DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2016

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2016

Table of Contents:
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THE OPPOSITION FACES OPPOSITION
1) JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)
2) JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

A GOOD MONTH FOR MEDIA APPEARANCES
3) Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory
4) ABC NewsRadio Australia, Japan in Focus: The winner of Miss World Japan, Yoshikawa Priyanka, prompts another racial debate. Interviews Debito
5) Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pts. 2 and 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

OLD-HAT
6) Discussion: Should I stay or should I go? What’s your personal threshold for staying in or leaving Japan?
7) Book “Embedded Racism” now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code

… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times column Sept. 5, 2016: “JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views”
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By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito
Newsletter freely forwardable

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THE OPPOSITION FACES OPPOSITION

1) JT: Democratic Party Leader Renho and the “pure blood” mythos (covered in detail in book “Embedded Racism”)

JT: “It’s no coincidence that [opposition party leader Murata] Renho’s detractors are the same people who are against allowing a female emperor. “Pure blood” ideology is at the root of Yawata’s philosophy — the “scoop” about Renho’s dual nationality was merely a delivery device. The law means nothing to them because their faith is invested in an occult mythos about the unbroken Imperial line. [Journalist] Kosugi Misuzu insists these beliefs amount to “racism,” since they limit the rights of some people born and raised in Japan due to genetics. Asahi reported on July 6, 2014 — well before the Renho controversy — that the pure blood faction wants to kick out permanent Korean residents as well as anyone with dual citizenship by making all Japanese sign a loyalty oath. They are not just rightists, said the paper, they are “anachronisms.”

“[Former bureaucrat] Yawata Kazuro says Renho can’t be trusted because she doesn’t use her Japanese married name and gave her children names that “sound Chinese.” These value judgments should mean nothing in a democracy. Zakzak, another Sankei organ, adds to the din by saying that Japanese people do not like the idea of someone with dual citizenship “rising to the top.” What about best-selling Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada and all those bicultural athletes at the Rio Olympics? For that matter, what about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who was allowed to settle here and escape prosecution in his native country by asserting his Japanese nationality?”

COMMENT: All of these issues, particularly the “pure blood” conceit, have been brought up passim in book “Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. Renho herself features prominently in the book (Chapter Seven), given that Japan’s racist politicians have questioned her loyalty many times before — for example when she was a Cabinet member in the previous DPJ government — simply because she’s to them a mudblood. And they can get away with it because the “pure blood” narrative is so strong.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14218

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2) JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

Colin Jones has come up with another insightful column, with a legalistic spine, in regards to how Japanese nationality has historically been awarded (until 1985, through fathers only, not mothers) until it was challenged. And, true to their nature in Japanese jurisprudence, Tokyo courts sided with the status quo (of discriminating against international children with Japanese mothers), and it wasn’t until the Diet amended the laws before they changed their tune. Yet, as Colin points out, the stigma still remains, especially in light of the debate regarding DP leader Renho’s true “Japaneseness”, a dual-nationality flap that never should have been an issue in the first place, –regardless of whether you are proponent of single nationality or double (I fall in the latter camp). Read the article for a breathtaking tour through Japan’s convoluted legal logic.

Jones: In short, decades after her birth, Renho is still being punished for having a Japanese parent who was female rather than male. Renho’s case thus offers a stark illustration of the deeply rooted structural impediments faced by women in Japan even today.

It also demonstrates the Japanese establishment’s general inability to acknowledge the past. The fact that such blatant government-sanctioned discrimination existed until the 1980s simply disappears into the memory hole, a hole that probably exists because the people who ran Japan back then are essentially the same as those who run it today.

http://www.debito.org/?p=14232

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A GOOD MONTH FOR MEDIA APPEARANCES

3) Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory

For the second year in a row, Japan has crowned a biracial woman the winner of a major beauty pageant, reviving a conversation in the island nation about race, xenophobia and what it means to be Japanese. Japan is frequently labeled as one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, but some say this is a myth that discounts the minorities living there and stifles dialogue about discrimination in the country.

In May, Japan passed its first anti-hate speech law in an attempt to curb racism and xenophobia. While critics sceptical about the law’s effectiveness poked holes in the bill, many have applauded the government for taking steps toward addressing what they say is an often ignored issue. Some have viewed Priyanka Yoshikawa’s Miss World Japan win as a sign the country is becoming more open to diversity. Others argue Japan has been open for a long time, and stories suggesting otherwise are reinforcing antiquated stereotypes.

Panelists: Miss World Japan beauty pageant winner Yoshikawa Priyanka, Edward Sumoto, Baye McNeil, Aoki Yuta, and Arudou Debito.

Debito panelist on Al-Jazeera program “The Stream”: “The politics of identity in Japan” after Yoshikawa Priyanka’s pageant victory

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4) ABC NewsRadio Australia, Japan in Focus: The winner of Miss World Japan, Yoshikawa Priyanka, prompts another racial debate. Interviews Debito.

ABC NewsRadio’s Eleni Psaltis presents Japan in Focus, a new program that takes a close look at significant political and cultural developments in Japan.

