|

Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world

by

Special To The Japan Times

Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, paler skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising strategies, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery.

This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary complimentary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior.

For example, Japan’s pundits have already begun arguing that Japan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup in Brazil was partly down to the fallacy that Japanese bodies are smaller and weaker than those of foreigners. Japan’s sports leagues have long used this belief to justify limiting foreign players on teams — as if it somehow “equalizes” things.

This “equalization” is not limited to the infamous examples of baseball and sumo. The National Sports Festival (kokutai), Japan’s largest amateur athletic meeting, bans almost all foreigners. Japan’s popular Ekiden footrace bans all foreigners from the first leg of the marathon, and from 2007 has capped foreign participants on teams at two (the logic being that the Ekiden would become “dull” (kyōzame) without a Japanese winning).

Who is a “foreigner”? It’s not just a matter of citizenship: The Japan Sumo Association decided to count even naturalized Japanese citizens as “foreign” in 2010, in clear violation of the Nationality Law. (Somebody, please sue!)

These limitations also apply to intellectual contests. Until 2006, Japan’s national Takamado English Speech Contests barred all people (including Japanese) with “foreign ancestry”. This included non-English-speaking countries, the argument being that any foreign blood somehow injects an unfair linguistic advantage. (After 2006, Takamado provided a list of English-speaking countries whose descendants would continue to be ineligible.)

This is atrocious reasoning. But it is so hegemonic because of Japan’s long history of race-based superiority studies.

In 1875, Yukichi Fukuzawa (the man gracing our ¥10,000 note) wrote an influential treatise called “An Outline of a Theory of Civilization.” Borrowing from Western eugenics, he reordered the world to correlate levels of civilization with skin color.

White-hued people were at the top, dark-skinned people at the bottom. Naturally for Fukuzawa, Asians were ranked just below whites. And, naturally, Japanese were the most “civilized” of the Asians.

The West has largely moved on from this dangerous bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution. However, Japan’s social sciences still largely ascribe to century-old social stratification systems that see race as a biological construct, and bloodlines and blood types as determinants of behavior.

So far, so Japanese Society 101. But the point I want to stress here is that inferiority complexes are counterintuitively counterproductive.

I say counterintuitive because they foster feelings not of humility towards people they admire, but of anger. Yes, anger.

Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima discusses this in her 2013 essay “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.” She talks about how the elites of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (who would set Japan’s nascent national narratives) felt a sense of “distance, inferiority and disjuncture towards the West.”

Distance was a big theme back then. Although Japan is of course geographically Asian, with deep historical connections to China, Fukuzawa and other Meiji Era elites advocated that Japan “quit Asia and enter Europe” (datsu-a nyū-ō).

So that’s what happened. Over several decades, Japan industrialized, militarized, colonized and adopted the fashions and trappings of “Western civilization.” Japan sought recognition and acceptance from the West not as an inferior, but as a fellow world power. Japan wanted the sense of distance to disappear.

But that didn’t happen. Japan’s elites were shocked when the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) refused to include in its 1919 Covenant an anti-racial discrimination clause that Japan (yes!) had demanded. More shocking was when Japan was treated like a “colored,” “uncivilized” nation under America’s Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.

This is where the psychology of inferiority complexes is generally misunderstood. When people try this hard for validation and don’t get it, it doesn’t engender the passive humility and must-try-harder attitudes so often gushed about in the Western media regarding Japan.

Majima argues, “While an inferiority complex is generally regarded as a sense of inferiority towards oneself, it should rather be regarded as a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . . . for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’ “

So instead you get isolation, loneliness, anxiety and scant sense of belonging. (I’m sure you long-termers who feel unrecognized for all your efforts to “fit in to Japan” can relate to this.)

How did Japan react to being rebuffed? Policymakers declared that Japan neither belonged to the East nor the West. It isolated itself.

Worse, according to Majima, “Japan sought to identify itself through the unstable ‘distance’ between self and others as ‘tradition.’ “

Ah, tradition. Lovely thing, that. It turns this angry mindset from a phase in Japan’s history into part of its permanent self-image.

This feeling of isolation gave rise to Japan’s “cult of uniqueness,” and it dominates Japan’s self-image today, constantly vacillating between superiority and inferiority when dealing with foreigners. This “tradition” of ranking oneself in comparison with others, particularly in terms of degrees of civilization, has become ingrained as cultural habit and reflex.

