Weekly Fact-Check

Japan Fact-Checks, July 3: Welfare for Foreigners and Dye-Sprayed Rioters


The July 3 installment of FactCheck Initiative Japan’s “English FactChecks Report,” a weekly report including notable cases of Japan-related fact-checking by FIJ’s global partners, other fact-checks at a glance, and more.

Notable Case

False: Japan’s Supreme Court rules “welfare for foreigners illegal” (fact-checked by InFact on July 1, 2020) 

A Twitter post featuring a screenshot from an NHK news story, with the captions indicating that the Supreme Court had judged for the first time that “foreigners are not considered ‘citizens’ protected by the Public Assistance Act,” has gone viral in Japan. This post has been retweeted more than 15,000 times. But it is false.

The issue in this case was whether it was illegal for the government to reject applications for public assistance by certain foreigners, not whether it was illegal to provide welfare benefits to foreign nationals as a whole.

The Supreme Court only ruled that as the government did not have a duty to class foreigners as the kokumin(national citizens) subject to such protection, it was within its legal rights to deny a specific foreigner’s application for public assistance. But the court stopped short of denying the government’s current practice of providing foreigners with public assistance.

Therefore, it is contrary to the legal decision of the court to conclude that welfare assistance for foreigners was ruled illegal.

The original fact-checking report in Japanese is on the InFact website.

Fact-Checks at a Glance

We picked up the following fact-checks relating to Japan from overseas media.

1. Misleading: South Sudan’s president and senior ministers have appeared in public wearing so-called “virus removal cards” (Kenya; Fact-checked by AFP Factcheck Kenya on June 26, 2020)

Explanation: The product has been marketed as a flu treatment in Japan since at least 2015, long before the novel coronavirus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency on May 15, 2020, warned the public that the product was ineffective against COVID-19. Scientists warn that the cards, which have been banned in the US and elsewhere, do not prevent the disease. Read the full article here (English).

2. False: Japan sprayed looters and rioters with blue dye to identify and arrest them later (United States; fact-checked by Lead Stories on June 24, 2020)

Explanation: A photo used to make this claim was taken at a prodemocracy protest in Hong Kong in August 2019. Looting is remarkably rare in Japan and we could find no documented instances of Japanese police spraying looters or rioters with colored dye. Read the full article here (English).

Announcements and News

(Originally published in English by FactCheck Initiative Japan; edited by Nippon.com.)

welfare nationality COVID-19 riots