Hi Blog. Interview I had last March (on the Todai Campus, cold, wet, rainy day with lots of luggage during the HANDBOOK Tour–I look better in the photo than I felt that morning) with Jornal Tudo Bem in Portuguese below. Translation by Andre follows below in the Comments Section.
Courtesy of the author, who apologized for using my old name. Thanks for the article, Tudo Bem, and Andre for the translation. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
2 comments on “Jornal Tudo Bem interview, May 9 2008 (Portuguese)”
TRANSLATION COURTESY OF ANDRE OLIVEIRA:
**WRITER FIGHTS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN JAPAN**
North-American neutralized Japanese talks about the experience of being a foreigner and living in such a homogeneous country
Twenty years ago in Japan, North-American David Aldwinckle, who was married with a Japanese (woman) and is fluent in Japanese, created the website http://www.debito.org. On it, he speaks of life in Japan from the point-of-view of a North-American and the experience of living in a country without having any oriental trace (talking about physical look), and the condition of being a Japanese Citizen.
On interview with the newspaper Tudo Bem, David, or Arudou Debito, his adopted name after naturalizing as a Japanese, commented about the importance of learning the language. “From the moment you learn how to read, write and speak, your life will be transformed for the better. What comes in return is rewarding”.
“In the case of Brazilians in Japan, where many are nikkeis, I believe that, for what little it is, they posess some familiarity with the language. At the same time the pressure is bigger for them to speak the language, which doesn’t happen to a non-descendent”.
ON THE PICTURE: “Nikkeis suffer from more pressure to speak good Japanese.”
UNDER THE PICTURE: Arudou Debito (I’ll be using your current name) created the site to help foreigners that live in Japan to lead with various kinds of situations and discrimination.
‘Learn Japanese. What comes in return is rewarding.’
Newspaper: Why aproach the discrimination of Japanese against foreigners?
Arudou Debito: The main motivation surged during a period during which I worked in an Imports company in Sapporo. I suffered a series of abuse, in daily needs like not being allowed to use the bathroom more than twice a day and heavy reprisals for simple Japanese errors. I consulted on these abuses with lawyers, who recommended I seek help from the Labor Standards Bureau. When I cited the name of the bureau at work, my superiors drew back and stopped the abuse. My work for the rights of foreigners started like this, when I found out that, when you search for your rights, all can avoid abuses.
Newspaper: With so many years in Japan, family and Japanese children, do you still feel untolerated?
Arudou Debito: Today, after 20 years in the country with fluent Japanese, I can avoid most inconveniences that, at the same time, show me that not all that goes wrong is a matter of racism from the Japanese. What bothers me is when I heard people saying I cannot be a part of something for the simple fact of not being born Japanese. In these cases I always question “Why?”, from that I make my own conclusions if its simply discrimination or a rule I did not know of. If it be the second case, it’s up to me to respect it.
Newspaper: Is it possible to the measure the discrimination of a Japanese between a foreigner that has a command of the language and a foreigner that doesn’t have a command?
Arudou Debito: Yes, it is possible, and I can say that the diference to me is as clear as night and day. If there’s something I can say to those who read this inferview its: Learn Japanese. I know it takes a lot of time and effort, but from the moment that you learn to read, write and speak the language, your life in this society till take a turn for the better. What comes in return is rewarding. In the case of Brazilians, where many are nikkeis, I imagine that, for what little it is, they already posses some familiarity with the language, even if its a few informal words, its already something. That is an advantage for foreigners in other countries that start from nothing. At the same time, nikkeis suffer from more pressure to speak good Japanese, which doesn’t happen to people with no Japanese descendents, like myself. Tho, which ever the case, the way out is to study.
Newspaper: What do you think of the study to require issuance of a visa based on knowledge of the language?
Arudou Debito: I agree that learning the language should be a minimal request to live in Japan, but I disagree with a test to determine the entrance or stay in the country. The program, as it has been announced, is very vague, without clarity towards which direction it’ll go. At this moment, I can say I’m not enthusiastic towards the project. I think that in the case of a family, when some are approved and some disapproved, will they have to seperate? And if the tests are applied by the employers, and they use this as a tool of retaliations and harm the rights of the foreigners? If not well studied, it can become a new way of commiting abuse.
The translation is quite good but there are many mistakes…like “neutralized Japanese”, “…motivation surged…”.
Also the use for relative clauses and verb tenses are wrong too.
It’s easy for any Brazilian to understand the meanings, the general idea but I think other people will not be able to correctly understand this article.
Is it possible to review this translation please??
–Sure. Could you rewrite it for us, please? Thanks.