McDonald’s “Mr James” Campaign: FRANCA’s downloadable protest letter in Japanese


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Hi Blog.  Here is the Japanese translation for the FRANCA letter protesting the “Mr James” burger campaign currently underway at McDonald’s Japan.  You can see the original English here.

Please feel free to copy and send this letter to McDonald’s yourself via their feedback inlets on their website.  (try here in particular)  Better yet, take it to your local McDonald’s doing this campaign, ask for the manager, and hand them this letter to express your disgruntlement.  You can download the Word version of it here:

Please also consider not buying food at McDonald’s for the duration of this (three-month) campaign.  Maybe tell the manager that when you submit your letter.

Talked to the media yesterday.  An article on this issue should be appearing in the South China Morning Post tomorrow (Friday).  It’s already appeared on  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGONPO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association


会社法人等番号 4300-05-005413

〒163-1339. 本社住所, 東京都新宿区西新宿6-5-1 新宿アイランドタワー
日本マクドナルド株式会社 代表取締役会長 原田 泳幸 様  当店舗担当者 方

拝啓 ますますご繁栄の事をお喜び申し上げます。

突然の失礼をお許し下さい。在日外国人・帰化人のための非政府組織であり人権擁護団体「日本永住帰化移民住民協会」(FRANCA Japan)と申します。FRANCAは、下記の目標を達成するために努めております:1)外国人及び複数の文化背景を持つ日本人に対するマイナスイメージ及びステレオタイプの公の場からの除去に努めること。2)人種・国籍・民族・出身地などによる差別の除去に努めること。3)移民及び文化の多様性の利点に関する理解を広めるのに努めること。FRANCAは長期間にわたる効率的な陳情・情報交換・広報を通じて、日本国民の意識を高めることにより、上記の目標を達成することを目標としております。






もっと分かりやすく例えると、海外のマクドナルドで新しいライスのメニューをキャンペーンしようとしたら、小柄で眼鏡をかけ少し前歯が出ている、アジア人と思われる男性が片言英語で「Ah so solly, prease to eeto honorable McLice!」を言うキャラなら抗議の対象になるでしょう。国内のマイノリティも「差別」と叫んで人権擁護団体もキャンペーンを取り止める要求もきて、不買運動もすることがよくあるパターンです。


平成21年8月20日 有道 出人(あるどう でびと)FRANCA Japan 会長

From the food tray inserts:


From stickers on every table:


At every restaurant, a full-size cutout of “Mr James”:


Close up of the cutout:


Outdoors in Sapporo, so you don’t even have to go into the restaurant itself to see the image perpetuated (photo taken August 15, 2009, Sapporo Nakanosawa Branch):



19 comments on “McDonald’s “Mr James” Campaign: FRANCA’s downloadable protest letter in Japanese

  • I’ve been pondering on this, and gaijin issues in JP in general, for a little bit, and honestly, I don’t think this is a big deal. We all know Japan is geek nation anyway; if they try and hurt gaijin feelings, they won’t succeed in my book. It’s like a group of World of Warcraft addicts making fun of a good-looking guy that gets all the girls. All of this is just ignorance.

    I appreciate what debito tries to do in this website, and I learned a lot from the articles posted on here. But I also think it’s kinda futile.

    There’s definitely a lot to improve in JP society, but we, the NJ, will not make an impact, since there’s not a lot of us. Through history, there’s NEVER been any successful people’s revolt; well, the people hardly tried. If things are effed up, しょうがない is the JP response. I do feel the younger generations are on the verge of some kinda cultural revolution though. Japan has to, and only will, change if it comes from the inside.

    — And how will we ever be part of the “inside” if we don’t step up and say that we are, too?

  • After complaining about the campaign (constructively) I got the following rather nice reply in excellent English I might add. (NB: I complained in English). Hopefully if enough of us raise the issues here they will genuinely think a bit more carefully before doing more campaigns like this in future. I personally think the issue maybe more one of naivete than out and out malicious racism (as it often is in Japan).

    “Dear Mr.[]

    Thank you for your patronage of our products and services.
    I appreciate your accessing to our website and providing us with your comments about the campaign.

    I acknowledge your discomfort with the campaign and will share your comments with relevant departments for their consideration in planning future campaigns.

    I thank you again for giving as the valuable comments and hope to serve you again under the Golden Arches in the near future.

    Yours truly,

    Customer Service Office
    McDonald’s Company (Japan), Ltd.”

  • FROM FACEBOOK GROUP ON “I HATE MR JAMES” (authorship not mine):

    Just checked his blog. If you compare the entry from the 10th with more recent ones, there’s no doubt that they’ve toned down his moronic Japanese. In the original entries, “desu” is invariably rendered デス, but in the more recent ones this has given way to です. Overall, the use of katakana has dropped significantly – now it is only being used for the odd word here and there and the annoying, easy English words he constantly slips in.

    So I think this campaign is definitely having an effect, albeit small.

    Another issue I have with the blog is that he wears the same clothes every day (in mid-August). He’s being portrayed as a real person, rather than a pure, Ronald McDonald-like character, so what’s the reasoning there? Is it trying to imply that Westerners are unclean?

  • Got to love the logic on Huffington post and ‘Angry Asian man’.

    “Karma’s a bitch” is what they write. So, that makes either of the ads all right?

