My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”


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Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan
The Japan Times, NOV 1, 2015

Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

Read the rest at

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

37 comments on “My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

  • This may be one of the best articles you have ever written. Seriously, thank you for investing so much damn time into your research and pushing this issue forward. I can’t imagine how difficult and stressful it has been, it is things like this (the article, your book) that are really giving a voice to those who simply don’t have one in Japan for the most part.

    Thank you.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Great article!
    It’s interesting that although now deleted, someone always seems to shriek shrilliy ‘he’s Jewish!’ as if they’re shouting ‘they’re making food out of people!’.

    The mind boggles.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Dr. Debito, This month’s JBC wasn’t open for comments for even 12 hours! That’s got to be some kind of a record! And whilst the apologists always claim that JBC gets closed to comments to prevent them from ‘telling readers the truth’ about you, I was following the comments all day today (whilst on the sofa with man-flu), and the sad fact is that the sheer assault of racist comments slamming you personally must be a nightmare for the JT mods- it was a tidal wave of vicious nasty attacks on your character, and the characters of other posters today.

    That you inspire such an aggressive level of personal hate must surely mean that you are delivering a straight truth (normally concealed by the consensual hallucination of ‘tatemae’), that exposes something about these people that is painful for them to look at honestly.

  • 有道博士、 I am a huge fan of you and your work. But why don’t you publish this ultra-critical research and work in Japanese, instead of just English? Don’t the people who need to hear it most read Japanese, rather than English?

    — I would be happy to. I’ve done it plenty of times in the past (page down to the Japanese articles, and page further down to see citations in Japanese media). However — and I’m speaking from experience here — most Japanese publications are not open to this level of criticality about Japan. Even more so in these days of PM Abe locking down dissent.

  • Edward J. Cunningham says:

    Keep up the good work, Dr. Arudou. The vile things your critics say about you were also once said about Frederick Douglass.

  • Baudrillard says:

    Japan, like the Soviet Union, has “embedded {corruption} which is key to how the system “works.”

    Gorby tried to reform it, but he was stuck between a Scylla and Charybdis. It is the same in Japan with, e.g. NJ local election voting rights. So why bother? It is clearly a vote loser because the majority are opposed to or at best indifferent to NJ rights.

    We have only seen minor progress, honorary Japanese status bestowed upon “halfs” if they are part of a group. Then its about J groups versus J groups, or the J group versus the “warui” individual- e.g. the racist referee in a soccer game.


    The system cannot be reformed. It can only reach a crisis.

  • Great article as usual Debito. Thanks!

    Just ignore the comments of the what seems to be intellectually challenged posters on JT. They are just plain disgraceful.

  • Baudrillard says:

    Great article but think the main point should have gone at the beginning to partly head of the Japologists who didnt bother reading to the end- “Until Japan takes the first steps of removing bloodline-based and phenotypical conceits behind nationality and citizenship, Japan will continue to strangle itself demographically and, by extension, economically, politically and socially.”

    I also feel that as with the J shame, not Western guilt, rather than following universal truths such as e.g. human rights, appealing to Japanese self interest would have been more effective. E.g. you will be cared for by a robot in your old age if you do not agree with some immigration and sensible rights for those immigrants (or they will not come), etc.

    We see that with e.g. the anti racist movement in Japan- its all about how they feel the racists are harming Japan’s self image abroad- NJ rights are in fact secondary- they just serve the J team agenda in a different way.

  • The Embedded Racism article in The Japan Times is better than most — not shrill — and contains some commentary that certainly long-term residents (especially married with kids) think about.
    Should we stay? How long is too long (pension concerns, job promotion)? Should we put the kids through Japanese schools and university? Feel free to add your own that you’re thinking about now to the list.

    In our case, at a certain juncture, we sent kids out and to good effect. Bilingual kids could still come back. In our case, there were a total of zero significant problems with kids being accepted into society. As for ourselves, there have been some minor moments like being denied service in a restaurant, having “space” on the train (in fact a plus!!). Lots of benefits, too, like being invited to this and that by virtue of being nice foreigners.
    *The single greatest issue/concern is whether pension will be properly paid. Even with tax treaties in place, one never knows.* There are lawyers and embassy support, though, if it should ever come to that.

