Africans in Guangzhou, Africans in Tokyo

This CNN report documents that much as in Japan, there is apparently a sizable number of Africans engaged in international trade and retailing in shops in Guanghzhou and some other areas of China. The report attributes the increase to increased trade ties between China and nations like Nigeria.

For a more detailed look at the situation of Africans in China, take a look at this translated article from Southern Metropolis Daily entitled “‘Chocolate City’ – Africans seek their dreams in China”:

In distant Africa, nearly 50 countries exploding with demand have opened their arms wide, and are rapidly digesting all of these consumer products not produced locally. Based on Chinese official statistics, during this period of China-Africa trade fever that started in 2003, the number of Africans headed to Guangzhou has been growing at annual rates of 30-40%.

About five years ago, Chinese petrolem companies and businessmen poured into Africa. This led many locals to feel that China was grabbing their resources and rice bowls (jobs). And yet from tractors to toothpaste, everything was “Made in China”; this stimulated many of them into looking in China’s direction. Many of Clem’s friends encouraged him, “Go to China! Nigeria’s using petroleum to trade for foreign currency, and the Chinese are buying it to build heaven!”

In September of 2007, Clem’s father, working at a Nigerian embassy in Europe, was able to arrange a Chinese visa for him. His friends were envious. More and more Africans are patiently lining up in front of Chinese embassies in Africa, fighting for visas permitted under a limited quota. A guy who received his visa at the same time as Clem had paid a fee to a visa application service nine months ago. When he finally received the visa he had been waiting for, the guy who had been muttering and cursing under his breath finally calmed down; he fiercely kissed his passport.

Many taxi drivers aren’t willing to take on “chocolate” customers. They don’t like the nose-irritating perfume, nor the constant bargaining on every trip. Some drivers will use excuses that “you’re too big, the car won’t fit you”, or “I don’t understand your foreign language”; but some don’t care, “driving anybody is just business.”

Based on official statistics, since 2003, the number of Africans in Guangzhou has been growing at 30-40% annually. Based on a report in the Guangzhou Daily, there might already be 100,000 in the community. They come from Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Liberia, and Mali. Amongst these, Africa’s most populous country Nigeria claims first place.

They primarily live in village-districts in the city of Guangdong (like Dongpu, Dengfeng Jie, Yongping Jie). They do their business in a few large-scale China-Africa commerce malls.

The stalls in these commerce malls don’t have much in terms of decoration; at most, there will be a black plastic model at the front door. Samples are piled up the ground, and hung up on the walls and placed in display cases. In one building, the warehouse and sales offices are one and the same. Stall owners pile their blue jeans on the walk-way itself. When it gets busy, you have to step over the piles of pants.

These centers have accumulated basically all of the world’s top brands — Dolce and Gabbana blue jeans, Adidas shoes, Gucci high-heels, Louis Vuitton purses, Chanel purses, Armani underwear. Their prices are ridiculous: Dolce and Gabbana jeans are 20 RMB (3 USD), Gucci high-heels and purse together for 100 RMB (15 USD)…

While picking through clothes, Cote claimed that he had many Chinese friends here. To prove his point, he walked up, and pats the store-owner on his head. Or, he playfully kicks at the store-owner’s leg. He’ll loudly greet them, “Friend, how are you recently?” His “friends” don’t respond. Some pull out a cell phone and intentionally ignore him. Others impatiently wave at him, and say in a combination of Chinese and English: “if you’re not buying anything, then go… quickly GO!”

Guangzhou has the densest concentration of African businessmen in China. Areas and cities surrounding the area has thousands of factories that take tens of thousands of African orders, originating from Chocolate City, every day.

… On Yongping Street, many black illegal immigrants live together in homes that rent for 100-200 RMB per month. They come out only at night, either selling physical labor by offering to carry goods, or sell drugs and other illegal activities. According to police in the area, starting in November of 2007, they had searched out a group of Africans in the country illegally. They were sent to Yunnan and deported.

Africans in Tokyo

On the continental level, Africans make up the least significant group of foreigners in Japan, far outstripped by just about every other group that counts (Vietnam alone has more registered foreigners in Tokyo than the entire continent). According to a Mainichi article from 2006 Africans in the Tokyo area number in the “tens of thousands,” though this is far above the 2,987 registered foreigners of African nationality within Tokyo Prefecture (Excel). It is also far smaller than the “as many as 100,000” in Guangzhou – that would mean African residents make up 1.31% of Guanghzhou’s population vs. 0.16% of Tokyo’s (assuming that Mainichi is right and there are at least 20,000 African residents in the Tokyo area). I should also mention that they are apparently overwhelmingly male and in prime working years.

Many are apparently in the country under similar terms as in China – most come from Nigeria and Ghana, and they are in the country on work/business visa quotas, and sometimes as illegal overstayers. In addition, many are in the country on spouse visas, both genuine and fraudulent (or somewhere in between). Some teach English, while others operate or work for clothing stores, import shops, or restaurants. Their numbers extend beyond Tokyo – I have heard reports of African-run hip-hop clothing stores as far-flung as Shikoku.

