Racist 2013 Toshiba commercial for product APB-R100X, SuiPanDa combination ricecooker/breadmaker

mytest

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Hi Blog. A bit of a racist slam-dunk today. World-class company Toshiba seems to think that domestic commercials will only be seen within the putatively hermetic Japanese domestic market. And that there are no people in Japan who might take offense at being racially caricatured.

toshiba2013suipanda1

The advertised product in question:  A rice cooker that can also double as a bread maker — Toshiba SuiPanDa Model APB-R100X.  The issue:  Gaijinizing the user to promote bread consumption.  As submitter RS put it:

====================================
Hello Debito, I’m not sure if you have seen this commercial or not, but perhaps you may be interested in it.

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

UPDATE: (Link is now dead, but video archived at Kotaku.com here, thanks:)
http://kotaku.com/toshiba-commercial-called-racist-606881529

And if you want your own copy, here’s the ad in mp4 format:
http://www.debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4

It’s clearly racist, and even kind of seems like the minstrel shows in the US in the 1800’s (which were incredibly racist). It’s pretty unbelievable that this commercial seems to be new, and is from such a major corporation…
====================================

Just in case it gets taken offline, some stills, for the record:

toshiba2013suipanda2 toshiba2013suipanda3 toshiba2013suipanda4 toshiba2013suipanda5 toshiba2013suipanda6

Note the accented speech rendered in katakana subtitle for the Gaijinized Japanese actress, complete with blond hair, appended big nose, and overexuberant gestures and speech patterns.  Not to mention the dichotomous stereotype that people who eat bread (as opposed to potatoes or some other kind of starch) are automatically “Western” (youfuu).

COMMENT: Well, to me, not so unbelievable. Debito.org has collected a veritable rogues’ gallery of  Japanese commercials and product lines that use biological memes of racism to hawk product — some of which were taken off the air when people protested (click on photos for more information):
vibesumadara3
nagasakitabinetto2
blackmelonpan
090813mrjamesfull
Sambooriginal
MandomAd2

Of course, you are welcome to protest this as well. Here’s the Toshiba website with the product in question:
http://www.toshiba.co.jp/living/kitchen_appliences/abp_r100x/

And here’s Toshiba’s online feedback: https://www.livingdoors.jp/csqa/form.php
Phone and Fax numbers here: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csqa/contact/support/living_sonota/index_j.htm#contactInfoArea

Many Japanese advertisers just never seem to learn.  It’s up to us to tell them.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JUNE 29: Here are two other commercial spots for other Toshiba products, featuring the same businesswomen actresses in the same vein, but without the racialization. As a friend pointed out elsewhere, “Toshiba could have communicated the same message more effectively by interviewing a master baker or some other expert.”

Courtesy of Kotaku. Note that in these videos, these people are co-workers who know each other. Gaijinized in the breadmaker commercial, she’s an unknown stranger. Once again, Gaijin are the perpetual “Other” who don’t belong, even with all the NJ working for Japanese corporations.

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

UPDATE TWO: Toshiba is clearly aware that this commercial is problematic because they’ve immediately removed it from their website.

http://www.toshiba.co.jp/eco/ch/homebakery/index_j.htm

That’s kinda funny.  A world-class electronics company thinking that it can just remove their racist advert without comment, retraction, or apology, and that would be it?  Not very media- or tech-savvy, are they?

Download your own copy from Debito.org in mp4 format, for posterity.
http://www.debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4

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

UPDATE THREE:  Even funnier, Toshiba’s racist advertisement goes against its own Corporate Standards of Conduct!

toshibacorppolicyadvertising2013

 

14. 広告活動
2. 東芝グループ役員・従業員の行動基準
3. 政治、宗教等については広告表現の対象とせず、また、人種差別、心身障害者差別等を想起させ、人間の尊厳を傷つけるような表現を用いません。
http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csr/jp/policy/soc.htm#SOC01_14

Discussion: “Bignose” on Cute “Kobito-zukan” comic characters for kids and NJ control fantasies?

mytest

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Hi Blog. In the vein of the recent discussion on treatment of NJ in Japanese media, here’s food for thought from a Debito.org Reader under the pseudonym “Bignose”.  I’m intrigued but not 100% convinced, so I’ll open this one up under the Discussions heading for lighter moderation. Arudou Debito

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

Cute Kobito and Control Fantasies?
January 6, 2012

Hi Debito, It’s Bignose here.Remember those stereotypical pictures of Caucasian gaijin so beloved in this country? Looks like theeeey’re back with a vengeance!  I am filing this with you to see what you and other readers think.

