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  • Japan Times LIFELINES guest columnist Dr Berger on “Dealing with isolation and exclusion in Japan”. Seems grounded in stereotypes.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on June 20th, 2012

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    Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader Giantpanda sent the following as a blog comment, but let me open it up for discussion as a post of its own:

    The Lifelines column in the Japan Times today features what could be an extremely interesting question – NJ dealing with isolation and exclusion in Japan. However, the writer [psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Berger of the Meguro Counseling Center] seems to place all the blame on NJ who end up developing depression or other psychological problems as a result of social exclusion on the NJ themselves. General message seems to be: Can’t cope? It’s not any fault of Japanese society. You are just nuts, or not ‘resilient’ enough. Can’t make friends? Hang in there for a few more years and “keep your expectations in check”. Oh, and get yourself a girlfriend. Those are much easier to come by than Japanese friends.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120619ll.html

    Did anyone else get the sense this was patronising to the extreme, and blames the victims for their own predicament?

    COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I’m afraid I did a bit. There seemed to be too much generalization of interaction based upon stereotypes of Japanese people (and the presumption that the inmates have not in fact taken over the asylum). I think the good Doctor has read too much Reischauer or Jack Seward (he lost me when he brought in the “saving face” cultural chestnut).  I know, I’ve commented at length before on friendships in Japan, but I hope I came off as a bit more sophisticated than Dr. Berger’s analysis.

    What do others think?  I’m genuinely curious.  Opening this up for Discussion (meaning I moderate more loosely, remember), Arudou Debito

    EXCERPT OF ARTICLE FOLLOWS:

    The Japan Times, Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    LIFELINES
    Dealing with isolation and exclusion in Japan

    By DOUGLAS BERGER
    Q: As mental health professionals dealing chiefly with native English-speakers in Tokyo, do you often have to deal with people who feel isolated and excluded in Japan, e.g. long-termers who have failed to “fit in” here, as in they lack Japanese friends, despite knowing the language, culture and so on?

    A: Anyone who has been in Japan for a while has met other foreigners who have been in the country a long time. Some of these people do well socially and psychologically over the years and some do not. Some of these individuals may indeed come to our clinic, and while the people we see usually have either had a depression from before coming to Japan or experienced a worsening of their depression while here, there are certainly others who have a general social isolation but are not necessarily depressed. What might separate those who do well from those that do not?

    First, we can look at psychiatric illnesses like anxiety or depression. Those with such conditions often have an inability to enjoy things, low energy and concentration, and their sleep and appetite may be disturbed. These problems often run in families. While social success may help mitigate them, they may still affect anyone regardless of their length of stay in Japan, number of friends, or other aspects of social success. People with these conditions require some kind of intensive psychiatric intervention.

    Among those who do not have a specific mental illness, some seem to do well generally being alone, while others seem desperate to connect with people. This may relate to attachment needs that everyone has and that are probably innate. We have all seen some toddlers who are happy to explore their environment and others who cry whenever they are separated from their mother. Attachment needs do not completely disappear in adults.

    Getting back to being a foreigner in Japan, those people with high attachment needs who see that Japanese readily group together and seem to make close friendships with each other may be disappointed if they then have an expectation that they will also easily form these kinds of social circles, particularly if they do not first understand Japanese social structure and modify their interactions and expectations accordingly. This is because Japanese social structure works on a group-affiliation basis where formality, saving face and etiquette are valued highly, especially with guests. People who grew up together, who went to the same school or entered a corporation at the same time, or who have family ties, etc., have a basis to affiliate easily.

    It is extremely difficult for a non-Japanese to fit into this social structure as few non-Japanese have these close affiliations and, by definition, none are in the superset group of being Japanese. It is very common to hear how well someone was treated at a welcome party or on a short trip to Japan and then later hear that they felt excluded. This is because they confused politeness and formality with deep warmth. Deep warmth and close friendship will require the person to engage with their Japanese circles for a long time.

    Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120619ll.html

    51 Responses to “Japan Times LIFELINES guest columnist Dr Berger on “Dealing with isolation and exclusion in Japan”. Seems grounded in stereotypes.”

    1. JS Says:

      Yes Debito, I am so sick of the “saving face” cultural nugget about Japan. I know of no culture in the world where people like to “lose face”.

      The cultural emphasis in Japan on “saving face” is just code for, “don’t rock the boat”, “let the status quo prevail”, “know your place in society and don’t act belligerent”, and “Japanese always right, NJ always wrong”, etc.

    2. Joseph Says:

      It was interesting how the last paragraph of the JT Lifelines article by Dr. Berger essentially just tells NJs:
      1) If you’re lucky (or getting lucky ;-)) that everything is perfect, it’s all good.
      2) If not, change jobs or leave Japan.

      Is this supposed to be his professional advice on how to “deal”?
      :-)

    3. Flyjin Says:

      I think Dr. Berger is far too glib and offhand. Rife full of cliches, surely starting a serious romance is more prone to lead to depression on break-up, rather than just having those functional friends with a limited timespan. Ah,maybe he is trying to increase his client base!

      Why would an expat want to bog themselves down in a serious relationship? He seems to lump all the types of foreigners into one homogenous group, the irony of which is striking. Dr. Berger sounds like a nihonjinron spouting Japanese.

      “Especially Japanese women?” -wha fcuk? Time and time again the stats show that the greatest number of international marriages are between Japanese men and NJ Asian females. Or was Dr. Berger just talking about white people, as he is perhaps a white male? So he is just writing his opinion from his own perspective. Save it for the readers’ letters section.

      A very poorly written, non researched article. I have a good mind to write and complain to the Japan Times; a teenager who has never been to Japan could write better than that.

    4. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Extremely patronizing article. japan appears to be portioned no blame what-so-ever for any social conditions that may give NJ problems. The good Doctor is surely a poster boy for apologists (can’t cope? go home!).

    5. Tom R Says:

      Wow, Flyjin! Nail on the head!

      “I think Dr. Berger is far too glib and offhand. Rife full of cliches, surely starting a serious romance is more prone to lead to depression on break-up, rather than just having those functional friends with a limited timespan. Ah,maybe he is trying to increase his client base!”

      Dr Berger sounds like an apologist, cultural relativist, complete with Westerner guilt, and quick to disparage his own. But that is a much larger issue, no?