While almost all of the African residents in both Japan and China surely make their livings legitimately, it is worth mentioning that Africans in Japan have been notably involved in counterfeiting, drug muling, money laundering, and other illicit activities, apparently in line with the situation in Guangzhou. These crimes may receive extra scrutiny because of how Africans stand out. Anecdotal reports indicate that the police generally view Africans with suspicion, and apparently when they are arrested they can expect little mercy from the Japanese justice system (though the reaction in Japan must certainly be tamer than the brazen racism seen in that piece on China).  

One key difference between the Sino-African and Japanese-African relationships is that while the Japanese interests have centered around resource investment projects (in his youth, Prime Minister Aso helped run a diamond mining operation in Sierra Leone) and meeting diplomatic goals (UN Security Council reform, whaling), China under Mao developed ideological ties with leaders in Africa as it sought to support socialist revolution abroad. These efforts included a priority student visa program for African students to study at Chinese universities. On an only tangentially related not, this was the historical background of some pretty scary 1988 protests in Nanjing:

On December 24, 1988 two male African students were entering their campus at Hehai University in Nanjing with two Chinese women. The occasion was a Christmas Eve party. A quarrel about correct identification between one of the Africans and a Chinese security guard, who had ordered the Africans to register their guests, led to a brawl between the African and Chinese students on the campus which lasted till the morning, leaving 13 students injured. 300 Chinese students, spurred by false rumors that a Chinese man had been killed by the Africans, broke into and set about destroying the Africans’ dormitories, shouting slogans such as “Kill the black devils!” After the police had dispersed the Chinese students, many Africans fled to the railway station in order to gain safety at various African embassies in Beijing. The authorities prevented the Africans from boarding the trains so as to question those involved in the brawl. Soon their numbers increased to 140, as other African and non-African foreign students, fearing violence, arrived at the station asking to be allowed to go to Beijing.

By this time, Chinese students from Hehai University had joined up with students from other Nanjing universities to make up a 3000 strong demonstration which called on government officials to prosecute the African students and reform the system which gave foreigners more rights than the Chinese. On the evening of 26 December, the marchers converged on the railway station while holding banners calling for human rights and political reform. Chinese police managed to isolate the non-Chinese students from the marchers and moved them to a military guest house outside Nanjing. The demonstrations were declared illegal, and riot police were brought in from surrounding provinces to pacify the demonstrations which lasted several more days.

The African population depicted in the video is clearly of a much different character from these earlier students. Reflecting the increasing resource investment of China itself, this group of Africans in China are strictly business-oriented (many never even attended college), apparently hoping to cash in on the Chinese economic boom.

50 thoughts on “Africans in Guangzhou, Africans in Tokyo”

  1. Nice, I got my first Chinese-language link:

    Go go gadget machine translator!

    This was posted in the “Chinese dinosaur net second forum – extinct organism amateur’s network homeland» anthropology synthesis area»” forum under the topic “domestic black yellow person of mixed blood”

    Here is the portion with the link to MF:
    “On this homepage has the CNN Guangzhou black’s report video frequency:… – africans-in-tokyo/

    The west gave the attention promptly, China did not have any television report on the contrary.”

    Original Chinese:
    这个网页上有CNN的广州黑人的报道视频: … -africans-in-tokyo/


  2. Adamu, your comments are obvious based on your own racism. What was racist on that video? Because Africans can be cheated? That’s not racism. That happens to everyone. Haggling is cultural in China. Stop trying to transfer your culture’s ugliness onto others.

  3. I meant in the article, not the video. Should have been more specific I guess.

    These are the relevant passages:

    Many taxi drivers aren’t willing to take on “chocolate” customers. They don’t like the nose-irritating perfume, nor the constant bargaining on every trip. Some drivers will use excuses that “you’re too big, the car won’t fit you”, or “I don’t understand your foreign language”; but some don’t care, “driving anybody is just business.”

    While picking through clothes, Cote claimed that he had many Chinese friends here. To prove his point, he walked up, and pats the store-owner on his head. Or, he playfully kicks at the store-owner’s leg. He’ll loudly greet them, “Friend, how are you recently?” His “friends” don’t respond. Some pull out a cell phone and intentionally ignore him. Others impatiently wave at him, and say in a combination of Chinese and English: “if you’re not buying anything, then go… quickly GO!”

    On one stall, Cote is told that the jeans he’s interested in are 20 RMB a pair. He fiercely throws the pants at the stall-owners head, angrily asking, “how it can be that expensive!?” He turns and goes. After the shocked stall-owner recovers, he stares at the back of the thick shoulders of the departing Cote. He opens his mouth, and then closes it, changing to a single phrase in Cantonese: “Crazy black guy!” (痴线黑佬)

    So that’s what I thought was a little off-putting. That and the idea that there are upward of 100,000 people in the city completely ghettoized in a place called “Chocolate Town.” Blatant racism is surely a loaded term, but what else to call that? People always want to change the subject to talk about where I come from.

  4. Should also check the Asahi’s veteran african correspondent,Matsumoto Jinnichi’s series piece of “Chinese in Africa” and “Africans in Kabukicho”. Good piece.