This week: For the second year in a row a bi-racial woman has won a beauty pageant in Japan, prompting a racial debate; Japan has issued a warning that its businesses may withdraw from the UK once it leaves the European Union; and the Japanese telecoms giant Softbank has bought the British smartphone chip-designing company ARM for more than $30 billion.

Eleni Psaltis speaks to Dr Debito Arudou from the University of Hawaii; Nigel Driffield, a Professor of international business at Warwick business school in the UK; and Dr Harminder Singh, a senior lecturer in Business Information Systems at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4535998.htm
http://www.debito.org/?p=14203

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5) Deep in Japan Podcast, Debito Interview Pts. 2 and 3 on book “Embedded Racism” and issues of racial discrimination etc. in Japan

Jeff Krueger’s Deep in Japan Podcast features the last two interviews of three with me about the issues of racism and discrimination in Japan, covered in book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”.

Part 1: http://www.debito.org/?p=14160
Part 2: http://www.debito.org/?p=14225
Part 3: http://www.debito.org/?p=14228

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OLD-HAT

6) Discussion: Should I stay or should I go? What’s your personal threshold for staying in or leaving Japan?

Some weeks ago a Debito.org Reader posed an interesting question to the Comments Section. Let me rephrase it like this:

What is your threshold for remaining in a society? Are there any conditions which will occasion you to consider an exit strategy?

Caveats: Of course, this can apply to anyone anywhere. But a) since this is a blog about Japan, and b) people who have chosen to live in another society for whatever reason have the experience of moving from one place to another (hence “hometown inertia” is not a factor), let’s make this specific to people who are living (or have lived) in Japan.

What would have to happen (or did happen) for you to have to decide to move out of Japan?

It’s an interesting hypothetical. For some expats/residents/immigrants in history, even a war was not enough (see the interesting case of William Gorham). So it’s all a matter of personal preference. What’s yours?

http://www.debito.org/?p=14158

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7) Book “Embedded Racism” now discounted to $34.99 if bought through publisher directly, using promo code

Book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” has been discounted 30% for a limited time to $34.99 in paperback and Kindle if bought through through my publisher (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield) directly.

Go to https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498513906/Embedded-Racism-Japan’s-Visible-Minorities-and-Racial-Discrimination and use promo code LEX30AUTH16.
More information and reviews on the book at http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html.
Download a book flyer and order form at http://www.debito.org/EmbeddedRacismPaperbackflyer.pdf

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… and finally…

8 ) Japan Times column Sept. 5, 2016: “JBC marks 100 columns and a million page views”

JBC: The day I proposed this column to my editors back in 2008, I knew it would be a hard sell. Fortunately, I had a track record. I had been writing Zeit Gist articles (45 of them) every two months or so for the Community Page since 2002, and the JT was looking for new ways to serve the community beyond pages commemorating “Swaziland Independence Day” (which is Tuesday, incidentally). International goodwill and advertising revenue are all very well, but what about offering practical information for non-Japanese (NJ) residents making a better life here, or drawing attention to emerging domestic policies that affect them?

So my pitch was that the JT needed a regular columnist on human rights and issues of social justice. And I was convinced there was enough material for a monthly. They weren’t as convinced, and they were especially nonplussed at my suggestion for a column title: “Just Be Cause”!? But shortly afterwards JBC got the green light, and on March 4, 2008, the first column was published — on why activism is frowned upon in Japan (because it’s associated with extremism). And off we went.

Nearly 10 years and 100 columns later, it is clear that, like the Debito.org archive (started 20 years ago, one of the oldest continuous personal websites on Japan) and daily blog (now 10 years old), JBC is in it for the long haul. In this special anniversary column, let’s look back at what JBC has covered. The themes have been, in order of frequency:
Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/09/04/issues/jbc-marks-100-columns-million-page-views/
http://www.debito.org/?p=14191

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2016 ENDS

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48 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2016

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Sushi restaurant has been putting too much wasabi in food ordered by NJ;

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/03/national/osaka-sushi-chain-apologizes-excess-wasabi-served-non-japanese-denies-ill-intent/

    Chefs excuse?
    He had a Korean customer once who asked for extra wasabi, so now he does for all NJ even if they don’t ask. Gee, that’s really presumptuous ‘omotenashi’ of him (rolls eyes). Lucky for us NJ he knows what’s good for us!

    Thing is, he also makes lots of racist comments about NJ customers according to the comments.

  • This is a really disgusting story that broke online a couple of days ago:

    大阪の寿司屋が韓国人客にとんでもない嫌がらせ行為で炎上 大量のわさびを入れたり差別発言
    http://gogotsu.com/archives/22233

    At the Namba branch of Ichijo Sushi, at least one of the staff members apparently fills the sushi of Korean customers with an inedible amount of wasabi, fires off racial epithets, and then overcharges. Some Chinese people have apparently fallen victim as well.

    As is usual for Japanese websites that deal with ethnic/nationalist issues, don’t read the comments unless you’re in a particularly masochistic mood.

