Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The...

The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 5 | Issue 3 | Article ID 2386 | Mar 01, 2007 1 Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The Newfound Power of Japan's International Residents Arudou Debito Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The newfound power of Japan's international residents Arudou Debito A recent event making headlines worldwide was the publication of GAIJIN HANZAI URA FAIRU ( The Underground Files of Gaijin Crime). This magazine, which went on sale at major Japanese bookstores and convenience stores nationwide, depicts foreigners as "dangerous" and "evil". Despite Japan's lack of a legal framework, or a civil society capable of curbing hate speech, activists managed to have the magazine removed from stores and put out of circulation. This report shows how non- Japanese residents in Japan (a disparate group with few things in common--not even a language) successfully pushed for their rights in a case ignored by the Japanese media. Utilizing the power of the Internet to organize a boycott of magazine outlets, "Newcomer" [1] residents and immigrants demonstrated their strength as a consumer bloc for what is probably the first time in Japan's history. This is the report of a participant observer. Publication of “Gaijin Hanzai” In the last week of January 2007, Eichi Publishing Inc ( of Shibuya, Tokyo, a middle-tier publisher specializing in popular culture (including Korean drama stars and hip hop music) and pornography, released a 128-page "mook" (magazine-book) entitled "GAIJIN HANZAI URA FAIRU" (The Underground Files of Gaijin Crime). Printed in full color on high-quality glossy paper, the content of Gaijin Hanzai warrants close examination (scanned and available in full onlin ( 57594531953574/) , as its sensational treatment of foreigners made this issue [2] into a case of hate speech. As defined under United Nations treaties to which Japan is signatory (emphases added): [States parties] (a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin , and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof. (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 4. Effected by Japan in 1996.) "Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law" (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 20. Effected by Japan in 1979.)[3] However, Japan still has no laws or official guidelines regarding "hate speech",

Transcript of Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The...

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The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 5 | Issue 3 | Article ID 2386 | Mar 01, 2007


Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: TheNewfound Power of Japan's International Residents

Arudou Debito

Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speechin Japan:The newfound power o f J apan ' sinternational residents

Arudou Debito

A recent event making headlines worldwidewas the publication of GAIJIN HANZAI URAFAIRU (The Underground Files of GaijinCrime). This magazine, which went on sale atmajor Japanese bookstores and conveniencestores nationwide, depicts foreigners as"dangerous" and "evil". Despite Japan's lack ofa legal framework, or a civil society capable ofcurbing hate speech, activists managed to havethe magazine removed from stores and put outof circulation. This report shows how non-Japanese residents in Japan (a disparate groupwith few things in common--not even alanguage) successfully pushed for their rightsin a case ignored by the Japanese media.Utilizing the power of the Internet to organize aboycott of magazine outlets, "Newcomer" [1]residents and immigrants demonstrated theirstrength as a consumer bloc for what isprobably the first time in Japan's history. Thisis the report of a participant observer.

Publication of “Gaijin Hanzai”

In the last week of January 2007, EichiPublishing Inc ( ofShibuya, Tokyo, a middle-tier publisherspecializing in popular culture (includingKorean drama stars and hip hop music) andpornography, released a 128-page "mook"(magazine-book) entitled "GAIJIN HANZAI URA

FAIRU" (The Underground Files of GaijinCrime). Printed in full color on high-qualityglossy paper, the content of Gaijin Hanzaiwarrants close examination (scanned anda v a i l a b l e i n f u l l o n l i n e( , as its sensationaltreatment of foreigners made this issue [2] intoa case of hate speech.

As defined under United Nations treaties towhich Japan is signatory (emphases added):

[States parties] (a) Shall declare anoffence punishable by law al ldissemination of ideas based onracial superior i ty or hatred,incitement to racial discrimination, aswell as al l acts of violence orincitement to such acts against anyrace or group of persons of anothercolour or ethnic origin, and also theprovision of any assistance to racistactivities, including the financingthereof. (International Convention onthe Elimination of All Forms of RacialDiscrimination, Article 4. Effected byJapan in 1996.)"Any advocacy of national, racial orreligious hatred that constitutesincitement to discrimination, hostilityor violence shall be prohibited bylaw" (International Covenant on Civiland Political Rights, Article 20.Effected by Japan in 1979.)[3]

However, Japan still has no laws or officialguidel ines regarding "hate speech",

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particularly towards Japan's ethnic minoritiesand international residents. As the Japanesegovernment stated to the United Nations(October 2001):

"[T]he concept provided by Article 4may include extremely wide-rangingacts both in various scenes and ofvarious modes. Therefore, to regulateall of them by penal statute exceedingthe existing legislation is liable toconflict with guarantees provided by theConstitution of Japan such as freedomof expression, which severely requiresboth necessity and rationality of theconstraint, and the principle of thelegality of crimes and punishment,which requests both concreteness anddefiniteness of the scope of punishment.For this reason, Japan decided to putreservation [sic] on Article 4 (a) and (b)[of the ICERD]."[4]

In other words, Japan has opted out ofimplementing the treaty due to Constitutionalconcerns about freedom of expression and thedifficulty of assessing punishment. This meansthat Gaijin Hanzai, as long as it did not targetpeople by name as individuals (tokutei no kojin--falling foul of civil laws governing defamationof character (meiyo kison) [5]) could bepublished without legal reprisal. However, itwould clearly test the boundaries of languageinciting discrimination, hostility, and hatred.

