As Japan prepares for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics, the country’s justice ministry surveyed thousands of foreign residents to gain insight into the experiences they’ve had. This is the first government survey of its kind, led by the Centre for Human Rights Education and Training, which took into account 4,252 of the 18,500 foreigners living in Japan.
Results obtained revealed that almost 40 percent of foreigners surveyed who applied for housing in Japan had their applications rejected and almost a quarter of them have been rejected from jobs. Interestingly, 95 percent of these people spoke Japanese, revealing that language wasn’t the factor behind their rejections.
"The landlord said I couldn't live in the flat because of my nationality. I was born and raised in Japan and Japanese is the only language I know. There is still so much bias and discrimination in Japan," said a middle-aged Korean woman.
"Japan is my home and I love Japan, but discrimination against foreigners is deeply rooted. I wish for a society that recognizes diversity," said another Korean woman.
Moving on, nearly 20 percent of the respondents who had applied for jobs in the last five years said they received lower pay than Japanese people for the same job. Also, they faced problems at their workplace and often didn’t get well-deserved promotions, days off and bonuses just because they weren’t Japanese.
Foreigners also recounted being treated unfairly in everyday life settings.
"One time, when I tried to enter a small shop in Harajuku, the staff told me it's for Japanese only," said a young Brazilian woman.
After obtaining the above results, the country’s government vowed to increase spending on educating Japanese people about human rights. It also aims to make foreigners aware of the support services they could use incase faced with discrimination.
“Discriminatory speech and action against foreigners should never be tolerated,” the justice minister, Katsutoshi Kaneda, told reporters.
It is important to note than between April 2012 and September 2015, around 1,150 hate speech rallies were carried out by Japanese people against foreigners. Although the country has introduced a law to cut down hate speech, a lack of penalties has led to more incidents of racism and discrimination.
If Japan wishes to attract foreigners and tourists during the World Cup and Olympics, it will have to work on to become more accepting of others. Persistent racism could put people off from entering the country, in turn damaging its economy and revenues from travel and tourism.