|Born||David Christopher Schofill
January 13, 1965
|Known for||Human Rights Activism|
|Home town||Geneva, New York|
Debito Arudou (有道 出人 Arudō Debito?) (born 13 January 1965) is an author and activist with Japanese citizenship who was born in the USA. Formerly an associate professor of English as a foreign language, he was also an affiliate scholar at the East-West Center.
|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2012)|
Arudou was born David Christopher Schofill in California in 1965. He was raised in rural Upstate New York (Geneva) in a 140-year-old 10-room cobblestone house on over 3 acres (1.2 ha) of land. In the 1970s he became David Christopher Aldwinckle when adopted by his stepfather. Describing his childhood and teenage years as a “horror story” characterized by “frequent parental physical and mental abuse, horrible breakups with girlfriends and consequent near nervous breakdowns,” Arudou saw himself as a “driven person—with the irrepressible urge to do whatever is necessary [to] get as far away as possible as quickly as possible.” He attended Cornell University, first visiting Japan as a tourist on invitation from Ayako Sugawara (菅原 文子 Sugawara Ayako?), his pen pal and future wife, for several weeks in 1986. Following this experience, he dedicated his senior year as an undergraduate to studying Japanese, graduating in 1987. Aldwinckle moved to Japan and taught English in Sapporo, Hokkaidō, for one year, then decided to return to university in the United States to study. He entered the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but deferred from the program to return to Japan and spent one year at the Japan Management Academy in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture. Aldwinckle married Ayako Sugawara in 1989. In 1990, he returned to California to complete his Masters of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA), and received the degree in 1991.
Aldwinckle then joined a small Japanese trading company in Sapporo. He contends that in this job, he was the object of racial harassment. Aldwinckle quit the company and in 1993 joined the faculty of Business Administration and Information Science at the Hokkaido Information University, a private university in Ebetsu, Hokkaidō, teaching courses in business English and debate. He was an associate professor until 2011 when he left the university.
Aldwinckle became a permanent resident of Japan in 1996. He obtained Japanese citizenship in 2000, whereupon he changed his name to Debito Arudou (有道 出人 Arudō Debito?), whose kanji he says have the figurative meaning of "a person who has a road and is going out on it". To allow his wife and children to retain their Japanese family name, he adopted the legal name Arudoudebito Sugawara (菅原 有道出人 Sugawara Arudōdebito?) — a combination of his wife’s Japanese name and his new transliterated full name. As reasons for naturalization, he cited the right to vote, other rights, and increased ability to stand on his rights; he renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2002. Japanese law does not allow holding two citizenships simultaneously.
Family and divorce
Debito Arudou and Ayako Sugawara have two daughters. Arudou has described them as one being "viewed as Japanese because of her looks" and the other as "relegated to gaijin (foreigner) status, same as I" because of physical appearances. According to Arudou, when he took his family to the Yunohana Onsen, the establishment stated that they would allow one girl to enter the onsen but would have to refuse the other on the basis of their appearances.
Arudou petitioned the Japanese Family Court for a divorce in the spring of 2004, which was granted through court mediation in September 2006.
Arudou v. Earth Cure
Arudou objected to the policies of several bathhouses in Hokkaidō, Japan, in the late 1990s that had posted "No Foreigners" or "Japanese Only" signs on their doors. He was ultimately one of three plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the Yunohana Onsen (Earth Cure) in Otaru, Hokkaidō. Earth Cure maintained a policy to exclude non-Japanese patrons; the business stated that it implemented the policy after Russian sailors scared away patrons from one of its other facilities. After reading an e-mail posted to a mailing list digest complaining of Earth Cure's policy in 1999, Arudou led a multinational group of 17 people of various nationalities (United States, Chinese, German, Japanese) to enter the bathhouse.
