Q. I came across JapanReview.Net's
review of Japanese
Only following [activist] Debito Arudou's criticisms of
Paul Scalise and his reply to "The Community" in Japan
internet forum. I enjoyed the review.
have one question regarding the current issue of Zainichi
and Special Permanent Residency. Have any surveys been conducted
of that population to ask a question similar to the following:
"If the Japanese Government offered you full nationality with
only minimal background checks attached (e.g., no criminal record),
would you accept provided that you renounced your current citizenship?"
The question has bothered me for some time; anecdotes suggest
that the majority might refuse, but is there any hard statistical
polling data to support this suspicion?
One survey conducted in 1975 revealed that 74.2% of Zainichi
Koreans were against naturalization. See Hahn Bae-ho and
Hong Sung-chick, The Korean Minority in Japan: Their Problems,
Aspirations and Prospects 15 (No 6) Korea I 4.17 (1975).
However, we are not aware of a more recent survey. Should any
JRN readers have further information, please contact
To be sure, the Bae-ho and Sung-chick cited survey does seem to
corroborate other evidence. As a majority of Zainichi
Koreans apparently opposed Japanese naturalization, those who
seek it still risk being rejected by Korean society as well. For
books that discuss in detail the historical and legal context
behind this national v. ethnonational conflict see, for example:
- Lee, C.,
De Vos, G.A. & Scalapino, R.A. (1981) Koreans in Japan:
ethnic conflict and accommodation, Berkeley, University
of California Press.
S. (1997) North Koreans in Japan: language, ideology, and
identity, Boulder, Colo., Westview.
Y. (1998) International law, human rights, and Japanese
law: the impact of international law on Japanese law, Oxford,
S. (2000) Koreans in Japan: critical voices from the margin,
of Justice (MOJ) data indicate that 8,000—9,000 special
permanent residents (eijuusha) of Korean-descent are naturalizing
annually, or roughly 1.5% of the total number of Zainichi.
Ammendements to the Nationality Law in 1985 probably contribute
to the easing. (Note: Japan's
Non-Citizens: Facts & Figures cites data sourced from
Statistics Bureau not the MOJ.)
we choose to call the clash a struggle for "multi-ethnicity,"
"multi-culturalism," "ethnonational identity,"
or the more legal issue of "dual-nationality," the
subtext is the same in the context of Zainichi naturalization
proceedings; two (mostly self-perceived) homogenous cultures
who are at loggerheads over assimilation, loyalty and commitment
in Japan. What is the responsibility of the Japanese Government
in such matters? Should the Japanese Government tell people
how to think and feel about their respective cultures, despite
some viewing it as a zero-sum game? Where is the line between
paternalism and indoctrination?
As we have
said in the past, these issues are often very complex and should
not be quickly dismissed with political sound bites.
Dave Show" Revisited
Hello Readers of JapanReview.net. Arudou Debito here. This is
a response to Dr. Honjo's January 2005 book review of Japanese
Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in
Japan (Akashi Shoten: 2004).
would like to respond to all points raised within, but that would
take up too much space in this forum. So let me direct the reader
to a separate website where I critique the review in full: http://www.debito.org/japanreviewcritique.html
me make a disclaimer: I did not write this critique simply because
my book got a negative review. I am not adverse to criticism.
Quite used to it, really. Given what I do in Japan, I deal with
it every single day.
also do not mind people pointing out things I could have written
better, or just plain correctly. Constructive criticism is indeed
a necessary part of the search for truth, and a natural part of
the process towards betterment of human society.
wrote this critique because I believe JapanReview.net's
review is unfair. And not merely because it compares a nonfiction
book with a comic book (and faults it, inter alia, for not being
review contains unbalanced critique, fallacious comparisons, erroneous
assertions, careless misreadings, glaring and unprofessional misquotes,
unreasonable expectations, unwarranted jabs, and even gross inaccuracies
(I give examples at the site). This makes the review less a constructive
criticism, more like an academic exercise bordering on a hatchet
clear example is when Dr Honjo writes:
the post "Battle of Seattle" age in which tens
of thousands of people rioted on the streets, many linked
by cell phones, instant messaging, GPS, PDAs, and laptops,
Arudou's brand of "Internet activism" of cranking
out "Nyuu Yoku Times" for his "Friends"
e-list seems almost quaint. Arudou makes little use of
technology to organize flash mobs, blogs, google bombs,
or wikis: he remains the old-fashioned pamphleteer. Unfortunately,
his thorough and comprehensive website with thousands
of pages of material, which is by far one of the most
effective tools in his Internet arsenal, gets short shrift:
the book has only passing references to this excellent
resource within the main text (Arudou, pp. iv, 13, 57,
281, 307, 376-7).
