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Housing complexes becoming Japan's new Chinatowns

37 Comments

As a popular saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. And so, it would seem, do growing numbers of public housing complexes in Japan, whose vacancies have been filling up with foreigners, frequently fomenting friction with the natives.

Shukan Gendai (July 16) sent reporters around the country, to Tokyo, Osaka, Chiba and Saitama, for a look-see.

The first visit was in Tokyo's Koto Ward, to a tract of 806 units, the central portion of which is located seven minutes from the nearest train station.

The complex, originally built in the 1960s, has recently rapidly been filling up with Chinese nationals.

"I've been living here from two years ago," says a Chinese man, seated beside his wife on a bench in the shade. "Since I work at an IT company in Shinagawa, I was attracted to this place for its easy commute. And there's no requirement of a guarantor, or charges for 'key money' renewals. Plus no discrimination based on nationality. I like being around my own people; my wife and kids are pleased that they could easily make friends with the other Chinese residents."

To rent his 2LDK apartment, the man told the reporter he pays between 100,000 to 110,000 yen, at least 50,000 yen below the market rate for privately owned properties.

A Japanese in the neighborhood is quoted as saying that "Over the previous six months in particular, the pace of Chinese entrants has picked up rapidly."

The reason, explains Konatsu Himeda, a journalist on familiar terms with Chinese matters, is at least partly due to the severe lockdown restrictions in Shanghai, as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted more Chinese to move abroad out of a simple craving for freedom.

With this newfound freedom, however, comes cultural clashes. Walk past a nearby rubbish disposal point and you can see one of the problems.

"Those Chinese from the danchi (complex) come over here at night and throw away raw waste, which attracts scads of rats," an elderly Japanese woman complains. "If the waste isn't properly separated, the sanitation bureau won't take it away, so I have to separate the rubbish myself. But it's awful to have to do it in this heat."

Outside of a housing complex along Tokyo Bay, a Japanese resident complains about the sight of groups of young Chinese men in laborers' clothing, who hang out in front of a convenience store late into the night, gambling at card games.

"Walking past them feels scary," he says.

Another anecdote claims that some of the new arrivals' shops have gone so far as to adopt a "Chinese-only" policy, and even forced out local Japanese-owned businesses.

One of the larger complexes attracting Chinese, in Kawaguchi City, Saitama, consists of 2,454 units.

"We can't put a finger on the precise number, but I think about half the residents here are Chinese," says a director of the local self-government association. "Some people have described the place as resembling the notorious Hong Kong slum known as the 'Walled City,' but by posting instructions on rubbish disposal in Chinese and distributing a booklet explaining proper manners and behavior, problems continue to decrease." 

On the nearby shopping street in Kawaguchi, a Chinese in his 60s who operates a variety store said he's been living there for the past 30 years.

"Unfortunately there are still people who hock up phlegm on the street or urinate in common areas like apartment landings," he said. "They think it's a waste to use water for flushing the toilet, so they pee outside. I try to understand their ways of thinking, and I've become sort of resigned to it."

Accompanying the article are photos of two signs posted on the buildings, one requesting residents not to throw cigarette butts off their verandas and the other, to refrain from transporting their bicycles inside elevators, as the tires leave oil streaks.

A cursory visit to a complex to Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, found Japanese residents voicing similar woes, to the effect that Chinese had "hijacked" the complex -- with all the usual complaints about rubbish and noise, as well as squabbling among themselves. The reporter was shown a photo of a residence from which a Chinese couple that had moved away, with its walls smeared with excrement from top to bottom.

An elderly Japanese resident said she had heard the couple had been harassed by other Chinese who remained in the complex.

"If things like this keep happening, more and more Japanese will flee," she sighed.

At urban housing complexes at least, peaceful coexistence between the new arrivals from China and Japanese natives may be an increasingly unlikely prospect.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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Well Japan didn’t do anything about it’s population problems.

Its very hard and expensive to have children, so the population majorly falls and now we NEED to have foreigners over to work and live.

Some Chinese moved into my building and then suddenly the bicycle area became a trash area as well.

It really upset other people, but the problem is that in Japan, everyone has been fed the same thing regarding foreigners by the media, and they believe it. The assumption also that Japan is safe and everywhere else is dangerous, and Japanese are law abiding and everyone else is not is also half the problem.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

"...but by posting instructions on rubbish disposal in Chinese and distributing a booklet explaining proper manners and behavior, problems continue to decrease." 

Bingo. A bit of education on the proper way of doing things goes a long way.

Instructional signage, flyers, pamphlets, and gov't notices that are (properly) translated into the most common languages of foreign residents -Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and English, at the very least - will go a long way towards proper assimilation to Japan society. This should be the norm in all cities, wards, and towns with any appreciable foreign population.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

This one gave me a chuckle. I have a Chinese neighbor (from Hong Kong) who is obsessively neat, meticulous even. He's constantly complaining about the Japanese sociopath across the street who frequently discards litter, makes noise at all hours and pees on the street. It got so bad the Chinese installed a closed circuit camera to record the man's slovenly behavior, in the hope of pressuring the landlord to evict him. Talk about the shoe being on the other foot....

