ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!

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Hi Blog. It’s times like these when people seem glad that a forum like Debito.org exists.  I say this based on the large number of people who submitted information about the new ANA commercial on Haneda Airport’s increased international flights. Seems that somebody, anybody, should express outrage.  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here it is (courtesy lots of people; thanks!):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jgzAOCmWA0

(UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA has pulled the ad, so the link above is dead.  I have archived it for posterity as an .mp4 at http://www.debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.  Thanks JK!)

Well, let’s have a think. With two Asian guys speaking only in English (one saying he’s Japanese — the noticeably shorter guy) noting that Japan will have more international access (Vancouver and Hanoi are mentioned as their destinations), the message of the ad is that the image of Japan will change. “Exciting, isn’t it?”, says the Japanese bloke. The taller dude says, “You want a hug?” When nothing happens (i.e., no hug), he oddly says, “Such a Japanese reaction.” When the tall dude says, “Let’s change the image of  Japanese people,” the short dude agrees to it. And this is what happens to him:

ANAHanedabignose

Yeah, that’ll do it.  Put on a wig and a fake nose, and that’ll change Japan’s image.

Actually, no it won’t.  This is in fact business as usual, given how Japan has a nasty habit of racializing commodities.  Check out but a few examples of racist Japanese commercial campaigns from Debito.org’s archives (click on images to see more information).  Then I’ll comment about the ANA one:

Traveling to Nagasaki (let’s gaijinize ourselves!) (2010):
nagasakitabinetto nagasakitabinetto2

Toshiba sells breadmakers! (2013)
toshiba2013suipanda1

McDonald’s Japan sells burgers! (2009)
mcdonaldsmrjames001

Selling sweets! (2013)
vibesumadara3

Mandom sells men’s cosmetics! (2005)
MandomAd2

Mini Stop Konbini sells Afro Melon Bread! (2010)

Publisher Zuiunsha resurrects “Little Black Sambo” without historical context! (2005)
Sambooriginal

Selling party favors! (Tokyu Hands 2008, still on sale on Amazon)

COMMENT ON ANA’S AD CAMPAIGN:

Well, I have the feeling that once again, a major Japanese company left their advertising to one of the big-name ad firms (as Toshiba above did), and they once again just thought they were being cute by sticking a wig and a big nose on somebody and making them look “foreign”.  After all, who would complain?  Japan is after all a homogeneous society with no racial issues (not!).  Chuckling old-timey OBs on the board who make all the decisions and expect everyone to knuckle under thought nothing of it, especially since (check out that screen capture again):

ANAHanedabignose

the guy looks remarkably like Robert Redford!  Who to a lot of Japanese (especially to the generation who haven’t had a Brad Pitt update yet) is the prototypical and idealized Westerner!

But some people, myself included, take a dim view of this campaign.  Let me quote an esteemed friend of mine:

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

Dear ANA,
I’m not sure you know this, but are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur? And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?
Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.
And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions. Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks in mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th century, “we are so different from you funny looking white gaijin” Meiji Era mentality.
Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers. They may surprise you.
Sincerely,
A Big Nose White Guy who speaks Japanese

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

Quite.  If ANA really wanted to change the image of Japan, they should have had the guys hugging!  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20:  Stating that they are now pulling the ad, ANA officially comments in a reply to complaints below (English original):  The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

Interesting mindset.  Good to know what ANA was thinking.  But do you think this advertisement accomplishes that?  Are “global citizens” therefore Robert Redford lookalikes?  In light of this, the advertisement is to me even more problematic.

UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA’s campaign expands to the Hibiya Line in Tokyo (Courtesy of JK, click on photo to expand in browser):

ANAHanedaHibiyapic012214

UPDATE TWO, JANUARY 22: FYI, the Japan Times has tapped me to do my next Just Be Cause column early on, you guessed it, the ANA advertisement.  Already filed, it will come out Saturday, January 25 JST.

UPDATE: HERE’S THE JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE.

89 comments on “ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!

Comment navigation

  • Mail is nice but posting comments on the company’s twitter and facebook pages are maybe even more effective. It makes the conversation much more public and draws wider attention to your concerns. Also, has anyone seen the commercials for Budget Rentacar in Japan lately? I think they’re much more offensive than this.

