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Hi Blog. As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public. And they do, sometimes with success.
Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum! ) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.
That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not Residents). Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well. (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan. Even an elementary school student knows that. Now!)
The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this booklet disappeared!
Turning the keyboard over to RJO now to tell his story. Good job, you two. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting! Debito Arudou Ph.D.
Date: April 26, 2020
Dear Debito, I am a French national living in Kyoto, Japan for 12 years now. I have a Japanese wife and two daughters.
My older daughter is studying at Kyoto International French School (LFIK), but she is allowed to attend classes at our local elementary school, one of the few in Kyoto where the head of school accepts students from international schools during the holidays.
We did not attend the school’s “nyûgakushi” (annual opening ceremonies), but managed to meet the teacher and grab some documents.
I noticed later, at home, that they had given us a booklet about “street safety”. The reason why is because downtown Kyoto is not very safe for children. No sidewalk, narrow streets, “nagara unten” from both cars and cycles, tobacco, etc…
[“Taking Back the Streets: A city where people can enjoy walking” produced by the Kyoto City “Nakagyou-ku Traffic Problems Project Meeting” Issued March 2020. Publisher details follow. Click to expand in browser.]
Scripted and edited by the Kyoto Seika University (Kyoto International Manga Museum Jigyou Sokushin Shitsu)
Anyway, I started reading it, and found a depiction of Non-Japanese tourists, namely how they loiter and throw rubbish around. The young Japanese protagonists of the manga are all distressed, and go “Oh, such bad manners. I wish I could tell them something in English.”
[Right side bottom left quadrant shows racialized people making loud “Wai” noises. The girl below says, “Boy, there are a lot of tourists here!” The grandmother agrees. Then the top left has unintelligible foreigners that are commented on for eating while walking, then throwing their garbage down a drain to the kids’ immense shock. Just before the kids almost get hit by a car, they say, “What awful manners. What would I say to them to caution them?” “Uh… in English!? Uh, I dunno. As you said, in English, where to start?” Translations by Debito. Click to expand in browser. The entire booklet can be read here as a PDF: Toori-no-fukken]
And I’m like, “What!?”
The thing is, “ill-mannered foreign tourists” are often in the news and in public communications. But actually I see lots more “local” people with bad manners everyday, and I tell them directly: “Koko wa tabako dame desu yo”, “Nagara unten yamete kudasai”, etc. I’m brave, I don’t care, and I show my daughter that you have to stand up for yourself.
So the authorities have made a booklet about street safety in Kyoto, a very relevant issue, but the only time Non-Japanese people appear in it, they are depicted as having bad manners.
Again, what’s the booklet about? Street safety.
If they want to bring in Non-Japanese people for some reason, they should show all kind of Non-Japanese people, not just the ill-mannered, loitering people. Or not just focus on the bad manners of “foreigners”. It’s a very bad association.
Plus, remember that this booklet is handed out to elementary school children. So they’ll see that depiction, the frustration of the child protagonist, and how “English-speaking people” don’t respect the rules and stuff.
Mixed-roots children (like my daughter) are part of Japanese society. They go to elementary school like everybody else. Some of them speak English, but not all do.
When my daughter used to go to a Japanese kindergarten (before the French school), I was often greeted by groups of kids shouting “Eigo no hito da!” while pointing their finger at me.
It was unsettling. I let their teachers know that, but they just said, “They’re kids, they don’t know any better.” So I said, “I know, it’s your job to teach them. I’ll be happy if they just say ‘konnichiwa’, like they do with everyone else.” (It worked, in the end.)
The street safety booklet reminded me of that, and I put a few pictures of it up on FB with English and Japanese comments.
A Japanese FB friend with English ancestry named Mariko picked up on it immediately, shared it with others, and called the City Office.
The City Office actually took everything off their website the next day (the booklet was downloadable) and promised to recall the booklet.
[Here’s the original link, and a screen capture of how it appeared on Facebook:]
It had just been published in March. They had just started giving it out and showing it in a few places.
I feel bad for the street safety campaign, but I’m happy with the result. We (Non-Japanese) are not outsiders, strangers, or just “ill-mannered tourists”. We live here. We understand Japanese. We also have to stand up for our kids.
Mariko made a good example of that. She wrote later on FB how her own kids were next to her the whole time she tried to reach the City hall. She said, “They need to see how we can defend ourselves. A phone call can change things.” She’s active against all kind of injustices.
I also believe in action. I sent letters to Combini chains to ask them to remove ashtrays close to my daughter’s kindergarten. I called the City services to urge them to put “no tobacco” signs in public parks where kids go. When I ride my daughter to school, we frequently have troubles with taxi drivers that break the speed limit or ignore the stop signs. I take picture of their plate and contact their company. I also go to the kôban to ask them to patrol the streets where such incidents happen frequently. That kind of thing. It’s not much, but I often get positive results.
I believe that many people, Japanese and Non-Japanese alike, feel the same about all of these issues (from street safety and tobacco control to racial discrimination), but they don’t think they can make a change. I think they can, we can.
Thank you Debito for your advice, and for sharing the story. Sincerely, RJO.
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28 comments on “Kyoto Nakagyou-ku issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!”
(Sigh) Road safety->safety—>unsafe->foreigners.
Yep, seems legit…
Where’s the Japanese smartphone zombies crashing into people?
Where’s the self-entitled men of all ages expecting others to make way for them?
Where’s the random street stabbing?
Where’s the lolicon obsessed offender? Stranger danger?
Excellent work, RJO. Glad to see you got some results.
I would like to comment on one of the things you said.
“When my daughter used to go to a Japanese kindergarten (before the French school), I was often greeted by groups of kids shouting ‘Eigo no hito da!’ while pointing their finger at me.
It was unsettling. I let their teachers know that, but they just said, ‘They’re kids, they don’t know any better.’ So I said, ‘I know, it’s your job to teach them. I’ll be happy if they just say “konnichiwa”, like they do with everyone else.’ (It worked, in the end.)”
Ah yes, the go-to excuse Wajin make for children’s racist remarks. I often encounter a variant on this as well, when I try to teach children not to make racist comments. “They’re too young to understand.” This translates to “shut up and stop trying to teach them not to be racist.”
I absolutely support your move to demand response from the “teachers,” but those same buffoons are the ones who stood by and did nothing while the children made racist remarks in the first place. Can they really be trusted to teach the children “don’t judge people by their looks”? I can easily envision them saying to the children, “Just say konnichiwa to the gaijin too,” or something similarly ignorant and racist, rather than even attempting to address the root of the problem. (It’s highly likely that they are so ignorant that they don’t even know how to, anyway.)
Personally, I always try to talk to the children directly. The racist adults are unlikely to change, but by talking to the children you can leave a positive impact in many ways. You decide what message they hear, and you also demonstrate the notion that you are an “English language person” (=incapable of communicating in Japanese) to be false.
Just my two cents. Excellent story, thank you for sharing!
Yeah, the Eigojin thing is annoying as hell. I find most parents or the nursery staff are really embarrassed by it and often apologise so I tend not to give them a hard time about it.
On a positive note I was playing with my son in the park and some kids kept asking me where I’m from where my son is from, etc (He is an Aussie/Japanese dual citizen).
This little girl on the swings next to us said “Hey, don’t you know you can be Japanese even if your face is not Japanese!”
I mean, it could have been said better but I thought, Hey, that girl’s pretty cool!”
