DEBITO.ORG
Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

New ebooks by ARUDOU Debito

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 25th, 2012

    Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  Guest author “Bitter Valley” is back again with another thing he wants to get off his chest.  I think he should, so here it is.  One of my pet theories about Japan’s swing towards insularity and conservatism is that as people get older (and Japan as a society is doing just that demographically), they get more politically conservative and resistant to change — or at least change that is not in their best interests.  And as “Bitter Valley” points out, it means an inordinate weighting of political power and economic resources in favor of the old at the expense of the young (especially since the very young have no vote, ever fewer numbers, and few political and civil rights to begin with).  This is manifesting itself in ways that BV thinks are worth mentioning in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city.  Given how centralized political power is in Japan, what happens here will set precedents for the rest of the nation.  Arudou Debito

    ===============================

    Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?
    By Bitter Valley.  Exclusive to Debito.org, October 19, 2012

    Hi Debito, this is “Bitter Valley” again, a year and some change after my previous post about Shibuya Ku’s knuckle-headed attitudes toward my family (I’ll always be a gaijin and my daughter is only Japanese, and that’s that).

    We’ve just had some terrible news that the second major children’s facility we have access to in Shibuya, the Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) is closing down in 2015. It’s a bit of a hammer blow for us, as we have already just lost the Jidokaikan (Tokyo Children’s Center), which is going to be demolished for another old people’s home.

    Regardless of what might really behind the closures (more on this later) it’s going to lower the quality of life for kids and mums and dads in Shibuya (and wider afield) considerably.

    Both children’s facilities are/were two of the only major educational/ fun/ accessible/ cheap (no or low cost) play centers. Both, incidentally, were/are tremendous resources for Shibuya’s large ratio of multinational kids. Parents of older children say that there are schools with most classes not only have one but several multiracial or foreign or Japanese but of NJ parentage in classes. Increasingly it’s seen as no big deal.

    That’s great, at least to non-knuckleheads and/or racists.

    But the closures suck.

    First of all the Tokyo Children’s Hall (Jidokaikan) was shut down last year and this spring. The adjacent park was closed and the homeless community, many of whom had been forcibly ejected from what is now “Nike Park,” went where? I don’t know.

    I don’t mind people whizzing up and down on their silly skateboards in some lumpen concrete basin. Better that than the road, where the idiots sometimes venture. But I do feel for the homeless, who have now been shunted out of two parks in two years.

    After spending a fortune building a gochiso, luxurious old people’s home at Mitake no Oka next door to the Jidokaikan, the plan is now by Tokyo Metropolitan Government to turn it into a old folks leisure center. That means the kids lose out, but the old folks get two delux centers.

    That’s right. The building next to the Jidokaikan used to be a shogakko and a fire station. That got knocked down and deluxe old folks home got built. I unfondly remember when it opened. The officials used to park their expensive Toyota Land Cruisers and other official vehicles with their parking rights windshield stickers on the sidewalk in front. I was so angry at this I put up stickers on the windshields saying “Your luxury vehicle paid for by our local taxes.”  The cars all disappeared the next day.

    There was a minor concession- they built a nursery, but the nursery that had been public before was privatized, run by Benesse, so while we continue to pay our taxes, we have to pay for privatized nursery care by a company that immediately starts throwing its branded toys, goods disguised as educational programs, at infants.

    Meanwhile the “park” next to the Jidokaikan is now a plain concrete flat space. The jidokaikan just sits there, empty and unused, 18 months after being closed down.

    The loss of Jidokaikan was a great blow for mums, dads and kiddies people all over Tokyo as it was a major fun and educational center for kids from all over the place.

    NOW to our disgust (my wife is appalled and angry, rare for her, it takes a lot to make her disgusted) Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) (http://www.kodomono-shiro.jp/index.shtml) up the road (Omotesando) is being closed in 2015 due to “lack of demand.”

    Turn my brain upside down- white is black and black is white. The place is like a non-branded treasure trove for kids, with an excellent kiddies gym, educational and workshop facilities and an AV and music center, excellent, trained staff — who don’t treat gaijin any differently from any other kids or parents.

    Lack of demand? The place is brilliant, popular and packed out. On any given weekend, it’s also packed with foreign kids, haafus, kids from all over the place. It genuinely is a major popular, well-run, packed out educational and fun palace for all sorts of children — open, tolerant, vibrant, safe and cheap.

    This amounts to a systematic closing down of badly needed facilities for kids and infants that are paid for by entrance fees and taxes, for more expensive, privatized versions.

    From our perspective there seems to be clear bias here. The oyaji making these decisions are making things great for themselves, and stuff the mums and kids and people raising families.

    Kiddies 0, Oldies 2; or perhaps oldies win by two knockouts and submission by tired, stressed mums.

    Perhaps this is Japan’s plan for the future. Turn Tokyo into a vast old folks home and leave their children’s children to pick up the bill, or have their kids play in the ruins?

    ENDS

    53 Responses to “BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children”

    1. DeBourca Says:

      No offence BV, but does this carry on really surprise you?This is merely the thin end of the wedge. The treatment of children by the State is abominable. They are seen as either cash machines (Four hundred bucks for a schoolbag?) or malformed worker drones. Personally, I think you owe it to your kid to either:

      Seriously agitate for change in Japan (which could well lead to a life of poverty and ostracization for yourself)

      or

      Leave the country and give your child a decent education and a chance of actually knowing what being a free thinking individual feels like. She can always return to Japan when she’s older if she wishes.

    2. jjobseeker Says:

      I don’t have kids, but certainly do feel for the parents and the children as I see the same thing happening around my area. A couple of new senior apartments where a nice park for kids could’ve been built have just been completed; and fewer and fewer places for kids to go to learn while having fun. These days, I just see them hanging out at the local Aeon Mall with their parents (or grandparents!) either crying because it’s not an interesting place, or “entertaining” themselves at the annoyance of other shoppers.

      But as you have suggested and Debito points out, this is really the result of the continued aging of the society and the lack of political involvement or even interest by the young. The system have them nicely trained to salivate whenever a new shopping area or new “boom” comes along so they can spend their pittance of a salary on goods that will ultimately be out of favor in 6 months.

      On the show “Naruhodo News”, which I am not a big fan of because I hate the thought of that old guy—the main host (sorry I can’t recall his name—feel free to edit Debito if you do) telling people how to “understand” the news instead of finding their own info and thinking for themselves. Anyway, I happened to land on the channel when he and 2 other guests went to visit Denmark to see how people in a country with 25% sales tax live. Long story short: young people get a good education and thus feel empowered leading to very high voter turnout for the young with overall turnout among citizens at 80%. So, with a politically active youth, politicians tend to respond to the needs of the young instead of the old (not that they ignore the old, but focus is on the future of the country, not its past—ahem).

      This is the kind of thing that should be happening here, but with apathetic youth and a conservative, aging population scared of change, well the results are what we’re seeing around us every day. It’s quite sad, really.

    3. Eric C Says:

      Umm…why the surprise? How many children do you see working in the Ministries and sitting on the Keidanren? Notice that I didn’t mention the Diet, which is just a charade to give the people the feeling that they live in a democracy.

