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Thread: High court rejects compensation claim over racial discrimination at bathhouse

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    High court rejects compensation claim over racial discrimination at bathhouse

    High court rejects compensation claim over racial discrimination at bathhouse

    SAPPORO (Kyodo) The Sapporo High Court rejected an appeal Thursday seeking compensation from a city government in Hokkaido for failing to halt a ban on foreigners at a bathhouse under its jurisdiction.

    Deito Arudou

    The suit, seeking 6 million yen in damages from the Otaru Municipal Government and the bathhouse operator, was filed Feb. 1, 2001, by David Aldwinckle, a 39-year-old U.S.-born local resident who is now a naturalized Japanese with the name of Debito Arudou, and two foreign nationals.

    In November 2002, the Sapporo District Court dismissed the suit for compensation against the city but ordered the bathhouse operator to pay 1 million yen each to the three plaintiffs.

    In the high court, the plaintiffs argued that the city had a duty to meet the requirements of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan signed in December 1995, by introducing an ordinance to ban racial discrimination.

    Presiding Judge Keiichi Sakamoto called the bathhouse's refusal to admit non-Japanese "unreasonable discrimination," but added that the convention "has only general, abstract provisions recommending appropriate measures to eliminate racial discrimination, and the city of Otaru does not have any obligation to institute ordinances to ban such discrimination."

    In September 1999, Arudou, then still a U.S. citizen, and German Olaf Karthaus visited the Yunohana Onsen bathhouse in the port city and were refused entry because they were foreigners, according to the suit. Ken Sutherland, another American, was denied admission there in December 2000.

    The bathhouse had put up a multilingual sign saying "Japanese only" in English. It gave as a reason that trouble with drunken Russian sailors at similar facilities in the area had caused Japanese customers to stay away.

    Arudou filed the complaint with the court after he visited the bathhouse again in October 2000 after becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen. He was refused entry even after he presented his driver's license as proof of his Japanese citizenship.
    It seems to confirm what I heard about Japanese court never (or very rarely) ruling against the State. There is a clear lack of separation between the judicial and exectutive power in Japan.

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  2. #2
    Regular Member cicatriz esp's Avatar
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    I was curious about this case, so i asked my girlfriend who is from Osaka. She said the "no gaijin" sign on that and other bathhouses was due to "all the Russian tourists who always try to bring beer and food in and leave garbage around". Her words, not mine. It seems to confirm what is stated in the above post.

  3. #3
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cicatriz esp
    I was curious about this case, so i asked my girlfriend who is from Osaka. She said the "no gaijin" sign on that and other bathhouses was due to "all the Russian tourists who always try to bring beer and food in and leave garbage around". Her words, not mine. It seems to confirm what is stated in the above post.
    I have nothing personally against Russians, but have they do, they'd better write "no Russians" than "no foreigners" or "Japanese only". Or they could maybe restrict the admission to non-drunken people, or people who can speak Japanese or are accompanied by a Japanese, as is often the case in many establishments (incl. capsule hotels, etc.) in Japan. People with tatooes are usually forbidden to enter public bath, so as to fence off yakuzas. Anyway, these solutions are definitely better than racially discriminating against all foreigners, especially against foreigners naturalised Japanese like Debito, who could prove they were Japanese. The management's behaviour was outright racist in that case.

  4. #4
    Regular Member MeAndroo's Avatar
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    I was always under the impression that the trouble was caused by people not properly bathing before entering the bath. I suppose bringing in food or being completely wasted would be equally detrimental to your attempt to enter, though.

    I've been denied access to clubs in the Tokyo area if I in the company of my white friends...being of Japanese descent, and keeping my mouth shut, I guess they thought I was a local. We never had a problem at an onsen, but then again, we were rarely very drunk (being in a hot spring drunk isn't all that fun actually), and always bathed properly.
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