Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Controversial in Arizona, hunky-dory in Japan

Racial profiling had never struck me as a personal issue. I am a Japanese woman living in Japan after all, where less than 2 percent of the population is foreign....

...I was stunned by the officer’s blatant profiling of me... [she believes it was based on her being a bit taller than the average Japanese woman which led some of Tokyo's finest to suspect that she might be a non-Japanese.]

...“The same thing as in Arizona has been in place in Japan for a long time without much criticism,” says my cousin and lawyer Genichi Yamaguchi. NYT/IHT 7 July 2010 Op ed.

Ms. Makihara goes on to state that most Japanese don't know about the racial profiling that goes on as a rule in Japan and wonders just how much anyone would object.

She continues with some indications that Japanese may be becoming less willing to try to understand anything beyond Japan's borders. Some not-so-generous people would wonder how that would be possible since most of the past attempts to understand seem to be as much about reaffirming the uniqueness of the Japanese (or selling cars and radios) than a real attempt to understand others as humans of the same species.

Ms. Makihara plans to protest the next time that she is stopped that such behavior is racial profiling. I wonder how the couple of fellows from Down Under who occasionally write columns for the Japan Times in support of discrimination and bigotry would respond to Ms. Makihara. Would they explain that this is being done for her safety?

By the way, one of those fellows was writing a book about what the world could learn from Japan (the usefulness of discrimination based on race, ethnicity national origins?), but as eagerly as I have awaited it, I have not found it yet. Wonder what happened?

If that is not enough, the troublesome foreigner---oops! Can't say that as he's a Japanese citizen---Debito Arudou has penned another article at the Japan Times (perhaps to be rebutted by one of the above mentioned apologists for bigotry soon) concerning the long-time and apparently never-ending illegal refusal of service to non-Japanese by many hotels in Japan. Tyler Brule, when are you gonna visit one of those and let the well-heeled know about that kind of wonderful Japanese service?

(My understanding of the law in Arizona is that it is not nearly as broad as what exists in Japan now.)


  1. The new profiling laws in Arizona are a stupid response to two self made problems: drugs running and illegal immigrant problems. Arizona has a lot of Federal water for it's farms, and so everything from cotton to watermelons is grown in Arizona, and it is made cheaper with the employment of extremely hard working but illegal migrant workers. In addition, you have hotels, resturaunts and such also employed with illegal migrant workers.

    Then there is the scary (no, man, truly scary) drugs running, which involves meth, illegal marijuana operations and everyone's favorite, cocaine. The drug runner also use illegal immigrants, often threatening the illegal's family in order to get the product out on the market. Mexico's drug war has hit the West Coast.

    Thing is, the laws satisfies the vengeful, mercenary whites of Arizona by profiling ALL darker skinned/Indian looking Chicanos, but not doing any follow up with businesses and farms who make the migrant worker market possible AND no penalties for the drug users in AZ- majority of whom are white. It is like soft shoe Jim Crow, and this is why it is controversial. Having only visited Japan as a pampered tourist, I did not experience the out right discrimination of being marked out while living in place that I worked in and considered my home. But I did wantto share the perspective of how this law really is, from friends and associates of mine.

    (BTW- I have experience discrimination in work and even in getting a decent loan because of my race, and had to fight like hell when confronting nonsense. I do applaud people like Debito for fighting.)

  2. Thanks for your comment. I am not familiar with the Arizona law in detail, so appreciate reading your point of view. No doubt at all that the problem is largely homegrown, as it always has been. I hope the the law-suit by the federal government straightens it out, until the real problems can be addressed (if they ever will be).

    It's especially frustrating to know that this sort of thing still goes exists in the US. Being constantly discriminated against has to be one of the worst experiences anyone can have.