Posted by debito on November 21st, 2009
Hi Blog. Guest writing an essay for Debito.org is Scotchneat, regarding how some Japanese media editorial policies bring in tribal tendencies no matter how tenuous the link to the tribe. Read and consider. Arudou Debito in Shizuoka
Re: Sho Timothy Yano
Yano siblings show what’s right with America and what’s wrong with Japan (Comment on Echika no Kagami Kokoro ni Kiku TV aired on Nov. 1, 2009 21:30-22:24エチカの鏡 ココロにキクTV 2009/11/ 1(日) 21:30～22:24)
There was a show on Sho Timothy Yano and his sister Sayuri on November 1. on Fuji TV. The two are child prodigies (http://www.facebook.com/l/aa682;en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sho_Yano) . The story of children of a multi-cultural family being free to achieve their goals in a supportive environment shows the positive side of America. However, the spin that show put on the story is very indicative about Japan.
The focus of the story was a mother pushing her children to succeed with much detail of the early childhood education and dietary regime of the two children. The show also put great emphasis on the prejudice that the two were subject to in America based on their Asian heritage, although it seems that the “prejudice” amounted to teasing by their fellow students, and it was unclear whether that was due to Asian heritage or the fact of the great age difference with their peers. The show claimed that Japanese and Koreans often face prejudice in the US, although no real examples were given other than a dramatization showing poor Sho being picked on by some big white bullies.
It is always strange that Japanese will point out the prejudice that exists in America while completely ignoring or being ignorant of the situation in their own country. Here we have two children with a Japanese father and Korean mother. One can only the imagine the prejudice that they would face in Japan. Although any form of prejudice is wrong, it is clear that the Yano siblings are not facing institutionalized prejudice in work and educational opportunities that they would face in Japan. Perhaps this why the show tread so lightly on the subject. One is reminded of the classic, “And you are lynching Negroes” response to the criticisms of the old Soviet Union.
Ironically, it seems that the Japanese, based on my impressions from watching the TV show, would like to claim the Yano siblings as their own. They get to be “Japanese”, despite being born, raised and educated in the US and having a Korean mother (normally any of these factors would raise suspicions of not being properly Japanese) and not speaking Japanese (considered mandatory for citizenship).
Moreover, child prodigies in Japan are not allowed to enter university (aside from a few small experiments), ostensibly because they lack “maturity”. Anyone familiar with Japanese university students will find that quite ironic. However, as often is the case, appeals to logic and common sense are useless in the face of entrenched prejudicial thinking. Basically, allowing two children to attend university (even for purposes of auditing) goes against an engrained dislike of breaking with conformity in Japan.
Perhaps, if the Japanese could get past looking at diet and over ambitious teaching regimes for toddlers, they might see the value of respecting diversity and breaking out of insular thinking.