Gaijin Hanzai’s Contents

F r o m t h e v e r y c o v e r(, Gaijin Hanzai'sfirst impression is indelible: Crazed-lookingfaces of killers, shooting bullet holes in thecover, drawn with ethnic caricature. Centerstage is what appears to be a slitty-eyedmember of the Chinese Mafia, followed by aJihadist, then generic white and black people,with caricatures of both North and SouthKorean leadership bringing up the rear. These

characters face the reader, carry weapons, andare in attack mode.

Cover of Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu

Along with a sidebar listing criminality bycountry (flags included), the cover headlinesinterviews with the National Police Agency("thoroughly cornering down gaijin crime":tettei teki ni gaijin hanzai o oitsumeru), andwith ex-police officer and "crime expert"Kitashiba Ken ("Everyone will become a targetof ‘gaijin crime’ in 2007!!" (2007 nen wa daremo ga gaijin hanzai no hyouteki ni naru!!)) Thetake-home message at the bottom: "SHOULDWE LET THE GAIJIN VIOLATE JAPAN??"(gaijindomo ni nihon o juurin sasete ii no ka!!)

This is clearly aiming to incite alarm in thereadership towards non-Japanese, as if "gaijincrime" is the main element of crime in Japan(according to NPA statistics, it is not [6]).Moreover, the use of the word gaijin (a housou

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kinshi kotoba, or word not permitted for officialbroadcast in the media) already shapes thedebate. Whenever official NPA statistics forforeign crime are quoted within the mook, theofficial word for it (gaikokujin hanzai) is used.But whenever there is any analysis orcomment, gaijin generally becomes therhetorical currency.

Conclusion: From the very cover, there is noattempt to strike a balance or avoid targeting,alarmism, or sensationalism. The rest of thebook continues in this vein

Glossy Photos of Blood and ViolenceOrganized by Nationality

From page one, the magazine accepts andpromotes the assumption that foreigners causemore crime than Japanese: "Why is gaijin crimefrightening? Why is it rising? [7] Why is ithappening?" The text is illustrated with a photoof a gaijin splayed out on the sidewalk bypolice. The headline, in blood-red: "EVILFOREIGNER! (gokuaku gaijin!), followed by," W E C A N N O T A L L O W T H I S T OHAPPEN!"(yurusu maji!)

The next pages develop a case for Tokyo as a"Lawless Zone" (fuhou chitai, but the wordsdenjarazu zon in katakana are also included inthe headline), listing up the allegedly anarchicareas of Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi.Often categorized by country or race (China,South Korea, Iran, Brazil, Philippines, blackpeople…) and crime (stabbing, smuggling,kidnapping, attempted murder, assault, pettytheft, gangland whacks, youth gangs…), GaijinHanzai contains capt ions creat ivelyinterpreting the full-color scenes of blood andviolence:

A photo showing a stabbed "exchange student"(pages 4-5) has captions speculating on whatmight have happened: "Is this a strugglebetween foreign crime groups?" A person foundunconscious on a Roppongi sidewalk, receivingmedical attention from officials while gaijin andJapanese rubberneck, is interpreted (page 12)as "the surrounding foreigners look as though

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they have no concern whatsoever" (shuui nogaikokujin tachi wa mattaku kanshin ga nai youda). Roppongi is explicitly portrayed as "a citywithout nationality" (mukokuseki toshi) where,as the conjoined article stresses, only the fittestsurvive.

Nowhere mentioned are the yakuza domesticcrime syndicates, with a much longer history ofcommitting the same types of crimes in thisarea. Since Gaijin Hanzai is about foreigncrime, no comparisons are offered withJapanese criminality (the overwhelmingmajority of all crime in Japan [8]).

The bias is also visual. Photos that show mixed-nationality scenes have the Japanese facesblurred out. The gaijin faces, however, aremostly left intact, regardless of privacyconcerns. When asked about this (see below),t h e e d i t o r c l a i m e d( itnecessary for "the illustrative power of theimage", so readers could "recognize [thecriminal] as foreign.” This, however, amountsto targeting foreigners because they lookforeign, even if they are bystanders in a sceneand not the suspected miscreants.

