Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu


eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「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)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK offers the following links and commentary about two important subjects: 1) The unwillingness of Japan’s media to count NJ as “residents” in official population tallies (despite NJ inclusion on the juumin kihon daichou Resident Registry since 2012), and 2) the widespread misogyny in Japan’s policymaking arenas that has no recourse but to appeal to pressure from the outside world (gaiatsu) for assistance (as NJ minorities clearly also must do).

Speaking to the first point in particular (since it is more within Debito.org’s purview):  Before we even touch upon the lousy demographic science, how insulting for NJ once again to simply “not count” as part of Japan’s population.

Some J-articles have minced words by qualifying the ethnically-cleansed statistic as “the population of Japanese people” (nihonjin no jinkou).  But others (see the Nikkei below) simply render it as “Japan’s population” (nihon no jinkou).  When they eventually get around to mentioning that NJ are also here, they render them as “nihon ni taizai suru gaikokujin” (NJ “staying” in Japan, as opposed to zaijuu “residing”).  How immensely arrogant and unappreciative of all that NJ residents do for Japan!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


JK:  Hi Debito.  Passing along some links regarding Japan’s ongoing population decline.  I’ll comment afterwards.


Population drops for fifth year as migration to cities continues
Yomiuri Shinbun, June 25, 2014

Jiji Press:  Japan’s population on Jan. 1 of this year was down 0.19 percent from a year before at 126,434,964, falling for the fifth straight year, the internal affairs ministry said Wednesday.

The figure was calculated based on Japan’s resident registry network system and does not include foreign residents.

While the number of births in 2013 edged up 955 from the previous year to 1,030,388, the number of deaths reached a record high of 1,267,838.

As a result, the natural population decline, or the number by which deaths exceed births, stood at 237,450, the highest on record. Japan’s population marked a natural decline for the seventh consecutive year.

The number of foreign residents in Japan stood at 2,003,384 as of Jan. 1 this year, down 0.12 percent from a year earlier. Since July 2012, the resident registry network system has also handled foreign resident registration.

The population in Japan including foreign residents came to 128,438,348.

Of the total Japanese population, people aged under 15 accounted for 13.04 percent, down 0.09 percentage point, while the productive-age population, or people aged 15-64, was 61.98 percent, down 0.49 point.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over rose 0.58 point to 24.98 percent, reflecting the aging of the society.

The Japanese population in the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai increased 44,276 to a record high of 64,394,619, demonstrating a tendency of the population concentrate in big cities, especially Tokyo.

Of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw their populations decline. The drop was especially steep in Akita, at 1.23 percent, Aomori, at 1.02 percent, and Yamagata, at 0.96 percent.

Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, saw its population fall at a slower pace of 0.72 percent. An official from the internal affairs ministry said the slowdown suggests that the impact of the nuclear accident has softened.

Eight prefectures experienced population growth, including Tokyo, at 0.53 percent, Okinawa, at 0.42 percent, and Aichi, at 0.16 percent.

Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw a 0.06 percent increase apparently due to a rise in the number of people moving to the prefecture to take part in reconstruction work following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The average number of members per household for the whole of Japan stood at a record low of 2.30. The average was the lowest in Tokyo, at 1.97.

Japan’s population declines for 5th straight year

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s population stood at 126,434,964 on a resident register basis as of Jan. 1, down 243,684 from a year earlier and declining for the fifth straight year, amid a falling birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people, government data showed Wednesday.

The number of deaths last year hit a record high of 1,267,838, while the number of births increased slightly to 1,030,388, according to the data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The number of the people aged 65 or older stood at 31,582,754 — the highest figure since 1994 when comparable data became available. The number of children aged 14 or younger stood at 16,489,385, the lowest figure since 1994.

Of the country’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw a decline in population. The population declined by 29,639 in Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, followed by Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast and by Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan. Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw the largest rate of decline at 1.23 percent.

Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Shiga, Fukuoka and Okinawa prefectures saw population increases, with Tokyo’s population growing 67,539, or 0.53 percent, the biggest increase among the eight prefectures.

Elderly people accounted for 24.98 percent of Japan’s population. By prefecture, the proportion was highest in Akita Prefecture at 31.23 percent and lowest in Okinawa Prefecture at 18.1 percent.

The number of foreign residents declined by 2,347 to 2,003,384, the data showed.

The population of Japanese and non-Japanese residents totaled 128,438,348.