12 ( +18 / -6 )

Plus no discrimination based on nationality.

right there……….that’s why you build up a certain element, because of ridiculous restrictions in other areas.

that’s the majority of apartment landlords and the lack of enforced laws. Since many owners are extremely racist when it comes to “foreign” tenants, you give said tenants no choice but to find somewhere that won’t be racist. They just want rent money, as it should be.

"If things like this keep happening, more and more Japanese will flee," she sighed.

well, so what you gotta do.

the problem I see is not the tenants and not the restrictions, but it’s the male-female ratio of “foreign” new comers.

Why are there so many males as opposed to females immigrating? It’s like a 5-1 ratio out there. That’s another issue brought on by a lack of a National sexual predator list and punishment for offenders. But that’s a whole other situation all together……

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

To a certain point it is inevitable that a sudden influx of people with a different culture will cause friction with the locals, but if an effort is made by both parts this decreases and things find a new balance. It may not be in the same way (not so much about housing complexes) but places like Nagasaki and Yokohama have a strong Chinese community that is even seen as a plus by the locals.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Unfortunately there are still people who hock up phlegm on the street or urinate in common areas like apartment landings," he said. "They think it's a waste to use water for flushing the toilet, so they pee outside.

Typical. And this why Japanese dont rent to foreigners.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Accompanying the article are photos of two signs posted on the buildings, one requesting residents not to throw cigarette butts off their verandas and the other, to refrain from transporting their bicycles inside elevators, as the tires leave oil streaks.

Yup and they cant figure this out for themselves.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

This one gave me a chuckle. I have a Chinese neighbor (from Hong Kong) who is obsessively neat, meticulous even. He's constantly complaining about the Japanese sociopath across the street who frequently discards litter,

Yeah right and I am President of the USA.

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

Some Chinese moved into my building and then suddenly the bicycle area became a trash area as well.

It really upset other people, but the problem is that in Japan, everyone has been fed the same thing regarding foreigners by the media, and they believe it. 

And who was throwing trash in the bicycle area? The Chinese or the Japanese?

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

  The assumption also that Japan is safe and everywhere else is dangerous, and Japanese are law abiding and everyone else is not is also half the problem.

and

The reporter was shown a photo of a residence from which a Chinese couple that had moved away, with its walls smeared with excrement from top to bottom.

Judging from the article who is causing the problem ?

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

I have several Chinese neighbours living in houses not apartments and they act and behave like everyone else. They also have well paid jobs. Depends where you live.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

This one gave me a chuckle. I have a Chinese neighbor (from Hong Kong) who is obsessively neat, meticulous even.

I dare to say, generally, HongKongers and Taiwanese are different from mainlanders from my experience of days I lived in Hong Kong and Canada BC and with several trips to mainland and HongKongers and Taiwanese never say " I am Chinese"

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I know quite a number of apartment owners who say " It is no problem to rent rooms to foreigners except mainland Chinese. Sorry just saying as it is true.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Of course, Chinese tourists are so so OK as they behave as tourists wherever but problem lies in hordes in what the topic calls Chinatown

6 ( +6 / -0 )

To a certain point it is inevitable that a sudden influx of people with a different culture will cause friction with the locals, but if an effort is made by both parts this decreases and things find a new balance. 

Not in this country.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The usual xenophobic stuff again, I see. I've seen plenty of bad habits, like not throwing away the correct garbage on the right day, littering, spitting and shouting like a drunken cat at night time. And I can tell you they were all Japanese. I still get a chuckle when I recall the time I saw a Japanese sign at Diamond Head, Hawaii telling people not to take a slash in public. There was no sign in English.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The question is: WHY are Japanese authorities allowing this influx in the first place?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The question is: WHY are Japanese authorities allowing this influx in the first place?

Why wouldn't they?

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

The reporter was shown a photo of a residence from which a Chinese couple that had moved away, with its walls smeared with excrement from top to bottom

Unfortunately there are still people who hock up phlegm on the street or urinate in common areas like apartment landings," he said. "They think it's a waste to use water for flushing the toilet, so they pee outside.

.....residents not to throw cigarette butts off their verandas and the other, to refrain from transporting their bicycles inside elevators, as the tires leave oil streaks.

A cursory visit to a complex to Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, found Japanese residents voicing similar woes, to the effect that Chinese had "hijacked" the complex

That's why.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

That's why.

Ahh the old 'some foreigners did it, so all foreigners should be denied' trope.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Not in this country.

Yes, in this country. As clearly proved by the two examples you had to leave out of your quote because you could not refute them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He he he ....fill up the apartments with Aussies and you'd hear complaints about excessive BBQ's, drinking and playing AC/DC on 10.

Tibetans with their incessant bell ringing and incense burning.

Dont get me started on the Swiss, smelly cheese eating yodellers.