  5. From the Debito article linked –

    “Which means, pardon the ghoulish tone, that if Idubor had been Japanese and the woman foreign, he could have chopped her up without adding much to his sentence.”

    Oh… my… god. He’s talking about the victim who he accused of lying and published her name online…. Debito really has to cool off and think about what he’s writing.

    BTW, there were also Chinese student marches in the 1980s protesting Africans dating Chinese women under banners like “Stop Insulting Our Women”. Yes, “your” women. Yes, dating = insulting. While “Chocolate Town” is bad, things were way worse before globalization.

  6. I quote from professor Johnson’ book Mr. Debito cites in this article(HT to Sora).

    “Though more research is needed, it appeared that compared with American counterpart, Japanese prosecutor discriminate less, and less severely against racial minority ethnic minority.”(p. 157)

    “Neither RTI study find evidence that foreign suspect and offenders are treated worse than Japanese.”(p. 158)

    I am not a big fan of the police and the prosecuter and I don’t full information about all the cases Mr. Debito cites(I have no time to check related documents), but it is certain that he shuts his eyes to above sentences in the book he seems to read.

  7. Where I live in the US people get attacked and beaten for dating a white woman. So some protest back in the 1980s shows how petty the author of the article is that they have to go that far back.

    Let’s go back to the Bejing Olympics where more than one American journalist wrote about why was Kobe Bryant more popular than Lance Armstrong in China? Shouldn’t they have wrote why was Kobe Bryant more popular than Yao Ming in China? This just shows the white supremacist mentality is alive and well in the mainstream West. My question is why would you think Lance Armstrong over Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant? Bicycling in China is not a huge sport just by telling what sports they won and concentrated on during the Olympics. So why an unknown in China like Lance Armstrong? Just because white people lionize him, the Chinese have to worship someone they don’t even know?

    I really love how Westerners are trying to portray China as racist with superficial examples. If China were so racist, why is Kobe Bryant treated like he were a god in China. Why is it that four other African-American NBA stars sell more of their endorsed products than Yao Ming in China? Why is it that African-American celebrities are more popular than white A-list stars?

    Face it. The West still is far more racist and this is just another attempt to deflect the cultural racism of the West onto someone else. And let’s get this staright. There is racism in Asia. But if you’ve noticed it’s most worst in countries that were colonized and influenced by the West. So all you hypocrites are doing is displacing the ugly racism you taught to Asian countries you occupied and now you’re tranferring what happened there to the Chinese. So it’s laughable to say the Japanese are less racist than the Chinese.

  8. Jammer, there are lots of African American celebrities that sell more records or movie tickets (Will Smith is the box office champ right now) in the USA than whites. Most popular athletes are black. Does this mean that the USA “is not racist”? No. Logic does not work that way for the USA, nor for China.

    In any case, neither Adamu nor I said anything about China or Chinese being one way or another. We simply cited some actual happenings that we were aware of through certain sources. You, on the other hand seem to be comfortable making totalizing statements about all white people. That can be taken as racist. Does “the West” that you talk about include Finland? What did they ever do to you?

    I don’t find Japan to be particularly “racist”, nor do I have a strong opinion one way or the other on race issues in China. I don’t see, however, why it is “laughable to say that Japanese are less racist than the Chinese.” There are racist Japanese and racist Chinese, it isn’t a national competition to see who can be more or less racist. We can’t measure one way or the other so you should not be so dismissive.

    China has some problems, however. In 2005 and 2008 there were random street attacks on Japanese and French because of political grievances. Such behaviour is rarely seen in Japan, if at all. The use of 小日本 and 日本鬼子is shockingly widespread on the internet. Does this mean that “China is racist”? No, we should not think in those terms. But it does mean that there is a problem that can’t be blamed on “the West”.

    Your point that Asians “learned” racism from Westerns really does not hold water. Were the “Boxer Rebellion” attacks on foreigners in China “learned” from others? The older Sinocentric way of referring to foreigners is 化外之民 which implies that they are universally uncivilized. This may not be “racist” but it is an example of cultural chauvinism. And yes, “the West” did/does it to. But that is not an excuse to avoid self reflection or pass exclusive blame to others for what seems to be an unfortunately common side of the human condition.

  9. “but it is certain that he shuts his eyes to above sentences in the book he seems to read.”

    Thanks for those sources Mozu. If Debito had simply said that there have been some miscarriages of justice lately and that people should watch out, I don’t think that anyone would have a problem. I just can’t see why he feels the need to turn a few carefully selected cases into a sweeping trend. With sound use of evidence, he would be making the same point and not alienating anyone.

  10. Still, it sounds like he’s basically right that prosecutors could get away with shenanigans pretty easily when it’s an African defendant. They are demonized and often lack effective legal representation.

  11. “could get away with shenanigans pretty easily when it’s an African defendant.”

    Could. But it seems like the article is saying that it WILL happen every time. “Chinaman’s chance”!? We’re back to the n—-r thing. I see that Debito is saying “don’t compare to the US, not relevant when talking about Japan”, but here he is using the cliches of US 19th century justice in discussing the position of foreigners in Japan at present! This is no good.