    6. Fight Back Says:

      Extremely disappointed the Japan Times seems to be allowing this kind of apologist drivel ‘through the back door’ as it were by dressing it up as advice from a ‘professional’. It does make one wonder if there is some other agenda at play here.

      I feel this column is NJ bashing to the nth degree and agree that Debito has covered this topic in a much more sophisticated way. NJ are often excluded by design or a kind of public consensus that allowing NJ too much access is potentially dangerous to the image of the nation. I have personally experienced this phenomenon of the Japanese in-group not wanting the NJ getting ‘too close’.

    7. Bob Says:

      Dr. Berger’s a psychologist and he’s giving us his observations of what he sees. I don’t see ascribing blame in the quoted part of the article (normative), I just see description based on psychology terms. Frankly I don’t see what is objectionable here, other than that some of you are reading his description and taking offense that you resemble his remarks. Some people fit in well, some don’t, there are varying reasons for this including whether one has the good fortune to have a common affiliation with local potential friends (classmates, entering employees of the same type such as seishain who start together on April 1 in the same department, etc.).

    8. Charuzu Says:

      I think that the oral interview, and that is what it appears to be, should not be viewed with the care as a written article by this physician.

      And, of course in such a very short interview this doctor is forced to generalise — that is the nature of such an interview.

      His point that for most NJ to be psychologically successful in Japan, most should strive to have happy intimate relationships, a circle of good NJ friends who are also dealing with the marginalisation facing all NJ in Japan, and very low expectations as to any meaningful J friends, is sound.

      As to blaming the victims, I do not see that idea so much as the idea that —

      “You (the audience for the interview) voluntarily chose to move yourself to Japan, a society which(a bit of research would have shown) marginalises NJ and J generally do not accept them as friends. You should not be surprised, therefore that you are marginalised and have no J non-romantic friends. Accordingly, you should focus on J romantic friends and NJ friends.”

      I do not see him advocating that J xenophobia is good, he seems to merely be describing it as a reality that is insurmountable for most.

      Jim DiGriz#4

      Regarding your point that “can’t cope? go home!” is bad advice, I disagree.

      Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice.

      If a NJ cannot cope and seriously risks mental illness, then they should leave the situation that is causing the mental illness.

      A NJ will not receive any effective mental health treatment in J for illness created by the stress of living in J.

      Just as a psychiatrist would say to someone living in an abusive relationship that is causing mental illness that he should leave that relationship, so too if living in J is making one mentally ill, then one should leave J.

      The marginalisation and xenophobia is a form of psychological abuse, and it is hardly surprising that it causes mental illness or worsens existing mental illnesses in those subject to such abuse.

      And to the others, who offer the thought that his advice to “not rock the boat” of “change jobs and leave J” is bad advice, I would offer the thought:

      Would you offer the same advice to a women in a relationship in which her partner abuses her daily and denigrates her, and is causing her to be mentally ill?

      Would you offer the advice to stick with the relationship and try to change the abuser?

      Or would you tell her to exit the relationship?

      Japan’s xenophobia and intolerance are abusive, and one should not (I believe) view it as other than abusive.

      As such, it is sound advice that those who find such abuse to be intolerable to leave the abuse.

      One should not view those who need to leave as cowards or as surrendering to the abuser nor say that those who suggest that leaving may be a good option as offering incitement to cowardice, or appeasement of the abuser.

      I think this doctor was offering humane advice to those who may face mental illness problems brought on by dealing with J marginalisation and xenophobia.

    9. PJ Says:

      So he brings up some valid points, but he shoots himself in the foot with “saving face”, “guests”, and a few other points in the article that beg to be criticized.

      I see this whole article as a cleverly planned advertisement for his business aimed directly at native English speaking males with mediocre Japanese language skills and a very little time in Japan.

      My advice: if you need professional counseling, find someone who at least has the balls to advertise out in the open rather than trying to hide behind a poorly written newspaper article.

    10. Netherlander Says:

      Although I agree that the article is mostly based on personal opinions and general observations, I disagree with the commenters’ opinions here that it is difficult to make friends in Japan. Perhaps the problem is that some here are trying to make friends with Japanese who you work with. I don’t want to see people from work on the weekend. No Thank you.

      I remember reading about this topic here before, and I remember reading a lot of comments on how it is hard as a NJ man to make Japanese male friends. I refrained from commenting then, but I think I should have commented, because I think it is possible to make friends in Japan if you join some kind of weekend (club) or activity. Like a football or baseball team in your community, or whatever club or activity you like. I have made some very close friends enjoying a club. I think the “おやじサッカー” or “おやじ野球” clubs are the easiest ways to make friends, because you share a hobby, also as time goes on you have many good times but also some bad times which always brings people together, and build the strongest friendships.

    11. Loverilakkuma Says:

      “This is because they confused politeness and formality with deep warmth.”

      Yup. This is kind of argument apologists and detractors like to make to the detriment of cultural bias. Many NJ know that people in a host culture behave differently from hospitality to workplace. Moreover, NJ is not alone in the conundrum of cultural relativism.

      The last sentence perhaps best describes the author’s condescending/haughty attitude toward NJ becoming a hapless victim of social malaise. Wonder how he treats Japanese suffering from reverse-cultural syndrome—or workplace bullying, after returning from foreign country.

    12. Joseph Says:

      Charuzu,

      “I think that the oral interview, and that is what it appears to be, should not be viewed with the care as a written article by this physician.”
      Who is the GP supposed to be? Or is this just a typo of psychiatrist?

      “Regarding your point that “can’t cope? go home!” is bad advice, I disagree.”
      “Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice.”

      Are you a qualified clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or behavioral sociologist to just summarily validate Dr. Berger’s blanket advice on socio-cultural adaptation? Can you at least cite a peer-reviewed journal article that shows this indeed is a preferable and scientifically proven method over activism or defiance when dealing with racial discrimination or marginalization?

      Finally, please refrain from using logical fallacies such as false analogies by using marital problems to justify dichotomous choices of either compliance or leaving when dealing with a state-level issues such as intolerance, racism, or xenophobia.

    13. giantpanda Says:

      If you look closely at the question, it becomes apparent that Dr. Berger has not answered it properly either:

      “As mental health professionals dealing chiefly with native English-speakers in Tokyo, do you often have to deal with people who feel isolated and excluded in Japan, e.g. long-termers who have failed to “fit in” here, as in they lack Japanese friends, DESPITE KNOWING THE LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND SO ON” (emphasis mine).

