Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Chinese being frozen out of student visa process - The Japan Times

A poll by the Japan Times shows that the Japanese Government is making it hard for Chinese to receive student visas. Out of 3,818 Chinese applicants polled, only 27.1% were granted visas, compared to 87.6% of the 2,332 non-Chinese applicants polled. The paper quotes a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official saying, "In particular, heinous crimes committed by Chinese make up 65 percent of the total, showing an exceedingly high percentage compared with other nationals."

This trend of bashing the Chinese for criminals in Japan is a trend lead by Mayor Ishihara of Tokyo. Statistics may "show" this trend, but being unfriendly to the Chinese is not going to increase the quality of Chinese applicants. I think that in an environment where we need to increase communication with our exceedingly powerful neighbor, this policy of calling them criminals and shutting out their students is just plain stupid.


The trend may be lead by Ishihara, but the completely inept NPA and Ministry of Justice are embracing it. They have no idea of how to deal with non-japanese criminals. This is the main reason the Chinese crime organizations grew in the first place. It is far easier for them to adopt stricter immigration policies and to increase raids and random visa checks than to learn how to prevent crime committed by non-japanese.

I think you're blowing this a bit out of proportion. The impression I get from the article is that the Japanese government isn't granting student visas to China (and three other countries) because the overstayer rate from those countries is very high. So they have declined to grant visas to applicants who went to dodgy language schools (i.e. they paid the money, but maybe never went to class, and are just looking to fill requirements to get to Japan.)

As far as the crime statistics go, did you notice that about 65% of students from overseas are Chinese? If we can extrapolate this out to 65% of all 'gaijin' in Japan being Chinese, then one would expect that 65% of all crimes are committed by Chinese - this would be proof that their crime rate is no worse than the rest of the gaijin population.

Of course what is really important is how the crime rate of Chinese or gaijin compares to that of Japanese citizens. For all we know, the Chinese and/or general gaijin rate is well below that of Japanese citizens, so there's really no reason to complain about their crime at all!

You're not the first person to complain about Ishihara, but it's time to stop complaining about his facts (which are, after all, true) and start fighting with facts of your own. How does the crime rate of gaijin compare with the rest of the population?

I don't mean to pick on you personally, but there seems to be a lot of hand wringing out there, but very action. I would love to join the fight myself, but since I have a visa application sitting on someone's desk in Tokyo right now (that has already taken two months and could take a lot longer, or even be refused) I'm going to keep my head down!

Actually, I wonder what the Chinese government, or any organisations of Chinese residents in Japan have to say. After all, they should have a right to comment!

According to this article in the Japan times, 1.45% of crimes committed in Japan in 2003 had foreigners involved. (I'm imagining this means that they did the crimes, rather than that they were the victims.)

According to this article in the Asia times: The number of registered foreigners is equivalent to 1.45 percent of the nation's total population of 127,435,350 as of October 1.

The dates are within a year of eachother, and it looks like foreigners as a whole have a similar crime rate to the whole Japanese population.

This is pretty impressive when you consider that there are plenty of people in Japan who are under 15 or over 70, and would generally never be expected to commit a crime, while nearly all of the foreigners would be expected to be of student or working age, which would be when the crime rate would be highest.

A typical article: "No. of crimes involving foreigners in 2003 tops 40,000"

Dave's analysis removes the spin. Is a fair analysis ever presented in Japanese newspapers?

Ishihara gets the rap for his "minzoku-teki DNA" IOW 'cultural' agument of chinese crimininality.

Facts or no facts, he called the Chinese a bunch of criminals. Not good.

Fair analyses based on hard data are becoming more and more difficult. In Japan, the proportion of crimes resolved -- perpetrator(s) identified and arrested -- has plummeted from ~80% to less than 25% in the past decade or so.
From a statistical point of view, the raw data is thus less and less reliable.

Wasn't it just too loose in the past for Chinese applicants? I read news about Chinese "students" who don't attend classes at all and do part-time job in Tokyo, despite of the location of the college in north area of Japan that is pretty distant from Tokyo. As the result, the college itself, which was responsible for mass application of Chinese students, was vacant and just used as a cloak to import lower-salary manpower from China.

I'm not right-winger like Ishihara, but Japan offers huge ODA to China for free for 50 years after WW2, and histrically keep humble toward PRC except for Yasukuni Shrine issues. If this policy of tighter visa process shows better figures, then nice, but fails to reduce crime rate, then criticize it with your heart and soul.

I guess my point is that working with Chinese police and International crime control organizations to figure out how to solve the problem is probably better than making speeches about the Chinese "criminal DNA" and shutting out students.

On the Internet security front, I am involved in several international efforts and we make it a point not to publicly criticize certain countries as particularly more "criminal" than others, especially publicly, let alone say it has something to do with their DNA.