June 26, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)

JK comments:  What is the reason the population figure does not include NJ even though the resident registry network system has been able to account for NJ registration since 2012?

How it’s rendered in Japanese:

日本の人口、5年連続減 労働力の都市部集中強まる
日本経済新聞 2014/6/25 21:16









In other news, have a look here:

Victim of sexist jeers tells foreign media more than one person responsible

Mainichi Shinbun June 25, 2014

PHOTO CAPTION:  Ayaka Shiomura meets reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24. (Mainichi)

A Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman, who was subjected to sexist jeers during a recent assembly meeting, stressed that the heckling came from more than one person as she spoke at a news conference for the foreign media.

Over 100 reporters and workers with the foreign media gathered at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24 as Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura, 35, held a news conference over the sexist heckling during the June 18 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly meeting. She stressed once again that the heckling came from not just Akihiro Suzuki, an assembly member who has admitted to sexist jeering, but from other colleagues in the assembly. She said, “I want those who are responsible to step forward.”

At the beginning of the conference, Shiomura told reporters how the incident took place and her feelings about it.

A female Associated Press correspondent congratulated Shiomura for continuing with her speech in the assembly meeting under such circumstances, and asked her what it is like for women to be working in local assemblies and the general attitude of men in the political world. Shiomura said, “I cannot deny that it is not easy for women to work in the political scene, and I do feel that politics is built around men’s standards.”

Reporter Thomas Hoy Davidsen, from a Danish newspaper, expressed disappointment, saying, “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Tokyo assembly votes down resolution calling for identifying hecklers

Mainichi Shinbun June 26, 2014

PHOTO CAPTION:  Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Akihiro Suzuki is seen after a press conference where he apologized for sexist heckling, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on June 23. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Tokyo metropolitan assembly voted down on Wednesday a resolution that called for identifying assembly members who heckled an assemblywoman last week with sexist remarks, with disapproval by the Liberal Democratic Party delegation, the biggest group in the assembly.

Among a suspected few hecklers, only 51-year-old Akihiro Suzuki, who quit the LDP delegation amid the scandal, was identified as he came forward later to admit to having made one of the remarks — “You should get married first.”

The Communist Party submitted another resolution urging Suzuki to resign but the assembly voted it down.

The assembly passed another resolution submitted by five assembly groups which calls for assembly members to make efforts to restore voters’ confidence in the assembly and to prevent recurrence of a similar incident.

At the opening of the day’s plenary session, the chairman of the 127-seat assembly, Toshiaki Yoshino, urged all members to maintain order and dignity.

Last week, Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old female assembly member from Your Party, was heckled during the plenary session while she was asking questions on maternity support measures.

She was heckled with such remarks as, “You should get married first,” and, “Can’t you have babies?”

On Monday, Suzuki admitted to having made the first remark and apologized to Shiomura. But he denied making the second remark.

Shiomura told reporters that one of the hecklers said, “You should have babies first.”

Last Friday, Shiomura filed a written request with the assembly chairman seeking identification of the hecklers. But Yoshino, an LDP member, refused to accept the request.

JK comments:  The quote I’d like to focus on is this: “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Soo…. seeing as how the political option got voted down twice, it looks to me like the only option Shiomura has to effect change in the gikai is via pulling the shame lever in form of a Kisha Club press conference. My take is that this move is intended to generate attention with gaiatsu as a real and possible side effect.

Assuming this is case, can your conclusion to the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case (i.e. Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan) be generalized to include political misogyny as well?


36 comments on “Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu

  • On the topic of ‘not counting’ I’d like to give an example of the mindset which discounts foreigners. It’s on a personal and almost comic level, but as it happened only a couple of days ago it’s fresh on my mind. I’m a tenured professor in a national university. Recently my department had a meeting. There are 16 people in the department. Extra funds of Y150,000 had been allocated for book purchase. The chairman said, ‘OK, it’s quite simple: there are 16 people in the department, so Y150,000 divided by 15 is Y10,000 each.’ After a long silence I took it upon myself to point out that you’d have to divide by 16. There was further embarrassed silence. The chairman actually said, ‘I didn’t think you were included.’

    You couldn’t make it up, nobody would believe you.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I am a strong believer in gaiatsu as the only way to make Japan change.

