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WHAT IS “A JAPANESE”?
Issues of an internationalizing
Japan, from the viewpoint of a
Naturalized Japanese
By ARUDOU Debito
Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University
Miyazaki International College, Thursday, April 24, 2008
Download this Powerpoint Presentation at
www.debito.org/MIC042408.ppt
Alright, I’ll ask you, right now:
What is “a Japanese”?
There are no right or wrong answers.
Just write down your own, personal
opinions as you discuss it with your friends.
Take a few minutes, go ahead.
じゃあ、Are these people Japanese or not?
Wada Akiko
Entertainer
Miyazawa Rie
Actress
Umemiya Anna
Model, Tarento
Oh Sadaharu
Baseball hero
Kinugasa Sachio
Baseball hero
Alberto Fujimori
Fmr. Peru Prez
じゃあ、Are these people Japanese or not? (2)
Konishiki
Tarento
Akebono
Pro Fighter
Ramos Rui
Soccer Hero
Amy
Daughter
Anna
Daughter
Arudou Debito
Yours Truly
Previous Student Surveys:
“Who qualifies to be a Japanese?”
 In-class, orally, show-
 Overwhelmingly male,
of-hands informal
survey with discussion.
 HIU regular and
senmon gakkou
intensive classes.
 Nationwide: Sapporo,
Niigata, Nagoya,
Hiroshima, Kokura
(recorded), plus
Sendai, Osaka,
Fukuoka, and Oita (not
recorded).
lower-income bracket,
non English majors,
ages 18-25 (plus a few
shakaijin).
 1995-2005, with little
significant change over
time.
Students’ answers
(in no order of preference or importance)
A person who has lived in Japan
日本に住んだことがある人
A person who considers him/herself "Japanese"
自分が「日本人だ」と思う人
A person who has Japanese citizenship
日本国籍を有する人
A person who has assimilated into Japan
日本に溶け込んでいる人
A person born in Japan
日本で生まれた人
A person who has spent the majority of his/her life in Japan
人生の大半を日本で過ごした人
Students’ answers (2)
(in no order of preference or importance)
A person who likes Japan
日本が好きな人
A person who has Japanese blood
日本の血が入っている人
A person who knows a lot about Japan
日本について詳しい人
A person using Japanese in everyday conversation
日常会話で日本語を使う人
A person with Japanese parents/grandparents
両親・祖父母に日本人がいる人
A person who is proud of Japan
日本について誇りを持つ人
Survey Results (1)
Person
Is Japanese
Is NOT
Japanese
Total
Votes
31 stude nts
Cannot
say/
Don't
know
39 stude nts
205
Highest
Vote's
Percent
of Total
65.9%
Wada Akikoa
òaìcÉAÉLéq
Miyaza wa Rieb
ã{ëÚÇËǶ
Umemiya Anna b
î~ã{ÉAÉìÉi
Kinugasa Sachiob
à½ä}èÀóY
Oh Sadaha rua
â§íÂé°
Alberto Fujimoric
135 stud ents
207
4
8
219
94.5%
184
7
18
209
88.0%
47
4
22
73
64.4%
138
47
34
219
63.0%
69
78
41
188
41.5%
ÉAÉãÉxÉãÉgÅEÉtÉWÉÇÉä
NOTES:
a) Zainichi without Japanes e citizenship
b) Mixed -blood person with Japanese citizenship, born in Japan.
c) Naturalized Japanese citizen.
Survey Results (2)
Person
Konishikic è¨ã—
Akebonoc èå
Ramos Ruic
ÉâÉÇÉXó¹àÃ
Daughter A myb d
àüî¸ÇøÇ·ÇÒ
Daughter A nna b d
à«ì¼ÇøÇ·ÇÒ
Arudou Deb itoc
óLìšèoêl
Is Japanese
Is NOT
Japanese
Cannot
say/
Don't
know
Total
Votes
Highest
Vote's
Percent
of Total
117
131
174
12
35
22
17
35
23
146
201
219
80.1%
65.2%
79.5%
200
3
18
221
90.5%
194
5
18
217
89.4%
176
16
29
221
79.6%
NOTES:
a) Zainichi without Japanes e citizenship
b) Mixed -blood person with Japanese citizenship, born in Japan.
c) Naturalized Japanese citizen
d) Daug hters Amy and Anna were included because of their equal status as born in Japan, raised in
Japan, native speak ers of Japanes e, same parents, but with different phenotypes. Before voting,
students wer e shown the same photos as those included in this Powerpoi nt presentation.
