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Table of Contents:


1) Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example
2) Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
3) quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid


4) Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan
5) Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article
6) Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.
7) Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable

… and finally…

8 ) Japan Times JBC 84 Feb. 5, 2015, “At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall”


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



1) Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example

Sono Ayako, famous conservative novelist, had a ponderous opinion piece published in the reactionary right-wing Sankei Shinbun daily newspaper. This is the same newspaper that last decade serialized professional bigot Ishihara Shintaro’s “Nihon Yo” columns (which, among other things, saw Chinese as criminal due to their “ethnic DNA” (minzokuteki DNA)). This is what the Sankei is getting up to now: Publishing opinion pieces advocating Japan institute an Apartheid system for foreign residents, separating their living areas by races. Seriously:

SONO: “I have come to believe, after 20-30 years knowing about the actual situation in the Republic of South Africa, that when it comes to residential zones, the Whites, Asians, and Blacks should be separated and live in different areas [in Japan].”

She describes how Black Africans have come to despoil the areas (particularly infrastructurally) that were reserved for Whites in the RSA, and feels that “immigrants” (imin) would do the same thing to Japan. And there’s lots more to mine from a remarkable capsule of bigotry and ethnic overgeneralizations that only cantankerous eldsters, who live in intellectual sound chambers because they are too old to be criticized properly anymore, can spew. Huffpost Japan and original article follows:

COMMENT: While I hope (and I stress: hope) that nobody is going to take seriously the rants of a octogenarian who has clearly lost touch with the modern world, it is distressing to see that this was not consigned to the regular netto-uyoku far-right internet denizens who regularly preach intolerance and spew xenophobic bile as a matter of reflex. Shame on you, Sankei, for adding credibility to this article by publishing it. Let’s hope (and I stress again: hope) that it is not a bellwether of public policy to come.

UPDATE FEB 13: A protest letter in Japanese and English from the Africa-Japan Forum hits the media, demanding a retraction and an apology. Enclosed.

UPDATE FEB 14: South African Ambassador to Japan protests Sono Ayako’s pro-Apartheid column

UPDATE FEB 20: Gaijin Handlers intervene to rein in Japan-Studies intelligentsia by portraying Sono as somehow culturally-misunderstood:


2) Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid. He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative. He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working: Sales of the scandalous Weeklies are significantly down across the board. Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it. It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

JT: Remarks on the [Sano] article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.


3) quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid

SCMP: [Sono’s] comments have provoked anger among human-rights activists. “It’s a stunning cognitive dissonance. After calling the apartheid system ‘racial discrimination’ in her column, she advocates it,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is foreign.

“Is it no longer racial discrimination in a Japanese context?” he asked. “Or does she think racial discrimination is not a bad thing? I hope – and I stress hope – this will be dismissed as the wistful musings of a very old lady who is way out of touch,” he added. “But she occupies a position of authority, and I fear her attitudes are but the tip of the iceberg in Japan’s ultra-conservative ruling elite.”…



4) Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan

I had heard about this issue of blackface in Japan by musical performers Rats & Star and Momoiro Clover Z (a la other racialized “gaijin” characteristics in Japan, including blond wigs and stuck-on big noses), but wasn’t sure how to raise it ( was embroiled enough in the Japartheid issue enough over the past few days). However, Baye McNeil does it instead, and better than I could. The part of the article I like best is about the lack of historical research these performers who profess to love the people they so carelessly imitate:

McNeil: “All of which speaks directly to this racist bullsh-t — I mean, this cultural misunderstanding — one that could have been avoided in the 30-some-odd years this band [Rats & Star] has existed if, while they were researching the music, costumes and other aspects of black music and performance, they had simply taken a second to see if what they wanted to do with blackface had ever been done before. You know, just a little proactive research about the industry they would spend the next three f-cking decades profiting handsomely from….”


5) Kyodo: Foreign trainee slain, colleague wounded in rural Ibaraki attack, in oddly terse article

JT/Kyodo: Two Chinese men taking part in a foreign trainee program on a farm in Hokota, Ibaraki Prefecture, were attacked by a group of men with knives Sunday evening, leaving one dead and the other wounded, police said. Sun Wenjun, 33, was pronounced dead at a hospital and the other man, identified only as being 32 years old, was being treated for his wounds, the police said.

They were attacked by several men, apparently non-Japanese, at around 9:50 p.m. near the farm. The two were riding bicycles on their way from the home of an acquaintance about 1.5 km from the farm. A kitchen knife with bloodstains was found near the scene, NHK reported. The surviving trainee was quoted as saying the men came out of nowhere, attacked with knives and left in a car. ENDS

COMMENT: Believe it or not, that’s the entire article — short enough to include within the blog post summary. It’s been a couple of days since the article came out, and I have an unusually busy week with several deadlines, so let me ask Readers to look around the Japanese and English-language media and see if there has been anything more afoot (especially since the article alleges that NJ were perps as well as victims). Please place articles with links in the Comments Section below.

