Japan: Foreign-Born Residents Sue Over Alleged Racial Discrimination

Japan: Foreign-Born Residents Sue Over Alleged Racial Discrimination
Image copyright: Takashi Aoyama/Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • Three foreign-born male residents of Japan filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against the national government, as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan and Aichi Prefecture governments on Monday, over alleged police profiling solely due to their race, reportedly the first such lawsuit in the country.

  • The Pakistan-born 26-year-old Syed Zain, who has been living in the country for nearly two decades and obtained Japanese citizenship with his family at age 13, claims to have been questioned 15 times — twice last year — by police, often being asked to show a foreign residency card.

The Spin

Narrative A

Japan has a long and toxic history of profiling "visible minorities." Japanese citizens have an unwritten rule of not sitting next to foreigners on public trains, while some restaurants and hotels even deny non-Japanese residents service. This issue even impacts the economy, as one in four job seekers say their applications are denied due to being foreign and one in five say they make less money for the same reason.

Narrative B

Japan is being wrongly accused of racism when it is only expecting people to follow cultural norms. When applying for jobs, for instance, being proficient in the Japanese language means you better understand traditions and routines. Due to this justifiable workplace reality, most foreigners don't make it past the first interview. Outsiders can't paint Japan with a broad brush just because they don't like the demographic layout of certain institutions.

Metaculus Prediction

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