    Reply
  • I also wasn’t impressed by this ad either. Yes, it is pretty harmless but so wasn’t the Black and White Minstrel Show years ago? I’m sure no harm was meant by the producers and participants of that famous TV show. Regardless of whether it is harmless or not, there is no need to stoop to racial stereotypes to increase sales. This type of ad would be seen as very offensive in many countries those two pilots were white and suddenly sprouted black wigs, taped noses to give that cute little button look, and taped eye to make them, “slanty”, wouldn’t it?

    Reply
  • These were bad, and I’m glad you gave them context against the other ones in the past. I’m curious about this Budget Rent-a-car one though… link would help.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    More image over substance changes, like if We Japanese campaign hard enough the tired old cliches about Japan and the narrative we want to control, eventually by “explaining” Japan and THE RULES to foreigners, they will change their thinking.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to make some real changes rather than just try to change the world’s thinking? Err, no it wouldn’t. Well it worked before in the pre-Internet days.

    And doesn’t this just reinforce the old ”if you act (e.g. hug) like a foreigner you are no longer a real Japanese” belief? Thus, a farcical ad which most of the population will take as light comedy.

    Part of the revisionist Zeitgeist, along with Miyazaki’s latest film, either consciously or subconsciously. But given ANA’s recent willingness to kowtow to Abe’s political agenda, I would say its more a conscious part of a “back to Japanese values” campaign.

    Reply
  • >“Let’s change the image of Japanese people,” the short dude agrees to it. And this is what happens to him:

    >Yeah, that’ll do it. Put on a wig and a fake nose, and that’ll change Japan’s image.

    >Actually, no it won’t. This is in fact business as usual, given how Japan has a nasty habit of racializing commodities.

    I agree. That said, how do you think ANA could have ended the commercial without resorting to a racial stereotype? What do you think they could have done differently to change the image of Japan as it were?

    -JK

    Reply
  • I’m interested in the “such a Japanese reaction” comment. It seems to me that the “You want a hug?” comment is sarcasm and that the “such a Japanese reaction” comment is a criticism of “Exciting, isn’t it!” Because we’ve seen other examples of big noses in commercials, that, unfortunately, seems a bit “Japanese” now, but I didn’t notice anything odd about “Exciting, isn’t it!” Am a right in thinking that the “Japaneseness” in this commercial is as imaginary as the foreignness?

    Reply
  • I too was astonished when I saw this commercial. At first I thought it was great thing that ANA were using real, not gibberish type of English, and then they blow it by the pathetic stereotyping at the end.

    Reply
  • Peter McArthur says:

    Putting racial insensitivity aside for just one moment: I’m not sure I understand this advert. Can anyone explain to me what kind of impression / message they intended to project? Is putting on a gaijin nose and talking about hugging supposed to represent a Japanese airport offering international flights?

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I really don’t get the point the ad is trying to make. “You want a hug?” Huh? If ANA really think that’s what makes Japanese stand out from foreigners, they are quite ignorant. Do Japanese hug each other at airport? Yes! I saw that several times– at the gate entrance of Narita Airport and train stations. Enough of non-sense.

    Reply
  • The problem is that too many Japanese people think this crap is funny.
    Efforts to educate them to their insensitiveness fall on deaf ears.
    If they think it is funny, then it is funny!
    All opinions to the contrary are trouble.
    We all must go along with the group!
    We all must be quiet, and let our leaders lead!
    Please do not voice your opinions! That is so… foreign. WE ARE JAPANESE! WE ARE SUPERIOR!
    We can make jokes about foreigner! Foreigner are funny!

    Look deeper. What is behind this ad? Are the people responsible for this ad sensitive? Or do they have a stereotypical view of foreigners? Two Japanese guys speaking bad accented English to each other? And the noses? What does this teach Japanese children, and half-Japanese children? And adults?

    The people who paid for this ad (ANA) and the people who produced it (DENTSU?) do not respect you (if they did, this ad would have been pulled already).
    They do not value your feelings, or your opinion.
    They do not care if this ad offends you.
    THEY DO NOT LIKE YOU – at least not enough to stop doing something that is obviously offensive.