really strange, because I also quote www.debito.org on pages 50,
130 (twice), 132, 136, 151 (twice), 152, 154, 175, 176, 181, 200,
207, 208, 211 (twice), 227, 230, 232, 248, 257, 258, 259, 266
(twice), 268, 282, 290, 291, 301, 306, 323, 325 (twice), 327,
328, 330, 335, 338, 358, 373, 380, 381, 382 (twice), 383 (twice),
384 (twice), 386, 387 (thrice), 388, 389, 396, 398 (twice), and
401. In other words, towards the end, on almost every single page.
a total of 66 citations. One can't miss them. They're footnotes.
Pages 181 and 398 even contain a link to an artery site, with
links to issues all over www.debito.org
more. Again, readers are welcome to read the rest of my critique
doubt the reviewers at JapanReview.net
will have the last word here, and will put up a spirited defense.
have them write a few books instead. Show us how it's done.
Author, Japanese Only (2004)
We thank Mr. Arudou for writing in with his objections and we
encourage people to read Mr. Arudou’s comments on JRN’s review
of his book.
have adjusted the timeline—that Mr. Arudou points out is
potentially misleading—to correspond with the interpretation
of events found in Japanese Only. We had attempted to
compress events into a short summary and as a result the sequence
of events became obscure. Clarifications were formally made on
June 30, 2005. We thank him for his input.
In the commentary, he maintains that “the review was unbalanced,
ill-conceived, inaccurate, and in places mean-spirited."
He also notes that he does not “get along with” JRN reviewer Yuki
Allyson Honjo “personally.”
are sorry that Mr. Arudou was hurt by our criticism of his book
that he felt it was an “academic exercise bordering on a hatchet
job,” but we stand by our review. Thinking that Japanese Only
was lacking in its execution is not the same as disparaging the
cause of fighting racism in Japan.
for Mr. Arudou’s charge on the “gross inaccuracies” outlined above,
we specifically point to “passing references" in the "main
text.” This does not include footnotes in our view. Regardless,
Japanese Only added little to our understanding of the
website’s role in his activism; how many people viewed the site,
how he designed the website with his activism in mind, who viewed
the site, what worked on his website and what failed—and
so forth. Mr. Arudou himself admits that most of his references
to the website are mere citations, and thus conveniently re-enforces
his commentary linked above, it is again evident that Mr. Arudou
either did not read our text very carefully or willfully disregarded
it, as we qualify many of our comments in the very text he considers
problematic (e.g., "mostly anonymous," etc).
at JapanReview.net is to discuss ideas within books and
raise questions, and we think we did exactly that in the “The
Dave and Tony Show.” We are pleased that we have precipitated
debate and discussion.
Live David Aldwinckle!
I stumbled on your 2001 interview with [activist]
David Aldwinckle through a google search. A bizarre bit of reading;
the nastiness and illogicality of the questions seemed at first
rather funny (I e-mailed it to a few friends) but ultimately
rather sad. Bravo to Mr. Aldwinckle for his poise. Shame on
your interviewer for his or her narrowmindedness.
Jeremy [surname withheld]
Student, Columbia University
New York City, United States of America
In her January 2005 book review of Japanese
Only entitled "The Dave and Tony Show," Yuki
Allyson Honjo writes:
have very little time for apologists such as former Tama
University President Gregory Clark: he implies that discrimination
is a justifiable defense to preserve Japanese culture.
"True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant,"
Clark argues, ". . .But as often as not, that is
because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs”
(Arudou, p. 95).
are two problems with this statement.
