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Aussie prof defends Japanese racism

In general, Japan is very welcoming to foreigners. Nevertheless, people who are not ethnically Japanese are regularly shut out of certain bars and restaurants here. Some are shady nightclubs connected to the Yakuza — the Japanese Mafia. But others are completely legitimate establishments that just don’t feel like dealing with gaijin.

Note that this is a question of ethnicity, not nationality. When I say "foreigners", I mean "people who don't look Japanese". Even a Westerner who's immigrated to Japan, speaks fluent Japanese, and become a Japanese citizen will find himself shut out of such places. On the other hand, a Japanese-American who speaks only English could probably fake his way in.

It's shameful that such blatant racism is largely tolerated Japan, a nation that prides itself on being a modern, influential member of the global community. But I can understand, if not accept, that some bigoted Japanese proprietors want to keep their businesses Japanese-only.

What I can’t understand, however, is why a Western professor would defend their decision to do so.

That professor is Gregory Clark, a former Australian diplomat and the current vice-president of Akita International University, where he teaches global studies and Japanese studies. Clark is also a frequent op-ed columnist in the Japan Times.

Clark has consistently argued that Japanese storeowners are justified in banning all foreigners if they claim they've had a bad experience with particular foreigners in the past. (Or, presumably, if they suspect they might have trouble with foreigners in the future.)

In one high-profile case, a Hamamatsu jewelry store owner, allegedly troubled by Brazillian shoplifters, solved the problem by banning all foreigners from entering his store.

In a second, a bathhouse proprietor in the northern port town of Otaru, allegedy troubled by drunken Russian sailors, responded by banning all foreigners, just to be on the safe side.

In both cases, Clark argued the race-based bans were perfectly appropriate. At the time, in a 1999 op-ed, he wrote:

Nor is there much interest in the reasons why a Hamamatsu jeweler might want to keep out foreigners — when even the Hamamatsu police are concerned over the problem of petty pilfering by local Brazilian workers.

The critics are now focusing on an Otaru bathhouse keeper who sought to keep out visiting Russian seamen. Many of these people are delightful. Even so, the fact remains that people who have just arrived from Sakhalin on unsanitary, rust-bucket boats are bound to cause problems ("meiwaku") in Japanese bathhouses. In Japan's person-oriented value system, causing meiwaku is a major sin.
Just as a pothead's spaced-out rambling makes perfect sense if you yourself are high (or so I've heard), Clark's arguments are airtight, as long as you share his fundamental premise that racial discrimination is a good thing.

Those incidents took place a while ago, but Clark is still sticking to his same discredited racial rhetoric today. In an indignant February 13 reply to one of his critics, who had the gall to accuse Clark of defending racism, he simply reiterated his Jim Crow views:
Far from foreigners in Japan having their rights abused, the Otaru bathhouse and the Hamamatsu jewelry store events that underlie the "racial discrimination" claims...are both good examples of foreigners abusing their rights in Japan.

In both cases, the proprietors had suffered severe damage or loss from the criminal actions of certain foreigners in Japan. They had resorted to what they saw as the only defense possible, namely to try to bar the entry of these foreigners.
Uh... no, Professor. They didn't bar the entry of those foreigners. They barred the entry of all foreigners, just because of their race.

To top it all off, Clark's also not much of a stickler for accuracy. His claim of "severe damage or loss" at the hands of foreigners is at least partially untrue; the Otaru bathhouse in question actually banned foreigners ever since it first opened for business.

Gregory Clark is an embarrassment to the Japan Times and to Akita International University. To preserve their reputations and credibility, they should disassociate themseleves from Clark and his odious views.


Anonymous said...

to give you some background on the aussies, they have very strict immagration laws.

They activlity try to keep as many people out of austrialia as possible, because a large influx of immagrants from other countires could ruin their country (or so they they, they also might just be racists) 

Posted by cubicle

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Australia also had a policy of taking aborigine (black) kids away from their families and raising them in orphanage-like boarding schools so that they could be integrated into white Australian society as maids. Believe it or not, this policy (which inspired the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence ) apparently was going on in one form or another until as late as the 1970's.

Just to keep things straight, though, Clark is not referring to foreigners trying to immigrate to Japan; he's talking about people who are already legally in Japan. 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

I could possible make a libertarian based arguement that a store owner has a 'right' to ban whoever they want to ban from their store for whatever reason.