      Berger seems to assume that many of the problems are the fault of the bumbling NJ, who doesn’t know or understand the culture, and doesn’t speak the language. I quote:

      “those people with high attachment needs who see that Japanese readily group together and seem to make close friendships with each other may be disappointed if they then have an expectation that they will also easily form these kinds of social circles, particularly if they do not first understand Japanese social structure and modify their interactions and expectations accordingly”

      Yes – but the question is talking about long-termers that DO understand the culture and the society.

      “It is very common to hear how well someone was treated at a welcome party or on a short trip to Japan and then later hear that they felt excluded. This is because they confused politeness and formality with deep warmth. Deep warmth and close friendship will require the person to engage with their Japanese circles for a long time.”

      Again, this paragraph is talking about short-term guests and those “fresh off the boat”. The question states that the NJ have already been “engaging” (or attempting to engage) for a long time.

      “Lastly, related to language, there is no argument of course that it is better to have more language skills than not. However, speaking the local language is not a passport to friendship, for all the reasons noted above, and an expectation that it will be could well lead to even more disappointment. If one does not speak Japanese well, they will naturally select to associate with the subset of Japanese who speak English, many of whom may be extremely friendly.”

      Again – the question states that “despite” speaking Japanese, NJ still get excluded.

      My own experience is that understanding the culture and speaking fluent Japanese is no passport to inclusion and warm personal connection. If anything, in my brief stint working for a Japanese company, it made me mad as hell, because I understood all the crap that was going on, while my English speaking monolingual compatriots had a great time, oblivious to the seething river of exclusion, slurs and hypocrisy right under their noses.

    14. Baudrillard Says:

      Great comment Giantpanda (above)- can you send it to the Japan Times? I think we need to take a stand and stop publication peddling the same old cliched sh#t.

      What next? An article on Safety Japan?

    15. Charuzu Says:

      Joseph #14

      You state:

      “Who is the GP supposed to be? Or is this just a typo of psychiatrist? ”

      The article itself states that “Dr. Berger is an American psychiatrist”. In America, all psychiatrists are physicians, who receive additional training in psychiatry.

      As to your question regarding myself, yes I have indeed received training in the Netherlands on mental health issues in a previous line of work, though such training focused on a different group of marginalised people — gays.

      As to the peer reviewed items, there are certainly a variety of peer reviewed article, and you could readily find them yourself that say that if one is in a mentally stressful situation, one solution if possible is to leave that situation.

      And other solution is to identify items that reduce stress and use those.

      Those two ideas seem to be the essence of Dr. Berger’s suggestion.

      Your demand and that I:

      “please refrain from using logical fallacies such as false analogies by using marital problems to justify dichotomous choices of either compliance or leaving when dealing with a state-level issues such as intolerance, racism, or xenophobia.”

      is odd.

      Dr. Berger is seemingly addressing those who face mental health concerns due to their marginalisation and xenophobia found within Japan.

      As such, there really are only two choices: either do nothing or do something.

      Do nothing for some poses a serious risk of a mental health event.

      In the do something category, reasonable choices from a mental health professional are to focus on bettering one’s own mental health. That can be done by either removing oneself from the stressful situation, or identifying strategies to cope more effectively with such stressors.

      Gays face this as a general matter, since we cannot escape from our marginalised position in society, so we must identify strategies to cope with that society. My discussion and friendships with J gays tell me that they face the same problem in that respect that we in the Netherlands do.

      As to your angry tone, well, I have no answer to that.

    16. ds Says:

      Charuzu is right. At the most basic level, there are really only two responses to a stressful situation- leave or cope. To cope, you can use/develop/learn various strategies depending on the situation. It’s up to the individual to decide if it is worth the effort to do so, depending on their particular situation. Someone with a spouse/kids, business, etc. is more likely to try to cope than to leave. Someone with fewer ties and the like will probably hit the road.

    17. Charuzu Says:

      Giantpanda #15

      I would offer an alternative interpretation to his statement:

      “those people with high attachment needs who see that Japanese readily group together and seem to make close friendships with each other may be disappointed if they then have an expectation that they will also easily form these kinds of social circles, particularly if they do not first understand Japanese social structure and modify their interactions and expectations accordingly.”

      An understanding of the culture and structure would, for many NJ, include an understanding that they will never be accepted as a meaningful friend (in a non-romantic relationship).

      As such, he suggests that NJ modify their interactions (so as to not anticipate friendships that are unlikely to ever occur, and their expectations (of having a meaningful friendship).

      The fact of J language fluency will not alter the marginalisation or xenophobia, and one should not reasonably expect that it will.

      Other marginalised groups throughout the world often speak the language (Roma in Hungary, Rohingya in Burma, gays in Saudi Arabia, etc.) of their oppressors.

      In other words, I think that he has answered the question because if one truly knows J culture, one knows that one’s NJ status is an indelible stain that can never be erased for most J.

      As such, one can, after having integrated and accepted that fact in one’s thinking, then proceed on the basis of what is reasonable and possible.

      Anger is one response to the situation, although for some that will be self-destructive.

      Striving for fundamental change (as Debito does) is another response.

      Looking elsewhere for friendships is yet another alternative.

      But I think that there can be another alternative of serene acceptance of the situation — without condoning the unfairness of the xenophobia or marginalisation.

      As a gay man, I have long found serene acceptance to be a more psychologically healthy path to deal with marginalisation and bigotry, and the bigotry of J towards all NJ is not perceived by me as much of an added burden on top of the general homophobia in most countries.

    18. Joseph Says:

      Charazu #17

      “As to your angry tone, well, I have no answer to that.”

      I don’t even know where you got notion of the “angry tone”.
      Are you projecting/sublimating this emotion, or using another logical fallacy (Ad Hominem) against me in your arguments?

      “I have indeed received training in the Netherlands on mental health issues in a previous line of work, though such training focused on a different group of marginalised people — gays.”

      Back to my question on your qualifications…
      ‘Received training’ does not automatically give you adequate qualification to summarily validate a method and negate another in a specific field of expertise. Let me indulge in an analogy of my own… a paramedic who only received first aid training etc. does not have the same nor adequate qualification needed to research cancer or stem cells :-)

      Moreover, the context of your ‘experience’ is in another country ,The Netherlands (not Japan), and Gays (not NJs in Japan). May I “demand” that we stay on topic about Japan and NJs?

