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Housing: Legal to discriminate against foreigners?


The Japan Times “Readers in Council” Opinion piece below reminded me of my last Tokyo home search: “My wife got a close and personal observation of how gaijin is used in business. We visited a realtor to lease an apartment or a house. The agent made calls to numerous owners and most said no deal in renting to gaijin. Some homeowners would rent to gaijin if my wife (a.k.a. Japanese, safe, and a link to the parents if something went wrong) signed. I said NO to that! However, ONE homeowner said OK to rent to gaijin. The homeowner posed a question to the realtor. My wife and I did not hear the question but the realtor’s body language and his response to the question seemed like someone dropped a nuke on my wife. “Anooooooo kokujin desu!” Ahhh, he’s black! Not American, not just gaijin, but kokujin! My wife was frickin’ livid!” You can read more on my plight here after checking out the OpEd to the Japan Times below.

Robert D. Frazier, Jr. writes, “Apartment hunt shows the score”: “I am an American who has lived in Japan for the past eight years — five years in Osaka and three years in Tokyo. For the most part it has been a positive experience, but recent events have shown me Japan’s underlying legalized racism toward foreigners living in Japan.

It’s an old story that every foreigner living here has experienced: trying to find an apartment.

I started my own company three years ago and since then have paid millions and millions of yen in corporate taxes — not including personal taxes — tried to have a socially responsible company, volunteered to help out in the community, and done business with other Japanese businesses.I started looking for an apartment a month or so ago and have been turned down twice because I am a “gaijin.” My track record with apartments in the past eight years is perfect; in fact, I will put my track record with apartments and the amount of taxes paid against ANY Japanese citizen.

The unbelievable part is that it is 100 percent legal to discriminate in Japan. The most disappointing fact is the attitude of my Japanese “friends.” They listen then give me advice on how to get around the problem; not one sees the big picture of how wrong this is. Even my own lawyer to whom I pay a monthly retainer just shrugs it off.

This is the country that wants to host the 2016 Olympics? Yeah, right, as long as all the athletes are Japanese. Japan has shown her true colors and spit in my face, showing that I was, am and will always be considered no better than second class.

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  1. LB LB

    Sounds like Robert Frazier needs to get a better lawyer – like one who actually knows the law. It is against the law in Japan to discriminate in housing, and any landlord that refuses to rent to foreigners can be successfully sued. It is illegal for landlords to discriminate against potential renters for practically any reason. If a renter has a hoshounin, there isn’t much (legally) the landlord can do to refuse. Renter’s rights are much more highly protected in Japan than they are in other countries.

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