese.

    I can understand there will be some people in every country who may show disrespect to the people from another nation but we can't generalize the whole nation by judging on the behavior of these minorities.

    But the main thing that concern me well above everything else is, why we only write some blog focusing on Asian countries when in practical the racism is deeply rooted in the western nation.

    Writer is just looking at the fact from Western point of view, its more like white supremacy. I have lived in Australia for 3 years and I know what Racism actually is. People here claim overtly that Asian stinks and I ain't talking about just normal citizen, I am talking about everyone including high flying politicians. Here the resume are categorized on the basis of the surname and while looking for job, you will be offered the job in relation to your color. So, the grass root level jobs are for black and brown and white collar are specifically for white.

    I have seen many instances on weekend where a person from white descent flared up a trouble and if any brown or black colors are in the vicinity, they would be help up for it by the cops.

    There are so many other examples if I write it, perhaps I have to write for weeks.

    Also, here is what I called ignorance leading to racism, one of my colleagues from Portugal told me, before meeting me, she used to think that Asians are barbarian and that other people still holds the same view towards Asian. If anyone marries any Asian they are outcast. Comparing these western thoughts with Japanese mentality of other national not able to speak Japanese would be sheer idiocy.

    And if there are some Japanese racist, I don't blame them because Westerners are famous for creating troubles and at the end blaming it on others. Take a kilos and kilos of drugs and if ever get caught,they were set up and even their government is ready to back them.

    Let me make long story short, Japan is not racist and if there were some instance of racism, I would push myself to believe the westerners had done something that spark the racism.

    P.S: Did you know, mountaineers have made another mountains of garbage in Mount Everest. So, just imagine what impact it will have on the heart of Sherpa and their view towards the mountaineers.

    So, Japan

  • 4

    kuuku

    Particularly in the media and in education, I would love to see more diversity and more recognition of the presence and contributions of foreigners and minorities in Japan. History classes should cover the darker aspects of Japan’s history so young people will have a more nuanced understanding of lingering conflicts with their neighbors.

    nice article with recommendations above, agreed. i heard part of abenomics is restructuring the economy, i am not sure if this restructure will also include some part of maybe encouraging a more friendly and perhaps more open outlook e.g. to assess workers on their achievements rather than their other identities, etc. i think everyone (or most) foreigners here (like myself) experience some kind of racism/discrimination, whether it is in school or at work. sorry to say but (i think) Japanese are sometimes very proud of themselves that their pride control them rather than them controlling their own pride.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    SouthSakai: "Gaijins will never be a real Japanese like so many try or want to be when they come and live here. Get over it. Japanese people are total different from every other race and they should protect their identity and culture."

    Oh my, the bigotry. One of the things I always laugh at the most is when people like yourself travel abroad and talk about the 'gaijin' in some other country outside of your bubble tour. It amazes me that Japanese consider people in their home nation as 'gaijin' when in fact the Japanese are the gaijin.

    Just goes to show you how racist this nation can be, on a very low-level. Forget the glass ceilings for people who want to try and take Japan out of the dark ages.

  • -2

    cleo

    you can't just dismiss that anecdote as a lie simply because you think that no Japanese other than a sumo wrestler would ever be rude to "tall black dude." If an idiot is on a mission, body sizes are irrelevant.

    Did I dismiss it as a lie? (The mod gets stroppy about folk being 'impolite to other posters', starts pulling down posts that accuse others of lying, I wouldn't dare go down that path....). I dismissed it as proof that 'Japan is really racist' - one idiot does not stand for a whole country.

    that sort of incident is indeed rare, and is not indicative of Japanese racism (which I believe is a different beast entirely...)

    'swot I said. :-)

    the persons that assume you are genetically too dumb for nihongo

    Who said anything about genetically dumb? If most of the furrin-looking people you meet don't speak your language (a la thkanner), it's not pushing things too far to expect the next one will be the same.

    Don't you live in the middle of nowhere where perhaps the locals are used to you? Many of us live in cities and don't see the same person twice. I have had more racist experiences I care to remember.

    I have lived in cities - a total of over ten years in Toyama, Nagoya, Tokyo. My husband has been on the receiving end of more racist experiences on our short and infrequent trips to the UK than I have in all my years in Japan, whether big city or middle of nowhere (which is much, much nicer than the big city). And he doesn't think he's had any racist experiences at all, he loves going to the UK.

    It is a serious issue and serious causes (causes serious?) problems for some.

    Being refused housing or employment or being physically/verbally attacked on account of race or nationality is a serious issue, but getting upset about someone asked me about my home country or someone assumed I was an English teacher trivializes the real acts of racism.

  • 6

    Papi2013

    As a mixed heritage person of white and one quarter Korean (my grandmother), I don't look Asian enough for people to think I'm Asian. The kinds of racist things said against Koreans by Japanese when they don't know a Korean person is standing front of them, can make your back crawl - as if you're back in Alabama 1965. This happens all the time. I had one Japanese who said to me Koreans are filth that's polluting Japan, and he said the venom as if it's perfectly natural and reasonable. And sure enough, none of the Japanese in the same room batted an eye. And these guys were no black van pushers, these were highly respected Japanese with good careers in Japanese government and in Japanese companies. When I told them that I'm partly ethnic Korean, the shock in their faces were just priceless with disbelief. What to do to contain this damage? Give out phony praises that what! Ahhh Korean... "ahh...Korean food very good!".. "KARA from Korea... very good singers!".. "But but but..you not look Korean!".

  • 2

    sighclops

    @serendipitous

    Humans always assume things based on what they see. If someone looks unfriendly, we will assume they are. If someone looks different, we will assume they are. It's not that strange, really. I'd say some Japanese people are racist, in the same way that some Americans are, some British are, some Aussies are etc. I don't think Japanese people are any more or any less racist than others, but they may be quicker to assume things perhaps. They rely on statistics when asking, "Are you American?" (the majority of Westerners in Japan are from the US of course) and, "Are you an English teacher?" (because that job would employ the largest number of Westerners).

    That's great and all, but how about being on the receiving end of an old lady screaming "GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY, YOU DISGUSTING FOREIGNER!" (yes, had that on the way to a meeting about 6 months ago). Or... how about being denied an apartment purely based on your appearance? Or... how about being pelted with bottles / rocks just for attending a fireworks display with your Japanese significant other?

    Well, guess what? I've had all three - and let me tell you something, if this were to happen in my home country - you do not want to know the outcome...

  • 6

    sf2k

    Maybe when the black vans are taken off the streets, I'll start to believe in change. Actions need to speak

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Ossan: "I can still remember feeling like I got punched in the stomach until she started laughing. My comment isn't an argument, so it's neither valid nor invalid."

    Was literally moved by your comment on this subject. Well said. We disagree on about 99% of things, but I respect your comment and experience, and can both feel for and relate to you on the issue. Now, let's apply that experience to move forward, and not just accept it as "shouganai".

  • -13

    nigelboy

    Many Japanese make three assumptions about me before even speaking to me. One, I am an American (true). Two, I am an English teacher (nope). And three, I don’t speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture (the jury might still be out on this one). None of these assumptions are particularly terrible, but are nonetheless racial stereotypes.

    Having residing here for a decade and a half, if you're #2, it follows #3. It's mostly a correct assumption. Blame the Japanese sytem of importing and giving extensive visa's to individuals whose only trait is to speak and write the language they were born with.

  • 0

    taiko666

    @cleo

    Did I dismiss it as a lie?

    Not in so many words... perhaps I should've said effectively dismissed... It did seem that you didn't believe the OP, and re-reading your post, it still does, but obviously I didn't catch your drift correctly and so I'm sorry about that.

    Being refused housing or employment or being physically/verbally attacked on account of race or nationality is a serious issue And foreigners often experience the former in Japan but not the latter. When I first arrived in 2003 I traipsed around several estate agents with a Japanese interpreter and was politely told that they didn't have any apartments for foreigners. Each time my interpreter friend asked if it was a language problem, but was told no, they couldn't offer apartments to foreigners even if they spoke Japanese. If this were to happen in Europe it would cause an outcry.

  • 1

    Christopher Blackwell

    I think there is a little bit of stereotyping in all countries, that is the fact that all of us can be a bit mentally lazy. Now actual hatred is something that I think is much rarer. We need to deal with it in all countries, so it is not just a problem of any one country.

  • 4

    YongYang

    Where there is a group of humans there will be racists UNTIL education sorts it all out. One race. The human one.

  • 3

    ambrosia

    serendipitious: I am not surprised some Japanese people have a negative view of Westerners especially because there are some bloody unfriendly-looking examples around!

    Well, that certainly put a smile on my face! So, in a country renowned for its poker-faced citizens (not saying that's a bad thing), what, foreigners should walk around with smiles on their faces so that they can be treated nicely? Wouldn't that freak Japanese out? It would me.

  • 1

    J.basher

    We are all racist, the day we are born, able to tell we come in different colour, black , white, brown, yellow or whatever. Most of us are able to suppress that racial distinction, and treat each other as 1 human being to another. But some folks never do, they took it to another level, that my friends is Racism at it worse.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    nigelboy: " Blame the Japanese sytem of importing and giving extensive visa's to individuals whose only trait is to speak and write the language they were born with."

    Heaven forbid we look at the fact they 'import' South Americans as more or less slave labour for the jobs Japanese are too lazy to do. Guess you missed that in your racist post.

  • -12

    nigelboy

    Heaven forbid we look at the fact they 'import' South Americans as more or less slave labour for the jobs Japanese are too lazy to do. Guess you missed that in your racist post.

    That too. "Dekasegi" imports much like the migrant worker system in North America. The common theme is that #2 and "Dekasegi" make no effort to assimilate with the latter enrolling their kids to "Brazilian" schools from the start.

  • 5

    Zuko28

    that sign on the wall that says no foreigners in here that's the image of the article IS RACIST, and if its been there on the restaurant, without drawing complains, protests, or police intervention, it 'd tell a lot about the community where the restaurant is. if They're OK with it, they're racists too. I just hope it was removed quickly, and didn't stay there for a long time. sick...

  • -4

    Kei Ikoma

    by answering yes to a question is Japan racist? is a racism in itself

  • 1

    toshiko

    Racism is often interpreted from American racism. Racism in Japan is Sabetsu suru shukan, Custom of discrimination) for long long time. It has been custom and unless you listen to what Japanese are talking behind or side of you, you wouldn;t know how insulting talks they are doing,

  • -2

    homleand

    " it’s my impression that this is very much a fringe element, much as you can still find the KKK in the States"

    Do you find the KKK driving buses down the street in the nation's capital, shouting their racist drivel from loudspeakers?

    No?

    Think about it.

  • -1

    toshiko

    Custom of Discrimination is not only toward foreign people but toward Japanese people, too. However, visible discrimination is toward Korean people. Children of Korean speak Japanese fluentley (i=often only Japanese). then they get their classmates yell insult against them on playgrounds,

  • -1

    kaimycahl

    Its funny the usual posters that usually have something to say about non-issue decided to stay on the sidelines concerning this issue. Anyways I have a friend who speaks fluent Japanese and he is African American his wife PURE 100% Japanese he was so paranoid about his kids growing up in America he moved to Japan where he thought he would fit in and be accepted! Well he got a rude awakening, so did his wife. When the kids went to the play ground to play the other kids would say his kids had a funny face the wife couldn't join the mothers club. Guess what he quickly moved back to the US saying its more tolerable, and I said to him what about your safety and security that you went looking for? I haven't heard from him since. He thought he could be accepted and fit in and he couldn't his wife couldn't take it because even though she was Japanese she married out so she didn't fit in no more. I guess he thought he could change the perception but it didn't work, last I heard he was home schooling LOL

  • 3

    gelendestrasse

    You'll find racists everywhere. Some are more obvious than others. Some are just ignorant and don't really mean anything by it. Most you can ignore. Others are more dangerous.

    The tough part is figuring out who is who. It would be easier if there was no racism, but that's asking too much.

  • 3

    toshiko

    @Ossan: Please write your comments shorter. then other people will not skip to read. Better discussions, My half Japanese children never had same experience like Article writer when they visited Japan. So, I am curious to learn other people's experience. They live in USA comfortably..

  • 0

    Tamarama

    Yes, Japan is racist. But then, so are many humans on the planet in one form or another.

  • -3

    falseflagsteve

    A country in itself is incapable of being racist, but people residing there are natives, immigrants and visitors.Racism is a human trait, a nasty one. Most of it's causes are due to environment though some is due to low intelligence studies have shown.

    The racism in Japan is unlikely to turn ugly, i don't fear having windows smashed or family picked on due to my ethnicity. Though darker skinned people and those from perceived poorer nations will more likely be victims of bigios and ignorant folk.

    Funny how people compare with the mixing pot of America, a country almost divided by racial lines in many respects on purpose by the elite. Gangs run along ethnic lines and prison wings divided along racial lines.

  • 2

    bass4funk

    @kaimcahl

    For some reason, I detect a tad bit of sarcasm. It seems like you think it's funny what your friend went through, I could be wrong, but the way you were telling the story...

    As I said before, I do think the Japanese are more like closet racists or they really deep inside think that they are not, however, Personally, I live in Fukuoka and I have seen quite a lot of "Blasian" (Black and Asian) kids that doing quite well, saw some in the schools, in public with their parents, they seem to look happy and fine, their interactions with other people seem interestingly just as normal as any other pure Japanese child. As to why your....friend left Japan because of a few stupid women making fun of his wife and kids isn't enough reason IMHO to just bail out of Japan, yes, I don't know the guys circumstances, but from my overall observation, I didn't see it as a huge problem.

    Kids might get better treatment As for adult foreigners, it's an entirely completely different story.

  • 2

    Mike45

    @haileg,

    I had an almost exact same experience as the one you described. I know that if you and I have experienced this, then many others have as well. Its why I dont waste time with apologist; I know their tatic and the sad reality of whats behind it. As one poster put it, its the us vs them, soto vs uchi mentality of Japanese that makes it an impossible struggle to overcome. I can make generalizations and speak cliches all day about how racism is everywhere, but this unique characteristic of Japan will never change. When I visit another country, of course, I can see problems in that country but I never feel that I am an "other" or subhuman, unless its in Korea, or some parts of China. I know what it feels like to be blamed for everything that goes wrong at work, to be scrutinized by the neighborhood commitee, etc. In Japan this behavior is ingrained, and protected by many layers of excuses such as the language barrier.

  • 0

    OssanAmerica

    tmarieNov. 11, 2013 - 11:01PM JST Ossan, we all grasp what you're saying. We just don't agree with you. I am well aware of issues in the country I lived >in before Japan. However, this is my home now so I think I, and others like me, have a "right" to discuss behaviour >and attitudes by the locals that affect us. Perhaps you could gain some knowledge about Japan and how it treats non->Japanese. Might be better than just arguing with people and trying to bring the US into a discussion that is about J Japan?

    Please read my post in entirety if you are going to respond to it. Thank you.

    toshikoNov. 12, 2013 - 06:42AM JST @Ossan: Please write your comments shorter. then other people will not skip to read. Better discussions, My half >Japanese children never had same experience like Article writer when they visited Japan. So, I am curious to learn >other people's experience. They live in USA comfortably..

    I realize my response was long but it was necessitated because it seemed many people misunderstood the point I was making. Racism is bad, it exists in all countries, and knowledge of racism in your own country helps to get a better understanding when you perceive it in another country.

