Sunday, May 11, 2008

This is a local hospital for local people - there's nothing for you here.

This is an ugly story which I heard on the grapevine, and which is unlikely to feature in the Japanese press (unlikely to be made into a bizarre comedy either). Recently someone here in Japan needed some medical treatment, so they found an official web-site listing local hospitals with English-speaking staff, and when they tried to go there, they were refused on the grounds of nationality - the head doctor had simply decided they were going to stop taking any foreigners! It was not an urgent case, and they found treatment elsewhere, but it's still a rather shocking reminder of how this sort of bigotry is casually accepted at all levels in society here. They may be desperate for foreign tourists to come and spend their money here, and for "guest workers" to come to prop up their economy (so long as they don't get big ideas about settling here, and go home after a few years), but a large proportion don't actually think foreigners are human, and a "foreigners not welcome" attitude, although thankfully rare (except when renting accommodation, where it is the rule rather than the exception) is still considered quite acceptable.

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