    If you are a highly educated person already with a solid future, such as a citizen of a G-7 country or other country where the rule of law is a given, then in my opinion Japan could be a dicey choice for the long term. And, statistics have proven that such people are considering their options carefully because the number of highly educated expats has begun to decrease. The government initiatives to attract highly educated foreigners have been failing miserably. People who do *choose* to stay here for the long term do know what’s what (it has been a long time coming) and even though their important decisions may be tough and conflicted, still they have chosen to stay here. They can’t expect a great cultural transformation.

    Personally, I do not care about the alleged need for Japanese (in authority) to change. It’s their problem, not mine. Basically, why bother ruminating over it (though as written above, the correct application of law relating to money issues DOES matter a lot in my case)? Whether it is refusing to take more systematic and more comprehensive steps to deal with the future (some say imminent) labour shortage or judging people by their appearance, or similar, for me it is not worth consideration except over beers. History has amply demonstrated that not until there is a crisis and it is near the final hour will Japanese take significant sweeping, society-wide action. That said, the author should know that quite a number of leading companies *are* becoming ever more international and do actively hire all kinds of foreigners and pay them well if they speak and read Japanese at a proper level (reaching upper middle mgmt. is quite possible). I know this from firsthand knowledge. So it is not all gloom and doom. Some other bright spots exist: universities are looking to introduce more internationally focused programmes, there are the SELHI schools and, soon, Super Global English High Schools. These will foster better global understanding.

    In any case, for me it is purely about assessing my financial priorities. Sociocultural and matters take a definite back seat. So long as treaty and pension laws are applied as written, I’m good. However, I would not recommend well-educated (G-7) people to stay unless they have thought long and hard about the downside.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I guess many of us here have little difficulty in learning what the article is all about. Debito has another choice to bring up any issue he likes as usual by mentioning his upcoming book project at end caption–instead of article, but, hey, why not? It is 5 days away (72 hours away when I’m writing this posting), and JBC #93 gives you a kind reminder.

    Regarding the JT commenters, I guess the moderating team is getting bothered by some commenters’ malicious intent and trolling habits in the last several months, so that forces them to make a tough decision(i.e., closing the forum) in a relatively short period of time. These accusers and Japologists are behaving just like pro-privatization reformers, anti-unionists, charter/voucher cheerleaders, corporatists, hipsters, and free market worshippers. It would be interesting if someone studies their snarky behavior to attack, slander, and vilify their opponent(s) with demented logic for promotion of their larger-than-life identity like “A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the implosion of Japan’s Foreign Community.” (Original book title here,, ^^)

  • The haters will have an attempt at discrediting all that was posted, but unfortuanetly, I think Debito is quite right on this one. I say unfortunately because its a sad existance to live where your an outsider forever. Ive experienced allot of racism and othering, so much so Ive taken it to be the norm in Japan. How anyone could defend that is beyond me, but who cares about them. When you back it up and look at it for what it is, I mean those who are running from their own hateful enviroments might find Japan refreshing, but how stupid that is to believe anything coming from somebody so disconnected.

  • @Baudrillard #8

    “…appealing to Japanese self interest would have been more effective.”

    While that may be true in the short run, what people (everywhere) really need to hear and understand is the universal truths of human rights and equality. That is the ultimate objective; I don’t see any meaningful value in watering it down or steering away from it.

    We could make the same argument against racist police brutality in the U.S., citing it costs taxpayers money in terms of lawsuits, investigations, those paid vacations cops get (“suspended with pay”) after they murder an unarmed black person, etc., but that’s a little degrading and insulting to the victims, is it not? The true cost is that to human life. The financial impact is secondary.

    — Yes. But history shows again and again that few people in positions of power or policymaking are ever swayed by “just-society” arguments. I know because I’ve been making the just-society arguments for Japan for at least 15 years now. Made little to no real impact in terms of law, society, and policy. So now that I have concrete policy problems analyzed through my doctoral research, it’s time to consider those too.