    It’s also pretty shocking that he uses one stat from the Johnson book as his major source of authority in the piece and yet ignores the other parts that refute the way he uses that evidence and his entire argument.

    A real survey or something could produce an action plan.

    Anyway, look at this from my POV – I’ll have students asking me “why do they always just let go Japanese who murder foreigners?” for years.

  12. “So it’s laughable to say the Japanese are less racist than the Chinese.”

    We’ll learn about that when one of the African pushers in Kabukicho put up clips on You-tube being brutally beaten by the Met cops(which seems to be happening almost every day according to Ardou) and whether GoJ would block that with great fire wall.

  13. I’m also very critical of Debito for the recent Japan times piece but I’m not sure that those two quotations from Johnson’s book are quite the slam dunk against him that mozu suggests. Johnson writes that many commentators, both Japanese and foreign, believe that prosecutors are biased and so he sets out to test the thesis. The “RTI studies” he refers to are two Ministry of Justice studies which Johnson, in something of an understatement, says should be handled “cautiously”. The results of both do not show the kind of bias predicted by the commentators. I think it is certainly true that Johnson suggests that some of their claims may therefore not be well-founded but his main point is that he would be in a better position to tell if there were more such studies which searched for bias. He writes: “The hunt obviously should continue”.

  14. “Johnson writes that many commentators, both Japanese and foreign, believe that prosecutors are biased and so he sets out to test the thesis. ”

    But then,prosecutors are always “biased” to their suspects,which is their job.
    What I don’t understand is Johnson(and Ardou)put comparison with the U.S in the argument.
    Surely you can come up with the hypothesis that J-cops would treat Africans more civil than some big city American cops because;
    A)African suspects has zero indication of posessing any fire arms here in Japan whilst can be a major factor to the law enforcer in dealing the suspects in the U.S.
    B)The population of African communities are so small in Japan,they can hardly be seen as the danger to the society.

    “Which means, pardon the ghoulish tone, that if Idubor had been Japanese and the woman foreign, he could have chopped her up without adding much to his sentence.”

    If the murder which Ardou is reffering on the above comment is on Lucie Blackman case by Obara Joji.who happens to be a second generation Korean emigre,then we have partial evidence that a Zainichi suspect can have fair treatment from Japanese prosecutors,which is against the widespread hype.

  15. “But then,prosecutors are always “biased” to their suspects,which is their job.”

    That’s not the bias in question. Bias is when, all things being equal, a prosecutor would tend more to press charges against a foreigner but not a Japanese citizen; a man but not a woman; a poor person but not a rich one etc.

    “If the murder which Ardou is reffering on the above comment is on Lucie Blackman case by Obara Joji…”

    It’s not. Debito’s talking about the first Nozaki case.

  16. “That’s not the bias in question. Bias is when, all things being equal, a prosecutor would tend more to press charges against a foreigner but not a Japanese citizen; a man but not a woman; a poor person but not a rich one etc.”

    That’ll put us all into a debate over the relation between legal procedure and agnosticism,Mulboyne.

    Anyway,I happened to married to a foreign woman who was interrogated by J-cops in Kochi pref.back in 2001.She thought cops were alright.

    “It’s not. Debito’s talking about the first Nozaki case”

    The case isn’t closed yet and Ardou had misrepresented the example to back up his argument.Met cops had busted Nozaki for additional charges of murder,although finding “material evidence” would be very difficult just as the case in Idubor.

    And Ardou had also reffered to Blackman/Obara case to back up his argument.

  17. I don’t think I could beat this article by simple quotes and I don’t deny totally what he claims. I am just critical of his tendency for sweeping generalization because this kind of rhetorical tactics contributes solely to produce suspicion and fear among his readers. I don’t think this is a positive way for improvement of conditions in which many foreigners are placed.

  18. I found some interesting stats in from a survey of around 1000 Japanese and 1000 foreign prisoners from 2005. (published in Iwao Sumiko’s Gaikokujin Hanzaisha).

    34% of foreigners in Japanese prisoners claim that their trials were “unfair”.

    34% of Japanese in Japanese prisons claim that their trials were “unfair”.

    Now that is a bit of a surprise. This doesn’t really prove that there is less unfair treatment of foreigners, but it is interesting that the criminals themselves don’t report the sort of “Chinaman’s chance” feeling that Debito does.

    Even more surprising are stats related to treatment in prison. Over 80% of female foreigner prisoners and over 70% of males report that they “trust” and “feel well treated by” prison guards. These are both substantially higher than statistics for Japanese.

    Is Obara really a “zainichi”? If so, Debito looks pretty silly using that as an example of preferential treatment of Japanese.

  19. We all found out Obara was born as a “zainichi” through police records(He obtained Japanese citizenship afterwards).But all of the news outlets decided that this has nothing to do with the case we had at hand,which I would say a decent judgement.
    However,it had generated usual 2ch conspiracy theory that media is at the hand of Korean influence and hiding something.

    Only media that had mentioned Obara’s ethnic background is UK Guardian.

  20. ”We’ve had plenty of cases where Japanese men kill and mutilate Japanese women (e.g. Yoshio Kodaira, Kiyoshi Okubo), and they tend to get the hangman’s noose. Not Nozaki.”