    Now that you see that they think it is ok to mock and belittle you, do you really want to continue to give these people your money???
    Vote with your wallets people.
    You have many choices when choosing an airline. Some of the airlines don’t feel a need to insult you, to appeal to Japanese customers. Give them your money – and ANA will notice.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ John above,more ANA arrogance. “ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said the carrier wanted to express the importance of the planned expansion of international services from Haneda and to call on Japanese to go out to see the world. “But we have received opinions different from the message that we wished to convey.”

    This just sounds arrogant-the opinions (not “complaints”) are just”different”. No apology either. He leaves it to a female spokeswoman to do that.

    Is he too senior to have to apologize to non Japanese?

    Is it just me, or does this yet again sound like

    1. Explaining THE RULES, but the pesky NJs dont get it.
    and
    2. Misogyny or Male Pride Japan again?

    Call me oversensitive but this is what Japan has made me and countless other NJs. Reap, now sow.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Aha! Postmodern media is to blame for this.Apparently DENTSU (those geniuses/old school boys/old farts) made the ad.

    Dentsu, as everyone knows, is above rapproach (e.g. Powers, working in Japan, 1990) as they control the media coverage of themselves. Thus they are non accountable. Dentsu is one of the “taboo” subjects in Japan.

    Reply
  • Judging by the comments here it doesn’t seem most Japanese get what the fuss is about.

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140120-00000038-jij_afp-bus_all

    「金髪に高い鼻」は人種差別、ANA新CMに外国人から苦情
    AFP=時事 1月20日(月)15時49分配信
    「金髪に高い鼻」は人種差別、ANA新CMに外国人から苦情

    【AFP=時事】全日空(All Nippon Airways、ANA)は20日、先週末から放映が始まった同社の新テレビコマーシャル(CM)に対し、外国人をステレオタイプ化していて人種差別的だとの苦情が寄せられていることを明らかにした。個別に謝罪しているが、CMを打ち切るかどうかは未定という。

    韓国たばこ「ディス・アフリカ」、チンパンジー広告を中止

     問題となっているのは、3月から東京・羽田空港(Haneda Airport)発着のANA国際線が増便されることをアピールする30秒間のCMで、18日から放映中。ANAのパイロット制服を着た俳優の西島秀俊さんとお笑いタレントのバカリズムさんの2人が、国際線航空会社としてのANAのイメージアップについて英語で会話している内容だ。

    「日本人のイメージ、変えちゃおうぜ」と西島さんが言い、バカリズムさんが「もちろん」と応じるのだが、このときバカリズムさんの見た目は、金髪のかつらと高さを強調したゴム製のおもちゃの鼻を付けた姿に変わっている。

     金髪に青い目、高い鼻といった多くの日本人が抱く魅力的な白人の典型的イメージを象徴したものだ。しかし、このCMが日本の英語ソーシャルメディア上で物議を醸している。

     日本在住のある外国出身女性は、交流サイト・フェイスブック(Facebook)のANAのページに「たった今、ANAの新しいCMを見ました。本気なの? ANAはこれが問題ないと思っているんですか!? 」と英語で書き込んだ。

     また、マイクロブログのツイッター(Twitter)上にも都内在住の外国出身者から「もし、あなたが外国人で日本への旅行を計画しているなら、ANAのように公然と人種差別をする航空会社を使っては駄目。日本でのCMを見て」との投稿があった。

     ANA広報は20日、AFPの取材に、外国人を中心に新CMへの苦情が寄せられていることを認め、不快感を与えたことについて個別に謝罪すると共に、問題提起に対し謝意を伝えていると述べた。苦情があったことは広告担当部署に伝えたが、新CMの今後の扱いは現段階では未定だとしている。【翻訳編集】 AFPBB News
    ENDS

    Reply
  • Japanese airline sorry over ‘racist’ commercial
    AFP January 21, 2014
    http://news.yahoo.com/japanese-airline-sorry-over-39-racist-39-commercial-041244706.html

    Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) said Monday it was modifying a TV commercial after apologising to customers who complained it used racist stereotyping, but insisted they had meant no offence.

    ANA started airing the new 30-second television advertisement on Saturday, aimed at promoting its beefed up schedule of international flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport in March.