  • 0

    cleo

    When the kids went to the play ground to play the other kids would say his kids had a funny face

    Kids pick up on anything that's 'different'. Larger than average kids, smaller than average kids, kids with a different skin/hair/eye colour, kids with a lisp, kids with a birthmark, kids with glasses.....it's normal. It's up to the adults in the equation to show kids how to accept other kids and their 'differences'.

    kaimycahl's friend was afraid of raising his kids in America, couldn't fit in in Japan, went back to America, still having problems, having to keep the kids out of school.....What's the 'lol' all about?

  • -1

    YongYang

    @Mike45. Discrimination is discrimination / racism however it is dressed, painted or structured and to express the discrimination / racism against the burakumin / hibakusha / Ainu / non-Japanese solely through the structure of uchi-soto is somewhat disingenuous to say the least. Uchi-soto has a code of conduct, an ethic even, that the discrimination highlighted in the article doesn't express because those elements simply aren't present in racist people's approaches.

  • -5

    Mike45

    @Yong, Fair enough, but what I am saying is, even after all the claims that racism is minor in Japan, you still can never get around the issue of soto/uchi. I will never be a Japanese, so why bother with the struggle to fit in.

  • 1

    pochan

    Don't you live in the middle of nowhere where perhaps the locals are used to you? Many of us live in cities and don't see the same person twice.

    This is true the rednecks in Japan are the urban kind. I have lived in a big city and the countryside. I have never had a bad experience in the countryside but in the big city there were plenty. It makes sense because there is probably a higher foreign population in the countryside as a percentage of course. All the Jets and ALTs who think they are the only foreigner in the town don't see the S.E. Asians and Chinese that live there. People in the countryside are mostly very conservative and traditional but in my experience not racist.

  • 9

    brians

    Am a long-time resident of Japan, permanent visa holder, married to Japanese national, children... Have been looking into opening an eatery in Niigata City, asked a Japanese friend, local businessman, to inquire about renting a small storefront owned and managed by the local government. The friend went round to the management office, explained that he was there on behalf of an expat friend, vouched for the bona fides and all the rest.. The City of Niigata flatly refused, saying it did not rent the commercial space to foreigners, regardless of their standing in the community, Japanese ability, etc. Then asked another Japanese friend to sign for the lease, friend submitted necessary paperwork, management asked who would run the business, and on learning I would be on the premises, stipulated that a Japanese would have to be present at all times. No unsupervised foreigners. I emphasize, this is the official policy of Niigata City.

  • 6

    Get Real

    Brians,

    Thanks for your post. Did you take Niigata City to task on this?

    Did you ask Mayor Akira Shinoda to "walk the talk" behind his Foreign Company Business Setup Guide?

    http://www.city.niigata.lg.jp/multilingual/e_index/business.html

    If not, you might want to think twice about starting and running a business, as it's no picnic in any country.

  • 2

    SenseNotSoCommon

    I grew up in a conflict zone, and saw that those who were content to be victims are just as complicit in maintaining an undesirable state as their perceived oppressors.

    Under the same conditions, person A will cry "poor victim me!", while person B will say "did something happen? (I'm too busy making the most out of life)."

  • 0

    Mike45

    "by answering yes to a question is Japan racist? is a racism in itself"

    and how is that?

  • 4

    Ms. Alexander

    Yes. Totally racist. I am half Japanese and still get crap because I am only half Japanese. Not full. My older son used to get crap at school. He was told by another half kid that although he's half, he's not a true half because he doesn't own a Japanese passport. WTH?!

    And what gets me the most are Japanese women who marry foreigners and give their kids BOTH a Japanese name and a foreign name. For example, there's a boy who goes to school as Tanaka Shinji but when he does sports and stuff on the base team, he goes by his American name, Paul Smith. Having two different names and having them use both is teaching them discrimination.

    Animal adoption shelters will let you adopt only if you are Japanese. If you're a foreigner, forget it. They'd rather kill a dog then have a foreigner adopt. That's straight racism!

  • 1

    brians

    No, Get Real, I did not approach the city over this, I was angry, more than a bit disheartened, and figured, as the commercial area in question is home to older, established businesses forming a tight-knit community, I wouldn't be welcomed by the merchant's assoc. anyway, whose tenants are no doubt aware of the No-foreigners policy, are complicit in its continuance and possibly responsible for it in the first place. In the end I just decided to take my business elsewhere.

    Ninjoyokocho it's called: <http://www.ninjo-yokocho.com/aisatsu.html>

    Yes, I have good Japanese friends, and they were no less surprised and offended than I.

    Thanks

  • -2

    Rohet Pokrel Nepali

    Perhaps after negative comments from so many, I may get convinced Japan to be a racist country though I have never experienced personally but the unconscious racism that has been put on spotlight again and again in the above comments are no match to the racism that Japanese face in Europe, America or Australia.

    I would love to see in my life-time at least one article that will deal with racism in Europe, America or Australia towards Asians.

  • 2

    ReformedBasher

    This is an eye-opener.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJkN5HbQ

  • 2

    Viclovesdrama

    There are racists in Japan, and in all other countries in the word, especaily Europe where I come from. But in Japan, the additional problem is that laws if they exist are not inforced and the tight-group system which works based on exclusion (and yes Japanese can be victime of that too).

    @Rohet Pokrel Nepali, not an article but I give you some examples I have heard in Europe: - Shall we have Italian? Or should we go to the rice ball? (->refering to the Asian owner of a bar) - Oh you live in Japan, they eat cats (dogs/dophins etc) right? - Oh no how can you live in Japan, Asians are all so dirty. - You can kick out the Asian guy, I am from Barcelona, I should have a seat. (old Catalan lady pointing to an Asian Amercan when told the restaurant was fully booked) - I always change train when I see these brown people -> a young girl refering to people from India and Pakistan But overall, Asians are more lucky than people from the Middle East, Africa etc because they have a reputation for being hard workers and because of the "Asia is cool" thing right now.

  • 3

    cleo

    Animal adoption shelters will let you adopt only if you are Japanese. If you're a foreigner, forget it. They'd rather kill a dog then have a foreigner adopt. That's straight racism!

    More like straight BS. Both my cat and dog are rescues, nationality was not an issue at all when we adopted.

  • 1

    serendipitous

    ambrosia

    Nah, just look a bit friendlier, that's all.

    It may be shocking to you but it really seems difficult for some people to do.

  • 2

    tmarie

    **We are all racist, the day we are born, able to tell we come in different colour, black , white, brown, yellow or whatever. **

    Um, pardon?? No, kids are not racist, they are made racist. Noticing differences in others isn't the problem, it's when people are treated different because of those differences.

  • 2

    Get Real

    Thanks Brians,

    Best not to start a business if one is easily disheartened. Nothing personal. Good luck.

  • 3

    Mike45

    @Nepali,

    I know many Nepal people, and they experience the most severe form of discrimination in Japan there is. There are corrupt brokers who exploit them for 14 hours a day in curry shops for well under min. wage. I dont know what planet your living on, but of all people, I would expect you to understand. None of them are apologist for Japan, except that the salary they are making is more than they would make back in Nepal.

    For all the people who say racism is more severe in the U.S. or Europe: I cant speak for Europe, but I know their situation is a bit more complicated than Japan, with so many countries in close proximity to each other and long histories. As for the U.S., yes there is racism, but you can move. You can move to a city where the majority are like you. Comparing the U.S. to Japan is apples/oranges here folks, its doesnt equate at all. The U.S. now has a senator who was born in Japan. Go to Guam and see how the Filipinos run/control everything from gov contracts to private business. You can find a niche somewhere in the U.S. Experienced racism in the U.S.? Then move! Southerners get hate from Northerners, west coast vs east coast, etc.

  • -1

    HaileG

    Thanks Mike. I am glad that someone has had the same experience.

    One of the reasons that we are even arguing this point is because racism isn't something most people experience everyday. To me those experiences are sporadic and not always obvious why they happen. At times they are subtle. There are no crosses burning...so often experiences can be interpreted different ways.

    I agree with the person who said the better your Japanese is the more you are aware and often the unhappier you are. I also think the more you are in situations where you are the only foreigner, the more often you will see Japanese people's honne. When they are with mostly other Japanese they feel more free to show their true feelings.

    I think the hardest thing for many non-Japanese, even those who are totally aware of the racism is the reality of being kept outside. I have tried to enter several groups both professional and athletic where I was the only non-Japanese. My experiences have been quite consistent. Initially I was welcomed but each time I came after that, I was treated more and more coldly. I have been going to one group for years, (because I want to do that sport) and almost every time I talk to individuals it it like they have never met me before and they aren't particularly interested.

    The typical conversations goes.

    Greeting - Greeting I ask question about them - Short answer I ask another question ----- Short answer Long silence ----I slink away

    One last comment...westerners in a group situation often portray themselves as being very happy here and feeling very accepted by the Japanese. In my experience when you get them alone, ideally with a drink or two in them, they will confess to being terribly lonely.

  • 0

    taiko666

    @cleo

    Kids pick up on anything that's 'different'. It's up to the adults in the equation to show kids how to accept other kids and their 'differences'.

    That's not my experience at all. In fact, I think you have it exactly the wrong way round. When I was a young kid at school, (London, early 70s) there was one ONE black and ONE Chinese kid in the class. They weren't teased at all. Not one bit. It's ADULTS and the ambient culture that turns innocent kids into racists or bigots. KIDS ARE NOT BIGOTS - they are taught to be bigots. The fact that Japanese kids pick on other kids who are different (like my wife) is just indicative of the bigoted culture they are brought up in.

  • 1

    Kei Ikoma

    I mean discriminatory

  • 1

    taiko666

    @HaileG

    ideally with a drink or two in them, they will confess to being terribly lonely.

    That's because most Japanese seem to regard a westerner as a sort of Co-Co The Clown : omoshiroi, great fun to be with, but not really a candidate for being a true friend. It really is beautiful to break through the race/culture barrier and become true friends with a Japanese person in Japan.

  • -3

    cleo

    KIDS ARE NOT BIGOTS

    I never said they were, and there's no need to shout. I said that kids pick up on (not pick on) differences, and innocently comment on them. Not only race, but all kinds of other differences. Like you say, it's the adults who determine what happens after that.

    The other day my infant granddaughter made an innocent remark about Nana's hair being a different colour to her own. She certainly wasn't picking on me or teasing me or being bigoted, just pointing out something interesting (to her) that she'd noticed. That's what kids do, and it's perfectly harmless.

    The fact that Japanese kids pick on other kids who are different....

    ...is an incomplete sentence. I'm sure you meant to write some, not Japanese? It is not a 'fact' that all Japanese kids pick on (=tease) kids who are different.

  • 0

    Scnadal.Lova

    yes.

  • 0

    taiko666

    KIDS ARE NOT BIGOTS

    I wasn't shouting, just emphasising :-) After my 3 year sabbatical from JT, I'm still getting back into the swing of things and all these emotive issues. Actually, I feel another sabbatical coming on (holds fingers to brow hammily...)

    That's what kids do, and it's perfectly harmless. Yes... then the children absorb something from somewhere that prompts them to tease instead of just notice. Or to stare and gape, which even some Japanese adults do.

  • 1

    CruisinJapan

    At my first apartment (Nagasaki), I was told I can't rent a parking spot adjacent to my apartment because I "might not pay" and then "how are they supposed to get me to pay" if I don't. Instead, I rented a spot that was a 5 minute walk down the road. At the time they had my employer's information and everything, but just seemed to not have faith in me.

    At my second apartment (Hyogo), I was shown an apartment advert that listed a big ZERO in the field marked "security deposit". I even asked the realtor who said "that is correct, no security or damage deposit". Then when it was made clear to the landlord that I was an exchange student, suddenly the realtor informed me that there was a 150,000 yen security deposit. This was even AFTER I signed the paperwork in the realtor's office.

    In my experience, housing and property rental is where the most blatent Japanese on foreigner discrimination occurs. The second most common place is at snack bars or other drinking establishments.

    It seems to be founded in prior misunderstandings with foreigners.

  • 2

    cwhite

    Japan just needs a different word to 'racist', it's just not the same as racism in other countries. The hate groups are small and frown upon, religion does not play a role in racism in Japan... You could say most other countries are racist towards Japanese since they are going to generalize everything about them when they are abroad. Ignorance is not racism. As a Brit/Jap in Japan for over 30 years, I have never felt remotely unwelcome or part of anything I could consider as racist. In fact I get all the perks of not looking Japanese and yet knowing Japanese better than most along with English. That is a big plus in Japan because I can talk at any level. Now, racism comes in many forms and like in most if not all countries we tend to generalise nationalities. Until you get to know a person on a personnel level then unfortunately we humans go back to basics and look at where they come from or where we think they came from. This can be unfortunate, but I don't see any way of it unless we get rid of boundaries, languages, religions, customs, etc. The best thing you can do it shut up and not say anything. While not the same we do this for disabled people, those who look different, fat or skinny, tall or short.... we may pretend not to openly notice that blind person, but at the same time we look out for them and get out of their way or lend a helping hand if need be. It just comes down to what the individual thinks. If you think you are being sexually or power harassed at work, bullied at school, treated unfairly or stopped at customs because you are a foreigner, but don't acknowledge it then all the merrier.

  • 4

    J_rock

    Japan, the country, is definitely extremely racist and very unwelcoming to outsiders.There are the myriad of establishments, from ryokans, to sentos, to apartment buildings which are "Japanese only", not to mention the regular pronouncements from authority figures about the Koreans, Chinese, or "foreign rapists" who descended upon Japan for the World Cup back in 2002 (to cite one example. Governor Ishihara deserves his own thread...) Individual Japanese however, are far more complex, and like everywhere else, there's a wide variety.

    No doubt, one does encounter a lot of very "casually" racist statements borne out of generalizations about themselves, and other races/cultures that are pervasive throughout society. But in my nearly decade there, I experienced some of the most genuinely kind and welcoming people, who invited me into their lives, families and many of them I'm still friends with.

    It's a simple question with both an extremely simple, and incredibly complex answer.

  • -3

    ka_chan

    I don't think racist is the right term. Japan is definitely Xenophobic. If you are not "Japanese" or "Japanese enough", you are not Japanese. A little less so now than in the past but kids of parents who work overseas, sometimes are considered "not Japanese" by the peers. Japans' hierarchical (senpai) system is fairly rigidly enforced. Those who got used to a freer systems overseas will get the hammer dropped on them in schools. Japan's saying of "if a nail sticks up, hammer it down" still exists. For a supposedly open society, there is very little questioning allowed.
    But anything not "Japanese" is not easily accepted. There are still soto.

  • 6

    yyj72

    The secret is to not allow the "us" and "them" perspective and other over-generalizations to form the foundation of the discussion. Whenever someone starts off by saying "Nihonjin wa..." or "Nihon de wa...", I shut them off right there and force them to be more specific, to talk about specific individuals and places, not broad stroke statements. Force them to enunciate their thoughts clearly, without laziness. Eventually they come to realize that talking about entire groups of people in one fell swoop is as silly and vague as talking about "the weather in Canada" or "food in Europe".

  • 0

    thywillbedone

    yyj72 - I love your comment. Astute. There can't be racism, because there is no such thing as race. "Race" is one of these lazy concepts you wrote about. What people are generally uncomfortable with is unfamiliarity or differences in behavior.

  • -6

    Mike45

    "I have tried to enter several groups both professional and athletic where I was the only non-Japanese. My experiences have been quite consistent. Initially I was welcomed but each time I came after that, I was treated more and more coldly."

    Same here, joined a karate franchise, just like everybody else was there to learn the art but was asked why I came there, and if I was lonely ) I have this experience many times. While at a company, many asked me why I worked there or why I came to Japan.

  • 3

    hokkaidoguy

    While at a company, many asked me why I worked there or why I came to Japan.