Hi to all :) This is my first time to write here.

I've been kept my eyes on this issue and I want to comment a little bit. About Slashhnut's comment, I also heard that an investigation on Chinese applicants and about 80-90% of them didn't have a enouth money to concentrate on studying in Universities w/o woking to make a liveing. This kind of financial situation tends to lead the students to crimes, especially they couldn't get a job, they have to do something illegal to make their own living. I am studying in the States and we all international students have to show our bank's statement to show the US Gov. that we have a enough money to pay tuition and other expenditures. I suspect that this news tells is that they start giving a VISA to students who are able to stay in Japan without any financial problem...which is the way it is supposed to be, I believe...

Vice-Mayor of Tokyo Takehana is a specialist of crimes done by foreigners and he's havign a meetings with Chinese Intl' students in Tokyo to discuss how to avoid Chinese students being involved crimes. From this article (, he showed his concern on some people start saying to keep foreigners out from Japan as their crimes increases, and said "the biggest problem is foreigners' crime groups, especially Chinese ones" and continued "most Chinese are good workers and students. Good Chinese people in Japan tend to be targets by the groups more than Japanese people. We have to work together to isolate these crime groups" (sorry, my translation is pretty bad...) He obviously doesn't think all the Chinese are criminals.

From Troy's comment about Ishihara's Minzoku-teki DNA, I think you sort of misunderstood what he said. He did not say that Chinese people hava a DNA of crime. His comment was made when he visited Tokyo Police's Scientific criminal investigation Institution. The staff member was working to identify a person who got killed (all of his face's skin was ripped so we cannot tell who he is) by using scientific method and they found out the he was a Chinese killed by other Chinese. Ishihara was surprised that the staff knew for sure that this guy was killed by Chinese and he said that Japanese people never killed people like this. And surprising enough the staff was right. For the professional people, it is obvious the difference of crimes done by Japanese and Chinese and this is what Ishihara called "Minzoku-teki DNA". I agreed that DNA is a very inappropriate word, though.

Joi-san said "better than making speeches about the Chinese "criminal DNA" and shutting out students." but I believe nobody said/done it.... am I wrong?

btw, Mayor of Kanagawa prefecture Matsuzawa Narifumi certainly said that "All the chinese Intl' students are thief" and this is the page of Kanagawa police's wanted list ( 9 out of 11 are Chinese... which of course doesn't justify what he said!

It's important to realise that Japan has the right to invite or not invite anyone they like into Japan with the visa process. Given that the Japanese police seem to be pretty busy already, it is clear that having large numbers of foreigners that commit crimes (even if they commit less per person than the Japanese) does make things harder, not easier.

I think Slashnut is correct in saying that the student visa system and Japanese language schools in China (see the Japan Times article too) have been used to get people into Japan as cheap labour/overstayers. I don't think it's unfair to make the visa application process strict on that basis. In fact, the method they have used (distinguishing between different Japanese language schools in China) is a reasonably sophisticated one.

On the other hand, I think it's clear that the mayors of Tokyo and Kanagawa have made comments that are flat out racist, and have led the Japanese people to believe that they are in danger of crime committed by foreigners, when it's clear from the statistics I found above that they are in just as much danger from Japanese citizens.

When the police force don't criticise this view with actual statistics, they don't win the trust of the Chinese community in Japan, which allows Chinese organised crime to take hold. Chinese people need to trust the Japanese police to keep them safe when they are faced by the Chinese crime sydicates - the question we need to ask is if they can do that, or even if Japanese people would trust the police to keep them safe from yakuza/Japanese organised crime.

I don't know how that Japan Times article's author came up with such a rudiculous number as 1.45%, but this is obviously not correct. According to the National Police Agency statistics (, the number of crimes committed by visiting aliens in the year 2003 is 40,615 out of 648,319 total, constituting 6.2%. 6.2%/1.4% = 4.4 times greater than national average.

This number includes immigratiom law violation as well. According to 2002 stats (first half,, the number *excluding immigratiom law violation* (only criminal law violation) is 10,628 out of 271,404, constituting 3.9%. 3.9%/1.4% = 2.8 times greater than national average.

There isn't an extradition treaty between Japan and China, which can't help in making it easier to liberalize entry requirements.

Besides, they are discussing making it easier for Chinese people to get tourist visas.

Kohei: thanks for the full background. I understand what "minzoku-teki DNA" really means (basically it's a fancy word for "cultural trait").

But the full quote:

(minzoku teki DNA wo hyoji suru you na hanzai)

was used in context of Japanese society being altered by Chinese-style crime.

Ishihara *does* have the facts on his side (despite myself I actually like the SOB), but there is a politic and an impolitic way to talk about it.

