DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014
Table of Contents:
/////////////////////////////////////

1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014

5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

And finally…

7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”
/////////////////////////////////////

By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Freely Forwardable

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

1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

Debito.org Reader: Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?] I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.
http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html
It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese. Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.

Debito: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here. Here’s the top page:

http://www.debito.org/?p=12144

Conclusion: Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves. As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat. However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science. But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations window-dressed.

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

2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent: nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

1) Nightclub “W”
名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F
TEL 052-242-5705

Contributor SM writes: Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called “W.” There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I’d be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn’t try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way.

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)
住所 広島市中区流川町7-6
第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777
It also has a pretty impressive website:
http://clubleopard.jp, and here is a very impressive number of rules that all patrons must follow, including those NJ who apparenty can’t be patrons: “DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE”

http://www.debito.org/?p=12846

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

3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

Debito.org Reader: Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan. Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent, [which retells the Cinderella story with exaggerated noses on their Caucasian characters]?
Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws
Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/

Debito: After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its “change the image of Japan” (into a Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized home bread maker ad, and McDonald’s Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their “Mr. James” burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan’s advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form. Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an “Asian” product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all “Asian buck teeth” reaching out to eat it? No doubt Japan’s patrol of internet police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan’s missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign. People making fun of Asian “slanted eyes” has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies. So what about this? Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?

http://www.debito.org/?p=12821

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

4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014

Good news. With the upswell in hate speech in Japan, particularly against Zainichi Koreans, we have social antibodies kicking in, with public counterdemonstrations on Nov. 2 to say that this behavior is unacceptable. Of course, this is only the second time that the anti-racists have demonstrated, as opposed to the many, many, many times the pro-racism forces have turned out on the streets. But it is a positive step that Debito.org salutes, and I hope that they will take a more proactive (as opposed to reactive) approach to set the public agenda. That agenda should be: punitive criminal laws against hate speech and racial discrimination in Japan. For the lack of legislation in Japan means that the xenophobic elements can essentially do as they please (short of breaking already-established laws involving more generic violence towards others) to normalize hatred in Japan. And they will probably succeed in doing so unless it is illegal. My fear is that opponents of public hatred might think that just counter-demonstrating is sufficient, and if hate speech ever dies down, they’ll think problem solved. As the United Nations agrees, it won’t be.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12794

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

5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

Two months ago Debito.org wrote on the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Japan’s ruling that NJ have “no right” to social welfare (seikatsu hogo) because they are not citizens (http://www.debito.org/?p=12769). I have been hearing rumblings that the media have been misinterpreting this ruling due to linguistics and politics, and that an adjudged no legal right has not resulted in denials. I submit to you the corrections from Tozen Union’s Louis Carlet, with a followup from another Debito.org Commenter that are simply too good to languish within comments. Nevertheless, as noted in that earlier Debito.org post, the point remains that there are some very nasty and xenophobic people in Japan’s political system who are capitalizing on what people think the Supreme Court said. Which may mean, in this increasingly ultra-rightist political climate, that the effect might ultimately be the same.

CARLET: [Japan Times’] Otake’s article is mistaken on two major points. First, the Supreme Court in no way found foreigners ineligible for welfare. Second, the ruling, far from landmark, upheld the status quo. The highest court overturned the High Court’s actual landmark ruling which said that foreigners have “quasi rights” to welfare. Up until then foreigners never had the “guaranteed right” (kenri) to welfare but they were and are eligible just like Japanese citizens.

I think the problem is mistranslation. Kenri means a guaranteed right whereas “no right” in English suggests ineligible. The only difference arising from not having the kenri is that if the welfare office rejects an application from a citizen then the Japanese person can appeal the decision to the office. A foreigner with no kenri for welfare cannot appeal at the office but only in court. That is the ONLY difference between how foreigners and Japanese are treated by the welfare office. Foreigners get welfare just like Japanese do. In fact the plaintiff currently gets welfare although originally rejected.

