Racial issues in Japan

Racial issues in Japan

In 2005, a United Nations special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia expressed concerns about "deep and profound" racism in Japan and insufficient government recognition of the problem. [cite web|url=http://www.unic.or.jp/new/pr05-057-E.htm |title=Press Conference by Mr Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights |accessdate=2007-01-05] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4671687.stm "Japan racism 'deep and profound".] BBC News (2005-07-11). Retrieved on 2007-01-05.] Doudou Diène (Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights), concluded after an investigation and nine-day tour of Japan that racial discrimination and xenophobia in Japan primarily affects three groups: national minorities, descendants of former Japanese colonies and foreigners from other Asian countries. [ cite web |url=http://www.imadr.org/geneva/2006/G0610396.pdf |title='Overcoming "Marginalization" and "Invisibility"', International Movement against all forms of Discrimination and Racism |accessdate=2007-01-05] Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese national newspaper, while expressing a support for combating discrimination, expressed doubt on the impartiality of the report, pointing out that Doudou Diène never visited Japan before and his short tour was arranged by a Japanese NGO, IMADR (International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination). The chairman of the organisation is Professor Kinhide Mushakoji (武者小路公秀), who is a board member (and the ex director of the board) of the International Institute of the Juche Idea (主体思想国際研究所), an organisation whose stated purpose is to propagate the official ideology of North Korea. ["報告の陰に連携 (産経新聞「妙」 2005/11/13) 国連人権委員会のディエヌ特別報告者(セネガル)が七日、国連総会第三委員会(人権)で、日本に存在する差別を指摘、それを受けて中国、韓国、北朝鮮の代表が日本を批判したという記事が目に留まった。「差別」の存在は厳粛に受け止め、解消に向けて努力するべきだが、あまりに見事な連携ではないか。「仕組まれた」という思いが拭いきれない。近年、日本に「悪意」をいだくグループが「人権」を武器に、国連を利用し日本に”言いがかり”をつけることがよくあるが、今回もそうではなかったか。そもそもディエヌ氏とはどういった経歴の持ち主なのか。そして、日本のどこをどれほどの期間調査したのか。また、彼をアテンドしたのはどういった団体だったのか。疑問は次々とわいてきた。国連広報センターに問い合わせてみた。明らかになった事実を記す。ディエヌ氏は1993年から2002年にかけて国連科学文化機関(ユネスコ)の文化間・宗教間対話部長を務め、02年に国連人権委員会により現代的形態の人種主義、人種差別、排外主義および関連する不寛容に関する特別報告者に任命された。今年の七月三日から十二日まで日本を訪れ、大阪、京都、北海道で被差別部落、在日韓国人・朝鮮人、アイヌ民族などのグループと面接調査した。訪問は初めてだった。 ディエヌ氏の調査をアレンジしたのは、反差別国際運動というNGO。この団体の理事長は武者小路公秀氏。ピースおおさか(大阪市)の会長であり、金正日の思想を普及しようとするチュチェ思想国際研究所と関係の深い人物である。(桑原聡)"]


Only about 1.6% of Japan's total legal resident population are foreign nationals. According to 2008 data from the Japanese government, the principal groups are as follows. [ja icon [http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/080601-1.pdf _ja. 平成19年末現在における外国人登録者統計について] .]

The above statistic does not include about 50,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Japan and illegal immigrants. Moreover, the statistics do not reflect minority groups who are Japanese citizens such as the Ainu (an aboriginal people primarily living in Hokkaido), the Ryukyuans (who may or may not be considered ethnically Yamato people), and ethnic Koreans that have adopted Japanese citizenship.

Japanese racial minorities

The nine largest minority groups residing in Japan are the North and South Koreans, Chinese or Taiwanese, Brazilian people (mostly Japanese Brazilian), Filipino people (mostly Japanese Filipino), the Ainu, the Ryukyuan. There are also a number of smaller ethnic communities in Japan with a much shorter history.


The Buraku people are a stigmatized group who have faced bigotry and persecution in Japan for centuries. They have been characterized as "the invisible race", because while they are still considered socially inferior by much of Japanese society, they are not typically held to be racially different. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,910511,00.html] [cite book | last = Condry | first = Ian | title = Hip Hop Japan | publisher = Duke University Press | location = California | date = 2007 | pages = 37] Presently, there is a steep income difference between "buraku" and "non buraku" people ranging at about one million yen, or $10,000. Lately however, there has been some awareness of the mistreatment of the Buraku and some measures have been taken to provide these people with better education and housing situations. The history of the prejudice of these people comes from ancient times when the Burakumin were labeled "unclean" because of their occupations as leather cleaners, butchers, or executioners. There are approximately 2-3 million burakumin in the country. Today, many influential Japanese figures such as politicians, actors, artists, and businessmen, are compelled to conceal their true Buraku heritage for fear of losing their positions because of such heavy prejudice. [Wood, Joe. The Yellow Negro. Stable URL:http://www.jstor.org/view/00411191/dm994485/99p0110e/0] The Burakumin are commonly compared to the Untouchable caste present in the Indian caste system because of the similar lower class positioning in society as well as the discrimination from the greater population. [ Burakumin-Everything on Burakumin. 3 April http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/burakumin/]

Ethnic Koreans

"Zainichi" (resident in Japan) Koreans are permanent residents of Japan, but hold North or South Korean citizenship. Most Zainichi came to Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. A large proportion of this immigration is said to be the result of Korean landowners and workers losing their land to Japanese confiscation initiatives and migrated to Japan for work. According to the calculation of R.J.Rummel, a total of 5.4 million Koreans were also conscripted into forced labor, and shipped throughout the Japanese Empire. Of these, 210,000 to 870,000 Koreans died during forced labor in places such as Manchuria and Sakhalin. [cite book | first=R. J. | last=Rummel | coauthors= | title=Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1990 | publisher=Lit Verlag | location= | year=1999 | editor= | id=ISBN 3-8258-4010-7Available online: cite web | title=Statistics of Democide: Chapter 3 - Statistics Of Japanese Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources | work=Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War | url=http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP3.HTM | accessdate=2006-03-01]

Many Korean refugees also came to the country during the Jeju massacre in the First Republic of South Korea. Though most migrants returned to Korea, GHQ estimates in 1946 indicated that 650,000 Koreans remained in Japan.