      “a variety of peer reviewed article, and you could readily find them yourself that say that if one is in a mentally stressful situation, one solution if possible is to leave that situation.”

      Which variety? “Variety magazine”? ;-) Yeah nice try, weasel-wording much? If there are oodles of articles around the world saying this, would you care to at least specify some?

      “As such, there really are only two choices: either do nothing or do something.”

      “…That can be done by either removing oneself from the stressful situation, or identifying strategies to cope more effectively with such stressors.”

      And once more, you offer/impose a dichotomy. REALLY? Two choices? Do nothing or do something(leave or cope)? Wait, that’s really not just two. That last one also seems like a nice platitude that’s probably written in the ‘variety of articles’ that scientifically prove it.

      But based on YOUR interpretation… it seems that the race equality movements in the US, South Africa, etc. had two choices back then too? Take it or leave it (like your marriage analogy)? Now I am really angry… angry enough to… Take it or leave it :-)

      – Bring this two-way cat fight to an end.

    19. Charuzu Says:

      Joseph:

      I tire of this, and I I am not accountable to you for my views.

      I see analogies between other maginalised groups such as gays and NJ in Japan.

      You do not.

      I believe that logically there are but two choices: do something or do nothing.

      You do not.

      I tire of whatever game this is for you.

      You are free to reject my views and have done so.

      – Aaaaand that’s it. Back on track.

    20. Charuzu Says:

      Interestingly, Dr. Berger has published on the topic of mental health among expatriates in J at:

      http://www.japanpsychiatrist.com/bunken.html

      In his paper “Mental health care of Western expatriates in Tokyo” he notes:

      “There are some disorders, however, related to the lifestyle of living in Japan.”

      He then describes alcohol abuse, sexual control disorders in men, and problems associated with English language teachers.

      It would be interesting what his views regarding xenophobia in J are.

    21. Fight Back Says:

      I completely agree with Giantpanda. The crux of the matter is dealing with exclusion when the recipient is completely aware of what is going on, rather than being a newbie. 

      I completely understand, having gone through the same ordeal in my office. Exclusionism sometimes increases when it becomes apparent that the NJ is completely fluent in Japanese language and culture. 

      I believe the basis of this Exclusionism is that Japanese often prefer NJ to be ‘out of the loop’ and that an NJ who understands Japan ‘too well’ is seen as a threat or risk factor. 

      I’m not sure why this issue was sidestepped in the JT article. 

    22. Joseph Says:

      Charuzu

      I understand.

      However in terms of substantiating your dichotomy arguments for NJs and coping strategies, it seems that you have not properly cited(or read) the source of information nor are you a qualified expert with relevant experience.

      Reading the article you referred to: Berger, Eames, and Prados-Ruano(2008). Mental health care of Western expatriates in Tokyo. 6(5), 321-325. http://www.japanpsychiatrist.com/Abstracts/TravelMed.pdf
      They enumerate problems encountered by westerners, patient demographics, illness breakdown and later on describe psychiatric medications and prescribing practices in Japan. But Berger et. al do not offer going back home as a preferred method of therapy or coping, they also definitely do not impose the ‘take it or leave it’ claim you make. They also do not utilize the marriage to marginalization analogy you espouse.
      (I also like the fact that 6 out of 6 references of the paper is authored/co-authored by Berger, but hey at least it’s peer reviewed :-) )

      As such, you only offer your own personal opinion and yet state it as matter-of-fact.

      You are indeed entitled to your own opinions and accountable to nobody for that, but when you contradict or try to negate other people’s viewpoints and establish/impose your own as the truth (i.e. claiming something arbitrarily as “Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice”) then you should have relevant supporting evidence to back you up and contribute to the discussion.

    23. Charuzu Says:

      Joseph,

      As noted, I tire of your mischaraterization of my positions.

      I had thought that we had stiopped the tit for tat.

      If we must, though:

      You state:

      “t seems that you have not properly cited(or read) the source of information nor are you a qualified expert with relevant experience. ”

      Very well, then, Joseph, what are my specific qualifications, since you know that I am not “a qualified expert with relevant experience”?

      What experience do I have, what years did I work on the issue, and with whom? You state as a fact that it is not “relevant experience” so I assume that you have reviewed its relevance.

      Please enlighten us all with your analysis of my experience.

      You state:

      “But Berger et. al do not offer going back home as a preferred method of therapy or coping, they also definitely do not impose the ‘take it or leave it’ claim you make. They also do not utilize the marriage to marginalization analogy you espouse.”

      Of course that is true. Did I claim otherwise in that specific post?

      If so, please cite to that.

      In fact, I had assumed that we were done with this bizarre tit for tat (an interesting English expression).

      You state that when I “establish/impose your own as the truth (i.e. claiming something arbitrarily as “Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice”) then you should have relevant supporting evidence to back you up and contribute to the discussion. ”

      Did you do that for every posting?

      You asserted as facts items regarding my experience, so I assume that you have such relevant supporting evidence.

      Must we engage in such a wearisome and pointless exercise, Debito?

      – Sorry, but I thought Joseph’s questions were germane, so I allowed them. You still haven’t answered the question about your qualifications above, and yes, you did seem to give support for the binary advice of “take it or leave it” in #9 above, when you said, “Regarding your point that “can’t cope? go home!” is bad advice, I disagree. Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice.”

    24. Charuzu Says:

      Debito:

      I do give support to the notion that one can either 1 of 2 things: either take it (do nothing) or do something.

      If one does something, then there are several possibilities, and leaving Japan must be among those. I list other options in my post as well, and striving for change — as you do — is among those possibilities.

      But, I do believe that departure has to be amongst the options for those who face mental illness arising from J xenophobia.

      As to my qualifications, I suppose I would say that the purpose of the interview is to rely on Dr. Berger’s qualifications.

      Are there questions regarding his qualifications?

      I indicated that I generally agree with his advice.

      Joseph stated:

      “Are you a qualified clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or behavioral sociologist to just summarily validate Dr. Berger’s blanket advice on socio-cultural adaptation?”