    However, lets have a look at this misogyny. Japanese women were given the vote as part of what is popularly called in the press as the ‘hated peace constitution’. The vote for women being included by a GHQ staffer, who since she was a jew, would have been turned into glue by Japan’s Nazi ally. Funny how with all this talk of getting rid of the ‘victors justice’ constitution, no Japanese women have stood up to defend it for giving them the vote, isn’t it?

    This is, I believe, because the vote was given to them by the US occupation. They never fought for their rights the way women did in the west, or indeed, no Japanese ever fought for their rights to prevent exploitation during the industrial revolution, since Japan never had an industrial revolution in the western sense; western industrialization was imported wholesale into Japan, by the Meiji oligarchy, and strongly wrapped in nationalistic ideology (the very idea, at that time, of workers striking, or any such Luddite behavior, for their rights, would have been a treasonous offense against the nation).

    Interestingly, about 14 years ago, Japan specialists (led by Dower) started holding up the democracy that GHQ brought to Japan as a template for the US intervention in Iraq (they couldn’t find any other ‘successful’ examples of US intervention, I guess). Those of us here know just how ‘successful’ GHQ’s attempt to bring true democracy to Japan was (and how the Japanese elite subverted it). Overlooking this truth, and buying into the myth that ‘Japan is a modern democratic country’, should be recognized as why the Iraq analogy was flawed (as recent ISIS rebellion, and failing Iraqi counter-measures demonstrate). In short; the failure to bring democracy to Iraq on the ‘Japan model’ doesn’t mean that Iraq had hidden differences, but that the initial supposition (Japan is democratic) was untrue.

    Anyway, Japanese women feel no ownership of their ‘democratic’ rights. Until they do, and they start protesting against misogyny, why should anyone outside of Japan care enough to attempt to exert gaiatsu?

    TPP will be a test case (whatever you think of TPP) for the power of gaiatsu.
    Will Japan be forced to open it’s markets without protecting sectors? Will it be allowed to participate whilst maintaining protectionist policies? Or, will the other nations blow Japan off from TPP? There is money involved in TPP, so there is more political will to use gaiatsu. If other countries are really prepared to cut Japan out of negotiations, then it will be a sign that Japan is really over as an important economic power, and if so, why should anyone care enough to try to use gaiatsu to make Japan pretend to be modern? We will have to wait and see.

    As for the lack of NJ residents included in Japan’s population tallies, well, what was anyone expecting? Seriously.
    Abe said a couple of weeks ago that there was no immigration policy, and that he wanted foreign workers ‘with skills’ to come to Japan, work for a few years, and then ‘go home’.

    If any ministry includes NJ in the figures, it would clearly undermine the Great Leaders message; NJ don’t live in Japan, they are just visiting!

    — I don’t think Dower argued what you think he argued.

  • Peter McArthur says:

    It’s odd that they include foreign residents as a footnote, but don’t mention Japanese living overseas at all.

    In fact, to do the subject justice, they need a table like this:

    Japanese citizens:

    In Japan: 126,434,964

    Overseas: 663,100

    Total: 127,098,064


    In Japan: 2,003,384

    Overseas: 7,113,759,414

    Total: 7,115,762,798


    In Japan: 128,438,348

    Overseas: 7,114,422,514

    Total: 7,242,860,862

  • Actually it was reported on NHK, but separately.
    Japamese population is 126 million.
    Foreigner population is a litle over 2 million, which means Japan`s population is 128 million, and might have increased due to immigration,
    but this is not mentioned. The media always state that Japan is shrinking.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @JDZ, #2

    Dower strongly argues against war invasion. He criticizes the US on A-bomb holocausts and biased radiation survey conducted by the GHQ. He is very critical of many western historians for feeding in so called ‘might makes right’ argument as master narrative by overlooking the impact of GHO’s propagandistic survey on victims of nuclear holocaust. It’s kind of misleading to suggest that he’s the one who has led so called Japan specialists to believe that the WWII legacy brought template for US war on Iraq.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    With respect Dr. Debito, Dower’s Embracing defeat was being bandied about from the outset as demonstrating that the ‘Japan model’ proved the US could (emphasis, could) rebuild Iraq in it’s own image.

    Didn’t notice any Japan specialists jumping up to point out that Japan’s ‘modern democracy’ is a tatemae myth. I expect that this was because;
    1. University Profs are vested interests (who funds their chairs?).
    2. It suited them to play up to the false comparison at a time when many were seeing study of Japan as losing relevancy seen against studying rising China.