  • Way up north says:

    The Jnews also had a few tourists saying that the wasabi in Japan wasn’t as spicy as what they had had in their home countries. I wonder if they had been eating green dyed horseradish instead of wasabi before?
    The Jnews made no mention of this. Probably hadn’t considered it as a possibility even. I also had no clue until I stumbled across the CBC article. It’s about Vancouver but could also apply to Asian countries outside Japan perhaps.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/wasabi-real-difference-1.3779711

    — No, the Asahi also wrote this up:

    大阪のすし店、外国人客に過剰わさび ネット炎上で謝罪
    朝日新聞 2016年10月2日21時12分
    http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASJB26J7HJB2PTIL00M.html

     大阪・ミナミのすし店「市場ずし難波店」(大阪市中央区難波3丁目)で、外国人客に対してわさびを多めに入れたすしを提供していたとして、店を経営する藤井食品(大阪府茨木市)は2日、店のホームページに謝罪文を掲載した。インターネット上で「日本語のできない客への嫌がらせ」などの批判が相次いでいたが、同社は「差別的な意図は全くない」と否定している。

     難波店によると、外国人客からわさびの増量を求められることが多く、1~2年前から確認せずに通常の2倍程度に増量していたという。同店には1日以降、批判の電話や無言電話が数十件寄せられていた。今後は別添えにする方式に切り替える。

     ホームページでは「インターネット各所にてお騒がせ致しましたことをお詫(わ)び申し上げます」と謝罪し、「わさびなどが苦手なお客様に対して不愉快な思いをさせてしまう結果となってしまいました」と説明。さらに「従業員による民族差別的な発言の事実は確認できなかった」とも明かしている。

    With a screen capture of the sushi shop’s apology website.

  • Way up north says:

    I meant that because some people may have actually been eating green dyed horseradish and not actual wasabi in their home countries, they may have thought that sushi was supposed to have a bit of a “kick” (strong taste). That may lead them to ask for extra wasabi in some cases.

    In no way am I trying to explain what this particular sushi restaurant did. I personally do not buy into the idea that it was all an innocent misunderstanding.

    Just wanted to point out that some people may not realise that some of them may not have actually had wasabi with sushi before.

    If my point still is not clear, I apologize but I stress again I in no way support what that restaurant did.

    — No no, I wasn’t seeing you as defending the restaurant. I probably misread what you said when you said this issue hadn’t appeared in the Japanese press. Sorry.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I love this story!

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/05/national/history/research-uncovers-evidence-ancient-japan-cosmopolitan-previously-thought/

    It’s a perfect example of Japan willfully embracing bad science because they want to believe (gee, didn’t they learn anything from Obokata?).

    Apparently, they found a carving from the Nara-era that they believe contains a ‘Persian name’, and from that shaky starting position that have taken it as proof that;

    1. This Persian was teaching advanced mathematics to the Japanese.
    2. This Persian was also a merchant trader traveling the Silk Road, and therefore proof(!) of Japan’s essential role in the ancient world economy!
    3. This Persian was obviously treated well since there is no evidence either way what-so-ever, and that this is proof that ancient Japan was…
    4. Multi-cultural, cosmopolitan, and tolerant of NJ!

    I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s all a massive leap from the simple funding of a carved name!
    But hey, if this Persian guy existed, according to the Japanese experts, Japan was way more accepting way back then than it is now!

    After all, instead of claiming that the presence of one NJ proves that ancient Japan was tolerant, I’m going to claim that the fact that they can only find ‘evidence’ of one Persian proves the opposite; Japan was just as parochial, insular and racist then as it is now! After all, if it was so cosmopolitan and tolerant, why was this guy alone? Where are his descendants? Where’s the influence on Japanese culture of this Silk Road connection to internationalization?

    Oh, that’s right, there isn’t any. Just a name carved in stone and forgotten for over a thousand years, leaving nothing but wishful thinking speculation that serves as a mirror of Japan’s present day declining relevance and insularity.

    The thing is, it’s never been a secret amongst NJ Japanologists that in the Diet Library is a Nara-era census that shows that 9 out of every 10 Japanese aristocrats living in Nara city at that time were born in Korea and their families immigrated to Japan. The Emperor knows this hence his previous comments about being of Korean descent, but the mainstream Japanese narrative is in denial since it’s got a huge imperialist era chip on its shoulder that forces it to look down on Koreans.

    Go figure.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, above, nothing to figure the J Nationalist Signs just refer to other misleading or untrue “signs” in a self contained postmodern belief system, not unlike Marxist-Leninism or Catch 22.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Interesting article in Japan Times today, by Phillip Brasor, attempts to explain Nagoya’s perceived lack of identity and culture, and expounds at length on the hopes and aims of the Mayor of Nagoya, Kawamura.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/08/national/media-national/nagoya-boring-city-japan/

    Just a thought, but perhaps Phillip should have joined the dots from Kawamura wanting to rebuild Nagoya castle to give Nagoya people ‘pride’, to show how Nanking Massacre denier and right wing nut-job Kawamura scared off Chinese investment with his war crime denials?