      I would say, why is such a validation necessary? If Dr. Berger’s qualifications are in doubt, that should be stated.

      Berger is not offering clinical advice, so no second opinion is called for.

      Nor, is he providing a written article, with all the qualifications that would follow such an article.

      So, why would I have to provide a specified degree of validation (that in any event I believe would be summarily rejected as was my assertion that Berger is a physician, when Joseph stated “Who is the GP supposed to be?”)?

      He is providing general advice, such as when a doctor says: “Smoking is bad, and exercise is good, for one’s health.”

      As a separate matter, see a general trend from the microaggressions issue, and the general significant level of xenophobia in Japan, of a type of devaluation of and marginalisation of NJ.

      This recent article, I think, is relevant to the topic of how to be happy psychologically as a NJ in Japan.

      http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/respect-from-friends-matters-more-than-money-for-happiness-in-life.html

      The microaggressions and all the numerous forms of xenophobia normally found in Japan have the effect of reducing a NJ’s level of peer respect and admiration, and thus of lowering the happiness level of NJs.

      From what I hear from J gays, similar efforts to reduce the level of peer respect are visited upon other marginalised groups in Japan besides NJs.

      If so, that would merit exploration and study.

    25. Joseph Says:

      Charuzu,

      As you have posted in #9 that “Regarding your point that “can’t cope? go home!” is bad advice, I disagree. Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice.”

      Again, what is the factual basis of this statement of yours? If it is just your personal opinion, then just say so instead of saying that it is the truth and yet not providing any credible source(in literature or in your relevant experience). If you contest others’ claims, then you must also be prepared to have yours contested as well, hopefully through all this we gain more knowledge based on facts and not based on hearsay (or stereotypes).

    26. Pitarou Says:

      Am I missing something here? I read the piece in JT, and then I read comments like “placing the blame on NJ … apologist … Western guilt …” and I don’t see the connection. Well, maybe I do, but I think it’s a gross misrepresentation. In his article Dr Berger has, quite rightly, limited himself to a psychiatrist’s perspective.

      I’ll show you what I mean:

      Fact 1:

      – Japanese society is insular. Expats feel lonely.

      Idealist’s take:

      – Japanese society shouldn’t be so insular.

      J apologist’s take:

      – Lonely expats should try harder.

      Psychiatrist’s take:

      – Japanese insularity can cause depression in expats with a high attachment need.

      Fact 2:

      – Some expats don’t cope.

      J apologist’s take:

      – If you don’t like it, go home.

      Idealist’s take:

      – Othering drives people beyond endurance. It shouldn’t be like this.

      Psychiatrist’s take:

      – In certain cases, repatriation may be the best medical option.

      Sure, you can argue that a psychiatrist should address the wider public health issues from time to time, but there’s nothing in this article to damn him.

    27. Fight Back Says:

      @pitarou

      Nice try, but apologizing for the good doctor only makes you an apologist for apologists.

      Blaming the victim is never right. Is it so hard to say that NJ have a difficult time BECAUSE that’s exactly how we are made to feel BECAUSE we are not wanted to fit in?

      Why hide these facts from people who experience this othering every day? Of course you are going to get called out on it.

    28. Charuzu Says:

      Fight Back #30:

      I think that your idea “Blaming the victim is never right.” is incomplete.

      By this, I mean that a victim’s actions, at times, are predictably a factor in the treatment that occurs.

      For example, if one knowingly enters into a situation in which harm is very likely to occur, then one should not be surprised if such harm does occur.

    29. Anonymous Says:

      This certainly is an interesting new type of apologism: admit the problem, yet tell people it’s wrong to try to solve it:
      “You KNEW, before you came here, that racially discriminatory acts are often committed in Japan, so: accept it or go home!”
      Standard apologist technique involves denying/excusing the fact that racially discriminatory acts are often committed in Japan.

      Now here we have someone who admits the racism of Japan http://www.debito.org/?p=10340#comment-339400
      “The #1 goal is to ensure an ethnically pure long-term residence pattern in Japan.”
      “Japan places xenophobia and marginalization as a higher priority than other goals.”

      …while implying that all you people getting economically/socially raped entered the alley of Japan “knowingly”, thus:
      “You knew that victimization happens in this alley, if you didn’t want to be victimized you shouldn’t have come here.”
      “And now that you’re here, being victimized daily, you shouldn’t try to improve the situation: just accept it or go home.”

      When folks like Charuzu write “ethnically pure”, do they mean “racially pure” or do they mean “culturally pure”?
      I think people using the word “ethnically” are trying to imply “racially” without formally admitting race exists.
      Since we’re campaigning for a law here, should this law penalize Racial Discrimination or Cultural Discrimination?
      The United Nations’ “International Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination” defines the term “Racial Discrimination” as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin”, which clearly admits races exist, while leaving the reader to infer whether the term “ethnic origin” equals “racial origin”, or if the term “ethnic origin” merely equals “cultural origin”.
      http://www.debito.org/lawsuitjustification.html

      And finally, Charuzu, since there is obviously one issue you find more important that racial discrimination, how would you reply if you read someone posting something that basically said, “Gays shouldn’t campaign against the discrimination they experience in (whatever country), because they knew the situation before they decided to make their home in (whatever country), they shouldn’t try to improve the situation: just accept the discrimination or move elsewhere.”

      How would you reply to that? Please use your passion for gay-rights-campaigners to encourage racial-rights-campaigners.

    30. Fight Back Says:

      @Charuzu

      You seem to come here with the intent of picking fights with people.

      Do you really believe that if a woman is raped, it is partly her fault because men were around her?
      Do you really believe that foreigners are asking for trouble by attempting to associate in Japanese speaking environments?

      I reject your assertion and I suspect many others would as well.

    31. Charuzu Says:

      Anonymous#32:

      I think I was unclear or you misunderstand my point.

      In the context of the mentally ill (or anyone frankly), I do believe that the option of departure must exist.

      People should not be forced to be more mentally ill or more unhappy, as a penance for living in xenophobic Japan.

      As to your question about my response to:

      ““Gays shouldn’t campaign against the discrimination they experience in (whatever country), because they knew the situation before they decided to make their home in (whatever country), they shouldn’t try to improve the situation: just accept the discrimination or move elsewhere.””

      I am confused.

      I specifically said said in a posting that:

      “Striving for fundamental change (as Debito does) is another response.”

