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    Posted by arudou debito on January 22nd, 2011

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    Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent (for the record, I have no particular stance on this issue), here’s another bit following yesterday’s blog entry about official GOJ reactions to overseas media:  The BBC One show QI and its segment on the “unluckiest (or luckiest, depending on how you look at it) man in the world”:  a survivor of two atomic bombings who died recently at the age of 93.  It has engendered much criticism from the J media and cyberspace.  Here’s a comment from Debito.org Reader JS:

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    Hi, Dunno if you want to cover this, but NHK Newswatch 9 have just done a substantial piece on the coverage of a double A-bomb survivor on a BBC show called QI that involved the anchors lecturing us on the insensitivity, ending with “shame on them”. This is the offending clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dgzszWlG6c

    And the coverage:

    ==========================================
    Japan protests to BBC over treatment of ‘double A-bomb survivor’
    (Mainichi Japan) January 21, 2011

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110121p2g00m0dm027000c.html

    Tokyo (Kyodo) — The Japanese Embassy in London lodged a written protest against the BBC and a TV production agency, arguing that they insulted a deceased Japanese man who survived both the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, embassy and other sources said Thursday.

    In a comedy quiz show broadcasted by the BBC on Dec. 17, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, whose international profile has been raised as a double hibakusha and who died at age 93 last January, was introduced as “The Unluckiest Man in the World,” with pictures of his face and atomic clouds presented in the studio.

    A producer of the popular quiz show, “QI,” has already apologized to people who sent protest e-mails, noting “we greatly regret it when we cause offence” and “it is apparent to me that I underestimated the potential sensitivity of this issue to Japanese viewers.”

    But the producer added the program has often featured the tragic experiences of Americans and Europeans in a similar manner.

    On the show in question, the host explained that Yamaguchi was badly burned by the atomic bomb when he was in Hiroshima on business and after returning to Nagasaki, he was atomic-bombed again.

    One of the guests asked whether Yamaguchi got on a train to go to Nagasaki. The host said, “Even though the atom bomb fell, the trains were working. So he got on a train to Nagasaki and a bomb fell again,” drawing laughs from the show’s personalities and the audience.

    According to the embassy, it sent the BBC and the production agency a letter on Jan. 7, saying it is inappropriate and “insensitive” to pick on Yamaguchi in that way.

    In Japan, Toshiko Yamasaki, 62, Yamaguchi’s oldest daughter living in Nagasaki, expressed her anger about the issue, saying on Friday, “I cannot forgive (the quiz show) as it looked down on my father’s experiences when the world is moving toward nuclear disarmament.”

    She added her family had laughingly talked about her father being unlucky, but “it is a different story when (my father) was treated in that way in Britain, a nuclear-capable nation.”

    Such a problem happens due in part to “a lack of seriousness about nuclear reduction,” she said.

    Born in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi suffered the A-bombing in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and another bombing in Nagasaki after returning home three days later.

    ENDS

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    BBC 被爆者をコメディーに
    NHK 1月21日 21時15分
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20110121/t10013559161000.html

    イギリスの公共放送、BBCが先月放送したコメディー番組の中で、広島と長崎で2度、原爆の被害に遭った被爆者の男性を「世界一不運な男」などとして取り上げたことに対し、ロンドンの日本大使館は「不適切で配慮を欠く」とBBCに対して抗議しました。