    There’s a lot more problem on these names Ardou had listed.Both Kodaira and Okubo had confessed their crime during the interrogation.,while Nozaki is not.

    Also minor trivia.It was revealed that Kodaira had commited atrocity toward Chinese civilian during WW2,and that gained him the addiciton to murder and rape.These negative facts came open only after the police investigation.
    And Okubo’s mom was a half-Russian and that’s gave Okubo a quasi Russian outlook along with him dressing ”rubashka”,the russian ethnic clothing, all the time when he enchanted his victims.
    These tiny bits of info don’t make J-cops anymore foreign friendly than they are,however,I wouldn’t use them as the backup evidence of police suffering institutional xenophobia.

  21. quotes→quotations

    Anyway, his statement that there exists the inequality between the Japanese and the foreigners in deciding murder or abandonment is unconvincing, at least for me. He can prove whatever he wants if he pick up examples suitable for his conviction with ignoring details and counter-examples. C’est pas logique. He should investigate and criticize individual cases without resorting to horror if he wants to keep his reputation, and JT should check his article and advise him if it wants to keep its quality. I believe this is a basic requirement.

  22. You’ll get no argument from me about the sweeping generalizations and misrepresentations in the piece Debito wrote. I found it frustrating because the subject deserves better treatment. I’d like to see evidence which suggests that foreigners defendants are charged more frequently and get heavier sentences than Japanese defendants; that foreign witness testimony is subordinated to Japanese witness testimony or that foreign victims and complainants find their cases pursued less vigorously than if they were Japanese. Personally, I’m inclined to believe there’s some likelihood that foreigners get a rawer deal across the board but I’ve no idea whether the difference is significant. If it is significant, it would be useful to understand whether it was a result of conscious bias or unconscious bias. It would also be important to know whether differential treatment was an increasing trend or a decreasing trend.

  23. >I found it frustrating because the subject deserves better treatment.

    Yes, apart from his article, it deserves better treatment, although I have no evidence to offer. I don’t think the police and the prosecutor have been always fair toward foreigners and minorities. What you suggest is probable and I believe it’s natural tendency that the mistreatment might occur in the minor offenses more frequently than in felonies, which could cause scandals and make the prosecutor highly prudent. I wonder how the Judicial Reform will affect this subject.

  24. Evidence (all gleaned from Heisei 18 犯罪白書 and 矯正統計統計表)

    Compare the sentences of foreigners requiring interpreters handed down in 2008, those most likely to be discriminated against, with the sentences of the prison population as a whole –

    Foreigners –

    Less than 1 year – 5%
    1-2 years – 33.2 %
    2-3 years – 54.3%
    3-5 years – 4%
    5 years or over – 3.5%

    General jail population –

    Less than 1 year – 5%
    1-2 years – 21.3%
    2-3 years – 25.5%
    3-5 years – 25.5%
    5 years or over – 22.4%

    No, I didn’t mix up the stats.

    The number of jail sentences for immigration related crimes (consider that most of these crimes involve getting booted out of the country, not jail, as in the recent case of the Filipino couple with forged passports) is approx. 13% of the total for foreigners, certainly not high enough to create a major discrepancy in the statistics. In most major areas for which many Japanese and foreigners are sentenced to jail time – kakuseizai, robbery, assault, etc. – the percentage of total cases seem roughly equal, given population size. There are some with major discrepancies (many more foreigners than Japanese by percentage for mayaku rather than kakuseizai) but when considering the averages, it seems as though the (informal) “badness” level of crimes by foreigners and Japanese is similar. There is no significant difference in percentages between Japanese (412) and foreigners (20) put away for murder, and other “heinous” crimes also seem similar.

    When looking at the percentage of trials that end in jail time, however, it is 64.9% for foreigners (excluding immigration crime) and 57.9% for Japanese so there is a discrepancy there that can perhaps partly be explained by the slightly higher percentage of non-immigration offences by foreigners involving violence and partly by a moderate bias.

    In the end, there is an evident and difficult to explain lightness in the sentences being handed down to foreigners in Japan along with a slightly higher rate of incarceration. Of course, in order to really do this well, we would need to compare sentences handed down for identical crimes in similar circumstances, but that would require hundreds of hours of document work (I’m not doing it).

    Incidentally, there were only 15 Africans who received prison sentences in the sample. The group is certainly not being targeted in any meaningful way.

    I should also note that the numbers that I used are the ones that do not include “special permanent residents”.

  25. Don’t ask me for the stats.
    But there are tendency of serious crimes(murder,kidnapping) being commited by the foreigners that targets another foreigners in Japan.Almost all of the Brazilian and Chinese murder cases that I know here in Aichi are occured between the same nationals.

  26. Re: Mbone. Is it possible that foreigners tend to get lesser sentences than Japanese because in some cases they may be extradited or deported instead of imprisoned? Could this be enough to affect the average numbers?