Initially I thought the point I want to make might be a stretch; that I might be being hypersensitive. It’s possible to see insults where there are none, or that comments received are misinterpreted through cultural misunderstandings, poor language ability, things taken out of context. So I am going to be quite careful what I say. But after long, long experiences living in Japan, to put it in a nutshell, I smell a rat.

In a sense, to me, the theme I am about to raise resonates with the issue over “Mr. James,” remember, our lovable goofy Kakakana Japanese spewing junk food munching baseball fan? I know you received a lot of criticism about raising this issue. For me the acid test is what would happen if the boot was on the other foot. If a major junk food conglomerate in the U.S. was selling teriyaki burgers flaunted by a slit-eyed, bespectacled, broken Engrish speaking salariman hairi lecommending TERIAKI BURGA, how would the Japanese embassy feel about it. I am not sure they would be happy happy happy about it all.

To the item at hand. It’s about othering and control fantasies referring to a “lost paradise” (a shitsuraken perhaps?) that was Japan when foreigners were cute and mainly for entertainment.

A few nights ago my wife (who is Japanese) and I and our infant child were having dinner at a friend’s place. Our friend is a longstanding one, she’s known and worked with my wife when they were at a major Japanese advertising company 15 years ago and our friend, who is in her 40s, is a professional and an account manager. She speaks reasonably fluent English and has done home stays, a year abroad, etc.

So the three of us were round our friend’s place where she cooked a lovely dinner and then she introduced us to a “must watch” waraibangumi called こびとづかん. I was very interested because as a father I monitor Japanese kids programs my wife wants to show our child quite closely, avoiding programs that I think are problematical (too cute, squealing, gender stereotypes and having very young performers, especially young girls, performing adult routines…and it’s not only my wife and I that find groups such as AKB48 extremely disturbing and problematic on many, many levels). I always try to balance out any media experiences my child has with Japanese media with alternatives in English, either from the U.S. or the UK, for example.

kobitozukan

Courtesy http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/singing_d_more/GALLERY/show_image.html?id=61443344

So my friend put on several こびとづかん segments from her DVD collection:
https://www.youtube.com/results?client=safari&rls=en&q=こびとづかん&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=w1

As I watched it, I thought fine, fine, it looks like a decent story, very entertaining. But I wondered, why is this kiddies program so entertaining for adults? Why is it such a hit? My friend’s eye were glowing, and she was clearly getting very excited.

By the second minute I started to find the patronizing tone grating, largely because it reminds me of how I am still sometimes treated by Japanese people dealing with gaijin, you know as if we are some sort of stupid alien pets. Or perhaps sometimes it’s just trying to be kind and well meaning to the alien. Or perhaps it’s just me, I was thinking.

As soon as our little critter appeared in the third minute, I realized I felt a little bit uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95dEI_hCwIQ

[NB:  Note that the newspaper put down as a cage to catch the critter is in English…]

Then suddenly in just on the 4th minute, our friend starting squealing in laugher. As our stupid but harmless character [kakure momojiri] she loved so much because he was so cute was inching his way up the trap showing his pink ass, our friend squealed out “XXXXX-san, it looks just like YOU!” and she started giggling uncontrollably.

kakuremomojiri

I went along with it but I felt even more unsettled. I do want to say that her friend has never seen my (admittedly) pink-ish ass and secondly I don’t think our lovable momo-munching kobito friend looks like me. I’m relatively slim, even if I am not as young as I used to be.