    この番組は、BBCの人気コメディー番組「QI」で、クイズ形式をとりながら出演者がジョークを交え、番組を進めていきます。この番組の先月17日の放送の中で、広島と長崎で2度、原爆の被害に遭い、去年1月に亡くなった長崎市の被爆者、山口彊さんが「世界一運の悪い男」として取り上げられました。番組の中で、司会者は、仕事で広島に出張していた山口さんが被爆してやけどを負い、列車で長崎まで帰った経緯を説明して、「そこでもう一度原爆が落ちたんだよ」と言うと、スタジオから大きな笑いが起きていました。ロンドンの日本大使館は、番組を視聴していたイギリスに住む日本人から指摘を受け、今月7日にBBCと番組の制作会社に対して、「こういった形で被爆者を取り上げるのはまったくもって不適切で、日本国民の感情への配慮を欠いている」とする抗議の書簡を送りました。これに対して、番組のプロデューサーから、書簡が21日、日本大使館に届きました。この中では、「決して日本の方の気分を害する意図はなく、不快な思いをさせたことは極めて遺憾に思います。山口さんをからかう意図ではなく、彼のあまりに驚くべき経験を正確に伝え、そういった状況でもめげない日本の方々に敬意を表する趣旨でした。この件について、日本の方々がいかに敏感かを私たちが過小に見ていたことは明らかです」などと遺憾の意を表明しているということです。広島で被爆し、日本被団協=日本原水爆被害者団体協議会の代表委員を務める坪井直さんは「核兵器による被害の恐ろしさを分かっておらず、被爆者のことを何だと思っているのかと腹立たしくなる。被爆者たちが世界各地で核兵器の廃絶を訴えているのだから、海外でも理解してもらえたと思っていたが、それは間違いだった」と話していました。長崎原爆被災者協議会の山田拓民事務局長は「イギリスにも核兵器廃絶のために活動している人たちがいることを知っているので、そういう国ではないと思っていたが、被爆者を笑いの番組の対象にするなど信じられない。被爆者をなんと思っているのかと感じる。放送内容を確認したうえで、必要であれば私たちもきちんと抗議しなければならない」と話しています。山口彊さんの長女で、長崎市の山崎年子さんは「核保有国のイギリスで被爆体験を笑われるのは許せない。原爆の恐ろしさが、まだ世界には伝わっていないということだと思う。みたび原爆が落とされることのないよう、訴えていきたい」と話していました。

    ===================================

    Japan protests to BBC over treatment of ‘double A-bomb survivor’
    Kyodo News/Japan Today Friday 21st January, 05:34 PM JST

    http://japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-protests-to-bbc-over-treatment-of-double-a-bomb-survivor

    LONDON —The Japanese Embassy in London lodged a written protest against the BBC and a TV production agency, arguing that they insulted a deceased Japanese man who survived both the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, embassy and other sources said Thursday.

    The Japanese Embassy received on Friday a letter of apology from a producer of the popular quiz show, ‘‘QI,’’ dated Monday, after the producer had apologized to people who had sent protest e-mails.

    The content of the letter to the embassy was similar to the producer’s e-mail response to the people who protested, and said that ‘‘we greatly regret it when we cause offence’’ and ‘‘it is apparent to me that I underestimated the potential sensitivity of this issue to Japanese viewers.’‘

    In a comedy quiz show broadcast by the BBC on Dec 17, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, whose international profile has been raised as a double hibakusha and who died at age 93 last January, was introduced as ‘‘The Unluckiest Man in the World,’’ with pictures of his face and atomic clouds presented in the studio.

    But the producer added in his message that “QI” is not the type of program that makes fun of featured subjects and it introduced Yamaguchi’s experience without misrepresenting it.

    On the show in question, the host explained that Yamaguchi was badly burned by the atomic bomb when he was in Hiroshima on business and after returning to Nagasaki, he was atomic-bombed again.

    One of the guests asked whether Yamaguchi got on a train to go to Nagasaki. The host said, ‘‘Even though the atom bomb fell, the trains were working. So he got on a train to Nagasaki and a bomb fell again,’’ drawing laughs from the show’s personalities and the audience.

    The show prompted the Japanese Embassy to send the BBC and the production agency a letter on Jan 7, saying it is ‘‘inappropriate and insensitive’’ to present Yamaguchi in the way that it did, it said.

    In Japan, Toshiko Yamasaki, 62, Yamaguchi’s oldest daughter living in Nagasaki, expressed her anger, saying on Friday, ‘‘I cannot forgive (the quiz show) as it looked down on my father’s experiences when the world is moving toward nuclear disarmament.’‘

    She said her family had laughingly talked about her father being unlucky, but ‘‘it is a different story when (my father) was treated in that way in Britain, a nuclear-capable nation.’‘

    This kind of problem occurs due in part to ‘‘a lack of seriousness about nuclear reduction,’’ she said.

    Born in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi suffered the A-bombing of Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, and the bombing of Nagasaki three days later after returning home.
    ENDS
    =====================================

    For the record, QI is a general knowledge quiz show with liberal doses of humour (points are awarded not for being correct, but for being “quite interesting”). They were actually quite complimentary about Yamaguchi and the Japanese resolve in the face of adversity, but apparently it was enough to merit a formal complaint and prime-time news coverage. Oh, and apparently Yamaguchi used to call himself “the unluckiest man in the world”, and he and his family laughed about it. I would say, as a Brit, that they’re laughing at the irony of the situation, not at Yamaguchi personally.