Interpretations of the data
 People voted clearly Japanese, registering
more than 85% of the total votes, were the
“mixed children” (Miyazawa Rie 95%,
Daughter Amy 91%, Daughter Anna 89%,
Umemiya Anna 88%).
 Almost everyone in the survey was voted to
be “a Japanese”, even if they did not have
Japanese citizenship (Wada and Oh).
Interpretations of the data (2)
 The lone exception, even with “citizenship”
was Alberto Fujimori. Even with blood,
students said it was his lack of language
Japanese ability.
 However, Arudou Debito was granted
“Japaneseness”, because of his language
abilities. This would not have happened if
students had only just met him, or had only
seen a photo of him, they said.
Now let’s talk about a case in
Hokkaido, of “Japaneseness”
OTARU CITY
..
Sapporo
(Distance from Sapporo to Otaru: 31 kms)
Onsen Yunohana in Otaru
Otaru’s largest public bathing facility.
Established 1998.
(Photos courtesy www.yunohana.org)
Yunohana’s
JAPANESE ONLY sign
In Japanese, English, and Russian.
(Photos dated Sept 19, 1999)
Visit to Three “JAPANESE ONLY”
Onsens, Otaru, Sept 19, 1999
 Olaf Karthaus (German, Permanent Resident), his
Japanese wife and three children.
 Morgan (American), his Japanese wife and child.
 Our Chinese friend and her two Japanese children.
 Dave Aldwinckle (then an American, Permanent
Resident), his Japanese wife and two children.
 Other Japanese friends, witnesses, and a
Hokkaido Shinbun reporter; total 17 people.
What happened?
Everyone was permitted entry.
Except, however, the three
non-Asians: Olaf, Morgan, and
yours truly.
Our Chinese friend, however,
was unwittingly admitted.
We asked: Why refuse
“foreigners”?
 Russian sailors foul the bathwater with soap,
laundry, and excreta.
 Russian sailors carry in vodka bottles, get
drunk, and disturb the peace.
 Russian sailors are scary and smell bad.
 Russian sailors carry lice and disease.
 In sum, Japanese customers stay away if
Russian sailors are present.
Source: Interviews with Otaru onsens “Yunohana”, “Osupa”, and “Panorama” managers, 1999-2000
Why do you refuse us?
We are not Russian sailors. We are
residents of Japan with families.
We speak Japanese, and have lived in
Japan for over ten years.
We know how to take a bath.
What about Asian foreigners?
Answer: Because we can.
 “We cannot just refuse Russians. That would
be discriminatory. So we refuse all foreigners
equally.”
 “Yes, that includes Zainichi Japan-born ethnic
Koreans and Chinese. If we know.”
 Oops. Kick the Chinese lady out.
 “Okay, so it’s discrimination. But if we let
foreigners in, we will go out of business.
Kindly leave.”
(Amy (left) and Anna Sugawara Aldwinckle 1996)
Born and raised in Japan. Native speakers of Japanese. Japanese citizens.
“Your younger daughter looks foreign.
We’ll have to refuse her entry.”
“Sorry, your younger daughter
will be refused service.
She looks too foreign.”
This is discrimination by race.
None other.
Japan’s invisible kokusaika
There are around 40,000 international
marriages per year in Japan.
International children do not show up in
statistics on “registered foreigners”. Of
course not. They are citizens.
International children are also invisible
statistically. The Japan Census Bureau
does not measure for ethnicity.
Conclusions
It is increasingly difficult to distinguish
between “citizens” and “non-citizens” by
physical appearance.
Which means...
“Japanese Only” signs will
also exclude Japanese
citizens.
This situation is not tenable
for Japan’s future.
Hokkaido Shinbun Jan. 15, 2000
Sept. 2000: Arudou Debito
gets Japanese citizenship.
 Returns to Yunohana
Onsen Oct 31, 2000.
 Yunohana manager:
 “We accept that you
have citizenship.
 “But you don’t look
Japanese.
 “So to avoid misunderstandings, we will have
to refuse you entry.”
If you want more about this case:
(Akashi Shoten Inc. 2003 and 2004, revised 2006)
More Profound Conclusions
 “Japanese Only” signs violate Article 14 of the
Japanese Constitution.