Or if you find little to nothing more in the media, that’s also a significant indicator on how crime perpetrated against NJ is reported and handled in Japan, so please comment on that too. This would be a much larger media scrum if Japanese were stabbed to death allegedly by NJ.


6) Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.

Getting back to another issue in Japan that has long needed fixing — the judiciary — here are some overseas experts talking in a comparative perspective about Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks) that they liken to “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse than prisons, because they don’t come under the same judicial oversight for minimum standards that Japanese prisons do, and detainees, unlike the criminally-incarcerated, do not have a “prison sentence” with a limited time-frame attached to it. Not to mention Gaijin Tanks add a second layer of incarceration for NJ only, where even the NJ exonerated of a criminal offense get released from prison only to wind up in a Gaijin Tank for “overstaying” the visa they couldn’t renew because they were incarcerated. For people in Gaijin Tanks, detention can be perpetual, and that’s before we get to the horrible, even lethal, treatment they suffer from while in custody. Read on:

JT: When British incarceration inspection expert Hindpal Singh Bhui last month paid his first visit to a Japanese immigration detention center, his overriding initial impression was that it looked like a prison. “The fact that if someone comes to visit detainees, the starting point is that you’re behind a glass screen and you can’t touch someone — that feels quite restrictive,” Bhui, team leader for London-based Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, told The Japan Times during a recent visit to Japan. “It’s something which perhaps is a prison-style approach and which was surprising to see in immigration detention centers,” Bhui said of his visit to the government facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Established in 1982, HMIP is an independent inspectorate with unchallenged authority to probe state-run institutions, from prisons to immigration and military detention centers. The British system stands in contrast with Japan’s immigration inspectorate, which is poorly funded and regarded as having little independence from the government, Japanese lawyers say…


7) Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable

As a tangent to what usually takes up, let’s consider something interesting that affects everyone in Japan: the pretty insane work ethic.

Caveat: Having a society that works hard pays out enormous benefits in terms of convenience. Who can grumble about being able to, say, get a good meal at any time from a convenience store, or have bureaucrats and postal workers working on weekends? Well, those people working those kinds of jobs. And while I see a similar erosion of working hours in the United States (according to the OECD, both Americans and Japanese work fewer hours per year in 2013 than they did in 2000, but Americans still work more hours than Japanese — not surprising seeing how inhumane the amount of time people in retail have to work, especially here in Hawaii), one big issue is the ability to take vacations. I see people working full-time around here able to take sick days and even vacations without much blowback from their colleagues. Not in Japan, according to the article below. That’s why the GOJ is considering making the vacations mandatory.

This is good news. However, a closer consideration of the stats given below show an disturbing tendency: Western Europeans take almost all of their mandatory paid holidays off (up to more than a month), while Japanese take less than half of the half of the paid holidays days off they possibly could (i.e., around nine days a year, according to the article below). And what are the labor unions pushing for? Eight days. How underwhelming. Earn your dues, unions!

I think anyone reading (since so many of us have worked for Japanese companies) understands why Japanese workers take so few days off and sometimes work themselves to death — peer pressure…


… and finally…

8 ) Japan Times JBC 84 Feb. 5, 2015, “At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall”

JBC: Consider this: Anyone you see in a silent film is dead, and I mean long dead. So is almost everyone from any movie predating the 1950s. People from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II veterans are now in their 90s. Close behind are the Korean and Vietnam War vets (my growing up in a country that habitually wages war offers easy milestones). Even the people who protested their actions, the famed hippies of the 1960s, are wrinkly and retiring. Soon it’ll be the Desert Storm vets, who are already into paunchy middle age, as time marches on.

I was born at an odd time. Just 13 days shy of what the media calls the baby boomers, people my age aren’t part of Generation X either. I don’t really understand, for example, why people insist on getting tattoos or body piercings, or find public humiliation funny (e.g., “Borat”? “The Office”?), but I do understand why they keep stealing from their elders’ music (rock, psychedelic and progressive — all genres I grew up with and still listen to). But it eventually dawns on us fogies just how derivative popular culture is, and always has been. Straddling two media-manufactured generations meant I more easily saw an arc.

