Occidentalism
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Debito suppresses the opinions of dissenting foreigners

February 6th, 2008 . by Matt

Meet Arudou Debito, a naturalized Japanese citizen from the United States of America. He is an activist campaigning on issues relating to foreigners and non-Japanese people in Japan. That is all well and good except the guy is so dishonest.

He does his level best to make foreigners living in Japan fear discrimination or persecution, when in actual fact such incidents are extremely rare. In this sense he is a very divisive figure, doing much more damage to community relations than the infrequent examples of discrimination.

His blog is a perfect example of his dishonesty and lack of integrity. He has a comments section in which he only allows the comments of approving cronies to appear, and blocks the comments of naysayers, no matter how well grounded they are. Here is an example from his blog today

Hi Blog. Here’s a sign I received a couple of days ago from a friend in the Kansai. “JAPANESE People ONLY” in a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers.

How urusai. Problem is, they indicate that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.

Click on photo to expand in your browser. Anyone want to run down to Tsukiji for me and get a definitive picture of the storefront with the sign? (These things usually need two photos–the sign and the storefront with the sign). And a confirmation of what the name of the restaurant (and the address if possible?) Thanks.

debito sign

Again, this is what happens when this kind of discrimination is not illegal in this society. More of this genre here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

I commented, but Debito blocked my comment. However, he allowed some comments that agreed with him that the sign was horribly racist. Unfortunately, in line with Debito’s dishonesty, he has left some very important information out which is written in the Japanese part of the sign, which mitigates to a large extent the “Japanese people only” part of the sign. But first, my comment on Debito’s site that he would not allow.

Grasping at straws, aren’t we? Yes, it says Japanese people only in English but directly under that it says that this is a shop for fish lovers and Japanese people that can’t understand the rules below are also not allowed in. What follows is a long list of rules that puts the owner in the “eccentric” box more than the “racist” box, although it might be a prejudiced assumption to think that foreigners living in Japan could not read the rules (but lets face it most cannot).

It seems pretty obvious that the owner cannot write those complicated rules in English, and thus does the best he can do, which is “Japanese people only”.

Most of the foreigners visiting your site would not be able to figure this out on their own, because they cannot read the Japanese, but don’t you think it is a bit arrogant of you to assume a fellow foreigner like me could not read it and see through your deception by omission?

I don’t have much confidence that this will see the light of day since you have deleted another comment of mine that pointed out your error in the past.

That is the comment. The fact is the sign is very eccentric, and if I saw it, I would pass it by even if I were Japanese. Basically the sign outlines a number of rules like: starting times, reservations, that tea must be had before an order and that ordering when the tea comes causes problems, no bringing food from outside, don’t speak loudly, don’t turn around and speak with other customers, don’t cause trouble, no more than 2 people at a table and if there are groups with more people they have to sit separately 2 to a table, follow the rules and enjoy, certain foods take time to make, and many more rules. It specifically says that Japanese people that cannot understand the rules will also not be allowed into the shop.

Debito can read Japanese. He would know then that the most probable reason for the “Japanese only” thing is that there are so many rules that they would not be able to explain it to the average foreigner, who cannot read the sign or understand that much Japanese. But Debito does not want to give any information that might cast doubt that this sign is just blatant racism, nor will he allow me or anyone else that disagrees with him to offer an opinion on his site.

The real test for that shop would be to talk to the owner and demonstrate that you can read the sign, and can follow the rules. Could the person that took the photo read the rules? I doubt it.

This is the problem with Debito. He is dishonest. He cannot tolerate dissent and has an authoritarian personality. He is attention seeking and thrives on controversy. He also gives the impression that he is somehow a community leader for foreigners living in Japan, which would really be a problem for me if I went back to Japan because I don’t want to be associated with him. He counts on the foreigners he ‘represents’ having very poor Japanese language ability, who make the mistake of relying on him as a source of information.

But lets get to the root of the matter. Debito is not Martin Luther King, and foreigners (especially white people like Debito) are not Southern Blacks suffering under Jim Crow laws.

Lastly, I call on Debito to be honest. Honesty is the best policy, after all. Be a man, Debito.


184 Responses to “Debito suppresses the opinions of dissenting foreigners”

  1. comment number 1 by: MaidoOido

    MaidoOido, please pass it along to me. I will have someone in Japan call him to explain the situation, and get his comment on the situation. He has a right to know what is going on, and a right of response.

    You can mail me on [email protected]

    は~い。 I’ll get a map of the restaurant’s location and email you later.

  2. comment number 2 by: Matt

    Thanks MaidoOido. Soon we will be able to put this to rest.