OSFISH: The clarification that needs to be repeated over and over again is that “welfare” here does not mean “welfare” in its biggest sense of all social expenditures, such as pensions, health costs, unemployment insurance and so on. It does not mean shakai hoken in any sense at all. Welfare in this limited sense is a means-tested benefit for people who have fallen through the gaps of insurance-based social protection because they cannot contribute, or are not under the umbrella of a contributor. The main recipients are long-term disabled, single mothers (abandoned by their partners) and elderly with inadequate or no pension rights. It is a completely different system to shakai hoken and operates on a different logic of desert and eligibility. Broadly speaking, the same social insurance/social assistance split operates in large parts of the industrialised world. Japan more or less imported its system from Europe.

To repeat: welfare here does not mean shakai hoken. Please rest easy, and do NOT consider opting out based on this ruling; it’s got nothing legally or logically to do with shakai hoken. And in any case, welfare is not being taken away. People in dire straits need to know that.[…]

[According to this GOJ source] 66% of all recipients are Koreans – almost all probably zainichi SPRs: a group that really stretches the concept of “foreign”, I’m sure you’ll agree. Of those Koreans, and quite disproportionately compared to other groups, around half of the recipients are old people. I would hazard a guess that this is a strong reflection of the economic disenfranchisement of the first post-war generation of zainichi. These are people who were disproportionately not properly or poorly integrated into the economy and welfare system. (For what it’s worth, incomer “foreigners” claim less than their “share”, but this shouldn’t be too surprising or interpreted as anything meaningful, as residence status is attached to visa status, is attached to good evidence of financial stability. Of course there are going to be fewer incomer recipients.)

Let’s combine this fact that Koreans make up the bulk of recipients with the far-right party’s suggestion that “foreign” recipients should naturalise or leave. For a westerner claiming social assistance, it would be very hard indeed to naturalise if you could not demonstrate financial stability. It’s pretty much out of the question. However, for zainichi Koreans, that financial stability condition doesn’t apply. The rules for SPR naturalisation are not strict. So it looks to me like an attempt to coerce elderly impoverished zainichi Koreans into giving up their nationality and identity. That’s why this relatively small amount of budget money matters to these thoroughly unpleasant people.

http://www.debito.org/?p=12811

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

6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

I spoke at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus November 7, 2014, on my doctoral research.  Here’s the flyer:

http://www.debito.org/?p=12805

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

And finally…

7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

Opening: This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up?

By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval.

By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support.

Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course…
(Your thoughts on the question welcome here and at the JT site.)

http://www.debito.org/?p=12798

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

That’s all for 2014.  See you in 2015 with my annual countdown of the Top Ten Human Rights Events!  And as always, thanks for reading and contributing to Debito.org!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014 ENDS

15 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 4, 2014

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201412150044

    “Ethnic Koreans: Japanese society more indulgent of racism toward them – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

    OSAKA–Ethnic Korean residents living in the western Kansai region feel Japanese society has become insensitive to racial discrimination, with many saying they have been seriously affected, according to a poll by a human rights group.

    Tokyo-based Human Rights Now, comprising more than 700 lawyers, researchers and other citizens conducted one-on-one interviews with 16 ethnic Koreans in Kansai between April and July, amid a rise in anti-Korean demonstrations across the country.

    The findings, collected by seven of the group’s members and compiled in November, showed that Koreans have suffered emotional trauma from increasing racial slurs directed against them.

    One teenager interviewed said she felt hate speech was “from a different world,” when she watched anti-Korean marches on the Internet. But she said she felt shocked when she herself encountered a protest on the street for the first time.

    As she tried to have a dialogue with protesters, “I was told (by one of the protesters) ‘you aren’t needed here, go back to your country,’” she recalled.

    One man in his 50s said he saw a video of a young teen shouting epithets during a February 2013 street protest in Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district.

    Using a megaphone, the girl yelled, “We will commit a Tsuruhashi massacre,” and “It is time for you to go back,” according to the man, who said the words made him feel nauseous.

    Another man in his 50s who saw the street protest firsthand said it took him back to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, after which many Koreans were killed due to groundless rumors.

