Blogs > Liberty and Power > Japanese Racism: Another Sign of the Times

Oct 3, 2006 10:23 pm

Japanese Racism: Another Sign of the Times

Racism has never been absent from Japan, but in the last few years it has become especially evident at Japanese resorts known as"onsens." Apparently the notion of mixing Japanese and non-Japanese bodies in the same water is deeply disturbing. The sign above, typical of many, warns non-Japanese to keep their polluting bodies to themselves and out of all-Japanese tubs.

More subtle, but just as real, are the Japanese facilities that suddenly and explicably" close for maintenance" when foreigners show up and request services. I was once told that an"onsen" near Hakone was out of commission, while Japanese patrons continued to enter and jump into the hot water pools (visible through a plate glass window behind the manager's desk.)

There are positive features to Japanese ethnophobia, of course. Anyone seeking an education in open discrimination based on race can visit Japan for a first-hand look. And now that Japan has selected a super-nationalist prime minister, Abe, one can only assume such opportunities will multiply.

The reasons for Japan's pronounced drift to racial ethnocentrism will be the subject of another message -- with a few more pictures, to boot, from Japan's many"exclusive" hot springs resorts.

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Jonathan Dresner - 10/3/2006

The phenomena you describe -- ethnocentrism and discrimination -- are not at all new in Japan, unless you have some evidence to the contrary. I've been reading "gaijin discrimination" stories for twenty years now. That they don't go away is interesting, but not evidence of a trend.

Nor is Abe "supernationalist" in any meaningful sense of the word. He'd be a pretty mainstream Republican in this country, as have pretty much every PM for the last thirty years, except for Murayama the nominal Socialist.