After World War II, the Korean community in Japan was split between allegiance to South Korea (Mindan) and North Korea (Chongryon). South Koreans in Japan are called "Zainichi Kankokujin" (在日韓国人, 재일한국인), while North Koreans are called "Zainichi Chosenjin" (在日朝鮮人, 재일조선인). Zainichi who identify themselves with Chongryon are also an important money source of North Korea. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = Anna Fifield in Seoul, Michiyo Nakamoto in Tokyo, Mark Turner in New York and agencies | coauthors = | title = N. Korea threatens to ‘bolster war deterrent’ | work = | publisher = Financial Times |date=2006-07-16 | url = http://www.ft.com/cms/s/56732fa8-14fe-11db-b391-0000779e2340.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = 03-10-2006] [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = Glain, Steve | coauthors = | title = Lost gamble: How Japan's attempt to slow nuclear work in North Korea failed | work = | publisher = Wall Street Journal |date=1996-07-24 | url = http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/wsj/access/9988728.html?dids=9988728&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS&date=Jul+24%2C+1996&author=Glain%2C+Steve&type=91_1996&desc=Lost+gamble%3A++How+Japan%27s+attempt+to+slow+nuclear+work+in+North+Korea+failed | format = | doi = | accessdate = 03-10-2006] One estimate suggests that the total annual transfers from Japan to North Korea may exceed $200 million. [ [http://www.rand.org/commentary/112106AWSJ.html Tokyo's Leverage Over Pyongyang] , Charles Wolf, Jr., The Wall Street Journal Asia, November 21, 2006. [http://online.wsj.com/google_login.html?url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB116406444056328826.html%3Fmod%3Dgooglenews_wsj] ]

Japanese law does not allow dual citizenship, and until the 1980s required adoption of a Japanese name for citizenship. Partially for this reason, many Zainichi did not obtain Japanese citizenship as they saw the process to be humiliating. Although more Zainichi are becoming Japanese citizens, issues of identity remain complicated. Even those who do not choose to become Japanese citizens often use Japanese names to avoid discrimination and live their lives as if they were Japanese. This is in contrast with the Chinese living in Japan, who generally use their Chinese names and openly form Chinatown communities. The Diène report identifies Zainichi Koreans as those who have been most discriminated against in Japan, for example in employment, housing and marriage.Fact|date=April 2008

An increase in tensions between Japan and North Korea in the late 1990s led to a surge of attacks against Chongryon, the pro-North residents organisation, including a pattern of assaults against Korean schoolgirls in Japan. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19981114/ai_n14192650 Terror attacks on Koreans rise in Japan] accessed at January 16 2008] For a long time, Chongryon enjoyed unofficial immunity from searches and investigations, although it has long been suspected of a variety of criminal acts on behalf of North Korea, such as illegal transfer of funds to North Korea and espionage. The Japanese authorities have recently started to crack down on Chongryon with investigations and arrests. These moves are often criticized by Chongryon as acts of political suppression. [ [http://www1.korea-np.co.jp/pk/228th_issue/2006041508.htm FM Spokesman Urges Japan to Stop Suppression of Chongryon] , Choson Sinbo, 5/13/06.]

SANKOKUJIN:In English, the term sankokujin translates as "third country person" or "third worlder", however, the term was used by JApanese to describe the people of the occupied territories of Taiwan, China and Korea from 1905 - 1945. Therefore, to people of these countries, this term brings back memories of Japanese occupation, superiority, and the many atrocities that were inflicted on these people at the hands of the Japanese military. When Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara referred to Chinese and Koreans as 三国人 "sangokujin" in context of foreigners being a potential source of unrest in the aftermath of an earthquake, the foreign community complained. Historically, the word has often been used pejoratively and Ishihara's statement brought images of the massacre of Koreans by civilians and police alike after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake to mind. Therefore, the use of the term in context of potential rioting by foreigners is considered by many as provocative, if not explicitly racist.

Chinese and Taiwanese people

Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese are the second largest minority in Japan after Koreans. Mainland Chinese in particular have been targets of anti-immigrant sentiment along with government, police and media portrayal of them as being likely to commit crime. According to a recent survey, Japanese showed a very "unfriendly attitude" toward Chinese people (followed by Koreans), and the image of Chinese people was of mistrust and general lack of credibility Fact|date=August 2007. The Chinese community, together with Koreans and Russians, are amongst the most prominent targets of ultranationalist uyoku associations in Japan.


Originally, The Ainu people's land stretched as far south as the Kanto area, near Tokyo. Through generations of warfare, ethnic Japanese fought battles, killing all Ainu they could reach, and continuously acquired more land, eventually pushing The Ainu back to Hokkaido. TOday, the Ainu are an indigenous group mainly living in Hokkaidō. The Tokugawa Shogunate tried to develop Hokkaido to counter Russia's growing influence in the Far East, but mostly left the place for the native Ainu.Fact|date=September 2007 Then the Meiji government started development programs, increasingly aimed at assimilating the Ainu,Fact|date=September 2007 outlawing Ainu language and restricting them to farming on government-provided plots. Many of the Ainu were also used in slave-like conditions by the Japanese fishing industry. As the Japanese government encouraged immigration of ethnic Japanese to populate Hokkaido, the Ainu became increasingly marginalised in their own land.

At present, fewer than 20,000 Ainu are considered racially distinct.Fact|date=September 2007 Most, if not all, of the Ainu in Japan are of mixed ancestry. 80-90%Fact|date=September 2007 of Ainu now either ignore or don't know of their Ainu identity. Many customs and traditions of the Ainu have been lost, abandoned or annihilated by way of assimilation, and the Ainu language is no longer in common use.

Only in the decades after World War II have the Ainu started to become aware of international aboriginal rights movements. Thus, as of late, some schools in Hokkaido have been established to preserve and revive the Ainu culture.Fact|date=September 2007

Ryukyuan people

The Ryukyuan people lived in an independent kingdom until it came under the control of Japan's Satsuma Domain in 1609. The kingdom, however, retained a degree of autonomy until 1879 when the islands were officially annexed by Japan as Okinawa prefecture.

The Okinawan language, the most widely spoken Ryukyuan language, is related to Japanese from Japonic Languages. There are still some children learning Ryukyuan languages natively, but this is rare even on mainland Okinawa. The language still is used in traditional cultural activities, such as folk music, or folk dance.

Culturally, Okinawa is also close to southern China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia reflecting its long history of trade with these regions. However, because of the standard use of Japanese in schools, television, and all print media in Okinawa, these cultural differences are often glossed over in Japanese society. Consequently, many Japanese consider Okinawans to be Japanese, sometimes ignoring their distinct cultural and historical heritage in insensitive ways.

Some OkinawansWho|date=June 2008 intensely resent what they perceive to be second-class treatment from the Japanese governmentFact|date=June 2008, especially in regard to friction with the United States military presence in Okinawa.Fact|date=June 2008

Other groups

Other notable minorities in Japan include Brazilians and Filipinos.

"Western" foreigners in Japan, particularly those from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, are often called 外国人 "Gaikokujin" or 外人 "Gaijin". The first large influx of such foreigners occurred in the 1980s, when the Japanese government adopted a policy to give scholarships to large numbers of foreign students to study at Japanese universities. In addition, as the Japanese economy grew quickly in the 1980s, a sizable number of Westerners began coming to Japan. Many found jobs as English conversation teachers, but others were employed in various professional fields such as finance and business. Although some have become permanent residents or even naturalized citizens, they are generally perceived as short-term visitors and treated as outside of Japanese society.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Keidanren business lobbying organization advocated a policy of allowing South Americans of Japanese ancestry (mainly Brazilians and Peruvians) to work in Japan, as Japan's industries faced a major labor shortage. Although this policy has been decelerated in recent years, many of these individuals continue to live in Japan, some in ethnic enclaves near their workplaces. Many people from Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam and the Philippines) and Southwest Asia (particularly Iran) also entered Japan during this time, making foreigners as a group a more visible minority in Japan. Those foreigners are called 来日 "Rainichi" ("coming to Japan") in contrast to 在日 "Zainichi" ("in Japan").

The main concerns of the latter groups are often related to their legal status, a public perception of criminal activity, and general discrimination associated with being non-Japanese.