Troy, thank you. I agree that he shouldn't have used this kind of word as a mayor of Tokyo, but I believe that he often uses excessive words intensionaly just to warm (draw people's attension on these issues) people. He deserved to be blamed but I also think he has been blamed more then that. Partially because almost all the media doesn't like (or hate) him so what they say is usually anti-Ishihara, one good example is an article that Ito-san gave.

For me, it's very difficult to think "The message: crime is caused by Chinese, and Chinese are all criminals." or " The writer extends the message: crime is caused by foreigners, and foreigners are all criminals." from what Ishihara said in this article. I think he/she is really biased on Ishihara... I know the fact Chinese takes 40% of all the crimes done by foreiners, but I certainly do not confuse this fact with Chinese people I met & talk to, you know. I met one Intl' student from China and Taiwanese woman in Tokyo over the winter break but they were such a nice people.

A person who wrote this article mensioned about "Furyou Gaijin", but I would never translate this word into "Trash". A word Furyou means 'bad' and it's always used for Jpn people such as bad highschool kids as well. A word Sangokujin originally means Koreans and Taiwanese and not an insulting word. Kyodo-Tsushin picked up this word and made it a big issue. When they picked on this word, Ishihara said "illigally-entered Sangokujin" but they omitted "illigally-entered" on the newspaper, which I think Kyodo-Tsushin already apologized to Ishihara.

It was almost funny that he/she mensioned WWII issue here. These are the things happened 60-70 years ago and it was a war time. We shouldn't talk these things at the same level of discussion. These are the issues that still under discussion (or not true) and uncertain things. Ishihara picked up two or three example to point out the difference between crimes done by Japanese and Chiese and now he/she picked up these issues. According to his/her logic, he/she wants to say "all the Japanese used to be criminal" ??

I personally feel the difference between Japanese & Chinese crimes. I've heard one story of a Japanese guy whose apartment was robbed when he was out. When police came, after a few minutes the policeman said that "oh, this is done by Chinese." He asked why and the man said they way how to get in, what to do inside, and what to steal are just different from what Japanese robber usually do. A extreme example would be an insident in Fukuoka: one family was killed by 3 Chinese Intl' students. A part that I hate in this insident is that they didn't kill a daughter, 8 year-old I think, until her father came back home and they killed the daughter in front of the father. I wouldn't say these cruel insidents never done by Japanese, but I just feel the difference. I'd say these are cultual differences but not DNA differences.

2 out of 3 Chinese student who killed a family in Fukuoka already flew back to China. Between Japan&the US, there's a treaty that allowes Japanese Gov. to ask to send back the criminals to Japan to try (and vise-varsa), but not between China & Japan. I agree to Ito-san Chinese and Japanese Gov. should work on these issue, but as a number of crimes done by Chinese increased, what Chinese Gov. said was "Japan brings up this issue too much (" I don't feel any Chinese Gov.'s effort to make things better.

If some of Japanese people started acting sooo bad and doing crimes in the US, it cannot be helped that all the Japanese people's reputation fell. I think the same thing is happening to Chinese people in Japan. Since Chinese people takes the largest portion of foreign crime, reducing its portion will lead to regain the Chinese People's reputation. I couldn't find the percentage of Chinese people w/ student visa, but I've read the number increased (

Crimes done by Japanese and foreigners are different, I think. If Jpn people did it, it's Japan's fault. The reason varies, but there was something wrong with education, family situation, mental disorder, economic situation, etc etc... but if foreigners came to Japan to do crimes, I think it's a different story. Of course I'm not saying all the foreigners came to Japan to steal/rob money but I know almost all of them are staying in Japan to study/work, but certainly there're some people like this and we should be strict on these people. My question is why do we have to use our tax to keep them in prison? Some prisoner said that "life in a Japanese prison is better than China. It's warm and I can watch the TV." I've read 1200 yen/person per day is used for their food. I don't know what Chinese Gov. is doing for these criminals, but...the money is from our pockets.

I am sorry for this long comment... hope I don't sound like a racist...

Firstly it looks like Herm has come up with some real statistics direct from the source that do show that foreigners have a higher crime rate than Japanese. (We can still argue that the *actual* crime rate is lower, perhaps because Japanese criminals pay off the police or get caught less often, not to mention the fact that police seem to just stop gaijin to see if they are criminals fairly often, but there's not much to gain.)

So it looks like there is a factual basis for being strict on visas, perhaps especially on visas for Chinese if their crime rate is high, or if the crimes they carry out are particularly bad.

In the original comment, Joi said that "in an environment where we need to increase communication with our exceedingly powerful neighbor, this policy of calling them criminals and shutting out their students is just plain stupid."

I'd have to agree that calling all Chinese criminals, and shutting out real students is indeed stupid. However, one of the things Japan can do to reduce the large number of crimes committed by foreigners is to stop those that are most likely to commit crimes from going to Japan at all. That means making the visa requirements stricter.