But when our little friend ….whoops!…bikkuiri !!! hilariously plopped into the tender trap prepared for him, the yen started to fall, so to speak.

Before I go any further, I’d like readers to look at the other pictures from the set of characters for this series:

http://shop.kobito-dukan.com

Notice anything?

Bignoses! They all look like that older grumpy University English teacher you had that you didn’t really like and had to put up with, with his strange alien ideas and his attitude problem at not playing the game and being “yasashii,” i.e. entertainment.

They even have blackfaced “kokujin” characters with even bigger flatter noses and big lips.

Where are the Asian characters? There are none.

As I watched further, more things fell into place. The lovable western looking kobito is lured into a world thinking he’s going to get his nice juicy peach, not knowing in fact that he’s going to be completely controlled as a lovable pet that is going to be patted and taken care of until his part is played.

It struck me why this children’s program such a huge hit with adults. On one level they are great stories, but I really am not sure that it is a good lesson to take creatures out of nature and turn them into entertainment pets. But as they are not humans and with only limited intelligence, no harm done, no doubt! Yep, an there are many more problematical kiddies programs out there involving sexualization and gender stereotyping, violence and etc. and all sorts of garbage from just about anywhere you care to name in the world.

But on another level, this to me seems all about appealing to the control fantasies of othering gaijin. Controllable kobito lovingly lured into traps by their own stupidity to be cared for and controlled and as entertainment for Japanese.

I thought about it and I thought about it. I said to my wife, am I being oversensitive? She was completely confused. So I said, well, what if all these kobito had slanted eyes and were yellow and this was a U.S. show. Would you feel comfortable about it. Then the penny dropped for her too.

There is a lot more could say at this point, but I just wanted to share this with other Debito readers to see what they thought.  “Bignose.”

ENDS

“Black Melon Pan” Afros as food: Insensitive marketing by Mini-Stop Konbini

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a letter from cyberspace on another potentially offensive marketing campaign portraying African features as black-bread Afros to sell food.

No doubt we’ll get the defenders of this sort of marketing, e.g. “Japan has so few black people it has no sensitivity to this sort of thing”, “it’s not racist, at least not intentionally”, “lighten up guys, and stop foisting your cultural values on the Japanese”, or “it’s a Japanese character, not a real black character, so it’s not a problem”.  Any other naysaying?  Oh wait, yeah, “you just don’t get Japan”.  Anyway, check this out.  Arudou Debito

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

November 20, 2010:

Hi Debito, My name is XY, Founder and Director of [….] a marketing consultancy in [Japan] that researches Japanese consumer behavior on behalf of our international clients like Coca-Cola, VISA credit cards etc. As such, I often peruse the shelves of convenience stores to see what the latest trends are. I was shocked to find in my local Mini-Stop the all-new campaign for ブラックメロンパン, a bread that parodies a black man’s afro on the package. This is no small thing. Mini-Stop is a very large and growing combini chain and this is a signature campaign prominently advertised and displayed on their shelves.

I read your JT articles often and appreciate all of them. I figured you are the man to bring light to this latest scandal. I also read your article on the McDonald’s campaign and agree wholeheartedly… however this Mini-Stop campaign is just so much more overt and insensitive… even more so than the EMobile monkey monstrosity.

I have attached a couple photos below (click to expand in browser):


Best Regards, XY.

ENDS

Nagasakitabi.net uses “gaijin” stereotypes (blond wigs and fake noses) to push their website on TV

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader RN sends this:

September 19, 2010

Hi Debito, Hope all is well. Not sure if I’ve told you this before but I own a Slingbox in Fukuoka which allows me to watch live Japanese television from home here in the USA. This evening I was watching 福岡放送 (FBS) and saw a commercial that was apparently trying to depict two Japanese people feeling like they were in a foreign country while on vacation. To make them look “foreign” they placed large noses and blonde hair on them and made them speak Japanese with a distinct foreign accent. It kind of reminded me of the whole McDonald’s Mr. James deal (not as blatant but still made me think, “What the heck?!”). I was attempting to put together screen shots, etc. for you (as my Slingbox allows me to pause and back up) but I found the commercial on YouTube. The company is ながさき旅ネット [which links to an English site sponsored by the “Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Visitors Bureau“]. Here is the CM link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oflFjeLo5c