Now permit me to make you feel old too: We are now well into the 21st century, 15 years since Y2K, 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. No children in developed countries know a time without the Internet; some can’t imagine not submitting their homework online, and are no longer learning cursive. Google a recent photo of any media personality you grew up with and you’ll see their wrinkles either starting or becoming well-advanced. Then look in the mirror yourself and trace…


That’s quite enough for this month. Thanks for reading!
Dr. ARUDOU, Debito,, Twitter @arudoudebito


21 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 3, 2015

  • Jim di Griz says: and it’s commenters have often been accused by apologists of racism because we have often said that the Japanese education system fails to develop critical thinking skills, a deficiency that hinders Japanese when they become adults, and J-society as a whole.

    Well, here’s the proof. Straight from the government themselves.

  • Loverilakkuma says:


    The real failure of Japanese education system is ministry officials’ over-reliance on test-based assessment, ineffectual instructional guidance, oversized classroom, unwillingness to reach out to students of language/cultural minorities, and excessive administrative work that kills teachers to the core.

    I don’t see any progress in MEXT’s curriculum reform policy; recent report on English language proficiency for 3rd-year-high school students shows only 18% of students meet the MEXT-set standard (pre-2nd to 2nd in Eiken Test, which is basic level). This means more than 80% of those are at middle-school level [3rd-5th grade in Eiken]. It well explains how their English Language Education reform is so far failing miserably.

    Their reaction: “We will consider micro-managing teachers for instructional guidance.”

    The MEXT officials do not really understand that an overwhelming majority of JTEs(Japanese Teachers of English) are below the benchmark(52% at senior high schools; less than 30% at junior high school are at or above pre-1st grade in Eiken Test [equivalent to TOEFL iBT70 or beyond]; unknown for elementary school teachers].
    They raised the bar[without even doing field-testing] in their recent reform proposal released in December 2013, ignoring that most teachers cannot afford to budget their time outside school for language skills/instructional development. There is only 5 years left to the target year 2020.

    This is a country some whacky ed reformers like US Ed secretary Arne Duncan, ex-Florida gov. & 2016 Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush, and OECD PISA promoter Andreas Schleicher have praised Japan for high PISA test scores.

    What can you see from the samples of 15-year-old student test scores for prediction of national economy? Nothing.
    Japan has been on top in PISA table for years but that doesn’t get the nation out of poverty. Nor does it guarantee them an upper economic class whatsoever.

    The worst nightmare?: Abe and clueless MEXT being tricked into billion dollar contract with a greedy British testing company Pearson, who will supervise the next PISA test. That will make his day as ABEarson Inc.

  • @2 Loverilakkuma – Oh well, you again with the “kimochii warui” analogies and references. I don’t think it’s fair to portray Japan as a victim of foreign corporations, or to say that Japan’s education system is tricked into overestimating the value of a high PISA ranking. It’s reasonable to praise a high PISA ranking, because in countries other than Japan, they are seen as having some significance in evaluating the local education system. But those countries would never be as gullible as to believe in those rankings as gospel, and Jeb Bush probably couldn’t even fathom a situation where an education system completely fails at teaching a foreign language.

    Isn’t it more like that Japanese culture puts too much stress on rankings in general, and especially on competing with the Western world in international rankings such as PISA? Again, this is a case of the (elected and re-elected) Japanese government not trying to come up with a strategy on what is best for Japan, but only a short-term boost of a specific ranking in order to impress the Western world. This isn’t so different from 80s USSR military parades, Chinese mass-rallies, or North Korean rocket launches.

    The Japanese have exactly the government they deserve, and if that government is lazy enough to trust its language education to an allegedly greedy foreign company – hey, I can’t blame that company to make the most of it.

    Personally, I think this whole “our English education has to improve” thing is just for show, anyway. The people who run Japan have no interest in the population being able to see the world without a language filter, and to understand that, for instance, America is not just about cop shows and fat people, but also a melting pot of cultures, or Europe isn’t just about oishii food and old buildings, but also the French revolution or Germany being able to become reintegrated after the Nazi rule. No, for the Japanese power structure’s pipedream long time goal of ruling all eight corners of the world, when Japanese will replace English as the world language, a populace who’s able to understand a foreign language and foreign concepts, isn’t needed.

  • aaahhh…don’t ya just love the outsourcing method of Japanese companies.

    “..Incentives draw Japanese manufacturers to Turkish midlands….These companies are being attracted by ample low-cost labor and tax incentives dangled by the government. Some Japanese manufacturers have already teamed up with Turkish partners to build plants in inland provinces….”