These "walk-ins" were attempted twice. Arudou assumed that when he returned in 2000 as a naturalized Japanese citizen, he would not be refused. The manager accepted that Arudou was a Japanese national but refused entry on the grounds that his foreign appearance could cause existing Japanese customers to assume that the onsen was admitting foreigners, e.g. inebriated Russian sailors said to be causing problems in that locality, and take their business elsewhere. Arudou and two co-plaintiffs, Kenneth Lee Sutherland and Olaf Karthaus, in February 2001 then sued Earth Cure in district court pleading racial discrimination, and the City of Otaru for violation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty which Japan ratified in 1996. On November 11, 2002, the Sapporo District Court ordered Earth Cure to pay the plaintiffs ¥1 million each (about US$25,000 in total) in damages. The court stated that "categorically refusing all foreigners constitutes irrational discrimination, exceeds social norms, and amounts to an illegal act." The Sapporo High Court dismissed Arudou's claim against the city of Otaru for not creating an anti-discrimination ordinance. It stated that "issues such as which measures to take, and how to implement them, are properly left to the discretion of Otaru." The Sapporo High Court upheld these rulings on September 16, 2004, and the Supreme Court of Japan denied review on April 7, 2005.
Secret Files of Foreigners' Crimes
In February 2007, Arudou participated in a protest against an over-the-counter Japanese-language publication titled Kyōgaku no gaijin hanzai ura file - gaijin hanzai hakusho 2007 (Secret Files of Foreigners' Crimes). The magazine highlighted alleged crimes committed by foreigners. Arudou argued that the magazine was "ignorant propaganda" and posted a bilingual letter for readers to take to FamilyMart stores protesting against what Arudou considered "discriminatory statements and images about non-Japanese residents of Japan."
In 2003, Arudou, along with several other long-term, non-Japanese residents dressed up as seals and formed a protest after Nishi Ward, Yokohama granted Tama-chan (a male Bearded Seal) an honorary jūminhyō (residency registration). The protesters said that if the government can grant jūminhyō to animals and fictional animation characters, as was the case in Niiza and Kasukabe Cities, Saitama Prefecture, then there was no need to deny foreign residents from having jūminhyō. At the time, non-Japanese residents were required to be registered in a separate alien registration system.
In June 2008, Arudou lodged a complaint with the Hokkaidō Prefectural Police, claiming that its officers were targeting foreigners as part of a security sweep prior to the 34th G8 summit in Tōyako, Hokkaidō. This followed an incident where Arudou asserted his right under the Police Execution of Duties Law to not need to show identification when requested by a police officer at New Chitose Airport. After meeting with police representatives at their headquarters, Arudou held a press conference covered by a local television station.
In August 2009, Arudou—acting as chair FRANCA (the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association)—began a letter-writing campaign in protest of a promotional advertisement by McDonald’s Japan featuring a bespectacled, mildly geeky, 43-year-old American Japanophile known as “Mr. James”—a burger mascot who proclaims his love for the fast-food outlet in halting, broken Japanese. Writing in The Japan Times, Arudou called the “Mr. James” campaign both “offensive” and cringe-worthy, argued that the campaign perpetuates negative stereotypes about sensitive non-Japanese Caucasian minorities living in Japan, and demanded that McDonald’s Japan withdraw the advertisement. Marketing and advertising reporter for The Globe and Mail, Simon Houpt, criticized Arudou’s organized protests as being “thin-skinned” and suggested to Arudou’s FRANCA that “if someone is calling you a geek, writing a letter to complain isn't going to help your image very much,” while Time Magazine’s Coco Masters asked rhetorically “where’s the beef?”, noting that there were “certainly no shortage of elegant, articulate Japanese-speaking foreigners in local media.” Masters criticized Arudou’s letter-writing campaign by concluding:
”To protest Mr. James as a stereotype of a minority population in Japan because the Ohio native fails to speak or write Japanese fluently, dresses like a nerd and blogs about burgers only ends up underscoring the fact that there really aren't a lot of foreigners who fit the bill running around Japan.”
Arudou has been described as the “Outraged Man” by the Washington Post, as a “relentless social pot-stirrer” by the The International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun, as a "troublemaker in a country that values wa, group harmony, above all else" by National Public Radio, and as a “loudmouth with an Internet connection” by himself. His tactics, methods and pronouncements, which have sometimes been labeled in the mainstream media as "brash and abrasive in any language," “flamboyant”, “contentious,” “notorious,” “aggressive,” “controversial,” and “combative,” have provoked public criticisms from Japan residents and Western expatriates alike, including bloggers, columnists, book authors on Japan, and even his former wife.