  3. comment number 3 by: ponta.

    MaidoOido
    If you have the restaurant’s phone #, please let Matt know it.
    I want to kow when the shop is open.

  4. comment number 4 by: MaidoOido

    ponta,
    Judging from some blogs about the restaurant, it seems as if the restaurateur is a nice guy. Will you go to the restaurant to explain the situation to him eye to eye?

  5. comment number 5 by: Matt

    We will have to wait until tomorrow anyway. Today is a public holiday.

    Funny that people that Debito calls “trolls” or dismisses as “apologists” are going to be the ones to resolve this.

  6. comment number 6 by: Gerbilbastard

    Do you think the restauranteur indicated the hard-to-explain-the-background rules intentionally in Japanese only at the same time he can speak English?

    I’m still not sure what you’re asking to be honest, but I think you’re trying to figure out if I think it’s sinister to write the rules in Japanese. The answer to that is no. Of course he can write the rules in Japanese. It would be stupid of me to think otherwise.

    We will have to wait until tomorrow anyway. Today is a public holiday.
    Funny that people that Debito calls “trolls” or dismisses as “apologists” are going to be the ones to resolve this.

    I’m really glad to see you guys trying to get this worked out. I suppose this sounds pretty condescending, but it’s of the utmost sincerity. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. I strongly disagree with making accusations and silencing opposing views. Especially when everything is being put into some cache somewhere, a minimal of research is absolutely required before taking this to the web.

  7. comment number 7 by: ponta.

    Okay, I posted another comment on Debito’s

    # ponta Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 11th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    有道さん
    当該お店の場所がわかりましたので連絡をとってみたいと思います。
    なにか店主さんに聞いてみたいことがあれば教えてください。

    (the comment after #30)

    Mr. Aridou.
    I have found out the place of the shop, I would like get contact with the shop-owner.
    If you have anything to ask, let me know.

  8. comment number 8 by: Jerry Billows

    I was curious, so I just checked Arudou’s website:

    Debito here. I’ll only leave this comment up for an hour or two, then will delete.

    Message to “Ponta”:

    Contact me directly off this blog. My email address is one of the most searchable on the web (as my spam in-tray indicates). This matter is between you and me (and I do believe you want to do something about this sign. Good.)

    I answered your request directly by email, but it bounced. If you’re not brave enough to even provide your real email address, is it any wonder you’re dismissed as a troll so often?

    Send to [email protected]. You have been permanently filed as spam and your comments will not appear on Debito.org again. Get used to it. Arudou Debito

    “Troll,” “apologist,” and “spam.” That pretty much sums up Debito’s response repertoire. It’s a shame.

  9. comment number 9 by: Matt

    Debito responds to Ponta –

    Debito here. I’ll only leave this comment up for an hour or two, then will delete.

    Message to “Ponta”:

    Contact me directly off this blog. My email address is one of the most searchable on the web (as my spam in-tray indicates). This matter is between you and me (and I do believe you want to do something about this sign. Good.)

    I answered your request directly by email, but it bounced. If you’re not brave enough to even provide your real email address, is it any wonder you’re dismissed as a troll so often?

    Send to [email protected]. You have been permanently filed as spam and your comments will not appear on Debito.org again. Get used to it. Arudou Debito

    The bit about “this matter is between you and me” almost sounds like a threat, but never mind. If Debito has nothing to hide, why can’t he answer a publicly asked question publicly? And why would he correspond with a “troll” that he doesn’t allow to make comments?

    Fact, we will be in contact with the owner of the shop, and there is a good chance that Debito is going to be embarrassed by it because he went overboard screaming racism while concealing important facts. That is why he wants to talk to Ponta now, no doubt.

  10. comment number 10 by: Jerry Billows

    Matt, he deleted his comment within minutes of my posting it here.

  11. comment number 11 by: Matt

    Matt, he deleted his comment within minutes of my posting it here.

    I didn’t notice you had posted it too.

    Why does an honest man need private correspondence about a public issue?

  12. comment number 12 by: Jerry Billows

    Why does an honest man need private correspondence about a public issue?

    It might have to do with damage control. Your guess is as good as mine.

  13. comment number 13 by: moYom

    Hi there, I post here first time.
    I saw this post by debito awhile ago.(deleted)

    debito Says:
    February 11th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Debito here. I’ll only leave this comment up for an hour or two, then will delete.

    Message to “Ponta”:

    Contact me directly off this blog. My email address is one of the most searchable on the web (as my spam in-tray indicates). This matter is between you and me (and I do believe you want to do something about this sign. Good.)

    I answered your request directly by email, but it bounced. If you’re not brave enough to even provide your real email address, is it any wonder you’re dismissed as a troll so often?