    Ahh…but where is the catch….where is the “the Japanese way of doing business”..??…oh it is:

    “…Government tax breaks were the biggest factor in Sumitomo Rubber’s decision to start production in Cankiri, according to SAT President Norifumi Fujimoto. The incentives include a 10-year exemption from mandatory employer contributions to social security,…”

    So, just like not paying foreigner contributes of NJs in Japan, they have now got their cake and eating it, by denying mandatory contributions of workers in Turkey!!..hahahahaa….unbelievable.



    March 21, 2015 1:00 pm JST
    Beyond Istanbul
    Incentives draw Japanese manufacturers to Turkish midlands
    RYOSUKE HANAFUSA, Nikkei staff writer

    ISTANBUL — Turkey’s underdeveloped inland areas are getting some new residents: Japanese manufacturers.

    Sumitomo Rubber and Turkey’s AKO are preparing to start this joint plant in north-central Turkey’s Cankiri Province.

    These companies are being attracted by ample low-cost labor and tax incentives dangled by the government. Some Japanese manufacturers have already teamed up with Turkish partners to build plants in inland provinces.

    Sumitomo Rubber Industries and Turkish tire producer Abdulkadir Ozcan Otomotiv Lastik, also known as AKO, have set up a joint venture in Cankiri Province in the north-central part of the country. Output is to start this summer.

    Bridgestone, meanwhile, intends to make tires in central Turkey with partner Sabanci Group, beginning in 2018. And in the east of the country, another Japanese company is behind a steel plant project.

    Ankara’s efforts to woo foreign businesses to the nation’s center are starting to bear fruit.

    Almost ready to roll

    The tire factory Sumitomo Rubber and AKO are building on a Cankiri plain will be the first Japanese-backed plant in central Turkey. The Japanese company owns 80% of the $500 million joint venture, dubbed Sumitomo Rubber AKO Lastik Sanayi ve Ticaret, or SAT. Ankara-based AKO holds the remaining stake.

    Construction started in October 2013 in what will become an industrial park. Trial production is slated to begin in April. When the facility comes fully onstream in July, it will have initial daily output of 200 to 400 tires. The rate is to be increased to 4,000 in December.

    By the end of 2019, the goal is to have a workforce of 2,000 and daily production of 30,000 tires.

    Sumitomo Rubber intends to make the Turkish plant a hub for exports to European and Middle Eastern markets. Of the facility’s output, 40% will go to the European Union and another 40% to Russia. The rest will be split between supplies for automakers operating in Turkey and sales to Turkish consumers.

    Government tax breaks were the biggest factor in Sumitomo Rubber’s decision to start production in Cankiri, according to SAT President Norifumi Fujimoto. The incentives include a 10-year exemption from mandatory employer contributions to social security, a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 20% to 2% on a certain amount of income, an exemption from a 6% tariff and measures to ease the burden of the sales tax.

    Investments in Cankiri Province are eligible for the second-highest of six levels of government incentives. Locating a plant in an industrial park qualifies a company for the highest level.

    The 1 million sq. meters of land needed for the SAT plant was supplied by the government for free.

    But government perks are only part of the attraction. Labor costs in the region are substantially lower than in urban areas. The initial monthly take-home pay for workers at the new plant is 1,200 Turkish lira ($458), 20% to 30% less than the comparable figure for Istanbul.

    The area’s lack of other large factories and businesses means it is relatively easy to hire workers.

    Extra capacity

    Bridgestone has found a similar plum position with its joint venture in an industrial park in Aksaray Province. The Japanese company and its Turkish partner, Sabanci, each own about 44% of Brisa Bridgestone Sabanci Lastik Sanayi ve Ticaret, or simply Brisa.

    The about $300 million venture is expected to be turning out 13,000 tires per day by 2022.

    Sabanci is Turkey’s second-largest conglomerate, with businesses ranging from banking and brokerage services to power generation and cement production.

    Brisa already runs a plant in Kocaeli Province, east of Istanbul, but wants to ramp up production capacity. The new facility in Aksaray will be the company’s second.

    Investments in Aksaray are also eligible for the second-highest level of government incentives. As in Cankiri, moving into an industrial park gets you the highest level.

    Over in southeastern Turkey, Tosyali Holding, a Turkish steelmaker, has tied up with Toyo Kohan, part of Japan’s Toyo Seikan Group, to build an about $400 million plant in Osmaniye Province. The facility is to manufacture surface-treated specialized steel. It is expected to come onstream as early as 2016.


    The Turkish government expanded its incentive program in 2012 because it wants to spread out economic activity beyond Istanbul. The government also hopes to nurture competitive domestic industries, in order to boost exports and reduce a chronic current-account deficit.

    Seen from another angle, the policy appears aimed at stoking the economies of rural provinces that are the traditional constituencies of the ruling Justice and Development Party. Incentive levels depend on the region, with preference given to central and eastern areas.

