|

Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan

by Debito Arudou

Last November, a reader in Hokkaido named Stephanie sent me an article read in Japan’s elementary schools. Featured in a sixth-grader magazine called Chagurin (from “child agricultural green”) dated December 2012, it was titled “Children of America, the Poverty Superpower” (hinkon taikoku Amerika no kodomotachi), offering a sprawling review of America’s social problems.

Its seven pages in tabloid format (see debito.org/?p=10806) led with headlines such as: “Is it true that there are more and more people without homes?” “Is it true that if you get sick you can’t go to hospital?” and “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the fatter the children are?”

Answers described how 1 out of 7 Americans live below the poverty line, how evicted homeless people live in tent cities found “in any town park,” how poverty correlates with child obesity due to cheap junk food, how bankruptcies are widespread due to the world’s highest medical costs (e.g., one tooth filling costs ¥150,000), how education is undermined by “the evils (heigai) of evaluating teachers only by test scores,” and so on.

For greater impact, included were photos of a tent city, a fat lady — even a kid with rotten-looking picket-fence teeth. These images served to buttress spiraling daisy chains of logic: “As your teeth get worse, your bite becomes bad, your body condition gets worse and your school studies suffer. After that, you can’t pass a job interview and you become stuck in poverty.”

The article’s concluding question: “What can we do so we don’t become like America?” Answer proffered: Think critically, don’t take media at face value and ask questions of your parents and friends. Ask why hamburgers are so cheap, why Japan would give up its sovereignty and domestic industrial integrity through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement, and why only “efficiency and competition” are prioritized in the agricultural, medical and educational sectors.

Heavy stuff for a children’s magazine, and not entirely without merit. But not entirely accurate, either. So Stephanie’s daughter did as encouraged and questioned the article, for she had been to America and her experience was different.

Teacher’s answer: “It is written so it is true.” So much for critical thinking.

So Stephanie wrote to Chagurin asking about some of the article’s “generalizations and falsehoods” (such as the cost of a filling: ¥150,000 would in fact cover an entire root canal). She asked why there had been no comparison with Japan’s strengths and weaknesses so that both societies “can learn from each other.”

To their credit, Chagurin responded in January (see debito.org/?p=11086), admitting to some errors in scope and fact. “Tent cities in every town park” was an exaggeration; the kid’s “picket-fence teeth” were in fact fake Halloween costume teeth. They would run a few corrections but otherwise stood by their claims.

Editors justified their editorial bent thus (my translation): “Chagurin was created as a magazine to convey the importance of farming, food, nature and life, and cultivate the spirit of helping one another. The goal of the article . . . was not to criticize America; it was to think along with the children about the social stratifications (kakusa shakai) caused by market fundamentalism (shijō genri shugi) that has gone too far. . . . There are many things in this world that we want children to learn . . . not limited to poverty and social inequality, but also food supply, war, etc. . . . We would like to positively take up these issues and include Japan’s problems as well.”

But that’s the thing. They didn’t. Chagurin basically seized upon an entire foreign society as a cautionary tale, swaddled it in broad generalizations and burned it in effigy to illuminate a path for Japanese society.

So I did some research on the magazine. Endorsed by Japan PTA, Chagurin is funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, connected with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Aha. MAFF is famous for its propagandizing, especially when it comes to keeping Japan’s agricultural sector closed for “food security” purposes. Remember Japan’s poor harvest in 1995 when rice had to be imported? To ensure Japanese consumers never realized that “foreign rice” could be of similar quality to domestic fare, American and Chinese-made japonica was blended with Japanese, while low-quality Thai rice was sold alone as “foreign” to maintain a firewall. Similar dirty marketing tricks have happened with other agro-imports, including foreign apples in the 1990s and the “longer Japanese intestines unable to digest foreign beef” nonsense in the 1980s. Chagurin’s inclusion of the TPP issue is suddenly not so odd.

