Let’s debunk some Anti-Muslim Myths in Japan!
It was a late in the afternoon and I was trying to find something juicy and intriguing to share with my readers when all of a sudden this article popped in front of my eyes and for a moment I stilled. The gist of the title was that Muslims are not a welcome sight in Japan and that Muslims are denied visas and given a cold shoulder by the locals. This had so much negative vibes associated to it that I made a mental note of clearing these misconceptions in the minds of those planning to visit this incredible land which is a conglomerate of not one not two but tens of thousands of culture and religions; Islam being one of them. After a lot of research I was able to spot 3 major anti Muslim myths in Japan and then here is how I debunk them using logic and facts.
Also read: How to read non-HALAL ingredients on product labels
Myth # 1: Muslims are not a welcome sight for the Locals
If you had visited Japan some 10 years back or maybe more, I would agree to some part of that article. Indeed not only Muslims but any foreigner was not a welcome sight in Japan. Japanese people even now are very conservative about their culture. This is one major reason why Japanese culture managed to survive and remain in its true form until now because the locals do all they can to prevent it from any other cultural influence. After the Cold War with China, Japan had to find newer markets to thrive and significantly reduce the economic blow it will have to face after trade with China suffered, so it flexed its visa policies and introduced exemptions and so foreigners started to visit Japan.
Now, spotting a girl in a hijab in Japan is not an uncommon sight with more Muslim tourists visiting Japan.
Myth # 2: Muslims are not granted visa and permanent residency in Japan
This here is the most misleading claim by the antagonists, for which they provide no logical or substantial proof. Muslims are definitely granted visa and permanent residency in Japan. There are countries with Islam as their state religion yet their citizens are visiting and living in Japan without any hassle. The Japanese online visa form does not ask about your religion or creed when you are filling it so there is no chance of biasness there.
Around 40% of the 1.6 million people visiting Japan from Jan-Sept 2015 were from Muslim countries. If Muslims were not welcomed by the Japanese society, why would there be an increase in the number of halal restaurants in Japan? Aside from restaurants, you might see the effort in creating prayer rooms or spaces to be more Muslim-friendly.
While the religion and concept of Islam is new in Japan, the Japanese are respectful people who always seek to understand others. You might have already read or seen news of prayer rooms being set up at major airports and some tourist destinations. So, no worries about Japan!
Myth # 3: You cannot import Quran in Japan
This is yet another big misnomer. According to Article 20 of Japanese Law, “Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all”. You can easily find Quran in local mosques in Japan and you can also order a copy online or find bookstores with religious scriptures and buy it there. There is absolutely no harm in carrying Quran while you visit or immigrate to Japan, in your luggage at the airport. In fact you can find a Japanese translation of Quran too.