      DeBourca is spot on with his choice B, above. Why shake your head and get disgusted? What on earth gives you the hope or the indication that Japan is going to change its gerontocratic policies? The county is getting older, not younger. If you’ve got one or more children (and it seems clear that you do from your post), then GET OUT! Do you have any idea the harm you’re doing to your children by raising them in Japan? DeBourca homed in on the main danger: By raising them in Japan, you rob them of the ability to become free-thinking individuals. And, because your children are presumably mixed race, then that will be shoved in their face the whole time and their whole identity will be based on the notion of being “haafu” instead of being unique individuals. Let me try to make this clear for you: GET OUT and stop putting your own comfort first. Maybe you think you can’t get a job elsewhere. I say, try it first.

    4. Bob Says:

      BV, that is a bummer. I hope they succeed in their plan to open new centers going forward now that the central government has cut funding (it was funded by the health ministry): http://www.kodomono-shiro.jp/info/whatsnew/300.html

    5. Jay Says:

      What I don’t understand is why Bitter Valley, who seems like an activist of sorts, doesn’t start talking to other parents at Kodomo no Shiro and get at least a letter written (for a start) so that everyone can be aware of what is going on. If there’s really demand for it, then you must demand it. And it sounds like you’d have support from other parents. Use that.

      And I don’t accept the love-it-or-leave-it rhetoric from Eric C. That’s a ridiculous argument. I don’t mean that anyone should stay through hardship, but what is wrong with trying to change things? It’s better than not trying. It’s a pain to move countries anyway.

    6. Eric C Says:

      @Jay: Don’t get me wrong: I never said or implied “love it or leave it.” I just said “leave it.” And, if you’re a parent of “haafu” children, I’m sure they’ll be very pleased to hear your excuse for raising them in a xenophobic and racist place and subjecting them to a lifetime of BS from their Japanese peers: “It’s a pain to move countries anyway.”

      As for getting parents to write a letter: good luck with that one. Do you have any experience with citizens’ action movements in Japan? Do you know how the system works in Japan?

      By the way, I’m not sure what you mean by “I don’t mean that anyone should stay through hardship.” I’m guessing you mean that one should not stay if it’s too much of a hardship. Well, guess what? It’s way too much hardship, especially for the kids. As for what’s wrong with trying to change things, I say: nothing. But there is something wrong with trying to change a system or a country that cannot be changed. Look at how hard a guy like Debito had to work for even the most incremental of change. Personally, I’m not going to sacrifice my life or the wellbeing of my children to try to change a country that doesn’t even want us there in the first place.

    7. Scipio Says:

      Jay Says:
      October 25th, 2012 at 11:27 am

      And I don’t accept the love-it-or-leave-it rhetoric from Eric C.

      You might as well because that is the way it is and is going to stay, untill the big financial crash around 2020. On this same day the Japanese government is going to pass another eco stimulus package, worth Y400 billion of taxpayers’ money, for people who buy hybrid vehicles and we know which generation buys them. I’ve not seen an owner of a hybrid under 55.

      In all my travels, I’ve never seen such a selfish generation as the Dankai generation. For all their rhetoric, they really don’t care what Japan they leave to their grandchildren.

    8. KS Says:

      Wow I can’t believe all the people saying “get out of the country” What a cop out. Why don’t you, as people who live here and obviously agree, do something rather than just using the shoganai attitude? Really! That is incredibly weak and feeble. YOu live here, you have a right to do something and make a fuss. BV makes good points. So the questions shouldn’t be should he live here but how do we change the government and the thinking?

    9. Mike S. Says:

      “I don’t mind people whizzing up and down on their silly skateboards in some lumpen concrete basin. Better that than the road, where the idiots sometimes venture. But I do feel for the homeless, who have now been shunted out of two parks in two years.”

      Hang on a second, firsly whats with the insults toward skaters?! Secondly I’ve been to the “Nike Park” a few times, because i enjoy “whizzing up and down on my silly skateboard”, and im pleased that the government feel the need to provide spaces like this for young Japanese and foreign residents alike. Surely this is a win for young people??? The park is a small space, of which there are very few in Tokyo, where skaters and football players (theres also a small five a side pitch) can go and have a good time. The park definitely attracts many mixed race kids- met some there myself- and also quite a few foreign residents too. I know that it wasnt built especially for “us” but its absolutely a good thing for young people who live in Tokyo. As for the homeless people they are all still there. Directly under the park many of them have small wood and tarp houses where they lived before the park was built and still live now.

    10. Eric C Says:

      @KC #8

      Make no mistake: I don’t live in Japan. I left for the reasons I have tried to make clear on this site. As for trying to figure out ways to change the government and the thinking, here’s my advice to you: Study the government, the culture and the people very deeply. Talk to people who have worked in citizens’ action campaigns (both Japanese and foreign). Really try to figure out who holds power in Japan. And then decide if you think the system can be changed. If, after making a thorough study, you honestly believe that one or many foreign residents can change Japan, then good luck and more power to you. I lived in Japan a long time and I studied the place VERY deeply, and this included talking to the most switched on locals and foreigners, and I came to the conclusion that the place could not be changed. So I left. Before I leave this topic, let me ask you: If 311 was not enough to change Japan, do you think that one gaijin is going to change the place?

      @Scipio #7

      You’re absolutely correct: selfish is the only way to put it. But, what would you expect from a generation that received no real moral instruction? You want to understand the true depths of their selfishness? Read this New York Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/world/asia/amid-japan-reconstruction-generational-rift-opens.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      The selfishness of the elder Japanese will make your head spin. Sadly, I have no real reason to hope that the young will be any different as they age. I mean, are they receiving a substantially different teaching?

      The selfishness I observed in Japan is a big part of why I left.

    11. Jay Says:

      Eric C,

      Fine, then leave. I have worked with grassroots groups here and have found it very frustrating. I’ve also worked in grassroots groups in a couple of other countries and find them frustrating, too. I’ve also seen things get done. I’ve seen people’s minds change. I don’t think you can use your case study of one (Debito) and apply it to where this entire country is in order to discount activism. If the parents who use a space are all unhappy about it, saying ‘go someplace else’ is not really a credible argument. It makes more sense to me to pursue who is making the decisions and find out if, as a group, they can do something about it. It could start with a conversation and amount to nothing, but it could also motivate people to push for appropriate services for their needs. I never said that this would change Japan once and for all, but (and I’ll include Scipio in this) Japan has changed many times before and it will again. It won’t happen fast enough. I’ll give y’all that. We’re way behind already, but, personally, I wouldn’t uproot my life because I disagree with the ‘dankai generation’.

      Now, I’m with you on how Japan treats mixed-race and not-the-right-race people. I agree that raising children here is a bit wonky on the racism front, but I know mixed people and non-Asian people who have grown up here and are fine with it. They, of course, have frustration with ‘the system’, but–and granted my sample size is limited–I’ve not heard anyone say that they wished they’d grown up somewhere else.

      And don’t belittle my statement that it’s a pain to move, please. While I’d agree that it would be a flimsy statement if I meant moving a sofa. I mean that people have lots of reasons for staying in a place (including that it is home to them) for family, themselves, expense, work, all kinds of things that would be disrupted by a move. I’d hope that you’d see that I didn’t mean the actual packing of boxes.

