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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency monthly “Visible Minorities” column 10, talking about how some minorities in Japan sell out to authority as soon as they are granted any privilege. I mention former Diet Member Tsurunen Marutei, Japan scholar Donald Keene, and Kyoto Seika University President Oussouby Sacko, and how they are now ironically perpetuating problems they once faced. Here are the opening paragraphs. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
(And if you haven’t subscribed for Japan’s last bastion of independent journalism in English at SNA, I strongly suggest you do. In any case, check out this article before it goes behind a paywall in a few days.)
Visible Minorities: The Guestists and the Collaborators
SNA (Tokyo) — In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).
People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?
Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”
But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”
Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.
For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…
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