JAPAN: Magazine's focus on crimes by foreigners sparks outrage

Graphic collage of foreigners' crimes touches on Japanese xenophobia, say rights groups

South China Morning Post
Wednesday, February 7, 2007

By Julian Ryall

A lurid "true-crime" magazine that depicts foreigners as red-eyed criminals bent on causing mayhem in Japan has been criticised by a rights group as "ignorant propaganda" which will increase intolerance towards people from other countries.

Secret Files of Foreigners' Crimes went on sale across Japan on January 31, according to Eichi Publishing, but quickly caused outrage with its garish depictions of Chinese, Koreans, Iranians and US military personnel.

Eichi is an otherwise unremarkable publisher which also publishes mainstream magazines, including hobby and movie magazines, as well as some soft-core pornography.

The one-off, glossy 128-page magazine, which sells for 690 yen (HK$45), includes graphic, manga-style comic strips retelling the story of the murder of a family of four by three Chinese nationals in 2003, grainy pictures of a police raid on a brothel, images of off-duty American soldiers in a street scuffle, and shots of foreigners holding hands with Japanese women under the headline, "Yellow cab real street photo".

One is captioned "Hey nigger! Get your f****** hands off that Japanese lady's ass!" Another reads: "This is Japan! Go back to your own f****** country and do that!"

"It's disgusting," said US-born Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who campaigns for foreigners' rights. "It's fallacious, baiting, ignorant propaganda from cover to cover.

"It focuses exclusively on the bad things that some foreigners do, but has absolutely nothing about crimes committed by Japanese," he said. "Crime is not a nationality issue and they are simply equating evil crimes with evil foreigners."

A spokeswoman for the publisher declined to comment.

The publication is on sale in bookshops and convenience stores throughout Japan, as well as through Amazon Japan, although Mr Arudou said the FamilyMart chain, with nearly 7,000 stores, had removed it yesterday morning.

Mr Arudou said conservative politicians and media were edging Japanese society to the right and heightening fear of foreigners, and a magazine such as Eichi's bordered on incitement to racial hatred and would not be tolerated in most other societies.

One chapter of the magazine reveals the alleged tricks that foreign sex industry workers use to take advantage of drunk Japanese men - adding a dig about Korean women smelling of kimchee.

Another article is titled "City of violent degenerate foreigners", while a map of the world gives a "danger rating" for countries, with China top of the pile, followed by Korea and Brazil.

"The publication feels like a sales pitch for keeping foreigners out of Japan, and that's a campaign that the Japanese police began in 2000 when they began to get tougher on people from overseas," Mr Arudou said. He pointed out that the magazine contained an interview with a former police officer and mugshots of suspects. "I get the impression the police have been co-operating with the publishers."

According to the National Police Agency, 47,865 cases involving foreigners were solved in 2005, an increase of 737 cases from the previous year. Some 21,178 foreign suspects were arrested, down 664 in the same period.