    12. DeBourca Says:

      I left Japan as I concluded that raising my child there was tantamount to form of child abuse. Sure it was risky, but you have to do what”s best for your kids. If you do stay, you will have to do like Debito. At least he”s a guy that can look his kids in the eyes and say “I tried” Otherwise, you”re just being selfish

    13. jim Says:

      don’t feel bad the same exact thing has also been happening in Kobe with no regard for the kids and families. there was a great free play land and amusement area for kids that closed down last year over here at harbor land. now instead of building a place for old people like other people mentioned they just built a big ugly parking lot. from what i have seen Japan just don’t care enough about the few places that kids can enjoy themselves what a shame!

    14. Joe Says:

      @Eric C

      “Do you have any idea the harm you’re doing to your children by raising them in Japan? DeBourca homed in on the main danger: By raising them in Japan, you rob them of the ability to become free-thinking individuals. And, because your children are presumably mixed race, then that will be shoved in their face the whole time and their whole identity will be based on the notion of being “haafu” instead of being unique individuals…”

      Sorry to contradict you twice in a week, but that can’t go unchallenged. My kids are not harmed living here, their identity isn’t based on their race and they’re as free-thinking as their UK-living cousins. However, as they’re getting older, they’re getting increasingly aware of people’s opinion that they SHOULD be feeling oppressed and discriminated against. They don’t like hearing it. My 18-year old son would have a good chuckle at your assertions if I showed them to him.
      I’m not denying that prejudice exists, I’ve experienced it myself often enough, but things are way, way better than you seem to be suggesting.

      And I do live in Japan.

    15. Eric C Says:

      @Joe #14

      Congrats on living in Japan. If it works for you and your family, that’s great.

      As for your kids, have you ever considered the possibility that they don’t share with you all their feelings or their experiences? Have you ever considered that you only see what you want to see? And have you ever wondered what your kids would be like if they were raised elsewhere?

      I’ve spoken to quite a few adult Japanese “haafu” raised both in and outside Japan and I find their comments interesting.

      You can state that your kids aren’t harmed by living in Japan ad infinitum, but I find that highly odd, since almost all (if not all) Japanese are in some way harmed by living in Japan. I mean, by having to subsume their individual identities in some group identity and having to be educated in Japan, both of which have clear negative results. So, if your kids somehow escaped this, then they must be blessed with some truly unique characteristics.

      I’m just guessing, but my suspicion is that you’re typical of the guys who wind up as Japan lifers with haafu kids: it works for you and you’ve long since passed the point at which you can return home and hope to find a job, so you desperately try to convince yourself that Japan is just fine and that it’s also just fine for your kids. And having only ever lived in Japan, your kids really don’t have much to compare it to, do they? Oh sure, they’ve visited your home country, but they’ve seen it through Japanese eyes.

    16. Bitter Valley Says:

      Thanks people for the feedback. If I thought Shibuya was unsuitable for our child right now, I would move; in fact we are considering moving to the suburbs to get into the catchment area for one of the many excellent public schools that are available.

      However, the environment for children (and mums) is deteriorating and I am interested in finding out if it’s a pattern that is being repeated.

      My cynical side assumes as people have suggested that the middle aged and older oyagi who make the decisions do so from their world-view and in their own interest, given that even if I were a Japanese citizen, exercising some form of direct democracy would be of limited value. Aside from that, the stasis and inertia and mechanisms of bureaucracy in Japan are well known to many of us.

      I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a lot of pork and backroom deals with certain construction companies involved. Low-middle grade endemic petty corruption being rife in local and metropolitan government the world over, and dango probably only more discretely performed in the past.

      What really gripes me is a pattern of administrative blindess and incompetence. More fool me expecting some sort of sensitivity and competence between Shibuya Ku and Tokyo To and the central nomenklatura.

      The Jidokaikan is owned by Tokyo. Obviously they are worried about what do do with what is going to be a city full of incontinent or worse pensioners in increasingly poor states of repair, millions of them- it makes sense to build now I guess on paper. But nobody looked at the overall picture. Just at the same time 300 meters away another “center of excellence” if you will for kiddies is going. Mitake no Oka is owned by Shibuka Ku.

      Yeah. Thanks a bundle, the pair of you.

      Now IF the Kodomo no Shiro is rebuilt and maintains its function then I can happily eat my words. There is no news on this, at least that my wife and I can see.
      I fear the worst.

      In any case these events will speed up the move to the suburbs or further out we are planning- a place with more green and good schools. But for lots of my wife’s Japanese mum friends who live here who may not have the option to move for whatever reason, I feel sorry for them.

    17. Bitter Valley Says:

      Whoops, apologies to the skateborder.

      I find them silly things and they’ve always annoyed me- it’s just one of my foibles and I shouldn’t have wasted words that might have offended someone unnecessarily over nothing.

      I personally like doing Karate, which to other people might seem a very strange way of spending leisure time.

      I can’t see the point of kicking a ball or hitting a ball with a bat or all the other hundreds of sports people have. I guess to many getting kicked in the head in your spare time might seem a bit pointless.

      Each to his or her or whatever own and- apologies.

      Nike Park at least isn’t a reeking mess like it was. The tramps there caused me trouble several times, three or four eventually, so I ended up giving it a miss; once I was walking home from Seibu with my shopping- this was about four years ago and there was a filthy tramp masturbating enthusiastically and unashamedly. Broad daylight. Another time I was accosted by one, but the Karate came in handy as I kicked the can of whatever rotgut he was holding as he was screaming at me. That shut him up- you should have seen the look of horror on his face. It was grimly comical when I think about it now. But you don’t want to walk around being told to go home you fucking gaijin by homeless drunks, or anyone else, really do you.

      So I guess people whizzing up on down and round and round on planks with wheels attached in a concrete bowel is a major improvement!

      I promise to keep on track from now on, Debito. But I didn’t want to offend someone unnecessarily…

    18. Jim Di Griz Says:

      I can see the points of view of all posters above. I understand why some have left with their kids, and why some stay and optimistically fight for the right (as it were).

      Earlier this year I made a personal decision that was pretty much along the same lines as Eric C. At the end of the current academic year I will be taking off with my family for a post at a university in another country, where teachers and society in general will identify my children as ‘people’ rather than forcing them to accept an identity as ‘not quite one of us’. I don’t think that it is fair to put my kids through that. I will let them grow up and define themselves. After that, they can choose for themselves. It would be better for Japan to be more accepting and tolerant of diversity- more inclusive, but I think that it is a no-win scenario or NJ at present. I can do more good by broadcasting Japan’s ills and fails to the next generation of NJ who are all starry eyed over anime and such.

      I see today that Ishihara has resigned as Mayor of Tokyo to found a national political party. Good! Let’s take this as an opportunity to judge the mood of the people, and see just how far they want to go on the road to nationalistic revival. If that is the path they choose, only an idiot would stay.

      Ishihara to resign, form new political party
      Outspoken nationalist says he wants to take his case countrywide
      The Japan Times Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 By MIZUHO AOKI

      In a surprise move, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced Thursday he will resign and return to the national arena by launching a new political party that can battle the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party in the next Lower House election.

      Later in the day, Ishihara submitted his letter of resignation to the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, in effect giving 30 days’ notice. However, he can leave office earlier if the assembly gives its approval. The election to replace him will be held no more than 55 days from Thursday.