  27. Oops, I tried to post and the software ate it!

    Consider a recent example of a foreigner getting the boot – the younger of the pothead sumo. He could have gone to jail, but it isn’t the foreigners who would be serving more than 3 years who are getting deported, it is the ones who would be serving less. So one would think that, if anything, deportations would skew the foreigner stats toward longer sentences.

  28. I couldn’t even begin to guess how the numbers would work out if you include the effects of deportation and extradition, but I think someone needs to try and crunch them before we can even make a meaningful comparison. It seems possible that at least some of the more serious criminals would also have arrest warrants waiting for them in other countries, especially their home one, and perhaps some of them could be extradited so that the Japanese authorities can just avoid dealing with it. Possible, sure, but I have no idea if it happens.

  29. “at least some of the more serious criminals would also have arrest warrants waiting for them in other countries, especially their home one, and perhaps some of them could be extradited so that the Japanese authorities can just avoid dealing with it.”

    For handing over prisoners to other countries, it looks like it is 1-3 per year for the last 4.

    In any case, I wouldn’t argue strongly that these stats necessarily suggest that foreigners are getting off easy in Japan, but I do think that we are a long, long way from being able to argue that most or even many (or even a meaningful ‘some’) are getting a raw deal.

  30. Just looked at the rate that the most common crimes investigated are brought to trial –

    Foreigners –
    Robbery – 89.3%
    Assault – 47.2%
    Rape – 58.8%
    Kakuseizai – 88.2%

    Japanese –
    Robbery – 80.5%
    Assault – 61.2%
    Rape – 62%
    Kakuseizai – 83.9%

    (I left out murder where the foreign rate is 20% higher. There are only 20 cases, too small a sample, as each would produce a big swing). In any case, there is no pattern here that I can see. I’d be curious to see how foreigners are beating assault charges….

    Finding this stuff is a pain, the Japanese gov. stats really are broken down into some MADDENING categories….

  31. M-Bone: I think you did mix up the stats. The distribution you cited for the general public is the number of people IN JAIL, whereas the distribution for foreigners you cited is the number of people SENT TO JAIL. It’s like comparing a balance sheet to an income statement. Naturally, if you look at a snapshot of the population, it will be skewed toward long-term residents.

    The Heisei 18 hakusho has another table (2-3-2-2) which shows the following distribution of sentences imposed by district courts during H17:

    Less than 1 year – 18.4%
    1-2 years – 41.4 %
    2-3 years – 31.9%
    3-5 years – 5.3%
    5 years or over – 3.0%

    Which makes the foreigners’ situation look worse.

  32. It’s hard to know what data would make or break the case for conscious or unconscious bias against foreigners. Do you include special permanent residents? If you don’t, then the foreign population demographic is immediately skewed because there isn’t a big elderly population. But then again, does this skew the data up or down? Elderly crimes have been one of the fastest growing segments in Japan but you’d probably still expect a younger population to have a higher crime rate. Does that mean the non-Japanese population might be expected to have a higher crime rate than the Japanese population or do we think that immigrants, expats, guest workers or what have you would be more inclined to keep their noses clean? Why compare foreign crime statistics with national crime statistics when the foreign population is not evenly spread nationwide? Would metropolitan crime data be a better basis for comparison? David T. Johnson’s book, mentioned above, notes that prosecutors have shown Osaka courts to be more lenient than Tokyo courts.

    Just because it is difficult to make comparisons doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try but it isn’t clear that we all agree on a starting point. If the police and courts were completely even-handed, most people might assume that conviction rates and sentences ought to be the same but there are factors which would argue that they ought to be different.

    Most foreigners getting together over a few drinks can come up reasons why they might get the short end of the stick. One common argument is the one Johnson cites Daniel Foote using, although I’m not suggesting the prof was in his cups when he came up with it. This argument says that judicial procedure in Japan revolves around rehabilitation, where the aim is to get criminals to admit their guilt and reflect on their wrongdoing with a view to reintegration. An admission of guilt can go a long way to convincing a judge to hand down a lighter sentence. Foote suggests that foreign defendants are not seen as targets for rehabilitation or reintegration because they are not regarded as members of the permanent population. Consequently, he thinks they are more likely to be subject to a punitive process or at least a “separate track”. As Roy says above, the fact that a foreign defendant might face deportation could also affect this process.

    That raises a number of issues. Would this mean that police don’t look for confessions from foreign suspects and so put more weight on witness testimony or other evidence? If they do, is Japanese witness testimony likely to be given more weight than foreign witness testimony? Do foreigners plead not guilty more often and, if so, is this because it is less common to admit guilt in some other cultures or is it because they are more likely to be wrongfully arrested in the first place?

    Again, you wonder how this would show up in the data. A more punitive approach towards foreigners might suggest there should be evidence of more convictions, longer sentences or both. However, we also know that police reliance on obtaining confessions means that some Japanese defendants have felt coerced into confessing and so have been wrongly convicted. The rehabilitation route might lead to lighter sentences but also to more convictions, a higher than normal proportion of which are unsafe. On the other hand, Japanese offenders who have committed crimes might be able to avoid prosecution entirely because they are able to make sufficient reparations to their victims before the police are obliged to make a decision to send papers to the prosecutor. This is not uncommon in assault, theft – especially shoplifting – and property damage cases and can even happen with more serious charges as the weekly magazines are happy to allege.