More interesting, however, is the article’s author, Mika Tsutsumi. According to The Japan Times (“Spotlight on the States,” April 4, 2010), Tsutsumi, the daughter of a famous Japanese journalist, lived many years in the U.S., her “dream country.” A former United Nations worker and Nomura Securities analyst who studied at the State University of New York, New Paltz, Tsutsumi has since returned to Japan to write extensively about America exclusively in Japanese. Her bestselling books include “America’s Revolution of the Weak,” “Freedom Disappears from America” and the award-winning “America, the Poverty Superpower” (original, sequel and a manga version) — which Chagurin, from the title on down, cooperatively adapted for preadolescents nationwide.

Although Tsutsumi repeatedly encourages critical thinking in her writings, none of her books on Amazon Japan apply the same level of critique to Japanese society — probably because they would not sell as well or win awards. Thus America becomes a convenient foil for Tsutsumi to sell herself, even to grade-schoolers.

But put the shoe on the other foot: If an article of this tone and content about Japan appeared in grade-schooler magazines overseas, funded by the U.S. farming lobby and endorsed by the PTA, the first wave of protests would be from the Japanese Embassy. Then Internet denizens would swamp the publisher’s servers with accusations of racism and Japan-bashing, followed by hue and cry from the Japanese media. Yet in Japan, this angle of research passes muster — as long as it’s not about Japan.

Then I dug deeper and found something even more interesting: Tsutsumi is married to Diet member Ryuhei Kawada, a member of Minna no To (Your Party), a mishmash of center-right libertarian “we’ll say whatever you want to hear as long as you vote for us” political platforms. Kawada, a hemophiliac among thousands infected with HIV in the 1980s tainted blood scandal, came to national prominence spearheading a successful campaign against the government and the drug companies involved.

An activist for Japan’s “lost generation” of “permanent part-timers” and chosen as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, Kawada was elected to national office in 2007 on a platform of fighting discrimination. On his website (ryuheikawada.jp/english) he states, “Discrimination is the most serious issue not only in developing countries but in developed countries. I still see it in my country. . . . Education against it must be essential.”

That’s ironic, because in 2008 Kawada (unsuccessfully) campaigned against reforming Japan’s Nationality Law to allow international children born out of wedlock to be recognized as citizens even if paternity was not formally acknowledged, opportunistically joining a chorus of Japan’s xenophobes fomenting a “false paternity” scare. Apparently for Kawada, “discrimination” in Japan does not transcend nationality.

Thus Tsutsumi and Kawada are a power couple (such darlings of the left that they can jump to the right), and their influence in both policymaking circles and Japan’s media is broad. For Kawada, his alarmist gang of arguments forced the Nationality Law to be reinterpreted in 2012 to place further restrictions on Japanese with foreign nationalities (Just Be Cause, Jan. 1). For Tsutsumi, her books are now even “catching them young” — scaring impressionable minds about the “evils” of a foreign society before any schooling in comparative cultures or critical thinking.

Not to be outdone, let me offer two of my own cautionary tales from this month’s research adventure.

One is that a lack of critical thinking in Japan has enabled Japan’s media to propagandize with impunity. Propaganda, as defined by scholar Robert McChesney, is “the more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they’ll support government policy.” Tsutsumi’s article is a quintessential example: By denigrating a foreign society while elevating her own, she distorts information to leave readers ill-informed and more supportive of Japan’s insularity.

To be fair, it’s not only Tsutsumi: Live long enough in Japan and you’ll be influenced by the slow-drip mantra of how “dangerous” the outside world is (contrasted with “safe Japan”), and how if you ever dare to leave Japan (where “everyone is middle class”) you’ll be at the mercy of gross social inequalities. Over time you’ll start to believe this propaganda despite contrary experiences; it’s very effective at intimidating people from emigrating, no matter how tough things get in Japan.