  • #10

    “…Regarding the JT commenters, I guess the moderating team is getting bothered by some commenters’ malicious intent and trolling habits in the last several months, so that forces them to make a tough decision..”

    As already noted on a very interesting beeb article some time ago, the JT may go the same way:


  • @ HJ and Debito, but in the US they have a freedom of information act, had a civil rights movement etc. Abe is introducing more secrecy laws and its traditionally a hierarchy with an imposed democracy from the USA which some consider bad form or taste to use too much.

    Isnt that Abe’s whole point? The American constitution was founded on a “Just Society” style manifesto, in the age of rationalism. Abe’s preferred “Japanese” constitution is more about mysticism and consensus rather than justice. Especially justice for individuals.

  • j_jobseeker says:

    I agree with #4 HJ. This should be in Japanese and made available to Japanese more than English speakers and NJ in Japan. Debito, couldn’t you self-publish? There are plenty of tools to do this nowadays including Amazon which can provide you with services right up through retail. You can provide a link on this site and your readers can spread the word to our Japanese friends, co-workers, etc. Just thinking off the top of my head, but the point I want to get across is that in the digital age, you don’t have to go through Japanese publishers or retailers anymore. You do have options and I hope you’ll consider them.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I understand why people think that this should BR available in Japanese, but does anybody believe anyone will actually read it, and not come to the conclusion that (incorrectly) Dr. Debito hates Japan?

    Why? Well Dr. Debito has covered that all before in previous JBC’s. Like the anti-racism group that would accept NJ members that we spoke of a few weeks ago, there is a total inability to grasp the essential concept. Look at the JT comments; every time there are Japanese people claiming that Dr. Debito isn’t really Japanese because his message is critical.

    Sure, not all Japanese are blind to their own racism. Sure, there are even some Japanese who are not blind to Japanese racism AND think that Japanese racism is wrong. But they don’t need to read Dr. Debitos columns because they already know.

    Just my personal opinion, but there’s no point in trying to convert anyone who doesn’t already get it; these people circle the wagons and try to make your life even harder. Better by far to exploit the fact that Abdnomics, Fukushima, 2020 Olympics, 70th anniversary of the end of WWII means that the international spotlight is on Japan, and use it to mercilessly and relentlessly embarrass them into the 21st century whether they like it or not. And I don’t care how they feel about it- I’m thinking of my children’s futures.

  • “That said, the author should know that quite a number of leading companies *are* becoming ever more international and do actively hire all kinds of foreigners and pay them well if they speak and read Japanese at a proper level (reaching upper middle mgmt. is quite possible). I know this from firsthand knowledge. So it is not all gloom and doom”

    Ive always avoided the trap of speaking and acting Japanese; I feel its just a ploy used to hire then control token gaijin. As Im not into control, I feel allot of discomfort when acting and speaking Japanese, and when something causes you discomfort, well its signal something aint right (not real). “Well”, says the apologist, “thats why you can never succeed in Japan.” Perhaps true, but in this land of perpetual contradictions, if speaking and acting Japanese is so important to ones survival, then why the enormous time and money spent to learn English? It brings me to another one of the contradictions of your post:

    “Some other bright spots exist: universities are looking to introduce more internationally focused programmes, there are the SELHI schools and, soon, Super Global English High Schools.”

    Those bright spots are ellusive; come back in 50 years if your alive, and still find some goofy campaign or school promoting how to learn English alive and well, and hard headed gaijin still trying to be accepted in Japan and make it work. Its a waste of time and effort if you ask me. So you spend time and effort to be accepted into uchi company groupu dynamic, only to step on to the train at 9 pm and become a soto gaijin all over again. I dont think G7 country or any impoverished country of origin matters; Ive had this discussion with all income types and except for the unreachable? “turned” type, all agree. I sometimes see the turned types; acting Japanese, quirky gait to nowhere, and I might say hello, only to get a quick gesture of avoidance, sometimes a shy smile like a Japanese might do while look away. I then said to dude, “its never too late to come back” I hope poor fella was reached, but once your turned who knows, and perhaps he likes it there. As for me, I dont want to be that turned dude, but being turned is what it takes to survive in Japan, and that aint worth it for me. It takes allot to unlearn all that.