    Talk about putting weight behind the latter outlets title.

  • I’m appalled by this campaign too, but here I have a question about the letter. Wouldn’t it be better to use more polite Japanese in it? Right now it sounds like an angry demand, not the letter I’d be comfortable to give to anyone. Though maybe it was intended to be written this way?

  • I’m a white American living in Japan and I find nothing whatsoever offensive in these ads; actually, the one where “Mr. James” is reading out hackneyed phrases from the Japanese phrase book had me in stitches.

  • I agree that McDonald’s should drop this ill-advised campaign, but even to my non-native eyes this letter needs reworking. A few examples from a first-pass read:

    — Phrases like 外見が外国人みたいな外見がある人 are repetitive and ungrammatical.

    — Without a と after the キャラクター, 「白人のマスコットは日本流のマクドナルドハンバーガーを過剰に評価するキャラクター認識しておりますが」is hard to parse.

    — 過剰に評価 comes across as unnecessarily rude. It isn’t that he overrates their products, it’s that he expresses his like for them in an exaggerated way. You could say something more neutral and still get the point across. For example (and I make no promises of grammar perfection):「白人キャラクターの誇張した表現でマクドナルド商品の魅力をアピールするというキャンペーンの目的は理解しております。しかし、下記に述べるように、それは日本在住の外国人に不快な印象を与え、外国人のイメージを損ねるものだと考えています。」

    –国際化を目指している日本にとても in 2): とても should be とっても

    –擁護団体もキャンペーンを取り止める要求もきて — should be 要求をし, or キャンペーンの取り止め(中止)を要求し. Also, 叫ぶ has derogatory overtones that are inappropriate here; 訴える or 主張する would surely be better.

    Debito, I appreciate your efforts, but this letter needs to be written and polished to a high standard if it is to be effective. If it is not, it will undermine one of the core arguments behind our opposition to advertising like this: that most foreigners in Japan have a good grasp of Japanese, and are therefore poorly served by the katakana-speaking stereotype.

    — This letter was proofed by a native speaker. But mea culpa. Thanks for your advice. I hope you will send a reworked letter with your contents and tone to McD’s yourself.

  • If this was proofed by a native speaker then you should seek a second opinion. I’m sorry to be blunt, but this letter is a poor piece of Japanese writing and I’m uncomfortable with the idea that people may download and use it. I’m also surprised that you haven’t corrected even the basic typographical and grammar mistakes I noted.

    Complaining about an ad that stereotypes foreigners’ poor Japanese skills with a letter in poorly written Japanese is ironic at best. If you are not prepared to correct the letter then I would suggest you take it down and simply leave McDonald’s contact details in its place so that people can send their own messages.

    I’m glad to see some signs of greater sensitivity on McDonald’s part, in any case.

    — Who are you to call this letter “poorly written”? The Protest Letter Police? It’s not that at all, and typos happen. It’s not as if the entire letter is in katakana. Sheesh.

    Tonewise, it’s intentional. Confrontational? It’s a protest letter. Something tells me you haven’t read many protest letters in Japanese. Believe me, I have.

    I’ve already given a mea culpa, and the typos you mentioned have already been corrected in the downloadable version. Sorry I haven’t gotten around to the blogged cover version. I will shortly.

    I hope you sent something in what you deem perfect Japanese to McD’s Japan already yourself. If not, kindly stop attacking the unpaid activists for trying if you’re not prepared to try yourself.

  • Have to agree on the whole point about the irony of sending a protest letter with imperfect Japanese. It would also be a major reason I would never try to complain in my imperfect Japanese at the local McD’s.

    Can’t we just send letters in crappy katakana Japanese as satire?

    How about sending legions of gaijin in red shirts and khakis and dorky glasses to hold up the line at a McD’s by trying to order in incomprehensibly bad Japanese?
    How about sending legions of gaijin dressed with buck teeth and Coke bottle glasses and have them order in terrible Janglish. “Me rike-y Flench Fly, thlee ralge flench fly and smarr dlink!”

    Or will it just go over the heads of McD’s Japan?

    Does satire work in Japan?

    — Satire doesn’t work all that well in Japan as humor or commentary. Try it and see.

  • You are going to submit the following information:

    Title: Dr.
    First Name: Rusty
    Last Name: Lovewell
    Mailing Address: Tokyo Japan

    City: Tokyo
    State: HI
    Zip: 1300014
    Day Phone: 813- 362-
    Evening Phone: 813- 362-
    Most convenient time/day to reach you by phone:
    Your E-mail Address:
    Your “Mr James” campaign in Japan is just about the most disgusting, racist thing I have ever seen in Japan. What happened to you? You would never make such awful stereotypes in America or elsewhere.

  • I couldn’t help but to send an email to the McDonald’s HQ marketing dept abou this outrageous “Mr James” campaign in Japan. Believe me, I am not a thin-skinned ultra-sensitive type, but this BS has to be challenged. Why couldn’t they have annoyed us by just having “Becky” be the campaign girl? We still would have hated it, but at least we wouldn’t have been made the buffoon.

  • I`m starting to wonder if lots of different letters in our own, original Japanese, warts and all, would in fact be more effective than simply downloading one “template” letter. Even if our efforts are not perfect keigo, the very fact we can express ourselves in our own Japanese ought to be a sharp wake-up call to McDs Japan.


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