    The lesson being that when you let unrepentant right-wing revisionists run the show, they make ‘the show’ irrelevant? Nagoya as a metaphor for the whole of Japan?

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, above, oh yes, The Japan Show stopped being taken seriously quite some time ago, because its a package (baggage?) deal; youre supposed to “understand”i.e. accept “Japanese culture” along with the language and food.

    Thinking Asian tourists invariably say to me how they just want to visit for a short time as they dislike the political, war crimes denial aspect of Japan; they are way smarter than I was, as I foolishly thought I could live in Japan yet ignore the negative parts.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Wow! No Omotenashi here!

    https://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/osaka-train-driver-apologizes-to-japanese-passengers-for-having-many-foreigners-on-board

    Japanese train going to international airport.
    Train driver hears one Japanese passenger complain that so many NJ on the train make him feel uncomfortable.
    Train driver makes announcement over the trains speakers apologizing for all the NJ causing discomfort.
    Driver not fired.

    Maybe NJ should stop using the train line, and the international airport?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    They were talking about the train racist announcement on one of the ‘news’ shows this morning.
    The all Japanese panel were discussing it in terms of tourists with all their luggage need special treatment; maybe a special car with more luggage racks? Or special trains/tickets so that (presumably) Japanese passengers don’t have to actually use the same train as the NJ going to the airport.

    Sounded like apartheid to me, a kind of ‘gaijin in the gaijin car’ kind of solution that would make Rosa Parks spin in her grave.

    In fact, the more the apologized for it, the more I squirmed; these people can lie to themselves all they want that it’s not racism, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is.

    The solution is so elegantly simple, yet Japan refuses to embrace it because Japan values the right to be racist too highly;

    Grumpy old geezer can whine all he likes about the ‘gaijin on the train’, because if he doesn’t like it, he can pay extra to go by taxi, or stay at home: his train ticket cost the same as the ‘gaijins’ train tickets.

    The Nankai Railway conductor, on the other hand, whilst being free to think as he pleases, should keep his mouth shut, or get fired for being racist to customers of the company that is employing him.

    And he should be prosecuted for his public racism (but Japan hasn’t got any punishment for that, because, well, see above- they enjoy being racist).

  • baudrillard says:

    Hi Jim, love the comments at that article. No omotenashi indeed, what about “SMELL HARRASSMENT” the new Japanese phrase? Can I complain I “feel uncomfortable” if there are many stinky breathed salarymen on the train?

    China recently launched a campaign against this. Oh, so did Japan last month “SMELL HARRASSMENT”
    http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2019694/body-odour-and-bad-breath-it-harassment-workplace

    A long overdue campaign in Japan in my opinion. Could have done wonders ten or twenty years ago. Google “KAREISHU” for further info.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1w8mcw/til_the_japanese_has_a_word_kareishu_that_refers/

  • baudrillard says:

    Is Japan just over PC when it suits it? We have seen the misuse of western phrases like “domestic violence” to include raised voices (by husbands)? So as a footnote (foot odor?) to my previous post, consider “that the concept of “smell harassment” fits right into a cubicle culture of office complaints that include “alcohol harassment” (hapless junior staff being forced to binge-drink by their seniors or bosses) and “karaoke harassment” (forced to sing or listen to others yodelling at office gatherings, often in combination with alcohol harassment).
    The more politically correct and commiserating types among us may have reservations about using the term “harassment”, but a long-suffering friend has no qualms about telling it like it is when it comes to her workplace.”

    Japan has reaped what they had sown with th plethora of misused PC loan words, but I am definitely going to use “smell harrassment” on a train to complain WHEN IT SUITS ME.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    A Japanese court that does its job?

    Hand-picked by Abe, Yasakuni loving Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has lost(!) her appeal in the Osaka High Court against a previous court ruling AGAINST HER in a defamation case following Mainichi Shinbun owned magazine story that she received money from senior members of anti-Korean hate speech group Zaitokukai.

    Since Zaitokukai are on the NPA’s terror watchlist, should she be resigning about now?

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/12/national/crime-legal/high-court-rejects-inada-appeal-over-magazine-defamation-case/

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #13,

    The comment I liked best was along the lines of changing the ‘Omotenashi’ buzzword for ‘Rokudenashi’.
    Made me chuckle.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    English language spoof ‘news’ site runs ‘Gaijin only car’ joke story following Nankai Railway racist announcement;

    http://www.therisingwasabi.com/osaka-launches-foreigner-only-carriages-to-curtail-inconveniences/

    N.B. Japanese right winger joins the comments by saying that the (mock) photo of a train carriage with a ‘Gaijin only’ sign in English, ‘only needs Chinese and Hangul’ (comment in Japanese). Way to prove right-wingers are truly stupid!

  • So even if you pay the same price as everyone else, just remember you NJ are NOT CUSTOMERS. You are just an annoyance that must be temporailiy put up with. The real customers who we care about are only Japanese. Got it?

  • Baudrillard says:

    @TJJ, like I said on another thread, what if I complained about J salarymen’s “Smell Harrassment” on the train?