Alex Kerr, author of the book Dogs and Demons, has criticized Arudou for his "openly combative attitude", an approach that Kerr thinks usually "fails" in Japan and may reinforce the conservative belief "that gaijin (foreigners) are difficult to deal with". Nevertheless, he comments that "perhaps we who live here are slow to stick our necks out...and quick to self-censor...to get along....". He also sees Arudou's decision to naturalize as bringing "the dialogue inside Japan. His activities reveal the fact that gaijin and their gaijin ways are now a part of the fabric of Japan's new society."
John Spiri, associate professor at Gifu Shotoku Gakuen University, argues that Arudou's tactics are excessive and that he tends to perceive "black and white" and that he is "more interested in attacking Japan and her people than fighting stereotyping and injustice".
Following two EFL textbooks — Can We Do Business: Introduction to Business English (1996, 2000); Speak Your Mind: Introduction to Debate (1996) — Arudou wrote a book about the 1999 Otaru hot springs incident. This was originally published in Japanese; an expanded English version, Japanese Only — The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (ジャパニーズ・オンリー―小樽温泉入浴拒否問題と人種差別 Japanīzu Onrī - Otaru Onsen Nyūyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu?) (ISBN 4-7503-2005-6), was published in 2004 and revised in 2006. The book is listed in the Japan Policy Research Institute's recommended library on Japan. Jeff Kingston (Temple University Japan), in a review for The Japan Times, described the book as an "excellent account of his struggle against prejudice and racial discrimination."
Arudou's next book, published in 2008, was coauthored with Akira Higuchi (樋口 彰 Higuchi Akira?) and titled Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan (ニューカマー定住ハンドブック?) (ISBN 4-7503-2741-7). This bilingual book provides information on visas, starting businesses, securing jobs, resolving legal problems, and planning for the future from entry into Japan to death. Donald Richie of The Japan Times said that out of the guides for new residents in Japan, Handbook was the fullest and consequently the best.
In 2011, Arudou self-published via Lulu.com his first novella entitled In Appropriate: a novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan. The novella tells the story of an international marriage, culture shock, and child abduction. Book reviewer Kris Kosaka of The Japan Times panned the novella, stating that “Arudou's underwhelming style insults the seriousness of international child abduction, the literary form itself, and any reader expecting something more than sludge.”
- Brooke, James (2004-05-12). "LETTER FROM ASIA; Foreigners Try to Melt an Inhospitable Japanese City". The New York Times (Sapporo). Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- "". Editorial statement by The Japan Times, 07 February 2012
- Arudou, Debito. "Holiday Tangent: My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Arudou, Debito. "A Bit More Personal Background on Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07. (Archive)
- Arudou, Debito. "Building a House in Japan: Credit and Chicanery". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07. (Archive)
- Arudou, Debito (2007-06-14). "Homecoming 2007: Cornell Reunion and Facing My Demons". Debito.org. Retrieved 2012-09-05. (Archive)
- Arudou, Debito (1997-09-27). "The Juuminhyou Mondai: What It Means to Be 'Legally Nonresident' in Our Country of Residence". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07. (Archive)
- Arudou, Debito. "Wife". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07. (Archive)
- "French, Howard W. (2000-11-29). "Turning Japanese: It Takes More Than a Passport". The New York Times (Nanporo). Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- "Authors". Cornell Alumni Magazine Online (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Alumni Association) 107 (5). Mar–Apr 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-13. (Archive)
- A brief biographical sketch of Aldwinckle and other 1991 UCSD IR/PS alumni is available at the official university website. See: <http://irps.ucsd.edu/alumni/class-notes/class-of-1991.htm Class of 1991>[dead link]. Retrieved on 2006-12-13.
- "" Hokkaido Information University. October 25, 2011. Retrieved on October 25, 2011.
- Arudou, Debito (1999-08-24). "What's in my Name? Japanese Naturalization Update". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Arudou, Debito (2003-01-10). "How to Lose Your American Passport". Debito.org. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- "The Choice of Nationality". Ministry of Justice. 2006. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Aldwinckle, David (1999-01-28). "Daughters". Voicenet.co.jp. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Arudou, Debito (2004). Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (1st edition ed.). Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, Inc. p. 23. ISBN 4-7503-2005-6.