    “I got the chills, and my heart started beating wildly, because I felt like my existence was being denied,” the man said.

    A woman in her 30s said she felt Japanese society had become more accepting of racial discrimination, after hearing hate speech including comments from patrons at a restaurant table next to her.

    Another thirtysomething woman said even a politician indulged in racial discrimination, if only by omission.

    “I saw (a city assembly member) smiling and ignoring (discriminatory words being spoken),” the woman said.

    Many interviewees expressed concern about the effect of hate speech on their children.

    A woman in her 50s said her junior high school son told her that once he becomes an adult he “will become a naturalized Japanese as soon as possible,” after witnessing an anti-Korean demonstration on his way to a nearby convenience store.

    Officials of the Korea NGO Center in Osaka, which assisted with the survey, said they received a consultation from a Korean mother that her elementary school-age child asked her, “Is it wrong to be a Korean?”

    Kim Kwangmin, 43, a third-generation Korean resident of Japan who heads the Korea NGO Center, said many Koreans now feel Japanese public sentiment has changed.

    “In particular, parents are tragically forced to be ready to defend their children on their own, believing society will not be there to help them,” Kim said.

    In its concluding remarks in August, a U.N. panel on racial discrimination urged Tokyo to introduce strict measures and regulations against hate speech.”

    Reply
  • This magazine, now on shelves at 7-11 convenience stores, is chock-full of condescending and overtly racist portrays of non-Japanese people. Highlights include a pickaninny-caricatured katakana-speaking black man insisting he’s the boyfriend of a Japanese woman he just met, and a dark skinned Turkish man who’s incapable of understanding Japanese concepts of property.

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/本当にあった外国人の笑える話-ぶんか社ムック/dp/4821166046/

    Reply
  • Surprise!

    Mike Guest defends anti-NJ racism in the….Yomiuri (no shock there- favorite rag of war-crime deniers).
    You see, it’s not a case of ‘Japanese racism’, but of NJ bringing it on themselves by not acting Japanese enough!
    The article is full of so many logical fallacies that I feel I should offer a prize the the person who can spot the most.

    http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001792326

    Indirectly Speaking / Is ‘foreign’ as foreign as students are taught?
    10:34 am, December 29, 2014
    By Mike Guest/Special to The Yomiuri

    “We refuse access to foreign cars.”

    What was I to make of this Japanese sign posted in the entrance to a parking area? Did the proprietor have a general issue with foreigners or some bizarre nationalistic loyalty to Japanese vehicles? I tucked my compact Opel into one of the available spaces and took my keys to the booth. Since the proprietor did not bat an eyelid, I assumed that he had either failed to notice that my car was German or did simply not care. I took the lead.

    “Umm, I noticed that the sign says foreign cars will be refused,” I began.

    “Yes, they are too big for our spaces. They don’t fit,” came the reply.

    “Well, my car is German and, as you can see, it fits.”

    “Yes, so that’s fine. It’s a compact.”

    You can understand why a silence ensued before I added: “Excuse me, but if size is the real issue, why not just ban cars of a certain size, regardless of where they were made? After all, there are large Japanese cars and small foreign cars.”

    A few days later when I passed the same parking area the sign had been removed. No, the proprietor was not some intractable racist but simply a little naive and prejudiced, making assumptions about “the foreign” that were unwarranted.

    I’ve had a similar experience at a real estate agent, where the landlord of a desirable property explicitly forbade foreign tenants, and at a pension whose Internet listing refused foreign guests. In the former case, after the agent explained to the landlord that I was gainfully employed, fluent enough in Japanese, and quite familiar with Japanese customs, the landlord said there would be no problem.

    Apparently, she had held a rigid view of foreigners as being non-Japanese speaking temporary presences who either would not or could not adapt to the rules and customs of tenancy. In the pension case, I called the manager in Japanese and she had no problem accepting me as a guest. She had placed the exclusionary notice because she couldn’t speak English and therefore was worried that foreign guests might be dissatisfied.