Although there is but a small Jewish community in Japan, and Jews have little historical ties to the country, Japan has been repeatedly accused of anti-semitism. [Rotem Kowner, [http://sicsa.huji.ac.il/11kowner.htm On Ignorance, Respect and Suspicion: Current Japanese Attitudes toward Jews] , "", 1997, No. 11, p. 53.]

Another example was a perceived lack of sensitivity among the Japanese toward racism against black people. For example, one Japanese doo-wop pop group (see Rats & Star) in the 1970s routinely appeared on stage painting their skin dark brown and wearing sunglasses to look black. During the 1980s, Takara created and sold a doll called ダッコちゃん "Dakko-chan", an inflatable dark-colored plastic doll with fat lips and arms that could wrap around human arms or other pole-like objects. After receiving numerous complaints, the sales of the doll were stopped. Sales of Japanese translations of the book "Little Black Sambo" (ちびくろサンボ "chibikuro sanbo") and dolls were halted by protests by foreign residents and international pressure in 1988. In 2005, however, Little Black Sambo once again went on sale in Japan. [ [http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1506576,00.html Japanese publisher defies Little Black Sambo protest] on Guardian Unlimited News accessed at January 16 2008]

Ethnic issues

Government policy

Because of the low importance placed on assimilating minorities in Japan, laws regarding ethnic matters receive low priority in the legislative process.Fact|date=September 2007 Still, in 1997, "Ainu cultural revival" legislation was passed which replaced the previous "Hokkaido Former Aboriginal Protection" legislation that had devastating effects on the Ainu in the past.Fact|date=September 2007

Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan states that all "people" (English version) or "Japanese citizens" (revised Japanese version) are equal under the law, and they cannot be discriminated against politically, economically, or socially on the basis of race, belief, sex, or social or other background. However, Japan does not have civil rights legislation which enforces or penalizes discriminatory activities committed by citizens, businesses, or non-governmental organizations. The country does not have specific hate crime laws and so racism and hate-motivated offenses such as assault, vandalism, and robbery are prosecuted as regular crimes.

Attempts have been made in the Diet to enact human rights legislation. In 2002, a draft was submitted to the House of Representatives, but did not reach a vote. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0XPQ/is_2005_May_16/ai_n13829869 LDP forgoes immediate Diet submission of human rights bill | Japan Policy & Politics | Find Articles at BNET ] ] Had the law passed, it would have set up a Human Rights Commission to investigate, name and shame, or financially penalize discriminatory practices as well as hate speech committed by private citizens or establishments. Though the anti-discrimination clause raised little objection, the anti-hate speech clause received very hostile reception from Japanese media. In 2005, the ruling coalition government attempted to resubmit a revised version of the draft which somewhat limited the application of hate speech clause, but it still failed to reach a consensus within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Another issue which has been publicly debated but has not received much legislative attention is whether to allow permanent residents to vote in local legislatures.Fact|date=June 2008 "Zainichi" organizations affiliated with North Korea are against this initiative, while "Zainichi" organizations affiliated with South Korea support it.Fact|date=December 2007

Finally, there is debate about altering requirements for work permits to foreigners. Currently, the Japanese government does not issue work permits unless it can be demonstrated that the person has certain skills which cannot be provided by locals.

Higher learning

Although foreign professors teach throughout the Japanese higher education system, [http://ns.eps.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jp/member/index.php?_urid=1386&_lang=ja Robert J. Geller] of University of Tokyo reported that the tenure for these foreign professors was extremely rare in 1992. [Robert J. Geller, [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/258/5087/1421.pdf Letters: Tenure for Foreigners in Japan] , "Science (journal)", 258, 5087, 1421 (1992).]

Non-Japanese citizens and crimes

Similar to other countries, many foreigners come to Japan to work, sometimes entering the country illegally, and overstaying the term of their visas. Their employment tends to be concentrated in areas where most Japanese are not able to or no longer wish to work. Consequently, accusations of foreigners stealing jobs are not often heard in Japan.

According to National Police Authority record in 2002, however, 16,212 foreigners were caught committing 34,746 crimes, over half of which turned out to be visa violations (residing/working in Japan without a valid visa).Fact|date=September 2007 The statistics show that 12,667 cases (36.5%) and 6,487 individuals (40.0%) were Chinese, 5,272 cases (15.72%) and 1,186 individuals (7.3%) were Brazilian, and 2,815 cases (8.1%) and 1,738 individuals (10.7%) were Korean. The total number of crimes committed in the same year by Japanese was 546,934 cases.Fact|date=September 2007

Within these statistics, Japanese committed 6,925 violent crimes, of which 2,531 were arson or rape, while foreigners committed 323 violent crimes, but only 42 cases are classified as arson or rape.Fact|date=September 2007 Foreigners, however, were more likely to commit crimes in groups. About 61.5% of crimes committed by foreigners had one or more accomplice, while only 18.6% of crimes committed by Japanese were in groups.Fact|date=September 2007

However, the former head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Emergency Public Safety Task Force, Hiroshi Kubo, published a book disputing foreign crime statistics, suggesting that such statistics were being manipulated by politicians for political gain.Fact|date=September 2007 He suggested, for example, that including visa violations in crime statistics is misleading. He also said that the crime rate in Tokyo is based on reported rather than actual crimes.Fact|date=September 2007

Access to housing and other services

Some apartments, motels, night clubs, and public baths in Japan have put up signs stating that foreigners are not allowed, or that they must be accompanied by a Japanese person to enter. [ [http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html "THE ROGUES' GALLERY" PHOTOS OF PLACES IN JAPAN WHICH EXCLUDE OR RESTRICT NON-JAPANESE CUSTOMERS] on Debito's official website accessed at January 16 2008] Many Japanese, however, argue that such places are rare, and that the prohibitions are due to perceived social incompatibility--for example, foreigners may not understand proper bathhouse etiquette--and not racism.Fact|date=September 2008 Some legal battles have been fought on this issue. Most notably, activist Debito Arudou, a naturalized Japanese citizen of American descent, has sued the Japanese government several times for not upholding Article 14 of the Constitution.

In housing there is also discrimination based on ethnicity. In a 2006 survey by the Information Center for Foreigners in Japan, 94% of foreign residents reported being refused by at least one real estate agent. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071110f1.html Foreigners still dogged by housing barriers] on The Japan Times accessed at January 16 2008]

Discrimination in Japan

Minorities in Japan

U.S. Department of State described "National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities" in Japan, [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ] ″Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, the country's large populations of Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, and Filipino permanent residents--many of whom were born, raised, and educated in Japan--were subject to various forms of deeply entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, and employment opportunities. There was a widespread perception among citizens that "foreigners," often members of Japan‑born ethnic minorities, were responsible for most of the crimes committed in the country. The media fostered this perception although Ministry of Justice statistics showed that the "foreigner"‑committed crime rate, excepting crimes like illegal entry and overstay, was lower than the crime rate for citizens.″

Banking Identification Act in Japan, which regulates a bank account registration, does not separate minority legal residents from Japanese citizens. [jp icon [http://law.e-gov.go.jp/haishi/H14F10008046001.html Banking Identification Act in Japan ] ] ″Despite this legal safeguard against discrimination,″ Suruga Bank, a bank in Japan, unequally treated minority ″residents--many of whom were born, raised, and educated in Japan.″ Minorities in Japan ″were subject to deeply entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to″ a bank account opportunity.

