Organizer of the Dirty club event, Mike Waugh, fills in some of the details and comments on his feelings after prefectural police broke up his event at Cover on Saturday, September 9 2006.
This is a summary of the events of last night. In the same night they also “inspected” Twisters upstairs in the same building and the main goal of their search seems to have been to weed out any illegal immigrants that were present. I have no idea how they made out at Twisters, but know that there were no problems at Cover. It was a really frustrating outcome for an event that was really just hitting it’s stride, attendance was good and so was the mood. They sent an undercover female in to pose as a dancer and “case the joint” probably an hour or so before the raid. She really looked like any other patron and she was even dancing. At some point she must have a made a call for what appeared to be 3 American (maybe) inspectors, two uniformed police, 4-5 immigration officials, and then 4-5 extra plain clothes police officers. When they came in they turned on the lights, shut off the music, and started to speak on a megaphone to tell all gaijin to please go to one side of the room and the Japanese patrons were free to go or to linger on the other side of the room. What followed was a huge case of bureaucratic confusion.
A Japanese friend who asked the undercover dancer about what was happening, was told that the only reason the police came was to find illegal aliens/immigrants. The foreign inspectors who came in informed me that it was primarily an immigration issue, but really wouldn’t give any other information. A foreigner customer speculated that it had to do with the 1 am dancing law, but that was speculation. The best I understand is that it had to do with proving our status as legal residents.The search was so half-assed that it seemed more like they wanted to shut the place down and so this was a drawn out way in which to do it.
There seemed to be absolutely no real plan of action. Foreigners were interviewed in a hit and miss manner, and nobody was actually keeping track of who or who hadn’t been checked yet. For example, they asked me if I had shown my ID yet, despite not having done so, I said yes, and they accepted that. This was also the case with other friends as well. Many of the foreign patrons were also asked to fill out a paper that required name, phone number, and address (information I’m sure that can be found at any Ward office). People were actually filling in absolute gibberish and jokes on these and again, the police were ok with this. Bearing this general lack of thoroughness in a country that seems very concerned about correct procedure for virtually everything, it’s questionable what the real purpose of putting people through these procedures was.
The length of the “inspection” was also unreasonable. Despite the large number of police and officials present, they worked at a snails pace. Realistically, if all they really wanted was proof of the legitimacy of our residency status, they could have lined us up and looked at alien cards and passports in a matter of five minutes. At which point they could have left and allowed the event to continue with minimal disruption. They dragged this whole procedure on for over an hour which drew a close to the music and dancing. After talking to the staff of Cover, they informed me that they were there for another hour after all of the foriegners had gone. They were “inspecting” receipts and old bills, I’m sure in as thorough a manner as the foriegner inspections had been done.This was the end of the event
This is an event concept which I have worked really hard at for the past year and a half. This was the sixth time I had held it and every time requires a great deal of planning, preparation and trying to “sell” the idea to potential guests. I always use a mix of Japanese and “foreign” dj’s and attract a clientel that is of a similar mix. It is something that I am quite proud of considering that I could barely match beats two years ago and barely had the confidence to stand in front of a room of people and take a chance like this. It is really disappointing that I literally question holding any further events for the risk of what might again happen if there are too many foreigners in attendence.
I have lived in Japan for five years and this serves as a brutal reminder of the institutionalized racism present here towards Koreans, Chinese, Peruvian’s in light of the El Barco raids, and virtually anyone else that is not Japanese. It’s really bothering me that I can spend this length of time here making friends, learning the culture and language (somewhat), teaching English and trying to internationalize students, helping the economy through work, and trying to integrate myself as best I can through cross cultural events such as this. But at the end of the day, any effort seems to amount to little for those in control of these events. This has been a terribly disappointing event.
If anyone has any ideas of organizations or actions we can take to do something to end this type of persecution, I would really like to hear them. I would like to try to take steps to efffect some change, but to be honest, I really don’t know where to begin.