  • @#19 Tim

    Your post is a little confusing, but the “turned” types you mention are known in more polite contexts as “assimilated.”

    From what I’ve seen, long-term residents tend to always fall into one of two camps: the assimilated ones, and from what you’ve written, people like you who insist on acting like a gaijin forever.

    Since discrimination here is tied to physical appearance more than anything, both groups are often treated the same way. (For example, that’s the dynamic I experience in my own workplace.) But those who insist on being a gaijin and embrace it only serve to further justify the discriminatory views levied on every non-Oriental face.

    Apologists often ask those of us who fight back against the discrimination, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?” On the contrary, I would say, “If you’re not interested in being a member of society, why do you live here?”

  • I am not optimistic. There are better schools but soft racism and a lack of empathy is a problem, as are the micro-aggressions. I have been called a gaijin in class twice and my wife was called a nanpa by a teacher who does not know her.
    I feel that where I work now, that unless you conform, you are an outcast. Giving your opinion, even if true, is seen in a bad light. Conforming is seen to matter more than teaching well.
    It is surprising that the attached university has pretensions in being global, but the high schools it has are anything but.

  • @HJ #20 – One should only copy POSITIVE actions, not negative actions.

    For example, Tim mentioned the negative action of: avoiding being friendly.
    (i.e. Tim mentioned how some folks, copying the culture here, become: rude.)
    Thus, Tim rightly pointed out that he chooses to NOT copy such J-society actions.

    Tim also rightly pointed out: even if one DOES copy all “uchi” actions, one will forever be treated as SOTO.
    There are posters like “iLikeDolphins”, who claim that be copying all “uchi” actions, they are treated as uchi.
    In fact, all of those posters who claim to be “J-assimilated, thus respected, thus treated fairly” are fooling themselves.
    Even you admit, in your workplace, due to racial discrimination, even “100% copiers” get no better treatment.

    So, though I speak Japanese all day every day (thus am “assimilated” as you recommend, in the language area)
    I respect Tim’s decision to take a stance against thinking that one “should” copy all aspects of J-society to live here.
    Is Tim taking it TOO far, by choosing to continue to use his original vibe AND the English language, here in Japan?
    Perhaps, but as it happens, I have found that J-culture folks actually respect non-copiers MORE than the copiers.
    But really, Tim is saying (please correct me if I am wrong Tim) “I prioritize SELF-respect MORE THAN respect from JAPAN.”

    You implied, “If you’re not interested in being a member of Japanese society, why do you live here? (Leave Japan!)”

    I reply, “I’m interested in being a good happy human, and helping my children be good happy humans, here on Earth.”
    And I reply further, “We live here because there is relatively less chance of physical violence, currently, in this location.”
    And, like Tim, I feel, “The culture, currently, in this location, feels that it is OK to be rude, especially to ‘lowers’ (sotojin=gaijin).”
    So, like Tim, I say, “I am NOT going to start copying such negative actions. I will live here AND remain a good happy human.”

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Brooks #21

    ‘I have been called a gaijin in class twice and my wife was called a nanpa by a teacher who does not know her.’

    Yeah, this is a classic case of ‘we Japanese have good manners, but you gaijin don’t, so when we interact with you, we should be rude to you (because that is what we have been taught you are like), rather than we should treat you politely as we would treat Japanese, because you are not Japanese’.
    They get very upset when they are rude to you, and you snap back at them. That’s when they start saying ‘gaijin are very sensitive, ne. Calm down, calm down’ and accept no responsibility for igniting your outrage in the first place.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ HJ #20

    I’m going to have to play devil’s advocate here and ask you;

    Since you state that ‘discrimination here is tied to physical appearance more than anything’ and that both NJ who attempt to assimilate AND people ‘who insist on being a gaijin’ are ‘often treated the same way’, what benefit is there in asking people ‘if they’re interested in being part of society’, since whether they actually can be part of society will be decided by Japanese and is not up to then anyway?
    In addition, by your own admission, those Japanese ‘gatekeepers’ will discriminate against both groups equally based on appearance alone, so why bother attempting to ‘assimilate’ since you can never be successful?

