Caught up with some friends last night here in Tokyo, went out to a Japanese style pub, and I am paying the price this morning. The place we went to has a policy though that they will refuse service if you don't speak the local language. We all speak the language, and enjoyed the service there, but it did seem a little discriminatory that the restaurant would do this. There are stories of businesses in Japan refusing foreigners altogether, although for the most part these businesses are 'adult' related. Fair play, can a business decide who it will serve, or is this unnecessary discrimination?
It used to happen a lot in the U.S. and particularly in the southern part of the U.S. to certain people until fairly recent history. There are now many laws on the books that prevent that from happening for the most part.
I think it very much depends which country you are in as laws vary from place to place. I know in the UK a licensee can refuse service to anyone without giving a reason although I believe if you can prove the refusal was on grounds of race, ethnicity, gender etc. etc. then it is again the law. It is proving that which I think would be the difficult part.
There is no specific law against this in Japan. People have sued and won damages when discriminated against on the basis of nationality, but for language I haven't heard of anything. This restaurant is actually a chain with around 30 or so restaurants scattered throughout Japan.
you also said >> This restaurant is actually a chain with around 30 or so restaurants scattered throughout Japan. it's a chain, not a single restaurant, I've never been to Japan, it still on whish list, but I heard not a lot of people don't speak there, may be that a reason? to avoid any future troubbles? also "somewhere" in Europe may happen you're not served because you don't know the language without any notices, you'll sudenly learn when you speak and they don't understand you and viceversa. you can recognize they don't want to serve you... to me in Asia this never happened i.e. once I've been few day in the middle of Sulawesi, almost none spoke any other language than own one, we did not miss any meal, you've been where we wanted to go, we also bought things we needed and the most difficoult has been to pay but only because they do not use western arabic numerals (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9)
...but I heard not a lot of people speak English there... Anyway it's not only in Japan where there are such noticeboard. in USA it is common to read "We reserve the right not to serve anyone for any reason", well imho is not the best way for doing business, anyway in a FREE Country also business is able to accept to who give services or not. on other hand, for sure, a sign with "We reserve the right not to serve...." is a sort of "deterrence" and surely makes guests more "guest" and less "owner" only because they pay. about me I've been always accepted anyway I've no problem, I DO know I'm a guest and I'm the last to have to complain.
A high school graduate in Japan will have had 6 years of English education, so everyone has some knowledge of English but it doesn't necessarily mean they can actually speak it. I suspect this is a reaction to trouble amongst non-Japanese speaking customers, but I'm not sure this is the right way to deal with it.
I don't get it? Wouldn't they lose business? Sounds like a dumb business decision to me. If I knew of such a restaurant, I would not eat there...simple. And if I found myself actually turned away by one of these resturants, then I would probably do a write up here on vt about it.
Incidentally, one station along from this restaurant, there are a bunch of rickety stalls under the train tracks selling grilled chicken on a stick and beer, with pretty basic tables and chairs. I've taken work visitors there before as it's not something they'd normally do otherwise, and they've loved it. The stalls have picked up on it and a number of them actually now have English menus. Actually this is one area I should do a VT tip on.
I have never been to Japan, nor will I ever go for personal reasons but the concept of eating in "rickety stalls" just about anywhere in Asia is a good one. Some of the most wonderful food I have eaten anywhere in the world has been from Asian street stalls. Simply beautiful.