    Otherwise known as "taking an interest" or "trying to get to know you".

    Look, there are racists in Japan. Of course there are. And Japan has no more or less of its fair share of garden-variety jerks as well. But if you take the stance that ALL are racist then honest, friendly interactions with the people around you start to look dark. In other words, paranoia starts to set in.

  • 1

    ReformedBasher

    @Mike45

    What is a "karate franchise"?

    In any case, there are plenty of dojos. I've never experienced any racism whatsoever at mine. I'm the first and only foreigner and I receive no special treatment, good or bad. I'm extremely fortunate to have found such a great school.

    Then again, I learn at a traditional school. There are no thugs. Some students are better than others but we are all mature enough to get along and look out for each other. If your dojo is not like that, I'd say keep looking. But I don't know why you are learning, and the reply to that question affects everything.

  • 3

    marcelito

    Many Japanese make three assumptions about me before even speaking to me. One, I am an American (true). Two, I am an English teacher (nope). And three, I don’t speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture (the jury might still be out on this one). None of these assumptions are particularly terrible, but are nonetheless racial stereotypes.

    Having residing here for a decade and a half, if you're #2, it follows #3.

    Wow...I don`t think i have read a more condenscending remark on JT for quite a while. There are a lot of people working in the English education field who speak great Japanese and know a lot about Japanese culture ( of course there also are the charisma man wonder types you seem to be pointing out ) but there are just as many foreigners in finance, IT or whatever other field who know just a s little or less. Since you have resided here for a decade and a half and are a japanophile you are obviously so much better than the rest. I think you deserve a medal or something, really.

  • 3

    nikkeiboy

    As a Japanese American living in Japan, I would say Japan is not racist but xenophobic. I look the same and speak the language, but I am a Gaijin and thus treated different. I have had the time when I couldn't rent a DVD or get a credit card because I was basically a Gaijin. There are advantages to not looking like a westerner, but there are disadvantages also. I would say the typical caucasian person gets a lot of special attention, whether wanted or not. I do prefer to blend in with the crowd though, but my race is Asian, my ethnicity is Japanese, but I'm still a Gaijin.

  • 0

    sfjp330

    HaileGNov. 11, 2013 - 10:41PM JST "The truth is that Japanese don't think foreigners are human." This comment of course shocked me. For years I had tried everything possible to fit in but with no success.

    It happens in the U.S. too. Many whites do not view Hispanics or Blacks as human, or maybe less than human. Many have tried everything possible to fint in but with no success. Look at the corporate ceiling in the U.S. Japanese are not much different than what whites view minorities.

  • -8

    nigelboy

    There are a lot of people working in the English education field who speak great Japanese and know a lot about Japanese culture ( of course there also are the charisma man wonder types you seem to be pointing out

    I disagree. But if I offended you because you fit the profile, my apologies.

  • 1

    Mike45

    "Otherwise known as "taking an interest" or "trying to get to know you".

    No, the tone of the question was.."why are you in Japan, cant you find a job in your own country?" Well Im here, like you, to make a living. Flip that; Japanese is working in the U.S., married to an American, and I ask him, "hey, why are you working here? arent there jobs in Japan?" Should I defend my xenophobic question with your response of, "hey I was just trying to get to know the guy?"

  • 1

    iichiban

    There is no country that is not racist. Thinking superior or inferior to other civilizations or culture is common everywhere. In Japan, competition at all levels with western world, troubled relationship in its own region, combined with lack of exposure to other cultures has resulted in woeful social skills amongst the masses. They want to swim in other markets without getting wet. It does not work that way. Understanding at some level must exist.

  • 1

    kickboard

    HaleiG, I told that story to my wife, just to see what kind of reaction I'd get. She laughed. IF your story is true (I think I'm allowed to have my doubts) I have to wonder why he married such a narrow-minded woman.

  • 2

    marcelito

    Nigelboy - yes, I do work in education ( and proud of it since I love my job ) and I do think I have a reasonable grasp of the language and culture, even if I,m not on the same level as some other posters such as yourself.
    If your apology is indeed sincere, thank you.

    You are correct in that there are a number of English teachers here who do not have much knowledge of Japanese language and culture but that is also true of many foreigners in other fields of employment here.

  • 2

    ReformedBasher

    @Mike45

    No, the tone of the question was.."why are you in Japan, cant you find a job in your own country?" Well Im here, like you, to make a living. Flip that; Japanese is working in the U.S., married to an American, and I ask him, "hey, why are you working here? arent there jobs in Japan?" Should I defend my xenophobic question with your response of, "hey I was just trying to get to know the guy?"

    That is not mature and it does not lead to better relations. The man who asked why you are here would not be the the same man you meet in the US. More racism on your part has no value to anyone, including yourself. Even if it made you feel better, it's still for the worse because it makes you a sick individual. Fight racism by being proactive, not by being racist yourself.

    @iichiban

    There is no country that is not racist. Thinking superior or inferior to other civilizations or culture is common everywhere. In Japan, competition at all levels with western world, troubled relationship in its own region, combined with lack of exposure to other cultures has resulted in woeful social skills amongst the masses. They want to swim in other markets without getting wet. It does not work that way. Understanding at some level must exist.

    Agreed. Japan is becoming more international but still lags in some ways. Let's hope it continues to change for the better.

  • 1

    Mike45

    Dont get me wrong, there are things about Japan that are great. The honesty in Japan, is for the most part, acceptable. Ive dealt with other nationalities, and their sloppy lies and manipulation are not acceptable. Japanese are good at manipulation, but they believe in fairness, on their terms. Part of their terms means a society built on strata or rank. Its why some foriegners never see the things I and others have experienced, they are in a different strata. Just watch how Japanese talk to store clerks etc. Perhaps it seems I am contridicting myself, but in Asia everything is not what it seems.

  • -1

    mjh875k

    Well I was staying in Osaka for two weeks while visiting over there from America, and stayed with a wonderful host family in July. I still keep in contact with them today. I loved it over there and the people were very kind to me. Who knows though, maybe they were giving me ugly looks when I had my back turned or something. Point is I would visit there again regardless of what others think of me. If I was treated nice, why would I avoid going back just because people have a different view point on things.

  • 1

    Lawrence D Crawford

    I find this article to be fascinating! I have been here for about two years and I haven't experienced outright racism or even subtle racism like this. And I'm usually the only Black guy hanging out on my own. I don't speak Japanese but I understand it a little. If they are saying stuff they make sure not to say it in my face or anything. Maybe it's because I'm always smiling and having a blast. This is really interesting! Oh...maybe it's because I look scary sometimes..lol

  • 7

    Mirai Hayashi

    10 years is not far enough back to consider yourself an expert on racism in Japan. I think that the writer (if he came to Japan ten years as he says) came in at a time when there was somewhat of an immigration boom from Europe, US, India, and other parts of Asia. A lot of Japanese people especially in urban areas such as Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka were already pretty tolerant and desensitized from the presence of foreigners or foreign "looking" people like me.

    Try 30 years or even 20 years back, and its a completely different story. I remember seeing "Japanese ONLY" or "No GAIJINS allowed" signs on the doors of business establishments in Tokyo and Yokohama. I remember walking into stores and having a store clerk literally follow me everywhere I go, probably assuming that I was going to steal something. I would also sit and trains and buses only to have either people sitting next to me or standing in front of me having full conversation about ME, assuming that I didn't understand a world that they were saying (even though I understood everything). I would get people who would blatantly point or laugh at me, or mumble stuff "stupid gaijin" under their breath assuming I wouldn't hear, or if I did hear, I wouldn't understand. I won't even begin to tell you how badly the government treated you with the race baiting police who stop you on every city block asking to see your gaijin card, or the finger printing at the city offices (which they only do for foreigners and criminals). And I won't go into details about how apartment managers would categorize pets and foreigners in the same category.

    When they found out that I could understand and speak Japanese fluently, they didn't make my life any easier. For some reason, the prospect of a foreigner or foreign looking person (like me) speaking fluent Japanese unnerved some people, and they would treat me worse than when they thought I didn't understand them. They would say stuff like "if you can speak Japanese then you should act like one too". Or they would say cruel things about my parents since interracial marriage was still kind of rare back then.

    I also experienced the so-called "innocent racism" the writer mentioned. People speaking to me in Japanese in an exaggerated foreign accent, thinking that it would make it easier for me to understand them better, when in reality it just not only embarrasses me, but makes them look absolutely ridiculous. A lot of it stems from ignorance rather than maliciousness....I know, but to me, racism is racism, and all of it is bad even if some were done with "good" intentions.

    I would also argue that being Caucasian works as more of an advantage than disadvantage, even 20-30 years ago. Try being Thai, Filipino, or Black or any person of color. You don't get the so-called "innocent" racism. You get the full-on type. People don't assume that you're an English teacher; people assume that you're a refugee or an illegal, or from some dirty third world country and are not worthy of being here, so you get the "Gaijin Kaere!" or you should appreciate being in Japan since its a better country than where you're from. I would have loved to have been mistaken for an English teacher, but when you don't fit their stereotypical view of what an American or European is suppose to look like, you are automatically some sub species not worthy of being in Japan.

    As I mentioned above, things have gotten tons better in the last 10 perhaps 15 years. Japan wasn't exactly welcoming to foreigners any time prior to that. At least people understand that there are foreigners who can speak Japanese if not fluently, really well, so they don't talk about you right in front of you face AS MUCH...although I still get it. I also don't see the Japanese ONLY signs any more, but there are still places that still make strong implications that you're not welcomed unless you're Japanese. I do think that in the next ten years, as Japan become less homogenous due to the declining native population and increased immigration, people and government. will be much more tolerant to foreign citizens

  • -1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Anybody can be RACIST, this includes the Japanese. How many Japanese are racist?? Not too sure but just look at the Right Wing Japanese fools in the big, black trucks with the horrible loud speakers yelling racist mean things in front of the SOUTH KOREAN EMBASSY. Kind of of the KKK tries in the USA against non Whites, but this is more like the JJJ??

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    To Jessica Kozuka

    Sorry for referring to you as a "he"...I looked up your name after I wrote my comment.

  • 3

    Sensato

    @Mirai Hayashi Your comment is one of the best I've read on JT. It really resonated with me.

    Similar to what you wrote, in my 20-plus years here I have seen positive changes in regard to how Japanese nationals interact with other races and ethnicities in Japan. Partially, I think this may stem from widespread direct exposure to non-Japanese people such as through the JET program and somewhat more of a willingness among the population to recognize and admit the existence of racism and other social ills — though outward denial and a head-in-the-sand mentality is still much too prevalent.

    Although I am visibly not Japanese, these days employees at shops and restaurants almost invariably seem to assume that I speak Japanese, which was not the case 20 years ago, and from time to time Japanese people even approach me and ask for directions. Silly, but being treated like a "normal" part of the community in that way makes me feel less out of place. It probably helps that I live in one of the few places in Japan with a long history of diversity and a relatively upbeat international outlook — an environment that is conducive to me and my bi-cultural family.

    As for your prediction of greater tolerance in the next ten years and beyond, I hope you are right, but I can see it going either way. Current trends of heightened nationalism and increasingly xenophobic politicians have me a bit worried about a less optimistic scenario down the road.

  • 0

    Mike45

    I have to disagree with the posters who say 20 years ago racism was so much terrible than now. I can remember in the 90s gaijin were everywhere. There were Iranians by the hundreds in parks, street performers, Israeli sidewalk vendors. Factorys were packed with foriegners here to make good money and send home. Brazilians by the thousands as well. Roppongi was completly swamped with gaijin clubs, not only gaijin. English sensei were in Japan by the thousands and making good money. Its when the economic downturn started, or bubble burst, that people started to leave. Factories shuttered, Roppongi was reformed by Ishihara, all the Iranians and others were given the boot. We started to see an ugly side to Japan as well.

    I have talked with old timers (Japanese) who were very nostalgic of the early post war years in Japan. There were Americans here by the thousands in places now completely overtaken by Japanese business and residences. Ive seen pictures of it; its like another world. Since then, Japan has become more insular and foriegner unfriendly.

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    @Mike45

    I think you were probably living in your own little bubble. Racism in the 80's and early 90's was much more overt and prevalent than it is now. Eikaiwa teachers tend to hang around with other eikaiwa teachers or their students, who were mostly people who already expressed an interest in foriegn cultures and languages. So naturally, they aren't going to get too much racist feedback from them.

    Do you really think those Iranians at Ueno park selling those counterfeit telephone cards felt welcomed here? They probably did that because they had a hard time getting a legitimate job because they were Iranians, so they had to work for the gangs who made those cards. All of the other foreigners who made the so-called "good money" and lived the lavish lifestyle where mostly unskilled labor workers (bars, factories, clubs) being paid under the table; many of who where illegals.

    People started leaving because the government started cracking down on illegals and started to raid the clubs and bars, and deporting the undocumented workers. I know this because at the time I would see hundred of foreigners being bussed out on the blue and white riot buses from the immigration offices.

    Japan is much more foreign friendly nowadays. There are multinational companies from all over who will gladly hire foreign people, so you have more foreign skilled labor and professionals in Japan now, especially in the financial and high tech sector. Establishments are now more foreign friendly with bilingual or romaji menus. There is no comparison. If you think Japan is more racist now than it was back then, then you've either been living under a rock or you are in your own little expat bubble.

    @Sensato

    Current trends of heightened nationalism and increasingly xenophobic politicians have me a bit worried about a less optimistic scenario down the road.

    I wouldn't equate nationalism with racism. They really don't go hand in hand in most cases. I agree that Japanese people were very nationalistic back in the 80's and 90's, but I see no correlation between nationalism and racism As a matter of fact, I would argue that nationalism drives pride, and pride drives a good healthy economy, especially in Japan's case. Japan has lost much of is nationalistic mojo in the past decade, hence you have countries like China, India and Korea nipping at Japan's heals to unseat it as the world's technology leader and financial power (well..China already overtaken Japan as a financial power, I suppose). But I also see Japan very slowly regaining that pride and mojo back, hence the economy is recovering, and we are starting to stand up to bullying countries like China and North Korea. Yet, at the same time the tolerance for foreigner is increasing because Japan is realizing that without foreign cooperation, they will be left in the dust. The days of Japanese isolationism is over and its time to open up to the world.

  • -1

    HaileG

    Kickboard,

    I don't particularly care if you believe the story or not but I am curious how you presented this story to your wife.

    I have lived here for 25 years and as I said westerners almost always don't believe my story and every Japanese person I have told this to, has admitted it was true and often given examples of how this belief is acted on.

    I don't understand your comment about why the man married such a narrow minded person. She didn't say he wasn't human. She was expressing what she as a Japanese, believed was a Japanese belief.

  • 2

    Mirai Hayashi

    @HaileG

    In regards to your comment way up above about your girlfriend telling you that you're not trying hard to fit in, in a way she may be right. I'm not sure if this is you, nor am I implying that this may be your problem, but I have a few friends from other countries who are married to Japanese women. Their wives speak fluent English and the primary language spoken at home is English. They watch TV in English (cable). They work for American companies where there is little or no exposure to Japanese in the workplace, and they surround themselves with only English speaking friends. This is what is called the expat bubble. They are physically in Japan but virtually in their own English speaking world, and then they complain that they have a hard time adjusting to life in Japan and associating with Japanese people or that Japanese people don't accept them. To them I say of course.