    Despite Dower’s ‘Embracing Defeat’ being held up as the proof that Iraq could be the new Japan, Dower remained curiously silent on the issue, as far as I can see (after all, must have done sales of his book, and his standing a lot of good- vested interest, see?).

    The article you link refutes the Iraq/Japan comparison (as it rightly should), but there’s no denial from Dower included.

  • I do think Jim’s idea that Japanese women may have not really gained a sense of possession of having to fight for those rights is interesting. However, you could argue that that is occuring now in a different way.

  • Darkrider says:

    This is really insulting. These people spend years studying the language, learning the customs just so they can work and build a life there and the government doesn’t even have the decency to add them to the roster.

  • Very insulting that even after 20 years here I am not even included in the population total. Presumably I am still a visitor or guest! Only the fact that I make very good money keeps me here really.

  • Gotta love how Shinzo “I Care About Wymnfolk and Want Them to Contribute More” Abe hasn’t said anything condemning Dietmembers for heckling Ms. Shiomura (see that, Dietmembers? I called her “Ms.” because her marital status is her own damn business and completely irrelevant to her job). All my best wishes to Ms. Shiomura and may she someday live in a Japan that doesn’t tolerate this crap anymore.

    And I hope Akihiro Suzuki comes home one day and finds his wife having an affair with a guy who knows how to treat women better than he clearly does. I’d like say to Mrs. Suzuki that I know how to make a damn good Thai flavored breakfast burrito with homemade guacamole. Just throwing that out there. Oh, but I don’t mean any of that to be offensive. I am simply stating my hope that Mr. Suzuki’s views on women will evolve.

  • Taxation without representation.

    In Japan, foreigners are truly equal only when it comes to pay taxes. For everything else… well, “Japanese Only”

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I agree with Japanese netizens; Abe’s ‘womanomics’ blog, ‘Shine’, is a joke for sure!
    He doesn’t want Japanese women to ‘Shine’ in the English sense of the word, but to 死ね! in the Japanese sense of the word.
    For sure, no one in Japanese government circles checks these things? It’s as bad as the 731 Blue Impulse photo-shoot.

  • Debito:

    I reviewed the video of the Shiomura press coneference with the FCCJ (Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan), but during the Q&A session, nobody asked the obvious question (i.e. What do you hope to accomplish here today with this press conference?)

    Reference: Ayaka Shiomura: “The victim of sexist heckling during her questioning of city officials”

    There’s a part of me wondering what it would take to get the rationale behind Shiomura’s decision to go in front of the FCCJ. As you know, I have my own theory, but I think it’s fair to say that it would be ideal to get the story straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth.


  • Jim di Griz says:

    @JK# 14

    I don’t mean to be obtuse at all, but you’re suggesting that she went before the foreign media because she knew it would embarrass Abe, and hoped to stir up some gaiatsu, right? I mean, that is what your saying isn’t it (and I wouldn’t disagree with her for doing it, or you for saying it).

    But I think I know why she didn’t outright say that was what she was doing, and why no one outright asked her; if she or the journalists spelled it out, I think she would be in danger of losing a lot of Japanese sympathy and support, since she would be accused of embarrassing Japan internationally, whereas, at the moment, she is seen as the victim of misogynist Oyaji who have embarrassed Japan internationally.

  • @Jon,

    Sorry you had to experience one of those below the gut instances that we all get here time to time. You can go a few weeks with a good impression of Japan, then experience what you did. It also happened to me recently. I was in MCDs, sat down with my coffee at the counter and the lady next to me immediately got up. I thought, well ok, she just leaving. Then I watched her move to another table, obvisouly not wanting to be bothered with the foriegner presence. You never get fully used to it, but a sort of immunity does set in I think. Somedays I will ask them, “was there something wrong with me” or check my smell act. Other days I just dont care. Many Japanese have a way of letting you know you’re not welcome here.

  • @Jim di Griz# 15:

    >you’re suggesting that she went before the foreign media because
    >she knew it would embarrass Abe, and hoped to stir up some gaiatsu, right?

    Yes, sir. That is correct.

    > if she or the journalists spelled it out, I think she would be in danger
    >of losing a lot of Japanese sympathy and support, since she would be
    >accused of embarrassing Japan internationally, whereas, at the moment,
    >she is seen as the victim of misogynist Oyaji who have embarrassed
    >Japan internationally.