 Said signs violate the UN Convention on
Racial Discrimination, which Japan effected in
1996.
 Ten years later, there is still no law against
racial discrimination in Japan.
 Thus, “Japanese Only” establishments are
unconstitutional, yet not illegal.
Conclusions to the research
“Japaneseness” and “language ability”
might not be seen as a matter of race in
future. More and more people who do
not “look Japanese” are speaking
Japanese.
This is good news for Japan’s emerging
multicultural, multiethnic, and
multilingual society.
Research Conclusions (2)
But in Arudou Debito’s view, “A
Japanese” is someone who has
Japanese citizenship. Nothing else.
You must make “Japaneseness” a
matter of citizenship--something you
can earn. Any other conditions for
“Japaneseness” are too vague and
arbitrary for clear judgment.
Why? Let’s take a look at Japan’s
multicultural, multiethnic future:
“The Japanese
labor force will
probably drop by
10 million by
2030.”
Economisuto,
Jan 15, 2008 pg
18
By 2050, the majority of Japanese will be
beyond a productive working age (15-64)
Source: Ekonomisuto Jan 15, 2008 pg 16
The Immigrants probably
outnumber the Zainichis as
of last year
600,000
500,000
Zainichis
(Tokubetsu
Eijuusha)
"Newcomers"
(Ippan Eijuusha)
400,000
300,000
200,000
100,000
(est)
2008
(est)
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
0
In any case,
soon close to a
million NJ will
be here to stay,
permanently
“NEWCOMERS
SUSTAIN
SECTORS
WHERE
JAPANESE
AREN’T ABLE
OR WILLING
TO PICK
UP THE
SLACK.”
--NEWSWEEK
SEPT 13, 2006
Yet Japan is the only major
industrialized nation without
any form of a law against
Racial Discrimination.
And it shows.
..
.
Wakkanai
...
.
.
Monbetsu
Rumoi
Otaru
Ohtaki-mura
AKITA CITY
ISESAKI CITY, GUNMA PREF.
OHTA CITY, GUNMA PREF.
KOFU, YAMANASHI PREF.
DAITOU-SHI, OSAKA PREF
KYOTO
KITAKYUSHU CITY
FUKUOKA PREF
OKINAWA
URUMA CITY
.
.
KURASHIKI CITY,
OKAYAMA PREF.
HIROSHIMA
Sapporo
.....
.
.
.
.
Nemuro
MISAWA, AOMORI PREF.
KOSHIGAYA, SAITAMA PREF.
TODA CITY, SAITAMA PREF.
TOKYO OGIKUBO
TOKYO AOYAMA DOORI
TOKYO SHINBASHI
TOKYO SHINJUKU-KU
TOKYO KABUKICHO
HAMAMATSU, SHIZUOKA PREF.
NAGOYA
More information and photos at
www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
“JAPANESE ONLY” signs and
rules have been found at:
Bathhouses, bars, discos, stores,
hotels, restaurants, karaoke and
pachinko parlors, ramen shops,
barbershops, a swimming pool, a
billiards hall, a sports store, and a
woman’s footbath boutique.
The moral to this tale:
If you don’t have the legal
means to stop
discrimination, it spreads.
Nationwide.
Research Conclusions (3)
If you don’t make “Japaneseness” a
matter of legal status, i.e. something
earnable, you create unchangeable
conditions, such as blood or birth.
Making “Japaneseness” a matter of
physical appearance will hurt many
international children with Japanese
passports. Also many long-term
international residents and taxpayers.
That’s what we’re fighting for...
Hokkaido Shinbun Nov.
17, 2003:
“Visiting exclusionary
bathhouse in
Monbetsu.
“Olaf Karthaus and
Arudou Debito ask for
foreign sailors to be
permitted entrance.”
NB: Bathhouse was
then opened to all
foreigners.
And yes, we are making progress.
Erstwhile exclusionary onsen Osupa manager Mr. Ohkoshi and newfound friend
enjoy a soak...
Photo courtesy Kyodo News/Kumanichi Shinbun, from nationwide feature article Jan 12, 2002
More on this and other issues:
www.debito.org
English and Japanese ISBN 4 7503 2741 9
Downloads
See my website at
www.debito.org
 Download this Powerpoint Presentation at
www.debito.org/MIC042408.ppt
--Thank you for listening to my presentation!
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