Thank you RJO. Your story is insparing for us all non-Japanese.
A good article but somewhat infuriating to read just because of how rampant and inexcusable this behaviour is. Glad you got some good results. Funny how they conveniently ignore all the Japanese people who litter and talk at loud volume in public spaces. Take any group of salarymen, high school girls, or grandmas and they easily overpower a group of foreigners.
The Japanese are depicted with big eyes, the foreigners are depicted as having slanted eyes so these are racial caricatures and othering of non Japanese Asians.
Oh, the irony….
How do the non-English-speaking characters know that the asian-looking foreigners are speaking English?
It’s just gibberish squiggles.
So many questions.
Welcome to un-analytical Japan.
Most likely, the city withdrew the pamphlet to avoid trouble, but secretly they’ve given NJs another downmark as a troublemaking demographic. These booklets cost money to prepare, you understand…
On the facts, this complaint is entirely unjustified. First, given the entirely of the booklet, it is clear that most of the characters are Japanese, and except for the protagonist, they are also making mistakes.
Referring to the targeted pages, its P.8 does have some Caucasians, classified as tourists, making noise. However, it’s just observed and passed by. Not one of the three characters display displeasure or censure.
Switching to P.9, it does feature two foreign language speakers (for all those kids can tell, they might be speaking French). However, I must point out in the immediately succeeding frame, grandma was nearly run over by a speeding car, and since most tourists won’t be coming by car, I’ll assume it is Japanese. In comparison, what the two foreigners did falls into complete insignificance. I’ll further point out even the fine details minimizes the wrongdoing of the two foreigners – the crumpled up bag (?) fell into a grate, rather than the street proper. My thought is that just stamping a few times on the grate should nudge that bag into the sewer…
To complain about that is getting into the “No wrongdoing, however minor, may ever be allocated to a foreigner” level.
— Nice try at some Gaijin Handling. But it’s not going to work in this of all venues, silly.
JT: “apparently living in Hong Kong with a mil-cosplay fixation”
“These booklets cost money to prepare, you understand…”
Woah woah… Before you begin treating us like little kids who are wasting daddy’s money, please understand that the gaijin living in Japan pay their national and local taxes just like everyone else (actually foreigners usually end up paying a bit more just for living than Japanese people do, because most don’t have family network support, and have extra regulations that they have to comply with at their own expense). They have a right to talk about how that tax money is spent. They are allowed to call up and complain about it too.
The reality of present day Japan is that about 2% of the resident population are “foreign” in some way (I’m not talking about tourists here). To put this into perspective for you, the percentage of Japanese people in the world compared to all other peoples, also happens to be about 2%! City hall should not be ignoring this resident population and pretending that foreigners only exist as tourists or criminals or ne’er do wells. They should also not be re-hashing the myth that foreigners living in Japan do not speak Japanese.
Would it be breaking the law to have piece of government literature where a foreigner was helpful to a young kid in distress, and interacted with them in nihongo? That is closer to the reality where I live.
Would it break someone’s mind to have a little Japanese kid and a foreign-looking kid interacting in nihongo as friends and advising each other of how to safely navigate the city streets? Because that happens too.
Or should the 98% majority ignore the 2% minority completely?
Well, they don’t ignore us, they portray us as trouble makers, every time. Without fail. Whatever we do causes problems, according to them. There is never any recognition of our positive value to the community. According to them we have no value in the community and are merely a burden to be put up with, ignored, or warned of. Every time.
“Most likely, the city withdrew the pamphlet to avoid trouble, but secretly they’ve given NJs another downmark as a troublemaking demographic. These booklets cost money to prepare, you understand…”
This is a vapid, meaningless, passive-aggressive threat at best. The booklets were paid for with taxpayer money, and immigrants are taxpayers, so they are well within their rights to demand the books not incite racism against them.
You also imply that demanding our rights gets us labeled as troublemakers and should thus be avoided. What is your strategy for enacting change, then? Sit back and wait for the racists to stop being racist? You have made no meaningful argument, only aired empty complaints. If you have nothing of value to add, please refrain from commenting.
“On the facts, this complaint is entirely unjustified…To complain about that is getting into the ‘No wrongdoing, however minor, may ever be allocated to a foreigner’ level.”
First, we are not “foreigners.” We are immigrants.
Second, I understand your point that the wrongdoings of “foreigners” are portrayed as somewhat minor, but your assessment of the situation is one-sided and self-serving. (Your bias is obvious.)
Obviously, no one is making the claim that all immigrants are perfect. Further, as you have pointed out, Wajin characters in the manga are also depicted as breaking “rules.”
The problem is that this is the only way immigrants are portrayed. There are no immigrants in the story depicted as equal members of Japanese society. They are unilaterally depicted as being unable to speak Japanese and incapable of following “the rules,” again, whatever the racist making the comic decided those were. (Wajin racists love to assert that their own personal opinions are the “rules of Japan” and are the way “Japanese people” behave. It’s just short-hand for “you’re not one of us”.)
Even worse, this rubbish publication is aimed at small school children. They are very impressionable and are already constantly bombarded from the smut on television and the people around them to believe that any minorities are “outsiders,” “foreigners,” and cannot understand Japan or Japanese. This is the antithesis of the message the next generation needs to be hearing. These kids will grow up and live in a Japan that is even more full of minorities and immigrants than the one we live in now. How are they going to form healthy, productive human relations with the people around them if they are brainwashed from an early age to view their peers and fellow man through the eyes of ignorant prejudice?
I cannot even begin to grasp how you managed to become this fluent in English and completely failed to expand your mind even the slightest bit. Your other comments and writings display similar petty, irrelevant, hollow, and unnecessary defenses. We want to be acknowledged, accepted, and treated as fellow human beings and members of Japanese society. If you cannot understand that desire, there is something very seriously wrong with you, deep inside, and you need to take a step back and ask yourself why you would go to the trouble to fight against people like us.
Regardless, spare us all the empty excuse-making. Learn how to formulate a coherent argument. Consider your position from the other side and see if it has weaknesses. If you can’t do that, you won’t cut it here.
>To complain about that is getting into the “No wrongdoing, however minor, may ever be allocated to a foreigner” level.
Called boomerang effect. Your wajin privilege is not gonna work as whiteness, as your choice to live your life outside Japan flies in the face of pretense and absurdity. It swerves and hits right back at you on the head.
Don’t care much for LoveRilakKuma’s repeated, continued, incorrigible use of the word “whiteness”.
Seems to be coming from a “labeling racist acts ‘White-ness’ is logical and fine” point of view.
His unrepentant race-based derogatory-label leads to considering a “labeling racist acts ‘Japanese-ness’ is logical and fine” point of view:
Dismissing one’s viewpoint you don’t like doesn’t put me as a bigot. You obviously don’t understand(and wouldn’t understand) the historical magnitude and its spoken and unspoken power shared, utilized, and abused among so many people–regardless of political view(left or right).
No matter how much you pry into my past comments, you will find “NOTHING” that fatally contradicts with the core issue of race and human rights. Go ahead and keep digging if you like, but you won’t see any Mueller Time whatsoever.
If you really think many westerners defending Japan/Japanese society for harboring racist ideology have nothing to do with the privilege of whiteness, you are willfully blind. Even those in left could fall into the trap of whiteness privilege for their ideological/political choice.
It becomes obvious when the victim of Japan’s race-baiting practice is a non-white. I still remember the story of a Temple University Japan(TUJ) student(who is an African-American) who was body-searched by Japanese cops for simply being a person of color.