- Arudou, Debito (2006-12-02). "How to Get a Divorce in Japan". Debito.org. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- Webster, Timothy (Fall 2008). "Reconstituting Japanese Law: International Norms and Domestic Litigation". Michigan Journal of International Law (University of Michigan Law School) 30 (1). Retrieved 2011-08-29.
- Arudou 2004, pp. 14-29.
- "THE WORLD; Japanese Court Ruling Favors Foreigners; Bathhouse must pay three men who were denied entry." Los Angeles Times. November 12, 2002.
- Webster, Timothy (Summer 2008). "Arudou v. Earth Cure: Judgment of November 11, 2002 Sapporo District Court". Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal (University of Hawaii) 9 (297): 297–321.
- Newswire (2005-04-07). "City Off the Hook for Bathhouse Barring of Foreigners". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-21. According to the Sapporo High Court ruling, "The convention has only general, abstract provisions recommending appropriate measures to eliminate racial discrimination, and the Otaru government does not have any obligation to institute ordinances to ban such discrimination."
- Kyodo (2004-09-16). "Court says city not remiss for letting bathhouse bar foreigners". Japan Economic Newswire (Sapporo).
- Biggs, Stuart; Kanoko Matsuyama (2007-02-07). "Japan Store Withdraws `Foreigner Crime File' Magazine". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Ryall, Julian (2007-02-07). "JAPAN: Magazine's focus on crimes by foreigners sparks outrage". South China Morning Post (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-09-05.
- Matsubara, Hiroshi (2003-02-23). "Foreigners seek same rights as seal". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- Chapman, David (2007). Zainichi Korean Identity and Ethnicity 17. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-42637-5.[dead link]
- Asahi Shinbun, 22 February 2003
- Kyodo (2008-06-26). "G8 Summit 2008: Police questioning 'discriminatory'". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- STV News. June 25, 2008.
- Houpt, Simon (2009-08-21). "Dispatches from the World of Media and Advertising". The Globe and Mail (Canada). pp. B4.
- Arudou, Debito (2009-09-01). "Just Be Cause: Meet Mr. James, Gaijin Clown". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- Masters, Coco (2009-08-25). "Not Everyone Is Lovin' Japan's New McDonald's Mascot". Time Magazine (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- Struck, Doug (2003-07-04). "In Japan, U.S. Expat Fights the Yankee Way". Washington Post (Sapporo). Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Murphy, Paul (2002-11-23). "Profile: Crusader of Sapporo shrugs off threats in defiant push for change". The International Herald Tribune (Sapporo). p. 33.
- Anchor: Robert Siegel, Reporter: Eric Weiner (2003-07-03). "Naturalized Japanese citizen David Aldwinckle". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. All Things Considered. http://www.npr.org.[clarification needed]
- Lev, Michael A. (2003-05-08). "Crusader-Citizen Takes on Japan". Chicago Tribune (Sapporo). Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Rial, Patrick. (2005-12-18). "Arudou: Angelic Activist or Devilish Demonstrator?". Japanzine (Tokyo). p. 11. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Yang, Jeff (2009-09-02). "McRacism in Japan?". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco). Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- McNicol, Tony (2005-10-25). "Japan sees beginning of change: Tony McNicol talks to 'Dogs & Demons' author Alex Kerr". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Spiri, John (2012-05-01). "It's just because . . . foreigners know best: By labeling Japanese liars and condoning a racist blog post, Arudou has gone too far". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2012-05-20.
- Kingston, Jeff (2005-01-30). "Bathhouse pushes a foreigner into the doghouse". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-19.[dead link]
- Richie, Donald (2008-04-20). "Helping newcomers settle in Japan". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-19.
- Kosaka, Kris (2011-07-31). "Literary sludge insults child abduction issue". The Japan Times (Tokyo). Retrieved 2011-08-15.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Debito Arudou|
- Patrick Rial,"Arudou: Angelic Activist or Devilish Demonstrator?," JapanZine (December 2005)
- Bathroom blues The Economist
- Debito.org- Debito Arudou's website and blog