  • Exactly. Well, I was told that people don’t get along with me, so I just have a job until March.
    Not sure which people I was told.
    I spoke to a union member about this last week.
    I guess I made the mistake of speaking Osaka ben in class and that some students did not like it as it
    sounded “kowai” to them, so I had to be reprimanded about it in June.

    Maybe it is because I am perceived as being too direct, but I am not rude.
    So it seems that only indirect gaijins who know their place are welcome at this school.

  • @Anonymous,

    Exactly, well mostly.

    For me it is a matter of self resptect and esteem, after all, for most of us who are Western educated or had this upbringing, its a fundamental part of our being or self preservation. Perhaps thats where I error in my logic. I sometimes think that in Asian cultures that are group oriented if the concept self respect. or esteem are even values that are considered.
    I have observed many nationalities in the U.S., for example, speaking and enjoying themselves in their native tounge, but switch back to English when approached by a customer etc. I dont see many making a scene about it, but in japan I must be careful when and where I speak English as not to offend or upset the conformity. I find this experience to be mentally taxing, so I avoid it as much as possible. You are correct; the more uchi you act, the more fake you feel. Its not, however, about being the rebelious outsider who wont conform. Its more about becoming the conformist to survive in the black/white no tolerance for anything “other”, then walking back from it, and getting back to whats real and staying in that lane.
    I could feel from your post, that you, and perhaps others, walk the same road, or lane shifting, so you can relate. Its not about assimilating either. Ive heard japanese who have lived abroad go on about how unique and wonderful Japan is, because they felt so homesick, but arent receptive to the fact that all humans experience this emotion, but are unable to feel empathy and relate to what you miss about your own country. I find this to be strange, perhaps its part of the island syndrome they use as an excuse for everything.

  • @Jim Di Griz #24

    “…what benefit is there in asking people ‘if they’re interested in being part of society’, since whether they actually can be part of society will be decided by Japanese and is not up to then anyway?”

    It’s up to me whether or not I’m part of society, just in the same way your identity is your choice as well. Many will choose not to accept that, but I have no control over them, and they do not get to decide my identity. I do. Being a part of society is about things you do and the way you live your life, not about strangers’ opinions of you.

    @Anonymous #22

    “One should only copy POSITIVE actions, not negative actions.

    For example, Tim mentioned the negative action of: avoiding being friendly.
    (i.e. Tim mentioned how some folks, copying the culture here, become: rude.)
    Thus, Tim rightly pointed out that he chooses to NOT copy such J-society actions.”

    Hmm, the only behavior Tim elaborated on in his post is this: “I might say hello, only to get a quick gesture of avoidance, sometimes a shy smile like a Japanese might do while look away.” This doesn’t strike me as particularly rude behavior, but what does strike me is the clear fact that he’s assuming a stranger he sees on the street speaks English. That’s something a lot of Japanese people DO do, and I find it incredibly obnoxious. I even find it obnoxious when other non-Asians do it to me. It’s Japan. You should only speak English to people who a) can’t speak Japanese, b) can speak English, and c) want to speak English. The language issue aside, I still don’t find the reaction described to be rude–people don’t go around saying hi to strangers here, so it’s a bit odd when it happens. To be honest, I’m not a fan of it, and didn’t particularly like it in America either.

    I agree, copy positive actions, not negative ones. Hence I don’t ask every non-Asian face “Where are you from?” the second I meet them. Likewise, I don’t speak English at strangers.

    @Brooks #21

    I’ve been called a gaijin by various people. When it happens I don’t blow up, but I give them the “no no” gesture and tell them, “僕は外人じゃありません。僕はアメリカ人の日本社会人です。” Nobody has argued with me about it to date. If a student says it, I explain to them that it’s a mean word that they should never say. I know what it feels like to fear for your job, but staying silent about racist comments will never help anything.

  • @ Brooks #25

    I sympathize with your situation, but if it’s any consolation, I think that work is the last place to ‘invest in your Japan experience’, and I’ll tell you why;
    The Japanese are locked into a society of bullying based social power hierarchies.

    On the street, and in most social settings you can just walk away if they are being rude, and they can walk away if they feel that you are ‘uppity gaijin’ who ‘doesn’t know his place’.