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Gaijin Hanzai then gives extensive case studieson foreign criminality, depicting crime assomething committed by nationalities, notindividuals.

There is an interview (pages 32-33) with anInstructor at Nihon University School ofInternational Relations named Oizumi Youichi.He shares his insights into the general gaijincriminal mind through his studies of criminalityin Spain. The article's point is to demonstratethat the Japanese police and soft Japanesesociety lack the mettle to deal with morehardened foreign criminals.

Pages 34-37 depict China as a breeding groundfor hardened criminality. South Korea issimilarly depicted (pages 38-39) but fortifiedfurther by hatred for Japan. This is followed bya more sympathetic section about NikkeiBrazilians (pages 40-41), who, given theirhardships overseas, would understandablywant to re-emigrate back to their homeland;

unfortunately, they have been corrupted byforeign habits, including criminality.

This is followed by a write-up on the USmilitary (pages 42-43), whose crimes are "toosmall" (bag snatching, shoplifting, petty theft,bilking taxi drivers…), yet still cast doubt ontheir ability to "keep peace in the Far East”.

Pages 44-45 offers a write-up on foreignlaborers in general ("now 700,000 people!!")with some background on their situation. Thistoo focuses more on the social damage theyallegedly cause than on their possible benefit toJapan (such as how cheap foreign labor hashelped make Toyota the world’s number twoautomaker [9]).

Finally, the NPA (headline: "These are the dayswhich try the strength of the police", pages46-47) is selectively quoted to make the casethat they are understaffed and need moremoney. A final page covers the rest of thesundry criminal gaijin: Iranians, Russians,Central and South Americans, Malaysians, andother "global foreign crime gangs".

"Gaijin Crime" Case Studies

The remainder of this book is devoted tographic storytelling. The next section (pages49-59) leads with a Top Ten of Foreign CrimeCases (subtitled in English "ALIEN CRIMINALWORST 10"). Each gets a full page. Themajority are murders. North Korea then gets itsdue, over six pages, making the case that "FORTHE DPRK, CRIME IS BUSINESS”.

This section finishes with a screed on page 64on how Japanese criminals may be takingrefuge in the cruelty of foreign crime: In recentincidents, cut-up corpses have been disposed ofin areas with high foreign populations,allegedly to throw the authorities and themedia off the scent. Point: Foreigners areraising the bar.

The coup de grace surely belongs to a six-page

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manga (pages 65 to 70) recreating the 2003murders of a Fukuoka family by three Chinese"exchange students”. After the Chinese breakinto the premises, one drowns the wife (who isin a state of undress, drawn titillatingly) in thebath, then smiles (saying, "Good, that's one outof the way." (yoshi, hitori katazuita)). Then hestrangles her nearby sleeping son.

After they ransack the house for money andunhurriedly vacuum it clean of clues, thehusband of the house shows up at the frontdoor. He finds the Chinese threatening to knifehis daughter in the genkan unless he revealswhere all their money is kept. When he saysthat all he has is on his person, they strangleher in cold blood before his eyes (dropping herto the floor with a smile).

Then two of them strangle him by pulling arope between them taut (one putting his foot onthe victim’s head for leverage; even though thepress has reported he was strangled with anecktie [10]). All this for the 37,000 yen he hasin his wallet. The final panel displays thecorpses found in a Fukuoka harbor withweights attached. Two of the murderers thenescape overseas scot-free.

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Looking beyond the shock value and into logic,one wonders how the artists knew what wenton in the house during the crime--such asstrangulations with a smile? The final captionmakes a racist argument: "Nihonjin ni wakangaerarenai kono rifujin sa. Koumo kantan nihito ga korosareru no wa chuugokujin da karana no ka?" "The unreasonable of this isunthinkable to Japanese. Does killing come soeasily because these people are Chinese?"

Not really. Japanese people are equally capableof this kind of murder, as history demonstrates.A quick list of famous cases: the Kodaira YoshioMurders of 1946, the Teigin Poisoning/BankRobbery of 1948, the Yoshinobu-chan ChildMurder of 1963, the Ohkubo Kiyoshi SerialKillings of 1971, the Miyazaki Tsutomu ChildSerial Killings of 1988, the Hayashi MasumiCurry Rice Poisonings of 1998, the MihashiKaori Wine Bottle Murder in December 2006...


There is more, but in the interest of brevity[11], let us skip to page 102-103, where thebook most clearly crosses the line into "hatespeech". Mentioned are things that are notcrimes.

These are the most-cited pages in the book:Photos displaying international couplesengaging in public displays of affection andheavy petting on the streets of Roppongi,Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. The title:"You bitches!! Are gaijin really all that good??"(omaera sonna ni gaijin ga ii no ka yo!!), with asnide comment about the allegedly small size ofJapanese genitalia (soryaa nihonjin wa chiisaikedo...).