      But it is not the ONLY response.

      There are other options as well, but for some departure is the best option.

      Fight Back #33:

      You ask:

      “Do you really believe that if a woman is raped, it is partly her fault because men were around her?”

      No, nor did I say that.

      I did say that “if one knowingly enters into a situation in which harm is very likely to occur, then one should not be surprised if such harm does occur.”

      That is not an assignment of fault or of guilt or of culpability. It is a statement regarding foreknowledge of likelihood.

      If that was not clear, then let me correct that.

      Moreover, if a woman is raped in general, that is not predictable because it is not a situation in which harm is likely to occur.

      However, to your second question:

      “Do you really believe that foreigners are asking for trouble by attempting to associate in Japanese speaking environments?”

      I would say that Japan is for many a profoundly xenophobic, and marginalising society.

      It has no laws barring such discrimination against NJ, and such discrimination is lawful.

      Moreover, informally, it is a society in which such xenophobia is often normative, and marginalisation is not even viewed as worthy of any note because J view marginalisation of NJ as being the expected norm.

      As such, for many J attempting to associate AS EQUALS in their own environment is viewed as a fundamental breach of their expectations, and they will sanction the NJ who do so.

      And, such sanctions are predictable.

      In effect, one is breaking an informal but deeply held law of Japanese society.

      In such a situation, I would refer to a wonderful letter and quotation by the US Rev Dr. Martin Luther King JR in which he says:

      “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.”

      I think that this notion encapsulates my view on the issue.

      By trying to associate as equals in a J speaking environment, one is breaking a deeply held (for many J) informal law, and in so doing one must be willing to accept the penalty.

      One is, in effect, engaging in a form of civil disobedience.

      You are free to reject my assertion, of course, but I nevertheless believe my assertion to have logical coherence.

    32. Charuzu Says:

      When I say:

      “Moreover, if a woman is raped in general, that is not predictable because it is not a situation in which harm is likely to occur.”

      I am unclear.

      I mean that in general in most situations, a women has no knowledge as to the likelihood of rape, and thus no foreknowledge.

    33. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Charuzu #31

      You are right; people have to take responsibility for the choices they make.
      You are wrong; The victim is never responsible for the actions of the criminal. The criminal is burdened with the sole responsibility for their actions.

      Your line of apologism ranks right up there with ‘she was wearing a short skirt, so she was asking for it’.

    34. Charuzu Says:

      Jim Di Griz:

      You said that I was wrong, because you assert that I said:

      “You are wrong; The victim is never responsible for the actions of the criminal.”

      Yet this is what I said:

      “I mean that a victim’s actions, at times, are predictably a factor in the treatment that occurs.

      For example, if one knowingly enters into a situation in which harm is very likely to occur, then one should not be surprised if such harm does occur.”

      Responsibility, culpability or guilt are all different different than foreseeability.

      My statement is wholly different than “she was wearing a short skirt, so she was asking for it”

      It is more akin to the notion that “She went outside in a short skirt in Riyadh, and should have expected that the religious police would beat her.”

      In a situation in which hate is normative (I lived in Saudi so I know something about Saudi) one can reasonably predict its outcomes in certain situations.

      That does not mean that it the beating of the woman in Riyadh is just, fair or merited.

      But it does mean that it would be very predictable, and that one should warn any woman going in public in a short skirt in Saudi that she can foreseeably expect a beating.

      So, while I agree with your sentiment that the criminal is burdened with the responsibility for his actions, I would add:

      The victim is burdened with the consequences of the victimisation that occurs.

      And, one should think carefully as to whether one who intends to violate laws (whether written or unwritten) is willing to subscribe to the precept that:

      “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.”

      Is one willing to accept the penalty?

      Reverting to the article regarding mental illness, I believe that it is entirely reasonable for those at risk of mental illness (or for anyone) to say that they are not willing to accept the penalty for breaking Japan’s informal yet powerful law regarding the role and status of NJ.

      Not all are in a position to engage in civil disobedience, because not all have such a willingness.

    35. Anonymous Says:

      Oh wait, now I remember, I have seen this logic before.

      An American who has lived here in Japan over 20 years, posted this:

      “THE ONLY WAY ANYBODY CAN SH!T ON YOU IS IF YOU HOLD STILL WHILE THEY DO IT”

      His point was that if someone does something bad to you it is your fault for letting them do it.

      – I’m not sure I get that point from what he posted.

    36. Fight Back Says:

      It’s so typical of apologists to pull the cultural card.

      “oh, you knew when you came here they didn’t like foreigners so it’s your fault!”

      That excuse is never gonna wash with me.

    37. ds Says:

      Jim;

      Nobody is blaming the victim, or being an apologist. Charuzu is merely asking for common sense and realism. Criminals (and racist idiots) are solely responsible for their actions. However, prudent people take precautions. Do you lock your house at night, or when you go out? Of course you do. If you didn’t, and were robbed, it doesn’t mean you were asking for it. But maybe it contributed to your being chosen by the criminal.

      Charuzu and I probably don’t agree on many things, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t right in this case. He is. Constantly seeking victim status does little to help the situation.

    38. Baudrillard Says:

      @Fight Back

      The image projected overseas by Japan when they are trying to attract young, naive NJs to work as teachers or nurses is certainly *not* one of “you knew we were racist so its your fault”. Japan has been conducting a huge fake charm offensive since the 80s. Remember the ad in the USA from the Japanese car manufacturer “We are not Saracens or invaders, we just want to provide superior products” or words to that effect.

      Team Japan’s whole thing is to bleat on about how it is a “western” country, therefore deserving of G8 membership in the western club. The aspects of being a western nation differ considerably from what western countries would accept.

      Its only since the advent of the internet and people returning with negative experiences about life in Japan that this image has become a bit tarnished. But a lot of people (apologists, anime fans) still live by it, as it is more attractive than admitting the post modern reality.

    39. Fight Back Says:

      Unfortunately we don’t seem to be moving forward with a lot of these arguments. I thought Debito really got the ball rolling on this but we seem to be losing the momentum. I’ve already stated I don’t believe dialogue with apologists will achieve anything and I can see it happening now. I don’t want this to lose steam. 

      Why can’t we get together and think of some good, solid ways to tackle this issue?

