Monday, February 05, 2007

Is it any wonder...

...that some Japanese people fear the foreign presence in Japan? I've seen my share of hospitality, normality, stares of awe, and some of disregard, but never have I quite encountered those of hatred as I've seen online in recent days. Family Mart, a popular convenience store in Japan, has stocked a rather shocking book on its magazine rack. Let's look at the facts:

January 31st



Family Mart stocks "Gaijin Henzai Ura File", a book that essentially blames all crime and indecent behavior in Japan on foreigners. Not even exclusively Europeans, Americans, or caucasians - it includes Chinese, Africans, Indians... I don't even want one percent of what that book says posted on my site - it doesn't go one sentence without mentioning a racial slur.

Racial slurs in Gaijin Henzai Ura File - in Japanese and English

From accusing black people of raping Japanese girls, to providing bloated statistics of foreign crime in Tokyo, to playing games of hatred like "Catch the Iranian!!", to showing members of the American military robbing taxi drivers, this book is something you might expect to find in the back allies of Japanese culture or on some racially charged internet site. Instead, we see it being offered to the mainstream public in a widely used store.

Official Website by the publisher, Eichi


February 1st

The public responds. Arudou Debito, a foreign resident of Japan living in Hokkaido with comprehensive knowledge of Japanese law as it pertains to outsiders, posts his encounter with the magazine. Japan Probe follows suit.


February 3rd

Japan Probe calls for a worldwide boycott of Family Mart stores and their affiliates, seeking an official apology, removal of the racist book from their shelves, and assurances of no repeat offenses in the future.



Family Mart, in response to written complaints, relents and states it will remove the magazine "within 7 days."


February 4th

Debito posts a boycott letter in both Japanese and English to encourage resident gaikokujin to visit Family Mart stores individually and ask for removal of the magazine.


February 5th

Japan Probe reports that Family Mart has agreed to remove all copies of the magazine immediately.


I personally have not seen this magazine in Hiroshima or Fukuoka Family Mart stores, but will keep a copy of Debito's letter just in case. First of all I'd love to come across a Japanese person reading it casually in Family Mart or on a train and ask them exactly what they think about it.

This story comes on the heels of a recent revelation I had about racism in Japan; it's unique, to be sure. Of course, there are plenty of people with nothing but pure hatred in their hearts, but I would say a lot of racism in Japan is based on ignorance: people who know so little about another culture that they find you to be more of a joke rather than a menace; something to be pitied or laughed at. Unfortunately, this is still racism.

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