“Secret File on Foreigner Crime” Publisher Answers his Critics

At Japan Today, Eichi publisher Shigeki Saka responds to allegations of racism and xenophobia for his mook 犯罪外人裏ファイル (はんざい がいじん うら ふあいる Secret File on Foreigner Crime). He complains about a number of things in his bid to defend his publication. I will list his complaints and respond to them:

I have been subject to a campaign of harassment. In particular, some emails I’ve received have been quite vicious — and have included threats to my life.

The use of harassment, in particular threats of violence, is an unacceptable means of protest, because it undermines the credibility of the protesters and is just plain wrong. The people who have harassed you do not speak for the majority of foreigners who were offended by your publication. Threats on your life are horrible, and should be reported to the police. The people issuing the threats should be punished to the full extent of the law.

 On the Japanese side, the “foreign criminal” is a beast who lurks everywhere and wants nothing more than to destroy Japanese people and their way of life. Whether it’s a North Korean agent kidnapping our daughters or a Chinese thief invading our homes, many Japanese are convinced that foreigners should be treated with suspicion and fear.

The pervasiveness of this attitude is precisely why people were so offended by your magazine. With its extreme emphasis on foreigner crime (and its inclusion of lurid, completely non-criminal behavior), it perpetuates this unfair attitude. I have read the magazine, and I see virtually nothing attempting to “help begin a frank discussion”. The magazine seems intended to provoke fear of an entire group of people because of the actions of a tiny minority of them.

What these people (who protested against the magazine) are ignoring is a simple truth: there are no lies, distortions or racist sentiments expressed in “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu.” All the statistics about rising crime rates are accurate, and all the photographs show incidents that actually occurred.

I’ll ignore for a moment that the most recent statistics (perhaps unavailable at the time of the publication of this magazine) show a drop in foreigner crime. Your depiction of increases in foreigner crime in the past is a misrepresentation. Please understand this, because it is by far the worst offense (in my opinion) caused by 犯罪外人裏ファイル。 When you claim that foreigner crime is increasing, and portray it as a fearsome threat to the stability of Japanese society, people equate crime with foreigners.

The part of the statistics you don’t mention in your magazine is that the ratio of criminals in the foreigner community to non-criminals in the foreigner community is extremely small. According to arrest statistics from 2003 (which, despite some increase and a recent drop, have not changed dramatically since then), only 1 out of 1,000 Koreans were arrested, only 4 out of 1,000 Russians, and only 9 out of 1,000 Chinese. For perspective, 3 out of 1,000 Japanese people were arrested.  This means that the average Japanese person was three times as likely to be arrested as the average Korean! (Details here).

For instance, it is true that on June 19, 2003, three Chinese nationals murdered a Japanese family — a mother, father and two children aged 8 and 11 — and dumped their bodies into a canal in Fukushima. It’s true that Brazilians and Chinese account for over half of the crimes committed by foreigners in Japan. It’s true that American guys grope their Japanese girlfriends daily on the streets of Tokyo.

Over the last decade, there has been a long string of vicious, shocking crimes committed by Japanese people, including beheadings by and of children, a mass slaying at an elementary school, the sickest kinds of sex crimes, dismemberments, etc. Turn on the TV almost any evening, and you can find evidence of the threat to the stability of Japanese culture committed by Japanese people. Perhaps we should publish a magazine called 犯罪日本人裏ファイル to help promote a frank discussion about it.  

The problem with your publication is it blames crime on ethnicities, instead of on criminals. 

First, before foreigners rush to accuse me and my staff of racism, or to label our publication a typical example of Japanese xenophobia, I would ask that they consider how quick their own culture is to view the Japanese as subhuman. In World War II you labeled us “monkeys,” and in the bubble economy years, you considered us “economic predators.”

When “my culture” (more correctly, when people in the government of my country, and some of its citizens) does racists things, I call that racist, and I try to persuade racists in my culture to see how wrong they are and were, just like I am doing with you now. Labelling Japanese people as “monkeys” or “economic predators” is every bit as racist and evil as equating foreigners in Japan with criminality. Do you want to be in the same group as the racists in America? Isn’t there a wiser way to approach this?

What we need to understand is that by having a conversation about violent and illegal behavior, we’re really talking about ourselves — not as “Japanese” or “foreigners,” but as human beings.

I agree completely. If you publish something that does this, I will be happy to buy it and recommend it to my friends.

Mr.  Saka, the vast majority of non-Japanese who live in Japan are decent, honest, hard-working, tax-paying people. Many of us struggle to learn Japanese, and respect and admire this great, beautiful country. Generalizing us unfairly as criminals has real, negative consequences on our lives. I could tell you dozens of anecdotes about my day-to-day life that reflect the ever-present climate of public distrust in Japan toward people like me, because of the color of my skin.

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16 Responses to ““Secret File on Foreigner Crime” Publisher Answers his Critics”

  1. A response to the Gaijin Ura Crime File publisher’s editorial on why he published it » Japan Probe Says:

    […] Manjiro’s Revenge […]

  2. Jeremy Says:

    This is the crazy rhetoric that we as foreigners face every day. It is not only this Nazi magazine that is causing us harm. It is the everyday discriminiation that we face. In our work and in our everyday lives.

    We need to form a group that has politcal power. Not extremist like the jack asses in the black vans but a group that will protect us from discrimination. You can see what we can achieve by peaceful protest in numbers. We need to have a place or a group that we can rely on when these types of issues arise.

    We need an advocate that can request peacefully that we as a minority recieve equal rights and equal protection. There are anti-discrimination laws in Japan but they are over looked and ignored. I feel that it is time that we make a voice for ourselves.

    Any ideas out there on what we can do to organize?

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