One, there seems to be deliberate malice in the way your otherwise
careful reviewer has chosen to distort the above quote into an
alleged endorsement of racial discrimination to preserve Japanese
the above quote was made entirely in the context of several Otaru
bathhouses seeking to exclude the foreigners who, operating outside
the restraints normally imposed by Japanese society, had caused
serious loss or damage to those enterprises.
your reviewer believes that those enterprises should have tolerated
the losses or damage, or that there was some reasonable way to
exclude the damage and loss creating foreigners, she should say
so. She should also realize that those who disagree with that
view are not automatically apologists for racial discrimination.
someone who has worked hard in government committees and elsewhere
to remove the burdens and legal discriminations imposed on foreigners
here, I regard the 'apologist' remark as defamatory and would
be glad if it could be withdrawn.
Your reviewer should also know that some of us long aware of the
background to the Otaru bathhouses affair, and the personality
defects of some of the actors involved— defects which she
herself dissects well—have had particular reasons for doubting
the sincerity of the alleged anti-discrimination activities there.
But that aside, it stands to reason that foreigners who do not
observe the rules and customs of the society in which they have
chosen to stay should expect a less than effusive welcome in that
your reviewer thinks otherwise she should say so.
for UN Conventions that are supposed to ban any form of discrimination
against foreigners who do break rules, could someone please explain
the basis of visa discrimination in Japan, the US etc against
people from countries whose residents are seen as likely to abuse
Columnist, The Japan Times
Allyson Honjo replies:
agree with Gregory Clark that Debito Arudou's presentation of
the Otaru Onsen case is, unfortunately, poorly structured and
argued in Japanese Only; little thought and research
was put into how and why laws are passed, their complications
and costs (i.e., sovereignty costs, transaction costs, opportunity
costs, and contracting costs), and why Mr. Arudou and his co-plaintiffs
apparently believe that such costs are either non-existent or
negligible in Japan.
I am convinced that forcing social reform legislation on the Japanese
public is a panacea that, however well-intentioned, suddenly changes
how people think, feel and behave.
said, Mr. Clark and I part company over the actions of the bathhouse
owner himself and the plaintiffs' case against him. But let us
be clear: I use the word "apologist" as my opinion about
this particular case only. It was not a sweeping statement about
the life and character of Gregory Clark, nor was it meant to be
defamatory in any way.
address Mr. Clark's question, even if these enterprises suffered
material losses—which, by the way, were never proven in
court in Mr. Arudou's case—it is unfortunate, but the correct
response is not wholesale discrimination of all non-Japanese looking
customers. The owner should call the police, sue the perpetrators
of the crime, perhaps sue the city/police for their lack of response,
and/or collect their insurance. Doling out one's misgivings to
a single subgroup is illogical, not to mention an asymmetric syllogism.
If Japan has a system of law in which the individual is responsible
for his or her actions, why are foreigners/non-ethnic Japanese
forced to pay the costs of unruly individuals who happen to be
of the same race?
In short, if someone has the time, money, and personal need to
right these wrongs at the local level via civil litigation, so
a Matter of Perspective
I am writing
to thank you for your excellent, perceptive reviews of Japanese
Only and My
Darling is a Foreigner (Media Factory: 2002). In particular
the former David Aldwinckle's book certainly called for a second,
closer and more critically thought-out evaluation than it has
received elsewhere, until now.
think you intuited some of this already, but I would still like
to say how correct you are. You noted that the style was casual.
While personally it can be charming, it extended deeper, to more
serious issues. Mr. Arudou was very casual with timelines and
facts and his sequencing of events in Japanese
Only leaves much to be desired. My husband and I were members
of the [Business Excluding Non-Japanese Customers Issho] BENCI
project Mr. Arudou refers to and quotes and paraphrases from in
his book (the Japanese and the slightly altered English version.)
We had all agreed to keep in absolute confidence all the activities,
members, and mail contents of our group. All of the information
Mr. Arudou published about BENCI was put in without agreement
on making it public. Indeed, contrary to our agreement not to
Arudou's fervor seems to have blinded him to two ironies which
are apparent to former BENCI members reading his book. He felt
held back by the group and resentful of being reminded to distance
the apparent center of activity from himself, but forgot that
the intention was to protect him. Secondly, as you noted in your
review, the target for Mr. Arudou's ire was Tony Laszlo. The rest
of us relied on Mr. Laszlo to communicate the messages from the
group which Mr. Arudou would ignore otherwise. Unfortunately this
resulted in Mr. Laszlo being scapegoated in Japanese
Only, particularly in the Japanese version.
am sure you can imagine the chagrin we have felt on seeing published
this interpretation the author chose to put on the efforts of
his former teammates, and yours is the first review to pick up
on the sense that something was wrong. You were indeed right.