    Answer: probably nothing as I am excluded. However, I could probably get a female J Handler to do it for me, especially as many of these new “harrassment” plaintiffs are women (smell, alcohol, etc)

  • Jim di Griz says:

    So, there’s been a slew of articles over the last two years whereby publications/organizations partly owned/funded by Japanese institutions/companies have declared Japan ‘top’ or ‘#1’ in some self-styled survey of NJ loving Japan for its opportunities, and general international ease of doing business (Monocle, anyone?).

    All taken with a pinch of salt.

    Well, it seems that the Japanese establishment can’t even be bothered to veil their self-promotion in bought NJ publications…

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/18/national/tokyo-named-third-magnetic-city-global-talent/

    Tokyo, ‘3rd most MAGNETIC CITY for INTERNATIONAL TALENT’?
    Ranking third after only London and New York? Wow! That’s a massive achievement, and in fact, even the most cursory of consideration proves it to be untrue; really, third? Because Tokyo is has such a long history of being an international melting pot of cultures and beliefs….no, it doesn’t. It doesn’t because NJ don’t come to Tokyo to settle and contribute to the culture anywhere near the levels they do in London and NY.

    Oh, wait, this ‘news’ is about the results of a study by an organization with the word ‘Mori’ in the title…the same ‘Mori’ that is to Tokyo real estate what Trump is to New York’s.

    Hmm, advertising posing as news.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @Jim, J-Propaganda, that is all it is. Call a spade a spade. And to try to attract (however pointlessly) the “rich western gaijin” Abe said he wanted to come here and spend money for three years, then leave.

    Propaganda posing as advertising, J-imperialism redux.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #23,

    Absolutely.
    I noticed that the research was conducted by the Mori Memorial Foundation, owned by the same Mori who own Roppongi Hills and a load of other ‘high-end’ real estate in Tokyo. It’s a pretty desperate attempt to lure imaginary ‘elite NJ’ tenants, since we know from public sources that these places are hurting due to Tokyos property bubble maxing out this year (Phillip Brasor did a good article in Japan Times a few weeks ago), and placed like Roppongi Hills have had too many vacancies since Lehman’s shock saw a lot of NJ firms cut back and recall expats (and families) from Japan to regroup in Singapore.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Osaka seems to have a real problem hiding its racism recently (didn’t they get the memo about NJ tourism being the ‘4th arrow’ of Abenomics, or do they figure that they are off the hook because Osaka isn’t hosting the Olympics?).

    Osaka cop ‘helping out’ in Okinawa hurls racist slur at Japanese protestors, whilst a colleague calls protestors ‘Shinajin’ (a racist Japanese term for Chinese from the war era).

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/19/national/police-officer-dispatched-osaka-insults-protesters-okinawa/

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    This annoys me so much, it serves as a microcosm of Japanese cultural and social inferiority/superiority dynamics (I will explain).

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/10/20/music/japanese-comedian-piko-taros-video-pen-pineapple-apple-pen-makes-u-s-chart/

    So, this Japanese comedian has made a 45 second song that revolves around him dacing around in an effected camp manner, using his hands to ‘insert’ a pen, a pineapple, and an apple into each other whilst making sexual noises, narrating the whole thing in extrremely simple (yet grammatically incorrect) English sentences. He doesn’t use any Japanese.

    He performed live on a morning show yesterday, and the Japanese ‘talent’ were gushing over how international this guy is, since it’s at #77 on the Billboard charts.

    It all annoys me like an onion, and as I reveal another layer, it still annoys me.

    Firstly, it’s ranking on the Billboard chart because NJ are surely laughing at him, not with him as the TV talent assumed.
    For the TV talent it’s ‘funny’ because it is exemplary of the kind of immature and unsophisticated behavior that Japanese men can perform, and be rewarded for.
    For NJ it’s funny because it confirms stereo-types of Japan as ‘whacky’ and of Japanese men as being feminine. This is lost on the Japanese audience.
    The Japanese talent on TV think this guy is great and international for singing in (poor) English, but what’s really happening is that they and this song, are reinforcing myths that Japanese can’t speak English (because Japanese are special?), and that Japanese who can speak English are objects of comedy.
    Trying to ridicule others for not fitting in (‘We Japanese can’t speak English! You do, so you are ‘strange’ Japanese and deserve ridicule’?).

    Japanese genuinely rank very poorly in international standards for their English language ability. Instead of joking about it, and mocking Japanese that can speak English, trewating English as something to be derided, I think that the Japanese (as the world’s 3rd largest economy) should bow their heads in collective shame, and realise that they need to take it all a bit more seriously. Haven’t they heard about Abe’s ‘Super Global International’ schools and universities based on better use of English?

    As with most ‘pop’ music, it appeals to the lowest common denominator, but this song seems to me to specifically reinforce myths that Japanese hold about themselves (self-destructive, counter-productive, exclusionary myths), whilst at the same time reinforcing a negative image of Japan in the eyes of NJ.

    If this is Japan’s ‘soft power’, I think I can afford to take the rest of the year off, they aren’t really a threat to anyone but themselves.

