We have done it! The sign that Debito has been complaining about has been taken down thanks to the actions of Occidentalism commenters MaidoOido and Ponta, and also the policy of Occidentalism of bringing foreigners and Japanese people together, rather than driving a wedge by misunderstanding and prejudice.

Ponta spoke with the owner on the phone, and the owner said that different customs lead him to write “Japanese
people only” on the sign. In addition to the foreign customers not being able to follow the written rules in Japanese, they also brought their own food to the restaurant, brought children to the restaurant but left the children alone in the restaurant while the parents went elsewhere which caused trouble for the staff, and some foreign customers ordering only on dish between 5 people, etc. The sign was already down this morning when Ponta spoke with the owner, because MaidoOido had already contacted the local restaurant association to explain the situation.

At the moment there is no sign, but the text of the sign may be changed to make it clear that it is non-discriminatory, unlike the old sign which easily leads non-Japanese speaking foreigners to conclude that the shop owner hates foreigners. This excuses the comments of Debito’s readers, but not Debito’s comments.

The people that Debito has been deriding on his blog as “trolls” and “apologists” for Japanese only signs, including myself, have been the ones to solve this precisely because we allow an atmosphere of open discussion that allowed someone with the details of the restaurant to come forward, so we could contact the restaurant.

Debito on the other hand concealed the meaning of the Japanese text of the sign, very mitigating details, which reveal that the owner may not be racist, just clumsily excluding those people who most frequently violate his many rules. Understanding the actual problem is important in crafting the solution, but it is not clear that Debito wants a solution that doesn’t involve moralistic grandstanding. Read all about Debito’s deletions, spin, and outright deception here, in “Debito suppresses the opinions of dissenting foreigners“.

Ponta is going to interview the owner later today, so I will have more details, and photo’s of the shop and new sign (if a new one exists), later on.

By the way, what is with Debito calling foreigners with reasonable views “apologists for Japanese only signs”? Whats next, being called an “uncle tom”?

Important Update: Ponta’s interview with the owner. Here is Ponta’s report below.

I interviewed with the shop owner. It was a small restaurant where there is only a counter-table with just 11 seats.

Being explained that the sign was misleading, he took down the sign and threw it away. A Japanese blogger contacted the Tukiji association and advised what to do.


He said, “First and foremost, I apologize for causing troubles. As for the English sentence on the sign, I apologize for causing unpleasant sentiments among gaikokujin”

I asked why he posted the sign besides the reasons he gave me in the morning. He said, “when foreigners came”, he responded in Japanese, “they ordered Sushi, but the shop is not sushi restaurant, its main dish is ankou(an angler)and anago(sea eel).And the restaurant is pretty busy at launch, I can’t speak English , don’t have time to explain it in particular when busy , and the customers are mainly tourists who can’t speak Japanese. And the price is high for fishes. When complained I can’t explain it in English”. Sometimes a group of foreign tourist came in line, realizing the shop does not offer sushi, they just went away, that gives other customer trouble”.

Interestingly he said even after he posted the sign, there were foreigners coming. He didn’t reject them because they had a memo in Japanese saying what they wanted. More interestingly it was a foreigner who speaks Japanese that suggested him to set the shop for Japanese people only hearing troubles he had.

That’s how he posted the English sign.

He emphasized that he did not hate foreigners. He was working at Roppongi, he met a lot of foreigners whom he respects. But Tukiji is a place for tourists. That makes difference.

He said he is a big fun of Gundam (an anime that is popular among foreigners and Japanese), and he holds the belief that we can understand each other.

I told him, there were suggestions from gaijin, rewriting the post to “Entry restricted to people that understand the rules written below ” ( Matt) or “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” (Gerbilbastard )

He said he had no intention to post the sign, for the time being at least and that shop would welcome anybody, Japanese or foreigners, who keep their manners.

He looked frightened being explained what Debito’s post says.

Look at the photo I took today, the sign says “Please keep the manner when drinking. Don’t speak to other customer without reason

no sign

no sign

no sign

Thank you Ponta. Additional thanks to MaidoOido and Tonchamon.

Problem solved, and all it took was Japanese people and foreigners working together, done without hysterical accusations of racism, selective bannings of dissenting commenters, or implying that people are racist “apologists for Japanese only signs”. I hope Debito can learn a lesson from all this.

Posted by Matt, filed under diplomacy, finger chopping wacky, Racist Industrial Complex. Date: February 11, 2008, 7:57 pm | 207 Comments »

207 Responses

  1. Ken Says:

    ‘Speak English’ sign was demanded to take down but judged not discriminatory even in the country of immigrants.

    If the restaurateur of above Trattoria is litigious guy like the David and his biz declines, he may possibly sue for this time interference.

  2. Ken Says:

    AFP’s article does not seem displayed so I am citing local newspaper.

  3. Errol Says:

    An update on mass fingerprinting.

    Hackers threaten to publish fingerprints

  4. Civil disobedience as iyagarase | Occidentalism Says:

    […] What really shocks me about Debito is that despite being in Japan so long, he seems culturally tone deaf. He doesn’t seem to care about Japanese strategies that work when dealing with Japanese people, rather he prefers Americanisms that are alien to Japanese thought. I think this is why he achieves precious little, as we see here and here. […]

  5. Civil disobedience as iyagarase | Occidentalism Says:

    […] What really shocks me about Debito is that despite being in Japan so long, he seems culturally tone deaf. He doesn’t seem to care about Japanese strategies that work when dealing with Japanese people, rather he prefers Americanisms that are alien to Japanese thought. I think this is why he achieves precious little, as we see here and here. […]

  6. Delita_chan Says:

    Debito has mental issues in my opinion, maybe further fueled by the fact that he’s been rejected by Japanese people, including his own family.

    I used to believe in his garbage and feared living in Japan or even visiting. This certainly caused problems in my relationship (my b/f is native Japanese) because my boyfriend felt hurt that I would think his people are racist. I’ve visited Japan since 2006 for at least 2 weeks or more at a time and I’ve never encountered any sort of racism, especially since I’m not white (I’m hispanic, brownish skin). I’ve gone shopping alone and have been met with friendliness to the point that they even offer me point cards (I opened one at BIC Camera despite being just a “tourist” and the cashier knew it).

    All Debito does is whine and cry to cover up how unfair his life has been. I don’t understand why he gave up US citizenship if Japan is so evil…same goes to his followers. If Japan is so full of racism, etc, then just go home and stop whining!

    On my recent flight back to the USA from Nagoya (nice airport BTW), I read with interest his article in the Japan Times about the drug sniffing dogs. I cannot believe this hack gets publishing space! I also read about his being questioned by the police and then realized that he’s just a media-hog. I mean, what’s the problem with just showing your ID and moving on? If you refuse or ask questions, you appear much more suspicious.

    My only dream is to see him someday be sued or jailed for his confrontational tactics that drive wedges between Japanese and non-Japanese.

  7. Ponta’s memorandum | Occidentalism Says:

    […] This site by Occidentalism commenter Ponta is about the closest thing we have to a “Debito watch” at the moment. Some of you may remember we had difference of opinion with Debito over a sign that seemed to exclude foreigners from a restaurant in the Tsukiji fish market (here and here). […]