The other lesson is that the hope that Japan’s “next generation” will be more open-minded than their elders is gradually evaporating. Tsutsumi and Kawada are well-educated 30-to-40-somethings with international experience, language ability and acclaimed antidiscrimination activism under their belts. Yet both are behaving as conservatively as any elite xenophobic rightist. They can get away with it because they have a perpetual soft target for Japan’s media — the outside world — to bash in a society that generally mistrusts outsiders. And they’re making mucho dinero while at it.

So let’s conclude in Tsutsumi’s style: “We” should not become like Japan because its aging society, controlled by an unaccountable bureaucratic/gerontocratic elite, will forever crowd out the young and disenfranchised from its power structure. Meanwhile the Japanese public, insufficiently trained in critical thinking, will remain intellectually blinded by jingoistic and xenophobic propaganda.

After all, focusing on overseas problems distracts attention away from domestic ills, such as an inflexible job market, an imperfect education and health system, an underdiscussed class system, a mass media that ill-serves the public interest — and yes, ironically, even questionable dietary practices, underreported poverty and homelessness, and substandard dental care.

Never mind. Let’s talk instead about how “we” are still somehow better off than somebody else. Bash the outside world — it’s lucrative. For some.

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012′s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp .

  • Fight Back

    Thanks to Debito for shining a light on the underhanded and disrespectful way the Japanese sell this kind of fear mongering propaganda to their children. To me, it’s unbelievable that the Japanese feel they can criticize America without first facing up to their own societies problems first. As an American myself I feel such disingenuous criticism from someone who obviously doesn’t know American society very well, to be unwelcome.

    Whether or not the falsehoods in the article are deliberate is up for debate. What is not up for debate is the fact that Japanese nationals feel they can bash other countries at will in the guise of providing a ‘cautionary tale’. I don’t think those in glass houses should cast stones without solving their own problems in their own backyard first.

    • KetsuroOu

      Don’t forget the underhanded and disrespectful way foreign journalists sell this kind of fear mongering propaganda to their readers. To me, it’s unbelievable that foreigners feel they can criticize Japan without first facing up to their own societies problems first. As a Japanese myself I feel such disingenuous criticism from someone who obviously doesn’t know Japanese society very well, to be unwelcome.

      Whether or not the falsehoods in the article are deliberate is up for debate. What is not up for debate is the fact that foreign nationals feel they can bash Japan at will in the guise of providing a ‘cautionary tale’. I don’t think those in glass houses should cast stones without solving their own problems in their own backyard first.

      • phu

        This is a very unfortunate straw man argument that helps prevent actual improvement and advancement. “Those who live in glass houses should not cast stones” is absolutely wrong: No one is perfect. By requiring someone else’s culture to be so you are rejecting all possible criticism, which is foolish and harms everyone, yourself included.

        If this is the way you choose to respond to criticism — valid or not — you will never have any chance to improve, because you have failed prematurely to even consider that, whether you are better or worse than your critic, he may actually have a point.

        If the best you can do is refrain from comment and at least silently consider other people’s perspectives, perhaps you will notice that despite their imperfections — and we all have them — others might actually have advice that’s worth taking.

        In this case the source (Arudou) is not the greatest, and dismissing him on his past excess would be understandable, but throwing out criticism as you do here simply is not justified.

      • KetsuroOu

        Yeah, I know. Terrible argument to make, isn’t it?

    • Adam H

      I’m English and I agree that the article is underhanded and disrespectful. No society should try to brainwash their children into xenophobic thinking by teaching them with false information.

      The article above reminds me of the “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine controversy in Japan several years ago. That magazine also wasn’t representative of the Japanese people as a whole, but a a small group of individuals. Unfortunately the fact that such a magazine made it through publication to distribution is unforgivable.

      I’ve lived in Japan for just over a decade and I’m sure that the majority of Japanese people wouldn’t agree with the points made in the article. However, the majority of Japanese people most likely aren’t even aware of the article’s existence.

      Hopefully with this article and further publicity, the stupidity behind these sort of articles can be highlighted and stopped before it further damages Japan’s youth.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        “Unfortunately the fact that such a magazine made it through publication to distribution is unforgivable.”