    In the commercial, two Japanese men in ANA uniform discuss in English how they might boost the image of the airline as an international carrier.

    One of them says: “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” “Sure,” replies the other, who is now wearing a blonde wig and an improbably long rubber nose.

    White westerners are often believed in Japan to have big noses, blue eyes and blonde hair, characteristics generally thought desirable among Japanese.

    The ad caused a stir among English-language users of social media in Japan.

    “I’ve just seen the new ANA advert…Really? ANA think this is OK?!” Angela Fukutome said in a message posted on ANA’s Facebook page.

    “If you are a foreigner and have planned to come to #Japan do not choose an openly racist airline like #ANA! Watch their Japanese commercial,” tweeted @sibylleito on Twitter.

    ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said the carrier wanted to express the importance of the planned expansion of international services from Haneda and to call on Japanese to go out to see the world.

    “But we have received opinions different from the message that we wished to convey. We will modify part of the advertisement and will release the second version soon,” he said.

    The original TV spot was initially aired for Saturday through Monday and has now been pulled for now, he said.

    Earlier, an ANA spokeswoman acknowledged the carrier “has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad.”

    “We apologised to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue,” she told AFP.

    Japan is largely racially homogenous, with relatively small immigrant communities.

    The commercial can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jgzAOCmWA0&feature=youtu.be
    ENDS

    Reply
  • http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japanese-airline-ana-apologises-for-racist-advert-stereotyping-foreigners-as-having-big-noses-and-blonde-hair-9072651.html

    Japanese airline ANA apologises for ‘racist’ advert stereotyping foreigners as having big noses and blonde hair
    Airline said it had received ‘calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad’
    ADAM WITHNALL Monday 20 January 2014

    A Japanese airline has apologised after it received complaints for a “racist and offensive” advert which appears to suggest it is changing its image through racial stereotyping.

    The 30-second commercial for All Nippon Airways (ANA) was designed to promote its expanded offering of international flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, and first aired on Saturday.

    It shows two men in ANA uniforms discussing how “exciting” it is that the airline now offers services to Vancouver and Hanoi.

    When one of the men refuses a hug to celebrate, the other describes it as “such a Japanese reaction” and says: “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.”

    The other man says “sure” while putting on an accent – and is suddenly seen wearing a blonde wig and exaggerated fake nose.

    The advert has been met with anger on the airline’s English-language social media pages. Facebook user Dave Jenkins wrote: “Your latest commercial is racist and offensive. I’d like to cancel my mileage club membership.”

    Vicky Kirk Kobayashi asked when the “horrible, horrible advert” would be cancelled and criticised ANA for deciding to “go for the old tired big nose blonde gaijin gag”.

    Laura Macfarlane said: “Why would one of Japan’s premier airlines be willing to run an advertisement considered by many to be racist and offensive to westerners, and risk alienating a large percentage of its customers?”

    An ANA spokesperson said the airline had “received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad”.

    “We apologised to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue,” she told the AFP news agency.

    “We have passed on the issue to the section in charge of the advertisement, but as of now we have yet to decide how to deal with the commercial,” she said.

    The ANA spokesperson added “The commercial was intended to be a humorous way of highlighting the increased number of international services ANA is operating from Haneda Airport. It was not our intention to cause offence and we apologize to anyone who was upset by the advertisement.”

    Blogger and writer Arudou Debito criticised the advert as being the latest example of Japan’s “nasty habit of racialising commodities”.

    “They once again just thought they were being cute by sticking a wig and a big nose on somebody and making them look ‘foreign’,” Mr Debito said.
    ENDS

    Reply
  • The form response from ANA to individual complainants (English original), courtesy ES:

    Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXX,

    We are in receipt of your email regarding our new commercial video on
    television and on our website which started from January 18, 2014.

    First of all, we deeply regret to learn that you felt unpleasantness and
    disappointment from our new commercial video and also regret the
    circumstances that prompted you to write to us.

    Although it is certainly not our intention to advocate racism and give
    offense, please accept our sincere apology if our television commercial
    gave such impression in any way.