Furthermore, a lower court judge, Shogo Okazaki, wrote in the court ruling about ″a widespread perception among citizens that "foreigners," often members of Japan‑born ethnic minorities, were responsible for most of the crimes committed in the country.″ On the contrary, ″Ministry of Justice statistics showed that the "foreigner"‑committed crime rate, excepting crimes like illegal entry and overstay, was lower than the crime rate for citizens.″, [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ]

Discrimination in Japanese banks

Suruga Bank acknowledges [ [http://www.surugabank.co.jp/surugabank/common/english/homeloan.html Suruga Bank Website ] ] "Unfortunately, many foreign residents may have had to contend with a negative image at some Japanese banks and not been granted home loans. More than a few have been disappointed at not being granted the desired loan."

In February 2000, an American journalist Steven L. Herman filed a lawsuit against the Asahi Bank, a bank in Japan, after it refused his application for a housing loan of Y68.5 million because he was not a Japanese citizen. [ [http://tabunka.org/newsletter/immigration_p2.html United for a Multicultural Japan Website ] ] Although Steven L. Herman was rich, married to a Japanese national and lived in Japan for years, Asahi Bank denied a loan only because he was not a Japanese citizen at that time.

Tokyo District Court did not apply CERD or ICCPR to the Herman vs. Asahi Bank case.

CERD (International_Convention_on_the_Elimination_of_All_Forms_of_Racial_Discrimination) Article 1 says, "In this Convention, the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."

ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) Article 26 says,"All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

But Tokyo District Court said,"Distinction based on immigrant status is not against CERD or ICCPR.(Tokyo District Court ruling November 12, 2001 HANREI Times No.1087 page 109-116)

Japan ratified ICCPR in 1979, [cite web |url=http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/4.htm |title=ICCPR ratification status UN OHCHR|] and CERD in 1995. [cite web |url=http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/ratification/2.htm |title=ICERD ratification status UN OHCHR|]

The Herman vs. Asahi Bank case is described in a UNHCHR report, PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens, as follows. Steven Herman, a United States citizen, filed a damage suit against the Asahi Bank in Japan claiming that the bank’s refusal to extend him a housing loan on grounds that he is a foreign national without permanent residence status in Japan is unconstitutional. He claimed that his dignity was undermined because he was denied the loan due to his race and nationality., [cite web |url=http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/e06a5300f90fa0238025668700518ca4/a80788bbc13a7676c1256be90035b864/$FILE/G0213907.pdf |title=a UNHCHR report, PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens,|]

Washington University global studies law review page 14 says, "(In Japan) It is common for shop owners to post signs forbidding foreigners and for banks to deny bank accounts to foreigners." And Washington University global studies law review page 14 footnote 98 quotes DAILY YOMIURI, June 2, 1997, "When attempting to obtain a loan, a Korean woman recounted,“A local financial institution recommended that I open a current account . . . . But when I started the procedures, they told me,‘Foreigners can’t open an account.’” [ [http://law.wustl.edu/wugslr/issues/Volume2_2/p469Wu.pdf Washington University global studies law review ] ]

"Alien card" lawsuit

Japan‑born ethnic minorities are legally called "alien" by "Alien Registration Law" [ [http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tarl-15.html Japan's Ministry of Justice Website ] ] , a real Japan's law, and must carry "an alien card" anytime anywhere. [ [http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tarl-15.html Japan's Ministry of Justice Website ] ]

Alien Registration Law is described in a UNHCHR report, PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens, as follows: "An amendment to the Japanese Alien Registration Law recently abolished a fingerprint requirement to which all non-citizens had been subject. The revision of the law relieved about 600,000 residents from having to register their fingerprints. Instead, they will be asked to file their signatures or the names of their family members. Although the fingerprint law has been repealed, foreigners are still required to carry their alien registration cards at all times and violators face heavy penalties including incarceration for up to three years or fines of up to 300,000 yen. This requirement has been widely condemned abroad." [cite web |url=http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/e06a5300f90fa0238025668700518ca4/a80788bbc13a7676c1256be90035b864/$FILE/G0213907.pdf |title=a UNHCHR report, PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens,|]

Suruga Bank denied minorities a bank account if they do not present "an alien card." Even if minorities show a driver's licence, Suruga Bank rejected a bank account. [jp icon [http://web.archive.org/web/20070209234820/www.surugabank.co.jp/my/request/printer.html former Suruga Bank Website ] ] There was no reason for this. It was not a loan, jusut a bank account.

"Alien Registration Law" [ [http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tarl-15.html Japan's Ministry of Justice Website ] ] says, "The alien shall present his registration certificate to the Immigration Inspector, Immigration Control Officer (meaning the Immigration Control Officer provided for in the Immigration Control Act), Police Official, Maritime Safety Official or any other official of the state or local public entity prescribed by the Ministry of Justice Ordinance, if such official requests the presentation of the registration certificate in the performance of his duties." Suruga Bank is not an "Immigration Inspector" or "Police Official."

VAIBS sued Suruga Bank over its "Alien Card" policies and practices. "Alien Card" lawsuit against SURUGA Bank charges racial/ethnic/national discrimninatiton. The case number is HEISEI 19(RE)467 in Tokyo District Court. You can read the court paper in Tokyo District Court. The next court trial is set for September 2008.

Segregation in bank


nihongo|VAIBS, Victims Against Illegal Bank SURUGA|違法銀行スルガと闘う被害者の会|Ihō ginkō suruga to tatakau higaishia no kai, a Japanese name, is an organization which is against racial profiling by Suruga Bank, [ [http://www.surugabank.co.jp/surugabank/common/english/ Suruga Bank Website ] ] a bank in Japan.

VAIBS [ [http://360.yahoo.com/victimsagainstillegalbanksuruga VAIBS Website 1 ] ] [ [http://vaibs.wordpress.com VAIBS Website 2 ] ] [ [http://vaibs.livejournal.com/ VAIBS Website 3 ] ] sued Suruga Bank for racial profiling in February 2007. The case number is HEISEI 19(RE)467 in Tokyo District Court. Suruga Bank forced minorities into unnecessary documentation. [jp icon [http://web.archive.org/web/20070209234820/www.surugabank.co.jp/my/request/printer.html former Suruga Bank Website ] ] After the lawsuit, Suruga Bank suspended its discriminatory policies and practices. [jp icon [http://www.surugabank.co.jp/my/request/printer.html current Suruga Bank Website ] ]

Racial segregation in SURUGA Bank

SURUGA Bank did not open a bank account because minorities did not show an "alien card" for ID, even if minorities submit a driver's license. The discriminatory bank forced minorities into a minority-only ID requirement. There were separate ID requirements in SURUGA Bank. Although Banking Identification Act in Japan does not separate minorities from Japanese citizens,. [jp icon [http://law.e-gov.go.jp/haishi/H14F10008046001.html Banking Identification Act in Japan ] ] SURUGA Bank divided them for no reason. [jp icon [http://web.archive.org/web/20070209234820/www.surugabank.co.jp/my/request/printer.html former Suruga Bank Website ] ] It was not until February 2007 that things began to change. An organization named VAIBS, Victims Against Illegal Bank SURUGA, began to rally for equal rights for minorities in Japan. VAIBS protested at the way they were treated. After VAIBS sued SURUGA Bank, the illegal bank suspended its dividing policy. VAIBS forced SURUGA Bank to integrate minorities and citizens in Japan, making SURUGA Bank the last bank to have minority-only ID requirement. [jp icon [http://www.surugabank.co.jp/my/request/printer.html current Suruga Bank Website ] ]

