Hi Blog. Just a quick update. I’ve just come out of my last speech in Japanese this trip (I wanted the information to be fresh, so I left it until last night to get to it, and wound up working on my Powerpoint presentation in Japanese until 2:30 this morning), and have spent some time this afternoon unwinding along the rather pretty white beaches of Shirahama-Cho (hence the name), in Wakayama. Rich resort area, don’t see myself getting down here on my own dime anytime soon…
Anyhow, I was part of a panel discussion sponsored by the Buraku Liberation League on what the local governments can do to secure the rights of foreigners. Of course I had a lot to say (you can see the Powerpoint presentation in Japanese at http://www.debito.org/jinkenkeihatsushuukai020907.ppt) and wound up speaking a bit longer than my allotted 30 minutes (visuals invite stories and anecdotes, after all). Went very well.
One of the reasons it went so well was because of you bloggers. I want to thank you all for keeping us updated in the comments sections, with your letters to and from sellers and publishers. I was able to cite them in real time (the conference room had internet access, and as other people also suffered from logorhhea, I was able to read back mail, prune spam, and cut and paste your data onto projectable flips). When closing comments came up, I projected the letter from mag publisher Eichi Shuppan (thanks Simon) saying that they are no longer selling the magazine, and would be recalling it from stores. (http://www.debito.org/?p=215#comment-1147) Even Eichi’s website confirms that it’s “sold out”.
Sure enough, I have stopped by every convenience store I’ve come across on this trip (there are two FamilyMarts here in Shirahama alone), and the book is not in stock. Haven’t found it since I left Hokkaido. Other comments from you bloggers (see related blog entries) say that there are some stray issues floating around, but that other sellers are giving answers to your letters that are proactive and cooperative. Amazon remains the lone holdout (I have a feeling they would sell asbestos if it wasn’t illegal), but that shouldn’t matter as long as Eichi is suspending sales. Bravo, everybody. Well done.
One issue raised in our panel discussion today was whether boycotts are effective or the right course of action. I of course argued in the affirmative. Clearly, according to publisher Mr Sata, the creators of this trash did not expect us to be able to read it, and Sata was forced to fall back on the basic typical intellectual chauvinism of “our language, our rules” to demean and exclude “foreign comment” or feeling from the nationwide debate he apparently so highly prizes. What he didn’t count on was that non-Japanese residents, as customers, have the power of the pocketbook.
This is where a boycott comes in. If we don’t do something, anything, especially through our fundamental (and basically only) inviolable right in Japan to choose as customers where to spend our money, we as international residents are going to be walked all over again and again because the perception (held even by many within our ranks) that we are guests or we simply don’t count. Wrong. And we proved that conclusively in less than two weeks.
Given that this magazine cost probably a quarter-million dollars US to produce, I have the feeling somebody really took a bath on this issue. Should think they’ll think twice before publishing hateful crap like this again.
Somosomo, we aren’t going to make ourselves count if we don’t stand up for ourselves. We did, admirably. I want to thank James at JAPAN PROBE for spearheading this movement, and Steve for making it so easy for us to get the information promptly and right before I started travelling. Everywhere I have shown this magazine there have been gasps of disgust. And that’s the Japanese audiences. Good. That’s how it should be.
Treat yourselves to a nice dinner tonight, everyone. You’ve earned it.
Arudou Debito in Shirahama, Wakayama-ken