    Istanbul is home to nearly 20% of the country’s population of around 78 million. The metropolis and surrounding areas are responsible for a third of the nation’s gross domestic product. The nearby provinces of Kocaeli and Sakarya host the plants of automakers and parts suppliers from Japan, the U.S. and Europe.

    Side effects of this concentration include chronic traffic jams and soaring real estate prices.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Markus, #3

    Sorry, you’re clearly off on this topic. PISA ranking doesn’t mean anything but reflection of socio-economic inequality: students of high income family come on top in test scores and students of low income family come at the bottom. That is what you will see in any kind of state standardized tests like PARCC, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, etc. PISA test is under heavy scrutiny for its numerous biases: questionable measurements; selection of samples; demographics, etc. Andreas Schleicher(German) has received numerous criticism from many educators in Europe, the US, and around the world. Side note: the US is quite mediocre in PISA test score ranking since they joined in the international periodic table fifty years ago. They were dead last in the first year, but they became a leader of world economy.

    Real ‘kimochi-warui’ moment is stupid MEXT bureaucrats and narcissistic PM would make a deal with notorious British testing-company responsible for high-jacking education system for profiteering in the international market. This company is exception to your definition of (‘innocent’) foreign corporations.

    Should this kind of private contract happen in Japan, they would face extremely dismal consequence. It makes far worse than what is happening now.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Sorry, it’s that time of the year again- cherry blossom.

    This is a personal grudge for me, having been ‘policed’ by volunteer old geezers some time back for ‘being NJ in the park’ some years back (as I wrote on at the time).
    This morning’s Sankei TV (who else?) ‘Tokudane’ show, had a 10 minute report just before 09:00 about NJ enjoying the cherry blossom in Tokyo.
    Of course, it wasn’t a case of ‘These lucky NJ tourists are in Tokyo just in time to see sakura’, but rather ‘The park is over-run with NJ- mainly Chinese! AND they don’t know the ‘rules’!’.

    They counted 150 NJ in one park (which I don’t think is a lot considering there were thousands of Japanese), and of those 150 NJ, they found that 29 people were Chinese! (shock!). Of all the NJ they asked regarding nationality, Chinese represented the largest group (but seriously, 29 from 150 is pretty small).

    Anyway, as the reporter pointed out, these people don’t know the ‘rules’ for having fun, and are disturbing the ‘wa’ of the Japanese (who I presume weren’t shouting, singing drunkenly, making out, or puking up alcohol at the time that the reporter was there).

    How did they disturb the ‘wa’?
    Pulling the tips of the lowest hanging branches down a few inches to take a close up photo of the flowers! Clearly, it’s the end of Japanese civilization as we know it!

    The reporter took it upon herself to tell these people about there bad manners (eliciting an ‘I’m sorry’ response in English), before we went back to the study to see a collection of talking heads shaking their furrowed brows at this massive infraction against ‘beautiful Japan’.

    Japan should just have a tourism campaign that says;
    ‘Japan! Please don’t come, just send money!’

  • @Loverilakkuma (#5) Confusing. You say I’m off, only to agree with me in the following paragraph. I’m not pro-PISA if that’s what you got from my comment. I was simply criticising governments, such as the Japanese one, who seem to take the high PISA ranking as an indicator of their system working better than others, which I attributed to the underlying mindset of “appearances are all that counts”.

    As for “innocent corporations”, which is your term not mine – who’s really to blame here? I personally don’t understand the need for a private corporation to run the English education of a country – this is unheard of in Europe, as far as I know. How is it possible a rich country like Japan has no way to implement foreign language teaching without outside help?

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Markus, #7

    I doubt it. You make a qualifying statement on credibility of PISA ranking in relation to education system–except for Japan, by saying “those countries would never be as gullible.” And you give Jeb Bush a free pass on gullibility test. Do you know who he is? Jeb Bush is a notorious private education reformer who has forced all students at 3-8th grade to take state standardized tests multiple times in his home state Florida. He has made really stupid ‘test-is-everything dumb’ comment like a bunch of Japanese conservatives who blasted yutori kyouikyu in 2003. He’s a poster boy for private education reform movement, proposing test-based accountability and school funding by private corporations. Abe and Ed minister Hakubun Shimomura are pretty much on the similar plane with Bush and Duncan, since they are the ones promoting education reform in connection with national progress–as if it was a key to successful economic mobility. Did you know the MEXT cite America’s “Nation At Risk” (1983) as their guideline for their education reform in 2001 White Paper?

