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Shiga bars non-Japanese speakers from public housing

Press Release on Shiga-Ken Sabetsu (July 11 2002)

Thanks to Thomas for putting this issue up. I am having great Netscape difficulties doing this myself. Here is the press release I sent to several mailing lists on the topic:

(freely forwardable)


Hello All. Want to try some people power? Got an issue for you that I think should not be left untouched.

Article from the Mainichi Shinbun yesterday states that Shiga Prefectural government bars foreignerswho do not speak Japanese (even those who bring along interpreters) from its public housing.

Have a look at the English translation I received from a news service. My comments and some contact information (should you wish to make your opinion known to Shiga-ken) follow the article.

> Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 16:48:16 +0000
> Shiga bars non-Japanese speakers from public housing
> OTSU -- Foreigners who do not speak Japanese have been barred from
> applying to rent apartments owned by the Shiga Prefectural Government,
> it was learned Wednesday.
> Even though the law governing public housing does not require
> Japanese-language ability as a precondition for moving into public
> apartments, the prefectural government enacted its own rules to bar
> foreigners, mainly Japanese-Brazilians, from its apartments.
> The prefectural government defends its requirement of Japanese-language
> abilities. "Those who can't handle daily conversations in Japanese tend
> to have disputes with neighbors if they enter public apartments," an
> official of the prefectural government's housing division said.
> A support group for foreign residents of Shiga Prefecture criticizes the
> practice as unfair. "It's unreasonable that only foreign residents can't
> enjoy these public services even though they pay taxes."
> There are prefectural government-run apartments for 3,100 households in
> Shiga Prefecture. The prefectural government allows local residents to
> apply to enter low-rent public housing on condition that they have never
> failed to pay taxes and that their income is below a certain level.
> Currently, approximately 150 households of foreign nationals are living
> in apartments owned by the prefectural government, and about 80 of them
> are Japanese-Brazilians.
> Foreign nationals had been allowed to apply to rent public housing if
> they have a one-year or longer residency permit.
> In 1994, however, the prefectural government enforced new regulations
> stipulating that those who apply to move in public housing must have
> sufficient ability to handle daily conversations in Japanese.
> In accordance with the rules, officials reject applications to rent
> public apartments if they deem that the applicants do not speak
> Japanese. The prefectural government does not even allow those who do
> not understand Japanese to file applications even if accompanied by an
> interpreter.
> In sharp contrast to Shiga, the Shizuoka and Aichi prefectural
> governments that have a large Japanese-Brazilian population in their
> territories are actively helping non-Japanese-speaking foreigners to
> apply to rent their public housing.
> Aichi Prefecture, with a Brazilian population of some 51,000, holds
> seminars on public housing in Portuguese and has prepared brochures on
> such apartments in four languages, including English. Shizuoka
> Prefecture has also compiled similar brochures in five languages.
> The number of Japanese-Brazilians living in Japan to work has been
> rapidly increasing since the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition
> Law was amended in 1990 to grant second- and third-generation
> Japanese-Brazilians permanent residency status.
> Many of them desperately need public housing because they have
> difficulties in renting private apartments because their owners require
> tenants to find guarantors. (Mainichi Shimbun, July 10, 2002)

This is a pretty silly move on the prefecture's part. As they say, foreigners are taxpayers too, so they cannot be barred from public (as opposed to private) housing simply because of a language barrier. This was dealt with in the Azumamura Swimming Pool incident (issho.org -&nbspThis website is for sale! -&nbspissho Resources and Information.), where a village in Gunma-ken named Azumamura barred all foreigners from a public pool because of alleged roughhousing by some Brazilians. Once the issue was raised publicly that Azumamura could not legally bar taxpayers (following a flood of emails, telephone calls, and media attention), the pool took down its no-foreigners sign and reopened to all.

The difference is, this time it's not just a pool. It is a place for people to live--a fundamental part of people's lives. Paid for by public monies. It should not be denied like this.

Background data about Shiga, in case you don't know:
Shiga-ken is the prefecture next to Kyoto, surrounding Lake Biwako.
Prefectural seat, Otsu-shi, population 1.3 million.
Contact details:
(Information and Statistics Division)
4-1-1 Kyomachi, Otsu, SHIGAツ 520-8577ツ JAPAN
Tel.077-528-3382ツ Fax.077-528-4835
Website http://www.pref.shiga.jp (Japanese and English)
E-Mail: [email protected]

I say feel free to make your discontentment known. This is one way people power can work. It worked in the Azumamura Case. It might work here too.