      The 80-year-old former author said he would launch the party with Diet members later in the evening, and he plans to run in the next Lower House election on the proportional representation segment of the ballot.

      Ishihara said he will be the leader of the new party, which is expected to include members of Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan). He said at least five Diet members, the minimum required to be recognized as a national political party under election laws, will join up with him.

      How much influence the party will have on the national level remains to be seen.

      Rest of the article at
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121025x1.html

    19. DeBourca Says:

      At Joe:

      Well maybe things are way better in your experience, but the plummeting birthrate would suggest that, actually things are not that good at all. Also, your eighteen year old had a lot more options for play in Tokyo and Kobe when he/she was a child than children do now. This is an ongoing degradation of childhood.

    20. Eric C Says:

      @Jay #11

      Points well taken. Grassroots movements can be equally frustrating in other places and few established interests yield easily to change. That said, I would argue that countries with deeper democratic roots and less entrenched bureaucracies are easier to change than Japan. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but you should look at the number of, say, referendums that have ever been held in Japan. You might also try to find an example of a successful grassroots campaign in Japan.

      As for my comment re moving: You’re right: I shouldn’t belittle it or underplay the difficulty or seriousness of moving. It’s no joke and only the very lucky can even think about it.

    21. Scipio Says:

      Joe Says:
      October 25th, 2012 at 5:26 pm
      @Eric C
      Sorry to contradict you twice in a week.

      You’re definitely one of life’s big men living your principles through your children.

      At least you should give them the chance to choose themselves on what future they want for themselves by allowing them the experience of something which is denied 99% of Japanese, but hey, if you’re happy here, what else matters?

    22. jjobseeker Says:

      Doh! Jim Di Griz beat me to it, but anyway, I’ll say what I came here to say.
      Ishihara starting a party and making a bid for a position in the national government only drives the point home. Here’s a guy in his 80s who has more than demonstrated with his nonsense remarks and “grumpy old man” type of quips why people of a certain age need to step down and let the young take over. Hell, he’s even publicly stated how “useless” he feels young people are. Nice way to inspire the next generation, Blinky.
      Sadly, interviews with people on the street (of Tokyo) generally found favor with his move with one old lady saying she hopes he’ll keep “doing things for us” until the day he dies. *Sigh
      Bitter Valley, you may want to start checking your overseas options…

    23. Eric Says:

      @Scipio #21

      I have no idea what to make of your post. I don’t even know if you’re serious.

      First, as I’ve indicated, I don’t live in Japan.

      Second, I am living my principles by protecting my children from having to grow up in Japan.

      As for giving my children the right to choose their future, that’s exactly what I’m doing by raising them elsewhere. My guess is you don’t have children. If you did, you’d understand that every parent strives to live their principles through their children by raising them to the best of their ability in what they consider to be the best place to do so. My decision to leave Japan was based entirely upon my desire to raise them in a mentally healthy place, and Japan did not fit that bill.

      That’s the last I’ll address you on this point, since you don’t seem willing to read my posts. Either that, or you are unable to understand their content.

    24. Eric Says:

      @Scipio #21

      Sorry, Scipio!! I just re-read your post. I didn’t see that it was directed at Joe. Mea culpa. My response, then, is also directed at Joe.

      @ Jim Di Griz #18

      Good on you! I know that must have been a hard decision. My feeling is that when you finally get settled in your new country and position, you’ll wake up one morning and you’ll feel a bit lighter, a lot better, with a lot more mental head space and you’ll wonder: “What’s different?” And you’ll realize, you just feel better not being in Japan and dealing with all the BS you deal with in Japan, especially all the BS headgames they play. Was it DeBourca who likened the experience of leaving Japan to taking off a heavy pack? That was my experience as well. And since leaving, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read the news about Japan and thought: Thank God we’re not still there. And, yes, the latest from Ishihara was a good example thereof. Anyway, good luck with your move and new job etc!

      – I’ll make Ishihara’s opportunism the topic of my next blog post in a couple of days. Get ready to comment on it then, everyone!

    25. c_mac Says:

      Thanks for the piece Bitter Valley.

      As much as I love this country and respect what it’s people have achieved post WWII, it never ceases to amaze me how shambolic Japanese society really is. Despite rallying together under the banner of “kizuna” for a while after 3-11, it seems it is back to each man for himself. There is a distinct inability to 1) face the facts, 2) make hard decisions and then 3) act on them.  

      Check out the link below for more of the same:

      ONAGAWA JOURNAL
      As Japan Works to Patch Itself Up, a Rift Between Generations Opens
      The New York Times February 13, 2012

      ONAGAWA, Japan — At age 39, Yoshiaki Suda, the new mayor of this town that was destroyed by last March’s tsunami, oversees a community where the votes, money and influence lie among its large population of graying residents. But for Onagawa to have a future, he must rebuild it in such a way as to make it attractive to those of his generation and younger.

      “That’s the most difficult problem,” Mr. Suda said. “For whom are we rebuilding?”

      The reconstruction of Onagawa and the rest of the coast where the tsunami hit is a preview of what may be the most critical test Japan will face in the decades ahead. In a country where power rests disproportionately among older people, how does Japan, which has the world’s most rapidly aging population, use its dwindling resources to build a society that looks to the future as much as to the past?

      The clashing generational interests are perhaps most striking here in Onagawa, a town of 8,500 residents whose average age of 49.5 is above the national average of 45. The evolving debate over the shape of Onagawa’s reconstruction underscores how older Japanese, more attached to their land and customs, are wielding disproportionate influence and swaying local governments into issuing reconstruction blueprints at odds with Tokyo’s stated goal of creating long-term sustainable communities.

      Rest at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/world/asia/amid-japan-reconstruction-generational-rift-opens.html

    26. Joe Says:

      @Eric (14)

      Do you not recognise the unpleasant racism implicit in your post? You seem to have a problem with the fact that I, a white Englishman prefer to live in Japan than back in England. You’re like those vile, “othering” Japanese we read about so much on this site: “Why are you here?” “You can’t possibly be happy, you’re not one of us.”When are you going back to your own people?”

      Well, no. I’m fine, thanks. Not desperately trying to convince myself that I’m happy here, or my kids. I know we are. Why the heck should I go back to England and look for work just to satisfy your idea of how the human race should divide itself?

    27. Joe Says:

      @Scipio
      “You’re definitely one of life’s big men (1) living your principles (2) through your children.
      At least you should give them the chance to choose themselves on what future they want for themselves by allowing them the experience of something which is denied 99% of Japanese,(3) but hey, if you’re happy here,(4) what else matters?”

      Excuse me, have you ever met me? Seems to me I’m being called a coward and a bad father by a total stranger.

      1) What kind of “big man” insults people he’s never met from behind a computer keyboard?

      2) What “principles”? Literally don’t know what you’re talking about.

      3) You seriously think I should take my kids out of school (son elected student council vice-president by the entire student body, daughter chosen as basketball team captain) and away from their friends for the sake of a few years in England, the country in which their Japanese mother was called a “Chink” last time we went? Oh, and by the way, that mother has a well-paid, responsible job in the civil service; should she just give all that up to allow her kids the “experience” of living abroad? Something they can do any time they choose in the future?

      4)Can you point out anywhere in my post where I mention my experiences here, as opposed to my kids’?

