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An Interview with Arudou Debito

I found an old interview from March 2006 with Arudou Debito on YouTube, posted by a video blogger who has since repatriated himself:

Yamato Damacy (link is broken for now)

Points of interest

His description of how he got started in activism was very enlightening; he sounded very humble, in that he was just trying to improve the way of life for people in his position: namely, foreign university professors who were working under 1-3 year contracts and not tenure.

There are five basic tastes the tongue can recognize: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami (旨味, “savory”).

http://www.2ch.net/, a Japanese website accused of libel more than once

Cartels of the Mind, by Ivan Hall. A different take on foreigner exclusion in Japan.

A request from victims of discrimination in Japan. I don’t know if this case is still active.

The Steve McGowan story

Kathy Morikawa was instrumental in the case ending the fingerprinting of foreigners entering Japan

Debito’s answers to the chopsticks question

– “It’s an innate ability, not a skill”

– もちろん, mochiron, “of course”

– “Can you use a knife and fork?”

This was by far the funniest story involving Japan I have ever heard. Around August 2002 a seal washed ashore in Yokohama City. The seal, in a most peculiar place, was adopted by the city and dubbed Tama-chan. Soon after, it was given residency status in Japan.

Legally, foreigners could not obtain a permanent residency certificate. At the time Debito and other activists must have been very curious as to how a sea lion could obtain in a short while what a human living in Japan could never do, if he happened to be born in another country.

To raise awareness of this issue, a small group of foreigners (Debito included) gathered on the same shore that was known to be frequented by Tama-chan, donning black wetsuits, plastic flippers, and drawn-on whiskers, attempting to pass themselves off as seals and obtain residency status.

Full story

Be sure to read the transcript of Debito’s recent lucheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) on February 26th, 2007: link