Opportunism Trivializes Real Discrimination
Well done for your courageous review of Debito Arudou’s Japanese
Only. Arudou and his family should not have been excluded
from the onsen in Otaru, but I suspect I am not alone in objecting
to the way this unpleasant, but essentially trivial incident has
been parlayed into a career opportunity. In my own personal experience—and
personal experience is all that Mr. Arudou offers us—there
is no systemic problem of racial discrimination in Japanese onsen.
Many years ago I spent two months cycling down the Japan sea coast
from Aomori to Shimonoseki. I used minshuku, onsen, and sento
every night, usually showing up after dark covered in grime, stinking
like a garbage truck, and unable to communicate except in the
most basic Japanese. Never once was I refused entry. On the contrary,
the hospitability was often embarrassingly fulsome. In the subsequent
twenty five years the few racially discriminatory establishments
I have come across were in lines of business that involved breaking
other laws too.
has certainly got its flaws—and a sense of otherness from
the rest of the world is one of them—but the attempt to
monster it into George Wallace’s Alabama trivializes the real-life
brutal discrimination that still disfigures our world and the
heroic campaigners who have put themselves on the line to fight
it. Mr. Arudou appears to be a sincere and energetic individual
with a flair for public relations. Why doesn’t he use his talents
on behalf of Japan’s homeless or mentally ill or the refugees
from the North Korean gulags or some other cause that is genuinely
worth getting angry about?
Japan (1987), Restructuring Japan (1993) and Japan
in Play (1999)
read with great interest your comparative report on worldwide
definitions of citizenship (“Measuring
Citizenship: Is Japan an Outlier?”). It serves as an important
reminder to would-be commentators that political rhetoric is
no substitute for real comparative research on Japan. Well done!
allow me to make one criticism. I believe that the issue would
be put to rest once and for all with a slightly different approach.
It is not necessarily one of either/or jus
solis/sanguinis. Rather, it is more a continuum from 100
percent "pure jus sanguinis" with no jus
solis (e.g., oil-rich Middle Eastern states where citizenship
is very hard to obtain) to 100 percent "pure jus solis"
(e.g., states with absolutely no exceptions for even diplomats
where everyone receives citizenship as long as they are born
in the country, which may or may not exist.) As the two authors
correctly point out, the United Kingdom and Switzerland do not
have "pure jus solis." Yet, UK citizenship
conferral is significantly easier than Swiss citizenship. I
would be interested in reading another report from JapanReview.Net
that formulates the hypothesis in a slightly different way:
scores would have to be assigned from 0 (e.g., maybe Kuwait)
to 1 (e.g., maybe the US). Otherwise, states that are very restrictive
are lumped together with states that are not. My suspicion is
that Japan, once again, is not as isolated from the rest of
the developed world as many commentators mistakenly assume.
these are minor quibbles with a report that was both informative
and well-written. Keep up the good work.
Research Fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs
Infringement and Fair Use
During a recent trip to Tokyo, a friend purchased
Debito Arudou's Japanese Only. Knowing of my interest
in the subject of foreigners living in Japan, he lent me the
book; I was warned that it was poorly written, and I must say
that I agree with him—as well as with Dr. Honjo, whose
I also read. Mr. Arudou was perhaps right to sue the onsen,
but his failure to present a convincing, well-supported case
for the supposed urgency of legislation and court judgment against
the Japanese Government's official policy is a shame, since
the topic is an interesting one that should be addressed in
an intelligent manner.
I was actually rather appalled to see that Mr. Arudou also appears
to have published the texts of several private e-mails and conversations
in his book. Dr. Honjo mentions in a footnote of her review
that: "A good fraction of this volume are so-called 'transcripts'
of various private and public conversations." This strikes
me as rather unethical; is it, in fact, legal? Would you mind
expanding on this a bit in a follow-up article or review?