    Send to [email protected]. You have been permanently filed as spam and your comments will not appear on Debito.org again. Get used to it. Arudou Debito

    The comment made me decide to post there.
    Here is what I posted to debito’s blog.

    moYom Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 11th, 2008 at 5:38 pm
    Hi debito.
    This is first time I post here.
    I have been reading your blog for years and I noticed you mistranslate often.
    You called Ponta a troll but Ponta is just pointing out your errors that is not trolling.
    For example, if Ponta didn’t tell you the Idubor Case’s lower court decision text you uploaded contained real names of the rape victim and witness, the text would still be able to see anybody.
    It could be serious violation of their human rights.
    You need to listen to different opinions to be fair.
    And you need to research before calling somebody racist.
    It’s your job, not Ponta’s job.
    And one more thing, if it’s too difficult for you to translate Japanese texts correctly, please have your Japanese friends help you.

    はじめましてデビトさん。
    ブログを数年読ませて頂いてますが誤訳が多いですね。
    ポンタさんは間違いを指摘しているだけで釣りと呼ぶのはいかがなものでしょう?
    例えば例の強姦事件の横浜地裁の判決文、ポンタさんが指摘しなかったら未だに被害者と証人の個人情報が漏洩したままだったでしょうね。それは深刻な人権侵害です。
    あなたは違う意見に耳を傾けるべきです。
    誰かを差別主義者呼ばわりする前に十分な裏づけが必要です。
    それはあなたの仕事でポンタさんがしなければならない事ではありません。
    それから日本語を正確に英訳するのが難しいのなら、誰か日本人の友達に手伝ってもらったらどうですか?

  14. comment number 14 by: ponta.

    I posted another comment on Debito’s blog.

    # ponta Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 11th, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    有道さん
    この3時間余りコンピュターの前にいなかったのできずきませんでしたが、
    オクシデンタリズムを見ると、
    https://www.occidentalism.org/?p=827#comment-33333
    のようにありますが、これはあなたが書いたのでしょうか?

  15. comment number 15 by: moYom

    ポンタさん
    “This matter is between you and me “これは非常に危険な予感がしますので乗らないように気をつけたほうがいいですよ。

  16. comment number 16 by: ponta.

    moYom
    Thanks.
    But I haven’t seen his comment on his blog with my eyes. So I am waiting for him to respond.
    By the way,
    My e-mail address is
    ponta_at_oocidentalism
    アト
    ヤフー

    ジェピー
    , as everyone knows on this blog.
    And I exposed it on this blog and on Japan probe. Anybody can confirm it, I’ll send you back my mail if you want to confirm.
    And this address has been to Debito’s blog;he has had this address. That is why I wonder if he really made the comment above. If he writes the comment and he send the e-mail, it should come to me.
    So I am waiting for his response.
    Hopefully he will respond on his blog or here.
    Because everyone is curious what ‘s really going on , and you cannot achieve fairness sneakingly but should achieve it in public.

    .

  17. comment number 17 by: ponta.

    Still another comment.

    # ponta Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 11th, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    食事にでます。仮に先ほどのコメントが有道さんのものだとしても、今度書くときは削除しないでくさいね。オクシデンタリズムの方にもコメントしておきました。読んでおいてください。

    (moYom さん、ご心配ありがとう!!!)

  18. comment number 18 by: Matt

    “This matter is between you and me “これは非常に危険な予感がしますので乗らないように気をつけたほうがいいですよ。

    私もそのカキコを見て脅威的なニュアンスがあると思いました。なんか「二人で詳しく話そう」というけんか寸前の脅迫みたいに。

  19. comment number 19 by: nigelboy

    I answered your request directly by email, but it bounced. -Debito

    Mr. Debito:

    Please send your “response” to this site. I’m sure Ponta does not mind it at all.

  20. comment number 20 by: ViinatoMoh

    Nigelboy: Regarding your reference to “Mr. Debito” – Debito is the man’s given name. Is there a particular reason to referring to him as “Mr. Debito”? Just wondering 🙂

    This forum thread about Arudou’s divorce is interesting.
    http://forums.kawama.tzo.com:1023/cgi-bin/ydforum/ikonboard.pl?s=23241c15a64be87991fffd49f387b45a;act=ST;f=5;t=2458

  21. comment number 21 by: ViinatoMoh

    For that matter here is another post about the Tsukiji sign issue: http://forums.kawama.tzo.com:1023/cgi-bin/ydforum/ikonboard.pl?s=dd7cc32c02670886dadbfbef1df224d6;act=ST;f=5;t=2814;st=0

    I find it funny how they are comparing this to a lousy movie sequel. 🙂

  22. comment number 22 by: ponta.