    28. Joe Says:

      @Eric 15, of course. Sorry

    29. Curious Says:

      Joe – Your experiences seem to differ from mine. Not to say they aren’t as real as anyone else’s. Perhaps your situation is different?
      My wife doesn’t have a well-paying career job with the government. And so, she is lucky to get 750yen/hour. I don’t have a masters degree, and so I must get by on teaching young children or seniors at Eikaiwa schools. This isn’t bad, but it’s not a great paying job. Not something where I can easily put away a lot of money for retirement. On top of that, I’m getting older and don’t have the ‘freshness’ that so many schools want in a NJ teacher.

      And my children aren’t as popular as yours. They aren’t top of their class. In fact, they get passed over a lot. My son had a challenge in Jr. High – all of the other kids could afford to attend cram school for all of the subjects and get great grades. We could not afford more than one or two subjects at cram school. He is unfortunately not very tall and athletically gifted, so he didn’t get social points in that department, either.

      My son finished Jr. High feeling marginalized socially and mentally – the message he took from it was that he was “stupid” in his own words.

      Each and every day I walked from my home to the school, I got sour looks from over half of the elderly passerby’s. As if they were smelling something foul. Several of my neighbours were quick to distrust me, though there were a few kind ones. The police were also visiting me with regularity, asking many questions and always prying for personal details to write down in their books.

      I could go on and on, but it is clear you aren’t suffering this marginalization that so many of us talk about here.

      Could it be that we are NOT imagining things? Could it be that this site is one place where we can trade stories to help convince ourselves that being socially ostracized is NOT completely our own fault?

      I envy you and your life. Please enjoy your success, and once in a while have a sip of champagne while thinking of me.

      /vent over.

    30. AM Says:

      @Joe

      Is it OK for me to ask one important thing about your “son elected student council vice-president by the entire student body, and daughter chosen as basketball team captain”:

      Do your children attend a regular public Japanese school (where less than 10% of the students are “gaijins/halfs”)?

      Or do your children attend a special private International school (like ASIJ, where over 70% of the students are “gaijins/halfs”)?

      Answering this question honestly is important, please reply, because:

      your main point (in comment 14) was that you “live in Japan” and your children are “NOT discriminated against at school”

      if the truth is your children attend a special private International school then THAT explains why your children are “NOT discriminated against at school” because…

      living in such an International ASIJ bubble means that your half-children are NOT really living in the real Japan which most half-children live in.

    31. Fight Back Says:

      @Joe

      Eric C and curious are correct. What they are helping you to understand is that not everyone has a good job or the financial security to “gloss over” the bad points. In fact it is often the more marginalized who see our oppression for what it really is.

      Debito essentially talked about this in one of his JT columns, the “I’m alright, so everything’s alright” illusion. And it is a gateway to apologism. I think when you look at the balance of experiences people have talked about on this site, you must find it more difficult to be tempted to whitewash the negativity away by pretending that if life is rosy for you then it must be rosy for others too.

    32. sendaiben Says:

      #29 Hi Curious

      Can’t help but weigh in here and say that I am perfectly happy with my life here too. It is different from Joe’s, but still good :)

      Now, I think there are real problems here (especially institutional/bureaucratic) but I have never felt ostracised on the street or by my neighbours.

      As for not having an MA, no-one is born with one. If it would make your life better, get a distance degree. Yes, they are expensive and time-consuming, but you have to invest in yourself right?

      If you don’t have the JLPT 1, that’s probably the cheapest way to improve your job prospects (you can study online at sites like renshuu.org).

      Best of luck

    33. Joe Says:

      @Curious

      I was only talking about my kids to counter the argument that raising kids here is essentially a form a child abuse, from which they should be “protected”. I wasn’t holding them up as shining examples of popularity or success, just to try to refute the idea that they’ll necessarily be discriminated against just because they’re not “pure” Japanese, (something I worried about myself a good deal before they actually started school). If It’s any consolation, neither is particularly bright academically and my son failed to get into the university he had wanted to at the beginning of the year and is now at “yobiko”.

      Myself, I’m only on a six-year contract at my university after which I’m out on my ear to who knows where. Back to eikaiwa, possibly.

      Regarding your neighbours and your financial situation, I sympathise. I appreciate my immense fortune in both areas. Again, to balance things out, for a guy in his mid-forties, my health is absolutely shot. So it’s not all smiles and sunshine.

      So I’m not denying how lucky I am, or refusing to believe that others have decidedly less pleasant experiences. But I do know that mixed-race kids can be perfectly happy here if things work out.

    34. Joe Says:

      @AM

      Good question. The answer’s in between the two suggestions you made. My kids go (went, in my son’s case) to a private, combined junior high/high school just across the prefectural boundary. So close, but not exactly local. It’s cheap as private schools go; most of the parents seem to be teachers themselves, or salary(wo)men.

      I think you’re more interested in the demographics though: Out of seven hundred kids, total, only three (now only two) are “halfs”. No foreigners. There’s one half-Filipina girl a year older than my daughter, and my two. It’s not a very big or famous school, pretty much out in the sticks, and I can’t see any special attraction for anyone other than locals, 99.9% of whom are Japanese in this area.

      So I’d say my two went to school in the “real” Japanese world, yes.

      And before anyone (not necessarily you, AM), slags me off for not sending them to the local junior high, I’d have been happy for them go there, but the wife was dead against it, (because the local chimpira targeted the school for sales of paint thinner over ten years earlier!) and I decided that was one particular battle not worth winning.

    35. Joe Says:

      @Fight Back

      “Eric C and curious are correct.”

      Well, that’s your opinion. Eric suggested that Japan isn’t a mentally healthy place to raise kids and that parents who do so are selfish. I disagreed and still do. He also suggested that nearly all Japanese are somehow “harmed” by living in Japan. Again, I think this is incorrect.

      Curious pointed out that his life here was a lot less pleasant than those of other people. I’m sure he’s telling it how he experiences it, and so of course he’s correct. But one person’s good experience doesn’t invalidate all bad experiences and vice-versa.

      Debito, Sorry to post so much in one go. Never wanted or expected to stir things up like this with my original post to Eric. :)

      – No problem. The debate is being kept clear and clean. Let’s continue.

    36. Curious Says:

      @Sendaiben – “Now, I think there are real problems here (especially institutional/bureaucratic) but I have never felt ostracised on the street or by my neighbours.”

      Dude – I couldn’t pick you out from a crowd of Japanese from 10 meters away. Looking different makes a difference when it comes to getting reactions from the locals. I stand out and it seems in not a way to elicit trust. Perhaps they feel I look to old to be living in Japan. It’s puzzling.

      @Joe – thanks for your response and insight. I guess I should clarify as well: my children did not suffer discrimination at school. I think they will when it comes to getting a job in the future. But at school they were treated equally.

      Perhaps too equally. Meaning, my son was put through the ‘sausage factory,’ as I call it. Debate or questioning is strongly discouraged and strict adherence to the official line is rewarded. Quite the one-way street (more than I’m used to.) Correct me if I’m wrong, but perhaps this is not too far from education in the UK?

      I personally favour the educational environment that I was exposed to in Canada. To me, the schools in Japan seem a bit overly top-down. It is as if the students are taught to fear anything different and trust only their school masters for opinions and answers.