The captions are vitriolic: "Oi nigger!! Get yourhand off that Japanese girl's ass!! (oi nigaa!!nihon fujoshi no ketsu sawatte n ja nee!!) "Heyhey hey hey! None of that tit rubbing on thestreet!!" (kora kora kora kora! rojou de namachichi momi wa nee darou!!). "Hang on! Quitfingering her snatch in the street!" (chotto,chotto chotto! rojou de teman wa yametekureru?) "This is Japan! Go back to your owncountries if you want to do that!" (koko wanihon nan da yo! temee no kuni ni kaette yarina!)

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I am aware this kind of language diverges fromthe academic tone of Japan Focus. However,the hatefulness is precisely the point.Moreover, as these acts are clearly consensual(as opposed to the chikan mashing thatfrequently happens on Japanese publictransport, to the degree that many Tokyosubway lines now have "Women Only" coachesduring morning rush hour), including thesephotographs in a book on foreign crime isironic.

On pages 108 to 112 is a long section on theforeigner sex industry in Japan (focusing onsupply, not demand). Gaijin Hanzai providesgreat detail on how to deal with foreignprostitutes, particularly how to procure them(with a market price listed). Page 112 has aQ&A section on "Delivery Health" Koreanprofessionals, with Question 7 wondering ifKorean female pudenda smell of kimchee.

The book closes with a calendar of gaijin crime--187 cases over 2006 organized by monthstretched over 12 pages. The back page reads,"Gaijin Crime in Japan–47,000 cases per year",with a world map (surrounded by guns, knives,and syringes) bearing skull-and-crossbonesdanger ratings for 14 countries that are"targeting Japan” (nihon o nerau).

The Reaction

On January 31, Gaijin Hanzai went on sale inneighborhood convenience stores and high-volume bookstores nationwide, includingKinokuniya and Amazon Japan. According toThe Japan Times (February 23), 30,000 copieswere produced, with about half on the shelvesof FamilyMart, Japan's third- largestconvenience store.

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The reaction was immediate. On January 31, anInternet blogger named Steve scanned andtranslated the contentious bits, then notifiedseveral Internet mailing lists. Soon dozens ofJapan-related blogs and bulletin boards(including Japan Probe, Big Daikon, Trans-Pacific Radio, Mutant Frog, Gaijin Pot, Ikeld,Joi Ito, Ejovi, Fukumimi, Japanjin, Japundit,ESLCafe, and were buzzing withopinion and outrage. Bloggers sent lists ofstores and cellphone videos of where theyfound the mook, and posters pondered what todo about it.

On February 2, Japan Probe proposed anofficial boycott of Gaijin Hanzai stockers,particularly FamilyMart. Emails went to theirdomestic and overseas offices, asking if theywould dare sell books like this in othersocieties. The first newspaper, The Guardian(Manchester), carried a story citing the author(,,2004645,00.html): "[Gaijin Hanzai] goesbeyond being puerile and into the realm ofencouraging hatred of foreigners."

Within 24 hours, apologies from distributorsbegan coming in. On February 3, FamilyMart'sUS subsidiary Famima promised to take thebook off the shelves "within seven days"(bloggers pointed out that this was not much ofa promise, as a week is probably the mook'sshelf life). Other convenience stores, includingCircle K/Sunkus and AM/PM, followed suit. Theauthor went to two stores himself, showed themanager the "nigger" image and "vaginalk imchee" sect ion, and the mook wasimmediately removed. "We stocked thisunaware of the contents," one apologized.

On the evening of February 3, put up a bilingualletter (the pdf version alone was downloaded1156 times by the end of February) spelling outwhy the bearer would refuse to shop again atthe store unless the mook were immediatelyreturned to the publisher.

By February 5, The Times (London) andReuters had run stories, as did other mediaoutlets (Australia's ABC News and China'sPeople's Daily February 6; Bloomberg, SouthChina Morning Post and IPCJapan (Spain)February 7; finally The Japan Times February23). The author began including Gaijin Hanzai'simages in speeches to Japan's NGOs andhuman rights groups nationwide, which gotvisible empathy and outrage (albeit no visibleaction on the issue). However, with theexception of bilingual bloggers, no Japanesepress outlet (including Kyodo News) picked upthe story for domestic consumption.

On February 5, FamilyMart, which according toThe Japan Times had only sold 1000 mooks,ordered every copy collected and returned toEichi Publishing. Amazon Japan, however,ignored the boycott, responding with freedomof speech arguments comparing Gaijin Hanzaito Mein Kampf. However, Amazon soon sold outof copies and did not offer any more for sale.