However, I would at the same time argue my right to condemn such a practice as you describe as racism and say that it is morally wrong (legal and moral are not the same, and should not be).

One of the things I love about my nation is that unlike almost any other, it is possible to become a 'native' easily. There are people from every racial category that are Americans. I like that fact that we have Japanese-Americans and think Japan suffers because their is really no such thing as Caucasion-Japanese. This is not to say that we don't have any racial problems, far from it, but I think we at least have the right goal in mind. 

Posted by Dave Justus

Anonymous said...

Some time ago, Walter Williams presented the argument that store owners in the US should be able to ban people on the basis of race. Of course, as Dave Justus says, "I would at the same time argue my right to condemn such a practice as you describe as racism and say that it is morally wrong ".

As for retailers who took advantage of such a policy, one positive turn is that I would be able to direct my money away from such dopes. 

Posted by Calvin Hopkins

Anonymous said...

Don't you realize that, as far as leftist academia is concerned, only white people can be racists? Blatantly
racist speech uttered by or acts performed by other-than-white people are something other than racist.

Substitute "black people" for "foreigners" in your post and see how repugnant the prof's arguments sound.  

Posted by General Mills

Anonymous said...

sounds like you all are jewish writers 

Posted by hitler

Anonymous said...

Why is everything racist today? I don't like that the Japanese may ban all foreigners from certain businesses, but remember the old saying "one bad apple ruins it for everyone". It's not racist to protect one's business, property, or family. Your argument has a leftist/socialist stance and it is this very mode of thinking that has killed the U.S. Every person in America has been indoctrinated into believing that "diversity" is the answer and any view to the contrary is "bad". When you are a guest in someone else's home you better well be respectful and courteous. If not, then accept the consequences for your actions. As is the case in Japan. I bet the Brazilians wouldn't like it one bit if you or I went down to Brazil and acted like buffons causing trouble, stealing, raping, etc. No way, they would take care of you the Latin American way-death.

Only college educated white bleeding heart leftist liberals would make the arguement you made. It is truly a shame that your ilk were ever given a foot in the door. When the three major drug cartels smuggling dope to the U.S. are mexican how is that racist? They did it to themselves. "Da white man" is not the root of the world's problems and "Da evil white man" is certainly not to blame for individual and collective failures. Grow Up! Take and accept responsibility for your actions and stop blaming others. 

Posted by tony

Anonymous said...

As a foreigner living in Japan, I do have to say that a lot of foreigners do tend to run a little wild when they`re over here. Initially, I arrived in Japan only to find these apparently highly civilized and respectful Japanese people dealing very politely with bitter, vulgar Westerners who were loudly barking at them in English, and using their bulkier, courser bodies as a definite physical advantage. It seemed they would take any opportunity to jump on Japanese culture and reduce it to something utterly ridiculous and obscene. They were doing and saying things that they probably would never have in their own culture, and I was appalled.

Of course, this was at the beginning of my `honeymoon phase`. I just couldn`t understand the frustration and anger that my fellow Westerners felt. But after months and months of being feared, fetishized, glared at, poked, groped, patronized, suspected, criticized and propositioned, I began to see what they meant.

The way you are treated by a society does have an effect on the way you behave in that society. If Japanese society was more open, it would be probably more comfortable for foreigners to live here as they do in thier own countries. But Japan is so homogenous, and so unwilling to abandon its prejudices that it is very psychologically challenging for the foreigner.
It is certainly a nice place for foreigners to visit, but the foreigners who live here long term are usually very troubled, escaping something, pedophiles, or natural loners... people who were either rejected by their own society, or never really depended upon their society in the first place. When foreigners try to blend in here, they look ridiculous... and more often than not, they are not the type of person who would ever realize it.

Ultimately, though... it is Japan`s own decision what they do with their country. In a way, I admire the fact that they are usually very disciplined, and that their standards are often very high. But at the same time, they are much more adept at improving or modifying existing inventions than they are at creating their own. This is because of the collective mentality, and the de-emphasis of individuality, which often means that any original voice that might exist in their culture is effectively silenced before having the chance to develop. So unless independent thought suddenly becomes a good thing, any positive changes that are to happen in this society will probably happen very very slowly.

If you ask me, whether Japan feels that increased immigration is a threat to their identity or not, there must be a better way to preserve their heritage than their `us and them` mentality. After all, most of their culture is essentially a collection of modified fragments from other Asian cultures.  

Posted by Anonymous



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