        I am no fan of that magazine, but am also happily aware of the fact that it in no way represented mainstream thought. What concerns me more are those, like Mr. Arudou and apparently yourself, who would have words or ideas they deem objectionable be made illegal or banned in advance. I am proud to be living in a country where freedom of speech, thought and conscience are enshrined in the Constitution – right in the main body, not appended as an afterthought as in other nations’ constitutions, or as in other nations still where the right is not enshrined at all and is subject to the whim of MPs. The cure for objectionable publications such as “Kyougaku no Gaijin Hanzai Ura File” or this (far, far less objectionable) “Chagurin” article is to let them out in the light of day where they can be exposed for what they are – not to ban them as “incorrect thoughts” from the start. This is not China or North Korea.

      • Kyle Laurence

        Except the problem is that there are frequent censorship of speech by other people, other than the ultranationalist right wingers in Japan, who feel absolutely free to threaten other people into submission. The other most ‘regrettable’ part are the people who acquiesce to the threats! Violent censorship is everwhere in Japan, and so it is indeed regrettable that the ones touted by the violent nationalists are the only ones free of that.

  • Ron NJ

    I read the original article when posted on Debito’s website, and there is one thing you can absolutely take away from all of this: it is fundamentally dishonest and does a great disservice to society to expose children so young, without the proper training in critical thinking and reasoning, to such wildly exaggerated and poorly written propaganda.

  • Catherine Dassy

    The most alarming person in this article to me isn’t the hack journalist who has zero journalistic ethos, but the teacher who said, “it is written so it is true.” If anyone still needed proof that critical thinking is absent from the Japanese education system, it can’t be much more telling than this one sentence.
    Introduce critical thinking into the education system, and I think in Japan’s case, it would change the country so profoundly that it could lead to a revolution – people start questioning this government and bureaucracy.
    That is probably the reason why critical thinking is being portrayed as a “Western evil”.

  • Johnny T

    Tremendous article.

  • itoshima2012

    It’s exaggerated but the fact are true. Look, if you’re poor in the US you’re done. Public schooling is bad ad private one (according to The Economist) is no anymore a good deal for the horrendous fees you pay. The US is one of the unfairest country in the world when it comes to social equality. That’s a fact! Yes, they exaggerated but the “meat of the story’ is true. You can check any statistic on this and the result will be the same. It’s a country suffering terrible rates of gun crime, foreclosures, obesete ecc. It’s sad but true.

    • Guest

      “unfairest country in the world when it comes to social equality”…please tell me of another country that would elect a minority as president.

  • phu

    One of the amusing things about Arudou is that it’s very easy to pick out his articles: He is pretty much the only person who cites his columns as sources, and he almost never cites anything else.

    Definitely a better, more grounded and readable piece than usual from this author, but still tainted by the shrewish nature that makes it impossible to take him seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.takada Jeff Takada

    And yet: The poorer area you’re in, the higher the obesity index. Recent reporting is that fully 1% (21,000) of NYC’s children are homeless. That some Japanese entities employ hyperbole in an effort to forestall or deflect these ills from their society does not seem to me a crime. The failure of the American people to forestall these ills in their society on the other hand is a terrible tragedy.

    By concluding with a faux “Tsutsumi-style” tirade against the perceived ills which beset Japanese society, Arudo has once again exposed himself (as he does every article) as a destructive critic who demands that the Japanese and their feudal ways conform to his enlightened version of the way their society should be. A classic and retrograde example of “White Man’s Burden.”

  • The Apologist

    Making constant speculative, egregious, exaggerated, monolithic claims to vilify Japan and its people is the entire modus operandi of Debito and his irony-challenged followers. The same racialist sledgehammer is being used to pound the same old mosquitoes, here the predictable, stereotypically self-serving hubris that “We” are critical thinkers but “The Japanese” are not. Hypocritical much?