Discrimination lawsuits in Japan


In 1994, Tokyo District Court ordered Japan's Immigration Bureau to issue a visa to a Filipino woman who had Japanese kids from her marriage with a Japanese husband who had died. Japan's Immigration Bureau reluctantly issued a one-year visa to her after losing the court case. However, the law was never revised, and this issue continued to be treated as a policy matter, which left the woman without any legal protection of her status in Japan. [ [http://tabunka.org/newsletter/immigration_p2.html United for a Multicultural Japan Website ] ]

Since the late 1970s, thousands of Filipino women have gone to Japan to work as entertainers. Many had children with Japanese men. The migration resulted in a whole generation of Japanese-Filipino children raised solely by their mothers, often in poverty and with no connection to Japan. Filipino children were denied Japanese citizenship because of Japan's citizenship law. Filipinos filed a lawsuit, and finally won. [ [http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080805p2a00m0na001000c.html MAINICHI Daily News ] ] [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080804/lf_nm_life/philippines_japan_children_dc_1 YAHOO news ] ] [ [http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Japan's_Supreme_Court_invalidates_distinctions_on_nationality WIKINEWS ] ] [ [http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2008/06/japan-court-strikes-down-law-denying.php University of Pittsburgh School of Law Legal news ] ]

Arnold Schwarzenegger and an Iranian

On the contrary, former Justice Minister Shozaburo Nakamura allowed a famous American movie star, not yet Governor at that time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to land in Japan without a passport but he never allowed an Iranian who was married to a Japanese national and had two children to do so. According to the media he allowed the former to land because his family was a fan of the star. Japan's Justice Minister later said: "If I hadn't allowed him in, I would have been killed by my wife and daughter." [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/13/japan.usa The Guardian article ] ] This was too much, however, and Nakamura was forced to resign as Justice Minister in March 1999. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/292503.stm BBC news ] ] [ [http://tabunka.org/newsletter/immigration_p2.html United for a Multicultural Japan Website ] ]

Japan's Immigration Bureau likes policies because they are flexible and can be changed on a case-by-case basis as the bureau likes. The other reason why Japan's Immigration Bureau does not want to change these policies into law is because laws are challengeable, but it is difficult to challenge policies. [ [http://tabunka.org/newsletter/immigration_p2.html United for a Multicultural Japan Website ] ]

Treatment appears to be determined by a range of factors - from socio-economic status to ethnic background. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3708098.stm BBC news ] ]


In 1998, a Brazilian woman was refused to enter a jewelry shop in Japan because she was not a Japanese citizen. She filed a discrimination lawsuit. She said, "Actually, my case was just one of similar incidents that have occurred in this town. But I decided to take legal action because I thought somebody should stand up and let the public know that discrimination does exist in Japan." [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19980902a9.html The Japan Times article ] ] [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19981006b3.html The Japan Times article ] ] And she won. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403E1D8123DF936A25752C1A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1 The New York Times article ] ] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/nov/24/jonathanwatts The Guardian article ] ] [ [http://blhrri.org/blhrri_e/news/new111/new11102.html Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute Website ] ] [ [http://migration.ucdavis.edu/mn/more.php?id=1961_0_3_0 Migration News ] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2072993.stm BBC news ] ] [ [http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp88.html Japan Policy Research Institute ] ]

Court said,"CERD (International_Convention_on_the_Elimination_of_All_Forms_of_Racial_Discrimination) Article 2 (1) (d) applies directly to private relationships, and thediscrimination in the present case is a violation of this Convention, aswell as an unlawful act, generating the right to an indemnity, inaccordance with Article 6 of the Convention and Article 709 of the CivilLaw." [ [http://www.tomeika.jur.kyushu-u.ac.jp/jailpdf/029_Shizuoka%20District%20Court%20Judgment,%2012%20October,%201999.pdf Court ruling ] ]

CERD Article 2 (1) (d) says,"Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization;" [ [http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm Text of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ] ]

And CERD Article 6 says,"States Parties shall assure to everyone within their jurisdiction effective protection and remedies, through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions, against any acts of racial discrimination which violate his human rights and fundamental freedoms contrary to this Convention, as well as the right to seek from such tribunals just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of such discrimination." [ [http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm Text of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ] ]

South Korean

In 2005, a Korean woman was refused to rent a room in Japan because she was not a Japanese citizen. She filed a discrimination lawsuit. And she won. [ [http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200710/200710050017.html The Chosun Ilbo article ] ]

“Discrimination toward foreign nationals in their searches for homes continues to be one of the biggest problems”, said the head of the Ethnic Media Press Centre. Organizers of the service said they hope to eradicate the racism that prevents foreigners, particularly non-Westerners, from renting apartments since there are currently no laws in Japan that ban discrimination. [ [http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/e06a5300f90fa0238025668700518ca4/a80788bbc13a7676c1256be90035b864/$FILE/G0213907.pdf a UNHCHR report PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens] ]

In 1970, a nineteen year-old Korean who was born and raised in Japan applied for a job atHitachi, a big company in Japan, using his Japanese name. The Korean passed a challengingentrance exam and was hired, only to be rejected when a check of his family registry revealed that he was Korean. The Korean successfully sued Hitachi on a breach of contract claim. [ [http://law.wustl.edu/wugslr/issues/Volume2_2/p469Wu.pdf Washington University global studies law review ] ]

In the private sector, Japanese employers often screen out minority employees prior to signing a contract. Japanese employers obviously will confirm applicants’ nationalities before making any offers, and thus may avoid liability for discriminatory hiring practices. [ [http://law.wustl.edu/wugslr/issues/Volume2_2/p469Wu.pdf Discrimination of foreign workers in Japan, from Washington University global studies law review] ]

In the public sector, the Chong Hyan Gyun v. Tokyo Municipal Government case addressed the issue of foreign worker employment discrimination. Chong, a second-generation permanent Korean resident, was the first foreign public health nurse in Tokyo. However, when she applied for a managerial position, the government denied Chong permission to sit for the exam because she was not a Japanese national. She sued, alleging violations of Article twenty-two and Article fourteen143 of the Japanese Constitution, but lost. The Tokyo District Court decided that government operations should only be carried out by citizens. The Court declared that aliens are in principle unfit for any civil service position. [ [http://law.wustl.edu/wugslr/issues/Volume2_2/p469Wu.pdf Discrimination of foreign workers in Japan, from Washington University global studies law review] ]

A Japan-born Korean was refused to join a golf club in Japan because he was not a Japanese citizen. He filed a lawsuit, but he lost. The case is described in a United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) report page 17 as follows: [ [http://www.imadr.org/en/pdf/DieneReport-Japan.pdf a United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) report ] ]

The Special Rapporteur was briefed about a case of a golf club refusing membership to foreigners in which the court ruled that such a refusal was acceptable: according to the court,prohibition of racial discrimination included in the Constitution as well as in internationalconventions does not apply private entities. In such circumstances, it can hardly be argued that Japan is respecting its international obligations by “appropriate means” according to thelanguage of article 2, paragraph 1, of CERD: it appears that the Japanese system is not one inwhich discriminatory acts can effectively be restrained by the existing legal system.