    Another argument which gets common currency is the theory that the Japanese police are less inclined to follow up complaints by foreigners. This says that police are reluctant to get involved, in particular because the language barrier can be hard to overcome. It usually means getting interpreters involved which means calling on outside resources and drawing attention to the case. For a policeman trying to get along in his career, it might look like a safer option to hope the complainant goes away. Of course, the flipside of that argument is that a policeman might also be inclined to ignore a foreign offender if it all seemed like it might be too much trouble. That sounds superficially plausible but it’s damned difficult to see how you can collect data on something that hasn’t happened.

    Over the years, I’ve heard complaints that police have a particular deaf ear towards allegations of sexual assault, perhaps especially so if the complainant is a mizu shobai worker. Here it’s interesting to go back to Johnson’s book. Its important to note that his observations quoted above by mozu only refer to prosecutors and not to the actions of police or the courts. However, when he surveyed prosecutors to get an idea of conscious bias against certain social groups (left-wingers, zainichi Koreans, foreigners, homeless, day labourers etc) he found no bias except in one case. He writes: “In sex crimes, prosecutors often seem to discount the seriousness of the offence – on the basis, at least in part, of their reduced regard for the interests of female victims”. Perhaps foreign victims fare even worse but it might just as easily be the case that foreigner’s grievances are shared as much by Japanese victims with gender discrimination trumping all.

    There’s a whole host of issues to deal with here and and, just because we don’t have clear-cut answers doesn’t mean we have to stay completely silent. However, it’s not that difficult to remain credible by showing you have a basic idea of how the criminal process works in Japan and that’s where I think Debito fell down badly in his recent article.

  33. The point is if Ardou wants to be taken seriously on the issue,he should be more serious about what’s he’s writing.
    OK,he was right about Gaijin Hanzai File.He is probably right about Tokyu Hands selling party goods that could turn a salaryman into instant Dave Specter is not-so PC.

    But this JT piece is way more serious in many aspects.Ardou probably has good intention and even positive cause to pursue,but clearly he lacks both ability and method to pass it to the others in constructive way.Do all these foreigner related issues must be represented by the man himself?
    I think it’s about time that Gaijin village to get a new sheriff.

  34. “I think you did mix up the stats.”

    I just used the “keihan” sentences for men only for both Japanese (jail population) and foreigners (sentenced), and this is not ideal (or even a particularly good idea), as you indicated.

    I didn’t want to use 2-3-2-2, however, for the following reasons –

    The numbers are just for Chiho and perhaps you can help me out here Joe – don’t more serious cases end up being sentenced at higher levels (or final sentences after appeal)? I wasn’t sure.

    The stats that I used were for men only – get higher sentences for doing worse dirt usually.

    Didn’t include traffic stuff (keihan) while 2-3-2-2 includes everything together, I think.

    The foreigners chart is also different in that it is for first convictions and doesn’t take reduced sentences on appeal into account while that is not done for 2-3-2-2.

    In addition, on 2-3-2-2, and this is most important, I saw that it includes individuals whose sentences have been suspended (no doubt the high number of lighter sentences) while the foreign number are just for people who are jail bound with suspended sentences not included. 2-3-2-2 also gives zero indication of how many of the tens of thousands of people that it covers actualyl do time. Would, of course, like to have some stats as to how many foreigners are getting suspended sentences. I wanted to make sure, however, that I was actually comparing people doing time on both sides so maybe I #$^$ed up completely when doing that.

    It could be that all of this, including my originals, is measuring entirely different things. The Saikosaibansho may have some better numbers on its web site, I will check it out. The 矯正 stats were more useful actually, although I did have to whip out a calculator and do the numbers myself.

    The rates at which common crimes are brought to trial, however, are measuring the same thing for both groups. That’s something anyway.

    Mulboyne, I didn’t include “special perm. residents”.

  35. Found a good one in the Saikosaibansho stats – only about 3% of cases involving foreigners end with deportation instead of jail time (although lots are no doubt deported after serving time).

  36. Damn, of course that 3% doesn’t include foreigners whose sentence is suspended and are then deported…. Someone should make a law that government agencies actually have to measure the same thing in their damn stats….

  37. M-Bone,

    In China they’re not exposed to Africans because the Chinese never enslaved Africans. So it does say something when you have a culture that has been so brutalized by foreigners that the Chinese people would be more acceptable of Africans more than their own. Your arguments doesn’t wash because the Chinese don’t have reason to feel guilty unlike white Americans who have to show their token gestures in liking black celebrities in order to show their not racist. Afterall a black celebrity would need the acceptance of the majority white population in order to be successful in Hollywood. Doesn’t Will Smith still need the acceptance of whites in order to be successful as a celebrity. There you still are in control of a African-American’s success or failure. Still you’re big time racists because the only way for blacks to succeed is to be popular with whites and not by their own academic merits. China doesn’t owe or feel guilty for what was done to Africans because the Chinese never committed crimes against them unlike the West. SO it does sa y alot that a person of Africa descent are more popular celebrities more than whites or the Chinese themselves. And also bad example using Will Smith. Is will Smith the top celebrity in the US? Noooooooooooooooo!