When he reported the incident to the university, he was reprimanded by the university administrative staff(who is white) who inadvertently dismissed student’s traumatic experience by defending the normalized practice of racial-profiling. Dismissing the seriousness of race problem NJ students experience in their home country simply because it’s in Japan? And that message was made by a person with a certain privilege? And university stance?? It’s a red flag.
You always try to ring an alarm bell for the idea you don’t like to prove it’s a big deal to the blog, but what you actually do is nothing more than raising a false alarm. It sounds like MSNBC/CNN mainstream centrist/left pundits wasting 3 years to prove a phony Russiagate conspiracy. Your reaction can be comparable to Biden campaign operatives and like-minded pundits who are so desperate to discredit his political opponent(Sanders) with fallacious attacks through social media.
As you can see folks: this Japanese-culture-raised person (who then lived in America a few years) is unrepentantly labeling all racist acts “Whiteness”.
Although Debito has met this guy, still, this guy has posted that race-based derogatory-term here at Debito’s site 11 times now, as the links above show.
And every time he is told to stop using that race-based derogatory-term, he pretends he is the victim of some kind of attack.
Again, if you don’t want your “Japanese-ness” (unrepentant race-based rude action) to be pointed out and criticized, it’s quite simple: STOP using the race-based derogatory-term “whiteness”.
You will persuade NO ONE to believe that the word “whiteness” is no more a derogatory term than “gaijin,” “half,” “N-word” or recently emerging term “Karen”(which is debatable). It is not.
“Whiteness” has a proven historical legitimacy as “socially and politically constructed” and “learned behavior.”
It is widely recognized and studied among scholars across the discipline.
It does not just refer to skin colour but its ideology based on beliefs, values behaviors, habits and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on skin colour (Frye, 1983; Kivel, 1996).
It represents a position of power where the power holder defines the categories, which means that the power holder decides who is white and who is not (Frye, 1983).
It is relational. “White” only exists in relation/opposition to other categories/locations in the racial hierarchy produced by whiteness. In defining “others,” whiteness defines itself.
It is fluid – who is considered white changes over time (Kivel, 1996).
It is a state of unconsciousness: whiteness is often invisible to white people, and this perpetuates a lack of knowledge or understanding of difference which is a root cause of oppression (hooks, 1994).
It shapes how white people view themselves and others, and places white people in a place of structural advantage where white cultural norms and practices go unnamed and unquestioned (Frankenberg, 1993).
“whiteness is considered to be the universal … and allows one to think and speak as if Whiteness described and defined the world” (Henry & Tator, 2006, p. 327).
And here’s more:
A set of strategic rhetoric that shapes the construction of central position for privilege over “Others”, or masking visibility, Nakayama & Krizek, 1995)
This is where I believe crucial for the construction of norms among NJ about public understanding of race/racism in Japan. Those engaging in race/human rights–regardless of positions, are primarily English-speaking NJ community.
There you have it. Contrary to your “unrepentant,” demonstrably unproven(and false) allegation that I am using a derogatory term, “whiteness” is well supported and widely recognized. Ask any academic friends (including Debito) for clarification.
I don’t care what you think about the term in the first place, because I am not going to stop using it. It matters. It interrogates the conventional understanding of race/racism among NJ living in Japan. How should I be “repentant” for using “whiteness”–a widely proven and recognized as a legitimate social scientific study?
I have no obligation to make anyone please– especially you, AnonymousOG.
People may start taking your whining seriously, if you figure out how to advance your argument that goes beyond “whiteness” is a derogatory term” non-sense. I haven’t seen anything beyond that because you haven’t even proven it yet.
Gentlemen, forgive me for intruding on the debate, but aren’t you both losing sight of the forest for the trees?
AnonymousOG, I understand your problematization of the word “whiteness.” I do not use the term myself either. That being said, you use problematic language too, especially terms like “Japanese race” and the like.
To be frank, and I hate to say this here of all places, but even the term “NJ” that Dr. Arudō coined has outlived its usefulness in my estimate. Clearly, racism in Japan has nothing to do with being Japanese or not, a reality Dr. Arudō himself fundamentally demonstrated in the Otaru Onsen case.
I do feel strongly about demanding accurate language, but I think it would be a horrible mistake if we prioritized that over unity in our cause–improving human rights in Japan. I don’t think anyone could reasonably make the case that either “AnonymousOG” or LRK is opposed to that cause.
We can see this same dynamic at play when dealing with Wajin. Many of them refuse to stop calling us “foreigners” or “migrant workers,” but as long as they are fighting for our rights alongside us, those details are not the top priority. We’ve got to stay focused on what’s most important, not digressing into in-fighting. This is the same problem that plagues the non-ruling political parties: they are not unified enough. If we can’t establish unity here and band together around our common cause, how can we hope to make a positive impact on Japanese society?
Please give it a thought.
— Debito here. I’m putting my comment at the front of this comment for a change. It becomes pretty difficult to plow through all of these arguments (which, are admittedly, carefully-argued and -considered, but at 1773 words are longer than almost all of my JT columns) that keep recurring and hijacking these Debito.org threads. So I’m sorry for the delay in responding, especially because just as soon as one post came through demanding my attention (moreover, as you will see below, my commentary), two more popped up from the same author demanding the same time and attention. And specifically a comment from me. I will comment on this thread separately as soon as I approve this and two other messages that have wedged their way into my inbox since. — Debito
Short version for intellectually honest readers: it is rude and unnecessary to use any race-based derogatory-terms, especially when the misaligned has explained many times why it is rude and unnecessary. When discussing the acts of Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc., the logical thing to do is to simply use those correct terms. There is absolutely no need to apply a specifically race-based label to those universal acts which are committed by all humans.
Long version below is for the person who has used that label over 11 times and who even now proclaims, “I don’t care what you think about the term in the first place, because I am not going to stop using it.”
Analogy: A person with sufficient morals, when asked to STOP using the race-based derogatory-term “Gaijin”, simply stops using that word.
Regardless of the speaker’s supposed “pure” intent, regardless of the speaker’s “I’m not racist” belief, the over-riding fact is: “Gaijin” is undeniably race-based, and it is undeniably derogatory.
“But, but, the term ‘Gaijin’ is not race-based, it merely refers to nationality. And the term ‘Gaijin’ is not derogatory, in the mind of me: a proud Japanese Non-Gaijin. Many non-racist people use it. So, the term is fine.”
Wrong on all accounts. The term “Gaijin” is absolutely race-based (as Debito’s lifework has proven), it is absolutely derogatory (as the etymology and usage proves), and it doesn’t matter how many people have given that term “legitimacy” through repeated use.
“But, but, the term ‘white-ness’ is not race-based, it merely refers to Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc. And the term ‘white-ness’ is not derogatory, in the mind of me: a proud Japanese-race person who is Non-White. Many non-racist people use it, like legitimate respected scholars!!! So, the term is fine.”
Again, wrong on all accounts. The term ‘white-ness’ is absolutely race-based (as the regurgitation of your favorite scholars plainly admit) and is absolutely derogatorily blaming one race for any Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination committed anywhere by anyone, plus the term perpetuates the myth of whites being the power-holding-oppressors even in Japan, and the term even perpetuates the myth that Japan’s Race-Based-Entry-Denial can be blamed on innocent-Japan “copying what the actions of the whites.”