    There are lots of warm, understanding comments on YouTube… JS

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The most interesting comment so far on Japan Today I think is this one:

    =====================================

    Frungy: QI is dark, intelligent and biting, typical English humour. Textbooks in Japan are dark, simple and tragic, typical Japanese stories. There’s a fundamental mismatch between their approach to sensitising an issue. When dealing with something tragic the English will make a joke of it, allowing people to dispel the tension by laughing. When dealing with something serious the Japanese will tell the story simply and tragically, and then cry inside.

    Of the two I find the English approach more healthy. It allows them to move on and discuss the difficult issue having approached it head on, removed the sting, and made it possible to deal with without constant pain.

    The Japanese on the other hand bottle up the feelings and they simmer inside. That’s why it’s impossible to really discuss the atomic bombings in Japan, the issue simply makes most Japanese people feel too sad and miserable for words. They’ve never really removed the sting.

    =====================================

    Conclusion for me: I think there is a strong case that can be made for nontransferability of humor, particularly irony, across cultures.  Arudou Debito

    38 Responses to “Weekend Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings”

    1. debito Says:

      Compare this with some truly insensitive humor, brought out in relief through the irony of Stephen Colbert:

      http://tv.gawker.com/5739400/stephen-colbert-mocks-rush-limbaugh-for-his-racist-chinese-impression

    2. Mark McBennett Says:

      I’ve watched that episode of QI and many others on YouTube. Presented by the brilliant Stephen Fry, it is a quality “variety” show that is vastly more intelligent than its Japanese equivalents. Fry is a very smart and humble guy, the descendant of Holocaust victims and survivors (see his episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?”) and not the type to throw around racist or casual WW2-related insults. The report doesn’t name who the apology came from, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it came from Fry, the English gent that he is.

      It must have been a quiet day at the Japanese embassy when they got hot enough under the collar to make an issue of this. Or maybe they were just trying to find some relief from the barrage of telephone calls from dolphin activists.

      Storm in a teacup.

    3. Mark McBennett Says:

      Speaking of “offensive” humour, here’s some clips of Ricky Gervais’ on the recent Golden Globes controversy, as I know Debito found that of interest: http://tv.gawker.com/5739345/watch-a-defiant-ricky-gervais-defend-his-golden-globes-jokes-to-piers-morgan

    4. Rob Says:

      I remember seeing a Japanese TV show a little while back in which they discussed a criminal case in Britain. The case involved a woman who was severely burned with acid by a man in the employ of her partner, and had to have extensive facial reconstructive surgery. They then showed a poorly re-enacted dramatisation of the incident, while celebrities’ facial reactions were shown in the corner of the screen. In a pink circle. Then they discussed the bravery of the woman in question.

      In Britain a comedy show discussed a Japanese man who suffered through both atomic bomb blasts, having moved to the second to recuperate from the first. The audience laughed at the irony of the situation (not at the man himself), and the panellists went on to discuss the obvious inferiority of the British train services.

      Who is giving the more trivial treatment to a sensitive subject? You can argue that both contained elements that could be taken as insensitive, and that both, when appreciated in context, are acceptable.

      The only difference I can see is that the protest letters are only flowing one way.

    5. Kimpatsu Says:

      What do they mean, “pick on” Yamaguchi? I thought it was really quite mild. If they want offence, they should try C4 offerings like Frankie Boyle. What they really mean is that Yamaguchi was not treated with the right level of reverence, which is a different thing. Pity they aren’t honest enough to just come out and say so.

    6. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      This was covered in the Asahi News update at 11:45 this morning.
      I was a bit non-plussed, especially as NHK-E’s “Quintet” managed to do the first verse of 「うがい人」(minus the nose) this morning.

    7. jonholmes Says:

      Don’t mention the war”, as Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) once said. It is as simple as that. And humor is lost in translation.
      Watching the clip, it is not offensive, but it is a taboo topic in Japan and not a suitable topic for joking, I suppose.

      Having said that, the BBC is not in Japan and can (and should) say what it likes. It cannot censor at the behest of foreign powers. What next? North Korea complaining about BBC reporting?