    Not enough to know who Shimomura is? Perhaps this will help:

    And, you again accuse me of bringing “kimochi warui” analogy and reference to west in an attempt to “portray Japan as a victim of foreign corporations.” Please! Where did I ever suggest that Pearson’s ‘evil’ privatization scheme gives Japan an excuse for their national attitude on conservative national politics? That is just plain silly.

    I just mention only one company whose business integrity is seriously under question. I put word ‘innocent’ in parenthesis for “foreign corporations” because you seem to be detached on how they will play out in the context. I would not hold all foreign companies as potentially hapless victim of Japan’s cultural uniqueness practice. Some of those are capable of pulling off nasty discriminatory practice like Procter & Gamble ( Pearson deserves public scrutiny because of their previous records, including recent outrageous spying on students (see I see them potentially more dangerous than PC&G and ANA for pulling off nasty discriminatory practice. Assuming that they would enter into Japan’s oligopoly education market in the future (I hope they don’t), we really don’t have to wait and see how Pearson’s name would get caught this blog’s attention by making such discriminatory advertisement like ‘long-nosed’ or ‘black(or brown)-face-painted’ foreign students who freak out with Japan’s future model of standardized testing???

    As I made it clear before, Japan’s political/cultural problems are–contrary to what many people tend to believe– nothing unique (and hence, immune whatsoever). Their idiocy is performed in a similar manner with some of those neoconservatives and neo-liberals people see outside the border. You don’t think it’s fair to bring foreign reference–because Japan is uniquely unique in every respect–and hence there’s no solution to the numerous problems they are dealing with? Or are they the only one living in a la la land in the world? Are you aware that puts you in very precarious position to defend conventional assumptions on Japan’s cultural uniqueness? In other words, you are unknowingly making ideologically similar arguments like some apologists and deniers do.

    Here’s my bottom line. If you don’t like any foreign analogy or reference, you have a choice not bother read my posting. Be reminded that no one EXCEPT YOU has made such a ‘bickering’ comment (among those approved) at me in this blog so far.

    — And I think I’m going to draw this discussion to a close. One more summary comment from each of you (only; Markus you go first) if necessary, and then that’s it.

  • @Loverilakkuma (#8) Yes, and I stand by it. Japan’s problems are in my opinion “uniquely unique”. Japan shares some problems with other East Asian societies, some with the whole world, but the lion’s share of its problems are unique to the culture and political history (which is unique by itself and therefore produces unique problems). Japan is in many aspects “uniquely unique”, just not in the positive way that the right-wing thinks it is.

    Your references to me are, for the most time, simply too far-fetched as to make any sense and therefore I read them as an attempt at “apologism” along the lines of “other countries do it too”. It doesn’t help that you somehow manage to shoehorn such references in nearly every single comment you write, which I think is “kimochi warui”. Almost as if you are obsessed with finding such examples in other countries.

    Also, your analogies and references fall short of acknowledging that there are other countries in the world besides Japan and the US. Just because some bad example exists in the US doesn’t mean Japan isn’t unique – what if a certain thing exists only in Japan and the US, but nowhere else? I simply don’t see the significance of taking huge problems that Japan faces and then to relativize them by comparing them with some minor, local things or events or people you have found to exist in the US.

    So, to build a bridge, I don’t take offense simply in comparing Japan’s problems to the US’s problems, but the frequency and the far-fetchedness of the comparisons are in my opinion detrimental to your otherwise valuable contributions.

    — Okay, that’s enough on this topic from Marcus. Loverilakkuma, you can have the last word if you like.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Shoe ON The Other Foot Dept.

    Gackt subjected to racism by NJ!


    On the 30th March Gackt blogged that he had an overnighter at an airport in Fance, so he checked into a nearby hotel
    He went to the restaurant, and was made to sit at the back of the restaurant with ‘all the other asian customers’ so that ‘white people could sit by the windows’.
    He argued with the French staff (in English!) that this was racist, but they walked away from him.
    Therefore, he concludes, the French are a nation of racists.
    Unlike Japan, which has no racism.

    Details in Japanese;

    Well, well, well! Let me take a page from the apologists playbook!
    Firstly, this story is suspiciously short on details (airport name, hotel name, restaurant name?)
    Secondly, why didn’t Gackt take any photos of this racist segregation (doesn’t he have a smartphone?).
    I really doubt that he is telling us the whole truth.
    But, any way, lets stick to the information that he has given us. He complained in English? He should try using the language of the country he is in! French! I bet this is all about his poor language skills! The staff walked away from him during his complaint in a foreign language? He’s lucky they didn’t call security! Was he wearing make-up like he always does on TV? I’d call the police if a tall guy in make-up started haranguing me in a foreign language that I didn’t understand.
    All French are racist? Gee, that’s….pretty racist!

