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Hi Blog. A bit of a racist slam-dunk today. World-class company Toshiba seems to think that domestic commercials will only be seen within the putatively hermetic Japanese domestic market. And that there are no people in Japan who might take offense at being racially caricatured.
The advertised product in question: A rice cooker that can also double as a bread maker — Toshiba SuiPanDa Model APB-R100X. The issue: Gaijinizing the user to promote bread consumption. As submitter RS put it:
Hello Debito, I’m not sure if you have seen this commercial or not, but perhaps you may be interested in it.
UPDATE: (Link is now dead, but video archived at Kotaku.com here, thanks:)
And if you want your own copy, here’s the ad in mp4 format:
It’s clearly racist, and even kind of seems like the minstrel shows in the US in the 1800’s (which were incredibly racist). It’s pretty unbelievable that this commercial seems to be new, and is from such a major corporation…
Just in case it gets taken offline, some stills, for the record:
Note the accented speech rendered in katakana subtitle for the Gaijinized Japanese actress, complete with blond hair, appended big nose, and overexuberant gestures and speech patterns. Not to mention the dichotomous stereotype that people who eat bread (as opposed to potatoes or some other kind of starch) are automatically “Western” (youfuu).
COMMENT: Well, to me, not so unbelievable. Debito.org has collected a veritable rogues’ gallery of Japanese commercials and product lines that use biological memes of racism to hawk product — some of which were taken off the air when people protested (click on photos for more information):
Of course, you are welcome to protest this as well. Here’s the Toshiba website with the product in question:
And here’s Toshiba’s online feedback: https://www.livingdoors.jp/csqa/form.php
Phone and Fax numbers here: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csqa/contact/support/living_sonota/index_j.htm#contactInfoArea
Many Japanese advertisers just never seem to learn. It’s up to us to tell them. Arudou Debito
UPDATE JUNE 29: Here are two other commercial spots for other Toshiba products, featuring the same businesswomen actresses in the same vein, but without the racialization. As a friend pointed out elsewhere, “Toshiba could have communicated the same message more effectively by interviewing a master baker or some other expert.”
Courtesy of Kotaku. Note that in these videos, these people are co-workers who know each other. Gaijinized in the breadmaker commercial, she’s an unknown stranger. Once again, Gaijin are the perpetual “Other” who don’t belong, even with all the NJ working for Japanese corporations.
UPDATE TWO: Toshiba is clearly aware that this commercial is problematic because they’ve immediately removed it from their website.
That’s kinda funny. A world-class electronics company thinking that it can just remove their racist advert without comment, retraction, or apology, and that would be it? Not very media- or tech-savvy, are they?
Download your own copy from Debito.org in mp4 format, for posterity.
UPDATE THREE: Even funnier, Toshiba’s racist advertisement goes against its own Corporate Standards of Conduct!