    However, at work, neither of you can do this, so you have to find a ‘level’ of self-respect that you can endure every day without just quitting and going home, whilst they (threatened by the freedom of your outsider status, compared to the years they have invested in climbing social hierarchies) jealously seek to guard their perceived social status in the group (now under threat from you, the ‘unpredictable gaijin with nothing to lose’) whilst at the same time they need to attempt to force some overt sign of subservience out of you in front of the group, in order to affirm their own safety, even if doing so only serves to calm their irrational fear (although it may not. Some may feel an endless desire to put you down in front of colleagues because they feel like they can, and should, enjoy the power trip).

    If you push back against this dynamic, those who hold power over your employment will be forced to weigh letting you go and finding replacement to preserve the ‘wa’, against having been seen to side with you, against the staff who have ‘bad feeling’, and thus that person will likely have made bitter enemies for the rest of their career, who will not stop at stooping to any dirty trick or smear to bully that person into a transfer (extremely disruptive and unpleasant) or anything up to getting fired.
    From their point of view, it’s not in their interest to risk their future, to protect you, from some bullies who will start a vendetta against them if they don’t agree.

    This is Japanese office politics.

    And this is why they prefer the ‘fresh off the boat’ NJ who can be bullied in any way imaginable, yet justifies it to themselves by rationalizing all discrimination as ‘ah, now I am in Japan, I shouldn’t put my values on them, I should try to understand that this is Japan’s ancient and unique culture’.

    Yes, the Japanese LOVE gaijin who facilitate their own discrimination. Why wouldn’t they?

    IMHO, you’re best out of it, find another job, and learn to invest less, just like a salaryman; be ‘there’ in body only.

  • @ Tim #19

    I absolutely agree, and Anon (#22) has the right idea.
    I am not ‘Japanese’, and I am proud of it. I would never aspire to be Japanese, why should I? Japan would have to improve a lot before I would think to aspire to that. In fact, my most employable skill is that I am a certain type of anglophone gaijin; from a Japanese point of view, ‘The Real Thing’. Why would I want to reduce my ‘stock value’ by speaking and acting Japanese at work? They hired me for my skills that Japanese don’t have.

    This is not to say that I intentionally play the ‘gaijin clown’ like a dancing monkey, but rather that make no attempt to act like them at work (in my private life, I do as I please, including acting Japanese when I want to talk reprimand my kids teachers for calling them ‘haafu’, or buddy up to the baker at the local bakery). My being ‘not Japanese’ is my most marketable commodity. I’d rather ignore them and have them assume I’m a ‘baka gaijin’ or a ‘KY gaijin’, than try to assimilate, and then be subordinated and bullied; as it stands, I can just walk away from bullies at work, and they just mutter and hiss under their breath that I’m ‘stupid’ because I ‘don’t understand anything’.

    It’s a great way to reduce stress (they don’t know how much I really understand Japan and it’s social norm), and I just smile and walk away.

  • Not only at your school but everywhere else in this country. But go and put the shoe in the other foot somewhere else and you’ll find soon enough the japanese ambassador crying unfair…

  • Yes, Jim, I agree.
    My boss is on medication and sees a psychiatrist. She tends to avoid talking to me. Often she would talk to the Canadian and ask him to tell me.
    Last year, another New Yorker lost his job after one year as the boss didn’t like him. She used to have meetings with about
    how to teach Japanese students. This year she tried a different tactic.
    I felt that anyone over 40 will not get a job at this school if foreign. I heard that they had a stack of resumes, so they can get a female teacher instead, and they would prefer that.

    Part of the problem is discipline. Most teachers do not efforce it, mostly with male students. I did it the Japanese way today by talking to a homeroom teacher.

    I work at a high school and almost every class must be team-taught. Some JTEs do nothing, and just either sit or stand there. I think this is where the friction lies, and that my foreign presence is seen as theatening by a few JTEs (all female and middle-aged).

    So as there are enough people to teach English in this country, teachers will be seen as disposable.