North Korean

Regarding the eligibility of graduates of ethnic schools in Japan for admission to Japanese universities, Japanese government has stated that it has expanded eligibility to ethnic schools that can be“officially recognized.” However, Japanese government did not “officially recognize” North Korean ethnic schools due to the fact that Japan has no official diplomatic relations with North Korea, and thus, graduates become ineligible for candidacy to Japanese universities. [ [http://www.imadr.org/japan/un/ICCPR92_E.pdf Japan International Human Rights NGO Network ] ]

Chinese - "foreign trainee program"

An investigator from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) said, racism against Koreans and Chinese is deeply rooted in Japan because of history and culture. [ [http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2005-07/2005-07-11-voa9.cfm Voice of America news ] ] He was also concerned that politicians used racist or nationalist themes, as he put it, to whip up popular emotions. He singled out the treatment of ethnic Koreans and Chinese and indigenous tribes. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4671687.stm BBC news ] ]

In 1998, sixteen Chinese migrant workers sued Japanese employers for not paying wages. Court ordered two Japanese defendants to jail terms for violating labor law and to pay wages. This case revealed only the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of not only individual cases ofmistreatment but also structural problems in the trainee program between Japan and China. [ [http://gsti.miis.edu/CEAS-PUB/200107Zha.pdf Chinese workers in Japan ] ]

In 2008, three Chinese women who came to Japan on a Japanese government-sponsored program two years earlier, filed a lawsuit for violating the contract against two Japanese farm and two other organizations involved in the program. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080410a5.html The Japan Times article ] ]

In southern Japan, another six Chinese filed a lawsuit demanding damages for unfair treatment. The industrial training and internship program was launched in 1993 with the aim of contributing to human resources development for developing countries. Under the program Japan has accepted young people from overseas, mainly from China and Southeast Asia. They receive on-the-job training in Japan. Contrary to its stated aim, the program involves many serious problems. Companies and business groups tend to treat foreign trainees and interns as a cheap labor force. These trainees are often forced to work long hours for low pay. They are asked to surrender their passports to the company and are even forced to save money under company-directed schemes. The “foreign trainee program” is fraught with problems, including human rights violations and unfair labor practices. [ [http://www.japan-press.co.jp/2579/labor_2.html Japan Press Weekly article ] ]

In northern Japan, three Chinese women fleed a garments factory. The women, who had left their families in China in 2004 seeking better paid jobs in Japan, were quoted in the media complaining of being made to work 13 hours a day, insufficient pay and denied the use of heaters during the winter in the company dormitory -- a refurbished garage. "I came to Japan to earn money. I have been a migrant worker at sewing plants in Saipan and the United Arab Emirates, but I was never treated this badly," said one of the women. In eastern Japan, a Chinese worker employed in a farm committed suicide after he was scolded for not working properly and told to leave. [ [http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35496 IPS news ] ]

The three-year Japanese government-sponsored training program is "slave labor and human trafficking". [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/26/business/sxlabor.php International Herald Tribune article ] ]

In 2007, the Japanese government's own experts have admitted that in many cases trainees are used as cheap labour. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7014960.stm BBC news ] ]

U.S. Department of State described "foreign trainee program" in Japan as follows:"NGOs and the media reported abuses of the "foreign trainee" program, a government-sponsored training program supervised by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization. In some companies, trainees reportedly were forced to work unpaid overtime and made less than the minimum wage. Moreover, their wages were automatically deposited in company‑controlled accounts, despite the fact that "forced deposits" are illegal. According to labor rights NGOs, trainees sometimes had their travel documents taken from them and their movement controlled to "prevent escape." A government review of the program was ongoing, and in December the Ministry of Justice amended the guidelines governing organizations that accept trainees and interns to prevent further abuses." [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ]


In 2006, Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of 25 Taiwanese former leprosy patients who filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the Japanese government for segregation at a sanitarium in Taiwan during Japan's colonial rule. [ [http://www.japantimes.co.jp/weekly/news/nn2006/nn20060211a4.htm The Japan Times Weekly ] ]


When an Indian engineer called a real estate agent to find housing,the staff asked him repeatedly the color of his skin.The court ruled that this discriminatory acts constituted tort. [ [http://www.jclu.org/file/special_rapporteur.pdf JCLU subcommittee ] ]

US citizen

A US citizen was refused to join a local ice hockey team in Japan. He filed a lawsuit, but he lost. [ [http://www.jclu.org/file/special_rapporteur.pdf JCLU subcommittee ] ]

The hockey team claimed "The plaintiff cannot participate in the National Sports Festival. The National Sports Festival is co-sponsored by Japanese Government. The National Sports Festival requires participants to be a Japanese citizen." The Sendai High Court held that excluding foreigners was “reasonable” in light of the purpose and role of the National Sports Festival. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in Japan.

In 2004, a 41-year-old black man residing in Japan, was refused entry to an eyeglasses store. He claims that the store owner said, “Go away. I hate black people.” The US citizen lost his case in a lower court because the judge did not believe that his Japanese language ability was good enough to accurately determine what the store owner said. Even after further investigation by his Japanese spouse, the judge was not convinced that he was discriminated against because of his race, rather than his foreign status. In a news conference following District Court ruling, he said, "Today I felt as if I was not in Japan, but in Alabama of the 1950s. I've been made to feel like an animal. This case is not just about me. With this ruling, the judge has given store owners the right to discriminate based on color." [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060131a3.html The Japan Times article ] ]

He appealed to a higher court and was awarded 350,000 yen in damages; yet even at the high court, the judge remarked that the store owner’s remarks were “not enough to be considered racially discriminatory.” These decisions set the dangerous precedent that testimony by non-Japanese cannot be trusted if they are not completely fluent in Japanese. It also demonstrates the power one judge can have in Japan’s juryless court system. [ [http://www.themanitoban.com/2007-2008/1114/127.The.Land.of.the.Rising.Shun.php University of Manitoba news ] ]

The rule applied by the Japanese court to determine “discrimination” is very relaxed, especially when the difference of treatment is based on nationality. Distinctions based on nationality are often upheld as “reasonable” without any careful consideration of whether the means taken is proportionate to its purpose. [ [http://www.jclu.org/file/special_rapporteur.pdf JCLU subcommittee ] ]


In 1998, Tokyo District Court ruled against a demand for compensation by a group of soldiers and civilians from several countries held prisoner in Japan during World War II. The lawsuit was filed three years earlier on behalf of 25,000 members of veterans organizations from Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. They demanded $22,000 each in compensation for what they claimed were violations of their rights under international treaties and conventions on the treatment of war prisoners. The court ruled that the issue was resolved in 1951 with the signing of the San Francisco peace treaty. [ [http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9811/26/japan.pow/index.html CNN news ] ]

Dutch - victims of Japanese military

During World War II, an estimated 140,000 Dutch soldiers and civilians were put into prison camps by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Dutch East Indies, and Dutch women were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military. About 12,000 of the prisoners died in captivity. Some survivors filed lawsuits seeking financial compensation from the Japanese government for the treatment they endured. Japan refused to grant redress, saying all state-level compensation matters were settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20000525a1.html The Japan Times article ] ]