    These too were cases not of virulent racism but of overgeneralizing and false assumptions. If the problem in the case of the apartment is the reliability of the tenant, then that, and not nationality, should be the criteria. In the case of the pension, merely stating that service is in Japanese only would suffice.

    Eido Inoue is a naturalized Japanese American-born IT engineer who has established an Internet presence by reaching out to Japanese business owners who have placed similar exclusionary notices regarding their businesses. One notable case regarded a tempura shop in Tokyo’s Asakusa area in which a sign refusing service to foreigners was posted. Yet the visibly Caucasian, Japanese-fluent, Inoue was served without hesitation.

    When Inoue inquired as to the purpose of the sign, the elderly owner explained that some non-Japanese speaking diners had been confused about the nature of set meals and other issues surrounding orders, resulting in heightened tensions. Inoue soon persuaded the owner to change the sign into one that explains service is in Japanese only. Inoue has also contacted several lodgings listed on a popular accommodation website which also stated refusals to house foreign guests, again discovering that assumptions about language skills, and not racial antipathy, lay behind the notices — which were soon removed.

    A Japanese commentator using the online pseudonym “Ponta” similarly managed to persuade the owner of a restaurant in Tokyo’s Tsukiji-area that the problem was not foreign diners, to whom the sign forbade entry, but adherence to restaurant protocols, regardless of nationality. Likewise, Ponta advised a Kobe bar manager who had dealt with some rowdy foreign drinkers, that unruly behavior, not race or nationality, should be the criterion for refusing entry. The manager understood and complied.

    How, one might ask, does any of this connect to English education in Japan? To me, much of the problem lies in the English teaching materials used to depict foreigners, which leads both Japanese and foreign teachers to unwittingly create, or endorse, a sense of intractable difference between the two groups. People are assumed to be so locked into a single linguistic or cultural milieu that it preludes their ability to participate meaningfully in another.

    After all, when the emphasis in Japanese-to-non-Japanese interactions in teaching materials is invariably placed upon “cultural differences,” a sense of distance and otherness — a debilitating hypersensitivity towards possible misunderstandings — is reinforced. Since most foreigners in Japan will have some familiarity with, and an understanding of, Japanese language and customs, why not promote such characters in classroom dialogues and descriptions? Why not foster the ability to sense a gradation between the new or temporary foreigner and the more knowledgeable and stable long-term resident, rather than lumping them all under the heading of “wholly other”?

    Just as some foreigners in Japan should curtail their pathological predisposition to attribute all such cases to racism, so should Japanese students and business proprietors avoid the propensity to assume that foreigners are unable (or unwilling) to operate in this society, a presumption often based on an exaggerated sense of difference — and too often reinforced by both English teachers and teaching materials.

    ===================
    Guest is an associate professor of English at Miyazaki University.

    Reply
  • @ Jim “the proprietor was not some intractable racist but simply a little naive and prejudiced,”

    OK, so prejudice is not as bad as racism? I thought it was the same thing!

    Happy 2015..

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @JDG, #3

    Thanks for the piece. It could be interesting if this man could be referred in the quiz TV-show–like Family Feud. We asked 100 people about the scholar who has fabricated academic credentials. Guess Who?

    A)Dr. Who B) Dr. Ted Morris Jr.(a 22-year-old self-proclaimed CEO of School Without Wall[a fictitious charter school in Rochester, NY]) C) Dr. Guest

    I don’t know which one comes top, but many of us will agree he is in the list.

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Loverilakkuma & Baudrillard,

    Absolutely agree with you both!
    After all, what kind of English teacher doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘prejudice’?

    Reply
  • “its not racism, its just prejudice” is really the J apologists clutching at straws as they fall further down the rung of J hierarchy.
    What then, is racial prejudice?

    Reply
  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baud,

    This is true, but I think that Guest is really just using words he doesn’t understand properly.
    Pretty embarrassing for an alleged English teacher.