      Having worked in Japanese radio, the level of self censorship in so high so as to avoid possibly offending absolutely anyone at all, most personalities (oxymoron) merely give out information in a style more befitting Communist China. I would argue this is why Japanese TV shows are also so banal.

      There was a similar uproar a few years back with a Harry Enfield sketch in which a southern snob tried to mate his pet northerner with a Filipina maid. Though obviously the joke was how the southerner treated people like animals, the Philippine Government said it was racist.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIwx8kJh5bE

      Basically irony is wasted on certain Asian countries with inferiority complexes on how they are perceived in the world. Or they miss the point because they re just ultra sensitive; looks like the BBC hit a nerve again.

      I agree with Debito, humor is non-transferable.

    8. Mark Wollacott Says:

      Agreed, humour is often non-transferable, but the whole incident demonstrates how one-sided cultural understanding and sensitivity is here. It is something that can be seen throughout the culture and government of the nation from child abductions, foreign policy, treatment of NJ and so on.

      As far as the clip goes it was not insulting at all. There are truly disgusting “comedians” in Britain like Frankie Boyle. QI was not offensive and if the Japanese has some cultural understanding of their own they’d know this. In fact the most offensive part was the shirts.

    9. holmes Says:

      After the Harry and Paul incident and now this, you might start to see even less media coverage by the BBC of Japan in the UK, especially on cultural topics.

      The BBC once contacted me in Japan about 1999 or so because they wanted to come and film a show called “Doorstep Challenge” in Kabukichou, going into dodgy salons and filming the goings-on. I told them it was too dangerous and it was never followed up. But the fact the BBC were just calling up random foreign residents like me for information demonstrated that there is was a serious lack of information exchange on cultural mores on both sides.
      A leading fashion designer, when asked why there was no Japanese participation in an international show in Europe a couple of years ago, vaguely said the Japanese were “just too far away” but I think she really meant too far away in thinking, and being too “difficult” to bother contacting and working with.

      The Japanese Embassy just contributed to that continuing perception of their country. A quiet hint or request behind closed doors would have been a better approach.

    10. Rachel Says:

      How about we all lodge protests every time a comedy programme in Japan mocks foreigners and/or something ‘sensitive’ about non-Japanese history? I could write a whole essay, for instance, about the -very- insensitive way that African-American culture is handled on certain Japanese shows.

      Also, re: “[Yamaguchi's daughter] said her family had laughingly talked about her father being unlucky, but ‘‘it is a different story when (my father) was treated in that way in Britain, a nuclear-capable nation.’‘” Again a typical example of how double standards work in Japan: it’s allright for the Japanese to do it, but foreigners should refrain.

      And, on a slightly related tangent, there is a whole manga series (Saint Young Men) depicting Jesus in a manner that some Christians might find offensive. You don’t see our churches filing official protests about that, either. If one turned the tables and did a less flattering portrayal of the Japanese emperor in a comic book, I’d bet they’d raise hell over it.

      – The Emperor has been depicted in person in both a South Park episode and a King of the Hill episode (these seasons are only available through import). There was also a reference to him in a Simpsons episode, and the entire episode was not included in the Japanese edition of that season.

    11. PKU Says:

      I don’t think some media assholes getting cheap laughs at the poor bloke was in good taste at all, considering the scale of the crime and suffering.

      My heart does go out to the family of poor Mr. Yamaguchi. I’d be deeply offended if some leery stupid media clowns were using him the way they did. That’s not to say it wasn’t funny. I didn’t find it funny at all, and I thought the f**ks were really cheap w***kers. But that’s just me.

      But it’s not about taste, is it? It’s about who wants control of the past and who wants to create taboos to protect / project certain interests. I’d have much more sympathy for the Embassy’s stance if the Japanese government led by NHK stopped continually rewriting history as Japan as the victims, exploiting the suffering of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a tableau to focus on while ignoring wider contexts.

      So did the Embassy inform the family? How did they find out I can certainly see how they wouldn’t want his memory to be used in such drivel.

      It also seems very creepy that the Japanese embassy is policing other country’s crappy comedy shows as well.

      Not that the BBC shouldn’t be entitled to poke fun out of anything it likes. Taboos are very dangerous things, as is self censorship, right?