It's a wonderful world.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Replacement migration

Eventually Japan will be like America

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Good communication will go a long way, but the new style workforce Immigrants should not be allowed to create slum like conditions or the problems we have seen in Canada and other places, causing property prices to soar or engage in illegal activities like in the Philippines who had to deport thousands of online click farm workers and online scammers. Frankly speaking when in China I encountered a lot of discrimination against non chinese, from overcharging for rental or at the market to simply refusing to deal with foreigners let alone the Visa trouble these days making it impossible to enter China.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Vietnamese towns will also rise as well since they're now the largest working foreign population in Japan now. They are settling in their own complexes and towns whenever they can. The only hurdles for them, Chinese and other foreigners are the Japanese xenophobic restrictions against foreigners. I expect this will go away soon under the Kishida administration and beyond.

Chinese and Southeast Asians have the money, and Japanese people are increasingly having less. It's just natural that foreigners will sit atop Japan in the coming years. Chinese and Vietnamese communities will be the majority who will create their own foreign concessions in Japan.

I live in California to have witnessed the phenomenon of walled cities among Chinese and Vietnamese communities against non-Asian communities. These people occupy most of the expensive real estate assets in the state. The same phenomenon will repeat in Japan.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Here we go, foreigners crying racist. How can you blame the Japanese for not wanting to rent to troglodytes! Honestly I would do the same, better safe than sorry. On average Japanese behave, foreigners are a wild card so of course it’s safer to not rent to them and less communication/cultural problems. Also it’s their private property and they are allowed to decide who’s gonna live in their home. I’ve been a foreigner in different continents more than half my life, most people cannot adapt and leave their culture behind. If you have exemplary behavior people will respect you, stop playing victim and think everyone is out to get you.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Being Chinese but living in Japan and wanting to live around your own people!!! What does that tell you? This guy could careless about Japan all he want to do is live in his own world but not under Chinese rule!

"I've been living here from two years ago," says a Chinese man, seated beside his wife on a bench in the shade. "Since I work at an IT company in Shinagawa, I was attracted to this place for its easy commute. And there's no requirement of a guarantor, or charges for 'key money' renewals. Plus no discrimination based on nationality. I like being around my own people; my wife and kids are pleased that they could easily make friends with the other Chinese residents."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Won't be too long before the Japanese people start to rebel against the influx by stealth of the Chinese, once they set up their disgusting 'wet market' cesspools from which the next global pandemic-virus emanates - Chinavirus has now killed 6.4 million worldwide and infected 2.4 billion people, and the Chinese carry on regardless without a care in the world, like mass-murder is the most normal behaviour..... but then back in China life is cheap, their moral compass is set collectively to zero.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mainland Chinese are filled with hatred for Japan. They are probably doing those things on purpose and laughing about it. Japanese government really need to look at fraud in visas too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

10% of the population of Shinjuku is foreigners, the highest percentages being Chinese and Korean. We have both living in my building and nearby, and they are never any problem. If they are not speaking Chinese or Korean, you can't distinguish them from the Japanese. They fit right in. And I am jealous of their children who grow up naturally bilingual. I had to learn English over many years of hard study.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Those Chinese from the **danchi (complex) come over here at night and throw away raw waste, which attracts scads of rats," an elderly Japanese woman complains. "If the waste isn't properly separated, the sanitation bureau won't take it away, so I have to separate the rubbish myself. But it's awful to have to do it in this heat."**

Someone sounds dissatisfied.

Yes, in this country. As clearly proved by the two examples you had to leave out of your quote because you could not refute them.

No, as clearly known by anyone living here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No, as clearly known by anyone living here.

Again, the examples you have made not even an effort to disprove clearly demonstrate it does happen in Japan without any problem. Imaginary people that supposedly think the same as you are not an argument that disprove those examples.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And obviously know the well described examples that prove your opinion is mistaken, you failing to make any argument against it only makes it more clear you already know the examples exist and disprove you, that is why you have to make up what other people supposedly think instead of refuting the argument.

Here is another well described example from the article (it would be fun to see your well described example, as an outsider):

On the nearby shopping street in Kawaguchi, a Chinese in his 60s who operates a variety store said he's been living there for the past 30 years.

"Unfortunately there are still people who hock up phlegm on the street or urinate in common areas like apartment landings," he said. "They think it's a waste to use water for flushing the toilet, so they pee outside. I try to understand their ways of thinking, and I've become sort of resigned to it."

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Do you have a well-described example from the article showing otherwise?

Why would it have to be from the article?

If an example proves the problem can be solved (and have been) in Japan why would it need to be from the article? It still proves that your opinion that this is unsolvable in Japan is false.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My brother-in-law lived in a UR place in Nishi-Oshima until he died.

it was quite reasonable, safe and yes, many MANY foreign (mostly Indian) residents but none of these problems. The public notices alerted posted in 6 different languages, there was an out reach for foreign renters as I recall and best of all (to me anyway) kids. Lots and LOTS of children playing outside. It was nice. I noticed the elderly Japanese renters seemed to enjoy it as well.

My B-I-L used to say the smell around dinner time was wonderful.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm glad I don't live anywhere near a "danchi" over run by Chinese.

I feel sorry for the Japanese who have to.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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