      For example, we could think about making anti-apologist t-shirts and posters or start a letter-writing campaign to the Japan Times, asking them to stop giving so much airtime to apologists. 

      Anyone else have some workable ideas to help us move forward? I’m all in. 

      – This isn’t quite the place to discuss that. Create a website or yahoo group with your suggestions/forum and send it to me at debito@debito.org so I can direct others to it.

    40. Anonymous Says:

      “Gaijin” contracted by a Japanese company to work 160 hours a month for 250,000 yen (equals 1,562 yen per hour.)
      Japanese company then forces the “gaijin” to work 232 hours a month for 260,000 yen (equals 1,120 yen per hour.)
      Obviously illegal, forcing someone to work 72 hours a month overtime, while concurrently REDUCING the hourly pay.

      The correct reply should be, “That Japanese company should be penalized, for that breaking the contract, of course.”
      “And if that J company is breaking only ‘gaijin’ contracts, while paying bonuses only to J, that is racial/ethnic discrimination.”
      “And if the ‘gaijin’ goes to the roudousho and complains, but roudousho doesn’t penalize the company, this is a travesty of justice.”
      “And if the ‘gaijin’ goes to a J court, but the J court doesn’t penalize the company & roudousho, this too is a travesty of justice.”

      The victim alerting people about this illegal contract breaking should not be told, “You’re not happy in Japan, go see Dr. Berger.”
      The victim of this illegal contract breaking should not be told by Dr. Berger, “You’re not happy in Japan, it’s time to go home.”

      The American who has lived in Japan for over 20 years who I mentioned above, tells people they allowed themselves to be shit on:
      http://www.jref.com/forum/working-japan-141/question-experienced-teachers-31822/#post479389
      http://www.jref.com/forum/serious-discussions-188/******-co-workers-47665/#post687116
      As you can see in the second link, he added “Your choices are to move (do something about it) or continue being sh!t upon.”
      He doesn’t say “move home”, he says “move out of that situation”, but he does imply that each victim is “letting sh!t happen.”
      This thread is about Dr. Berger, who suggests victimized gaijin just go home, then someone tried to defend that suggestion.

      Japanese society has a problem, the problem is: J companies and J authorities treat “gaijin” worse than they treat Japanese people.
      People who have become victims of Japanese society’s problem SHOULD alert the world about Japanese racial/ethnic discrimination.
      Since J companies and J authorities are NOT treating all races/ethnicities equally, logically it’s time for some international gaiatsu.

    41. Rudy Says:

      Even as a third party to the present discussion it is frustrating to read how Fight Back is distorting Charuzu’s (and Pitarou’s) views repeatedly to such an extent that it is hard not to begin doubting his good faith.

      Charuzu pointed out repeatedly that he is not placing any blame or fault in the victim, but only stating that from the victim’s perspective both fighting marginalisation and removing oneself or staying away from an environment in which one is being marginalised are viable options, and that the choice of people who choose the latter should be respected just as much as the choice of those who choose to fight.

      Even after having this pointed out and clarified to him repeatedly, Fight Back chose to ignore the clarifications and to continue to misconstrue Charuzu’s point in post #39, all the while having the audacity to accuse Charuzu of being the one that is picking a fight. Add to this repeated use of the straw man argument the continued use of ad hominems, not only misconstruing what Pitarou said but also conveniently classifying him as belonging to the ‘apologist camp’ and thus not worthy of having his points addressed properly, and I get the impression that Fight Back is trying, be it consciously or unconsciously, to create a polarised atmosphere where intelligent debate is frowned upon. The goal? I don’t know; perhaps it is just to convince people to subscribe to his views ‘the easy way’ – no intelligent debate, but a belligerent ‘if you don’t agree with me, you’re a bad man’-type argument.

      I’m sorry for the negative slant, but I thought it had to be said. This is not to say I don’t respect Fight Back for trying to improve the status quo, especially seeing how he’s been subjected personally to some pretty bad marginalisation and even violence, which he has written about before. I’d just like to call upon him to keep it honest, and not to run away from the challege of having an intelligent and respectful discussion.

    42. Anonymous Says:

      Charuzu wrote:

      Regarding your point that “can’t cope? go home!” is bad advice, I disagree.
      Psychiatrically, that is actually the right advice.
      If a NJ cannot cope and seriously risks mental illness, then they should leave the situation that is causing the mental illness.
      A NJ will not receive any effective mental health treatment in J for illness created by the stress of living in J.
      Just as a psychiatrist would say to someone living in an abusive relationship that is causing mental illness that he should leave that relationship, so too if living in J is making one mentally ill, then one should leave J.
      The marginalisation and xenophobia is a form of psychological abuse, and it is hardly surprising that it causes mental illness or worsens existing mental illnesses in those subject to such abuse.
      And to the others, who offer the thought that his advice to “not rock the boat” of “change jobs and leave J” is bad advice, I would offer the thought:
      Would you offer the same advice to a women in a relationship in which her partner abuses her daily and denigrates her, and is causing her to be mentally ill?
      Would you offer the advice to stick with the relationship and try to change the abuser?
      Or would you tell her to exit the relationship?
      Japan’s xenophobia and intolerance are abusive, and one should not (I believe) view it as other than abusive.
      As such, it is sound advice that those who find such abuse to be intolerable to leave the abuse.
      One should not view those who need to leave as cowards or as surrendering to the abuser nor say that those who suggest that leaving may be a good option as offering incitement to cowardice, or appeasement of the abuser.
      I think this doctor was offering humane advice to those who may face mental illness problems brought on by dealing with J marginalisation and xenophobia.

      That’s what Charuzu wrote.

      Using that analogy of a person being abused, the correct advice for the victim is “Call the police and have the abuser arrested.”
      “And if the police refuse to do their job (arresting the Japanese person who is abusing the ‘gaijin’ person) call the ombudsman.”
      “And if the ombudsman refuses to do his job (arresting & firing the J police officer who didn’t arrest the abuser) call the courts.”
      “And if the courts refuse to do their job (imprisoning the abuser plus the abuse-ignoring J police & ombudsman) call the politicians.”
      “And if the politicians refuse to do their job (enacting laws with penalties for all this racially discriminatory abuse) call the media.”
      “And if the media refuse to do their job (honestly reporting about the reality of all this racially discriminatory abuse) call the U.N.”