Tel Aviv, Israel
This is an interesting research question with more
practical and legal implications for future authors and netizens
than is commonly understood. However, anything that JapanReview.Net
(JRN) says on this matter is not intended to constitute, and
should not be considered, legal advice of any form. You should
consult an attorney if you have legal questions that relate
to your specific publishing issues and projects.
are not experts on virtual internet intellectual property
or cyberspace law, we cannot comment decisvely on the countless
e-mails and conversations reprinted and paraphrased in Mr.
Arudou's book, which he is presumably profiting from. Some
would argue (see, for example, Ms. Isozaki's letter above)
that Mr. Arudou has overstepped his contractual bounds on
ocassion, albeit in an area filled with grey areas. One thing
is clear: while the law may be a morass of grey and does not
make e-mail citation explicitly illegal, citing and attributing
e-mails in published works without explicit permission, especially
private e-mails that were never intended for public distribution,
is poor professional practice,
in our view.
Rose By Any Other Name...
I very much enjoyed "The
Dave and Tony Show." But shouldn't it be called the
"The Dave and Saori Show"?
The word "show" has many definitions, but the most
widely used reflect a "display," a "pretense,"
a "spectacle," a "public exhibition," an
"entertainment," or the more informal "affair
or undertaking." We will let the reader decide which definition
best applies to each book. That said, Debito Arudou's Japanese
Only essentially centered on himself, while Saori Oguri's
My Darling is a Foreigner essentially centered on Tony
Laszlo. Thus, The Dave Show, The Tony Show, and "The Dave
and Tony Show." QED.
the Right Thing, the Wrong Way?
you so much for your review of Japanese
Only. It was very good. You were able to capture my
essential objection to David Aldwinckle's campaign—that
he does the right thing, the wrong way—and were able to
do it with the decorum that I find difficult to muster.
don't know. Despite my defiant claims on my personal website
that I would never write a book about Japan, here I am considering
writing one. Maybe I might even end up on this fine page one
day, if only because I am deemed too irreverent to be taken
seriously. Keep up the good work.
IT Systems Administrator
CERD and Representative Government:
Sense or Nonsense?
I note your review of Mr. Aldwinckle's book,
Only. I am sorry to say that it appears to me to gloss
over the two key problems with Mr. Aldwinckle's perspective.
The first is empirical—is there in fact any evidence for
a pattern of discrimination in Japan along the lines asserted
by Mr. Aldwinckle? Second is a question of high principle—is
his proposed "solution" one which reasonable people
the empirical question. Informed testimony—that of, for
instance, Mr. Robert Neff, the established non-Japanese authority
of Onsens—is quite clear that there is no general problem
with respect to foreigners entering communal baths. Twenty years
of personal experience in Japan confirms this. Mr. Aldwinckle
does not offer convincing justification for inferring, from his
own—clearly unpleasant—experience, the existence of
a widespread pattern of discrimination.
is also true of the parallel assertion that establishments of
other types which discriminate are "proliferating."
Again, this seems so at odds with one's own experience and the
views of informed observers that it requires examination. Mr.
Aldwinckle`s website identifies 28 cases of signs in 15 localities
which offend his, or his group`s, sensibilities. 10 instances
appear to relate to establishments it might be unwise to have
one's wife see one entering or which it would be disconcerting
to see one's wife entering. A further linked page carries only
such questionable venues. The pages are, I am afraid, poorly organized
and difficult to follow; one may have missed or double-counted
an instance or two. But more importantly, little "time-series"-style
perspective is offered by which we might judge whether the number
of signs is rising or falling.
would therefore seem premature to be characterising this as "proliferation."
Moreover it is far from clear that this sample of offenders is
in any way representative. Could one, for instance, offer a useful
general overview of labour conditions in Japan if one based one's
examination preponderantly on bath-houses, massage parlours, hostess
bars and nightclubs? To suggest that this sort of sample could
prove the existence of a "pattern of discrimination"
comparable with Segregation in the South, or with slavery under
the British Empire, seems unwise. Indeed, invocation of such parallels
strikes me as being in very poor taste.
the more serious question of Mr. Aldwinckle's suggested "solution."