    As far as Japanese people thinking that foreigner's aren't human, I think this is an overstatement. But having said that, they definitely do believe that they are "different" and perhaps even live on a higher plane of existence than everyone else. But I do see this racial supremacist attitude changing now that there is a growing tolerance for foriegn presence in Japan. Japanese people are pretty conservative by nature. Japan had been an isolationist nation for over a millennium, and its only been about a century (or less than a half century -realistically speaking) that they have had any real exposure to people from outside of their own country, so people some people will have a hard time accepting you. Once Japanese people get to know you, they will take to you pretty well. But at the same time, you will have to accept that there are still some very closed minded people here, and will always see you as an outsider.

  • 0

    tmarie

    **Do you really think those Iranians at Ueno park selling those counterfeit telephone cards felt welcomed here? **

    Do you think we're really welcome here?? I was here in the ages you speak of and if anything, I think it has gotten worse. Nothing like more right wing politicians, a bad economy and the locals being laid off to make "us" scapegoats.

  • 4

    HaileG

    Mirai,

    Thanks for your response but that is not me at all. I have lived here for 25 years have worked hard on my Japanese language skills and worked in all Japanese environments where on a staff of 100 there were only 3 or 4 foreigners. I joined Japanese sporting clubs and honestly of the westerners I know I am the one who consistently goes to join groups where I am the only westerner. Yes, she said it was my fault but when I told her the non-human comment, immediately without hesitation she said it was true. After years of saying I should try harder she quickly admitted that we are perceived as less than human. I repeat that over the years I have had the same response from many Japanese.

    Japanese will often tell you it is your fault. If you were more Japanese, fluent. etc you would fit it. This drove me crazy for many years as I tried so hard to be a good gaijin, to follow the customs, to always go along with the group/go to all the group activities. go to the parties but to no avail. I would go on the staff ski trips on the weekend and return to work on Monday and have the same people I had skied with on the weekend ignore me

    I also saw at my school,(yes I am a lowly teacher) how badly the foreign teachers were treated by the staff. I once saw a group of teachers play rock/paper/scissors to see who had to sit next to the foreign teacher on the school bus. I know of two teachers who were only allowed to go into their in-laws house at night so the neighbors wouldn't see who their daughter had married.

    This doesn't mean that all Japanese hate foreigners because of course they don't. Many Japanese like foreigners and are attracted to them. It means that there is a Japanese cultural belief that foreigners aren't human. What are we? I don't know. I have never asked that question.

    Somehow I doubt there are groups of Chinese living in Japan debating whether Japanese are racist of not. They clearly know the situation. What confuses many westerners is the fact that we get many positives along with the periodic negatives. I think many westerners also disregard the whole honne/tatemae. They don't understand how important that is here. They think what they are seeing is real, while it is really just tatemae.

  • 4

    serendipitous

    I've said it once and I'll say it again, Japanese people will approach you and try to talk to you IF you look approachable and sort of easy to talk to. I can't count the number of times I've had this happen to me in the past 20 years here. On the train, in izakayas, in the street and in shops. Admittedly some were quite weird people, and in some cases (not all), alcohol was no doubt involved, but the vast majority of people were sincere and seemed to want to initiate communication. Before you jump to the conclusion that I must be devastatingly attractive, I have to confess that this may not be the case (!).......perhaps. Anyway, the point being, look friendly, look approachable and learn to smile a bit more when eye contact is made. Not the psychopathic grins that you do see around but the sincere little smiles. They can have an amazing effect. Smiles make others realise that they aren't smiling and reminds them that it feels good to smile.

  • 5

    pochan

    Japanese people will approach you and try to talk to you IF you look approachable and sort of easy to talk to.

    This is my experience as well. Not everyone is friendly and not everyone is happy but if you meet the world with as smile the friendly and happy people find you. I tend to have a friendly chat with an interesting stranger at least a few times a week and it does may life a little more pleasant. In my case they are seldom drunk or weird, just nice friendly peopl. Walk around with a frown and no one will speak to you.

  • -2

    hikkifan17

    I always thought "Racism" was really bad in United States (in some states like uh, Mississipi or something). But man, I didn't know it was this bad in Japan.

    Honestly, it is a good idea to learn Japanese so you can tell if some random Japanese person is bad mouthing you from a distance or with a group of friends and such. Or just simply out-right ignore and walk the other way and that way no problems will occur.

  • 2

    mlg4035

    Sure, there's racism here. It's not usually "in your face", but yes, it's definitely there. I used to be very sensitive about it. But now, after 13 years and 5 relationships with great Japanese women, I don't really care. There are enough decent and genuinely open Japanese people to make living here worthwhile.

    Keep in mind that a lot of the racism here comes from a place of xenophobic ignorance: blind fear of the unknown, the "other". I feel more pity for people who are so ignorant of the big, wide world that exists beyond the rising sun. Like little tadpoles trapped in a tiny pond, racist Japanese people simply have no concept of anything beyond their local mudhole. Their narrow psychological frame of reference limits them in so many ways that they don't even know how psychologically imprisoned they are.

    Yes, there are a lot of racist people in Japan. And there are a lot of really wonderful and loving people in Japan. Don't fear or fret the racist ones. Just pity them and try to educate them when you can.

    I love living in Japan!

  • 1

    Kjuzau

    but I think, at first japanese like every country, particular highly educated. now increasing movement is just counter-hatred. is it racism?

  • 0

    JTDanMan

    Is Japan really racist?

    Of course it is. And I find the question boring.

    The more interesting question is how racism is Japan affects the nation's prospects. It seems to me that it hurts Japan in two important ways:

    1. It prevents Japan from welcoming immigrants. With the demographics in Japan what they are, they need young blood.

    2. It adversely affects in national identity to the point of harming Japan's relations with her immediate neighbor South Korea. To a lessor degree, it reinforces Japan's naval gazing and social awkwardness when it comes to dealing with other poeples.

  • -6

    sfjp330

    Most people are clueless in what is really an extreme prejudice against the immigrants. Maybe some of these people that comment about racism in Japan should travel to India, then it will be a real eye opener. Japan has come a long way from 30 years ago. At least in Japan, religion does not play a major role in racial prejudice.

    Compare to Japanese being more open about the a racial prejudice, a more serious flaw could be the fact that in most Western countries racism is so taboo than many people will hide their intolerant views and lie to the questioners. Americans are conditioned by their education and media to keep these sorts of racial preferences private, and lie about them. Westerners just hides their prejudice better. Compare to Japan, how many immigrant minority CEO is in fortune 500 companies in the U.S?

  • -2

    Mike45

    "Do you really think those Iranians at Ueno park selling those counterfeit telephone cards felt welcomed here?"

    I guess, its why they were here. They obvisouly arent welcome now, they were all kicked out! So your saying its better for them when they got kicked out? Now that they are gone, we are all the better for it? Less foriegners means a more a foriegner friendly atmosphere?

    "Japan is much more foreign friendly nowadays. There are multinational companies from all over who will gladly hire foreign people, so you have more foreign skilled labor and professionals in Japan now, especially in the financial and high tech sector"

    It is? Please do share....Most MNC, (I think I can count on both hands the MNCs that are here) are staffed by Japanese with a few handpicked fluent caucasin or Indian, sometimes Chinese individuals. Contact their HRO, see how far you get. The only ones that hire foriengers on a large scale are Rakuten and Uniqlo. The only jobs that dont require near fluent Japanese skills are programmers. I dont know what bubble your living in but the 80s and 90s were definetly better than now. You could get a legit (not under the table as you put it) job in a factory with Nissan or other big japanese mfg here on an assembly line. Thats all gone with the exception of some small support companies. They occasionally hire foriegners for jobs that Japanese find to be kitsui and kitanai. Japan was racist in the 80 and 90s but the economic situation was better so it was just more tolerated.

  • 1

    Mirai Hayashi

    @Mike45

    I guess, its why they were here. They obvisouly arent welcome now, they were all kicked out! So your saying its better for them when they got kicked out? Now that they are gone, we are all the better for it? Less foriegners means a more a foriegner friendly atmosphere?

    Iranians weren't welcomed for many reasons. Some of it was due to political reasons that still lingered from the 70's and 80's, a lot of it was due to the sheer fact that Japanese people weren't use to seeing Iranians and found them to be strange and sometimes even dirty (keeping it real). But I would tend to lean towards the image of some (not all) Iranians being used as a pawn by Japanese gangs to propagate corruption. TMarie was sort of right in saying that they were used as scapegoats, but not for the reasons she mentioned. Although it was really the Japanese gangs who were spreading corruption, much of the population saw it as these dirty Iranians doing the crime.

    To answer your question, "are we better off without them?" In some respects yes, but I don't blame the Iranians for the crimes, it was the j-gangs. But since racism was so rampant back then, most of the population didn't accept Japanese people as being the source of corruption. Yes we are better without that particular group of Iranians, but not because they are Iranians, but because they were committing crimes and spreading corruption for the gangs.

    It is? Please do share....Most MNC, (I think I can count on both hands the MNCs that are here) are staffed by Japanese with a few handpicked fluent caucasin or Indian, sometimes Chinese individuals.

    This is completely untrue. I know, and have worked for (or with), many companies that staff a predominantly foriegn staff from all over the world (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, China, Korea, US, UK, France, Spain, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa -just to name a few). As a matter of fact, often times, the major complaints within these organizations is that most of the senior management are non-Japanese, because of the Japanese staff's lack of ability to communicate with senior management counterparts at the head offices. Also as a matter of fact, there is a whole industry IN JAPAN, that works to recruit foriegn workers for both Japanese and foreign-based companies. It used to be that they only worked with people in the financial and IT sectors, but they've branched out into many different sectors, and pretty much recruit anyone with any skill set, as long as they are in Japan and can work here legally.

    Contact their HRO, see how far you get. The only ones that hire foreigners in a large scale are Rakuten and Uniqlo

    Try Citigroup, Mizuho, Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Prudential, Amway, Nike, Adidas, NEC, Sony, Honda, Nissan, Toyota....I have worked with all of these companies to some capacity and know that they staff foriegn professionals. And you definitely don&t have to be fluent in Japanese to get a job at some of these companies, because I have friends (mentioned above) who speak very little or no Japanese and work there. In the 80's and 90's, most of these companies either didn't exist in Japan (or anywhere for that matter) or definitely were not hiring foreigners.

  • 1

    FightingViking

    Animal adoption shelters will let you adopt only if you are Japanese. If you're a foreigner, forget it. They'd rather kill a dog then have a foreigner adopt. That's straight racism!

    Don't know who originally said this (the "list" of comments has become too long) but my dog also came from a rescue centre: "JAWS" and I certainly do NOT look Japanese...

  • 1

    Mike45

    "Citigroup, Mizuho, Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Prudential, Amway, Nike, Adidas, NEC, Sony, Honda, Nissan, Toyota"

    So if I walk into a Citigroup, Mizuho, Prudential, Thompson Rueters, Goldman Sachs branch I will be greeted by a forienger? Sorry, been there done that: there are none. It makes no sense to staff any branch with foriegners because the clients are all Japanese. You are refering to some limited responsiblity back office role or data centers that operate 24/7 and hard to staff by locals because the Japanese cant communicate with global offices. Nike and Adidas might have some expat staff in management roles or logistics, but the majority staff are Japanese. Strange I have never seen any jobs posted for the above companies, by any recruiter or on the internet, for a native speaker of English where Japanese in not neccessary. Please do post any links, this will be informing.

    "Also as a matter of fact, there is a whole industry IN JAPAN, that works to recruit foriegn workers for both Japanese and foreign-based companies"

    What industry?

  • 1

    Mike45

    "You are complaining that you cannot get job in japan working for a major corporation who can just as easily hire someone who speaks both Japanese and English and who they do not have to sponsor a visa for, and you Don't want to learn the local language"

    Thanks for the lecture but I do speak Japanese well. Please read what I was responding to:

    "And you definitely don&t have to be fluent in Japanese to get a job at some of these companies, because I have friends (mentioned above) who speak very little or no Japanese and work there. In the 80's and 90's"

  • -4

    Mirai Hayashi

    So if I walk into a Citigroup, Mizuho, Prudential, Thompson Rueters, Goldman Sachs branch I will be greeted by a forienger? Sorry, been there done that: there are none.

    Um no... All of the companies mentioned above aggressively hire people for all positions (upper, middle, lower management, and staff positions) Japanese and non-Japanese alike. You don't just walk into their HR office and ask for a job. The best way is to have a recruiter represent you. This is a free service to you. Should the company decide to hire you, they pay the recruitment fee. This is pretty basic knowledge in Japan. Not knowing this tells me that you either don't know how to look for a job here, or you're not looking.

    You are refering to some limited responsiblity back office role or data centers that operate 24/7 and hard to staff by locals because the Japanese cant communicate with global offices.

    No, I am talking all positions from staff level to CEO/ country manager level. It also depends on your experience level and skill set, and the field or industry you work in. Obviously, if you don't speak a word of Japanese, its unlikely you'll find a sales job, but having said that I do know a couple of Indian guys who don't speak any Japanese and work for very big companies in their sales department. These companies happen to deal with sales to other foreign companies so there is no need for Japanese language, and they get paid very well.

    Strange I have never seen any jobs posted for the above companies, by any recruiter or on the internet, for a native speaker of English where Japanese in not neccessary. Please do post any links, this will be informing.

    Obviously you are not looking in the right place. Usually, if you put your resume on the recruiter's site, they will contact you; sometimes to the point where you have to turn them away because it gets so annoying. Of course it depends on your skills and experience, not race. Companies are ALWAYS looking for English speaking or bilingual workers.

    for a native speaker of English where Japanese in not neccessary. Please do post any links, this will be informing

    Google is your friend, but try careercross. They will connect you with tons of Japan based recruiters.

    What industry?

    Job recruiters...head hunting...are you sure you're in Japan?

  • -5

    Mike45

    "You don't just walk into their HR office and ask for a job. The best way is to have a recruiter represent you. This is a free service to you. Should the company decide to hire you, they pay the recruitment fee. This is pretty basic knowledge in Japan. Not knowing this tells me that you either don't know how to look for a job here, or you're not looking"

    true, everybody knows about the need for introduction in Japan for any job, but it still doesnt mean you cant call the HR yourself. Try it, and ask them if gaikokujin work there. Many times they will tell you no, even thought they do. how do you explain this? Why deal with that if you dont have to?

    You still didnt post anything that everybody else here already knows. "Google is my friend"...)

    Haile posted "Japanese will often tell you it is your fault. If you were more Japanese, fluent. etc you would fit it. This drove me crazy for many years as I tried so hard to be a good gaijin, to follow the customs, to always go along with the group/go to all the group activities."

    Aint that the truth, we see it here:

    "You are complaining that you cannot get job in japan working for a major corporation who can just as easily hire someone who speaks both Japanese and English and who they do not have to sponsor a visa for, and you Don't want to learn the local language? Because you can't, they are racist? do you think any major company in any country woud hire someone who can't speak the local language? In short because companies will not accommodate for your laziness, you scream racism. Your kind are the reason for most of the "so called racism" in Japan. as a foreigner, it is your job not theirs to establish yourself. they already have friends and a life, whether they know you and befriend you or not"

    .

  • -2

    Mirai Hayashi

    Try it, and ask them if gaikokujin work there. Many times they will tell you no, even thought they do. how do you explain this? Why deal with that if you dont have to?

    Of cooooooourse!!! Is that what you've been doing? REALLY? Try that in the States. Call the HR department at Citigroup in New York and ask them if there is any work for foreigners. They'll either hang up on you or tell you send your resume. They aren't going to grant you an interview just because you called. The only way this would work is if you knew the manager's name of the department that is hiring or if you are very specific about the position that is open. You don't just call and randomly ask if there are any openings for foreigners.

    You still didnt post anything that everybody else here already knows.