    Your line of reasoning makes sense, especially since politics are involved.


  • Speaking of not welcome here, did you read this? (Sorry, not sure where else to put it.)


    Takeda Pharmaceuticals is a big, big name in the drug manufacturing world. I have a special interest in this story because my former student went on to become a researcher for this company, and we were all so incredibly proud of him.

    It’s dispiriting to read that “… they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.”

    Takeda family protests putting foreigner at drug maker’s helm
    June 22, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun
    The founding family of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, is in revolt against the management’s plan to install a Frenchman as the company’s first foreign president.

    The firm’s former executives are joining the founding family to thwart a plan to appoint Christophe Weber, 47, president at a shareholders meeting on Friday. But there is little possibility the decision will be reversed. The revolt indicates a deep-rooted aversion among some Japanese toward foreigners assuming top corporate posts.

    Weber was headhunted from major British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

    As a result of its repeated acquisition of huge foreign makers, non-Japanese account for two-thirds of Takeda’s employees. The installation of Weber as president and chief operating officer of the 230-year-old company is seen as a symbol of the firm’s expectations for his international perspective.

    About 110 people comprising members of the founding family and the firm’s former executives in April submitted a jointly signed letter of protest to the company. They warned:

    —If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.

    —There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.

    Judging Weber’s appointment as president as tantamount to a “takeover by foreign capital,” they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.

    Comparing a foreign president to a takeover by a foreign capital may very well be a leap of logic. Those who submitted the letter of protest hold a mere 1 percent to 2 percent of total shares.

    One of the Takeda founding family members, who signed the letter, said: “Weber does not know anything about the Japanese health care industry. He does not know about the tradition and [corporate] culture of Takeda Pharmaceutical, either. It is absurd to install such a person as president.”

    As a reason for Weber’s appointment, Takeda Pharmaceutical said: “It was a result of screening candidates from both inside and outside the company with an eye to fairness. Employees will be able to learn a great deal from working under his leadership, as he has been active in global business.”

    The company declined to comment on the specific points made in the letter of protest, referring only to the upcoming shareholders meeting.

    Takeda Pharmaceutical was established in 1781 in Osaka as a brokerage firm for crude drugs. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Takeda began importing Western drugs ahead of domestic competitors.

    The current president, Yasuchika Hasegawa, took over the post in 2003 from Kunio Takeda, a descendent of the founding family. Hasegawa has promoted globalization of the company’s operations by acquiring foreign companies and headhunting non-Japanese from rival firms to appoint them to executive posts.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ JK

    So if all the the above was her intentional way of playing the media, then she (or her advisers in her party) are quite savvy about how to play the game. Maybe.

  • “—If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.”

    Takeda was built on importing foreign pharmaceutical to Japan. So they can get off their high horse.

    “—There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.”

    As is typical of a Japanese argument – it makes no sense, just an appeal to heartstrings with no basis in fact of reason.

  • @Becky

    Thanks for that, I find it quite hypocritical that Takeda would complain about a foriegn director when Japanese have dominated many sectors of the US and European economy for sometime now. As far as Takeda technology being superior..superior to who? Let me get this straight- its ok for Japanese to copy/change Western technology, but when it comes to Westerners having a say in their affairs, absolutely not?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Dean, TJJ, & Becky,

    Can you imagine the uproar if a western firm appointed a Japanese director, and the owners and a handful of shareholders signed a racist letter against the appointment?

    Again, Japan gets a free pass. Not only from the international media, international politicians, but from their own government. Shows just how serious Abe is about reforms.

  • Its an interesting point of view, that when the Japanese tech companies such as Sharp, Panasonic, and Sony are failing, and foreign companies such as Apple, Lenovo, and Samsung are thriving, the take-away lesson for Japanese people is that foreign-control is somehow bad? How does that work?

  • One of the few huge Japanese companies that are doing well over the last few years is Nissan – exactly since the time they appointed a foreigner as CEO (Ghosn).

    Organising a global corporation “the Japanese way”, meaning taking more than few hints from organised crime in terms of rigid hierarchies, opaqueness, and obfuscation of internal structures and the decision making process to outsiders, worked quite well until globalisation really hit and the Japanese copied the Western outsourcing of manufacturing to poor (and cheap) countries.

