Recently I’ve been reading posts from my university’s Facebook group about discrimination against the students from our university. Ever since the two students got infected, officials have been able to do contact tracing and discovered that additional 12 students were infected (all foreign students from my university). For some reason, that news alone serves as a reason for locals to justify their discrimination.
Since a majority of the students from the university are foreigners, lots of locals became extremely wary of us. Some restaurants refuse to let foreigners in and recently, a barber shop a hot topic amongst the students. The store explicitly put a sign on their door stating, “XXX OKOTOWARI” which is equal to saying we refuse XXX students. What’s even funnier is that the sign is completely written in ABCs, which means it’s targeting international students since they assume not all of us can read Japanese.
Other stores have fired students and some made them ‘rest’ for two weeks. It’s really clear that the locals of this city fears us and think that we’re all infected with the virus for some reason.
But to be honest, this is nothing new in Japan. I would say this situation is something perfectly normal. And I’m sure that the locals think that they’re not acting racist, they probably just think that this is something logical to do and it’s nothing bad. There were several Japanese commenters (not sure if they’re fellow students or not) that were defending the owners of the barber shop.
The mayor of this city even posted a request for locals to not discriminate against foreigners way before the actual discrimination began. But it seems like it’ll take more than a request to make that happen.