    I went to careercross (which has an English page) and did a random search for jobs that require no Japanese skills, and it return 145 hits. The job salaries range from 2.5M yen/yr to 20M yen/year. 20M yen for someone who hasn't bothered to assimilate into Japan is not bad! Where is the racism and inequality here?

    I am not trying to sugar coat it. Of course its going to be a lot more easier for you to find a job if you know the language and culture and have a good network of Japanese and non-Japanese friends. That's the way it is here, and there is nothing racist about it. If you don't speak the language and don't bother trying to assimilate, although not impossible, it makes things a lot more difficult. But that doesn't make Japan a racist country. Language and cultural understanding are skills that are required in many positions, and this isn't unique to just Japan. Its the case in ANY country.

  • -1

    Mike45

    wouldnt need to call the HR of Citigroup in NYC to see if foriegners work there because its a non issue..??? Ive called the HR in many countries and got info, even offers..they give out an email address and you email the CV to that??. The shokai system is a peculiarlity of Japan, its built on some sort of trust unique to Japan, and the gaijin is not to be trusted.

    I could dance around with you and other defenders of Japan, its a waste of time. Im not buying into the whole peter pan syndrome thing of defending utopia Japan. One post your hating on Iranians and saying they arent needed in Japan, then you post that you worked in companies where many worked there. Those were special sanatized Iranians or you just said that to make yourself look less racist towards them? Should we apply situational ethics in this case?

  • 2

    UzumakiNaruto

    ''None of these assumptions are particularly terrible'' I feel it's quite an insult that people assume I'm American.

  • 2

    ambrosia

    serendipitous: ambrosia Nah, just look a bit friendlier, that's all. It may be shocking to you but it really seems difficult for some people to do.

    Sorry, but I've always found it peculiar that anyone would try and tell someone else how they should look when they go about their daily lives. If you pass someone on the street who looks cranky or sour, quite frankly, it's none of your business to assume they should look any other way. You have no idea what they are going through or why they might have a scowl on their face and why do you care? If Japanese or any other group or individual assumes that all foreigners are unfriendly because one doesn't walk around smiling 1) that's just stupid and generalizing to the extreme and 2) who cares? No one is under any obligation to walk around smiling or "looking a bit friendlier" so that some random strangers can have a better opinion of the group that this stranger supposedly belongs to. If I'm walking around with a scowl and someone assumes the worst of me without knowing anything about me, that's probably not a person I want to get to know anyway so again - who cares? Do you tell Japanese to walk around "looking a bit friendlier" so that foreigner aren't scared of them?

    Some of us into our middle years have developed lines on our foreheads. The lucky ones have horizontal lines. We unlucky ones have the dreaded vertical line directly above our nose - the scowl line. Short of botox, there's not much I can or care to do about it. It makes me look grumpier than I really feel and always has because I'm a natural scowler rather than what ever people who furrow their brow the other way are called. Even when I was a kid and day dreaming about something wonderful I'd have teachers asking what I was upset about. As an adult my feeling is, get to know me and find out a little about me and you'll see that I'm laughing the vast majority of the time that I'm with people. Jump to conclusions because of the way my face naturally falls and it's your loss.

  • -2

    It"S ME

    Many people assume I am american or french from my looks. From my speech many assume I am British or Australian. I am neither of those.

    And that comes from both Japanese and Foreigners.

  • 2

    Tabitha

    Awesome article I live in Japan and I'm American. I notice this racial issue all the time and it's pretty sad. I do understand a lot of Japanese are trying to preserve there heritage and culture, but some take it too far as a human being. Times are definitely a changing. I love Japan and the culture and wish I could speak more Japanese. I do teach a couple of older Japanese women English, but I really don't consider myself a teacher. There are only 2 ladies and we get together as friends and socialize over coffee or we go to historical sites. They are the sweetest japanese ladies I ever met. I have noticed more and more foreigners here in Japan over the years and most are married to a Japanese citizen, so I definitely run into a lot of friendly japanese people. I think it depends on the area your in and what kind of people are there. I hear the word"gaijin"a lot and it is definitely not used in a good way. I have seen many shops and protesters not wanting us here and we don't serve you, or get out of our country. It's so sad and I just try to remember that not all Japanese people are this way. THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE, I DEFINITELY THINK PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW HOW IT IS HERE.

  • 3

    Mike45

    "Sorry, but I've always found it peculiar that anyone would try and tell someone else how they should look when they go about their daily lives. If you pass someone on the street who looks cranky or sour, quite frankly, it's none of your business to assume they should look any other way"

    Exactly. Most of the Japanese I see on the way home from work on the train sure look unhappy to me; most look like they are ready to fight and Im careful not to offend. During those times Im not exactly in the mood to play the Gaijin clownIv

    Ive met allot of Japanese who have lived abroad who want to go back to those times and leave Japan. These are very interesting Japanese to talk with, they have experienced something different (perhaps true happiness) and seek it again.

  • -7

    serendipitous

    ambrosia

    You're missing the point. It's not about how you look, it's about how you smile. Forehead lines are irrelevant. You can still look friendly. Indeed, there are unfriendly looking Japanese people too. But people complaining that it is difficult to make Japanese friends may need to go for the friendly look.

  • -7

    AriesKJJ

    Personally I find Japanese males to be quite racist though the proper description may look more like a combination of that and feeling protective of the females; something at lease somewhat instinctive rather than malicious. I've not been to Japan so I don't know what it's like there but my Korean wife had many Japanese friends in ESL and I've known many Asian women throughout my life and the 1 thing I finally understood is don't tell Japanese (or Korean for that matter) men that you are attracted to their women!!! That seems to be an unforgivable line to cross?

    But of Japanese ladies I never met one that was racist toward white people, just the opposite I find them to be very open minded and a lot of fun. (Africans another story tho)

  • -10

    Raven Bo

    Smart humans base their assumption on facts. "Two, I am an English teacher (nope)" lots whites teached english so it is NORMAL to ask if some white was one. Often times, whites are treated extremely well. I think you are racist and don't even know too. Look how usa treat mexicans, especially when white pushed indigenous population from south usa. I bet you that you would not move to predominantly black neighborhood in usa for a year.

  • 1

    Mike45

    "You're missing the point. It's not about how you look, it's about how you smile. Forehead lines are irrelevant. You can still look friendly. Indeed, there are unfriendly looking Japanese people too. But people complaining that it is difficult to make Japanese friends may need to go for the friendly look."

    Sure, go for the friendly look, aka the Clown look. That gets old. We gaijin are human too, we get tired stressed and pushed just like Japanese, but we cant be human and show it? We must be the perpetual clown? I think you need to direct your medicine towards Japanese; I sure could use a smile from that side, myself, somedays. The constant poker face and staring really gets old.

    "Look how usa treat mexicans, especially when white pushed indigenous population from south usa"

    Yes look how the U.S. treats their minorities, they elected a mixed race president.

  • 7

    smithinjapan

    Yesterday AGAIN I had to listen to someone talk about their recent trip abroad. It was a woman who went on a trip to Oman. She said the highlight of her trip was when she folded an origami crane and gave it to a 'foreigner' there, and that foreigner cried and thanked her and Japan. When I pointed out that the woman who received the crane was not the foreigner but she who gave it was, the woman was simply stupified. Definitely racism, albeit underlying.

  • 3

    AmericanSurfer

    xenophobic, racist? Yes

  • 4

    JSTOKYO

    @sfjp330

    Compare to Japan, how many immigrant minority CEO is in fortune 500 companies in the U.S?

    You seem really misinformed about the U.S. The fact is that 40 percent of the top 500 companies in the U.S. were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. The top ranks of the largest and fastest growing American companies are full of minorities, foreigners, immigrants, women and gays (including CEO and President titles). This diversity at the top is one of the main reasons why American companies are so much more successful than their Japanese competitors.

    • Moderator

      Back on topic please.

  • -9

    tinawatanabe

    Japanese who ask questions like "Are you an English teacher?" have no idea they are offending you, rather they are proud they were able to say something in English. English is very difficult to Japanese and make them nervious. Japanese staring at you are probably wondering whether to say "hello" or not to you but then give up saying because feel as if non-Japanse are sayng "I am very popular. Every Japanese wants to talk to me. Don't dare try to talk to me" kind of things. So, wait until you speak Japanese to see whether Japanese are a racist or not.

  • 5

    ambrosia

    serendipitous: You're missing the point. It's not about how you look, it's about how you smile. Forehead lines are irrelevant. You can still look friendly. Indeed, there are unfriendly looking Japanese people too. But people complaining that it is difficult to make Japanese friends may need to go for the friendly look.

    I didn't miss your point. I simply disagree. Most people don't walk around smiling and "looking friendly". Most people walk around looking neutral. As for making friends, how common exactly is it to make friends with people you pass on the street? The vast majority of friends I've made have been through school, work, social or family connections or by doing something we have in common such as running races or going to book readings.

    My point about my vertical furrowed brow is that it can make me look "unfriendly" because I look like I'm scowling and there's nothing I can do about that - except botox. That seems to relate directly to your point about foreigners supposedly looking unfriendly. I don't walk around smiling to counter that because that just seems nutty and unnecessary to me. If you want to be a clown, join the circus.

    smithinjapan: The weirdest part of that woman's story was that the Omani woman cried upon receiving a paper crane. Why in the world would that have brought her to tears?

  • 2

    Mike45

    "I didn't miss your point. I simply disagree. Most people don't walk around smiling and "looking friendly". Most people walk around looking neutral"

    In Japan its not about looking neutral, its the cultural phenomenom of tatemae/honne and the "mask". It has its roots in feudal times when there were many ranks and one dare not offend a higher rank or be killed. Its a dated trait that is still used in Japan, for what reason Ive never quite figured out, but its still taught to kids. Everyday is a kind of mental battle with an opponent, while at the same time a withdrawal into oneself in order to find privacy. Sometimes the foriegners extroversion is welcomed as a relief to this, other times its seen as annoying and must be suppressed for the sake of the wa or group. A foriegner seen doing the same thing is thought of as weird and incapable of really understanding it, so your left to be yourself and just deal with the staring on your own terms. Many Japanese stare at the "unique" foriegner as something they want to be, others see the individual as something that must be crushed.

  • 4

    ambrosia

    Mike4: In Japan its not about looking neutral, its the cultural phenomenom of tatemae/honne and the "mask". It has its roots in feudal times when there were many ranks and one dare not offend a higher rank or be killed

    .

    First, most people just naturally walk around looking neutral so that's not something unique to Japan, whatever historical reasons you want to attribute to it. Second, I meant in the world, not only in Japan. In all the places I've traveled, and there have been many, the vast majority of people walk around looking neutral. The major difference between most of those place and Japan is that if you catch someone's eye you'll very often/usually get a smile or at least a head nod of recognition of you as a human being. Catch someone's eye in Japan, if you can manage to do that, and you'll likely get nothing in return, so why should foreigners have to go around "looking friendly"? I don't really care about the supposed historic reasons for it. The suggestion that serendipitous put forward is silly, full stop.

  • 3

    Mike45

    "The major difference between most of those place and Japan is that if you catch someone's eye you'll very often/usually get a smile or at least a head nod of recognition of you as a human being."

    I get that, I have had NJ nod or smile, just out of courtesy and it helps you get through your day. Its a very welcomed and something I miss about other countries. In Japan, this is rarely, if ever done, if it is done, its because your a foriegner and its "ok" to smile at you. Its a cultural difference, but a very annoying one.

  • -4

    Sparky Santos

    Maybe. And it does depend what kind of foreigner you are. I know Japanese Culture well. My Japanese is very bad though. I rarely ever dealt with rude behavior; Because I'm not the type to give a hater power over my feelings.

    Does one really need to go to a 'Soapland?' Seems a good way to be viewed as an undesirable.

  • -2

    billybegood33

    Yes. Everything is about following their rules and their standards. I don't think that can fit well with people of different backgrounds and customs. Everyone is different. At least i would like to think. But they tend to work and move in one unit.

    I am all about respecting one another and doing what is wright, but at the end of the day, we all can't be and think japanese. Unless you want to. And that is what they want you to do. I strongly feel that is what they want the west to do and become.

  • 4

    ambrosia

    sparky santos: My Japanese is very bad though. I rarely ever dealt with rude behavior; Because I'm not the type to give a hater power over my feelings.

    Your Japanese is very bad but you rarely ever deal with rude behavior. Do you not see a correlation there? Just because you can't understand what people are saying doesn't make them less rude. And just because people are rude doesn't mean you've given them power over your feelings. Reacting negatively back or letting it get to you would be giving them power. Whether you've done that or not doesn't change them having been rude. Besides that, being rude and being racist aren't the same.

  • -1

    billybegood33

    ambrosia> how would you feel if you went to a room or a social party where there were many people there and EVERYONE at that party ignored you and just treated you like crap because of some difference about you (skin colour or whatever). Even when you went up to them and broke the ice and said hello, they just look at you like you are crazy or you don't belong. Not a good feeling, right? That is the kind of atmosphere they create. And that is rude. Kinda feels like genocide. Not saying everyone has to be your friend at the party but if there was a sense of healthy variety, then people could find their clicks and people who are compatible with one another. But japan kinda makes this one shoe fits all culture and mentality for everyone to wear.

  • -2

    alejandra

    Well, I think bilderberg_2015 totally got it right. I' ve experienced living in Japan and in France as a foreigner, and although I can not easily tell which country had made me feel more uncomfortable being an "alien", I would say it was quite obvious( even if i was only 5 back then) that some Japanese are racist. It is probably better for white people(especially those from Uk, i noticed, perhaps because it is another island country), but attitutes change dissapointingly with black people and asian people from other countries. The key word is indeed Superiority. Sometimes I wonder what gave some people such proudness to talk like they are the only ones intelligent-- and right--and good--and wealthy--and healthy--and fashionable-- and polite, and civilised in the world. The feeling of being excluded, or looked down upon, and that you do not deserve what they receive troubled me for some time, until I began to understand there is not much we can do about it. Most people are like that. The language racism thing, it happens everywhere in the world. And maybe I should live alone in Antartica if I want to fly away from misjudgements.

  • -2

    japanisch

    billybegood33> Where are you from? I have lived in 4 different countries in my lifetime. Every one of them do the same thing >> (how would you feel if you went to a room or a social party where there were many people there and EVERYONE at that party ignored you and just treated you like crap because of some difference about you (skin colour or whatever). Even when you went up to them and broke the ice and said hello, they just look at you like you are crazy or you don't belong. Not a good feeling, right? That is the kind of atmosphere they create. And that is rude. Kinda feels like genocide. Not saying everyone has to be your friend at the party but if there was a sense of healthy variety, then people could find their clicks and people who are compatible with one another. But japan kinda makes this one shoe fits all culture and mentality for everyone to wear.)<< blaming it on physical differences is an easy way out. I have been treated like that and i have treated people like that. It was not because of their physical differences, it was because I found them annoying or I just did not want to talk to them. I am sure the same reasons are for being treated like that. All I have seen in these responses are people crying victim and and the country has to change. However, out of the hundreds and hundreds of foreigners i have met, i only have met a handful that took the time to learn the language. Those who have learned the language (when I say learned the language, I am talking about level 1 equivalency test) are for the most part accepted into the society. i think also that social stereotyping is being misconstrued into racism in this article and its comments. How much of the Japanese culture did we learn while growing up? I for one knew very little about Japan when I first arrived. i only knew the general stereotypes. this country also lumps themselves into one category . how many times have we heard "We Japanese do this...." In summary, the next time you visit your home country, observe the actions of your countrymen around foreigners. In the big cities and small towns. you will find their actions in general are no different than ours. the only difference is the culture.