Just as the terms “Jew-ness” or “Japanese-ness” should not be used to describe derogatory actions (such as the unrepentant killing of millions of innocent “Goyim” and “Gaijins” in the past, and the culture-approved Embedded Racism continuing into the present), so too, the term “White-ness” should not be used to describe derogatory actions.
If you want to talk about derogatory actions (such as Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc.) being perpetrated by a non-white culture such as Japan, it is illogical to attempt to use a term which blames whites for the Japan’s current cultural approval of those acts.
You should have the intellectual honesty and morality to use the terms themselves: Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc., without falling back on the regurgitation the revenge-motivated blame-perpetuating race-based derogatory-term which you fell in love with back in America (that “white” culture where you were supposedly persecuted due to lacking enough “White-ness”, yet had legal recourse of course, since unlike “Japanese-Culture”, “White-Culture” disapproves of and has legislated strong penalties against those acts, such as Race-Based-Entry-Refusal.)
Do I even need to point the fact that your favorite scholars admit in those definitions which you regurgitated that the term is both race-based and derogatory? The intellectually honest readers already know that White-Studies (as opposed to Black-Studies, or Chicano-Studies, or Asian-Studies, or Judaic-Studies) overwhelmingly infers that “White-ness itself is inherently something to feel guilty about, thus the derogatory label which whites should not dare complain about, since hey, most white ancestors owned slaves [false], and most living whites are power-holders [false], so it’s all good to [mis]label all racism ‘White-ness’ into perpetuity.”
“White-ness refers to white skin color and its ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviors, habits and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege based on white skin color. Specifically: people with white skin have more power and privilege than people with dark skin color.”
“White-ness represents a position of power where the white power holder defines the categories, which means that the white power holder decides who is white and who is not.”
“White-ness’ definition of ‘white’ only exists in relation/opposition to other categories/locations in the racial hierarchy produced by whiteness. In defining ‘non-whites’ whiteness defines itself. It is fluid – who is considered white changes over time. (For example, Irish and Italian races were previously excluded from the definition of white, now they are included.)”
“White-ness is often invisible to white people, and this perpetuates a lack of knowledge or understanding of difference which is a root cause of oppression.”
“White-ness shapes how white people view themselves and others, and places white people in a place of structural advantage where white cultural norms and practices go unnamed and unquestioned.”
“White-ness is considered to be the universal and allows one to think and speak as if White-ness described and defined the world.”
“White-ness is a set of strategic rhetoric that shapes the construction of central position for privilege over non-whites.”
My paraphrases are correct, those scholarly heroes are indeed using a race-based derogatory-term, and they feel justified in doing so since “innocent non-racist whites in the present day getting their feelings hurt by the word white-ness means nothing when compared with the suffering endured by the black slaves in the past.”
It would be more honest to simply admit, “Yeah, we’re taking a verbal jab at whites, by labeling all those awful acts ‘whiteness”, since we do indeed blame whites in general for participating-directly and/or indirectly-allowing slavery in the past, and yeah we feel the modern-day whites should indeed have their race verbally connected forever with the sins of the [few, plantation-owning, slave-owning, wealthiest 3% of] white ancestors, so c’mon, don’t complain about this racial slander, just shut up and allow us to label all race-based inequality ‘white-ness’. Top universities allow it, so, everyone should. Forever. Or at least for the next 400 years. You deserve this little verbal jab, since you are white, you born into a position of power. You are inherently born into the sin of your ancestors, even if your ancestors never had slaves, even if your ancestors never had power. Even if your ancestors were the SLAVIC people who were enslaved in the past. If you are white, you are guilty of white-ness.” That’s the unspoken message being conveyed, even though nobody is saying it so openly.
“I don’t care what you think about the term in the first place, because I am not going to stop using it.” ~ Empathy-Lacking sentence written by someone not caring about the feelings of anyone whose race is being derogatorily unjustly blamed for all racism.
That doubling-down and refusing to perform proper introspection exemplifies the “unrepentant” problem which I correctly pointed out, which I personally feel is embedded deeply within Japan’s culture of refusal to admit when one is committing wrong actions. The average person raised in Japan’s culture feels their grandparents were justified in killing over 10 million innocent humans in Japan’s murderous land grab, still to this day using the justification of “Japan needed, and still needs, more resources (and slave Manchurian labor) to enjoy a higher standard of living in Japan”, and even the most supposedly “woke” scholarly folks raised in Japan’s culture like we see on display here today seem unfortunately only willing to slightly admit SOME of Japan’s culture’s problems WHILE concurrently minimizing and deflecting by blaming “the West” in general and “White-ness” specifically for the Embedded Racism in Japan, using the lame justification that, basically, “there are scholars in America who use this [race-based derogatory] term, and they weren’t sufficiently called-out for that action, they were given respect and legitimacy and tenure at various Universities, so, ipso facto: labeling all racism as ‘whiteness’ is thus NOT a race-based derogatory-term.”
The people who invented that term, and the people who regurgitate it in the present day, have the ability to use the correct NON-race-based derogatory-terms to describe the negative actions being discussed, such as Racism, Privilege, Power, Inequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc. yet they stubbornly CHOOSE to use the race-based term.
Shall we put together a list of derogatory actions which we label from now into perpetuity: ‘Japanese-ness’?
And while doing so, shall we illogically unrepentantly claim, “labeling bad actions as ‘Japanese-ness’ is NOT race-based and is NOT derogatory?”
It sure would be nice if someone raised in a culture of ‘Japanese-ness’ had a high-chance of actually valuing and practicing the heartfelt Golden Rule empathy sufficient to admit, “OK, I wouldn’t want that to be done to me, so I won’t do that to others. I will focus on the bad actions, and/or the cultures which in the present day still approve of those actions, the cultures who refuse to legislate and penalize those actions. I will stop blaming one race for all racism. I will treat other people as I want to be treated.”
But already, the “let’s call Japan’s acts of racism ‘white-ness’ forever” has made his stance clear:
He doesn’t care what we think about the term in the first place, because he is not going to stop using it.
Debito, I feel the fact that you had a brief sit-down with this guy has caused you to be overly kind about his (12 now) cases of using that race-based derogatory-term to describe Racism, Privlige, Power, Unequality, Unfairness, Subordination, etc.
A main point of your Embedded Racism book specifically and your lifework in general was and is to create a Civil Rights Law which penalizes Race-Based-Entry-Denial and which penalizes Race-Based-Acts-Of-All-Kinds, and this involves getting people to STOP using “gaijin-ness” “white-ness” “black-ness” labels, especially since the perpetuation of the myth of “whites being the power-holding-oppressors even in Japan” reduces the chance of such a law being passed, since the perpetuation of the “Hey, who cares about the feelings of whites and half-whites being turned away from public essential services such as bathhouses or apartments or restaurants, their feelings don’t matter, their gaijin-ness inherently makes them more likely to do bad things, and their white-ness inherently makes them deserving of a little racial-discrimination, since they are inherently born into a position of power, and since they were inherently born into deserving punishment for the sins of their ancestors, and let’s label the act of mugging black-ness, and the act of usury jew-ness, while we’re at it” race-based labeling is NOT what we want to encourage or allow. と思います。
You will be hard-pressed to find me any examples of me ever saying, or even implying, that people born into the Japanese RACE carry embedded racism.
Please link any citation of myself labeling the “Japanese RACE” as being racism itself.
The result would be: I would apologize for mis-aligning an entire race with the act of racism, I would apologize for thus maligning an entire race, and I would vow to never do that again.