A Dutch woman testified before U.S. House of Representatives in 2007 as follows:"My experience as a woman in war is one of utter degradation, humiliation and unbearable suffering. During World War II, I was forced to be a so-called “Comfort Woman” for the Japanese military, a euphemism for sex slave. I was born in Java, in the former Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia) in 1923 of a fourth generation Dutch colonial family. I grew up on a sugar plantation and had the most wonderful childhood. I was educated in Catholic schools and graduated from Franciscan Teacher’s College in Semarang, Java. When I was 19 years old in 1942, Japanese troops invaded Java. Together with thousands of women and children, I was interned in a Japanese prison camp for three and a half years. Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the “Comfort Women”, the jugun ianfu, and how these women were forcibly seized against their will, to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army. I had been in the camp for two years, when in 1944 high ranking Japanese officers arrived at the camp. The order was given: all single girls from seventeen years up, had to line up in the compound. The officers walked towards us, and a selection process began. They paced up and down the line, eyeing us up and down, looking at our figures, at our legs, lifting our chins. They selected ten pretty girls. I was one of ten. We were told to come forward, and pack a small bag, as we were to be taken away. The whole camp protested, and our mothers tried to pull us back. I embraced my mother not knowing if I was ever going to see her again. We were hurled into an army truck. We were terrified and clung to our bags and to each other. The truck stopped in the city of Semarang, in front of a large Dutch Colonial house. We were told to get out. Entering the house we soon realized what sort of a house it was. A Japanese military told us that we were here for the sexual pleasure of the Japanese. The house was a brothel." [ [http://internationalrelations.house.gov/110/ohe021507.htm U.S. House of Representatives Hearing ] ] [ [http://www.abc.net.au/austory/archives/AustoryArchivesIdx_Thursday30August2001.htm victim's website 1] ] [ [http://www.abc.net.au/austory/transcripts/s351798.htm victim's website 2] ] [ [http://www.awm.gov.au/alliesinadversity/prisoners/women.asp Australian War Memorial] ] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/15/AR2007021500196_pf.html The Washington Post article] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1061599.stm BBC news] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1691727.stm BBC news] ]

In 2007, US House of Representatives passed H. RES. 121 and called upon the government of Japan to apologize for forcing women into sexual slavery during WWII. [ [http://www.house.gov/list/press/as00_faleomavaega/housepasshr121unanimously.html U.S. House of Representatives ] ]

In 2007, Dutch Lower House passed a resolution that Japan should apologize for its military's enslavement of young women in Asia during the war. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071111a1.html The Japan Times article] ]

In 2007, Canada’s lower house unanimously approved a draft motion Wednesday that urges the Japanese government to make a “formal and sincere apology” to women who were forced by the Japanese military to provide sex for soldiers during World War II. [ [http://www.japannewsreview.com/society/international/20071129page_id=3339 Japan News Review article] ]

In 2007, the European Parliament approved by a majority a draft resolution urging Japan to formally apologize to women forced to work as sex slaves by the Japanese military in Asia before and during World War II, following similar motions adopted earlier this year in the Untied States, the Netherlands and Canada. [ [http://www.breitbart.com/print.php?id=D8TGLJE00&show_article=1 AP news] ]

Lawsuits against Japanese government are described. [ [http://www1.jca.apc.org/vaww-net-japan/english/sexualslavery/courtcase.html lawsuits by victims of Japan's military sexual slavery] ]


An Australian woman sued Japanese authorities saying its police force held her for more than 10 hours after she was raped in 2002. During that time, the woman said she was denied medical attention despite having cuts and bruises on her legs and chest, was given no food or water and was forced to accompany police to the crime scene to show them what happened. She lost her case. Tokyo District Court said it could not recognize that the woman had been physically or mentally in need of urgent care from the police. Tokyo District Court also said that while the woman had appeared to be in a state of confusion after the attack, it had not been obvious that she needed the police to accompany her to hospital. "As if being sexually violated is not enough in Japan, I had to have broken bones to be able to go to a hospital," the woman, who lives in Tokyo, said as she held back tears. [ [http://www.news.com.au/story/0,4057,22871734-2,00.html news.com.au] ]

Turkish Kurd - UN Refugee Convention

The United Nations refugee agency has voiced its deep concern at Japan’s “unprecedented” decision to deport a Turkish Kurd and his adult son to Turkey even though they had been recognized as refugees, after the agency had warned the move would breach international law. [ [http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=13080&Cr=refugee&Cr1= UN News ] ]

Another Kurdish family sought refugee status, but denied by Japan. Later, the Kurdish family were accepted in Canada. "Honestly speaking, I wish I could stay and live in Japan. In Canada, my whole family will have to start from zero again, learning the language and culture like we did in Japan." said the Kurdish man in Japanese language at a news conference. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070619a4.html The Japan Times article ] ]

In 1981, Japan joined the UN refugee convention. [ [http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/treaty2ref.htm Refugee Convention ratification status UNHCHR ] ] Between 1982 and 2003, Japan received 3,118 applications for refugee status but granted only 315, although that number does not include the 10,000 or so refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who were treated separately. In 2003 Japan accepted only 10 refugees and rejected more than 300 applications. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jan/26/worlddispatch.japan The Guardian article ] ]

In 2007 Japan accepted only 41 refugees and rejected more than 700 applications. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080216a9.html The Japan Times article ] ]

US Department of State described refugees in Japan as follows:"UNCAT noted that Japanese law does not expressly prohibit deportation to countries where there is a risk of torture. In addition, UNCAT criticized the lack of an independent body to review applications for refugee status, the fact that the Ministry of Justice does not allow applicants for refugee status to select legal representatives for appeal, and the restrictions on government legal assistance for nonresidents. UNCAT, NGOs, and lawyers criticized the indefinite and often long period of detention between the rejection of an application for asylum and deportation. The government granted refugee status or asylum in only a small number of cases. Of 959 claims submitted to the Ministry of Justice in 2006, the government granted refugee status to 34 persons. The country also provided temporary protection to 53 individuals who did not qualify as refugees under either the 1951 convention or the 1967 protocol. The government did not accept any refugees for resettlement during the year. Refugees faced the same patterns of discrimination that ethnic minorities did in the country: reduced access to housing, education, and employment. Persons whose refugee status was pending or on appeal did not have the legal right to work or receive social welfare, rendering them completely dependent on overcrowded government shelters or the support of NGOs." [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ]


A Burmese man filed a lawsuit claiming damages from the Japanese government for detaining him for more than a year after his application for asylum was rejected. The Burmese exile's request to be recognized as a political refugee was rejected repeatedly, although he was eventually released and granted permission to remain in Japan. However, his lawyers say 14 months of detention placed the man under such stress that he should be awarded more than 100,000 dollars in damages. [ [http://www.voanews.com/burmese/archive/2005-04/2005-04-09-voa4.cfm Voice of America news ] ]


In 2001, an Iranian sought refugee status in Japan, but was denied. The Iranian filed a lawsuit. Tokyo District Court admitted refugee status because the Iranian actively took part in anti-Iranian government activities. But Tokyo High Court overturned it. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080417b2.html The Japan Times article ] ]


Afghan asylum seekers were detained in Japan. Tokyo District Court approved a request by five Afghan seeking refugee status that their detention by immgration authorities be stopped. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20011108a4.html The Japan Times article ] ]