  • -5

    billybegood33

    Japanich> I am from the U.S. I have many friends from the U.S. and other places to seem to 'fit' in. And as for me, i don't think its a language barrier. i speak enough japanese. They are just flat out racist, and they are so subtle about it. Like ninja. They do it smiling. And they target people who do things somewhat different, whether it be good or bad. Lets face it, they have a sense of bully culture where they have allows worked in mungers and picked on the different..like you said, they lump themselves together, because? they are strong in numbers, they know that! Its them against the world. And the way I see it, many foreigners here who say, well, if you don't like it, leave! Which is true to a certain extent are avoiding the problem and allowing equality.

  • 3

    JSTOKYO

    @sfjp330

    Compare to Japanese being more open about the a racial prejudice, a more serious flaw could be the fact that in most Western countries racism is so taboo than many people will hide their intolerant views and lie to the questioners. Americans are conditioned by their education and media to keep these sorts of racial preferences private, and lie about them. Westerners just hides their prejudice better.

    I think you have this backwards. In Western countries, especially the U.S., there is often very direct and open debate about racial prejudice. A case in point is the recent George Zimmerman trial in Florida, where he was acquitted of killing a black teenager. Western news media, such as CNN, BBC, New York Times, CBS, ABC and NBC, etc, covered the "racial prejudice" angle of the killing and trial for weeks. This kind of open debate is very constructive and healthy in the West, since the first step to solving any problem is to first acknowledge that a problem exists. This is why there are robust laws in the US against racism and discrimination.

    Compare this to Japan, where the society is in denial that racism and discrimination exist. The problem is either swept under the rug, or it rears its ugly head by means of the "black trucks" spewing racist venom through loudspeakers and the large scale demonstrations through Korean parts of Tokyo and Osaka where hate speach against Korean residents is commonplace. There are no laws addressing discrimination against racial minorities in Japan, which makes the problem worse.

    I think contrary to your comment, most mainstream Japanese are much better at hiding their racist prejudices as compared to Westerners, due to the Japanese concepts of Honne and Tatemae.

  • -3

    mmwkdw

    Japan is no more "Racist" than the next Country. Being on the receiving end does make me appreciate the feelings of foreign Nationals within my own Country, so perhaps, I'm now more "enlightened". There will always be Good People and Bad People wherever we go in Life, so judging a Nation based upon a few individuals would be folly, at least Japan is a "Free" enough Country to allow for those few to express their feelings openly.

    What would be more interesting, is to document any "Official" Government 'sponsored' Racist activities, since that, would, reflect poorly upon the Japanese Society as a Whole. Complaining about Individuals, small shops, or the odd Firm or two, just doesn't really stand out. But if the Government was directly responsible, and could be proven to be so, then that, would be worthy of shouting about.

  • 4

    JSTOKYO

    @mmwkdw

    What would be more interesting, is to document any "Official" Government 'sponsored' Racist activities, since that, would, reflect poorly upon the Japanese Society as a Whole.

    What exactly do you mean by the "Government"? The government is generally made up of the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary, and the country's institutions. By this definition, the Japanese government is definitely complicit, approves of, and condones racism and discrimination.

    The most obvious proof of this is that the Japanese government has steadfastly refused to enact any laws that make racial discrimination illegal. Since Japan does not have anti-discrimination laws, landlords routinely refuse to rent real estate to racial minorities, companies refuse employment opportunities to racial minorities at the same terms as ethnic Japanese, companies get away with violating Japanese labor laws when it comes to non-Japanese employees, the judicial system and the courts refuse to uphold labor laws in the case of non-Japanese workers, and the list of discriminatory actions against racial minorities, women and non-Japanese residents goes on and on.

    The role of the government is to protect the human and civil rights of all residents of the country, and to enact laws to insure that the country offers basic protections to its residents. I don't know what your definition of official government sponsored racist activities is, but it is clear to me that the government's looking away when discrimination is taking place in plain sight under its nose, by denying that discrimination occurs in Japan, and refusing to pass any legislation against discrimination, is akin to the government sponsoring racist activities.

  • -1

    serendipitous

    ambrosia and others

    What I am trying to say is that there are people who 'look' friendly and approachable in every country and there are those who 'look' unfriendly and unapproachable, as well as the large group in the middle. If people want to make friends, they have more chance of doing so if they are in the former group rather than the latter. How to do so is another matter but smiling won't hurt your cause. It's funny that some can only thing of smiling in public as something weird or indicating the person has mental issues! That is how many have become. The fact is a smile costs nothing but gives much.

  • 5

    JSTOKYO

    @serendipitous

    How to do so is another matter but smiling won't hurt your cause.

    That's where you are wrong, since smiling too much CAN hurt you in Japan. The Japanese do not smile often, and they actually have the stereotype of the always smiling, goofy looking, bumbling foreigner, as compared to the stoic looking image the Japanese have of themselves. If a foreigner laughs or smiles too much, he or she will not be taken seriously by the Japanese, so you are shooting yourself in the foot. While in Rome, do as the Romans do. I laugh and smile a lot when I'm back in the U.S., but foreigners should act more guarded in Japan, lest they want to be stereotyped and caricaturized.

    Have you seen the Japanese bow to each other? The one who has the lower rank always bows more deeply. It is the same with smiling and laughter in Japan. The person with the lower social rank smiles and laughs more. By telling foreigners in Japan to smile more, you are asking them to take on a subservient role that subconsiously plays into the racism foreigners encounter in Japan.

  • 2

    ambrosia

    billybegood: how would you feel if you went to a room or a social party where there were many people there and EVERYONE at that party ignored you and just treated you like crap because of some difference about you (skin colour or whatever). Even when you went up to them and broke the ice and said hello, they just look at you like you are crazy or you don't belong. Not a good feeling, right? That is the kind of atmosphere they create. And that is rude.

    Of course it would it would make me feel uncomfortable but being rude isn't the same as being racist. If people are ignoring you because of your skin color then they are being racist. If you think being ignored at a party feels like genocide, I strongly urge you to check your dictionary and do some research on what genocide actually is because your comparison is borderline offensive.

  • 1

    melonbarmonster

    Even in the racial boiling pot that is the US, it is inconceivable for people to be screaming into bullhorns in public that jews/blacks/hispanics should be killed. That has happened in Japan with regularity with little to no resistance from the Japanese public for years and years now. Counter demonstrations and court cases are positive news but in drops in a bucket. There really is no other developed country in the world where such behavior and sentiments are accepted as part of the social political discourse as it is in Japan.

  • -9

    richkix

    I make eye-contact and get nods of recognition and smiles every day on my way to work. A few glares and mutterings too. "Is Japan really racist?" The question itself feels a bit racist to me….

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    japanisch: "Kinda feels like genocide"

    Like genocide? seriously?

    " In the big cities and small towns. you will find their actions in general are no different than ours. the only difference is the culture."

    So... there's no difference, but the difference is cultural. Hmmm...

    "However, out of the hundreds and hundreds of foreigners i have met, i only have met a handful that took the time to learn the language. Those who have learned the language (when I say learned the language, I am talking about level 1 equivalency test) are for the most part accepted into the society."

    BS, 100%. Well, okay, to be fair, you may choose only to meet people fresh off the boat who can't speak the language and whom you can feel better about yourself, but most of the foreigners here I know can speak the language very well, and know more about the culture than most Japanese (in terms of traditions, etc.). They still are not accepted, and are still asked daily, "can you use chopsticks?" and other microaggressions.

  • 0

    No Miso

    Interesting debate. For me, I encounter all kinds of stuff, and most of it makes me laugh. Technically, Japan is very isolated as not that many people speak foreign languages well enough to understand what happens overseas, and many people (not everyone, and probably not the majority) will tag on to articles in cheap Japanese newspapers that target Japan-Good, Foreign=Not so good style messages. In the few decades I have been here, I have seen a reduction in hate style racism, and relatively no change in the passive racism. But then I compare to the UK, and political parties like UKIP, NF and other groups that actually have a chance of getting some power thanks to an evolving hatred of immigrants into the UK. It is really ugly, and gets worse each year. I don't see that style gaining momentum here just yet.

  • -2

    highball7

    Japan is no different than China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea or any other One Race dominant country.

    You are so used to singularity that any difference from the norm is perceived at a different standard for the better or worse.

    Is Japan or any other aforementioned nation/state a racist country? Of course it is. That notion is almost innately built.

    And whether foreigners had increased in their numbers on moving or working in Japan has nothing to do with racism.

    Most likely it has to do with economic reasons. Take mine for example. My company gave me a raise and asked me to move to Japan for a couple of years to head the East Asia Division. So off I went years ago. Then the company moved its regional hq to China so off I went as well. Then my company gave me another raise to move back to the states and off I went.

    The moves to Japan and China are all for economics reasons. I find Japan and China both as racist country. Including their people. That doesn't mean the people there aren't nice and friendly. They can be nice and friendly and still be racists. Most of the time, you people don't even realize you are being a racist. So I won't fault you for your ignorance. We all have a little bit of racism in us.

    Take this for example. When you get on an elevator alone and you see a young tall Asian guy wearing a hoody, will you be as alarmed as you see a young tall Black guy wearing a hoody if you're Japanese?

    There you go.

  • -3

    Aussieboy

    I was recently at a bar in Shibuya and I saw a Japanese guy wearing a NFL Raiders, trucker style cap and I went over and asked where he bought it. I mentioned I was a Raiders fan and that I could not find the trucker style NFL caps anywhere in Japan. He told me that the cap was a present from someone so he was not sure where I could buy it. I went a long my merry way and a short time later he came over to me and gave me his cap. I thought he just wanted me to try it on so I put it on my head, thanked him and then gave it back. He refused to accept the fact I was returning the cap to him and pleaded with me to accept his gift. I finally accepted and found out that he was Japnese army, in the Special Ops, we chatte for a while, I bought him and his GF some drinks and a jolly time was had by all. I am a white male and he is a Japanese male.

    Based on the above I believe that Japanese are not racist, you see, I can generalise too.....

  • 0

    JSTOKYO

    @No Miso

    But then I compare to the UK, and political parties like UKIP, NF and other groups that actually have a chance of getting some power thanks to an evolving hatred of immigrants into the UK. It is really ugly, and gets worse each year. I don't see that style gaining momentum here just yet.

    Not sure this is true, since the likes of Ishihara and Hashimoto have held considerable power and support. Don't forget that as Mayor of one of the world's largest cities, Tokyo, Ishihara built his career on racism, xenophobia and badmouthing Japan's foreign residents.

    There is no shortage of such politicians among Japan's parties. Japan's xenophobic party Ishin Seitou Shinpuu (Restoration Party New Wind) candidate Yoshiharu's political slogan recently was, "More than foreigners, Japanese are first!" (Gakokujin yori nihonjin ga daiichi!). You can see his campaign poster with this slogan at the party's Website: http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/tokyo_katsushika/kaneko73101001.jpg

  • 3

    PeaceWarrior

    Japan is more racist when I am not wearing a suit!

  • 0

    JSTOKYO

    @Aussieboy

    Based on the above I believe that Japanese are not racist

    I think you have a pretty poor understanding of what racism means, if you are basing your opinion on this one interaction you had with a Japanese guy at a bar in Shibuya while you were out drinking. There is plenty of racism and discrimination in Japan against foreign residents, when it comes to things that really matter, such as, racism in housing, schools, employment, businesses, application of the law, and discriminatory treatment by the Japanese police, courts and lawyers, etc.

  • 4

    Mike45

    @Aussieboy,

    Everybody has had those experiences. I have plenty of caps from JSDF members to show for it, back in my naive newbie days I would of said the same as you..."Japanese are not racist" You fail to realize, that this act of kindness is directed towards you is because you represent something different than that person Japanese showering you with praise and gifts. The more foriegn and "unprogramed" you are, the more desirable to be around. Start to act and speak Japanese, it will quickly disappear and be replaced with something else. Anybody who has lived in Japan knows this and the fake praise does get old fast. Its usually people like you who will be the first to leave or complain about it as well.

    I can say that I have never had any problems with Japanese authority (police, immi, etc) but it doesnt mean that other foriegners dont. I have had problems with ordinary Japanese. Apologist always snicker that its my fault. Should I do the same to filipinos I know who have had problems with the authority? Im special, and they arent? The bottom line is that if your not Japanese, your unwelcome. Japan has many great things going for it, but if your not Japanese, your just in the way.

  • 1

    No Miso

    @JSTOKYO

    Not sure this is true, since the likes of Ishihara and Hashimoto have held considerable power and support.

    Got me there, agree that these chaps are very pro Japan, but I don't think they are in the same league of racists alongside UKIP. Moreover, Ishihara was the guy who brought the Tokyo marathon to town, and all of the foreigners that this brings as well. He knows that there is money to be had from opening up, and has exploited the opportunity.

    if you are basing your opinion on this one interaction you had with a Japanese guy at a bar in Shibuya while you were out drinking.

    You may have missed Ausieboy's point here, to me it looks like he is pointing out that a few bad interactions shouldn't tar the whole population which is what many posters SEEM to be doing. Look at CanadianJapan's post as one example of someone who really doesn't understand what is happening around him.

    .

    I think the key for me is hate driven racism - of which I find VERY little in Japan. The rest I would put down to ignorance (in the politest sense) which can usually be resolved by education AND people like us flying the flag of "goodness" to prove that we aren't all that bad after all.

  • 3

    JSTOKYO

    @No Miso

    Moreover, Ishihara was the guy who brought the Tokyo marathon to town, and all of the foreigners that this brings as well. He knows that there is money to be had from opening up, and has exploited the opportunity.

    By bringing the Tokyo Marathon to town, Ishihara accomplished two things. First, it gives the world the impression that Tokyo is an international city. But, this is just about creating a perception of Tokyo as an international city, since it does not change the reality that Tokyo is in fact not a very international city. The second thing it accomplishes is that it brings foreign tourists to Tokyo, who then spend money in its hotels, restaurants and shops. And best of all, from Ishihara's perspective, they LEAVE Tokyo after spending their money here. This Ishihara can live with. However, it is quite a different story for foreigners who want to create a life in Japan, since they are the ones who encounter racism and discrimination in housing, schooling and employment, etc.

    I think the key for me is hate driven racism - of which I find VERY little in Japan. The rest I would put down to ignorance (in the politest sense) which can usually be resolved by education AND people like us flying the flag of "goodness" to prove that we aren't all that bad after all.

    I hear this argument about attributing Japan's racism and discrimination to ignorance, but I'm sorry I just don't buy it. If the Japanese are ignorant about racial discrimination, prejudice and racism amidst them, then it is because they are choosing to be ignorant about these issues and because it suits them this way. The Japanese are among the world's most well educated and wealthy people. They have the largest circulation newspapers in the world. The country was the world's second largest economy until recently, and is still the world's third largest. Their companies sell Toyotas and Sony products around the world. Given these factors, ignorance cannot be used as an excuse for Japan's racism and discrimination against its racial minorities and foreign residents.

  • 1

    No Miso

    > The Japanese are among the world's most well educated and wealthy people. They have the largest circulation newspapers in the world.

    Hmm, but Japanese education is all about reading and learning "facts" and not too much about getting out there and finding things for yourself (based on me watching my two kids in the Japanese system), this continues in later life as people read sensationalist newspapers and think that they are reporting facts. They just don't know any better, if they did, you could argue it is prejudice.

  • -3

    thkanner

    i cant complain. been in japan 4 times, each visit between 4-6months. iam german and this makes things in japan very easy compares to other nationalities. never had a problem getting rental properties. i get a 6month holiday visa on german passport without leaving the country and as soon older people see my german flag on tshirt their eyes lighten up. in the end we both lost the war.... if u know what i mean.

