The foreign press writes on Shocking Foreigner Crime File, but is it still available at Family Mart?

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    Update: FamilyMart has issued an apology for the sale of the magazine, so we are calling off our boycott on FamilyMart.

    [More information here.]

    A personal friend of mine, who I trust completely, has informed me that he saw Gaijin Hanzai Ura File on sale this morning at a FamilyMart at Takasaka Station in Northern Saitama Prefecture. Meanwhile, two new articles about the magazine/book have made it into the foreign press. First, an article from Australia’s ABC News online:

    ‘Shocking Foreigner Crime’ comic withdrawn

    Embarrassed Japanese retailers are removing a comic book from their shelves that highlights crimes committed by foreigners.

    The nationwide convenience store FamilyMart has announced it will pull from its shelves the comic-magazine titled “Shocking Foreigner Crime” after complaints of racism and offensive language.

    The publication details recent crimes in Japan involving foreigners, asking whether they should be allowed to devastate Japan.

    The company that published the magazine has denied it is racist, and says it wanted to broaden a debate about crime.

    And from the Khaleeg Times (Reuters?):

    Japanese stores pull ‘foreigner crime’ magazine

    5 February 2007

    TOKYO – Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart and other retailers are pulling copies of a book on ‘foreigner crime’ from their shelves after a wave of complaints, the stores said on Monday.

    The front cover of ‘Shocking Foreigner Crime: The Undercover File’, published in Japanese, features caricatures of non-Japanese, alongside the question: ‘Is it all right to let foreigners devastate Japan?’

    ‘We are removing the book from our shelves today,’ said Takehiko Kigure of FamilyMart Co.’s public relations department.

    ‘We had complaints from customers, and when we checked the content of the magazine, we found that it contained some inappropriate language,’ he added.

    Inside the glossy magazine-style book, photographs and illustrations show what the editors say are non-Japanese engaged in criminal or reprehensible behaviour.

    ‘We wanted to take this up as a contemporary problem,’ said Shigeki Saka of Tokyo-based publishers Eichi, which also publishes magazines on popular US and South Korean television dramas. ‘I think it would be good if this becomes a chance to broaden the debate,’ he added.

    One caption in the magazine refers to a black man as ‘nigger.’

    ‘This is not a racist book, because it is based on established fact,’ Saka said. ‘If we wanted to be racist, we could write it in a much more racist way,’ he added, saying that the word ‘nigger’ was not considered offensive in Japan.

    Details of well-known past crimes committed by foreigners are also given, such as last year’s kidnapping of the daughter of a wealthy plastic surgeon by a group including South Koreans and Chinese, and the 2003 murder of a family of four on the southern island of Kyushu by Chinese citizens.

    The number of registered foreigners in Japan has swelled to more than two million, or 1.57 percent of the population, and some commentators recommend the country accept more immigrants to shore up its ageing and shrinking workforce.

    Some in Japan, where crime rates are extremely low compared with Europe and the United States, are concerned about a possible increase in crime associated with an influx of foreigners, but mainstream media have not focussed on the issue in recent months.

    So the N-word isn’t offensive in Japan? Perhaps because there aren’t enough black people in Japan to make their voices heard when they are offended? Ridiculous. I’d also like to know what non-FamilyMart stores are removing the mook, anyone got some information on that?

    Update: Richard Lloyd Parry has also written a piece for The Times:

    A consumer boycott of Family Mart is gathering momentum on the internet. The combini chain has apparently agreed to take it off the shelves . . . in one week’s time, which doesn’t send the strongest of all possible messages. Japan has its hard-core racists like any country, but it’s rare for them to rise this far above the radar, and racist incidents often have an air about them of incompetence rather than viciousness. There was the beer hall, for instance, originally modelled (before being hastily redecorated after clamorous denunciations) on a Nazi theme. But the extravagant offensiveness of FUCF is troublingly hard to explain.

    You wonder about a psychological explanation — and there it is, in the captions of the photographs of foreign men sporting with Japanese women. “You sluts really think foreign guys are so great, huh!!” runs one. “We know Japanese guys are small, but . . .” And suddenly it all starts to make sense: not a surge of Japanese racism, nor an immigration crisis, but just a tormented male publisher somewhere in Tokyo who, in the words of the pop singer Lily Allen, is “small in the game”.

    Update 2:China’s People’s Daily Online/China Daily has picked up the Reuters story.

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