      Because of this mindset, I don’t recommend the schools in Japan unless the students are aiming to be a cog in the system when they graduate. My son seems to be different, and I feared he would face a brick wall after school. He didn’t show any signs of being able to become a suit-wearing entry-level corporate soldier. So we moved back to Canada. He says he understands now why we moved and is grateful for it.

      I mean, you have to wonder if the economy tanks any further, how easy will it be for our hafu kids to get a good paying job? If they stand out, that is.

    37. sendaiben Says:

      @Curious

      Heh, the only time I have been able to pass for Japanese is on the phone, for the first few minutes :D

      Certainly never in person. However, I think Sendai might be a welcoming combination of northern ‘live and let live’ combined with a large ‘Japan acclimatized’ foreign population (mostly university students/postgrads/researchers and immigrants) that provides a fairly friction-free place to live. Haven’t lived anywhere else so couldn’t say for sure, but it’s the impression that I get…

      All the best

    38. AM Says:

      @Joe – Then my ASIJ assumption was totally wrong. Thank you for answering.

      I’m surprised that private “99.6% Ethnically Japanese” school didn’t “other the others”.

      I wonder if you would have had the same success if your kids attended a regular public school.

      And thank you for sharing your life details so openly, it gives a complete picture.

      I think we all understand the situation here is not black, it’s not white, it’s gray.

      The argument/debate/discussion here is whether Japan is “dark gray” or “light gray”.

      IMO, currently Japan scores a dark gray in the equality factor: the “pure Japanese” majority discriminate against the “gaijins/halfs/quarters” minority too much.

      IMO, currently the world outside Japan scores a dark gray in the peace factor: the “aggressive/strong/heavy” majority yell/punch/rob/rape/kill the “meek/weak/light” minority too much.

      Which is why, I choose to live in Japan (relatively higher discrimination and lying) instead of America (relatively higher yelling/punching/robbing/raping/killing.)

      “But, but, according to this study, the violent-crime-rate is ‘only slightly higher’ outside Japan!”

      To me, the violent-crime-rate being “only slightly higher” outside Japan, makes a world of difference. Here, I can relax, knowing there’s a relatively lower chance of being attacked, knowing I’ve chosen the relatively safer country to peacefully grow old in.

      How can one really relax in countries outside Japan where verbal and physical violence are such common everyday occurrences?

      In the name of balance and honesty, folks who have left Japan should occasionally post here about the dark grey “peace” reality they witness: pub fights, subway fights, bus fights, street fights, and in general a higher percentage of folks looking for an argument to start a fight.

      As one comedian put it, weak folks walk around thinking, “Gee, I hope there isn’t any trouble tonight, I sure hope there isn’t any altercaltion” while strong folks walk around thinking, “I wish somebody WOULD try to mess with me tonight, because I will **** them up, I got so much anger boiling inside, I wish someone WOULD give me an excuse to start yelling and punching. TRY me. Try ME. I wish you WOULD!”

      So, in summary, I hate how the skinny/weak majority inside Japan use Lies to hurt gaijins Emotionally.

      But I hate even more how the heavy/muscular majority outside Japan use Fists to hurt weak people Physically.

      My personal “comparative-culture score-card” currently shows:

      Japan: Peace = light gray
      Japan: Equality = dark gray

      U.S.A.: Equality = light gray
      U.S.A.: Peace = dark gray

      So I think choosing where to live comes down to which factor you value more.

      – I really don’t get this grayscale. Never mind. I’ll approve this comment and let it go. But I don’t want to spend any more time on this shady subject because it’s not much of a model.

    39. DeBourca Says:

      Curious 38:

      Your experience with the J education system is pretty much why I left too. If your kid can keep the head down, study all the hours of the day and not make a peep for twenty years, then maybe they’ll do okay. However, I realised that my daughter was never going to be that type of person. Most people aren’t! This will get worse what with people like Toru Hashimoto clamping down on the teacher”s unions and sucking up to private teaching institutions. IMO.

    40. giantpanda Says:

      @Joe (33) Amendments to the law regarding fixed term contracts mean that from next year, anyone on a fixed term contract for more than 5 years will be able to claim that they have permanent employment. Probably means most folks will lose their jobs just before the 5 year deadline, but might help you if the university keeps stringing you along on a “keiyaku shain” basis.

      – This is a bit of a digression from the topic of this blog entry. But send us a link to information on this, please.

    41. Fight Back Says:

      I think we need to accept the simple fact that ‘harfu’ kids are discriminated against by ”pure’ Japanese and move on. This is relatively personal to me as I feel fortunate that I divorced from my Japanese spouse before we had kids, sparing myself and them from the horrors of family law and the school system. And the very reason that instigated my divorce was this one of the other party, in this case my spouse, not believing or accepting the behaviors that marginalize us as NJ each and every day.

      Yes, the dirty looks are real. Debito has documented this as ‘the Eye’ effect. Spitting and shoving are also not unheard of. Is it too much to expect fellow NJ to support those of us who suffer more due to financial constraint or the curse of ‘looking different’. It is not only the problem of ‘child abuse’ in Japanese schools but also ‘NJ-abuse’ in Japanese society.

      I’ve often thought it is because that NJ want to keep their identities that we are reviled by the system. And NJ children possibly represent the threat of independent thought ‘contaminating’ the locals? It is certainly possible that this is a source of the pressure that mixed-heritage children face.

    42. Mumei Says:

      Regarding (40), details for the updated law may be found here:
      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/seisakunitsuite/bunya/koyou_roudou/roudoukijun/keiyaku/kaisei/

    43. sendaiben Says:

      @Fight Back

      For the record, I have never been shoved or spat at in Japan. I may have received ‘looks’, but am not particularly aware of them. I find Japan a fairly comfortable place to live, apart from specific bureaucratic or institutional issues.

      This does not negate your experiences, but please stop speaking for all non-Japanese, as your experience is not universal.

    44. Mike Says:

      “”To me, the violent-crime-rate being “only slightly higher” outside Japan, makes a world of difference. Here, I can relax, knowing there’s a relatively lower chance of being attacked, knowing I’ve chosen the relatively safer country to peacefully grow old in.

      How can one really relax in countries outside Japan where verbal and physical violence are such common everyday occurrences?””

      I completely disagree. Japan is not safe by choice, its by obligation to rules, and many NJ, including myself, have found themselves outside that “ruru” zone and been attacked. Japan can be a very dangerous place for NJ if you step outside the conformist boundaries and be your original self. Suddenlly you will find people who normally hold back everything ( IMO, an unatural emotion) bursting with obscenities in Japanese and becoming violent. If you go to the police, yes, being punched or pushed is illegal, however, when a gaijin is involved, the circumstances are weighed differently. I had a Japanese once tell me he would kill me, when I reported him to the police, the convulted response was, to my understanding, thats not illegal. So you see gaijin walking around looking bewildered, lost, fake confusion, or just being on edge all the time. It takes its toll on your health. japan is not a safe country by choice, if some of these people had guns, better be assured there would be killings everday. I avoid most Japanese now by choice, as to not risk any confrontation. In the States, sure I had the occasion idiot blast their bad language or something, but I never faced anything like I have here. Japan is a safe place is one of the more prevalent myths thats out there, but its not true. Ride the train at 10 or 11 pm on Thursday, watch all the violence spill over. People are the same all over the world.