  • 3

    FightingViking

    It would also seem that, even today (I've been here much longer than in my native Europe) the Japanese seem to think that every time they see a white person, that person is "obviously" American...

  • 0

    cleo

    the Japanese seem to think that every time they see a white person, that person is "obviously" American...

    I've had people ask me which state I was from. When I answered 'Great Britain' they wandered away blinking rapidly. Obviously did not compute.....:-)

    The bottom line is that if your not Japanese, your unwelcome. Japan has many great things going for it, but if your not Japanese, your just in the way.

    Rubbish.

  • 2

    Gaijin Desi

    Ok I am sorry, in my previous comment I said Japan is not racist at all, now I am taking my words back. When i talked to my wife on this topic she informed me as I don't know Japanese and don't understand what other local are saying in front of you, you probably think Grass is green everywhere.

  • 1

    Aussieboy

    Start to act and speak Japanese, it will quickly disappear and be replaced with something else. Anybody who has lived in Japan knows this and the fake praise does get old fast. Its usually people like you who will be the first to leave or complain about it as well.

    I have been living in Japan for over 3 years and speak Japanese. I was speaking Japanese to the guy in the bar. If you start thinking all Japanese are racist then no matter what happens you will always have that impression, you see it as "fake praise" but I see it as an act of kindness.

    I think you have a pretty poor understanding of what racism means, if you are basing your opinion on this one interaction you had with a Japanese guy at a bar in Shibuya while you were out drinking.

    I was being sarcastic and making a point that flew over your and others heads but I guess I they need a sarcasm button on here somewhere.

  • 1

    tmtmsnb

    @thkannerNOV. 17, 2013 - 01:21AM JST

    That's racism---our very own! That being said, we all like Germans of today, don't we? As to is Japan racist? Hmm- - hundreds of years ago the lords of manors told their hyakusou--slave farmers actually--how abominable outsiders were.Tthe purpose: 1 prevent the suffering farmers from running away; 2 cause them to hate the invaders, so that they would fight the invaders to death, rather than expect the invaders to be saviors, and thus welcome them.

  • 2

    Mike45

    For all of you who think Japan has no racism or is a wonderful place, good on you. Japan is superior to many countries in many ways, no argument there, but the Japanese people are its priority. I once read that Japan is superior amoungst primitive countries but is primitive amoungst advanced countries. This gap is slowly..very slowly..closing but Japan still lags in many areas. I can live in another country and whine about poverty crime disenfranchisement, poor social services etc as many do here, but while Im there I will never feel as an outsider, or outcast, which is the precise meaning of "gaijin" Even in the most dangerous places I feel more comfortable than I do in japan. I dont need the "care" of some elder Japanese or all knowing ojisan guru to teach me about the shortcomings of the world. Of course there are many problems in other countries, but the sky isnt going to fall down, least not for me. I dont feel the need to be critical of everything around me, as I have seen japanese do abroad, and say "its not Japanese!" or panic and run back to my comfort zone in Japan. I think its a difference in people thats the issue here.

  • -7

    cleo

    I find I still cannot stand gawping at the rail map/fare chart in Tokyo Station without at least one person stopping to ask me if I know where I'm going/can they help me. If I were of a certain mindset I could take that as 'proof' that all Japanese consider all non-Japanese to be too stupid to be able to follow a map or read a chart, or as 'proof' that someone just wants a quick freebie chance to practice their English. As it is I take it as yet another example of the natural desire of one human being to help another who (apparently) looks lost (though I'm not).

    The same thing happens in London, though there you don't have to look foreign (nearly 40% of London's population were born outside the UK), just lost. Just people happy to help other people.

    I dont feel the need to be critical of everything around me

    You know, reading your posts, that doesn't really come across? :-)

  • 3

    JSTOKYO

    @Mike45

    I think its a difference in people thats the issue here.

    I think you make some excellent points! I have travelled and lived in many countries around the world, and what makes Japan different is this - whereas, in other countries I have always found a diverse range of natives who are willing to express different opinions and criticisms of their own country, in Japan, every single Japanese person I have ever met seems to think that offering the slighest criticism or opinion that diverges from the norm is a form of blasphemy against Japan.

    I think this is rooted in two factors. One, is the Japanese concept of "kata", or "correct way to do something", which leads many Japanese to feel that there is only one correct way to do something. The other is that in the absence of much formalized religion, the Japanese culture and norms take on an almost religion-like importance for many Japanese. When people start to think of their country and culture in such rigid terms, this creates intolerance and prejudice, which leads them to discriminate and commit racist acts against outsiders, such as foreign residents of Japan.

  • -8

    Ishiharatakashi

    One, I am an American (true). Two, I am an English teacher (nope). And three, I don’t speak Japanese or know anything about Japanese culture (the jury might still be out on this one).

    1,Historically, big part of western foreigner at Japan are Americans. 2,Many western foreigners work as English teachers. 3.Many western foreigners didnt know Japanese customs.

    About 1,there are records. 2,still many western foreigners find a job as teachers.3,many examples. Like no Russians at public bath in Hokkaido(they dive to bath tab with darts), no foreigners at Tsukiji fish market(it is not a tourist attraction), no Tattoo at public bath (even Japanese who is not Yakuza). No handshake and Hug(we Bow), No chip(we dont have that custom), no residence for foreigners (they treat rooms badly, ask any countries residence owners, about Japanese residents. They do not break furniture, or run away without payment). Most of Japanese dont speak English (no need for daily life: Japan is not big tourism state, ex-colonies of west, and academically, many papers are translated and published, enough education system without being oversea student), and many foreigners at Japan DO NOT speak Japanese,! They are just Facts. Your behavior reflect Japanese peoples reaction's. You made your stereotypes by yourself.

    If you determine Japan by your experiences, I will tell you by my experiences, many many White Westerns MACK(and more) Japanese school girls(it is illegal to have sexual relationships with minors under 18). Many foreigners who have Japanese partners work as teachers after come to Japan.

    Some of the comments made in casual conversation or even in the media about Africans (or anyone black, really),

    Ah, joke like "if he close his eyes, i cannot see him in the Night"? just like White Americans explain Asians by lifting eyes up with fingers? Call Asian "Chin Chon Chan?" Like Japan = Samurai Ninja? At least we do not shoot to kill poor African American girl. And we never had slave systems. This is not racism or discrimination, but just differences; skin colors are different, eyes are different, tall, short.... I dont care if you say I have narrow eyes, yellow skins, ugly teeth and smell fishy. That is just fact and difference between you and me. Is it failure to be friend?

    And about hate speech, you need to research it more carefully, it is not based on race superiority like KKK. it is political issues with Japan and South Korea and Zainichi (Koreans in Japan, not Japanese Koreans). Personally, I disagree with hate speech, but I understand why it begins.

    I dont think Japan need more globalism, look USA, UK, Sweden, what is going on? Day and Night, this is racism, that is racism, he is racist, they are racist, what are you doing?

  • 1

    kickboard

    JSTOKYO, really? I have been to 20 countries, have spent a considerable amount of time in 5, and have worked in 2. In MY experience, most people do not like criticism about their own country, especially when spoken by someone from another country. Heck, my American girlfriend got angry when I said apples taste better in Japan (and I'm American!) When I first came to Japan, I had a bad habit of comparing EVERYTHING to America. I thought the way we did things in my country was the right way. I have since changed the way I think. There's no right or wrong way, just different ways. That has earned me a lot of respect and a lot of friends. And trust me, Japanese people often criticize things about their own country. You just have to get to know them better. They will also acknowledge you have a good point if you tell them what they should improve on, but it depends on how you deliver that criticism.

  • 4

    JSTOKYO

    @kickboard

    In MY experience, most people do not like criticism about their own country, especially when spoken by someone from another country. Heck, my American girlfriend got angry when I said apples taste better in Japan (and I'm American!)

    I would suggest that you read newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Economist magazine, and watch one of the many programs on CNN, BBC, ABC News, CBS News and NBC News, etc. You will find that these news outlets are full of very honest debate, discussion and criticism of the social, economic, racial, religious and moral challenges and difficulties facing their respective countries. Many times the criticism is levelled at the problems of the country by the program's foreign hosts and foreign guests. For example, CNN's show "Piers Morgan Live" is hosted by a British host, who is often critical of his host country of U.S. Another of CNN's popular shows, "Fareed Zakaria GPS" is hosted by an Indian-American, who is also often quite critical of the U.S. Perhaps your experience of living overseas was in Iran or North Korea, where such things are not tolerated?

    There's no right or wrong way, just different ways.

    So, you are saying that things like sexual harrassment, racial discrimination, gender inequality, prejudice and hate speech, etc., are not wrong, but are just "different ways"?

  • -2

    presto345

    You can expand this topic into a lengthy discussion, like some have attempted, but Japan isn't in any way more 'racist' than European countries and North America - to name the places I've known. Don't agree? You know the button. But it might just be you, not the culture you'd chosen to live in.

  • 0

    JSTOKYO

    @presto345

    You can expand this topic into a lengthy discussion, like some have attempted, but Japan isn't in any way more 'racist' than European countries and North America - to name the places I've known. Don't agree? You know the button. But it might just be you, not the culture you'd chosen to live in.

    It's hard for me to believe how you can deny the obvious fact that Japan has a huge racism problem. You do not have to take my word, or the word of other commenters here for this. However, you should at least trust the findings of the UNITED NATIONS that racism in Japan is "deep and profound", since the UN is independent and impartial.

    The United Nations has been telling Japan for many years now that it has a big racism problem, which the government needs to address. According to an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION conducted by the UNITED NATIONS, "racism in Japan is deep and profound, and the government does not recognise the depth of the problem".

    After its investigation of racism in Japan, the UN report stated that, "Japan should introduce new legislation to combat discrimination.", and, "racial discrimination is practiced undisturbed in Japan." You can do a Google search yourself to read the findings of this UN report. How much more proof do you need about the problem of racism in Japan?

  • -6

    cracaphat

    Can't believe this thread has gone on this long. I mean no-one living here(cough cough,native English speaker)can be honestly saying that Japan is that bad compared to back home,otherwise you wouldn't be here. Jesus will come back before you find a racism free society.But more importantly it's about getting in where you fit in. If it were easy everyone would do it,so since it's not,find a way.Plain and simple.

  • 0

    J.basher

    Japan really doesn't like foreigner at all, your minister say so, but he has to back track on it.

    Tourism minister apologizes for gaffes

    POLITICS New tourism minister Nariaki Nakayama wasted no time putting his foot in it. The day after stating that Japanese do not like foreigners and that the country is ethnically homogeneous, Nakayama apologized Friday and retracted his statements. (3) [THE JAPAN TIMES]

  • -6

    captaincoolz

    I don't think it's entirely japanese, but just culture within that region, korea, china etc... I'm korean american, and when I studied in Tokyo last year, most of my friend's were non-japanese, and although my American friend who spoke very well japanese (JLPT2) was not approached, instead they approached me simply because I looked more "like them", my japanese is okay, not good. Same thing with passing pamphlets, the only pass to me, not my friends. The longer I was there the more I more I realized that that it's either you "ARE" japanese or you're "NOT" japanese. Even thought I look somewhat like Japanese, I was still considered gaijin. Now, applying a bit psychology to it, I don't unfair for them to be like that, they're proud to be japanese ranging from economic and industrial accomplishments throughout the previous decades. The word "racism" has a bad connotation, it's heard as bad word, but.. it's in every industrialized city; Eastern Europe beat foreigners, sometimes even killing them. South America, looks upon you in you're Asian descent, even in Scandinavia...people the middle east are criticized for taking jobs, heck in america segregation existed only around a few decades ago. My point is, Japan isn't nearly as bad compared to elsewhere. Lastly, I recall at the moment for the word, but it's explains the phenomenon, why some cultures are like this, the comparative example from the textbook was: Child-A plays by the playground, he doesn't want to be bothered, he built his toys and amenities around him with a bit of effort and time, then the teacher(society, UN) forces him to play with Child-B(outside people) when in reality he doesn't want share to but accepts the teacher policy because the authority sets the norm... My personal opinion; you can't change evolution overnight, beneath our mammalian brian, lies a primate brian, and under that the reptilian instincts, so it's the two lower layers that makes up the brain at the first place, so the mammalian brian thinks "equality". Primate brain says "yes, but personal gain first". Reptilian brain says, "survival instincts first". see the dilemma? Brain polarity changes aren't overnight, evolution is slow, wait folks.

  • 4

    JSTOKYO

    @captaincoolz

    Child-A plays by the playground, he doesn't want to be bothered, he built his toys and amenities around him with a bit of effort and time, then the teacher(society, UN) forces him to play with Child-B(outside people) when in reality he doesn't want share to but accepts the teacher policy because the authority sets the norm.

    The only problem with this analogy is that Japan has built most of its wealth due to two factors - (1) the US that helped Japan rebuild its economy after the WW2, and, (2) exports of Japanese products to foreign markets in other countries. So you see, Japan did not accumulate all these toys on its own. This is why it is wrong for it to practice racism against foreigners, since Japan has built its strong economy on the back of these same foreigners.

  • 4

    Dragoncloud64

    Yes Japan is really racist. Like OP said, there's not a lot of blatant racism like the anti-korean marches, but there is A LOT of microagression(I like op's word "innocent racism"), you might not notice it at first but it's there.

  • 2

    billybegood33

    Jstokyo said it well. I find them only to be only takers. They don't want to give anything. that is why i find it so hypocritical of them to be racists and discriminative of people of difference when they take and use everything from the outside.

  • 3

    Wolfpack

    At times I found it to be quite difficult when I lived in Japan (or when traveling there). I've had my share of incidents in which I have been told to "go home", had children point and yell "gaijin", and been stared at like a zoo animal. I wasn't at all ready for that when I first lived in Japan and it stressed me so badly that it caused my personality to change (and not for the better). Yet I still find myself wanting to go back again and again.

    I have tried to put myself in the shoes of the average Japanese person. There are more foreigners than ever in Japan these days but the number is still rather small. Of those foreigners most are from other Asian countries. So for a black, white, or to a lesser extent, Hispanic or Middle Eastern person, you are going to be noticed just about everywhere you go - especially outside of Tokyo and Osaka. People notice you as if you were walking down the street wearing a bright orange suit. Japanese people are socialized to be proud of themselves as a people and as a result they have a rather cohesive or somewhat insular society. I don't see anything at all wrong with that - it what works for them. The downside is that it seems to me that not very many Japanese are able to make good friends with a foreign person; more than just a superficial association. That I think is a problem - at least for me and for other foreigners.

    The Japanese obviously do not favor the the American concept of the melting pot. In a general sense, Americans see that having people from all over the world living in their country as a good thing. This works great when these immigrants can be assimilated and want to assimilate (but that's another topic altogether). I feel that the Japanese have the opposite view as to what makes for a strong society. If you cannot accept that then you will not be able to function in Japan for very long. But even accepting that leaves me feeling unsatisfied by many of my experiences in Japan.

    Japanese society will only change on it's own terms. From my experience they will flat out not accept the Western standard of social acceptance of a foreign person. It can be really hard not to take that personally.

