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Immigration pains; ‘zombie debate’ revisited

Japanese system worse

Re: “I am not a Pakistani child bride (but the U.K. can’t tell the difference)” (Hotline to Nagatacho, March 17):

Having read the article about the poor Japanese lady wishing to marry her English beau, I felt in no way sorry for her at all. Why, you may ask?

Because the Japanese system is just the same, if not much, much worse. When I renew my working visa, I feel like a criminal waiting for a guilty verdict.

Living within the laws of the country, working hard for the children of this country, I feel that I deserve a little more respect.

Alas, for a country that can create and improve computer equipment, the Japanese bureaucracy loves to shuffle paper. They now also intend to make all foreigner-related paperwork, currently covered by local town offices, the jurisdiction of the provincial immigration offices — another inconvenience.

Whingeing aside, I choose to live here, so I put up with it. My advice is: You can’t change it, so live with it or don’t go to the country to start with.

MATTHEW ERICKSON
Kuromatsunai-cho, Suttsu-gun, Hokkaido

Elitist view of debate

I respond to Debito Arudou’s Just Be Cause column of March 2, “Of toadies, vultures and zombie debates.”

One gets the impression that Arudou stakes sole claim to the whole cultural discussion and the “race and rights debate” in Japan. Heaven help those who wish to question or point out their views because Arudou “gonna sort you out.”

I will, however, despite Arudou’s reprimand to us lowly nonacademics, put a few thoughts out there.

Racism in anyone’s vocabulary is wrong. In many nations it is also illegal to be overtly racist and penalties quite rightly apply. The problem is that racism is real but intangible and exists in the minds of people going about their everyday life. Racism is also not a one-way street: People of color can be prejudiced against so called “whites” and vice versa. Governments can not regulate or control thoughts in a person’s head.

If the goal of most nations is to be colorblind, or blind to ethnicity, this is a goal which in itself could be said to be racist, as it demands that people assimilate or be ignored. To say that one does not care about where a person comes from is probably to ignore a whole lot about a person’s sense of self.

I can understand that Arudou as a citizen of Japan has long held the throne of the race-and-rights debate in Japan, but to say that only academics and Arudou are qualified to write about such issues sounds a lot like elitism to me. For Arudou to say that racism is bad or “evil,” yet overtly stating that only academics’ opinions matter when expressing an opinion or an idea is absurd. I am disappointed in Arudou — your views about equality and fair treatment for all obviously do not extend to the realm of debate.

ANTHONY OLSEN
Gold Coast, Australia

End of a silly discussion?

Re: Debito Arudou’s Just Be Cause column of March 2:

Good point. I don’t always agree with your opinions, but this time you are spot on. Too many backward opinions have recently been given an outlet by The Japan Times in the name of “balance.” In a country the size of Japan, it’s no challenge to find a nut (Japanese or foreign), but this newspaper has the final responsibility for what it prints.

I only hope that this latest article will be the epilogue of this silly discussion.

DAVID BELLEFLEUR
Oita City