    45. DeBourca Says:

      The irony of this destruction of childhood in Japan if people do not grow through childhood, they remain infantilized through adulthood. Hence the gross sentimentalisation of childhood a la Disney (to be experienced for a price of course).

      “Childhood” has become a commodity to be purchased by people who have never experienced the real thing. This will get worse, I predict, because it actually suits the employers and powers that be to have an employment pool of perpetual adolescents who are in trhall to their most basic desires: If one is a rootless, individual who only cares about having a good time in the now, Japan remains a reasonably decent place to live.

      Until you want to grow up.

      Thoughts anyone?

    46. giantpanda Says:

      Information on amendments to the Labor Contract Act in English:
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120804b4.html
      or in more detail:
      http://www.bakermckenzie.com/ALTokyoAmendmentLaborContractActAug12/

      Unfortunately, the 5 years won’t start running until after that part of the law comes into effect (probably April 2013). The employee also has to take steps to exercise the right rather than it simply being deemed an indefinite term contract by law – I wonder how many contract employees will actually exercise this right.

    47. Fight Back Says:

      @Mike

      I feel for you buddy! In Osaka, where I live, it is much more recommendable to avoid confrontation with Japanese people as much as possible. They can be very unfriendly and predisposed to looking for fights. As you say, the police tend to do nothing when NJ are involved, be it businessmen or tourist or long-term resident, they only see you as trouble.

      One can only imagine how badly harfu children are treated. Maybe the pushing or teasing or abuse is too real for them to report to their parents, who only want to view Japan through rose-tinted glasses. I think even at an early age children can become aware of their parent’s apologism and learn to adapt to it by hiding certain realities. The sad part is that this denial is only hurting their kids, and that’s definitely universal.

    48. AM Says:

      @GiantPanda (and Mumei)

      Thanks for pointing out that new law giving us the right to become seishaiin after 5 years of one-year-contract renewals.

      So, sometime in 2018 or 2019, what exact steps should the employee take to exercise this right?

      Should we just sign the 6th one-year-contract as normal, and then go to the roudoushou with that signed copy and say “This is my 6th one-year-contract since April 2013, here are the other 5 one-year-contracts to prove this fact, so please call my boss now and notify him that I am now a seishaiin so this 6th one-year-contract is not legal/valid so the company needs to immediately print up a seishaiin contract to acknowledge this fact, as well as reminding the company that it would be patently illegal for the company to suddenly fire me for simply having gone to the roudoushou to secure my seishaiin right.)”

      Or should we take the yet-unigned 6th one-year-contract to the rodoushou and say “I’m about to sign this 6th one-year-contract since April 2013, here are the other 5 one-year-contracts to prove this fact, so please call my boss now and notify him that this 6th one-year-contract is not legal/valid so the company needs to immediately print up a seishaiin contract to acknowledge this fact, as well as reminding the company that it would be patently illegal for the company to suddenly fire me for simply having gone to the roudoushou to secure my seishaiin right.)”

      (By the way, I thought such a law already existed, and that it was 3 years. Does anyone remember that law? I’m quite sure we talked about it here on this site. If so, isn’t this new 5 year law actually a 2 year step backwards in terms of rights?)

      Anyway, again, how shall we exercise this NEW law giving us the “5-years = seishaiin” right?

    49. Buadrillard Says:

      This is spot on, Mike, and articulates what many of us feel but cannot usually put into words-

      “Japan is not safe by choice, its by obligation to rules, and many NJ, including myself, have found themselves outside that “ruru” zone and been attacked. Japan can be a very dangerous place for NJ if you step outside the conformist boundaries and be your original self. Suddenlly you will find people who normally hold back everything ( IMO, an unatural emotion) bursting with obscenities in Japanese and becoming violent. ”

      Its a very odd state of affairs, but if you go on a trip outside Japan and then revert to your gregarious, expressive, outgoing (or not, as remember gaijin are expected to be “genki”) gaijin self, and then come back and continue in that mindset, you are no longer “playing the Mr James role”, shall we say, this “surprises” Japanese, especially colleagues in any J office, who do not like “A life full of surprises”- to quote Weber on rationalization. Like the American girl working in Saitama MacDonalds and soon fired for being spontaneous instead of robotic “Do you want fries with that” script, step outside your designated role and people in Tokyo get disproportionately worked up about it. Like if you are not “genki” enough or do not have a “sense of wonder” about being in Tokyo (which maybe you did for the first 6 months but it wears off”). Its the same in Korea with their “Korea is number 1″ patter and Korean Pride.

      The expected genkiness irks me particularly, as it is so racist. Gaijins should be genki, but there are a lot of Japanese who are not, but yet expect you to be. especially if they are customers or students. Its like an introvert trying to learn people skills from a hired dancing bear.

      As for the “Not safe by choice”but by rules” this is, as I and others have said often, because Japan is post Fascist with an imposed democracy, the Signs and Symbols of American democracy placed on top, without meaningful change in thinking or tradition.

      Another one is language. Some Japanese who have come back from America swore at me like a trooper in English, but I switched to Japanese honorifics and they became trapped in politeness. Its hard to swear-especially for a woman- in Japanese, unless of course she is going to sink completely into the gutter, but this would entail and utter loss of “face”.

      -”If you go to the police, yes, being punched or pushed is illegal, however, when a gaijin is involved, the circumstances are weighed differently. I had a Japanese once tell me he would kill me, when I reported him to the police, the convulted response was, to my understanding, thats not illegal.”

      This has happened to me too, and quite recently. A disgruntled co worker with a thing about NJs. Hate speech is not illegal here. However, sometimes if they get all worked up in front of the police and you are calm and polite, the police may take your side. If you are lucky. It helps if the person you are in a fight with is some unreasonable chinpira, wannabe yakuza. So long as he hasn’t greased the palms of the local cops, it might be alright. Also if you can ingratiate yourself with the local Koban previously, like handing in a lost wallet or something, this might help to portray you as a “good gaijin”.

      All this play acting and fake confusion (I liked that bit you mentioned, very astute) is very tiring and makes you paranoid. The work people do in Tokyo is often easy in comparison, Its all the other “happenings” that get in the way of work, be it being carded in Tokyo station to being involved in a fracas every 3 months. As you conclude Mike, it finally does take a toll on your(mental) health.

      – We’re getting away from the topic of this blog post. Bring it back.

    50. AM Says:

      @Debito – OK, my final response to Mike, please:

      Some folks want to leave Japan, and they post here explaining why Japan is WORSE than other countries in SOME factors (e.g. discrimination/lies/etc.)

      I think for balance, folks who want to stay in Japan should also occasionally be allowed to explain why honestly Japan is BETTER than other countries in OTHER factors (e.g. peace/money/etc.)

      I submit the following opinion to the community here:

      Japan is worse than other countries in some factors.
      Japan is better than other countries in other factors.

      Some people feel Japan’s minuses outweigh the pluses.
      Some people feel Japan’s pluses outweigh the minuses.

      I don’t think anyone who has lived in Japan, like yourself, like the community here,
      can honestly say that “Japan is worse than other countries in EVERY single factor.”
      There must be some factors where Japan scores a little bit better than other countries.

      @Mike

      You wrote “Japan is a safe place is one of the more prevalent myths that’s out there, but its not true.”