By February 9, Gaijin Hanzai had become acollector's item. Even Eichi Publishing notedthat Gaijin Hanzai was "out of stock", andAmazon Japan was offering the mook (list price690 yen) at 20,000 yen (within a week 40,000yen on eBay). Within a few days, no recordwould even exist on Eichi's website that theyhad ever sold the book. Even with no apparentdomestic pressure from Japanese consumers orlongstanding domestic human rights groups,victory was total for the Newcomer bloggers.

Eichi’s Defence

On February 16, Gaijin Hanzai’s editor, Mr.Saka Shigeki offered an exceptional andspirited defense of his mook, published both onJ a p a n T o d a y( in Metropolis magazine.

Saka refused to apologize, claiming that he hadbecome a victim of a campaign of harassment,censorship, emotional overreaction, and

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distortion by an "army of bloggers". He claimedthat these puroshimin ("professional citizens",best translated as "do-gooders") had unfairlytargeted him even though the only intentionwas to open a frank discussion on the "taboo"subject of foreign crime. He claimed, "This isnot a racist book, because it is based uponestablished fact," with "no lies, distortion orracist sentiments."

He added that translating nigaa as "nigger"was "unfair", as the term is merely Japanesestreet slang, with "none of the emotive powerin Japanese that the N-word does in English".Moreover, Japanese have also been victims ofracial slurs in the past (citing epithets as farback as World War II), so what was theproblem?

He concluded by saying that discussing "theissue of foreign crime in Japan, we will have theopportunity to address our own problems aswell... [B]y having a conversation about violentand illegal behavior, we're really talking aboutourselves--not as 'Japanese' or 'foreigners', butas human beings."

The overwhelming number of respondents,visible on blogs and the Japan Todaywebsite, were not convinced--expressinga m a z e m e n t a t S a k a ' s a p p a r e n tobliviousness and incoherence. Somepointed out that the book was not talkingabout "violent and illegal behavior" ingeneral--it was focusing on the foreignelement, separating people into "Japanese"and "foreigners" from the very title. Theauthor also posted a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal of every argument Sakam a d e i n h i s d e f e n s e( conclusion: "If this is the best argumentthe bigots in Japan can muster, then Japan’simminent transition to an international,multicultural society will go smoother thanexpected."

Why This Case Matters

This is not the first time this has happened.Non-Japanese residents have often decriedpublic sentiments deemed disparaging, unfair,or even racist--sometimes successfully:Anchorman Kume Hiroshi’s "Gaijin shouldspeak broken Japanese" 1996 gaffe on nationalTV ( ended with Kume apologizing for thecomment a decade later [12]); the 2003"Tamachan" Sealion Residency CertificateD e m o(; the 2002 NTT DoCoMo "GaijinD e p o s i t " B o y c o t t( (which ended with NTTrepealing the tariff by 2006), the Mandom"Rasta far ian Monkey" ad campaign(, NPA "foreign crime"n o t i c e s a n d p o s t e r s i n 2 0 0 2(, anti-discriminationlawsuits such as the Ana Bortz, SteveM c G o w a n , a n d O t a r u O n s e n( cases, and manyothers are discussed at the website.

Behind all of these movements has been thepower of the Internet. Correspondents andadvocates were linked worldwide as neverbefore, to inform, network, and campaigneffectively enough to be noticed by authorities,major public outlets and opinion makers. Theirtactics included letter campaigns, mediaexposure, public shame, face-to-facenegotiations, demonstrations, and humor. Itgave non-Japanese (especially the "Newcomer"immigrants, who have anti-defamation leaguesnowhere near l y a s power fu l a s thelongs tand ing "O ldcomer" Za in ich iorganizations) unprecedented power.

What made the Gaijin Hanzai case special, evenhistorical, is that the mook was removed from

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the shelves without any involvementwhatsoever from the domestic media or long-established domestic NGOs. As the authorw r o t e i n h i s r e b u t t a l t o S a k a(

"In conclusion, the reason why themook should not go back on the shelves:"In my view, when one publishessomething, there are of course limits tofreedom of speech. Although Japaneselaws are grey on this, the rules ofthumb for most societies are you mustnot l ibel indiv iduals with l ies ,maliciously promote hate and spreadinnuendo and fear against a people, andnot willfully incite people to panic andviolence. The classic example is thoumust not l ie and shout 'f ire' in acrowded theater. But my general rule isthat you must not make the debatearena unconducive to free and calm,reasoned debate."Gaijin Hanzai fails the test because ita) willfully spreads hate, fear, andinnuendo against a segment of thepopulation, b) fortifies that by lackingany sor t o f ba lance in da ta o rp r e s e n t a t i o n , a n d c ) o f f e r ssensationalized propaganda in the nameof "constructive debate". Dialog is notpromoted by fearmongering."Even then, we as demonstrators neverasked for the law, such as it is, to getinvolved. We just notified distributors ofthe qualms we had with this book, andthey agreed that this was inappropriatematerial for their sales outlets. Webacked that up by proposing a boycott,which is our inviolable right (probablythe non-Japanese residents’ onlyinviolable right) to choose where tospend our money as consumers. Weproposed no violence. Only the strengthof our argument and conviction."