    We have immediately forwarded your comments to the relevant sections
    involved for further review to be more careful about the contents and the
    images our commercial give, and can assure you that your opinion
    will be taken into consideration in improving them to provide
    all of our customers with high quality customer satisfaction.

    Mr. XXXXXXXXX, we thank you for taking the time to write and share your
    frank opinions, and we truly regret the negative impressions you received.
    Since ANA values your opinion, we look forward to having another
    opportunity to rebuild your confidence.

    Sincerely yours,

    H. Uchida
    ANA SKY WEB
    Customer Relations
    CS Promotion
    All Nippon Airways Co. , LTD.
    ENDS

    Reply
  • It really is time to inundate Japanese TV with this little nugget from the 40’s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_km9IFzzHo

    — Oh, but you see, “That cartoon is racist and will cause offense. The ANA commercial was just being funny and was not intended to cause offense…” is the counterargument you will likely get. You will have to untangle this cognitive process before you try to fight fire with fire.

    Reply
  • #26 Bob

    Just head on over to Kotaku (http://kotaku.com/budget-rent-a-car-and-ana-commercials-dubbed-racist-a-1504931337), read the comments and you’ll be able to experience first-hand the mental juggling that people do to justify and try to explain that the ad is not racist, that it’s not racism when it’s about white people, or that it’s this kind of cartoon from almost a century ago that makes any racism coming from Japan justifiable.

    Counterarguments have already been made decades ago, are set in stone, and no “shoe on the other foot” reasoning will change the way some people think.

    Reply
  • Another response from ANA to complaints. Compare texts:

    Dear Mr. XXXXXXX:
    We are in receipt of your email on January 18, 2014, sharing your disappointment with our new television commercial which started airing on January 18, 2014 (Japan Time).

    We genuinely regret the circumstances that prompted you to write us and unpleasantness caused. The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens. However, we have received the opinions different from the intention of the company and decided to pull it off the air after careful consideration.

    Mr. XXXXXXX, we take this matter seriously and appreciate taking the time to write us.

    Sincerely,
    Gerry Nacpil, Supervisor
    – ANA SKY WEB –
    Customer Relations & Services, The Americas

    ENDS

    Reply
  • UPDATE JANUARY 20: Stating that they are now pulling the ad, ANA officially comments in a reply to complaints directly above: “The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

    Interesting mindset. Good to know what ANA was thinking. But do you think this advertisement accomplishes that? Are “global citizens” therefore Robert Redford lookalikes? In light of this, the advertisement is to me even more problematic.

    Reply
  • I was surprised at ANA’s professional and sincere response to the feedback given regarding their commercial.

    I think there are a few reasons that ANA has responded well while companies like Toshiba and others just make excuses or stay silent:

    1) ANA published their commercial internationally on YouTube, so it was more widely exposed to the world’s view and open to criticism.
    2) This very directly affect them very badly because they just insulted a huge portion of the market they were trying to sell to.
    3) Maybe they just have more sensitive and empathetic people working for them that had the sensibility to do the right thing.

    I’d like to think that it’s #3, but of course all things must play a factor considering how much it will cost them to kill the commercial, or even re-do it.

    Anyway, kudos to ANA for their response. It made a difference for me. The next question is to figure out why this keeps happening. It’s hard to believe that in 2014 Japan’s socially appropriate sense of humor is about where America’s was in the 1960s or earlier. I know Japan is still very homogenous ethnically, but still, it seems like they have an odd duality in sensitivity and empathy. In other words, their culture tends to make them some of the most polite and sensitive people on the planet in some respects, yet when it comes to anything related to minority feelings, whether it’s women, racial minorities, or the disabled, they seem to have genuine difficulty understand what is offensive and hurtful and what isn’t.

    Reply
  • Notice in the “apology”, they completely ignored their ignorance. Its as if they apologized for not carrying the two on a math test.

    Reply
  • While I deplore racism anywhere and everywhere, as a white heterosexual western male with a huge nose, I think we need to recognize our own privilege and keep our outrage in perspective. It’s not like we’re an impoverished underclass in any nation on earth. Perhaps that’s part of why this stings so much? Japanese people rather admire these traits (larger noses, mulitlinguism), even as they mock them. As another commenter says, here or on the Toshiba bread maker page, I’m more outraged about the growing hostility towards Japanese Koreans. Some of my own in-laws, who respect and accept me completely, are not shy about expressing some very shocking anti-Korean sentiments in my presence.