    The Japanese are blinded by their own success and pride, thinking they are much more than a manufacturing economy, when they are not.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Markus #24

    I would say conceited.
    But when it comes to globalization, how can Japanese companies ever truly embrace such a concept, when the very essence of the Japanese religion (navel gazing upon ‘Japaneseness’) tell them that they are ‘special’, ‘different’, and that all NJ are in some way deficient?

  • Baudrillard says:

    “typical of a Japanese argument – it makes no sense, just an appeal to heartstrings with no basis in fact of reason””. Here is a personal anecdote; back in the 90s, I figured this out and became very successful at winning over Japanese people in a variety of situations. Before that, I was trying to be logical and explain things; it didnt work. Their eyes glazed over.

    It was almost like too many words (in any language) was a turn off or too “mendokusai” for people to bother to listen. Maybe they didnt have the time.

    but if you just stick to “soundbytes”, key words, especially in Katakana, buzz words, things they want to hear, they will lap it up. Amazing watching the smile light up their faces. Logic does not work well in Japan. Its all a surprising hedonism; how good you can make people feel, almost like therapy.

    Ridiculous nonsense that I was saying, but some seasoned commentators here might recognize what I am talking about , e.g.”hey, genki. I love Japan. Lets enjoy business together” goes further than “our company has experience a lot of marketing this product in Europe” in some cases.

    Certainly in social situations the smiling happy go lucky fun guy will open more doors than the “heavy intellectual” approach-a role reserved for a Japanese, probably an older male or a mother hen type who can sagely spout her wisdom while the others nod their heads in agreement. Roles indeed in a play, following a script.

    Especially if you are seen as “an entertaining NJ”. And if you are an NJ, a zany cartoon American with oversized gestures is almost what the J audience expects. Speak quietly and calmly, and you run the risk (shock, horror) of being seen as not lively (genki) enough.

    Never mind if a lot of Japanese are low tension themselves. It is all about how they expect the NJ to behave.You are the guest (star) after all in this theatre of the absurd.

    Another time I was getting angry about being majorly inconvenienced- a group of us had transported a ton of stuff to a remote location only to be told it was all for nothing- and yet a couple of “well meaning” Japanese onlookers had to stick their nose in and suggest I was in the wrong “because my heart was so angry”.

    Content doesnt matter, presentation does.

    Now cue the J-apologists who say “oh, but now its like that in the USA and UK”. Yes, increasingly so with New Labour and their spin, soundbytes, slogans over meaningful discourse etc.

    but this just proves my argument of Japan-by virtue of never having much analytical logic or checks and balances, or a media with teeth, etc-becoming the Ultimate Postmodern Nightmare in this respect.

    Debito talks about NJs as guinea pigs for widening of laws to cover all Japanese. I talk about Japan as a guinea pig for the postmodern developments that render our societies meaningless, where AKB 48 is High Art.

    The occasional street protest against defining brain death as the end of life in Japan encapsulates this debate of logic versus heart; westerners believe when the brain dies, someone is dead but some conservative Japanese believe the heart is the seat of consciousness.

    But to get back on topic, this isnt getting any further into Japanese society than the Genkan. In fact, playing the “Uncle Gaijin” role too well might backfire in the long run or as C. Power said in “Working in Japan” (1990)

    “Foreigners are cute like puppies and everyone should have one, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously”.

    Indeed. Thus no need to include in the population tally?

  • Debito:

    I wouldn’t call it gaiatsu (more like ‘foreign acknowledgement’), but an impressive response nonetheless:

    Kennedy writes letter to Shiomura


    4:51 am, July 04, 2014
    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Ayaka Shiomura, 35, who was heckled with abusive taunts such as “You should get married soon,” received a personal letter of support from U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

    According to Shiomura and other sources, the letter reached Shiomura’s Tokyo office on Tuesday.

    The letter was reportedly handwritten by Kennedy, taking up both sides of a sheet of paper.

    Shiomura did not disclose the specifics of the letter but said, “I was able to gain courage from [her] feelings, which were clearly expressed.”

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ JK #27

    Yeah, I saw comments slamming Kennedy for taking ‘so long’ to get this letter out, but I actually think that it sends a powerful message, since she is the senior representative of Japan’s most powerful ally. After all, compare it with Abe’s response to the whole incident….oh, wait, Abe’s has had another bout of ‘deafening silence’ on the issue, just like last year when Hashimoto whipped up international criticism about the Korean sex-slave issue. Considering all Abe’s talk about ‘womanomics’ you’d have expected him to slam anyone who made those comments, and if from the LDP (which they were), expel them from the party, whilst explaining to the media that such views are incompatible with his policies….unless of course such view aren’t incompatible, and everything he says about ‘womanomics’ is just hot air. Duh.