Arudou Debito
Being proposed as a Community Project
Welcome to The Community

(To ensure this is not a hoax, original article in Japanese from Mainichi website follows:)

ナ陳ァ窶ーcツ住窶佚ョツ:窶愿シ窶ケツ鞘?堙可「窶愿コ窶怒ナ津ェツ湘ーナ陳渉」ツ ナス_窶ーテェナ陳ァ窶堋ェナ?Oツ坂?伉人窶堙ー窶ケ窶倪?敕崢

ツ ナス_窶ーテェナ陳ァ窶堋ェツ「窶愿コ窶怒ナ津ェ窶堋ェヒ彙窶堋ケ窶堙遺?堋「ツ」窶堙??堋「窶堋、窶板昶?燃窶堋セ窶堋ッ窶堙?、窶愿コナ地ニ置ニ停?ーニ淡ニ停?ケツ人窶堙ァ

ツ ナ陳ァ窶愿?窶堙俄?堙坂?禿ア窶啌窶啀窶唹窶唹ナ津銀?堙固陳ァ窶ーcツ住窶佚ョ窶堋ェ窶喟窶堙ィツ、ツ静??ケテ?窶督「窶佚倪?拏窶堙「ツ、ナステサ窶愿シ窶堋ェヒ?ェ窶凖ィ

ツ 窶堙??堋ア窶堙ォ窶堋ェツ、ナ陳ァ窶堙坂?唸窶售窶扼窶堙可静昶?堋ッ窶堋スナステヲ窶堙ィヒ?オ窶堋「窶牌窶氾娯?堙?、ツ「窶愿コ窶怒ナ津ェ窶堙ー窶愿コツ湘ュ窶ーテッヒ彙

ツ ツ坂?倪?忱ナ津ー窶凖環湘遺?堙債「ナ?eナ陳ァ窶堙娯?敖サ窶冉窶堙?、ナステ?窶佚披?堙坂?拂ヒ?ャ窶堋オ窶堙??堋「窶堙遺?堋「ツ」窶堙??堋オ窶堙??堋「窶堙ゥ

ツ 窶唸窶唹窶扼窶堙個出窶愿シツ坂?佛?テ??板昶?邸窶ーテシツ青ウ窶堙??愿コナ地窶啣ツ、窶啌ツ青「窶堙??堋サ窶堙娯?ーテ??伉ー窶堙俄?凖ィツ住ナス窶佛?i窶堋ェ窶戳

ツ 窶堋オ窶堋ゥ窶堋オツ、ヒ廣窶佚鯛?「テ崢湘伉人窶堋ェ窶「K窶牌窶堙遺?督ッナ?テ披?堙娯?凖?窶佚敖住窶佚ョ窶堙俄?愿シ窶堙ゥ窶堙娯?堙坂?愿ッ窶堋オ窶喟ツ、ツ従窶ケテ

ツ 窶慊ッナ陳ァ窶堙??愿コナ地ニ置ニ停?ーニ淡ニ停?ケツ人窶堙ーナスx窶ー窶。窶堋オ窶堙??堋「窶堙ゥ窶嗄窶嗤窶嗜ツ(窶敕ア窶ーc窶藩懌?枠ツ織ツ)ツ「窶愿コ窶怒ニ置
窶堙ゥツ」窶堙??敕。窶敖サ窶堋オ窶堙??堋「窶堙ゥツ。ツ ツ【窶「ツス窶禿ャナ津オ窶擢ツ】

ツ[窶突??愿コツ新窶「ツキ窶啖ナ椎ス窶啀窶唹窶愿コツ] ( 2002-07-10-15:01 )
Sorry that the Japanese didn't come out! Take my word for it that the Mainichi article is legit (smile). Arudou Debito in Sapporo
You just have to change the encoding in your browser to view the Japanese text.
This is outrageious!! maybe some one should take the shiga prefecture goverment to court on grounds of "abuse of local powers and discrimination against tax paying persons" and everything else that they can think of, this would obviouly be too big a case for the average person but some form of goverment body such as "legal rights or equal rights" should step forward and take this case all the way to the high courts. ( I'm unfamilar with japanese goverments or goverment bodies, but there must be some form of action that must be taken before this is accepted as part of life in this fore mentioned prefecture)

just my thoughts on the subject🙂
Update: Shiga-ken Governor orders revision of public housing rules

Hello All. Got some pretty good news.

I wrote you a couple of days ago about Shiga Prefecture (the one around Lake Biwako, near Kyoto), and its rule that only people with Japanese language ability may apply for prefecturally-run housing. This despite the fact that foreign residents pay prefectural taxes too. (Background at
The Community: The Shiga Prefecture Public Housing Language Discrimination Case (1994-2002))

Well, according to the Mainichi Shinbun, Osaka Branch, July 11, morning edition, page 28, the Governor of Shiga-ken has officially ordered a revision to this policy.