Meanwhile, I have duly linked 12 citations of the above person labeling the Caucasian RACE as being racism itself, and the result is: his unapologetic vow to CONTINUE doing so.
That unrepentant action, of refusing to admit when one is using racist terms, of refusing to strive to improve, is caused of course by a racist CULTURE, not a racist RACE.
If the above person, with his same DNA and all, had been born into a less racist CULTURE, there would be less chance of him having become a “blame the caucasian RACE for all racism around the world forever” term user.
The percentage of people born into the American CULTURE who use that race-based derogatory-term are very few. It was invented as a verbal jab at a certain race, and only a few angry-at-whites and self-hating-whites continue to use it.
The reason why you won’t find any citation of myself labeling the “Japanese RACE” as being racism itself, is because I don’t believe that.
I believe people born into the CULTURE of Japan carry embedded racism, since the majority of people born into the CULTURE of Japan refuse to admit: all humans deserve equal rights.
Meanwhile, the majority of people born into the CULTURE of America freely admit: all humans deserve equal rights.
So, again, we see above the problem which you yourself have admitted HJ, that folks raised in the CULTURE of Japan usually refuse to be corrected.
I employed the “how would you feel if the same race-based derogatory-term of ‘Japanese-ness’ were to be used to describe all acts of racism” Golden Rule style.
And I used the direct command “それは人種差別なのでやめてください” “That action is racist, so please STOP it” style which you recommended HJ.
The net result is the person pretends that being told to STOP doing a bad action is some kind of personal attack, the person says “I don’t have to please you” and the person vows to never improve.
(Just as when he was told to stop posting his “you must show your ID to hotels”, he angrily began attacking the messenger and claiming his mistake was not a mistake since he wasn’t a hotel owner.)
The daily problem we face here in Japan, of people raised in a culture of refusing to admit their actions were wrong, is seen plainly with Debito’s semi-acquaintance here who was raised-in-Japan’s-culture.
It is, of course, absolutely possible for a person raised in Japan’s culture to LET GO of the bad points of their culture (e.g. Tatemae, Uso mo houben, Kusai futa o shimeru, More respect for the Kamikaze ‘heroes’ than the millions of innocent victims, etc) and to begin practicing the good points of another culture (e.g. Honesty, Honesty is the best policy, Admit when there is a problem so one can solve it, More respect for the innocent victims of a war than for the aggressors, etc) but in my opinion: the percentage of folks born into the culture of Japan who have managed to do such sufficient self-reflection and self-improvement is unfortunately quite low.
Anyway, after all these sentences, the fact remains: without a little “gai-atsu” (external pressure) from Debito, that person is currently vow to never STOP using the race-based derogatory-term to describe racism.
Okay. Now I’ll comment separately.
It’s 90% chance he was raised and educated outside Japan anyway, even if he thinks of himself as ‘Japanese’, with his Japanese user-name and all, which anyone at all could have made up. His English is too specific for him to have been raised in Japan.
—- Whatever the background, he’s a troll. He’s not welcome on Debito.org.
Debito here. This is a collected response to the protracted debate between AnonymousOG and Loverilakkuma over the use of the term “whiteness”. To settle this debate on Debito.org, here’s my stance on the use of the term “Whiteness Studies”:
I believe Whiteness Studies is a valid science, and a useful tool for evaluating how power flows through societies in a racialized sense.
I don’t subscribe to all of its tenets and codicils, especially the bit where the interpetation is that White People (however defined) cannot be subjects of racism (however defined); my doctoral dissertation completely refutes that. But I won’t dismiss it completely, just as I don’t subscribe to all the arguments of Marxism, but believe it should be studied and used as a lens to examine societies just the same. I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
To me, the use of the term “Whiteness” is the flip side of my use of the word “Wajin”. It’s simply a marker denoting a group of people with privilege in a society. (And before you ask, yes, I believe there is such a thing as “White Privilege” that has been encoded into the DNA of legal systems of several postcolonial nation-states; just as “Wajin Privilege” is embedded in Japan’s.)
AnonymousOG, to take the concepts out for a test drive, I would suggest you read Mark Levin, “The Wajin’s Whiteness: Law and Race Privilege in Japan”, whose article was very influential when writing up my doctoral dissertation.
Download full-text PDF from:
(PUBLISHED IN HORITSU JIHŌ, FEBRUARY 2008 (in Japanese, Ozaki translation) Mark A. Levin, Professor Horitsu Jihō, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 80-91, Feb. 2008 The William S. Richardson School of Law Or cite to SSRN at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1551462 The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i U.S.A.)
There Levin has developed how similar the power relationships and dynamics are in the US and Japan, which enabled me to replace “Whiteness Studies” with “Wajin Studies”. It’s a cornerstone to my research.
Anonymous OG’s negative reaction to the use of a race-based term to describe an analytical lens is basically because it a) hypocritically uses race-based paradigms to describe racist acts, and b) apparently legitimizes all the tenets of Whiteness Studies, vindictively refocusing racism back on White people. (I know there’s more in the 2652 words you sent to this thread, but I’ll address those two.)
I understand the impulse to problematize the terms of debate. I do it all the time. But there are limits. I remember one scholar writing about Japan and the Ainu. He said that the Ainu were the only true “Japanese” here, and refused to call anyone but the Ainu “Japanese” in his research. I don’t remember what term he conjured up to refer to Wajin Japanese, but his papers were confusing to read. Few took his research seriously. (He aired it in a couple of local Daigaku Kiyou and that was it. Again, I don’t remember his name and can’t find his papers on Google Scholar.)
That’s how you appear in this debate, AnonymousOG. By zeroing in on the term “Whiteness”, you’ve lost the focus of the science.
The point is, yes, terms and definitions matter, and problematization of terms is important as we try to carve out new narratives. But to dismiss the entire field of Whiteness Studies like this (moreover, hijack a number of Debito.org blog posts which are not dealing with this subject) as you do here is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
You want to debate this? Fine. Write a paper in the field of Whiteness Studies expressing your objections and caveats and get it published. That’s where this debate belongs. But to keep attacking Loverilakkuma (moreover to more than imply that I’m biased towards him because we have some kind of sweetheart relationship) is blind to the larger picture: Whiteness Studies as an analytical lens, and a language that both he and I as academics are conversant in. Again, read Levin’s “Wajin’s Whiteness” yourself above and give it a think.
Finally, before AnonymousOG thinks I’m being in any way dismissive or disrespectful, understand that I could have just deleted all of his his 2652 words without addressing them. When I think a person is merely trolling, I delete. (I did so recently for troll “Kazuaki Shimazaki”, who did respond to TJJ and HJ’s posts about NJ taxpayers to say, inter alia, “First, Wajin paid 97-98% of the total amount, you pay 2-3%. But you want your view to have priority?” Meaning that he’s arguing NJ can never have any say until they become the majority in society. This strict majoritarianism is unreasonable — because it means in his world, no minorities — because they are in the minority *by definition* — can ever have any say. So I just deleted it for the sophistry it is. Don’t feed the troll.)