    # ponta Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 12th, 2008 at 3:38 am

    有道さん
    メール届きました。ありがとうございます。
    私にくださったメールをお確かめになればわかるように、有道さんが私のメルアドのスペルを打ち間違えたわけですね。
    オクシデンタリズムに貼ってあったコメントを有道さんが公開したのですから、このメルアド関する私に対する誹謗について誤解を招かないように、同様に公開で釈明しておいてください。お願いいたします。
    私の方は、このコメントをオクシデンタリズムに貼ることをもって本件に関する誤解を解くように努めます。
    さて、有道さんからのお手紙の内容の件に関してですが、特に秘密にする内容ではない思いますがどうですか?
    有道さんの許可をお待ちします。
    私は、本件のような誤解を招くような看板の問題はみなが知恵を絞りあってもっとも平和的に円満に解決しておくがことが最善だと考えます。
    安易な決めつけや誹謗は今回のメルアドの件のように、無用な混乱を巻き起こすだけですし、安易な決めつけをしないためにも、また公正な判断をするためにも、公開の場での民主的な議論は重要であると考えます。
    敬具

    Mr.Aridou
    I have received your mail. Thank you.
    As you can confirm from your mail, you misspelled my mail address.
    You publicized the comment that was pasted on Occidentalism, please publicize the comment clarifying your blame on it so that everyone is clear about it. I will clarify it by putting this comment on Occidentalism.
    Now, as for the content of your mail, I don’t think it has something to talk about between you and me. What do you think? I am waiting for your permission for it to show in public..
    I consider it best to tackle an issue like this kind of misleading sign by having as many people as possible talk and think and resolve it peacefully and harmoniously.
    A quick and immature judgement and blame just causes unnecessary confusion just like your comment about my mail address. In order to avoid such immature judgement and arrive at a fair judgment, I think it is essential to discuss in the public forum democratically
    Sincerely.

  23. comment number 23 by: GordonM

    has anyone called the shop yet?


  24. […] 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“. […]

  25. comment number 25 by: Matt

    has anyone called the shop yet?

    The problem has been resolved, and the sign has been removed until non-discriminatory writing can be decided upon.

  26. comment number 26 by: A lesson in activism « AMPONTAN

    […] Another person seized on the opportunity to slip into his identity as The Caped Crusader fighting for truth and justice. Two other people with common sense and human understanding used a different approach, however. A native Japanese discussed the matter calmly with the owner, and the sign was taken down. Matt at Occidentalism describes what happened in two posts–the first here, and the second here. This is an excerpt from his second post: …The owner said that different customs led 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 one dish between 5 people, etc….At the moment there is (now) 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. […]

  27. comment number 27 by: ponta.

    THE LISTS OF MY COMMENTS MR ARIDOU HAS BLOCKED
    http://pontasmemorandum.blogspot.com/

    I’ll be grateful if somebody tell me what was so wrong with my comment that he blocked them.

  28. comment number 28 by: john k

    Ponta
    Your comments do not agree with what he wants to convey to the acolytes. Constantly questioning his “objectivity” simply inflames him (as I’ve noted myself, and on other blogs!!). When someone has a voice and feels they are doing ‘good’ or being listened too, ie an audiance, a dissenting voice is always viewed with scorn.
    You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!
    Unless you fall into line, you will be ostracised (just as I was too…)

    I wouldn’t waste your efforts if after all this time you are getting no joy.
    But I am seriously impressed with your webpage and the insertion of videos etc….light years ahead of me!!

  29. comment number 29 by: ponta.

    I wouldn’t waste your efforts if after all this time you are getting no joy.

    You know, actually I get extreme joy being blocked by Debito but noticed by people like you.
    I recommend other Japanese write comments on his blog. After all that is the multiculturalism he is advocating.
    (And please send me the screen capture if the comment was blocked)

  30. comment number 30 by: john k

    Ponta
    It is lost in translation! The term “no joy” in this instance is an English expression that means “no luck” or “no success”, in other words you’re not able to change his mind or convince him.
    However, I’m sure you’re getting plenty of true joy, in the banter.

  31. comment number 31 by: ponta.

    Thjanks
    john k I am learning every day.

  32. comment number 32 by: john k

    Ponta
    Im happy to assist in any way i can. As i’m sure it’ll be mutual too.


  33. […] that are alien to Japanese thought. I think this is why he achieves precious little, as we see here and […]


  34. […] Debito over a sign that seemed to exclude foreigners from a restaurant in the Tsukiji fish market (here and […]