Tokyo Restaurant Removes “Japanese People Only” Sign

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    Remember the above sign, which was featured on Arudou Debito’s blog last week? A group of users at Occidentalism report that they made a couple phone calls, talked to the restaurant owner, and the sign has been taken down:

    We have done it! The sign that Debito has been complaining about has been taken down thanks to the actions of Occidentalism commenters MaidoOido and Ponta, and also the policy of Occidentalism of bringing foreigners and Japanese people together, rather than driving a wedge by misunderstanding and prejudice.

    Ponta spoke with the owner on the phone, and the owner said that different customs lead 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 on dish between 5 people, etc. The sign was already down this morning when Ponta spoke with the owner, because MaidoOido had already contacted the local restaurant association to explain the situation.

    Matt, the author of the post, criticized Debito’s methods, which allegedly include the deletion of comments from users expressing dissenting opinions:

    The people that Debito has been deriding on his blog as “trolls” and “apologists” for Japanese only signs, including myself, have been the ones to solve this precisely because we allow an atmosphere of open discussion that allowed someone with the details of the restaurant to come forward, so we could contact the restaurant.

    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.

    Matt has also stated that an interview with the restaurant owner may soon be appearing on Occidentalism. The interview will be conducted by Ponta, a Japanese commenter who you may remember as one of the most active individuals in Japan Probe’s campaign against Family Mart’s decision to sell anti-foreign magazines in 2007.

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