      Did I say “Japan is safe”?

      See, that would imply a patently false “100% or 0%” “things are either Black or White” strawman.

      Nothing is big. Nothing is small. You can only compare two things to say which is BIGGER and which is SMALLER.

      (I learned this in “Thinking 101″ at Sophia. The only absolute is: there are no absolutes, we can only make comparisons.)

      Yes, sometimes I forget this important fact, sometimes I make the mistake of writing absolutist adjectives such as “weak” or “strong”. That action is wrong of me. What I should write instead is “WEAKER than world average” or “STRONGER than country X”.

      Japan is not “small”, the U.S.A. is not “big”.
      Japan is SMALLER than the U.S.A., the U.S.A. is BIGGER than Japan.
      (And Japan is BIGGER than the U.K., and the U.S.A. is SMALLER than Russia.)

      People in Japan are not small&weak. People in the U.S.A. are not big&strong.
      People in Japan are SMALLER&WEAKER than people in the U.S.A.
      People in the U.S.A. are BIGGER&STRONGER than people in Japan.

      So I hope folks can see that comparing two things is more accurate than using absolutist adjectives like “small” “big” “safe” “dangerous”.

      I don’t say “Japan is safe”. That would mean 100% safe.
      I don’t say the “U.S.A. is unsafe”. That would mean 100% unsafe.

      I say “Japan is SAFER (in terms of violence) than the U.S.A.”
      I say “U.S.A. is LESS SAFE (in terms of violence) than Japan.”

      Mike, are you seriously going to go on the record as saying the opposite?
      Can you honestly write, “U.S.A. is SAFER (in terms of violence) than Japan!” ?

      I’m pretty sure that you are not able to honestly write that.

      Now you did write to me, “Ride the train (in Japan) at 10 or 11 pm on Thursday, watch all the violence spill over.”

      You are thus implying that “the level of violence in Japan” is EQUAL to “the level of violence in U.S.A.”, correct?

      First off, although I always campaign for equal rights, Japan and the U.S.A. don’t have “equal amounts of violence per capita”, just as Japan and the U.S.A. don’t have “equal amounts of kilograms of muscle per capita” just as two countries don’t have equal amounts of anything, even if the numbers are really really close there always is going to be a slight difference (even if the difference is 0.00000001%.)

      So, in our quest for equal rights, can we all stop pretending that every human on earth has equal behavior, equal intelligence, equal physical strength, equal speed, equal anything?

      Look, humans on earth have VARYING qualities (not equal) and yet, we all deserve equal rights.

      Yep, even if people in U.S.A. DO commit more Violence per capita compared to people in Japan, we still all deserve equal RIGHTS.

      Yep, even if people in Japan DO commit more Lies per capita compared to people in the U.S.A., we still all deserve equal RIGHTS.

      Fianally, to refute your implied theory that “the level of violence in Japan” is EQUAL to “the level of violence in U.S.A.”:

      Mike, please try to find a collection of physical violence happening in trains/buses/streets/restaurants/bars in Japan, as many as you can find. Youtube, NicoNico, good luck. I’ve tried. There’s not much violence happening in Japan. I only found about 10 solid punches.

      Now, try to find a collection of physical violence happening in trains/buses/streets/restaurants/bars in U.S.A., as many as you can find. There are hundreds of thousands. The results seem endless. Chairs being thrown in restaurants, people getting “knocked da f*** out” while bystanders laugh and cheer is much more common in the U.S.A. (where I was born) than in Japan (where I chose to live.)

      After a good amount of time looking at the video evidence of daily physical violence in the U.S.A. compared to Japan, I think you’ll soon realize which country is relatively safer (in terms of avoiding being punched in the face.)

      So a physically weaker-person with less-muscles-than-you said to you in Japan, “Bukkurosuzou!”. OK, to me those are just words.

      Physically stronger-people with much-bigger-muscles-than-me have punched me in the U.S.A., so to me that outweighs any words.

      Again, in summary, when making a choice between living in Japan or the U.S.A., I compare the higher chance of being the victim of punching by bigger-stronger people in the U.S.A., with the higher chance of being the victim of discrimination/lies/words by smaller-weaker people in Japan, and I choose Japan.

      I’m not denying that discrimination and lies totally suck.

      I’m simply saying that getting punched in the face sucks more.

      But for those of you who choose the U.S.A., I don’t disrespect you for your choice.

      Bob Marley, who I respect a great deal, once said, “People try to use words to fool people into losing money, in verbal deals and written contracts. Look, if you want to rob me of my money, do it direct, physically, with fists or gun. Don’t try to use word games to take my money while pretending you aren’t. Be direct about it. Don’t try to fool my mind. I would rather you do the robbing physically.”

    51. giantpanda Says:

      @AM, read the links I posted (especially the second one, which is quite detailed). If your fixed term contract has already been renewed 5 or 6 times and your employer suddenly decides not to renew it, you can sue for invalid dismissal (since you would have a reasonable expectation of the contract continuing to be renewed).

      If you want to use the 5 year rule against your employer, then after 5 years have passed, you write a letter to your employer stating that you hereby offer, in accordance with the Labour Contract Act, an indefinite term employment contract, on the same terms and conditions as your current contract, which will commence on the day that your then-current contract expires. Your employer is deemed by law to accept this contract. No squirming out of it once that letter is sent.

    52. Flyjin Says:

      “I think for balance, folks who want to stay in Japan should also occasionally be allowed to explain why honestly Japan is BETTER than other countries in OTHER factors (e.g. peace/money/etc.)”

      What peace? the peace of a self imposed hikkikomori? I suppose if you just keep yourself to yourself and do not interact, you wont have too much trouble, except with officialdom, the odd random police check of the gaijin house,etc.

      What money? Well, true the exchange rate favors the Yen but where’s my gaijin bonus? Oh yeah, there isn”t one.

      That leaves “etc”. Care to elaborate? The Ikebana is certainly far to superior to that in certain other countries.

      – No, AM, don’t bother elaborating. I approved AM’s long-winded comment (I have cautioned him against making these gaseous ponderous repetitively interminable posts before some time ago — he also has a habit of sending them three or four times with minor corrections, making the ordeal of getting through them that much more laborious) only after he submitted it four times with a please please please. I now kinda regret it. I think we’ll draw this section of this thread to a close, as it’s waaaaay far from the original point of this blog entry.

    53. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ AM #50

      I agree with most of your statement about the fallacy of speaking in broad, 100%, sweeping statements.

      But I think that you have to be careful when you make statements such as, ‘explain why honestly Japan is BETTER than other countries, and then go on to repeat all the J-myths about the ‘wa’ of J-society (that, I might add, you are seen as detrimental to).

      Anyway, I’m really posting to question your understanding of Bob Marley (who you respect a great deal).
      You say;
      ‘I’m not denying that discrimination and lies totally suck. I’m simply saying that getting punched in the face sucks more.’

      Then you quote Marley, who said;
      ‘People try to use words to fool people’, and ‘I would rather you do the robbing physically’.

      Isn’t Marley saying the exact opposite of what you just said?
      Marley could just as well be talking about the ‘lie culture’ of Japan that Debito covered a while back in a JBC.

      – Okay, this was in the intray before I approved the last comment. This’ll do it. Thread closed.

    Leave a Reply