Thus I respect AnonymousOG’s earnestness in argument enough to respond. And to conclude: You’re being a bit obsessive about this to the point of distraction. Let this be end of this particular dispute between AnonymousOG’s and Loverilakkuma. — Debito
OK, I apologize about the length of my reply to the “Advance your argument that ‘whiteness’ is a race-based derogatory-term, you haven’t proven it yet” request:
Long Reply: https://www.debito.org/?p=14981#comment-1664910
The concise comment posted before that should have produced a logical response of “Yes, it is better to use the term ‘Racism’ to describe the act of Racism in Japan”:
And any of these short comments should have elicited the same logical response:
Actually, this ONE sentence alone should have been sufficient:
“I think when we are discussing racist acts committed by people who have have been raised in the culture of Japan, it is wrong to use a label which blames any particular race.”
Debito, you wrote “I believe Whiteness Studies is a valid science, and a useful tool for evaluating how power flows through societies in a racialized sense.” Yes, absolutely.
And at the same time, as you admit, that important and valid academic area of Racism Studies is wrongly assuming that one particular race is the power-holder EVEN IN JAPAN, which is why your doctoral dissertation and your book Embedded Racism wisely *corrected* the mistaken myth of worldwide-domination which that incorrect-term perpetuates, correct?
It is MUCH better to call the subject Racism Studies, since that’s what it is, and since there is no need to continue blaming one race forever. Can we agree on that?
About the fine paper by Mark Levin (friendly nod to a fellow Levite) I highly respect it – and please don’t assume the CRT subject is something new to me just because I’m pointing out (like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”) the incorrectness of “Japan’s Current Majority’s Culture’s Acts of Racism” being mislabeled with the race-based derogatory-term “White-ness”: which seemed like an appropriate term to label racism when first coined in America 100 years ago, but which, as Dr. Levin and Dr. Arudou have proven, is NOT an appropriate term to use when discussing Japan’s power flow.
Both Dr. Levin and Dr. Arudou were faced with the interesting challenge, as we all are, of how to label “Japan’s current ethno-racial majority” for this high-level discussion of racism in Japan to develop appropriately in the first place.
While of course admitting the valid qualification that ethno-racial definitions are ever-changing over the decades and centuries and millennia, like clouds, still: Dr. Levin and Dr. Debito and all of us admit the fact Japan’s current ethno-racial majority exists.
Dr. Levin logically pointed out that “Japan’s mainstream ethno-
racial majority” should not be simply shortened to “Japanese”, since that term should be reserved for the Nationality meaning, and since we need a term to describe Japan’s current ethno-racial MAJORITY.
(Japan’s current ethno-racial MAJORITY, who are choosing of their own free-will, to continue to carry the CULTURE of embedded-racism and power-abusing, which is the ACTION we are critiquing here at this site.)
And Dr. Levin logically pointed out (bottom of page 6, top of page 7) that if we were to use the mere term “Japanese” to describe Japan’s current ethno-racial MAJORITY, it would give the false impression that we are critiquing the cultures of Japan’s ethno-racial MINORITIES.
(Japan’s current ethno-racial minorities, whether they are Citizens of Japan or not, such as: the original inhabitants of Japan the Ainu-ethno-race, the second inhabitants of Japan the Ryuukyuu-ethno-race, the long-term multi-generational residing-in-Japan labelled-as-Zainichi Korean-ethno-race, the relatively-rare yet-existing-in-Japan Caucasian-ethno-race, and all the other ethno-racial minorities in Japan as well, who ALL are being systematically racially discriminated against here in Japan due to ethno-racial ancestry/name/appearance.)
And thus, Dr. Levin logically explained the problems with using such terms as “the Japanese race”, “the Japanese people”, “the Japanese” “Japanese Japanese”, “the Yamato race”, “the Yamato people”, to describe Japan’s current ethno-racial majority.
And so, Dr. Levin logically concluded, “I support the use of the Ainu term ‘Wajin’ to describe Japan’s mainstream ethno-racial majority.” (That is a direct quote, not a paraphrase.)
And so, Dr. Debito agreed, and HJ agrees, and I agree, that the term Wajin is a logical term to describe Japan’s curent ethno-racial majority.
Now that we have agreed the term Wajin means Japan’s curent ethno-racial majority, we come to the crux of my point.
While it is perfectly fine to criticize the racism embedded in the CULTURE which the Wajin currently are stubbornly refusing to improve, it would be a grave mistake for us to fall into the trap of saying/writing/implying:
“Wajin (Japan’s current ethno-racial majority) are racist!”
“Racist acts themselves should thus be labelled Wajin-ness.”
See, we should NOT criticize the ethno-racial-group Wajin, since that would be critical of a RACE.
We should criticize the CULTURE which the ethno-racial-group Wajin are currently choosing to maintain.
We minorities who have been physically persecuted in Japan for years, decades, centuries, often feel TEMPTED to verbally punch-back a little, by saying “WAJINS are racist” or “WAJIN-ness is racism itself!”
(Even you, fellow commenter HJ, with your very high-level calls for Debito to “drop the NJ term”, I have seen you HJ use the term Wajins in race-based derogatory way, implying that “Wajins … do this, Wajins … do that, Wajins … are like this, Wajins … are like that”.)
Of course what you MEANT to say, my friend HJ, is something more along the lines of the lengthy phrase which I use, namely: “people who were raised in the culture of Japan”, or even better yet, the phrase which I don’t use yet but which would be even more correct: “people raised in the culture of Japan who choose to do, or who at the very least refuse to criticize, the racist acts approved by the culture of Japan… do this, and do that.” But obviously, that’s too lengthy.)
How about instead of us falling into the trap of using a race-based term which criticizes an entire ethno-racial-group, how about instead we criticize the Embedded Racism CULTURE which the majority of Wajins are choosing to continue.
Dr. Arudou’s book Embedded Racism does NOT claim racism is embedded within the Wajin ethno-racial-group, it instead correctly proves racism is embedded within the current Wajin CULTURE.
The current Wajin CULTURE is still refusing to legislate the Civil Rights Law in 2020, unlike the current White CULTURE chose to legislate in 1964.
If one were to objectively choose which ethno-racial-group’s name should be associated with the act of racism itself, “Wajinness is racism” is closer to correct than “Whiteness is racism”, based on the current reality of what the two respective ethno-racial-group morally approve and legally allow, in 2020.
So, even though we CAN use a race-based derogatory-term which criticizes a race itself, such as Wajinness or Whiteness or Jewyness or whatever, we should CHOOSE to take the higher path of labeling racism: Racism.
The correct answer isn’t really, “You naive child, you lack knowledge about the intricacies of the CRT discipline. This term has become thoroughly legitimized, read these examples of respected scholars using it, so simply allow the term to be used forever. I don’t use it, HJ doesn’t use it, but c’mon, let LRK use it since he obviously enjoys using it…”
It’s not just the term I’m pointing out, it’s the repeated action of deflecting from the racism in Japan topic off to thinly-veiled ‘whattaboutism” diatribes which have implied that Jim was wrong when Jim correctly stated that the root of Japan’s racism began with the very creation of Japan in 1868, with LRK rebutting with the false implication that the root of Japan’s racism can be blamed on 1970s NeoLiberalsim inherited from the West, and various names of politicians he detests in the West, etc.
Thus it isn’t just one term I am criticizing, it is the long-term pattern of posts (I can link them all if citations are needed) of whattaboutism, let’s talk about the West, blaming racist acts committed in Japan on white privilege in Japan, it’s an absurd collection of sentences which we wouldn’t put up with if it were a stranger but we strangely have allowed such comments to continue due to the person being a long-time “ally” who slightly admits to the problems of Japan’s culture, but never really admits to the full extent which we do.
