Rural alien attacks ‘insult’ in Arudou almanac; ‘Love it/leave it’ lacks logic

Following are responses to “Arudou’s Alien Almanac” by Debito Arudou (Just Be Cause, Jan. 4):

Insulting rural Japanese

I enjoy reading The Japan Times online very much, and look forward to the news almost every day. It’s reported in a well-written and seemingly unbiased manner. Which is why it has always puzzled me why Mr. Debito Arudou continues to be published.

I read his articles in the hope that he can carry a balanced view of Japan and see it for both its pros and cons, rather than just his own constant victimization. And indeed, his latest article, “Arudou’s Alien Almanac: 2010,” seemed to be doing that. While laced with caustic words, he seemed to be reporting news backed up by evidence.

However, it was when I came across the section “No. 2: Suffrage hopes suffer setback” that I felt I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore. This one phrase caught my attention: “True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics.”

I take offense to this. I am currently living in a very small rice farming town in the middle of rural Aomori Prefecture. And while to Mr. Arudou we may seem like backwater hillbillies, I’d like to remind him that at this point in time, we all have access to the Internet, and I believe that my coworkers and neighbors can be just as informed as their city-dwelling brethren, and make decisions based on facts and not prejudice.

In fact, I find this particular phrase heinous because Mr. Arudou is a supposed champion of ending discrimination against foreigners.

His casual insult of an entire group of people screams of hypocrisy.

I speak from limited experience, but in the two years that I have spent here and traveled around the country, the only place that I have been deafened by nationalists was in Shibuya, where there were loudspeakers blaring about the ills of foreigners.

I’ve never heard such rhetoric here in Aomori (where there is a large American military presence), nor anywhere else that I have been in Japan for that matter.

There is no doubt discrimination is wherever we are or go. As a Taiwanese-American, I was born in a small town in the Midwest, where our family was the only Asian one for a long time. I am no stranger to being looked at differently and to being treated differently as a result.

After coming to Japan, for the first time in my life I feel like I belong in a culture that meshes well with my own societal views, not to mention my skin color.

No one is forcing Mr. Arudou to stay in Japan. I understand that his citizenship is Japanese, but if all he can see is how he is discriminated against by every establishment, including onsen and government offices, I dare to suggest that he thrives on being treated differently. As each of his own self-fulfilling prophecies come true, he only has more ammo for his next article.

I may be making an incorrect assumption, but I can only hope that, one day, Mr. Arudou can enjoy his life in Japan rather than finding everything wrong with it and taking it as a personal affront.

The recent Have Your Say column, “Mind the gap, get over it: readers’ views” (Jan. 18), offers a plethora of ways to adjust to and understand Japanese culture and our position in it as foreign residents. I hope Mr. Arudou can learn something from that.

He is a good writer; I only hope that he can use his ability to understand Japan and our place in it from other perspectives.

Aomori Pref.

Don’t shoot the messenger

It seems that whenever Mr. Arudou writes a column critical of some aspect of Japan, at least one Japan Times reader advises him to leave the country. “Love it or leave it” is the message.

However, the substance of this kind of response is often ad hominem.

This is the case with Mr. Wheeler (Have your Say, Jan. 18). Wheeler states that he lives in Japan because he loves it and accuses Mr. Arudou of being a complainer. But I’ve yet to see a justification for the belief that the country in which one lives must be loved and mustn’t be criticized.

On what is this contention based?

Is it ethnic nationalism — the idea that one must have “Japanese blood” in order to deprecate Japanese institutions?

Or is it that government and governmental bureaucracies, almost always Mr. Arudou’s targets, must be respected?

Perhaps Mr. Arudou’s persistence rankles some people, and if his last 10 articles had been written by 10 different people their content would have been more acceptable.

Still, it is hard to concur with the “love it or leave it” credo without some kind of elucidation.


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