      The answer is external pressure, because we “gaijin” don’t have the numbers needed to scare Japan into taking appropriate action.
      Remember, whites didn’t simply GIVE equal rights to blacks, nope, blacks had to TAKE equal rights using the threat of mass revolt.

      Here we have people like Dr. Berger, telling victims of racism to simply go home, instead of staying and starting a revolution.
      The Dr. Bergers of 70 years ago said “Listen, depressed black man, don’t organize a million man march, just go home to Africa.”
      And we have a poster here who clearly states, “Actually, Dr. Berger’s advice is good advice, the victim should leave the country.”

    43. Fight Back Says:

      Thanks for the advice Debito! It’s definitely a long term plan but I’m still interested in what practical ideas other posters on this forum might have. 

      Like I said before, I see this as an issue of importance for NJ in Japan rather than as just an opportunity to “discuss and debate”. 

      The whole purpose of this site is to make life in this country more welcoming and accessible for NJ residents and I don’t think just splitting hairs over whether points of contention are relevant or not in a debate setting is moving things forward. 

      I’d rather hear people’s real world experiences with Exclusionism and how they dealt with them. We are a community after all. 

      – Yes, and I’ve spent more than a decade trying to organize “us”. I’ve had middling success with that (with The Community and FRANCA), and I’ve put it down partly to my lack of innate organizational talent, partly to the high structural probability (as I’ve written about on many occasions) that “we” are too fractious and full of ourselves to be organized. If you’re willing to step into the breach, organize, and move things forward, please do; contact me off-list when you do for Debito.org’s support and promotion. But we need a leader, and I’m more a maven than a leader, I think. Back on topic.

    44. trustbutverify Says:

      This is starting to feel like a soccer match where the home team has climbed up into the stands and is punching the away fans, while the away team is busy shooting goals into an open net.

      Starting to feel like some people are deliberately diverting attention away from the ball.

    45. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Trustbutverify #47

      Let them say what they want. I can keep my eye on the ball just fine, regardless.

    46. Fight Back Says:

      Thanks for the input Debito! Those would be some pretty big shoes to fill though…

      I’m actually more interested in the idea of a kind of regulatory committee for NJ. One that could work with government on issues effecting NJ at a national level and possibly with the power to censure efforts that degrade from the community as a whole, e.g. Apologism or stalking.

      I know it’s a pipe dream but you’ve done the work laying the foundations so hopefully a new push of politically aware NJ could eventually realize something like this.

      – Douzo.

    47. Rudy Says:

      Anonymous (#45) wrote:


      Using that analogy of a person being abused, the correct advice for the victim is “Call the police and have the abuser arrested.”
      “And if the police refuse to do their job (arresting the Japanese person who is abusing the ‘gaijin’ person) call the ombudsman.”
      “And if the ombudsman refuses to do his job (arresting & firing the J police officer who didn’t arrest the abuser) call the courts.”
      “And if the courts refuse to do their job (imprisoning the abuser plus the abuse-ignoring J police & ombudsman) call the politicians.”
      “And if the politicians refuse to do their job (enacting laws with penalties for all this racially discriminatory abuse) call the media.”
      “And if the media refuse to do their job (honestly reporting about the reality of all this racially discriminatory abuse) call the U.N.”

      Charuzu’s anology was of course only meant to be valid in regard to the choice of whether to stay or to leave. In the case of domestic abuse the best advice would, of course, often be to both leave AND inform the police.

      In the case of minority marginalisation, though, the choice of whether to fight in the manner you illustrated, or to just cope quietly, is a choice that those who choose to stay will have to make.

      If one is mentally unable to cope, and unable or unwilling to fight, AND if one has a place to go to, leaving is another option. Eric C (if I remember his name correctly) chose the latter. Are you going to blame him for choosing not fight any longer for your and my cause? If foreigners are marginalised as a group in a society, does any one individual in that group have any obligation to you and me to take it to the police/ombudsman/courts/media/politicians? No, they don’t. Many are unwilling; indeed, that is the problem Fight Back and Debito are talking about in posts #42 and #46. Unfortunate, yes; but one simply can’t force others to fight, especially not if they may be unable to cope personally with such a fight. Again, there is no shame in that.

      If you feel you can’t cope, and if you are not prepared for the fight, there is no shame in chosing to leave the country. That is what Charuzu is talking about: it’s not a matter of ‘if you don’t like it here, just leave and stop whining!’; it’s a matter of ‘if you feel it is in your best interest to just get away from whatever abuse you’re facing, don’t be ashamed to make that choice’.

    48. giantpanda Says:

      We could adopt the slogan of the international disability organisations:

      “Nothing about us without us”.

    49. Flyjin Says:

      Charuzu is talking about: it’s not a matter of ‘if you don’t like it here, just leave and stop whining!’; it’s a matter of ‘if you feel it is in your best interest to just get away from whatever abuse you’re facing, don’t be ashamed to make that choice’.

      No harm in being a Flyjin then! Japan was doing my head in, the constant earthquakes, the undrinkable water. I read that a certain J-pop guitarist had a nervous breakdown.

      I think I would too. So in the case of 3/11 trauma, the advice of leaving is certainly beyond reproach!

      – We’re starting to argue in circles. Sorry for the extension, but I think we’ve had enough clarification of Charuzu’s points. We’re talking about Dr. Berger’s points, after all.

    50. Fight Back Says:

      Love it Giantpanda!

      I think a committee would ram home the point of ‘us’ as a community and afford us the flexibility of organization and representation. Let’s hope for the future!

      Discussion is great, but effective decision making is even better! (hopefully with the lobbying muscle to do things like shut down stalker sites and demand recognition of NJ as a permanent part of the future Japan landscape!

    51. Man in Holland Says:

      There have been committees on “internationalization,” which have discussed themes like making Japan more attractive to foreigners. Just ask Gregory Clark, who has sat on a few.

      I hardly think that what Japan needs is a bunch of Japanese politicians and a few token NJ sitting around a table ruminating on what to do about a “community” which is, at best, a loose association of individuals with various interests. There is also something a bit sinister about governments clustering foreigners into a particular “group” and then designing policy about how others should think, speak, and act about that group. A government agency that officially deals with “race relations” or some such thing that also includes “wajin” might be okay, but you start to go down a very odd road indeed when you insist on creating special policy for a group that is defined by the notion that “they don’t come from here.”

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