Watchdog groups in Japan have submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee established pursuant to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that points out the growing number of cases in which foreigners have allegedly been subjected to abuse, including violence, while in custody. The report includes five instances of suspected abuse of foreign detainees in prison, detention houses and immigration holding facilities between 1994 and 1998. Activists hope the report will trigger improvements in Japan’s detention system. [ [http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/e06a5300f90fa0238025668700518ca4/a80788bbc13a7676c1256be90035b864/$FILE/G0213907.pdf a UNHCHR report PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION The rights of non-citizens] ]


A Vietnamese man was detained for overstay although he claimed he had relatives in Japan. The Vietnamese was detained for five months. He hanged himself in the detention center. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20011108a4.html The Japan Times article ] ]

US Department of State describes "immigration detention centers in Japan" as follows:"the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) criticized immigration detention centers for alleged violence, the unlawful use of restraining devices, sexual harassment, and lack of access to healthcare. UNCAT also criticized the lack of an independent monitor of immigration detention centers." [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ]


In 2006, Tokyo District Court ordered a leading Japanese news agency to compensate a Bangladeshi man for falsely linking him to the al-Qaeda extremist network. The Japanese news agency issued false reports that a Tokyo-based Bangladeshi businessman had told police he had close ties with a senior al-Qaeda member. He said, "I was happy to hear the ruling. I was hurt so much mentally. Everyone makes mistakes, but once they realized they made mistakes they should apologize." [ [http://www.thedailystar.net/2006/09/01/d60901012317.htm The Daily Star article ] ]


In 2003, a Nigerian night club worker in Tokyo was kicked and injured by a Japanese cop when the Nigerian displayed flyers. He sued the police for damages and medical bills. But Tokyo District Court denied his claims because police doctors lost medical records. [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070814zg.html The Japan Times ] ]


The nationality of trafficked women changes as time goes on. Before the mid-90s, most of them were from Thailand. But the number of Colombian women has been increasing. [ [http://www.jclu.org/katsudou/universal_principle/up11.pdf Human Rights Newsletter from JCLU ] ]

Colombian women escaped from trafficking and forced prostitution, but when they contacted the Japanese police they were told that, “If you escaped before you prostituted yourself then you can’t be said to be the victim of forced prostitution, can you? But if you were ready to work even though you don’t have a visa then that’s the real crime and you’re the one who’s doing criminal and illegal things.” This was the response they got from the Japanese police, instead of active investigation and arrest of the brokers. The women were treated as criminals, not victims by Japanese police. [ [http://www.jaiwr.org/jnnc/20030701jnncsummaryreport(en).pdf The Summary Report of The NGOs in Japan ] ]


Thai women are asked by recruiters if they would like to work as restaurant waitresses in Japan, but upon arrival they are deprived of their passports and sold to business establishments for ¥3.5 million to ¥4 million yen each (NGO investigations show that 45% of the women sell in this range), and those amounts are the women's debts. They are taken by car from their residences to clubs where they work as hostesses, and in response to customer requests they go as prostitutes to hotels which have partnerships with the clubs. Even when clubs are closed, the women must go to hotels if customers request a prostitute, and they cannot get time off even for illness or menstruation. Upon return to their residences they are searched and deprived of tips from customers. [ [http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/ja/kokusai/humanrights_library/treaty/data/woman_report_5_en.pdf Japan Federation of Bar Associations ] ]

US Department of State describes human trafficking in Japan as follows:"Brokers in the countries of origin recruited women and sold them to intermediaries or employers, who in turn subjected them to debt bondage and coercion. Agents, brokers, and employers involved in trafficking for sexual exploitation often had connections with organized crime. Most women trafficked into the sex trade had their travel documents taken away and their movements strictly controlled by their employers. Victims were threatened with reprisals to themselves or their families if they tried to escape. Employers often isolated the women, subjected them to constant surveillance, and used violence to punish them for disobedience. NGOs reported that in some cases brokers used drugs to subjugate victims. Debt bondage was another means of control. Before arrival in the country, trafficking victims generally did not understand the size of the debts they would owe, the amount of time it would take them to repay the debts, or the conditions of employment to which they would be subjected upon arrival." [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100522.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007 U.S. Department of State ] ]

Discriminatory public bath

Debito Arudou visited a public bath in Japan, but the public bath denied him. Although he had a Japanese citizenship, the public bath rejected him because "his appearance was not Japanese-like." In 2001, Debito Arudou filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the public bath and a city. Debito Arudou cited CERD and ICCPR. And he won against the public bath. [Debito Arudou] [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20030603zg.html The Japan Times article ] ]

But Arudou was less successful in his suit against the city of Otaru. Arudou argued that the city’s failure to enact anti-discrimination laws violated its obligations under CERD. The Sapporo District Court disagreed, holding that “issues such as which measures to take, and how to implement them, are properly left to the discretion of Otaru.”

On appeal, the Sapporo High Court further noted that Members of the Japanese Diet are not legally obliged to pass legislation dealing with the individual rights of a citizen. Since CERD did not unambiguously specify which measures a local government body should take to handle racial discrimination, Otaru only had a political obligation, not a legal one. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts’ rulings. [ [http://www.hawaii.edu/aplpj/articles/APLPJ_09.2_webster.pdf University of Hawaii Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal ] ]

U.S. Department of State wrote about the Debito Arudou vs. public bath case, "In 2001, Hokkaido police investigated death threats made against a foreign-born naturalized citizen who had sued a bathhouse for refusing him entrance on the basis of race and the Otaru Municipal Government for failing to take measures to stop discriminatory entrance policies. In November 2002, the Sapporo District Court ordered the bathhouse to pay the plaintiff $25,000 (3 million yen) for subjecting the plaintiff to racial discrimination. The court rejected the claim against the Otaru Municipal Government, saying that the International_Convention_on_the_Elimination_of_All_Forms_of_Racial_Discrimination (CERD) does not require local governments to institute ordinances to stamp out discrimination." [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27772.htm Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003 U.S. Department of State ] ] (U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2003 - Japan)

You can also read U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2003 - Japan on UNHCR Website. [ [http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=country&docid=403f57b98&skip=&coi=JPN Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003 U.S. Department of State on UNHCR Website ] ]


See also

* Demographics of Japan
* Japanese people
* Ethnocide
* Human rights in Japan
* Language minority students in Japanese classrooms
* "Gaijin"
* Xenophobia in Showa Japan
* An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus
* Racial profiling
* Racial segregation
* Human_rights_in_Japan
* Demographics_of_Japan
* Debito_Arudou
* International_Convention_on_the_Elimination_of_All_Forms_of_Racial_Discrimination (CERD)
* International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

External links

* [http://www.bro.gr.jp/ Broadcast and Human Rights/Other Related Rights Organization]
* [http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/CLB/clb-01.html The Civil Liberties Bureau]
* [http://www.mindan.org/eng/major/reference.php Movements carried on by Zainichi Korean] (English)
* [http://www.mindan.org/eng/newspaper/index.php Online Newspaper covering Zainichi Korean and Mindan] (English)
* [http://www.abcjapan.org/ Portal for 100-20 years of imigration between Japan and Brazil, Covering Dekasegi and their issues, Rare pictures]

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