I imagine if the Japanese and Chinese governments worked together, they might be able to come up with a better plan for criminals.

What does irritate me is that Ishihara appears to have made many Japanese people think that they have something to fear from *all* foreigners. The use of words like 'minzoku', DNA, and his overall approach demonstrate that he wants people to draw a connection between race and crime- if he wanted to be precise, he would use 'kokuseki' (nationality) instead.

Dave and others, keep in mind that when people in Japan use the word foreigner, they mean non-japanese. The majority of people who are considered foreigners in Japan are Koreans who are decendents of WWII era slave laborers brought to Japan. They still carry Korean passports and nationality although they have been born and raised here.

So when Dave says "nearly all of the foreigners would be expected to be of student or working age" he is incorrect.

It may have been mentioned in one of the linked articles, but when discussing crime statistics, its important to define what is included in the numbers. The MPD includes overstaying a visa as a criminal offence, this automatically inflates the "foreigner crime" numbers artificially.

lkj: maybe I'm misunderstanding what you want to say here, but I think the Crime Statistics doesn't include Koreans in Japan(zainichi chousennjin) since they have a special permanent residency. And another thing that I'd like to point out is that "Koreans are decendents of WWII era slave laborers brought to Japan" is wrong.

Dave: I am pretty sure that Japanese people are not so stupid and simple that they think all the foreigners are criminals by listening to what Ishihara said. This article has a bigger influence to make Japanese more fear to foreigners.

I am pretty sure that all Japanese people are not so stupid and simple as to think that all Muslims are terrorists - just like they know that the burakumin are the same as everybody else.

But I bet it's pretty hard to rent an apartment in Japan if you're a Muslim right now - and how many Japanese hire private investigators to check out potential sons or daughters in law?

Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it doesn't get used against you.

Hi Dave: I think we all are categorized to certain groups based upon: gendar, nationality, age, religious, where you live, hobby, university, occupation, etc etc....). Of course we can be in multiple different group at the same time. These groups don't clealy define that each person's identity is the same, but people in the same group has certain simulalities(not always though). This grouping is not always the best way to see people, but all we do because... i guess it's because convinence and we cannot look into each indivisuals so easily.

In this case, "Chinese student" is a group and from the news that I've read the number of Chinese student who's got involved with crimes increased 2.4 times more than last year so I cannot really help that this group is being seen as people's indivisual who has a high potensial crime rate...

Donno what's going on to Muslim people to rent an apartment in Japan, but if there's a certain reasons for landlord not to prefer having Muslim people than Japanese, I really cannot blame the landlord (especially becuase it's difficult to make people in the apartment leave after they accepted in Japan). Since landlord wants to avoid any troubles, (e.g. if there was a fact that Muslim people tend not to pay the rent) they have a right to decline. In this case Muslim people are considered as a group. (my friend has a trouble to geta parttime job because he's in a pank music band. "pank music band member" is a group in this case).

I cannot think of an easy way to get rid of these grouping thing (or I could say a stereotype) except make their reputations better slowly & we try to see each indivisuals in a group.

Kohei, I mostly agree with you.

However, people often use excuses like these :'Muslim people don't always pay the rent', 'women sometimes quit to have a baby', 'Japanese people are rich, so we should charge them more', 'Young people have less experience, so their opinions have less value.'

It's often just another way to hide racism, sexism, discrimination by nationality or age.

Hi Dave: I understand what you're saying, but let me ask one question (if you're still checking this thread! :) )

One TV game company hired two women. Since these two didn't know how to program, write senarios, or how to use Macintosh, the company tought how to do these things and two years later these two were able to work as other employees were. So their boss was about to tell them to come up with some original ideas for a new game, but all of sudden they said they were going to marry so they wanted to quit the job. The company decided not to hire any woman since then.

From the meaning 'sexism' you mentioned, is this example one case of sexism?


Ideally, they could have:

- Decided to hire people who already knew how to use computers.
- Decided to only train people who agreed to keep working for longer after the training.

What about the women who are committed to working hard, but who don't even get looked at?

What about other men who were just lazy, or who also quit after a year? Does the company decide not to hire any men either?

If I met a Japanese person who wasn't good at computer programming, so I decided that I wouldn't hire ANY computer programmers that were Japanese, would that be racist?

Of course, if I worked at that company, I would be asking hard questions to the women I hired. I would certainly think hard about training anyone for two years if I thought they might quit. But I wouldn't tell them to go away without giving them a chance.

I agree with you, but I've got a little more thing that I want to bring up.

But I have to precede my senior seminer than this discussion... Is it possible for you to bookmark this page and come back like sometime in April? I don't know how long this thread lasts, though....

or please email me at if you don't mind. I'd like to go depth about this more.

Thank you.

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