Anyway, a logical thing to say would be, “Yeah, that term was coined 100 years ago to loudly criticize the race which was abusing power and allowing legal slavery and legal racism in America back then. But since we are talking about legal racism in Japan now, let’s call it what it is: Racism in Japan.”
LRK of course has the free-speech *right* to continue gleefully labeling “racism itself” as being forever connected with a particular race, yes, he has that right.
But it sure would be nice if he would have the empathy to choose use terms which DON’T imply that whiteness is to blame for the racist acts done in Japan.
And it sure would be nice, in ADDITION to scolding me (as you should, friend) for the length of my logical posts (which I admit is awful, and I am truly sorry about), if you could please bring closure by kindly asking LRK to simply choose a more appropriate term, when discussing Racism in Japan.
— “It is MUCH better to call the subject Racism Studies, since that’s what it is, and since there is no need to continue blaming one race forever. Can we agree on that?” — Yes we can, as written.
“Even you, fellow commenter HJ, with your very high-level calls for Debito to ‘drop the NJ term’, I have seen you HJ use the term Wajins in race-based derogatory way, implying that ‘Wajins … do this, Wajins … do that, Wajins … are like this, Wajins … are like that’.”
First, I have not called for Dr. Arudō to “drop the NJ term.” I simply stated that I felt the term has outlived its usefulness. In fact, I made that statement in the context of specifically stating that while I disagree with others’ choice of language, I do not get bogged down in trying to correct every term with which I do not agree, instead emphasizing the importance of maintaining the focus on the overarching goal. It seems to me that you are adamant on pushing your agenda regarding terminology and have repeatedly misrepresented my statements, for reasons I won’t attempt to postulate.
Second, I do not pluralize the word Wajin, as it is a loanword from Japanese, the same way I do not pluralize futon or other Japanese loanwords in English. This alone strongly indicates that you are not quoting me but rather paraphrasing things I have said.
You are correct in pointing out that I have on occasion failed to qualify the noun “Wajin” by not saying “some Wajin” or “many Wajin,” etc. This is fair criticism, and I will take it as such. We must be careful to avoid inadvertently attributing the behavior of Wajin racists to all Wajin. (For what it’s worth, though, I don’t think anybody reading my comments, other than you, has interpreted them to mean that I am assigning any traits or behaviors to all Wajin.) That being said, when discussing the problematic racist behavior that I do, it is not derogatory or discriminatory to attribute such behavior to Wajin. I am not stating or implying that they engage in racist behavior (and again, in case it isn’t clear from context, I do not mean that “they” means every single Wajin) as a necessary consequence of being Wajin. The source of the racist behavior, though, is in Wajin (again, not every single one, but as a group it lies there). Of course, as I myself have acknowledged, immigrants and other minorities engage in the same behavior (again, not all of them), but they are not the primary source of the problem, rather a secondary phenomenon emerging from the racist social structure that Wajin racists have built.
“Of course what you MEANT to say … is … ‘people who were raised in the culture of Japan…'”
No, no, I don’t mean to say that, my friend. Racism is not specific to Japanese culture (in fact, it’s extremely similar to racism in American culture, one of the fundamental tenants of Levin’s work as well as Dr. Arudō’s), and Japanese culture is not a monolithic entity, either. Japanese culture is an amalgam of many cultures. You’ve gotten away from your own point: leave the blame at the door of the racism. Don’t assign it to the nature of Wajin, or Japanese culture. Racism is racism.
“Dr. Arudou’s book Embedded Racism does NOT claim racism is embedded within the Wajin ethno-racial-group, it instead correctly proves racism is embedded within the current Wajin CULTURE.”
You changed terminology. Are you arguing that it is embedded in Japanese culture, or Wajin culture? I think one could make the case for both, but at the same time, growing up in Wajin or Japanese culture does not in and of itself cause a person to become a racist, as you have astutely acknowledged.
“‘…people raised in the culture of Japan who choose to do, or who at the very least refuse to criticize, the racist acts approved by the culture of Japan… do this, and do that.’ But obviously, that’s too lengthy.”
Yes, it’s too lengthy. That’s why nobody says anything like that. I think it would be very instructive if you took a moment to consider why nobody uses that sort of absurdly long phrase, and further, how people communicate the same basic idea without it. For example, if I say, “Dogs are cute,” this is not a declaration that not a single un-cute dog exists. Please take note of that.
“So, even though we CAN use a race-based derogatory-term which criticizes a race itself, such as Wajinness or Whiteness or Jewyness or whatever, we should CHOOSE to take the higher path of labeling racism: Racism.”
You are again missing the point. “Whiteness” refers to the embedded racist social structure in America, which operates on the (flawed, factually inaccurate) notion of being “white.” Personally, I agree with you, the ultimate problem is racism, and that term alone seems sufficient to me, but the objective is the same: eliminate the racism. “Whiteness” or “Wajinness” are simply different forms of racism specifically observable in different areas. “It’s not whiteness; it’s racism” is like saying “It’s not Mandarin; it’s Chinese.”
“Thus it isn’t just one term I am criticizing, it is the long-term pattern of posts (I can link them all if citations are needed) of whattaboutism, let’s talk about the West, blaming racist acts committed in Japan on white privilege in Japan…”
I don’t see LRK or any other regulars doing that, and I don’t see how you’ve made a case that they have. I am starting to feel like I see a pattern of you reading into people’s statements things that they haven’t actually stated or implied while missing what they are actually trying to say. I also see a consistent pattern of you nitpicking minor, frankly irrelevant differences of perception, opinion, or evaluation. The bit about JDG vs. LRK when it comes to “when racism started in Japan” is a perfect example. Who cares which of their assertions is correct? I certainly don’t. It doesn’t bear much relevance to the question of what we should do right now. (For the record, Japan did not come into existence in 1868, and I do not understand how you could make the case that racism wasn’t around before that. Have you forgotten the subjugation of the Ainu from centuries ago, or the creation of Dejima and the sakoku policies?)
“…it’s an absurd collection of sentences which we wouldn’t put up with if it were a stranger but we strangely have allowed such comments to continue due to the person being a long-time ‘ally’ who slightly admits to the problems of Japan’s culture, but never really admits to the full extent which we do.”
The point you seem to be missing here is that all of us have differing views and opinions about this topic at every level, and most of us, most of the time, overlook almost all of that, and there is nothing strange about it. Your assertion that “we” would not overlook it if it were a stranger speaks only to your position, as far as I am concerned. I try to give people as much credit as I can and look for opportunities to make allies, not enemies. (To be completely honest, I do not always do a perfect job of that. However, it is my ideal.) I do not know a single person on the planet who agrees with all of my views and interpretations of the racism problem in Japan. Nobody uses the same language I do, and nobody posits all the same arguments I do.
I don’t know if you remember, but several years ago I majorly pissed off JDG by replying to him in Japanese. For me, it was a way of acknowledging him as an equal and a competent member of Japanese society; for him, it was a set-up to say, “You can’t speak Japanese, so you don’t understand the issue.” Instead of getting into an argument with him about his interpretation, I apologized, made a note not to interact with him that way, and we’ve gotten along since then. Take note of the fact that I continue to openly state that I am opposed to denouncing the use of Japanese among immigrants who share English as a common language. And yet still, because JDG is one of us, fighting alongside us for the same cause, I picked my battles. I also don’t see JDG replying and criticizing me every single time I state that opinion. (Thanks, JDG.)