Gaijin Hanzai editor Saka himself assumed that

non-Japanese would either be unable to readthe mook in Japanese, or, despite his expressdesire for free and open debate throughoutJapan, would not be included as part of theaudience. As he stated in his February 7i n t e r v i e w( ( What is your opinionon the reaction of the public aboutyour magazine?Saka Shigeki: I don’t understand ityet well. There are a lot of questionsfrom foreign press [outlets] asReuters or Bloomberg. I know thereare a lot of complaints. But thatdepends on how you receive thisstuff. In principle it is a magazinewritten in Japanese and sold inJapan. Then, it’s for Japanese peopleto read. Besides, in the magazinethere are not any discriminatoryclaims, though I imagine thatfo re igners who a re a lwaysdiscriminated are a little bit Don’t you think theway the photographs are used istendentious?Saka Shigeki: If you read themagazine you will understand it.Maybe foreigners can’t read thearticles in there and they only seethe pictures of the discriminated.[emphases added]

This blind spot, which appears surprisinglyoften in the Japanese media, assumes that non-Japanese residents, particularly those typicallyclassified as gaijin (the Newcomers), simply"don't count"; that they haven't any real voicein Japanese society, and have little power tostop things they might not like. Or even havethe ability to read. This has obviously not beenthe case, especially since earlier public appealsto shame and logic have enlisted the domestic

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media in changing the course of many a policy.However , as the Gai j in Hanzai Casedemonstrates, the power of non-Japanese as aconsumer bloc alone for the first time became aforce to be reckoned with.

The Invisible Hand Behind the Mook

One unanswered question remains: Whoproduced this publication? The "publisher"(hakkousha) listed on the binding is a Mr. "JoeyH. Washington", who does not exist. Despiterepeated requests, Saka refuses to reveal hispatron.

What is clear is that whoever funded this is richand powerful. There are no advertisementswhatsoever within Gaijin Hanzai, yet, accordingto a source in the publishing world, it wouldcost at least US$250,000 to print something ofthis quality and volume. Moreover, this patronis powerful enough to convince Saka, who wasscheduled to appear at a luncheon pressconference with the United Nations at theForeign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ)on February 26, to cancel his appearance.[13]

Allow me to speculate. I believe the NationalPolice Agency, or some police branch, wasbehind it. Here are my arguments behind thatbelief:

First, I mentioned deep pockets; what deeperpockets are there than tax monies (which theNPA, and particularly the National PublicSafety Commission (kokka kouan iinkai) withtheir secret budgets and a clear mandate tomonitor foreigner activity [14], have ampleaccess to)?

Another clue is the degree of information andaccess to the police. No fewer than threearticles quote the NPA or ex-police officers, andthe last pages have masterful summaries offoreign crimes that would be most easilycollated from police databases. Even Sakaadmitted in his abovementioned ipcdigital.comi n t e r v i e w

( that,"We have spoken with Japanese police in orderto write each article. For them this issue isserious and they have provided the data."[Emphasis added]. It is remarkable that policewould cooperate to this degree with EichiShuppan, a mid-tier pornography publisher,given the borderline legality and threat to"public morals" (fuuki) the sex trades posewithin Japan.

The photos are a giveaway. Either thephotographer has the patience of Ansel Adamsand the ability to be everywhere at once, or themook includes camerawork of crime scenesfrom the police. Police officers featureprominently in several photographs, and givenhow sensitive Japanese cops are to beingphotographed (I have received many reportsfrom angry photographers, told by police todelete their photos on site, wondering if theNPA has even the right to demand this in apublic place), the photographer must bewearing an invisibility cloak.

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He must also own a hang glider, since some ofthe shots (pages 12-13, 22-23) are "eye in thesky", at just the right angle to be from policesurveillance cameras. These spy cameras, bythe way, are proliferating throughout certainregions of Tokyo (such as Roppongi andKabukicho) precisely because they have a highforeign population.

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Most indicative is the location of the photos:The foreign crowd scenes are coincidentallycaught in places with those surveillancecameras. For a book cataloging foreign crimethroughout Japan (given that many otherplaces, such as towns in Shizuoka and GifuPrefectures, have higher percentages of non-Japanese residents), there is an odd visualfocus on Tokyo. Finally, there is data in thisbook that only the police or Immigration wouldhave access to, such as the passport photo of asuspect (page 19).