    I’d wager that the whole thing was just a harmless misunderstanding, no offense intended by the French staff (maybe, if we knew the name of the restaurant, I could give them a call, and explain how to turn away Gackt without seeming racist in future?), and since Gackt has built an career on the image that he’s a ‘sophisticated, worldly-wise, renaissance man’ (I’ve seen him on TV identifying Stradivarius violins, and picking out vintage French red wine), I’d suggest that he is hyper-sensitive about the whole thing.

    — Or that it really happened as Gackt said and that he was really offended. Fine. Let’s assume he has a justifiable grievance. But will Gackt now start making sure this sort of thing never happens to anyone else in, for example Japan, to other human beings, including NJ who have to deal with this sort of differential treatment on a daily basis? Or will he go the opposite extreme and say that it happened to him, so racism towards NJ in Japan is justifiable because it happens to Japanese overseas? I know which extreme I’ve seen more of (for example, read down to the very end).

  • Loverilakkuma says:


    It’s the matter of where you live and where and how you see the problems occurring at home or adopted country. If you don’t think western cases very much helpful in discerning the issues, that’s fine. Whether you see them farfetched or not, that’s your opinion. But I suggest you try to think the connections between Japan and country you feel comfortable talking(including your home country). Human rights issue is universal phenomenon influencing the countries around the world. Education reform, austery, poverty are the issues that certainly involve the matters of human rights regardless of what country you live. Each country has its own unique political system and cultural practice. Some specific issues like Hikikomori may be unique to local society, others like torture and police interrogation turn out to be very common.

    I think the issue you are continuing to bring up is if one likes a certain method to bring up the issue for discussion or not. Like doxxing. My answer? I have no obligation to take it down unless it does not hold any caliber for contribution to discussion. I wouldn’t bring any if it’s obviously irrelevant.

    I will echo what I said in my previous post: You have a choice not to read my posts if they include references and sources you don’t like. I cannot pass my judgment on how people see them. That is not the main objective of discussion in the blog.

    — Alright, closing this point. Thank you both very much for agreeing to disagree.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Dr. Debito #10,

    You spoiled my April Fools fun! I was acting the apologist so well, I thought.

    To be serious though, this does go to show the massive disconnect that many Japanese have about racism in Japan- i.e. that ‘there isn’t any racism in Japan’ because Japanese are never the victims of racism in Japan.

    And also, I do like the fact that this is Gackt complaining. As I have pointed out, a part of his ‘image’ is that he is ‘clued in’ and knowledgeable about western ‘high’ culture, and yet here he is, in a situation (if we take him at his word) for all his knowledge and love of this culture, no one cares.

    It reminds me of that fact that except for company employees parachuted into Japan for a short term stint, most NJ come to Japan because they have a very good, positive, image of Japan, and many are genuinely interested in finding out about Japanese culture. However, institutional racism soon takes that away from them, and they mostly go home (just as the J-gov wants). The people who are most affected by Japanese racism are the people who were initially most sympathetic to the Japanese, it seems to me.

    Kind of reminds me of an ex-girlfriend who became a kind of proto-joushi uyoku after we broke up. I think this is what you are alluding to with your comment on my post above, that going ‘through the looking glass’ doesn’t always engender understanding and sympathy, but rather a knee-jerk kind of victim mentality, bordering on racist hatred.

    Every anime freak, Japanese history vulture, or hard-worker looking for a better life, that was forced to return home by the grind of non-stop institutional racism becomes of of Japans biggest detractors on the international scene- and these are the very people Japan should be offering a fair shake of the stick to!

    In fact, the apologists would have everyone believe that we are racist. No, the racist ones are back in their home country cursing everything Japanese, and filling their homes with Samsung and L&G products. What we are doing isn’t racist- we’re trying to stick it out and affect change.

  • @Jim (#10) It would be interesting to hear the restaurant staff’s story, but it is questionable if they even remember the incident because “Gackt” is virtually a nobody in Europe save for some inner-circle Japanophiles.

    But his reaction echoes that of many Japanese people I have unwittingly “discriminated against” in my time by referring to them as “Asians” or to Japan as “Asia”: Many Japanese are extremely offended simply for being called “Asian”. They seem to think of it as an insult, because they deem themselves superior to “Asia” and they literally want to “sit with the white people”.
    So, “sitting with the white people”, and not “with the Asians” in this case may mean more to Gackt than we as “Europeans” or “Americans” can even begin to imagine.