  • 6

    Mike45

    @wolfpack:

    I think your observation is very close to reality in Japan. The general consensus here, with the execption of those "special ones", the apologist, is that Japan wants to keep Japan 100% Japanese. Its whats taught to their children and by the media, by their elders, almost to the point of brainwashing. There are the few who think they are the "special ones" that is the gaijin who Japanese treat well or have reached true assimiliation and have "arrived" The rest of us are just bonkers or troublemakers, perhaps even mentally ill??. I used to think I was a special one, an exception, but that is living in a dreamworld. Being the kawaii gaijin gets old and even sickening. Many apologist love this role, however. Some incidents quickly snapped me out of that real fast. Over the years, I have witnessed gaijin who changed for the worse, and then it latter happened to me. Sometimes the best people to ask about Japan is the Japanese themselves. As one posted here- Japanese dont need foriegners or need to speak English. They dont need to rent an apartment to you either. Basically they dont need you at all in their country; they just need you to buy their stuff and supply them the materials to do it. They want full access to your markets and universities, however, and they want all kinds of praise and love from you when they are in your country, or visiting theres. As JStokyo said, dont you even think about complaining or telling it how is.

  • 0

    FightingViking

    Funny ! As I mentioned once before (on a completely different subject) while other "gaijin" were annoyed when approached by the "tissue-givers", I always gratefully accepted them - you never know when you might need one ! (I am not in the habit of using my "sleeve"...) As mentioned higher up, I have light auburn hair and blue eyes - so there's no mistaking me for a Japanese person ! Have they started avoiding foreigners since we moved out of Tokyo ?

  • 2

    HaileG

    I understand why there is some debate on the point. Racism here for most westerners isn't continually in your face. It is periodic and often it is not clear why that strange thing just happened. I believe the more you are in situations where you are the only non-Japanese in a group and the longer you are here the more likely you are to be aware of it.

    I think the perfect judges of whether it exists are not are the bi-cultural kids who are fluent in Japanese and are in the heart of it every day. They know the reality.

    I just watched this short documentary about this sweet bi-racial girl who was bullied throughout junior high school She was told to die, go back to America, disappear etc. because she was gaijin. I know many bi-racial people and they all have similar stories to tell. I think she said it well. " I love Japanese culture but I don't like Japanese people.

    The documentary is on Youtube: Ha-fu: ハーフ Documentary

  • -2

    Mike45

    @turbojesus

    *"The other day I was at a CAINZ Homeware store, walking down an isle - someone had left their trolley at one end of the isle while browsing the other (no valuables or anything), the person rushed down to get there. I dont what they assumed I would do with their unpurchased furnishings, but I couldnt help but chuckle.

    Ive also been nearly run over crossing a road, I had a green light and the car driven by an old man flew through a red light - the old guy shot me a dirty look and In my adrenaline filled moment of slow-mo backjumping I could read the words on his lips "gaijin". " * You should smile more, I mean come on. If you would of smiled at that person rushing to get their cart before you did, then all would of been good. Its 100% your fault man! You got to learn how to smile. And the old guy giving you a dirty look- your just being paranoid. Did you try getting some help for that?

  • -5

    It"S ME

    I don't think Japan is all that racist after having worked and Iived in quiet a few countries and continents.

    Granted I have seen and heard some comments but most were without thought and also derided by other locals.

    Personally I think my own country is way more racist and we are no. 1 for Muslim, judaeist, etc integration.

    I think most people are not used to be considered a minority, etc.

  • 3

    Nessie

    Is Japan really racist...or is it really really racist?

  • -3

    It"S ME

    Often in my travels I was asked if I was from country Y and replied no from country X and got a way to better reception. No lying there.

    Same I heard that many US-Citizens pretend to be Canadians.

  • 0

    JSTOKYO

    @Mike45

    Japanese dont need foriegners or need to speak English. They dont need to rent an apartment to you either. Basically they dont need you at all in their country; they just need you to buy their stuff and supply them the materials to do it. They want full access to your markets and universities

    The most disturbing aspect of Japanese racism is that the reality of racism which the non-Japanese and Japanese racial minotities face in Japan is quite different from the image of the country that Japan wants to project to the rest of the world. The Japanese economy is extremely dependent on exports, so Japan projects an image of tolerance to the outside world, but the reality of daily life for racial minorities in Japan is quite different. I guess, it's this contradiction that bothers me.

    Just in the last year, Mr. Abe has made numerous foreign visits to various foreign countries, including Middle Eastern and other Asian countries, to promote Japanese exports to these countries. It would be nice if he would take some initiative at home also to protect the rights of Japan's foreign residents, to go along with his efforts to sell Japanese products to their home countries.

  • 0

    Mike45

    @JSTokyo,

    We can all dream, but I dont bother with it anymore. If Japan decided to become multicultural, all the cards would fall down. Japanese society is not built around this concept, its based on something entirely different. Everything would have to change, japan is not a country of immigrants. Your introducing a concept that is way way late since the country founding. Im game to others suggestions, but as for me, it is what it is; and its not going to change.

  • 0

    It"S ME

    For the people that downvoted me. I got a great welcome in the circles I joined, may they be MA, Cooking, whatever.

    Myself tend to be receptive to other thinkings might be a factor too.

    Said that made many friends in the last few decades in countries and continents across the globe.

  • -1

    sasapesso

    I agree on institutional aspect of racism in Japan. No serious laws against racism makes it possible to discriminate any foreigner, which is not the case in the West. This makes Japanese state problematic. On the other hand racism on popular level might be stimulated by the West itself: there is kind of inferiority complex. Even though a non-western country sticks to its culture, almost everything else from state structure to economy is a gift of industrial revolution and that is why today countries are more alike than ever before, which makes them emphasize on small things to feel distinctive. And more important for Japanese at psychological level is the importance of the second world war, they lost first time in any war, this loss meant that they were not the best, not the most powerful and the emperor"s speech was the seal of the inferiority complex. The reason why the Japanese like being flattered by foreigners is a result of this complex. The fact that their loss was at the hands of Americans make them prefer all other Westerners to US citizens.

  • 0

    JSTOKYO

    @Wolfpack

    Japanese society will only change on it's own terms.

    Japan has a history of accepting change only when there is a crisis, when there is external pressure, and after a situation becomes really dire and extreme (examples: the black ships, WW2). This does not seem to be a very smart way to bring about change.

    I had a really good professor at university who used to tell us that it is much better to anticipate change so you can shape it in the most beneficial manner, as opposed to change being imposed on you by someone dragging you while you are kicking and screaming. I think the time for Japan to anticipate change is now, as the country's population plummets and its debt skyrockets.

  • -2

    pasht22

    To be honest, I haven't had the type of problems that some other people have reported on here. I have been in Japan for 2.5 years now and I have never been stopped by the police for my alien card or have been harassed by perverts on the street yet - that is not to say that other people haven't had those experiences or that it will never happen to me. I know that there is racism and discrimination in Japan but I haven't let it affect me or the quality of life that I have here - I accept that in Japan, I am the minority and that there will be people who have certain ideas about me based on the colour of my skin but there isn't anything I can do about that. I just carry on with my life and be friendly to people so that they don't feel intimidated or scared because I am not like them and they may not be used to foreigners. I have seen the signs that say "no foreigners allowed" but to be honest, I couldn't care less - if they are going to be so closed minded, then I wouldn't want to step foot in their establishment anyway. I have heard people make racist comments about other countries and the frequency or the strength of those comments are no more or less than those that I have heard in other countries that I have lived in (Canada, UK, Hong Kong). It doesn't mean that it is right to say those things but Japan doesn't have the monopoly on that kind of behaviour - let's face it, there are uninformed fools and bigots everywhere. My son is a "double" and I do wonder if he will face any challenges because sometimes he looks white and sometimes he looks Japanese. That's right, my son is not a "half" - he is a complete individual that has the benefit of two cultures and two languages. Some people are surprised that Japan is not as "polite" a country as people are led to believe - come on guys, are you really surprised that Japanese people act like normal human beings? Yes, Japan does have some way to go to be more accepting in some areas to foreigners but if you can't handle that reality, then in all honesty, feel free to return to your own home country.

  • -1

    Mike45

    "To be honest, I haven't had the type of problems that some other people have reported on here. I have been in Japan for 2.5 years now"

    2.5 years? does that mean 2 1/2 years or a typo? 2.5 years...you still got lots to learn. Enjoy that newbie euphoria while it last.

    "That's right, my son is not a "half""

    According to the majority, he is. Sorry, majority rules in Japan, minority gets squashed. If he goes to public schools, you will see whats out there, and youll be singing a "go home" tune instead of the "I accept that in Japan" newbie song.

  • 1

    pasht22

    Mike45 - "newbie euphoria"? Not really - I have lived in Japan for only 2.5 years but I have been coming here for the past 6 years as part of a Japanese family. I had no illusions when I came to live here and I face challenges everyday like many other foreigners do. I just choose to get on with things and not sit around and say "poor me, poor me". I chose to make my life here, all of my colleagues are Japanese and the area where I live is mainly Japanese so, sorry to disappoint you but I won't be singing the "go home" tune any time soon if ever. Sounds like you are pretty jaded - how long did it take you to get to that point then? I guess the answer is probably more than 2.5, sorry 2 1/2, years then.

  • 1

    JSTOKYO

    @Mike45

    As one posted here- Japanese dont need foriegners or need to speak English. They dont need to rent an apartment to you either. Basically they dont need you at all in their country

    The thing is that, as long as I am in the country legally - which I am; as long as I pay the same taxes as a Japanese person - which I do (probably more so than the average Japanese); and, as long as I follow Japanese laws - which I do, then I think I have a right to ask Japan to not violate my basic civil rights and to not discriminate against me. The United Nations charter, to which Japan is a signatory, guarantees me these rights. If I am denied these rights, then I feel that I and others have the right (and indeed, an obligation) to demand these rights and demand that Japan honor its treaty obligations as a member of the United Nations and the global community.

  • 1

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    JOINED JUST TO ADD MY 2 PENCE

    How to solve 70% of these problems getting u down.

    Take a deep breath let it out while thinking oh the small minded fool, how i pity you. Works like a charm.

    White Bar Owner Kobe

  • 2

    JSTOKYO

    @Kobe White Bar Owner

    Take a deep breath let it out while thinking oh the small minded fool, how i pity you. Works like a charm.

    Good point. This is exactly how I think too! I have actually never let the microaggressions, racism and discrimination in Japan get me down, and I always find a way to dish it back. Having said this, I think it's important to acknowledge that these problems exist in Japan, so that non-Japanese don't act naively and are not caught by surprise when it happens to them.

  • 0

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    @ JSTOKYO

    Nicely put i agree, plus the standardized dealing with non japanese script is fairly easy to predict.

    Upgrade to my first comment.

    Take a deep breath let it out while thinking doing a MR T i pity the fools. Works like a charm.

    imagine owning a Bar

    2 Favorite quote from a customer.

    1. Customer comment to my Japanese wife.....
      You look like the type who would marry a gaijin. US. ok then.......

    2. Q:Master whats your hobby? Ans:Hmm no real hobbies i do like thinking and problem solving Customer: hahahah that just like a child Me: Next

    enjoy the ride!

  • 1

    JSTOKYO

    @Kobe White Bar Owner

    Q:Master whats your hobby? Ans:Hmm no real hobbies i do like thinking and problem solving Customer: hahahah that just like a child Me: Next

    LOL! My experience, exactly.

    One of the commenters above wrote that non-Japanese here should try harder to fit in and earn the respect of the Japanese, if they want to be treated better in Japan. Little hard to do this, unless you want to dumb-down all conversation to what's your hobby, what's your blood type or I like/dislike XYZ food. Besides, "earning respect" is a two-way street, where you can't dole out respect to the Japanese, unless they deserve it.

  • 1

    Guy Fawkes

    Besides, "earning respect" is a two-way street, where you can't dole out respect to the Japanese, unless they deserve it.

    Exactly. Respect is earned, not given.

  • -1

    Mike45

    "Having said this, I think it's important to acknowledge that these problems exist in Japan, so that non-Japanese don't act naively and are not caught by surprise when it happens to them."

    I agree with this, but good luck on that ever happening. The longer you stay in Japan, the more stages you move through. I dont wish any newbie to go through what I did, but I gave up on schooling them long ago. Its almost as if Japanese want foriegners to see how it really is here as well. I think your point about dealing with it, on your level, is most important. Trying to convenince others is a stressing task; most think there is something wrong with you, others want to be in the "know" and others are just defenders. I see many who have had the exact same experiences as I have, and venting that helps.

  • -1

    globalwatcher

    Vast Right-Wing ConspiratorNov. 11, 2013 - 10:26PM JST

    While the legalized discrimination is a problem- I was denied a rental for my family despite having a steady job, permanent residence, and an iron-clad guarantor, there is a bigger one

    Your credit history may had some smears. If you clean them up, it should go through.

  • -1

    Lily Cole

    I think Japanese have racistic aspct on certain degree, but not as prominent as caucasian society. I've seen many of asians are terribly opressed in UK. While I've never seen such a thing in Japan, never, seriously. Before blaiming Japanese trivial thing, we should reconsider what we are.

  • 0

    Richard Marsolais

    Japanese people as far as i can see arent so much racist as xenophobic. They have been "sealed away" on a little island with their own culture and their own people for many centuries. Its just in the past 50 years that many foreginers are wanting to learn about them their language and their culture. Even to live amongst them. So they are still largely a japanese society with small minoritys. The japanese peope seem willing to accept us over time for the most part but just as we do not understand their culture and society they also do not understand that in america and europe it is a normal part of life to live amongst minoritys and this we are trained from an early age to be accepting of everyone. Yes i know in such a broad sense its hard to say but this is just my own thoughts. I think as more people become interested in japan and japanese culture and society and people they are going to start being more accepting of us. It does take governmental changes which i do agree are lacking but as society demands it more and more the government will start to accept it more and more and eventually those entrenched phobias and misconceptions will start to fade. Learn the language,culture and society and you can start to accept the racist undertones yes but you are also showing that you are not like every other foreginer. If you want to live in your little bubble then its your choice. But if you want to stand out and be accepted to the extent that the society can at the current time accept you then you should become educated about the society you are in.

  • -1

    johnnygaijin

    I've lived in Japan for a total of 13 years and I can say that some Japanese are indeed bitterly racist based on my own personal experience. I get snide remarks when jogging around the park "nanisuruno,gaijin!" (what the hell do you think you're doing gaijin?") in a very derogatory tone that one might use when addressing a cockroach in the kitchen. I asked for directions once and got "urusaindayo,gaijin!" (get out of my face you piece of .... gaijin!"). Other stuff that happens on a daily basis are things like avoiding you on the trains, coughing and occasionally even spitting as you pass by while walking down the street (if it happens enough you realize that it's not just coincidence, imagination or paranoia), closing the elevator door in your face as you are walking towards the door, giving you the evil repugnant eye for no reason, crossing the street to avoid walking past you, police harassment for walking or cycling while foreign (the latest incident a few weeks ago "you are sweating and riding fast so ..... " four cops surrounded me in front of the public passing by and questioned me about all kinds of trivial rubbish for about ten minutes (it shows the J public that 1.working hard to protect against foreign crime 2. yappari, gaijin are doing bad things in Japan). So yea, some Japanese are pretty nasty towards foreigners. I can live with that, if not I can leave.

  • 0

    Christina Gmiterko

    Japan is definitely racist, but it is also quite sexist as well. In fact the sexism might actually outweigh the racism. I am a white american woman and just yesterday I was told that I shouldn't have participated in lifting the mikoshi at a summer festival for two reasons: I am a foreigner and a woman. Unfortunately Japan has been homogenized for so long that people say these things without batting an eyelid and do not even realize why it would be hurtful to the other person.

    I also agree with the point that others have made that those who are fluent in Japanese recognize the racism a lot more easily. So many things that would be considered racism in western nations are just casually said in normal conversation even by people who themselves admit that they like foreigners.

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