  • johnny cassidy

    Those were pretty big blunders (mixed in among some painful truths sad to say)! Good to see Arudou was able to prompt Chagurin to make some corrections – now only if he could get the publication he works for to do the same.

  • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

    I am somewhat perplexed by why Mr. Arudou felt the need to point out that Tsutsumi, a Japanese, living in Japan, was writing about America “exclusively in Japanese”. How else is a Japanese supposed to communicate with their fellow Japanese? It wouldn’t make any sense for a Japanese, living in Japan, to try to win over those around them by setting out their position while speaking exclusively (or even mainly) English, now would it? Such a hypothetical Japanese would quickly find themselves isolated, frustrated by being unable to accomplish anything, and yelling into an ever-smaller self-built bubble of Anglophones, now wouldn’t they?

    • Fight Back

      I believe Tsutsumi was writing exclusively in Japanese under the assumption that NJ would not be able to read her propaganda. That fact that Debito was able to catch and confront her shows how much we need someone like him on the front lines.

      I dislike the fact that someone like Tsutsumi could enjoy, as a guest of my country, the fruits and benefits of a modern and open society, and then do her utmost to shut down people who try to bring modern ways of thinking into Japan by shutting off kid’s minds at an early age. Do you think putting up barriers to creative thinking is in Japanese children’s best interests? I certainly don’t. The Japanese need Debito as much as we do.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        “I believe Tsutsumi was writing exclusively in Japanese under the assumption that NJ would not be able to read her propaganda.”

        Really? And not because she was writing for a Japanese audience, in this case of schoolchildren, who likely would not be able to read English? Quite the paranoid fantasy you have there.

        “That fact that Debito was able to catch and confront her…”

        Ah, but Mr. Arudou did not “catch” her, now did he? Stephanie did. I strongly doubt “Chagurin” is available in Hawaii.

        “The Japanese need Debito as much as we do.”
        Absolutely no disagreement there!

      • The Apologist

        “The Japanese need Debito as much as we do”

        In other words, not. Why? Because Debito is actually a hindrance to non-Japanese residents. By dumbing down almost every issue he takes on to a superficial black and white synopsis, it keeps a (thankfully decreasing) number of non-Japanese ignorant. This, in turn, hinders their ability to integrate into this society by creating an unnecessarily adversative relationship. This is why Debito has almost no standing in the academic community nor, unlike some of us, does he serve any role in organizations trying to positively enable Japanese-non Japanese assimilation.

        Instead, Debito is the wet-dream of every Japanese ultra-nationalist: a Caucasian with a superficial grasp of domestic issues aggressively chastising Japan and its people for not being more like him. Presenting this as “activism” on behalf of non-Japanese simply adds fuel for the extremist xenophobes.

        If the Japan Times wants a critical foreign voice in its commentary section, it would do well to find one one with a deeper grasp of the issues and an intellectual palette that extends beyond black and white.

      • Fight Back

        Unfortunately you miss that point that Debito IS Japanese. His activism and website have not only been a guiding light for oppressed NJ in Japan but his ideas and vision for making Japan a better place for everyone are so threatening to the establishment that we have what we see now, Japanese activists leaping to shut off children’s minds before Debito can influence them for the better, government-funded apologist websites employing self-hating Westerners to attack him and his friends. Christopher Johnson, a fellow contributor to the Japan Times, wrote a very interesting expose on the dynamics of this, you should check it out.

        Debito’s standing in the academic community for NJ is unparalleled, he’s done more for us than most care to admit. It is my belief that he should be in at least an advisory position to the government, but the fact that he is not shows how resistant Japan is to change. We now see the Japanese model failing, the economy stalled, the population aging, huge problems with racism, including refusing to sit next to NJ on trains, and runaway domestic violence and child abuse. Not to mention the corruption at all levels.

        The Japanese have shown themselves unable to deal with this crisis and it’s now more than ever that the Japanese need people like Debito to rescue them from themselves.