If the police are not financially behind themook, they are certainly supplying data andanalysis. This is unsurprising. As I wrote inJapanese Only (pages 196-209), a sea change inpolice attitudes towards foreigners occurredafter the founding of the "Policy CommitteeAgainst Internationalization (kokusaika taisakuiinkai) in May 1999. Based upon the WhitePaper outlining the goals of this organization,the NPA would see foreigners and theinternationalization they would cause as asource of crime, something necessitating publicpolicy.[15]

This policy shift was apparent less than a yearlater, with Tokyo Governor Ishihara's famous"Sangokujin Speech" of April 9, 2000. Ishiharacalled upon the Self-Defense Forces to fill inthe gaps in Japan's police forces in the event ofa natural disaster, since foreigners wouldal legedly r iot . Since then, the Tokyo

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Government (the current vice-governor is aformer policeman), the Koizumi Administration,the media, and local police agencies have madeconcerted efforts to create and disperse public-service information regarding the threat topublic safety and stability (such as "infectiousdiseases and terrorism" [16]) which foreignersallegedly pose [17].

This has reached a degree where criminologistshave concluded: "[T]he Japanese public's fearof crime is not in proportion to the likelihood ofbeing victimized. What is different is the scaleof this mismatch. While Japan has one of thelowest victimization rates, the InternationalCrime Victim Surveys indicate that it hasamong the highest levels of fear of crime..."[18]. The authors go on to say, "[T]he Japanesepress... is presenting a partial and inaccuratepicture of current crime trends." Anotheracademic concurs, to say that in mediacoverage, "crimes by foreigners were 4.87times more likely to be covered than crimes byJapanese." [19]

Given that the NPA gives regular biannualreports to the media, apprising themspecifically of the rise in foreign crime rates(and decline, although sometimes the Japanesemedia refuses to report it [20]), the NPAsupplying this publisher with information is inthis author's opinion neither unprecedentednor out of character. Not to mention that in thisage of terrorism, whipping up public fear hasproven a very effective measure for looseningpublic purse strings [21]. Placed on everyconvenience store in Japan, Gaijin Hanzai is tothe author akin to making a public serviceannouncement.


Gaijin Hanzai qualified in many people's viewas "hate speech", in that it concertedly andmaliciously attempted to encourage fear andloathing of an entire segment of Japan'spopulation--the "gaijin". Not only were theysingled out for a negative image campaign,

they were not even supposed to be part of theaudience. Nobody targeted was supposed tocare, or be able to do anything about it.

A significant contrast is a recent case of hatespeech in the United States. On February 23,AsianWeek published a column by Kenneth Enge n t i t l e d " W h y I H a t e B l a c k s(". Within it he made allegationsjustifying "why we should discriminate againstblacks": their racist attitudes towards Asians,their weak constitution ("the only race that hasbeen enslaved for 300 years"), their lack ofintelligence, and their Christianity.

Within days, several ethnic anti-defamationleagues and news media were reporting anddemanding apologies and retractions; evenSpeaker of the House of Representatives NancyPelosi issued a public condemnation [22]. Englost his job. Civil society kicked into action,debated the issue, and shouted the authordown. Hate speech has hardly disappeared inthe United States, but egregious cases cannotescape the attention of the media, civilorganizations and the state.

In Japan, however, the domestic press ignoredand continues to ignore the issues surroundingGaijin Hanzai. Coincidentally, prominentpoliticians (including Education Minister IbukiBunmei) instead dismissed the notion offocusing on human rights at all as "like eatingtoo much butter, resulting in 'Human RightsM e t a b o l i c S y n d r o m e '(" --demonstrating the expressly low regard thateven people in policymaking positions have forexpanding constitutional protections to Japan'sinternational residents.

Japan's lack of regulations, or a developed civilsociety capable of dealing with hate speech anddefamation of entire segments of society,allows publications like Gaijin Hanzai to appearin bookstores without constraint or evencomment. I t is not the only Japanese

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publication of its ilk. One book still in printcompares foreign penis sizes, and warns itsintended female audience that having relationswith foreigners is problematic because "theydon't have money", "their temperament is toostrong", "they want a lot of sex", and "there area lot of junkies" [23]. Other recent manga givereasons for hating Koreans, and depict Chineseas cannibals [24]. These still remain on sale, inthe name of freedom of expression. In manyother societies signatory to the same treaties asJapan, they probably would not be, or if theywere, controversy would likely erupt.

So who fought the good fight this time? Civilsociety, in the form of "Newcomer" activists inJapan, succeeded in taking Gaijin Hanzai offthe market. The so-called gaijin are learninghow to fight for their rights. In this case, theydid it completely by themselves for the firsttime in Japanese history--showing that theyindeed "do count".

This article was written for Japan Focus andposted on March 19, 2007.Update:

According to an April 5, 2007 report fromTeikoku Databank, Eichi Shuppan, thepublisher of Gaijin Hanzai, has gone bankruptwith outstanding debts of 2.3 billion yen.