He demands that Japanese law be changed to incorporate, with the
full force of domestic law, the UN's CERD. That is to say, he
argues that a UN protocol has a claim to be taken so seriously
that it should, in the hands of judges, make law where the representative
government of a particular country has made none.
on what basis can a determination (however high-minded) reached
by a conclave of unelected functionaries, untested by being put
to a vote, be set above domestic law? A UN declaration is no more
than an agreement made between functionaries. It can in no way
be compared with a law properly authorized by a representative
and sovereign government. It is dangerous to underestimate this
one has a government, sovereign in all departments, and answerable
to its own people, between whom and with whom communication is
in its own language(s), and consistent with its own history and
traditions, or one has a government without effective representation
for the governed.
Aldwinckle's campaign to import law made by functionaries should
therefore be resisted on principle by anyone who takes representative
government seriously. Even a bad law made by a representative
government is better than a desirable law made by judicial or
bureaucratic fiat—because the law made by a representative
government can be changed by the people it affects. My fear is
that the protagonists in this case have not considered the logical
consequences of the position they have espoused.
Chief Equity Strategist, NikkoCitigroup
the "Dave Show" than the "Tony Show"
Yuki Honjo's review of Debito Arudou's book, Japanese
Only, underplays his attempt to contribute to cross-cultural
harmony. After the harsh criticism given to one part of "the
Dave and Tony Show," it is difficult not to feel that her
pen had run out of vitriol given the second half. Her review
of Saori Oguri's My Darling is a Foreigner ignores
the fact that it is trite, overly dependent on the fact that
Laszlo is a word geek, and makes one wonder if Laszlo would
survive in his home country.
Assessing China's GDP
Q. Thank you for your interview of Richard
Jerram. In the 16 February issue of The Economist ("Germany
and Japan—shrinking giants"), Richard Jerram again
offered a critical view of accurately assessing Japan's GDP.
Can you recommend an analyst doing similar coverage of China's
Harry Harding and Nicholas Lardy have both both done
work in this area.
J. Ballon and Sophia University
Q. Have you ever considered interviewing or reviewing
the publications of Robert J. Ballon of Sophia University Graduate
School (or anyone from there)? I think he is a facinating person
and you may think so, too. He was my professor during the time
I was at Sophia University working on my Master's Degree. I
would be interested to know what you think of him and his work.
Falmouth, MA, United States of America
We appreciate your interest in our website. As you
know, book reviews of the business genre on JapanReview.Net
are currently limited. There are several books in this genre
that we are considering to review. Reader suggestions are always
helpful and always welcome.
Your website is excellent, well-written and informative,
and one of the best resources on the web for Japan-related information
in English. My only complaint is that you do not update it enough!
I look forward to when you have enough time to update it every
The reviewer of Japanese
Only states that Gregory Clark was head of Temple University
(Japan). This is news to me. He was head of Tama University
(first foreigner to head a Japanese university), but as far
as I know, he did not have such a position at Temple either
in the US or Japan.
there is a "Gregory Clark" on the staff of Temple
University in the US, I doubt that it is the person referenced
in this review.
Earl H. Kinmonth
Professor, Taisho University
After we received Dr. Kinmonth’s letter, we corrected
the article on January 30, 2005 to read Tama University, not
Temple University. We thank Dr. Kinmonth for the correction.
Many thanks to the e-mails we received alerting us
to Dr. Bern Mulvey's review of our review of Debito Arudou's
Only, posted on Mr. Arudou's personal website. We were
pleased that our offering motivated Dr. Mulvey to revisit his
thoughts on this issue. However, we should like to note a number
of errors in his review:
Mulvey states that Yuki Honjo is a "friend" of Tony
Lazslo. His assertion is incorrect; Yuki Honjo has never met
Tony Lazslo before, has never spoken with him, and probably
would not recognize him on the street unless she happened
to be carrying a copy of My Darling is a Foreigner.
Paul Scalise, for the record, has also never met Tony Lazslo
to this date.
Honjo recently became a member of Issho Kikaku for
the same reason (and same time) that Paul Scalise became a
member of Mr. Arudou’s The Community: shameless promotion
of JapanReview.Net with the vague hope that members
of these fora might be interested in its content about the
questions and issues raised over human rights in Japan.
Mulvey posits that the review was somehow personally motivated.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have nothing but
goodwill for Mr. Arudou. Our critique focused squarely on
the text. That this was somehow personally motivated, Dr.
Mulvey and Mr. Arudou might be protesting too much.
encourage our JRN readers to visit Dr. Mulvey’s review.