    For what it’s worth, South Korea’s Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ (which was still comedy pop rubbish, had proper English grammar when English was used, a proper dance beat and sophisticated production values, along with a 3 min + running time) reached #2 on the Billboard despite him singing in Korean. Even Utada and Miku-chan can’t match that.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ JDG # 25

    I think you might be over analysing the untalented comedian, but yes, the J-media’s assessment of him is grossly inflated. Relevant to Debito.org, I have two points to make:

    1. It’s another annoying thing that kids will say within earshot of any NJ (Just like I used to get called “Atsugiri Jason” by total strangers last year)

    2. Imagine if an NJ made a “song” with simple tune designed to get stuck in your head and nonsense Japanese lyrics. The J-media would be using it as an example of how “foreigners can’t speak our language” at best, and would probably be calling “racist”.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ JDG #24

    Thanks for linking this.
    The J media has practically ignored the “shina-jin” comments, and left it to commentators who, surprise, surprise, have jumped to the conclusion that Chinese are involved in the protests (after all, don’t the Chinese want a defenceless Japan so they can invade…)

    The whole thing is wrong on so many levels.

    1. During and after the first Sino-Japanese war, there was a concerted effort to purge Okinawa of Chinese influence and culture. Of course, the Japanese had no way of knowing what was Chinese and what was Okinawan (a distinction further blurred by the former Satsuma fief taking measures like forcing Ryukyuan envoys to dress in Chinese style to increase their foreignness!)

    2. The Okinawans faced discrimination at the hands of the Yamato types. Even karate hard man Yabe was harassed by Japanese soldiers during his service in the Imperial Army. (Those particular soldiers learned the hard way why it is not a good idea to mess with an Okinawan karate hard man)

    3. There is a distinct push for a “oneness” of a united, uniform Japan, and no room for differences. Those who don’t toe the line are othered.

    4. Offence is being taken at the highest level of government in Okinawa at the use of “dojin”. Yet the use of “gaijin” goes unchecked.

    5. Can this U.S. base be built in Osaka instead? It seems that the Governor of Osaka is keen for it to be built, so why not in his jurastiction?

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, J-Lame, yawn. I knew someone who did A&R at Toshiba, and they used to laugh at Utada’s constant insistence that her material also be released (somewhat pointlessly) in the USA too. Admittedly she has a fanboy following, but it didnt ever justify the advertising budget, joining a long line of “serious” singers like Matsuda Seiko who crave international recognition but who have had to instead settle for an affair with the odd waiter or backing dancer. Oh well, how international.

    This in itself, as you say, is a microcosm of how Japan craves to be taken seriously in the world, but then only when it is something silly or a novelty hit, does the West take any notice.

    Oh the irony.

    Even YMO’s “space Invaders” was like that, which is a shame as the rest of their material is very good, perhaps because they, unlike 99% of the rest of J “artists”, ACTUALLY GAVE A NJ A CO WRITE (Peter Barakan, Chris Mosdell) on the English lyrics.

    Couple of other timeless Japan never changes things about Piko Taro.

    1. Its non political humor? CHECK (as we cant have any “disrespect of the Erai Hito)

    2. Its vaguely sexual in a perverse way? CHECK.

    3. its a MAN? CHECK

    Meanwhile a J woman makes a vagina shaped boat and is taken to court in Japan. But she is the one who went on to marry a serious UK musician (Mike Scott).

    4. Its Anti Communication? CHECK

    I have long asserted that Japanese is a language for the Obfuscation of meaning/disagreement, rather than to convey meaning or difference of opinion. But I think everyone here knew that already.

    5. It has zero NJ involvement? CHECK

    Read something the other day about the sudden decline in CD sales in Japan, it says that now only NJ fluff like One Direction or a couple of singers sell in Japan, making Japan’s chart uniquely full of Japanese Only artists. Clearly then gone are the days when e.g the band Japan (from UK) could get to the top of the Japanese domestic charts.

    Japan has closed ranks culturally. It looks inward, towards its navel. I see little point trying to achieve anything there, in whatever field you work. It is niche market of niche.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    We’ve discussed on Debito.org the falling standard of the BBC’s Japan coverage, but I laughed out loud when I read this story where they cite pap site Rocket News as a source!

    http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-37716010

    What’s actually interesting about this story (aside from the obvious vested J-interests branding something they perceive as NJ as a threat to Japanese culture) is the part where aforesaid vested interests think that they can not only tell the consumer WHAT to consume, but HOW the should consume it!

    It truly is typical of what ‘Omotenashi’ actually means, and why omotenashi is really just a self-serving exercise in patting yourself on the back whilst slamming your customer for not being satisfied.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @Andrew, indeed- Atsugiri Jason has been now taken to task as “racist”, ironically over a tweet in which he says sometimes other opinions in Japan are not tolerated…..

    …prompting non tolerance of his opinion! Oh, the J Irony.

    Why, Japanese People?
    http://en.rocketnews24.com/2016/02/24/comedian-atsugiri-jason-irks-japanese-net-users-with-offhand-comment/

    The last comment call him and Pakkun “dogs who couldnt make it in their home country”.

