Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Racism in Japan

I have a fever right now, so I apologize if any of this sounds delirious. More delirious than usual. Can something sound delirious? Anyway.

This blog is about my experience as an American in Japan, so I thought I ought to write about this event even though most stories you're getting out of this country have a different feel right now. On Monday Motto [Japanese] and I [American] went looking for apartments in Hiroshima. It's a weird system here. You have to find a real estate company and you tell them what you're looking for, and then they try to sell you something they want to get rid of.

We looked at a bunch of places that were either too far from downtown, old, dirty, expensive, had the bathroom sink in the kitchen, or had the laundry machine in the kitchen. You know, things I'm not ready to settle for.

We found a place that was cheap for the size (3DK) and downtown. In our tired state we decided to take it despite the non-refundable 340,000¥ key money [$4,000 USD deposit]. Motto signed the contract and wrote my name down as his co-inhabiting fiance (he tried to hide the "fiance" part from me, when pressed said it looks better than writing "laundry folder).

racism in Japan

Begin Rant.
So today we got a call from the real estate agent saying the landlord doesnt want to rent to us because I'm a foreigner. Apparently he had Filipino tenants before and they ruined the apartment.

Wow. They may know how to queue in line but this is a backwards country. Can you imagine an American refusing to rent to a Japanese? Or refusing to rent to any non-American? That stuff just doesnt go on in most of the civilized world, yet in Japan the real estate agent didnt even seem too shocked. If I were him I'd be like, You call them and say that, bigot.

You hear stories like this all the time in Japan. I was used to the constant stares, being asked if I "want to pa-ti" buy gross men, having to use a credit card to get a cell phone, and people doing black face on TV but this is a new hurtle I wasnt ready for.

It makes me more and more upset when I think about the fact I've been here 3 years, absorbing the culture and trying not to always be the nail that sticks out.

My first American thoughts about this were lawyer! newspaper! we should own that building!

And as far as the fear of me destroying the apartment with Motto, I thought that's why we give him the $4,000. It goes to cleaning the apartment and replacing all the tatami floors when we leave.

This shouldnt be acceptable behavior in Hiroshima, the city of peace, or anywhere. I assure you no Americans living there were Tweeting #PearlHarbor last week.

If anyone is itching to defend Japanese xenophobia and racism in the comments section have fun.

You can reTweet this link to let the word out that things like this are still being allowed to happen in 2011.
End rant.


dan said...

I live in Australia, and racism like this still happens - they just aren't so blatant about it. Specifically I know that Indian students coming to study over here (especially men) have a really hard time finding a landlord that will accept them. There is the perception that they will try to squeeze 10 people into a 2 bedroom flat, and that they won't look after the place. But they would never say it to their faces.

David said...

People suck. Landlords suck. I've had friends who went through the same deal.

Since there was a sizable amount of foreigners who fled Japan with their tails between their legs over the last few weeks breaking rental contracts as they left. This situation isn't going to get any better in the short term.

I would try to go to a small independent place rather than the MiniMini, Able, and Anpanshop chain stores. They all suck. Worse than used car dealers.

red-handed said...

You're always sick! But hey, we're all sick of racism. Who won that last war, anyway? Oh yeah, *we* did.
Feel better!

Jeannette said...

@red-handed *we* as in the Canadians?

My dad's quote about all this:
"So from what I understand the girl who's grandfather was at Pearl Harbour on December 7 1941 can't rent an apartment in Hiroshima it went from" a day that will live in infamy to "a day that will live in irony"

Anonymous said...

i had my apartment turned upside down by filipinos. my sister had the same. some friends experienced the same.

i'm no racist but sometimes i don't know how to put it in perspective.

oh well! call it coincidence :}