Got the text of the article from the Mainichi Osaka Honbu this morning. News this good should be widely distributed, not buried in a local choukan. The article in Japanese follows, with my translation below it:

(if this comes out garbled, see
The Community: The Shiga Prefecture Public Housing Language Discrimination Case (1994-2002))

ツ【ナ断ツ催壺?愿コツ】 2002 窶扼 07 ナ椎ス 11 窶愿コ ツ【ナス窶?ナスツ鞘?督シツ】N 窶佚・ツ催」窶卍ゥナ?ツァ 28窶「テ
ツ【窶ケLナス窶凪?敕板坂??ツ】 090
ツ【窶禿看ステュツ】 41 ナステ絶?ーテッ ツ【窶「ツェ窶氾楪】
ツ【ナステ環図ツ】 窶督ウ
ツ【窶厖慊催ャナ胆ツ】 窶猫
ナス_窶ーテェツ・ナ陳ァ窶ーcツ住窶佚ョ窶「テ・ツ集窶佚篠湘帚?堋ゥ窶堙ァ窶愿コナ地ツ人窶搜ツ焦督 窶冦ナス窶凪?堋ェナ陳ゥ窶卍シ窶堋オ窶堙ーナスwナスツヲ
ツ−ツ−ツ−窶怒 窶「ツカツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−ツ−
ツ 窶愿コ窶怒ナ津ェ窶堋ェツ出窶藩??堙遺?堋「窶堙??堋「窶堋、窶板昶?燃窶堙?、ナス_窶ーテェナ陳ァ窶堋ェナ陳ァ窶ーcツ住窶佚ョ窶堙娯?愿シ窶ケツ鞘?「テ・ツ集窶佚篠湘帚?堋ゥ窶堙ァ窶愿コナ地ニ置ニ停?ーニ淡ニ停?ケ
ツ ツ坂?伉渉シ窶冦ナス窶凪?堙坂?凖ィ窶氾。窶ーテッナ陳ゥ窶堙?「ツ(窶突??愿コツ新窶「ツキ窶堙娯?啀窶唹窶愿コ窶納ナ?ツァ窶堙娯?「テア窶慊ケ窶堙ーナ陳ゥ窶堙?)窶儡窶懌?毒ステ停?堙嫁?m窶戳窶堋オ窶堋ス窶堙ァ
ツ 窶慊ッナ陳ァ窶「Fツ債ェナスs窶堙?畜ニ停?ーニ停?愴弾ニ達ニ但窶堙?津ェナ?w窶ケツウナスツコ窶堙ーナ?J窶堋ォツ、ナ陳ァ窶愿?ツ催敖住ナ?Oツ坂?伉人窶堙固スx窶ー窶。ナ?ヒ??慊ョ窶堙ー窶堋オ窶堙??堋「窶堙ゥ

BRIEF TRANSLATION (any errors are those of Arudou Debito)

(Mainichi Shinbun, July 11, 2002, Osaka Morning Edition, page 28)

Addressing the problem of Shiga Prefecture excluding Nikkei Brazilian applicants for prefecturally-run housing because of their lack of Japanese, Governor KUNIMATSU Yoshitsugu announced on the afternoon of July 10 that there would be a review of prefectural standards vis-a-vis Japanese language ability and applications.

This will open a path for Nikkei Brazilian workers, who live in fear of corporate restructuring when residing in company dormitories, to secure more stable lives.

At a regular press conference, Governor Kunimatsu stated, "(Having seen the Mainichi article, July 10 evening edition), I have confirmed this situation with the people in charge. They said that 'there are problems with neighboring residents', but I ordered them to review (mi naosu) this situation again."

At Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture, Lucia Okumura (42), a nisei Nikkei Brazilian who opens volunteer language classes and other support activities for foreign prefectural residents, said, "A review is obvious, and it's about time. I hope that they will grasp the real situation and create an environment which will include non-Japanese."

Now that's what I call a fast turnaround--within hours of the press releasing this information, the Governor issues a directive to remedy this situation. And I'm sure all the letters and emails sent by people like us to the Prefectural Office helped too.

Bravo for the Mainichi Shinbun for exposing this silly system, which had been in place since 1994, and forcing its revision not even overnight!

Who says activism and getting social problems out in the public eye does nothing to correct social wrongs?

Arudou Debito
Elated in Sapporo

(Some additional materials at
The Community: The Shiga Prefecture Public Housing Language Discrimination Case (1994-2002))
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