I don’t agree with everything LRK or you say, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. There is no group of people committed to a cause that uniformly agrees about everything. I really feel like you need to back off all of this before you isolate yourself or make enemies. We get your point. You’re free to make it. We don’t have to agree 100%. Please let it go.
@HJ Just for the record:
“Wajin lie like this…” ~ HJ
= The Wajin racial group lies like this…
= The Wajin racial group lies like this, even if born and raised in a more honesty-valuing country like America, Wajin lie like this.
“Wajin lie like this…” is a race-based derogatory statement.
“Wajin refrain from streetfights like this…” is a race-based positive statement.
To say “Wajin” tend to do ANY behavior is: racist, since it attributes behavior to race, whether the behavior is positive or negative.
And thus, it is racist to label any behaviors “Wajin-ness”.
First, 100 years ago, Du Bois starting made the understandable, forgivable, mistake of using a racist term to describe racism. Then, Dr. Levin and Dr. Debito tried to correct that mistake, by saying “Hey, fellow Critical Race Theory academics, here’s an important update to the discipline we have studied so much about, in Japan there is DIFFERENT racial group which is dominating and power-abusing and committing unrepentant racial discrimination: the ethno-racial group called Wajin.
(The Wajin ethno-racial group, who murderously committed a land-grab of these roughly 6800 islands from the originally-inhabiting ethno-racial group the Ainu.)
There’s noting wrong with the terms Ainu, Wajin, White, Black, Chicano, Jew, etc., which describe various ethno-racial groups.
The problem is these terms are used to describe “behavior of the ethno-racial groups”, for example: “Wajin do this… Ainu do that… Whites do this… Blacks do that…”
Humans are born clean-slates, so “lying in a particular way, or in an overly prevalent amount”, is not inherent to RACE, the pattern of behavior is developed through being raised in a culture.
Wajins born and raised in a more honesty-valuing culture like America’s current culture, would naturally tend to be MORE honest than Whites born and raised in a less honest-valuing culture like Japan’s current culture.
So, instead of saying “Wajin lie like this…” (which is criticizing a race), it is better to say, “People raised in the culture of Japan lie like this…” (which is criticizing a culture.)
One does NOT have the ability to change the race one was born into, which is why we should not criticize any race.
But one DOES have the ability to stop copying the negative behaviors approved by the CULTURE one was born into (and if enough people do so, the CULTURE improves), which is why we SHOULD criticize CULTURES.
I used to say, “Japanese do this… Japanese do that…” but then I realized:
If “Japanese” is defined as the racial group, then my statements about “Japanese behavior” were race-based, thus racist.
And if “Japanese” is defined as the citizenship group, then my statements were either wrong (since raised-in-other-cultures people who-became Japanese-citizens aren’t displaying the same pattern of behaviors which the raised-in-Japan’s-culture people display) or my statements were again racist (if my definition of “Japanese” excluded raised-in-other-cultures people who-became Japanese-citizens, like Debito.
(Who of course, by the way, did not even want to be called Nationalized-Japanese, or a Japanese-National, or even Japanese-Citizen. He should have always been called Japanese since the day he became Japanese. The term Japanese should refer to nationality, NOT race. And the only time a hyphen should be added is when the person chooses to say about themself “I’m Japanese, and I’m also American-Japanese, and I’m also Caucasian-Japanese, and I’m also White-Japanese, and I’m also Jewish-Japanese.” And even then, the listeners or readers should not then try regurgitating that label back henceforth. Listeners or readers should still always refer to any Japanese citizen with just ONE word: Japanese. Period.)
So, when I realized the error of my past ways, I repented, and I chose to use more precise language:
Japanese means: anyone with citizenship of Japan.
(We aren’t complaining about the behavior of CITIZENS of Japan, so it would be wrong to talk about “Japanese behavior”.)
Wajin means: anyone born into that ethno-racial group, regardless of what culture around the world they happen to have been raised in.
(We aren’t complaining about the behavior of an RACIAL group, so it would be wrong to talk about “Wajin behavior”.)
We’re complaining about the behavior of people raised in the current CULTURE of Japan.
By adding the word “current”, I am reminding the culture-holders being criticized: they as individuals and as a society have the choice and the ability to CHANGE the culture, the culture which they are currently choosing to approve of, the culture which refuses to admit that all humans living in Japan deserve the exact same equal rights.
PS – Even back in 2014 Markus noticed the same inappropriate pattern:
Dr. Arudō, thanks for the reply, and also thanks for sharing the paper by Levin. I read Embedded Racism cover to cover as soon as I got my hands on it, but I didn’t take notice of Levin’s work. At 32 pages, it seems like it would take a little while to read, but looks fascinating.
As for “Kazuaki Shimazaki,” it’s clear he knows nothing about how democratic societies work. (Imagine that.) “You’re the minority, so your ‘view’ doesn’t matter” is a textbook example of mob rule, which is a textbook example of one of the shortcomings of pure democracies and the underlying fundamental assumption behind having two houses in the legislative body.
Of course, the other problem with his position is one I constantly encounter in Wajin. They’ve been taught to respect others’ opinions, which at face value is commendable, but many have taken it to be an absolute. In other words, just because somebody has a “view,” that view, no matter how erroneous and problematic, is to be recognized.
In this context, “Don’t incite racism against us” is labeled as immigrants’ “view,” and his point is that because we are so few in number, that “view” needn’t be prioritized over the racists’ “view” ( =depicting all immigrants and minorities as illiterate, socially incompetent outsiders). Of course, any rational person can see that the racists’ “view,” however widely held, is not based on objective facts or reality. In other words, it’s nonsense. Even if a lot of people believe the same nonsense, that doesn’t lend it any credence, and doesn’t in any way make a case for why we ought legitimize it. Further, his claim that 97~98% of the population is Wajin, and they all have the same racist view, is balderdash he fabricated. In a nutshell, it’s a slightly more sophisticated way of the usual Wajin mantra of “We Japanese…” being used to enumerate one’s own personal opinions while attempting to lend them credibility by attributing them to the entire nation. What was that saying about old dogs and new tricks?
As for AnonymousOG, I never stated or implied that you were using the word “Japanese race” in the way you claim that I did. I know why you’re using it, and I know what you mean by it, so your defense is unnecessary. (Hence, I don’t make comments nitpicking you every time you use it.) We’re all on the same team here, boss. Please try to keep that in mind.
Memo to Mr Shimazaki – Japanese tourists certainly did not have a great image in the 1990s and early 2,000s for example in many western countries owing to the behavior of individuals among them.
One of my Aussie friends from Queensland told me the locals were annoyed to the point of anger by those Japanese happy snappers who constantly took photos of private houses, Japanese men sitting down on public transportation without looking to see if anybody like an elderly person or a pregnant woman might want the seat, loudness on golf courses as well as laughing among each other in public places and a general idea that on vacation the local ‘gaijin’ don’t matter although the ‘gaijin’ were actually in their home country and the visiting Japanes were the non natives.
This wasn’t true of most of the Japanese tourists then or now although there are individuals that still fit those categories of rude indifference to the locals when on vacation. No Queensland university or public authority has ever printed a book for anybody let alone children there portraying Japanese tourists in a negative light. There is a lesson here for those in 21st century Kyoto.
When you have time have a look at this….
Don’t care much for that article.
“Every racist has African, Indian, East Asian ancestors, as well as everyone else.”
Seems to be coming from an ‘only white people are racist’ point of view.