    12. Dan Rea Says:

      I suppose Japan thinks the British government censors the BBC like the Japanese government does NHK, TBS, and others.

      Heaven knows the media can’t actually report anything with the press clubs under politician and bureaucrat thumbs.

      Grow up! Nobody was laughing at this brave man’s plight, but honouring Japan that even after atomic bombs, the trains in Japan still ran.

    13. AJ Says:

      Pot calling the kettle black.

      So much culturally insensitive drivel smears under the radar or is excused by “this is Japan” yet time and again there are people in this country who scream bloody murder completely out of context. But of course, they wouldn’t understand, they aren’t British after all.

      Oh the lovely irony…

    14. Erina Says:

      Hello, I would love to ask the producer how would you feel if the death of your loved one or your family has been treated as COMEDY? have you ever thought of broadcasting the death of princess diana as comedy?
      It doesnt matter what kind of family he is from. the thing is you cant treat the death as comedy.
      NOT funny at all. no sense of humor.

    15. JS Says:

      Here’s something else from a recent BBC comedy programme, broadcast a couple of weeks ago:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRQAdLGKcmY

      As far as I know, the Japanese Embassy has not complained about this, even though, like QI, it went out on the BBC recently and in prime time. I wonder why? To understand it, it helps to know that Martin Clunes is a British actor and minor celebrity, but not at all the sort to have developed a big following in Japan. The programme is ‘Come Fly With Me’, a new sketch show by David Walliams and Matt Lucas, who are quite famous in Britain.

      I invite comparisons with both the QI debacle and the ‘Mr. James’ stereotype. I suppose you can say that they are actually ridiculing obsessive Japanese schoolgirls, rather than Japan and the Japanese in general, and that their appearance is so ludicrous that it’s hard to take seriously.

    16. Allen Says:

      Wait a second, this doesn’t make sense. According to Jonholmes, Japanese radio works very hard not to be offensive towards anyone. Why isn’t this sort of sensitivity used when someone makes a “gaijin” joke on TV or manga? Unless they are working hard not to offend Japanese. I might be a little cynical with this post, but something smells fishy to me.

    17. AJ Says:

      Erina, some people are just too damn sensitive.

      There’s a difference between laughing or ridiculing someone because they look different or are scarred, like Japan has a good track record there. And of course, having a slight chuckle about the irony of this unlucky man.

      And princess Diana, whatever. She died a good, but flawed individual, just like the rest of us. Humour at it’s core, and what’s funny, like Diana jokes (most come from England) holocaust jokes (most originated in Israel after students were told you cant joke about this) and Challenger jokes (most from America) is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re sensitive to shock humor, which is really just a cutting satire if the overly sensitive anyway, ignore it. It’ll cease to have an effect.

      That said, I’ve never heard a nuclear victims joke. People chuckle under their breath about this poor fellows experience, while at the same time thinking, “poor bugger,wouldn’t want to be him!”

      Some deeper thought and perspective is always required before you go running out in the street screaming that you can’t say this or that. The overly sensitive should be laughed at. Holocaust victims, not laughed at.

    18. jack Says:

      @Erina, since you requested it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4meFC1ee7Q a video that pokes lighthearted fun at (some aspects of) the death of Princess Diana.

      This seems like a big tempest in a teacup to me. Sadly, these kind of double standards (“xx is a sacred issue unfit for comedy, except when WE do it”) are all too common around the world. Still, I must make a distinction between random citizens being offended, which happens everywhere, and calls for retraction through official government channels.

    19. john k Says:

      Most Americans don’t get British irony/humour….why would anyone expect the Japanese too?

      The BBC has nothing to apologise for. If the Japanese wish to bury their heads in the sand over their past mistakes and not wishing to move forward mentally etc, fine. Don’t expect the rest of the world to follow the “Japanese way”.

      Humour, is always at the expense of someone/person/thing..how you view it, depends which side of the “joke” you’re on; and hence, how mature one is over the comment. It runs both ways…

    20. Chuckie Says:

      Rob (#4) has nailed it: they were laughing at the irony of the situation – not at the man’s suffering – then proceeded to compare the Japanese rail service to the inefficient UK service, which seems to suspend operations for such things as ‘leaves on the track’. If people are offended, it’s owing to poor translation or – as Debito notes – the ‘non-transferability of irony across cultures’.

