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  • Writer's pictureWomEnpowered International

El Tendedero

Have you ever been treated unfairly in Japan for your race, gender, nationality/ethnicity, or sexuality? What happened?



I was walking with my friend one morning and we ended up walking all the way till Shibuya. This is when a guy who was clearly hungover from the last night suddenly came too close to my friend and leered at her in Japanese. My friend got really scared and stopped walking. I gave the man an angry look and we walked away. My friend was visibly shaken and kept looking over her shoulders until we got back home. Being drunk is not an excuse for such behaviour, nothing really is!


Although implicit, there have definitely been instances where I felt discriminated against because of the way I looked. For example, when a train is relatively full, but there is always an open seat next to me — I felt this could be because I was a "foreigner". I recently read an article that actually talks about this phenomenon. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this, but I can't help feeling an intentional distancing toward non-Japanese people... Similarly, I have felt unwelcome or received much colder service in restaurants and shops, presumably because of my non-nativeness. I also can't help but think that this is also because Chinese tourists have earned a rather negative image in Japan, and so for someone looks Chinese like me, the immediate assumption is that I will behave badly and not abide by society's rules. Though subtle (never overt, in Japan), the treatment I get in return is potentially reflective of these prejudices. Overall, when I am in Japan, I am always hyper-aware of my appearance, nationality, and sexuality in a way that having grown up overseas, I had never felt before, because I feel like it always influences the way people interact with me here.


Yeah, I have been called “くそインド人”but I’m actually Mexican.

Yes, by looking clearly foreigner (Mexican) I was a target of police harassment when riding my bike back home at night.



Yes, by my ex-boss. I was in a team with a boy so he would always give tasks to him, even though we should work on the same stuff. He would recommend me to get married and leave work. There was an uncomfortable situation when he asked my colleague If I could speak English. And I was just in front of him.


Yes. Sometimes ignored, dismissed or spoken over.


While working at a service job in Tokyo, I was regularly belittled by my male coworkers. Almost every day, I cried in the break room. The criticisms and comments they directed toward me included my appearance, my mannerisms, my work ethic, my accent, and my family background. No stone was left unturned. Everyday that I spent at this job, I left feeling so small and insignificant. My confidence steadily declined, until I felt that this treatment was what I deserved. This was power harassment (パワハラ).

Yes—I've been mocked for not speaking fluent Japanese even when I was trying my best to do so. Furthermore, as a girl, I can't help but notice just how much I am assumed to be stupid or incompetent at my job or in my classes.

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