    Reply
  • I do not know Mike Guest and therefore I won’t jump to the most obvious conclusion that he knows better and simply is trying to “troll” critical NJ, like the people on Debito.org
    Maybe he really is so shallow as only to look at the appearance of things and not at the implications his observations naturally lead to? Ironically, this kind of “pseudo” looking into matters in the most shallow way reminds me of the many disappointing times when I tried to discuss a matter with a “university”-taught Japanese person – and my feeling that in the absence of critical thinking, real acumen will always stay out of reach, was reinforced.
    What kind of person is satisfied with the “insight” that not everytime something racist is being said or done, the actor has to be a Swastika-flag waving racist?
    What do we make of a culture that teaches its members that anything “other” is dangerous, not to be trusted, or at the very least, bothersome?
    At the heart of racism is always prejudice and stereotyping. It’s really just different aspects of refusing to look at others as equal.

    Reply
  • @ Markus,

    Excellent observation. it would seem intuitive to most anybody else that a sign showing the exclusion of foriegn made cars is just good old “made in Japan” racism, however overt or covert it was displayed. If somebody were to put up a sign in another country that said, “No Japanese cars allowed to park here” the aftermath of such event would be quite dramatic indeed. In most other countries the sign would of disapproved of cars over a certian tonnage or height, never mentioning the make or country of origin. Ive seen plenty of service vans and trucks that are quite large in Japan. Im sure they would of been allowed.

    Reply
  • “In most other countries the sign would of disapproved of cars over a certian tonnage or height, never mentioning the make or country of origin.”

    A VERY key point. The whole “foreign/Japanese” dichotomy doesn’t translate – wafuku? Washoku? Wagakki? None of those words have even the slightest scrap of meaning in English – or any other language than Japanese.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I wonder what the car park owner would have said if a Nissan made in the EU or Russia, but imported to Japan, rolled up at his car park?
    Or how about Lexus? They’re all made in the US now.

    Really, Guest is giving a textbook demonstration of apologism in his ‘logic’ to attempt to defend a racist car park owner, who in turn is himself a textbook case of Japan failing to grasp that it’s racial ideology is contrary to it’s lofty statements about being ‘globalized’.

    Reply
  • @Spruce & @Chester This divisive line exists in Japanese culture since ages – well, since they established a contact with the outside world.
    My best guess is that upon seeing how far advanced other cultures were (which starts by the ability to construct ships that can take you all the way from Europe to Japan), the Japanese went through an extreme shock and a huge inferiority complex developed from it. Since that time, they felt the need to develop this false sense of uniqueness because they are at heart prideful people, who will lose all meaning in life if that pride is somehow questioned.
    This shock continues until today. It creeps into all exchanges between Japanese people and NJ people, and makes it hard to establish a normal human bond with them. Why do you think most Japanese start a conversation with the question “Do you like Japan?” – because if you don’t say “yes”, then they know that interacting with you further would go against their whole sense of being. Patrick A. Smith’s “Japan – A Reinterpretation” includes many examples, historical and current, that show that “the Japanese don’t know who they are”, and to have any kind of self-worth, this myth of “superior Japanese culture” had to be created and perpetuated until today.
    From that follows that the outside world should make to clear to the Japanese that “it’s okay to suck”, i.e. that the charades they’ve set up do not gain them more respect, but rather the contrary. But of course, their pride, and the enormous language barrier, get in the way. As long as the Japanese feel this neediness to be acknowledged as “unique” or even the “Masters of Asia”, the divide and the othering that follows from it will stay.

    Reply
  • @Markus

    Very good analysis. Many japanese have asked me, “do you like Japan” and if I answer honestly, some become enraged, but if you answer with “Yes, but….” it opens the door to a more civilized conversation. Your spot on about that.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Spruce to “Do you like Japan?” you could always answer with “yes, especially their last album and tracks like “Visions of China” and “Canton”.

    Even today, the postmodern irony of a (mostly) British band called Japan doing songs about China and topping the charts in Japan is significant, but not remembered as being a sign of an arguably more tolerant time for Japan-China relations (the late 70s-early 80s).

    At the time no one could be enraged by this-they were too popular. Now it would be interesting to see reactions.

    Reply

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>