    21. jonholmes Says:

      At the radio station we would be asked our opinion on a band or whatever, but were told beforehand we could not say we did not like it, “in case a fan of that band/whatever is listening and gets offended”.

      It is significant that almost no one on this thread is an apologist for the Japanese double standard; perhaps times are changing and this excuse of “We Japanese are different/victims of racism/unique culture” no longer sells so well, or it is simply because most of the people contributing here live or have lived in Japan. Quite often the apologists do not live here.

      – The “apologists” (and, conversely, many of the “fans of the show”) have been deleted because they can’t make their arguments rationally, or without resorting to race-bating or revenge fantasies. There are plenty of other sites hosting them instead. Not here, thanks. They make a cogent argument, they get approved. But not unless.

    22. Kakui Kujira Says:

      I absolutely adore QI, but on occasion I have felt that sometimes when they piss-take on the Japanese it borders on racisim. But I feel as far as this segment goes, they piss-take far more on British rail services.
      The humour is probably too fine to have been adequately translated or understood by a non-native English-speaker…

    23. Deezy Says:

      This was not offensive in any way for me as a Brit, but I think there are some aspects of history which have become ring-fenced and only the bravest comedian will try to climb over. Non-Jews would not make light entertainment comments about the holocaust; no flippant comments can be made about the Koran by Muslims or non-Muslims; no disrespect about the Thai king by Thais or farang. Japan has decided that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is one of those ring-fenced issues –you just don’t go there in any lighthearted, non-respectful way.For Brits, I think that the atomic bombing is just part of an historical narrative, part of WWII history and not an emotional issue as it is for the Japanese. It doesn’t matter that Yamaguchi san was not being disrespected, or that the outcome was how crap the British train service is : the atomic bombing of Japan was being used in a comedy quiz show and being treated in an offhand way and that is not done. I think there should be no taboos and anything should be up for comedic treatment, but this was not what happened with QI –they were not trying to break any taste boundaries- they were just treating the story as an historical event and thinking how to get humour out of it. The BBC was right to apologise because the show offended that off-limits area. However, I do look forward to someone deliberately using this whole overblown situation for comedy.

    24. JS Says:

      It’ll probably all blow over, though the presenter of QI, Stephen Fry, happens to be coming to Japan in a couple of weeks – https://twitter.com/stephenfry/status/29036545394610176 – so it will be interesting to see if this has been taken up at high enough a level for him to be questioned or even denied entry. It sounds implausible but I wouldn’t rule it out.

    25. Michael Weidner Says:

      I recently watched the coverage of the “event” I guess you could call it in the news and I found it not only appalling, but sad that they are using this as an excuse to drive the public into a furor. Not only do they not subtitle what Stephen Fry is saying, they leave it up to the audience (watching the Japanese news)to decide why people are laughing. Then they show the daughter of the man in question being very upset and saying that she’ll never forgive them for saying such things about her father.

      Not only did Stephen Fry deal with the issue in quite a matter-of-fact-manor, he didn’t saying anything that would really be considered offensive. I think mostly that the audience was laughing out of astonishment over the fact that someone would have such luck as to be in the cities that two atomic bombs were dropped. Not to mention the fact that he lived to the age of 93.

      For a country that has the saying “人の不幸は蜜の味” (Other peoples pains taste like Honey aka Schadenfreude), they seem to not understand the priciples of the human condition.

    26. Hanta Says:

      Personally, I’d love to see Stephen Fry appear on Japanese television with a good translator and explain it.

    27. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Michael, the news I watched didn’t even leave it up to the viewers to decide. They merely reported it as “the audience laughed to hear that he had been a victim of two nuclear attacks”

      Of course, I don’t trust news subtitles, either. I remember back when Tom Cruise met (then) PM Koizumi. “I had a lot of fun” said Tom.
      “I am his fan” read the subtitles!!

      But it’s been a slow news week. They decided that Friday night’s soccer match report is still top news on Monday evening…

    28. Scipio Says:

      Incase we forget,

      This is the country who made a gourmet TV celeb out of one of their nationals who ate a Dutch girl in Paris during the 1980s…. Mr. Sagawa, if any of you want to google it.

      However incase we forget, his victim was non-Japanese so sensitivity doesn’t come into the equation.

    29. Mumei Says:

      Mark McBennett wrote:

      > The report doesn’t name who the apology came from, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it came from Fry, the English gent that he is.

