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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • Japan Times: “Darling foreigner” Tony Laszlo is “less passionate today” about discrimination against foreigners

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 17th, 2010

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    Hi Blog. As we wind down the year and the decade, we’ll start having more retrospectives on Kicking this off is a fluff piece from the Japan Times from “My Darling is a Foreigner” Tony Laszlo, and how he’s put himself out to pasture from an alleged human rights activist to a cunning linguist.  A paragraph of note:

    (photo courtesy Japan Times Dec 14, 2010)


    For writer, languages are his ‘darling’
    Multilingual author and subject of ‘My Darling is a Foreigner’ comic celebrates joy of words
    The Japan Times, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

    …Apart from writing, Laszlo taught for a few years at Japanese universities, and has also set up an nongovernmental organization, Issho Kikaku, in 1992. Through this NGO, he put on theatrical shows related to multicultural issues, and later, dealt with social issues such as discrimination against foreigners.

    “In those days, personally, I felt a strong desire to avoid a simple dichotomy between Japanese and non-Japanese, male and female, family and friends, handicapped and nonhandicapped,” he said. Today, he said he is less passionate about the issues, and that the group’s activities have become more low-key. Now it engages in research on issues concerning human diversity, language and culture.

    Full article at


    COMMENT: Low key? I’ll say. This “issho kikaku” has a one-page website which hasn’t changed for years — moreover has done away with hundreds of pages of works from other NJ and Japanese activists that were a priceless archive of domestic activism from the late 1990’s-early 2000‘s. In fact, this “issho kikaku” was never an NGO at all. Never registered as one, in fact, yet still reported as extant by a too-trusting reporter. So “low-key” is an understatement: how about “no-key” or “delete-key”?

    But yeah, it must be nice to be the appendage-half of a very successful business partnership, one that became a social phenomenon (of debatable benefit) this past decade. It’s produced a person who reportedly once cared about helping the downtrodden in Japanese society, yet can still make media hay in places like the Japan Times just by indulging in idle sweetmeat pursuits.  I guess for him that’s better than actually losing hair being being passionate about issues that might benefit from a bit of tycoon philanthropy:   Helping people avoid that dichotomy between “Japanese and non-Japanese, male and female, family and friends, handicapped and nonhandicapped.”etc.

    Better to be a Darling, and lick the buttered side of the bread.

    7 Responses to “Japan Times: “Darling foreigner” Tony Laszlo is “less passionate today” about discrimination against foreigners”

    1. Johnny Says:

      Laszlo is a sell out.
      Making money from the book series so doesn’t want to make waves.

    2. pupa Says:


      I really admire the work you do in keeping this site updated daily, it usually provides useful and thought provoking information, but I find your tendency to hang out your dirty laundry is undermining your good work. Tony Lazlo is probably in all fairness full of himself and a bit of a freeloader (although since he is the inspiration for his wife’s series that’s a little unfair) but regarding overall human rights issues his influence is probably benign and your personal relationship to him weakens the the points you make against him.

      As the new year approaches anyone with a progressive and positive agenda needs to start thinking about solidarity. We need to put aside the insults and quarrels that plague the communities we live in and start working for the greater good. Scoring points over Lazlo or Mike Guest probably feels good on a personal level but alienates people who share your beliefs. Just leave them alone they’re not worth it.

      — Point taken, thanks. But they started it, remember.

      And people like these are singularly unconcerned about working for the greater good (I’ve made the point for years, including in this blog entry, that Laszlo’s influence over the history of activism in Japan and over attitudes re treatment of NJ is in fact not benign; sorry if you weren’t convinced).

    3. Steve Says:

      Some people stick to message, others drift. Ronald Reagan started as a labor Union leader and look what he became and what he eventually did to the air traffic controller’s union. Tony shifted gears more than a decade ago. I think it’s time to stop kicking a dead horse.

      — Disagree. People criticized Reagan for his shifts and changes long after he did them. Some people still do long after he’s gone. Laszlo, however, is still around, and still being appraised, by people who should know better, for essentially doing little if anything about what he once advertised himself as advocating. I’ll keep pointing that out. Feel free to skip these and any future posts on the hypocrisies of this Darling.

    4. crustpunker Says:

      Sell out? Maybe, however how many of us would do something similar? Why would anyone risk losing the favor of the fickle finger of fate? You have to consider the risk vs. the rewards for him on a personal level. It is unfortunate and I don’t find it very admirable by any means, I just wonder if I would be any different…..

      — Win the world yet lose your soul? Well, I don’t excuse other people’s weaknesses just because I theoretically might have them myself. Just like I don’t excuse a murderer just because I have the ability to kill. He made his choices. I’m here to point out the ironies behind them.

    5. Taikibansei Says:

      I personally learned a lot from that
      fascinating little article, particularly about modern
      English usage. E.g., “juggling objects for petty cash as a
      street performer” is now to be referred to as “he put on
      theatrical shows related to multicultural issues.” Also,
      “shutting down all group activities prematurely and
      without warning” is, in the new English, to be referred to
      as “the group’s activities have become more low-key.”
      Finally, “living off my wife’s talents” is to be referred
      to as engaging “in research on issues concerning human
      diversity, language and culture.”

      You know, I might even use this in an English class next
      year…really amazing stuff!

    6. Kai Says:


      I have to agree with Pupa in that you really hurt yourself more than anyone with these vindictive posts. You do a lot to raise awareness about problems NJ face in Japan, and I’ve gotten a lot out of this blog. That is why it’s so troublesome to see posts like this that are little more than mud-flinging. The fact that you use “they started it” to justify an arguement is, in all honesty, childish.

      I’m willing to bet you already help NJ and raise awareness more than either Tony Lazlo or Mike Guest, so I don’t see the need to keep making these types of posts. This blog is at it’s best reporting injustices and harassment that NJ face in Japan, not bringing up old rivalries.

      — Okay. If you consider it a matter of rivalry. I don’t. I consider it pointing out people who are doing the cause (however assessed) no favors. They’re either in it for themselves or even, ultimately, against themselves. That deserves comment. Again, consider it not worthy of reading? Then please don’t read it.

    7. Wairen Says:

      I think everyone here has a point. Debito sees his role in pointing out “betrayal of the clerks” and rightfully so, but the slightly “personal touch” to his utterances does detract from the power of his argument.

      What do you say Debito?

      — I don’t say nuthin’. Might detract. :)

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