  • #1 Jon – that is a shame. A story:
    Jaime Foxx, the American comedian, has talked at length about the racism he experienced as a youth in Texas. One story he has shared was when he was hired to play piano at a white family’s child’s birthday party. He arrived with his friend at the house, and rang the doorbell.
    As he tells it, the white man who answered the door, said “I can’t have two niggers in my house at one time,”

    He carried anger with him for quite some time. When he moved to L.A., he would not allow 2 whites in his house at the same time.

    My point?
    You need to get angry. Not academic “I’m so angry, I’m going to write a rude letter later” anger – real “this is bullshit, and I’m not taking it anymore” anger.
    But don’t direct your anger at Japanese people at large. Focus it all on the people who treat you as less than human.
    If the department Chair says that you are not included, get up and walk out. Or stop attending meetings (you are not included, right?) Or – my favorite:
    At every opportunity, exclude the offensive department Chair. When his exclusion is mentioned, say “I did not think he was included”
    Of course, this kind of behavior might get you fired, but it feels great, and takes a huge load of stress off. If you don’t get rid of the stress, you will have to drink – a lot – and this could become an expensive treatment, as the Chair will keep excluding you.

    Why do so many posts and Debito think that foreigners should be counted in census numbers?
    Is it not the norm to count citizens and permanent residents only?
    The real issue should be the fact that children born in Japan are not granted Japanese citizenship at birth.

    #16 Dean – That happened to me too, a lot. The solution I settled on was to exclude them from my fun. They want to move away? Fine. Their loss. In reality, they don’t know you (or me). You are not going to change them, so let them go.

    #18 Becky – I noticed that there were no Japanese voices calling out these racist comments. Very telling.

    #24 Markus – Racist Japanese are blinded by their pride. Their economic recovery in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s was orchestrated by the U.S. State department. The deep thinkers at State pimped out our markets wholesale to Japanese made goods, and allowed Japanese markets to stay closed to our goods (remember the “foreign skiis don’t work on Japanese snow” argument?) in exchange for the LDP ignoring nuclear weapons on U.S. warships in Japanese ports, among other things (a clear violation of the Japanese constitution).
    All levels of Japanese have been thinking and saying this nonsense for decades because the U.S. government allowed it.

    So many people slammed the racist apartheid system in South Africa – yet very few people recognize the Japanese system for its non-violent, yet racist similarities.

    — About the issue of census counting: In the US, for example, the count is done for the US Census on residency. That includes resident foreigners. As it should be. Especially since NJ are now also registered residents in Japan, as I mentioned.

  • @Dude”If you don’t get rid of the stress, you will have to drink – a lot – and this could become an expensive treatment, as the Chair will keep excluding you.The solution I settled on was to exclude them from my fun. ”

    Why do you think alcoholism is so prevalent (ant tacitly tolerated, even encouraged) in corporate Japan? But I can relate too as an NJ; I was drinking a lot to take the edge of the Tokyo day almost every night. I had a friend who used to get through a 6 pack a day before he moved to China (oh the irony).

    And I like your solution. Its also what I did but for the “genki” syndrome. I played the Uncle Tom Genki role, but on my own terms, taking my cue from some of Malcolm McDowell’s mickey taking roles in films like “If…”, “O Lucky Man” and even “Caligula” (there is a school of thought that argues Caligula wasn’t insane, just insulting the senate and trying to get a rise of them, as is hinted in the movie).

    So what the Japanese got from me was a kind of Idiot Glee, a SUGOI Genki, an over the top performance that was rarely called into doubt in this Theater of the Absurd. The fact I got away with it suggests that over the top gestures, and manic smiling is absolutely expected and accepted. BUt the other NJs were looking at me and knew how hammy it was, but were in on the joke.

    Very tiring though. Only worth doing if paid accordingly. And completely false. A relationship between images, as Debord would postulate, but hey, that’s postmodern Japan.

  • Edward J. Cunningham says:

    Just out of curiosity, are naturalized Japanese citizens or Japanese citizens who appear to be NJ counted in the census?