(Now made “private”. New link at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUmazv7UTXI)

And here are some screen captures.  How nice.  Not.  Arudou Debito

nagasakitabinetto2

nagasakitabinetto

ENDS

McDonalds Japan’s new creepy “Mr James” burger campaign, featuring katakana-speaking gaijin

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Here’s a campaign by one of the world’s largest multinational corporations, McDonald’s, promoting stereotypes in a way quite untoward in this day and age (and no doubt would raise hackles with anti-defamation leagues if McD’s tried it in, say, its country of origin).

The new NIPPON ALL STARS campaign (which seems to have kicked off a few days ago, on August 10, with its Tamago Double Mac), features a bespectacled, somewhat nerdy, gaijin speaking in broken katakana (i.e. accented) Japanese.  “Mr James” is his name (following the convention of forcing all Western foreigners to be called by their first names, as opposed to last name plus -san, proper etiquette).  And boy is he happy with Japan, with life, with the taste of Japanese-variety burgers at McDonalds.  Hell, they’re so good that even this nerdy-looking gaijin (full-body cardboard cutouts available at every McD’s) approves of them through his poor accented broken Japanese.

You even get a “James Tamaran Desu (“it’s so good I can’t stand it!”) Card” and a chance to win from a million dollar pool if you succumb to his sales pitch.  It’s more than a little creepy.

Here are some scans, taken of materials photographed and collected at McDonald’s Yodobashi Camera Sapporo August 13, 2009 (click on image to expand in browser):

From the food tray inserts:

mcdonaldsmrjames001

From stickers on every table:

mcdonaldsmrjames002

At every restaurant, a full-size cutout of “Mr James”:

090813mrjamesfull

Close up of the cutout:

090813mrjamescloseup

Outdoors in Sapporo, so you don’t even have to go into the restaurant itself to see the image perpetuated (photo taken August 15, 2009)

mrjamesoutdoorssmall

As Submitter AP put it:

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

Subject: mcdonalds ads feature gaijin “MR. JAMES”

 

Hey, Debito, I often read your blog and bought your handguide as well. I really think living in Japan can be trying as a foreigner, and your efforts toward bringing overlooked issues to light and making things easier for all of us don’t go unnoticed!

I wanted to send you a picture I took…
I got hungry while wandering in BicCamera’s Osaka store, fell victim to a craving, and ended up eating at the McDonald’s there. On my tray I found this gem:

http://www.facebook.com/l/;www.flickr.com/photos/forkies/3813267914/

They were able to find some sucker to gaijin himself up (who ends up to, of course, be American), and the captions show so well how Japanese people often see foreigners.

First, his Japanese is all katakana, as if he’s not speaking properly. His sentences are all short and simply-constructed. and last, he is practically in love with Japan. Convenient they found such a fellow!

Not sure if you’ve seen this anywhere, as I first noticed it yesterday because I’ve been abroad on holiday until last Friday. On the subway ride home, I saw another small window sticker with the same MR. JAMES caricature. I’m just shocked how the ad group at a giant corporation such as McDonald’s thinks this is okay! What do you make this campaign?

Thanks for your time, and thanks again for the time you put into these kinds of issues, AP

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

I think a strongly-worded letter from registered NPO FRANCA to McDonald’s USA HQ regarding the issues of stereotyping here would be warranted.  Hell, you think McD USA would start putting up a full-body “ching-chong-chinaman” with funny glasses and protruding teeth, saying “Me likee McFlied Lice”.  You think that would fly over there?  If not, it shouldn’t be allowed over here.  And I think you should make your displeasure known if you are so inclined at every McDonald’s you patronize (or not).

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, wishing this was happening in September so he could enjoy the summer.