    When it comes to nurses and doctors, it is a different story as there is a need for them, especially in rural Japan.
    As Japan ages, if there are no foreign health professionals allowed to work in this country, how can the elderly get access to care, unless they are forced to move to cities from the countryside?

  • @ Brooks #31

    When I was a student, I had part-time jobs at kindergarden, elementary school, junior HS, and HS in Japan. After I graduated, I taught at several universities (both private and national). My experience is that there is virtually no difference in pay and conditions between them. Sure, during the boom years some places offered tenure, but these days it’s all dispatch because they can get away with it. It’s a soul destroying experience for the teacher (and maybe the students too (but lets be honest, if you cared about them, you’d be the only one who did in the whole system).

    The Japanese made this system, and they are getting the quality of teaching that they are prepared to pay for in terms of ¥ and social equality.

    I think most Japanese educators are looking for English teachers that are full-time ‘genki’ entertainers (so that they can effectively opt-out themselves), or want to use NJ as human tape recorders (‘say this!’, ‘say this!’, since they are afraid that you’ll run amok and do some kind of ‘crazy gaijin’ thing).

    Give them what they are paying for, with no sense of investment, nor aspiration (just like a salaryman) and you will be fine for a couple of years. But only for a couple of years, so have an escape plan, or start your own business (the money is better).

    Don’t make the mistake that many NJ do, which is that thinking that getting a masters or a Ph.D is a ‘magic bullet’ to better treatment, pay and access, because it isn’t. The only reason that people still aspire to be NJ uni teachers is because they have been led to believe that it’s better than other teaching by NJ who aren’t coming clean; without (the very rare) tenure, uni teachers are seen and treated exactly the same as kindergarden teachers.

    The reason NJ perpetuate the lie that being a teacher at a Japanese university is somehow better is that it gives them status in the hierarchy of NJ who don’t know any better.

    If no tenure, it’s no better.

  • I do have one. I am certified in Arizona and want to get certified in Washington.
    I already have my exit plan. But my wife needs surgery and the operation would cost 40,000 dollars in the USA,
    so I want this taken care of before I go back to the US.

    I used to teach English and drama and ran a club.
    I started straight at a private secondary school.
    But foreign teachers were let go in 2009. I worked at a university and did well as the yen was strong.
    Last year I went to Hello Work and my income fell. I worked four jobs and got sick of the commutes.
    I took this job since it paid better and my wife would remind me that she made more money than me.
    Her father used to work weekends.

    I work with a few “turned” people. You could even call a couple of them apologists. You cannot argue with such people and they don’t want to join a union either since they think they are so good, they don’t need a union.
    Why should they pay every month? What’s in it for me?
    I work with people who all have BAs and yet as the new guy I must do as I am told and it gets boring.
    All because I am a kohai. As my wife says, in your first year, you just have to observe and don’t be opinionated.
    But I said, with the treadmill of limited contracts, I will again and again forced to be a new employee, stuck in academic apartheid. Teachers who are forced to move from job to job and to change their address, are nothing more than economic migrants.

    My experience as a teacher makes me think that teachers and nurses are not all that different. It is like we should just stay a few years and then leave, just to be replaced. How dare we complain about an unfair system.

  • @ Brooks #33

    I am sorry to hear about your wife, and I sincerely hope that she is able to get the treatment she needs and make a speedy recovery.
    Since she is your priority, just let all these other jerks roll off your back like water off a duck. Just smile, do what you’re told and in your mind repeat ‘yeah, yeah, whatever’, because as soon as your wife recovers, you can look at a whole new set of options.

    As for the colleagues, sure, some NJ come to Japan for the short-term and have no real interest in issue and rights- they just want cash for drinking and chasing girls (which is fine in itself). But if any of them stay on (like me!) they’ll soon loose the rose spectacled defense of Japan no matter what when they are forced to think about ‘the future’ in any way what so ever.
    This won’t stop them from being an apologist though, oh no. Like Greg Clark, even if they know the truth about Japan, they’ll think that they are somehow above it all and special, and it doesn’t affect them, only other gaijin, right up to the point where they are the victim of discrimination. And that shock of realizing not only is Japan not the way they thought it was (but rather, the way that we said it is!), and that they have been ‘getting it wrong’ for so long, and defending and apologizing for discrimination, will be met with the earth-shattering understanding that not only are they being discriminated against, not only were they wrong, but that now there is absolutely nothing they can do about it, and if they talk about it, they will be attacked by people just…like they used to be!