      The apology letter came from BBC Director-General Mark Thompson.

      BBC、日本大使館に謝罪の書簡 二重被爆者笑った放送
      http://www.asahi.com/international/update/0125/TKY201101250107.html

      【ロンドン=伊東和貴】英BBCテレビのお笑いクイズ番組が、広島と長崎で二重被爆した故・山口彊(つとむ)さんを「世界一運が悪い男」などと冗談を交えて取り上げた問題で、在英日本大使館は24日、BBCから陳謝の意を表す書簡を受け取った。

       大使館によると、書簡はBBCのトンプソン会長名で21日付。日本人視聴者らの気分を害したことを陳謝する内容だったという。BBCはすでに番組制作会社と連名で、同様の謝罪声明を出している。

       番組は昨年12月17日に放映され、在英邦人の指摘を受けた大使館が今月上旬、BBCと番組制作会社に書面で抗議していた。問題が報道された後、インターネットの動画サイトで閲覧者が急増。被爆者を笑う意図ではないと番組を擁護する声がある一方で、批判の書き込みも相次いだ。

    30. Joe Says:

      Andrew Smallacombe’s example of untrustworthy subtitles (“I had a lot of fun” to
      “I am his fan”) is funny; an amateurish but forgivable error. I’ve seen a lot worse, though, in terms of deliberately misreporting what foreigners say to ensure they conform to the image the TV station wants to project.
      One egregious example happened a ten or so years ago on a local news report here in Fukuoka. Some English boy-band (can’t remember who; they all sound the same to me), had just arrived for a concert.

      TV reporter: So what do you think of Fukuoka?
      Geeky “singer”: We’ve come straight from the airport to the studio. We haven’t seen
      anything yet.
      Interpreter: It’s an exciting, friendly place. We can’t wait to go shopping!

      Scary!

    31. jonholmes Says:

      Here is the obvious link to Sagawa that scipio mentioned-pure evil going unpunished, even celebrated in Japan.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issei_Sagawa

    32. Norik Says:

      To all Americans here-if you are watching Fuji TV right now(Tuestday, 7-9PM), what do you think about this show”力スペ!世界おもしろ珍メダルバカデミUSA” calling the US “a Kingdom of Fools” (お馬鹿王国)?Will anyone send a protest letter against Japanese TV calling the US like that in the prime time, in the eyes of all Japan?

    33. AJ Says:

      That’s rich. As I recall the former first lady wasnt the sharpest tool in the shed, aliens and all that. And how quickly they forget Taro Aso chronic case if foot in mouth disease.

      People in glass houses….

    34. Mumei Says:

      Norik,

      Personally, I do not care. Let people have their fun.
      That said, the real fools should be apparent since America does not have a king (or queen) and is hence not a kingdom.

    35. Matthew Says:

      “To all Americans here-if you are watching Fuji TV right now(Tuestday, 7-9PM), what do you think about this show”力スペ!世界おもしろ珍メダルバカデミUSA” calling the US “a Kingdom of Fools” (お馬鹿王国)?Will anyone send a protest letter against Japanese TV calling the US like that in the prime time, in the eyes of all Japan?”

      I see a response saying ‘you wouldn’t understand, its a cultural difference.’, not to mention that probably no apology would be issued. :)

    36. JS Says:

      Well, we now have the mayor of Nagasaki telling us that British people as a whole lack understanding of the basic facts of the atomic bombings, which certainly made me choke on my cornflakes, toast and morning cup of tea. What with Maehara sticking the boot in as well, it’s been a real Brit-bashing-fest the last week or so. Maybe Brits in Japan should start walking around with Irish flags sewn on their bags.

    37. john k Says:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12361873

      Sad. I was hoping to try and “bump” into him.

      Sad on many counts, all being the obvious one too. Except the one where this just isolates Japan even further into their myopic “cultural uniqueness”

    38. Paul Says:

      Rachel: I’ll keep this brief to avoid going off-topic, but from my (very limited) understanding, the Emperor comparison is a bit different as he simply cannot be portrayed at all in Japan even favourably. The guy over at Tokyo Damage Report has a fair few posts on the issue including translations of related literature.

      For the sake of irony, I find the belittling attitude towards Fry, possibly the world’s smartest man, as borderline offensive. ;)

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