Japan Times : Visa la difference

Although it is certainly not impossible to receive a credit card as a foreigner living in Japan, chances are that unless you're working for a major Japanese company that is prepared to provide you with a family card, you're probably going to be rejected far more often than you might be at home.

"I've heard anecdotes of card companies actually just categorically denying credit cards to foreigners," said Daniel Lintz, director of corporate communications for Visa International, Japan.
This surprises me as I haven't had any problem getting credit cards from 2 different card companies in Japan. They do verify a lot of stuff, but they didn't make me any problem.

I suppose this could be added to the already long list of types of discrimination in Japan