    — Fine. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Don’t let White Guilt get in the way of decrying the continuing practices of racialization. If you’re going to deplore it, deplore it. It is not a good practice within societies no matter who’s getting targeted.

    Reply
  • Pete,

    Point taken about keeping our outrage in perspective. However, I disagree that the issue is innocuous/benign. That is a harmful attitude that perpetuates the problem. I lived in Japan for five years as a “big-nosed, blue-eyed foreigner” (no blonde hair though), and can attest first-hand to the comical imagery being directly damaging, not just to a person’s emotions and confidence (as if that’s not enough), but to a person’s ability to be taken seriously as a normal human being in regards to employment, housing, and other areas.

    Yes, foreigners are not slaves, but they are illegally denied housing and not even considered for most non-English-teaching jobs unless negotiated through special in-betweens, due to the sentiment perpetuated by this type of imagery that people who aren’t Japanese are some special mysterious class of alien-like being called gaijin with comically enhanced facial features and incomprehensible language. In my five years there I regularly experienced everything from light-hearted jokes to more insulting things like a a couple guys following me home from the station, walking alongside me babbling incoherently to mock my Japanese as I spoke to my wife on the phone. When I walked into an apartment rental place once the whole office full of 8 people went dead silent and they all looked like they were gonna have a heart attack, except for two who looked like they were gonna kick my ass just for walking in the door. Fortunately, my wife is Japanese and secured a nice place for us at a good price. All of this despite the fact that I speak pretty fluent Japanese with a good accent (not that that should matter).

    There are way too many apologizers on these types of issues. And just like I wouldn’t give much credence to black people who said they didn’t mind racism from others (or even worse, those who thought they should “know their place” and deserved it), I really don’t give my credence to fellow non-Japanese who say they don’t mind racism from Japanese. It’s wrong no matter how much you want to self-deprecate and even if you think it doesn’t hurt you, it does hurt others.

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I also found this news in Japanese language. I saw many commenters making comments via facebook in Yahoo! Japan. It really made me sigh when I saw so many commenters spewing hatred toward NJ/foreigners for being paranoid and overblown. These folks have no clue about ignorance and stereotyping, and hence stuck in a crappy JP online forum 24/7.

    Reply
  • I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and put it out there….

    ANA only took action after receiving complaints because this advert was seen outside of Japan, and they are worried about being blamed for ‘making Japan look bad’ (ie; letting the tatemae slip) when eyes are on Japan for the 2020 olympics, and because Abe’s Yasakuni visit, the Taiji dolphin hunt, and the whaling are all coming up negatively in western media.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Airline said it had received ‘calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad’

    Sounds like an attempt, either deliberate or unconscious, to marginalize the complaints as “just from foreigners, so it doesn’t matter”.

    At least this time ANA etc are being taken to task in the international media.

    But I am waiting for the “Japan as victim/Japan bashing” syndrome to kick in.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Pete,”a white heterosexual western male with a huge nose, I think we need to recognize our own privilege”- point taken but youre also confusing racism (which sometimes benefits Caucasians in Japan, but increasingly doesnt!) with exclusionism.

    And as a western male, you may be grudgingly “respected” due to the constraints of tatemae (and international politics, after all Japan needs America and Engrish study etc), but still will be “excluded” even after taking Japanese nationality due to your race.

    That is partly what this site is about.

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  • I don’t think ANA was being racist here. “Racist” would be if their flight attendants were asking Japanese passengers if they wanted to be re-seated rather than assigned a seat next to a foreigner. The ad was out of line, though. I guess they’ve seen the gag fake long-nose thing so many times (without many complaints) that they just thought it was normal. Hopefully they’ve learned a lesson from this.

    My wife (who’s Japanese) and I (white guy) have flown ANA before, and we’ve been very happy with them. On our honeymoon, they upgraded us for free and the flight attendants put a nice gift bag together for us. ANA screwed up with this ad, no question, but I don’t think they meant any malice at all. Don’t boycott them; that’s only going to hurt the innocent working-class folks (ground staff, flight attendants, etc) who had nothing to do with the ad.