    Still that old 80s attitude, I see. Couldve said it about the top selling (in Japan) UK band “Japan” as indeed, Japan was the first market they made it in and whats wrong with that?

  • @Baudrillard #31

    To be completely fair, Jason should have dropped off the “日本では” part of his comment. After all, his point that a total inability to be receptive to differing opinions is a shame is true everywhere, right? That many people have that problem especially in Japan is simply incidental to the fact.

    What bothered me about the article was that the author explicitly refers to Jason as an “outsider.” Last time I checked, people who live, work, and pay taxes year round long-term in a given country can’t really rightly be labeled as “outsiders.” Unless you’re a bigot, of course.

    For what it’s worth, and Dr. Arudou has mentioned this as well, my experience is somewhat contrary to Jason’s point–the Japanese, in my experience, are often willing to listen to you, even if they completely disagree, without hollering, yelling, freaking out, or trying to start a fight. I can’t well say the same for many Westerners. I’ve seen apologist Westerners become more angry and hostile than any Japanese when I broach the subject of racism in Japan, and the only people who have suggested I “go home” if I “don’t like [the racism]” were non-Japanese. (Just my own experience, and I am not at all shy about pointing out bigotry or racism when it comes up.)

  • @ Jim Di Griz #24

    Thank you for sharing the article about 土人 and 支那人. I used the incident in 沖縄 as a segue to talk to my students about racial slurs today, including 外人, plus the bus pass incident with the poor Korean person who was called チョン. It never fails to amaze me when the students (中学生) react with surprise and tell me they had no idea 外人 is a bad word.

    I even found it in one of our text books, an old 問題集 for 高校入試 study, which means it had been plucked out of an actual test. Yes, the official test had the students translate a sentence containing the word 外人. I couldn’t take a picture with my phone, the print was too small, so my camera wouldn’t focus, but I crossed it with a pen after I found it. Truly incredulous.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @HJ, #32

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some westerners, mainly white Americans, Canadians, and British, get more upset than locals when non-Japanese bring up the issue of racism, sexism, or any other form of discrimination in Japanese society. I sometimes ponder myself if some of those vehemently deny the notion of racism in non-western country in desperate attempt to defend their own peace and comfort zone. It seems like resentment of white that goads xenophobe, Islamophobe, hate crime, and misogynism among working class voters to demoralization of democracy is transmitting to the Japanese soil.

    Here’s an interesting article featuring the power of white men’s anger instigating demagogue in the sense of crisis.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/

    — I don’t think this link leads to the article you want.

  • @ HJ & Andrew In Saitama,

    The original article I linked suffered from the usual poor editorial standard that has become commonplace at Japan Times of late, in that it left the distinct impression that only the officer who called a protestor a 土人 (which is about as offensive as the word ‘abo’ is to indigenous peoples) was on secondment from Osaka P.D., but this article confirms that both that hate-speech using public official AND the cop who called another protestor ‘Shinajin’ are BOTH on loan to Okinawa from Osaka.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/22/national/okinawa-assembly-wants-security-personnel-removed-insulting-remarks/

    Let’s not forget that this is the P.D. that was taught until recently that ‘foreigners and gangsters have no rights’. I don’t know how they determine who is yakuza before they frame them up (if they even ever arrest yakuza), but I thought Okinawans were ‘we Japanese’, unless, it seems, they are not ‘ Yamato’, but ‘Indigenous People’; you can’t have a ‘we Japanese are one people’ myth AND discriminate against Okinawans for being ethnically different at the same time!

    I wonder if racist Osaka cops heads hurt?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Racist Osaka riot cops in Okinawa get wrists slapped: didn’t ‘intend to insult’ by throwing racist abuse at peaceful protesters, they just can’t take the pressure of the job. Perhaps they should quit? Precious little flowers have no place on the riot squad I think.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/22/national/okinawa-assembly-wants-security-personnel-removed-insulting-remarks/

    N.B. Everyone except us still refuses to call these 2 comments racist.
    If Japan can’t even admit it’s got a problem, it’ll never make progress.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    What’s this? A country desperate to be on the United Nations Security Council and that wants to have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible is refusing to pay its UNESCO dues.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/10/22/commentary/japan-refusing-pay-unesco-dues/

    Why is Japan refusing to pay UNESCO its dues?
    BY JEFF KINGSTON
    SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
    OCT 22, 2016

    The Japanese government announced that it is withholding its payments owed to UNESCO. This is a $37 million expression of displeasure over the organization’s decision last year to include a Chinese submission on “Documents of Nanjing Massacre” in the Memory of the World Register. It is also a warning shot aimed at the expected submission next month of a new “comfort women” dossier to UNESCO nominated by 15 organizations and institutions from 11 nations: South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands and Australia.

    Japan is playing diplomatic hardball over such history controversies — a counterproductive diplomatic pout. The U.S. has withheld its UNESCO dues since 2011 in part because it is unhappy that Palestine joined, but this sulk should not inspire emulation.