  • Loverilakkuma says:


    I am not a fan of him. His snobbish and chauvinistic attitude much turn me off. He had an issue with sexual assault allegation last year–if I remember correctly.
    To be honest with you, he has a point in very limited perspective–which means, he doesn’t really seem to care how social injustice is working against some group of people in his country or in his prefecture (yes, he’s born and raised in the southern island of archipelago. But he moved to the mainland in very young age). He is kind of somewhat exotic & exclusive (in some sense similar to Marc Dacascos, a.k.a. Mr. Wo Fat, half-Asian/half-European Hawaiian martial artist), yet with frat boy mentality. That’s all the impression I have on him. Nothing more than that.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    What is also probably at work here is how Japanese perceive the discrimination that they do receive – the discrimination is often against Asians or even simply against foreigners. The Japanese often are unable to see this – they think they are being discriminated against for being Japanese.

    BTW, can we be sure that Gackt actually was seated at the back so that the “white people could sit by the windows”?

    — Again, I’m going to assume he had the grievance (we generally favor the victim at My question is, what lesson will he take from it? Let’s wait and see.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Andrew in Saitama #15

    Gackt says that he sat at the front and was directed by staff to sit at the back.
    He sat at the back and watched white customers being seated at the front, so he moved to a table at the front, and was directed to return to the back.

  • Baudrillard says:

    Gackt Irony ver.”We French have a unique culture and language which is difficult for an Asian to understand. It is just a misunderstanding. Does Monsieur Gakuto understand French? It may be he did not understand the customs of the restaurant. Also, it is the policy of this restaurant (bathhouse) to put the French looking people by the windows, so that other French are not scared away by all the Asian faces or think that it is a Chinese restaurant. It cannot be racist because under EU laws, racism is not permitted in France. “Also, Mr Gakuto can sell his anodyne, over produced songs to many young French Japanophiles, so it cannot be racist- We French are welcoming of J-Pop.”

    In any case, wouldn’t Mr. Gakuto be more comfortable with other Asians? It is the policy of the restaurant to book a table in advance, but many Asian tourists do not seem to know that. Sorry the staff walked away, but they do not speak English or Asian languages, and they had to deal with an urgent matter. We are sorry that our restaurant is not equipped to deal with the special needs of non French customers.”

    ” Apparently Mr Gakuto is gambatteru very hard to understand French wine and culture and we welcome his efforts to fit in with European culture and even looks, and he is a welcome guest here, especially as we do like rich Asians to come and spend money here, and then go home after a few years, as the honourable Mr Shinzo Abe said.”

    Basically he didnt get the restaurant seat he wanted-probably with no prior reservation, so he says its racist. Spoilt brat. He should collaborate with Utada HIkaru.

  • Baudrillard says:

    Forgot this “If Gakuto doesnt like it here, why doesnt he go home?” The venerable classic that is always whipped out at the end. I guess he got postmodern disconnect Paris syndrome- seems he is not as “unique” or as worldly as he would like to think he is. You gotta love these manufactured, tiny supposed idiosyncrasies marketed to make J pop idols somehow “different” from all the others. Like, Utada HIkaru can actually SING IN ENGLISH. Or, Gackt knows about French wine. Or Mrs.Seiko dates Americans (ahem) Well, whoopee.

    It is hardly the stuff of talkshows, oh wait, THIS IS JAPAN, so yes, it is. Because we are not allowed to talk about politics or society (well, you can, in private, as Japan is a democracy, haha, but to do so in public is just…rude, right?). Gotta keep that dreamy NHK day untarnished right? A few million housewives depend on it to get thru the day without abducting their kid and doing a runner in the face of more negative F-word news (Fukushima).

    Kiyoshiro_Imawano the anti nuclear campaigner was twice the “man” Gackt is- I wonder if he had lived, what he would have made of Japan now. (source, Dan Grunebaum (June 30, 2011). “Japan’s new wave of protest songs”. New York Times.)

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard,

    Your apologism is way better than mine. Hats off to you sir!
    You NAILED all the excuses and techniques! A veritable masterclass.

    I bet apologists will accuse you of racism now, with not a jot of irony.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    So, a record number of NJ care-givers passed their Japanese exam;

    But the number of NJ who passed the Japanese nursing exam was down.

    Clearly, the way to fix this problem is to make the Japanese language requirement tougher?

    As I’ve argued before, the goal isn’t to enable NJ to qualify and settle here. It’s to keep Japan’s revolving-door visa system revolving.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @JDG, #20

    Yep. It’s high-stakes standardized testing applied to de-professionalization of Japanese nursing system. A program so called PARCC(Partnership of Assessment for Cramming and Controlling).


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