    — As you say, hopefully they’ve learned a lesson from this. But “hopefully” isn’t quite deterrent enough to keep this from happening again elsewhere. Only when business leaders see NJ as a credible market to lose due to inconsiderate behavior will they change their marketing strategies. Otherwise, as archived within this blog post, it’s a game of “whack-a-mole”.

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  • Hey!“has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad.” This is also just so racist/exclusionist. Why mention they are “foreigners”? How do you know? What if they are of multiracial origin? Arent they, first anf foremost, customers first?

    They just dont get it on so many levels. I don’t know where they re-education campaign can begin, in very early childhood perhaps?

    I d say thats three strikes and out for ANA. This, the (sc/d)reamliner, and their obedience to Abe over the disputed air zone are all good reasons to use another carrier.

    They clearly dont put their customers first.

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  • Just another wonderful example of how lost and disconnected from the global reality this company is. I mean DENTSU. Don’t just blame it all on ANA or Toshiba. They are just followers of the malpractices and anacronisms of big corporate Japan. Leave it all in the hands of the wise and old and don’t even dare to question their judgement. That’s why now everybody seems to be clueless as to why the rest of the world is offended, when the reality is that those golf playing-sake drinking-women chasers lords of the Tokyo nights, are anything but competent professionals in the field of marketing and advertising. For Christ sake! even the target public is wrong! The message should be intended for the potential costumers, foreigners, and that is clearly not the case…pathetic.

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  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Sorry Debito, not sure where to post this;

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/21/business/abe-eyes-land-price-reflation-in-zones-to-spur-building-boom/

    Can some one explain to me what the link is between relaxing zoning regulations and attracting foreigners to the country is, please?

    I thought that the J-gov admitted it’s effort to attract 2000 elite NJ had been a failure, and yet this article quotes Abe as repeatedly saying that allowing homes, hospitals, and schools to be built next to factories will encourage NJ to live in Japan and make their lives easier.

    I am sure that Japan will now be inundated with visa applications from wealthy NJ desperate to live next to a concrete factory…

    Sounds to me like Abe wants NJ in ghettos where they can walk to their factory jobs, and their kids can go to school, without appearing in the lives of ‘nice’ Japanese people.

    Pertinent bits:

    […] According to Hatta, the changes will make it easier to construct residential buildings in business districts in designated zones, creating opportunities to improve urban planning and make cities more enticing for employees of foreign companies.[…]

    Introducing special economic zones is a cornerstone of Abe’s effort to create opportunities for Japanese companies, along with steps to boost industrial competitiveness and open up the country more to international trade.[…]

    “Labor and other issues are more important and will have an impact over the long term, but this will have a strong impact in the short run,” Hatta said of the building deregulation. “The focus, as far as attracting foreign nationals is concerned, is to make living in city centers comfortable,” Hatta said.

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  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Debito, re: Ken Y-N.

    I think that you should amend you comment about him above. Over on the stalker site he is apologizing his hat off, making it clear that he never said the ad was racist in his opinion, only that he knew some people who would say that it is racist.

    Leopards and spots, and all that.

    — When you spend years modeling your online persona as “anti-” someone or something, and surround yourself with acolytes who demand that ideology from you constantly, you’re stuck when you finally discover you actually agree with something your antagonist might say. KY is stuck. He’s got to backpedal or lose credibility as the “anti-Debito”.

    The perpetual effigy burners might counter that I’m in the same situation. Luckily for me and this site, we’re anti-discrimination. That’s an easier position to defend and not contradict than KY, who is merely anti-me.

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  • How on earth do these sort of racist commercials get made? It beggars belief. Let’s assume for a moment that the head of marketing/PR at ANA is some 89 year old, slightly senile “executive” who does nothing buy stamp things junior members (presumably 70 year olds) put in front of him. Surely no corporate marketing team or agency worth their salt puts out any commercial without test screening it on a sample of the target market first. I mean the ignorance and professional negligence is astounding. How are Japanese companies going to compete internationally with this level of incompetence?