    — Yes. So are NJ counted in the census (in terms of existence). It’s just how they are reported based on the resident registry in terms of Japan population counts. Note how the news reportage above is splitting hairs in order to separate “Japanese” (nihonjin) and only report their numbers as “Japan’s population” (jinkou).

  • @Baudy:
    “So what the Japanese got from me was a kind of Idiot Glee, a SUGOI Genki, an over the top performance that was rarely called into doubt in this Theater of the Absurd. The fact I got away with it suggests that over the top gestures, and manic smiling is absolutely expected and accepted. BUt the other NJs were looking at me and knew how hammy it was, but were in on the joke.

    Very tiring though. Only worth doing if paid accordingly. And completely false. A relationship between images, as Debord would postulate, but hey, that’s postmodern Japan.”

    I worked with more than a few NJ who fitted this bill perfectly. They were all long term (15-twenty years plus) residents and a lot were serious drinkers. I think that consciously performing this stereotype is one way of coping with livng in the country long term. You just go work, put on the performance and leave with your money. But you are right, it is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. And the performance never really stops, until you are “on” all the time. The boundaries between performance and reality collapse. Looking at these guys was a reason that drove me to leave the country before it happened to me. This is another aspect that people living and working in Japan need to be aware of. Sorry for the tangent.

  • Edward J. Cunningham says:

    Let me rephrase—are all Japanese citizens counted together regardless of their race, or are only Japanese who are visibly members of the Yamato race counted as “nihonjin” when the news reports on “Japan’s population”?

    — Since there is no distinction made within Japan’s Census for ethnic diversity (I for one cannot express myself as a hyphenated American-Japanese), only those with Japanese citizenship are counted as “nihonjin” there. However, the news reports cited above on Japan’s population aren’t citing the Census — they’re citing the resident register, which now does include NJ. So this decision to insinuate that only “nihonjin” are countable as Japan’s population is an arbitrary (and political) one.

  • DeBourca Says:

    I think that consciously performing this stereotype is one way of coping with livng in the country long term.

    It is also the only way to get any semblance of acknowledgement in Japanese society and, let us not forget, the rewards for playing your assigned role, can be very lucrative indeed.

    Peter Barakan aside, look at the talentless non-Japanese on our television screens? Look at Mike Guest, still an Associate Professor and still writing for the Yomiuri, even though he was caught cheating on his resume? Read those horrendous weekly articles by Amy Chavez?

    Sadly the Okinawans, as a people, have shown us the way to go to get any acceptance within Japanese society. For the price of reducing their indigenous culture merely to a few plucks of the same old notes on a shamisen, accompanied by helium induced female wailings, rewards them with some level of acknowledgement.

    In truth, if push came to shove, I wonder whether I too might not make such a similar Mephistophelian bargain?

    I don’t think that I’d ever lie on my resume… but others… maybe.

  • @Debourca,

    You made some really fine points. The act is very exhausting. Its why I dont do it anymore. I dont get suckered into some kawisou crap either (the opposite of the clown act)just because Im a gaijin I try to be me. Hey, its what the apologist suggest ) Just be yourself! Easier said than done. I dont know, after awhile you just become you, the NJ who knows they will never be accepted here.

  • @34 and 35: Yes, I understand where you are coming from. IMO The late Donald Ritchie had the sanest approach to living in Japan. He embraced his “outsiderness”. There is an excellent article on him archived in this blog.
    The foeiegners that I know of have who have managed well in Japan taken a similar approach to Ritchie’s. The problem with this (for me) is that it is not for everyone. It only works when you stay unattached and especially if you don’t have children.
    If you start a family in Japan, you become a stakeholder in the society and can’t (in good faith) ignore all the crap and just do and take what you want anymore, because there are people you care about who will suffer under the system. At least, I couldn’t.
    But if you stay single or childless, and are happy with your outsider status, I agree, you can have a pretty good life.
    I would point out, that this quality of life is diminishing fairly rapidly as the economy tanks. I don’t know if putting on the foreigner act is even all that lucrative anymore. At least, foreigners like Scipio mentioned are fighting over pieces of a diminishing pie (hence their ever more strident defence of the racist system and shouting down of dissenting NJ voices?).
    The other point worth making is that I would contend that this is express policy of the Japanese policymakers: They have set the system up to keep NJ single, unattached and rootless. But apart from those two caveats, I pretty much agree with you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>