Japan is NOT xenophobic

Source(U.S. Forces Japan)

This blog post was originally published on 8/17/12 but I updated it and decided to move it to the top.

I get EXTREMELY tired of hearing people say “Japan hates foreigners! They will never accept you!” Why? Because it is false! Japan is not some xenophobic, anti-foreigner, racist nation. Not anymore. Far from it. The only reason people are able to give on why they say it is Xenophobic is because they saw a sign like this on the internet:

That photo was take in my Japanese hometown of Otaru, Japan. Not by me though, I never actually saw it. You may see them around US military bases, especially in Okinawa and in Hokkaido. But if you think about it, can you blame them? Would you want another country’s military occupying your nation and your city with their loud and dangerous aircraft and often rowdy military personnel? No. If China decided to make a base in the middle of Manhattan, you can bet your ass that entire population of New York City will be outside protesting and posting “No Chinese” signs on every store window within a 15 mile radius. I am not saying the hate of the US military is a popular view. A minority of Japanese share the same hate as many nationalist(Also uncommon) in Japan. I am saying the hate some people has it quite understandable.

You would see the same exact kind of thing in America, France, the UK, Australia, etc… IF they did not have anti-discrimination laws. Japan does not have laws against THAT kind of discrimination and to be honest, I am fine with it. It is your business/company, so you should be allowed to have anybody you want in it and you should be allowed to bar anybody you want from it.  Maybe I am just being too reasonable. Discrimination against foreigners is not widespread or an issue most will even encounter while visiting or living in Japan. Violent actions against foreigners in Japan are also ULTRA RARE!

In late 2011, an annual phone survey of people in Japan showed 82% have friendly feelings towards the United States. 2 points lower than the American view on Japan(84%). Does that sound anti-foreigner to you? Come on. Apply some common sense. Don’t generalize an entire nation based off the MINORITY. Another example I can give is Japan’s political parties…the ones that are anti-foreigner or are in favor of extremely strong laws on immigration. They are known as the Uyoku dantai and those groups make up a minority of Japan’s politics. The largest is the Japan Restoration Party which makes up an extremely small part of Japan’s government. No matter how many uber nationalist parties pop up, they always fail to get the Japanese people behind their cause.

Finally, I’d like to point out that in terms of percent(not overall numbers), those from Asian countries are more likely to face discrimination than those from western, African, or middle eastern countries. So, overall Japan is not anti-foreigner. They were in the past but not anymore. Case closed. A minority view point does not define an entire nation. I’d also like to point out in the several visits to Japan I made(longest lasting a few months), I never ONCE faced discrimination or even felt THAT unwelcome. I often stay in Otaru or Sapporo. The only real time I felt a little…uncomfortable was when I saw a small nationalist rally in Sapporo. There were only 3-5 people in that rally, but it still felt a little odd. Nobody really paid attention to it and it looked to me like they were more unwelcome than I actually felt that I was. I am half black and half white/native American, by the way. I think that says it all.

So, next time you run into someone dumb enough to say “Japan hates foreigners,” remind them of what I told you. If that doesn’t work, call them an idiot and go about your day.



(Q: Is Japan anti-foreigner?) “I’d say definitely not. 95% of the “discrimination” I have encountered has been positive, e.g. people giving me gifts I don’t deserve, getting a girl’s phone number scrawled on a chopstick wrapper, etc. It’s not true for everyone, but mostly true. My employee from France agrees with me — foreigners in Japan have it way better than foreigners would in France.” -Peter Panye(JList CEO)

  • xXx_METAL_xXx_GEAR_xXx

    Hokkaido belongs to Russia.

  • A Ninja

    I find that the same way over in Germany (in most parts of the nation). During my 2-3 years of stay there, I find it that the country is one of the listed nations around the globe that is not xenophobic. As such, a good factor is that a handful of people who were born in Germany would love to marry foreigners from other countries to get a Visa or other international documentation to live in (or travel to) other countries. The same goes for military as well.

  • an old fart

    I was in japan back in the day in the army, and in my experience they were the kindest, nicest, politest, and most patient culture I have ever experienced. Contrast that with Western cultures like France, or even the US, and boy do I have stories to tell you.

  • Alan Fan

    I spent 11 years in the US Navy and saw more discrimination against US Military members right here in the US than in any foreign nation that I visited, especially in the Norfolk, VA area. The Japanese that I had the pleasure to meet were polite, kind and gentle. But boy, they could party!