Japan strips shelves of books on ‘foreigner crime’

Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart and other retailers are pulling copies of a book on ?foreigner crime? from their shelves after a wave of complaints, the stores said on Monday.
The front cover of ?Shocking Foreigner Crime: The Undercover File?, published in Japanese, features caricatures of non-Japanese, alongside the question: ?Is it all right to let foreigners devastate Japan??

?We are removing the book from our shelves today,? said Takehiko Kigure of FamilyMart Co.?s public relations department.

?We had complaints from customers, and when we checked the content of the magazine, we found that it contained some inappropriate language,? he added.

Inside the glossy magazine-style book, photographs and illustrations show what the editors say are non-Japanese engaged in criminal or reprehensible behaviour.

?We wanted to take this up as a contemporary problem,? said Shigeki Saka of Tokyo-based publishers Eichi, which also publishes magazines on popular US and South Korean television dramas. ?I think it would be good if this becomes a chance to broaden the debate,? he added.

One caption in the magazine refers to a black man as ?nigger.?

?This is not a racist book, because it is based on established fact,? Saka said. ?If we wanted to be racist, we could write it in a much more racist way,? he added, saying that the word ?nigger? was not considered offensive in Japan.

Details of well-known past crimes committed by foreigners are also given, such as last year?s kidnapping of the daughter of a wealthy plastic surgeon by a group including South Koreans and Chinese, and the 2003 murder of a family of four on the southern island of Kyushu by Chinese citizens.

The number of registered foreigners in Japan has swelled to more than two million, or 1.57 percent of the population, and some commentators recommend the country accept more immigrants to shore up its ageing and shrinking workforce.

Some in Japan, where crime rates are extremely low compared with Europe and the United States, are concerned about a possible increase in crime associated with an influx of foreigners, but mainstream media have not focussed on the issue in recent months.