    Japan has more at stake and more to risk than the U.S. if it fails to pay dues for two years and thereby loses its UNESCO voting rights. Japan is not a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council so can’t afford to ignore what everyone else thinks. And, if it really is so concerned about what UNESCO is doing, it must believe that the organization is an important forum to express its views and lobby for desired reforms. (rest at link above)

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Here international media watchdog Reporters Without Boarder denounced Japan on indifference to US military’s spying on an investigative journalist Jon Mitchell over protests in Okinawa military bases.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/24/national/media-watchdog-slams-tokyo-journalist-alleges-u-s-military-spying/

    The government is on their radar since they signed off State Secrecy Laws in December 2013. Japan has dropped its ranking in freedom of press and reports. And it’s also reflecting on domestic survey by Mainichi Shimbun.

    David McNeil published the article about the free fall of media liberty in the last four years since Abe took office.

    http://apjjf.org/2016/20/McNeill.html

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ John K #38,

    I’m guessing that Japanese officials will say “the latest development is regrettable”,

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/22/national/comfort-women-statues-unveiled-shanghai-university/

    and also they say “it is important not to focus on the unhappy history of the past”,

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/24/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-knocks-shanghai-comfort-women-memorial/

    Both of which are phrases I shall keep in my pocket for use next August.

  • I just wanted to report I’ve been having a really difficult time accessing the site for the last couple of weeks. I sent an e-mail as well, but I figured I’d leave a comment here too. The site is very slow to load and frequently times out, giving an internal server error message.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ HJ #42

    Yeah, me too. I thought maybe my phone is just old, but now I’m thinking debito.org has a problem or is being targeted.

    — I’ve let my server host know.

  • #42,43,44, YES and some posts simply do not load at all. It happens so frequently that I just give up trying to read anything here.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I just wanted to share this story as an example of how Japan sets in place institutional measures to maintain discrimination against NJ, in this case a program operating under the banner of ‘internationalizing Japanese’ is in truth a tool for the inculturation of NJ, a cynical program that attempts to remove aforementioned NJ’s critical thinking faculties and replace them with untrue myths about Japanese ‘uniqueness’, before launching them on the outside world as propaganda disseminating assets.

    Don’t believe me? Well, here it is from Nippon Kaigi member, and government minister Kishida’s own mouth;
    ‘Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida thanked the former participants of the JET Program for continuing to “share their love and knowledge of Japanese culture” with the world and promised efforts to “promote the JET Program so that knowledge of Japan overseas will be deepened.”’

    https://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/jet-intl-exchange-teaching-program-marks-30th-anniversary

  • @Jim #46 – Yep.

    I also realized the same thing, about the ALT system: “some folks say the real goal is simply to bring over Japanophiles for a visit,
    so that after a year or two those Japanophiles return to their own countries as Japan Public Relations “Japan is great” Reporters,
    thus the Japanese government’s hoped-for end-result is those ex-ALT PR-machines praising Japan and increasing tourism to Japan. Haha.” 🙂

    Posted at the bottom of this old post: http://www.debito.org/?p=13814#comment-1151736

  • @ #46 Jim Di Griz

    Thanks for sharing this propaganda smutt disguised as journalism from the wonderful folks at Japan Today.

    I’m going to borrow your onion analogy and peel back the layers of BS Melissa Hill has spewed forth in this article. Quote:

    “’Sometimes the hotel staff would run away at the mere sight of foreigners…But I believe that even if you don’t speak English, if you smile, visitors will come to love Japan,’ she said [in Japanese].”

    First, I love the intentional mentioning of the fact that she is speaking Japanese, as if that matters. On the contrary, that she put in all the time and effort to learn the language and still spews forth the party line insanity is Layer of BS #1.

    Next, I love the “at the mere sight of foreigners” line. Unless you have your passport pinned to your breastpocket, nationality cannot be determined on sight. That she perpetuates this stereotype, ESPECIALLY considering that the vast majority of foreigners in Japan are phenotypically East Asian, is unforgivable. This is Layer of BS #2.

    But wait, there’s more! In addition to her propogating the ignorant myth about visually identifying who is Japanese or not, she is (in roundabout, ignorant terms) acknowledging that said hotel staff literally flees from brown/black/white people, and she treats this egregious, extreme, xenophobic, racist behavior as if it were a silly quirk or a cute misunderstanding. Insane, and Layer of BS #3.

    It gets better, though. “…even if you don’t speak English,” she continues, happily throwing out ANOTHER stereotype. Again, most foreigners in Japan are Chinese or Korean, and as such, generally can’t speak English. But even folks from Europe, Africa, South America, and other parts of Asia do not all necessarily speak English! Never mind the other implied assumption that no NJ could possibly speak, you know, Japanese. Layer of BS #4.

    I’m still not done with this rubbish. “…visitors will come to love Japan.” And here is Ms. Hill, despite being an actual resident of Japan herself, perpetuating yet another stereotype of equating NJ with visitors. I swear she was trying to see how many false stereotypes she could get in a single paragraph. Layer of BS #5.

    Is it any wonder she was chosen to speak? The whole thing couldn’t be more insular and self-aggrandizing if they tried. Where’s the trash can?

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