  38. Adamu,

    Now you get all defensive when you’re reminded of the racist culture that you belong to. Hypocrites never like being called out on their own hypocrisy. No African has to worry about being killed just for being black in China. Look at America’s butcher cops that shot in the back and killed Oscar Grant while he was handcuffed and laying on his belly for all the world to see. And look at all the New York cops who fired hundreds of rounds at an unarmed black man. And you think you can accuse the Chinese of racism. Look at all the racism from the French towards African immigrants. Or how about the German soccer fans who threw bananas onto the field when their team was playing a team from Africa. What a joke! Your misplaced sense of right and wrong is laughable.

  39. “After all a black celebrity would need the acceptance of the majority white population in order to be successful in Hollywood.”

    Tyler Perry’s “Madea” films have almost no acceptance among white Americans – most remain unaware they even exist – but his recent “Madea Goes to Jail” took $41.1 million in its opening weekend and has now grossed $90 million in six weeks. That makes him a raging success by Hollywood’s standards and ought to send you back to the drawing board with your arguments.

  40. “And you think you can accuse the Chinese of racism.”

    Well,they may not target “Africans”,but their cops sure beat the shit out of unarmed Tibetans.And their soccer fans are not exactly gentle when they are dealing with foreign teams(Especially Japanese).
    We’ll learn about Chinese attitudes toward immigrants when they start having them at home instead of themselves become such in abroad.But then again,you could tell pretty much from their attitude to the migrants peasants.

  41. “Still you’re big time racists because the only way for blacks to succeed is to be popular with whites and not by their own academic merits.”

    A – I’m not American.
    B – I work at a university and was party to hiring a “black … by their own academic merits.”
    C – Will Smith is America’s most consistent box office champ.

    Jammer, a word of advice – you may think that you are defending China here, but most of the people who read a blog like this are intelligent enough to realise that societies like China, Japan, etc. are very pluralist – you can find racism and welcoming attitudes, altruism and hatred. Your arguments are just not very logical and seem to be rooted in some kind of misplaced nationalist hate of the US. In trying to argue that Chinese are reasonable and progressive global citizens (many are) you are instead reminding everybody that some (especially younger) Chinese are beholden to a pretty disturbing form of nationalism.

  42. “Afterall a black celebrity would need the acceptance of the majority white population in order to be successful in Hollywood.”

    This is arrant nonsense. It is completely irrelevant what race the majority is – the celeb just needs the majority to be a celeb. But then again, what you really seem to be saying is that blacks need whites to accept them. Isn’t that exactly what racial tolerance is supposed to be?

  43. It would be interesting to see some of those crime statistics broken down by country of origin as well. As there are foreigners and then there are foreigners. My point is when I was living and working in Taiwan – I definitely got preferential treatment for visas and in dealing with officials then my colleagues from the Philippines and India (some of whom were using passports from Australia). I always got the maximum visa lengths with no problems, while they were often restricted to one or two weeks maximum. The idea that an IT professional working for a multinational company, would want to be an illegal immigrant into Taiwan doing menial jobs is ridiculous. This has been repeated in other countries as well, that as I’m of an obvious northern European origin I usually have a much easier time in dealing with officials then my colleagues from SE Asia.

    Also – I kind of would expect foreigners to have more difficulty with the police then locals, because as a foreigner – you don’t know how things work. In other words what laws are enforced, which ones aren’t – and how far you can push something. How to behave with the police and how the judicial system works and even what guilty behavior looks like to someone from a different culture. Meeting someone’s eyes can be interpreted as honesty or insolence depending on where you are. So stats on how foreigners are treated as compared to Japanese would be skewed in part because foreigners don’t necessarily behave like Japanese.

  44. The breakdown by nationality is pretty straightforward but I haven’t seen it done by nationality AND crime committed (or sentence) –

    (Interestingly, in the official Japanese stats, China includes Taiwan) –

    Stats are for newly sent to jail –

    China – 40%
    Brazil – 12%
    Korea – 10% (Zainichi not included)
    Iran – 6%
    Vietnam – 6%
    America – 1% (15 people)

    The group that are imprisoned madly out of line with their population are Iranians.

  45. Why does China allow so many blacks inside the country? Do they want a detroit or haiti inside their country?

  46. Adamu you should know all this example you give is a show of very bad manners.

    “To prove his point, he walked up, and pats the store-owner on his head.”

    Do you know head is the temple of the soul? Extremely rude to go touch people on their head.

    “Or, he playfully kicks at the store-owner’s leg. He’ll loudly greet them, “Friend, how are you recently?” His “friends” don’t respond. Some pull out a cell phone and intentionally ignore him.”

    So this is how rude people are not confronted as polite manners requires. You ignore the person instead of showing angry feelings, that is good manners.

    “He fiercely throws the pants at the stall-owners head, angrily asking,”

    He loose face big time. If he does not like being called crazy black guy, he should look in the mirror. No face.

    I think your examples is good teaching material how to ruin business relationship in China by bad manners, thank you.

Comments are closed.