      • Christopher-trier

        He’s not Japanese. That he has a Japanese passport means only that Japan granted him citizenship. He is by all means and purposes American. He writes like an American, he thinks like an American, he speaks like an American, and he behaves like an American. To state that he is Japanese is disingenuous at best. He will never be a Wajin, an Ainu, or Ryukyuan.

      • Toolonggone

        >He writes like an American, he thinks like an American, he speaks like an American, and he behaves like an American.

        Sounds like a typical ethnocentric assumption pulled to the other side of extreme. You can’t hide your characters, first language skills, instincts, etc., so you can’t truly become a citizen of an adopted country? Gee, it’s kind of like saying to Japanese who has an American passport, “you are not an American because you can’t hide your Japanese accent (!)” And all Wajin are not expected to speak and write in English like westerns or other NJ!? That sounds even more disingenuous and insulting to Japanese people.

      • Christopher-trier

        Being an American is a concept, not an ethnicity. There is no American ethnic group. It’s always been a multi-racial, multi-cultural country. If a Japanese were to acquire US citizenship, learn to speak whatever passes as English in the USA, become culturally functional, and broadly adhere to accepted cultural values in the USA than yes, s/he would become American. You’re comparing apples to oranges. It’s the same reason why naturalised British citizens are accepted as British but not English, Welsh, or Scottish — one is a nationality, the others are ethnicities.

      • Toolonggone

        > It’s always been a multi-racial, multi-cultural country.

        True but NOT until the late 19th century did America grant non-Whites citizenship. Some immigrants (i.e., Chinese) were not eligible until the end of WWII due to the Exclusion Act. FDR’s Executive Order put Japanese-Americans into the concentration camp. Multi-racial, multi-cultural does NOT mean people are granted equal rights. Past history proves that government politics always stood in the way between the Constitution and the people. This is still bothering people regardless of race and ethnicity.

        Also please explain where this will take off from a couple of your points: 1) what is condition of Japanese citizen?; 2) what kind of naturalized citizens can be accepted as Japanese citizen?

        And isn’t it disingenuous to target a specific person of NOT fitting into the criteria you create to meet the expectation of what Japanese is/behaves while ignoring MOJ’s policy on citizenship—no matter how you/I look at it?

      • Kyle Laurence

        Of course, one’s genes is the only TRUE determination of Japaneseness. It takes Japanese genes, to create a Japanese brain, and ONLY Japanese brains can help the Japanese. No one else has any good ideas.

        You are committing a fallacy; that a person’s background can determine whether they are making a good argument or not. Tell me, if a liar says “2 + 2 = 4″ is he lying?

        Argue his points, not where he comes from. It is not wrong to be American in ethnicity.

      • The Apologist

        So, to sum up some of your points in this thread…
        1. ‘Debito stands at the pinnacle of academic Japan studies’
        (Apparently someone forgot to notify actual Japanologists about this)

        2. ‘Only Debito can save Japan from domestic violence and child abuse’
        (I believe only he could have prevented 3/11 too)

        3. ‘The Japanese government funds websites that criticize Debito’
        (That would mean a lot of funding)

        4. ”These sites are populated by self-hating Westerners’
        (If by that you mean that we are not ‘race loyalists’, then guilty as charged)

        5. ‘Tsutsumi wrote her article to Japanese people in Japanese so that non-Japanese wouldn’t find out about it’
        (‘Nuff said already on that by Mainwaring)

        6. ‘Tsutsumi is trying to shut people down who bring reforms into Japan’
        (Yeah, that happened. Writing an article critical of the U.S. = shutting down other ideas)

        7. ‘You should read Christopher Johnson’
        (I think that alone says enough)

        And, from your posts after Debito’s previous screed last month:
        ‘Debito should be exempt from criticism’ and

        ‘If Debito wrote it, it’s true!’.