    Furthermore would it be so difficult for a company like ANA to put out a really uplifting, sophisticated advert showcasing a more open minded international company – I mean you wouldn’t know it from this advert but many Japanese are not actually racists at all, in fact many of them are quite well educated, open minded and welcoming to people of all walks of life and all backgrounds.

    Finally, really pathetic to see so many apologists for this drivel leaving comments on ANA’s facebook page etc.. saying they couldn’t see why it was racist and that the advert was hilarious. (I mean racism aside, the advert is in no way funny, just sad and pathetic.)

    And if they really want to apologise, why are he adverts still up?

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  • Peter Barakan said yesterday it was a tacky and tasteless ad, but I thought it was worse than that. With code sharing, ANA works with United in their alliance, as well as with other airlines. Offending customers and potential customers is a dumb idea.

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  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Ken, #39

    Being maliciously/intentionally racist is one thing. Being unaware of racial sensitivity is quite another. While I agree that ANA doesn’t intend to offend NJ residents, I still hold their display of cultural ignorance on race and cultural assumption (toward both Japanese and NJ) accountable for the consequence. It all came out from their bad marketing strategy—i.e., false description of particular people for consumer product.
    Also, I’m not sure I feel comfortable with your description of ANA employees (i.e., ground staff, flight attendants, etc.) as “working class folks.” It just sounds like they are slave to their employer and hence, have no rights to disagree with their employer over company policy, working condition, and any business decisions affecting their employment. That’s what many pro-business/for-profit business leaders like to use to defend their publicity stunt by painting outsiders (i.e., protesters, civil rights group, unions) as “evil.”

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  • Debito, re:Ken Y-N

    Couldn’t agree more that the Rirakkuma-fetishist (I’m still trying to erase that photo from my memory) will counter anything you say. After all, thats his only identity in life.
    I suggest you start a Cancer Awareness campaign. No doubt he’ll claim the following day that cancer is “not all that bad” and “overblown”.

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  • Hello all! New to the discussion here. If anyone cares to pipe in on the ANA facebook page, there is getting to be quite a discussion. I”m not used to the general points being raised in favor of the advertisement and white-face, so my head was spinning from reading the idea that Japanese cannot discriminate because they are not white kind of concept. I was surprised how strongly this is stated as if it is a fact, and I feel perplexed since Japanese are not a disadvantaged minority in Japan or even a financially impoverished country with little sway in the world.

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  • Baudrillard says:

    -I suggest you start a Cancer Awareness campaign. No doubt he’ll claim the following day that cancer is “not all that bad” and “overblown”.

    He already does downplay cancer, with his constant belittling of Debito’s concern about “FOOKOOSHIMAR” and his downplaying of the effects of radiation.

    I think his creation of an identity as a happy go lucky carefree gaijin who loves all things Japan, is the ultimate denial that anything could be wrong.

    Lets slap a happy face on and live the dreamy day! 元気 出して! (literally, “courage”. So I move that J-courage is to act genki, as opposed to e.g. “Dutch/Liquid Courage”).

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  • @ Manule,yes DENTSU have a penchant for tasteless, sexist ads as well: I do recall several low key scandals and arrests, usually of a sexual nature or the one I knew of, fraud with the former madame of an SM parlor, but here is a very public one

    http://gothamist.com/2007/11/04/dentsu_ad_outfi.php

    But like the LDP, its a virtual monopoly.

    It controls nearly a third of all traditional advertising in its native Japan. Critics complain that it wields too much influence over the Japanese media. “There is no question that the company has enough power to control information in Japan,” says Shigeyuki Niitsu of Tokyo’s Takachiho University.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21559369

    Of course ANA are going to use Dentsu, but maybe its time to consider Asatsu DK or another one (if there is any significant difference, which I personally doubt).

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  • Fascinating tangent on Abe’s links to Dentsu, the first time around (2006)- fake democratic meetings with people paid to ask/answer staged questions.

    “the contract for administration of the first meetings was awarded to massive Japanese ad agency Dentsu with no competitive bidding.”

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2006/11/29/say-it-with-me-dentsu/

    Maybe this is why Dentsu keep getting these big contracts and keep coming up with tired old racist/sexist ads without pause?

    I bet if ANA pull the ad, Dentsu get to keep their money anyway.

    Reply

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