I know I covered a lot of ground on my previous post on human right etc, but I found that I needed to extend a little bit more information on discrimination in japan , what to do, how to prevent it , and steps to shorten the stress and fast resolution in case you suffer certain situations: first I must remind you that in the Japanese constitution rights are condition to nationality rather than being human.
Ironic since the Japanese Constitution professes twice that there shall be no discrimination based on race, sex or family origin in Japan in family laws and social relations.
In Article 14. “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”
In Article 24. “With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.”
A huge contradiction and mostly not applied.
Without laws to protect us against discrimination in general there is not much we can do legally. But we can prevent development of certain situations.
In order to do that we must understand certain facts:
1) “If in Rome do as the Romans do ” that is the golden rule for Japanese, when it comes to their ways the more Japanese you are ; the more you will fit in.
2) Senpai vs. Kohai: Relationship is an essential element of Japanese seniority-based status relationships, similar to the way that family and other relationships are decided based on age, in which even twins may be divided into elder and younger siblingsor. The sempai is roughly equivalent to the Western concept of a mentor, while kōhai is roughly equivalent to protégé, though they do not imply as strong a relationship as these words mean in the West. More simply, these may be translated as senior and junior, or as an elder compared with someone younger in the family/company/organization/ socially or economically; the term is often applied to all members of one group that are senior (the sempai) to all the members of another group (the kōhai). There is usually no average separation in age between a sempai and his or her kōhai you will just know in which you fit by the status people give you. If you’re new at you are a kohai.
This is very hard to implement, since it grants permission to those who are consider above you, to talk and refer to you in very strong (sometimes rude) manners that can be classified as bulling. To successfully manage this I can only recommend you are polite at all times and at the same time try to establish a line of respect in a sweet delicate manner.
TIp * in western culture we often answer hugh or ahh when we didn’t understand or heard something, this is considered rude and rebelious for japanese , so abstain from answering like that, refer more to the frase “can you please repeat” > “mo ikka onegaishimasu”
Japan is a highly homogeneous society and any differences from the norm is frowned upon. It really matters little whether you are a foreigner or not. Of course, for the same situation, a foreigner is likely to feel a higher degree of discrimination due to the preconceived perceptions that “foreigners just don’t know the Japanese way” but a Japanese is not likely to spared either this I need you to remember.
I have found that the best way to avoid discrimination is to learn their ways as much as possible, even in little things such as blowing your nose in public (do not do that), or talking on the phone on the train, can set you apart easily, brand you out of the pack and cause problems. The more you learn the culture the more you fit in.
One of the most common mistakes I made during my first year, was laughing very loud, putting my chopsticks standing on a rice (this is done for dead people only) (VERY RUDE OF ME BTW) , not putting my bags or backpack between my legs or in the bag space area therefore bothering other people, rudely sitting without asking permission while visiting a house, not eating everything that I serve my self in a plate etc. This is why learning the culture from its core will save you a lot of pain and suffering.
Creating anti-discrimination laws in Japan — Where we are stading at the moment:
Saitama Prefecture, 2007: A non-Japanese couple in their seventies had just begun renting an upscale apartment, only to find the day before moving that they would be turned away. The management association of the apartment found that bylaws forbade rental or transfer of their apartments to foreigners. The couple’s oldest daughter called this a violation of human rights and appealed to the local Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights. The Bureau issued a warning to the association that this was “discriminatory treatment, conspicuously violating the freedom to choose one’s residence”. However, the association refused to revise its decision, and the couple had to look elsewhere.
Nationwide, the Bureau of Human Rights took on 21,600 cases of rights violations in 2007, including cases of violence or abuse towards women or the elderly, invasions of privacy and bullying. But there were also 126 cases of discrimination towards foreigners, a figure that is increasing year on year, with numerous cases involving refusals of service by renters, public baths, and hotels. However, even in cases determined to involve discrimination, the Bureau only has the power to issue “explanations” (setsuji) or “warnings”, not redress measures. Many are deterred by lawsuits and the enormous investment of time, emotional energy, and money they demand. In the end, many people just put up with it.
Japan still has no fundamental law protecting the livelihood or rights of non-Japanese. A bill for the protection of rights for handicapped and women, which also covers discrimination by race and ethnicity, was defeated in 2003. Debate is continuing within the government and ruling party on whether to resubmit it. Still, a “Human Rights Committee”, entrusted with the duties of hearing and investigating violations of human rights, has engendered great criticism from conservatives on the issue of appointing foreigners as committee members. The government eventually did a volte-face, saying that “only residents who have the right to vote for people in the local assemblies” are allowed, thus limiting appointments to Japanese.
In other countries, where organizations protect foreigners from discrimination, there is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this. Even people within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been critical: “The very organizations that are supposed to help foreigners in all manner of difficulties, such as language barriers, are in fact putting up barriers of their own. Their priorities are truly skewed” (honmatsu tentou).
This article first appeared in The Asahi Shimbun morning edition, October 5, 2008 in the ashita o kangaeru (With Tomorrow in Mind) column. The original text of the article is archived here. Posted at Japan Focus on October 25, 2008.
As you can see the debate continues and all we can do is avoidance.
In the case of children my recommended best answer are international schools, there are very food ones at affordable rate and they often promote diversity among the alumni.