        (This from somebody championing ‘critical’ and ‘creative’ thinking and ascribing it to his own race)

        To me, it’s 50/50 whether you are either carrying out a rather clever satire or that you actually believe what you write. Either way, please do continue to post your honest thoughts because I’m quite confident that every time you do so a potential Debito supporter backs away.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        “Debito’s done more for us than most care to admit.”

        Name something. Give me one example of something Debito has done that has benefited foreigners in Japan and made their lives better. Just one – surely that can’t be too hard.

        “Debito should be in at least an advisory position to the government, but the fact that he is not shows how resistant Japan is to change.”

        Then how do you explain naturalized Japanese who are elected officials like Marutei Tsurunen, Anthony Bianchi and Jon Heese?

        “huge problems with racism, including refusing to sit next to NJ on trains”

        Oh… my…. god….

        Can you tell me where this happens? Because I am constantly being assaulted on trains by Japanese who insist on squeezing their 40 cm buttocks into the 20cm of space between myself and the person next to me. I would dearly love to be “discriminated against” at times like that.

        “now more than ever that the Japanese need people like Debito to rescue them from themselves.”

        But is he willing to assume the White Man’s Burden?

      • Fight Back

        When the United Nations representative came to Japan he went straight to the one man who be able to shed light on a an often obfuscating culture. That man was Debito Arudou. Debito has travelled the length and breadth of Japan combatting racism on his own time and coin. Asking for ‘Japanese Only’ signs to be taken down, stopping schools from forcing children to dye their hair, opening onsen culture to all NJ, and countless other, small but important victories in the fight for NJ rights. It’s all right there on his website if you can bother yourself to have a look!

        Debito is the de facto leader of our scattered NJ community, if it weren’t for the constant attacks on his character and sniping by the Apologist crowd, he would be a better position to lead with authority rather than still being forced to prove himself ‘again’ after these many years of selfless service to the NJ-cause, something that you complain about even while you benefit from it.

      • C.J. Bunny

        “refusing to sit next to NJ on trains” I know a guy this happens to regularly, people even get up when he sits down. He is also the only NJ I know that gets carded by Police. He’s not fat or smelly and dresses smartly (not a bearded, long-haired, soap-dodging English teacher). I think he must just give out aggressive looks by mistake. Likely in many cases the NJ “rights” activists concerns become a self-fulfilling prophecy as they eyeball all Japanese as a suspicious enemy about to other them. I didn’t get where I am today without being able to see the wood for the chip on their shoulders.

  • Toolonggone

    The problem is NOT what ‘Chagurin’ presents–the problem(s) affecting so many people in the US. The problem is the way the Tsutsumi and her mouthpiece present America’s problem. Putting the snapshots of kid’s wearing a fake teeth for Halloween in top or over-generalized description of problems to the detriment of gross misrepresentation are very disturbing. It clearly shows Tsutsumi’s immaturity as a professional journalist and her motive behind the magazine article by following conventional assumptions on Japanese language and culture. It’s tantamount to say “it is ok to exaggerate the story for Japanese writers because the vast majority of readers are Japanese and very few NJ can read Japanese language.” Chagurin is a perfect platform for her to brainwash innocent Japanese kids without providing any Japan’s case on a similar ground to prove her point—Japan is NO STRANGER to America’s problems.

  • Christopher-trier

    It’s not Fox News-style zeal. If anything, MSNBC is even worse and CNN often finds itself in hot water for its lack of balance. The New York Times constantly has to post retractions for stories it’s printed that are full of misinformation if not blatant lies. It’s symptomatic of American journalism in general, simplify and stir up a frenzy.

  • Toolonggone

    Fox News and MSNBC are, in my opinion, the least appropriate platforms to demonstrate the faculty of critical thinking because they only care about Nielsen’s rating. True lack of training in critical thinking has led the decline of American media and journalism. But some people are not stupid and dumb to let it pass. In the US, there are far more outspoken social critics who would not hesitate to address their nation’s problems than in Japan. Some of them are even more critical and harsher than Debito.

  • Toolonggone

    No. He’s not a libertarian corporate American advocate.