    Most of them go home in shame rather than facing up to reality.

    Just focus on your wife’s and your well being, and let all those other fools play their games.

  • “The Japanese are locked into a society of bullying based social power hierarchies.”

    “But go and put the shoe in the other foot somewhere else and you’ll find soon enough the japanese ambassador crying unfair…”

    Very real truths, but never found in any “japan for dummies” guidebook. Once you realize what Jim posted about how Japanese are locked in, then youve got half of it down. Dont waste your time trying to figure it out; it is what it is and thats how they roll in Japan, and that fact will never change….thus me questions how the whole immigration to assimilation could ever work.

  • I would like to add, or to clear things up, my definition of “turned” does not always include the apologist. The apologist could be turned, or could just be a tool with a more sinister motive, that motive being the promotion of his/her own survival (usually money, career or fame). These types wash out in about 5 years; come on strong in the first stretch with their vids and books and other nonsense but the system starts gets to them, just like it does everybody else, and the warm and fuzzy, Im that special one, starts to wears off. They may have an “experience” on the train, or their kid, and they do a reverse “turn” back to their true self. The second type does take some time to reveal their colors but the cracks will show and its always the same reaction; disappointment. Now, the first type is different; they have left the reservation, and gone native. I mean, they dont bother with any circle, they just stay on the straight and narrow and accept everything as either Japanese or inferior soto, a subject of the empire. Assimilated? I wouldnt call it that because many Japanese call them “henna gaijin” I could elaborate more, but sorry the words dont come now, its heavy stuff. I just see them occasionally and wonder if that could of happened to me. Just wanted to clarify what I meant.

  • @ Tim #35

    ‘thus me questions how the whole immigration to assimilation could ever work.’

    Absolutely, and this ‘conundrum’ explains why Japanese institutional racism is alive and kicking;
    Precisely because the Japanese are (by and large) locked into the bullying based social hierarchies, NJ and immigration are a threat. Japanese nationalism myths ‘other’ us and deny access as a function of elevating the Japanese ‘in group’.
    But the flip-side of that is that since we can’t gain access, we are also free from many (although not ‘all’) of the bullying social hierarchies. This is a problem for J-elites; how do they maintain power of the downtrodden Japanese masses with myths of Japanese uniqueness in the face of the disillusionment that the masses must feel every time they see an NJ kicking back and having fun, unfettered by the chains of Japanese social hierarchies?
    This problem is solved in the short-term by denying NJ residents many of the rights that Japanese citizens ‘enjoy’, and constant othering and casual racism induce the NJ population to be largely transient. Hence J-elites can calm the disgruntled masses with a combination of messages;

    1. These ‘good time’ NJ who seem so free, are just transients passing through. Maybe they are losers and outsiders in their own countries? Or maybe they buckle down at home like you do here, but now they aren’t at home, so they feel free to act irresponsibly (a nice little piece of J-projection there!). And…

    2. Yes, we elites understanding how frustrating it is to endure these racist, disrespectful, irresponsible gajin losers, so we’ll turn a blind eye to any racism that you want to throw their way, after all, you ARE Japanese, and ‘we Japanese’ are unique and special (and by definition, gaijin are not).

    Hence, with these two messages we have the present situation; the J-masses are controlled, the J-elites maintain unchallenged power, and NJ are constantly othered short-term outsiders.

    Any form of mass immigration would destroy this dynamic, which is why the Japanese are screwing around with language tests for NJ nurses, points systems for ‘elite gaijin’, special ‘economic zones’ for gaijin servants…these are all attempts to reduce immigration to a system that induces NJ inescapably into Japanese bullying social hierarchies. They think they have to do it this way, otherwise socially liberated and free NJ will cause the J-masses doubts, and could be an existential threat to the J-elites hold on power.

    The myth; ‘We Japanese endure because we are superior to the racist, irresponsible gaijin threat to our culture’ must be preserved.


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