Arudou Debito is a naturalized Japanese citizen,activist, and an associate professor at HokkaidoInformation University. He is the author ofJAPANESE ONLY--The Otaru Hot Springs Caseand Racial Discrimination in Japan and co-author of the forthcoming GUIDEBOOK forNewcomers (bilingual, Akashi Shoten Inc.2007). His website, blog and newsletters maybe found here (; email [email protected]. His publications, interviews,and speeches are downloadable here( Hewrote this article for Japan Focus. Posted

March 19, 2007.

See also a Japan Times article on thiscontroversy : "Family Mart Cans Sales" ByM a s a m i I t o , S t a f f W r i t e r .( )TheJ a p a n T i m e s( ),F r i d a y F e b . 2 3 , 2 0 0 7 .( )


[1] Gaining currency in Japan's human-rightscircles are the terms orudocamaa andnyuukamaa. For the purposes of this report,"Newcomers" refer to those who have moved toJapan, the immigrant residents. "Oldcomers"refer to "foreigners" who have been born andraised in Japan but, even after up to fivegenerations, do not have Japanese citizenship:the Zainichi ethnic generational foreigners(Koreans, Chinese, etc.).

[2] Full discussion and archive on the GaijiHanzai Case at the blog, see here(

[3] Recent UN Human Rights Councildiscussions wrestling with issues of "hatespeech": A/HRC/2/6 dated 20 September 2006,d o w n l o a d a b l e f r o m h e r e(

[4] Response to the United Nations' response toJapan's First and Second periodical report tothe ICERD Committee, October 2001, availablehere. (

[5] For an example of how Japan's libel lawswork (or rather, do not), refer to the Arudou vs.N i s h i m u r a 2 - C h a n n e l B B S l a w s u i t(

[6] More context and comparison of foreign

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crime with Japanese crime (2004), withbreakdown by nat iona l i ty , see here(

[7] Foreign crime in fact fell in 2006, accordingto the NPA. See The Japan Times/Kyodo NewsF e b r u a r y 9 , 2 0 0 7(

[8] cf. Footnote 5

[ 9 ] S e e W e e k l y D i a m o n d(, June 5, 2004.

[10] "Family slaying accomplice's death penaltyu p h e l d " .( The Japan Times March9, 2007,

[ 1 1 ] S e e t h e p a g e s l e f t o u t h e r e(

[12] "Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip"(,IHT/Asahi Dec. 21, 2006.

[13] The author appeared in Saka's stead.T r a n s c r i p t o f t h e e v e n t h e r e .(

[14] Arudou, Debito, JAPANESE ONLY, TheOtaru Hot Spr ings Case and Rac ia lDiscrimination in Japan. Akashi Shoten Inc.2006, pages 261-265.

[15]"In our country, one of the most serioustopics concerning public order is dealing withforeign crime... In May 1999, to plan thepromotion of policies which will tackle crimesconnected to foreigners... the National PoliceAgency has established the kokusai taisakuiinkai... which will undertake suitable policiesand laws against foreign crime for provincialpolice agencies, and strengthen their

investigative organs." NPA White Paper 2002:"The State of Crimes by Foreigners Coming toJapan", Chapter 2, from Japanese Only page206-207.

[16] Quote the Embassy of Japan in WashingtonD C(

[17] There are many websites on this, but a fewexamples:,, and "Time to Come Clean onF o r e i g n C r i m e W a v e(", TheJapan Times October 7, 2005.

[18] Thomas Ellis & HAMAI Koichi, "Crime andPunishment in Japan: From Re-integrativeS h a m i n g t o P o p u l a r P u n i t i v i s m . "( on Japan Focus website.

[19] MABUCHI Ryougo of Nara University, asreported in the IHT/Asahi Shinbun December1 4 - 1 5 , 2 0 0 2(

[20] "Upping the fear factor--There is adisturbing gap between actual crime in Japana n d p u b l i c w o r r y o v e r i t .(" The Japan Times February 20, 2007.

[21] Examples of this worldwide are plentifulenough to not need further substantiation, buta good example of this phenomenon in Japanwas the "anti-hooligan" policy pushes duringthe Wor ld Cup 2002. See more here(

[22] "Asian Week Suspends Writer Of RacistC o l u m n . "

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( NBCTV San Francisco, February 28, 2007.

[23] Joshi Gakusei Raraku Manual. HikouMondai Kenkyuukai, December 1995,particularly pages 72-75. ISBN 4887183453( Availableat Amazon Japan.

[24] Manga Kenkanryuu. August 2005 (1) andsequel February 2007. Respective ISBNs:4 8 8 3 8 0 4 7 8 X a n d 4 8 8 3 8 0 5 1 6 6( MangaChuugoku Nyuumon: Yakkai na Rinjin noKenkyuu: AKIYAMA George and OH Fumio.August 2005. ISBN 487031682X. Both availableat Amazon Japan.