And that’s why inferiority complexes are counterproductive for Japan’s relationship to the outside world: They make it more difficult for “foreigners” to be seen and treated as individuals. Instead, they get thrust into the impossible role of national or cultural representative of a whole society.

They also make it more difficult for Japanese to be neutral towards foreigners. Rather, the default reflex is to see them in terms of comparative national development and civilization.

These complexes also interfere with constructive conversations. For if acceptance, recognition and superlative praise of Japan as a safe, peaceful, developed country are not forthcoming from the outsider, insult and anger almost inevitably ensue. After all, criticism of Japan besmirches its self-image as a civilized society.

This is especially true when it comes to issues of racial discrimination in Japan. Japanese society is loath to admit it ever happens here — because discrimination is not what “civilized” societies do. I will discuss this in a future column.

Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • kyushuphil

    It’s not we foreigners who suffer most. It’s the Japanese.

    The conceit that “we” (Japanese) are different, unique, ushers in and enlarges the worst stereotyping — especially that of he myth of kyō-chō-sei ( 協 調 性), or group harmony. This has gotten so established in all schools now that group activity and rote regimentation has totally taken over. Students scarcely anywhere write essays. They scarcely ever learn any ways to see others as individuals. They can’t see or imagine this, so strangling has become the myth of group harmony.

    I don’t suffer at all from the reductions to group conformities that now rule. It saddens me to see contemporary teachers going along with, never questioning the mindlessness. It angers me to see so many really bright, sparkling kids — and then to see them crushed, crammed, lied to about their lives and those of others by all the zombie schools.

  • Steve Jackman

    The worst thing people can do is to not be comfortable in their own skin.

    It leads them to have all kinds of phobias, complexes, depression, self-loathing, low self esteem, insecurities and internal conflicts.

    This is also why many people exhibit active-passive behavior, fail to develop basic social skills or become socially withdrawn, all problems which are quite common in Japan.

  • ChuckRamone

    You see this in reverse too when soccer commentators are talking about the “size advantage” that European, South American or African teams have over Asian players. I don’t think there is such a drastic size difference anymore among professional athletes in soccer that it could be considered a major factor. There’s still a pretty big technique and strategy gap in soccer though between Asia and the rest of the world.

  • Ostap Bender

    Japan’s elites were shocked when the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) refused to include in its 1919 Covenant an anti-racial discrimination clause that Japan (yes!) had demanded. More shocking was when Japan was treated like a “colored,” “uncivilized” nation under America’s Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.

    Here is where Arudo’s argument breaks down. He’s blaming the Japanese when they in fact were the victims of discrimination.
    And by the way, as a long term gaijin here, I do get credit for my efforts to fit in.
    If Arudo hates Japan so much, why doesn’t he just leave?

  • Taro-nechan

    I recently asked my best friend (young Japanese) what he thinks of our Vietnamese, Korean, American, Chinese, Filipino and Thai neighbours. He answered back “what do you mean by what do I think?” I clarified “do you value them differently because of their nationality or ethnicity?” He thought for a while then he answered “I don’t think of their nationality nor their ethnicity. I think of them on an individual basis. There are ones that I like and ones that I don’t.”

    Arudou Debito got famous writing about the Japanese/Non-Japanese divide. I’m not saying what Arudou Debito is saying is not true. In fact, I know a lot of what he’s saying is true. But Arudou Debito does everyone a disservice by not pointing out that Japan’s young people are international, open minded, have more varied interpersonal experiences than their parents, and are generally much more interested in pursuing their own life, dreams and friendships and have gotten to the point where they realise that individuals matter more than ethnic prejudices.

    I know Arudou Debito has good points and he is fighting for the rights of NJ in Japanese in Japan. But it can get tiring to read his uniformly pessimistic articles.

    • phu

      Arudou’s consistent railing against… everything… is definitely one of his weaker points (and I almost always find his writing hard to stomach because of it), but in this case I will definitely say I think he’s done much better than usual. I was actually wondering whether I was going to see a note saying this was archived from a long time ago when he was less shrewish.

      My Japanese friends definitely fall into the category you’re referring to… which both contributes to your point and makes it hard for me to comment on the correctness of the more subjective views presented in the article.

      However, in an unprecedented leap, Arudou actually cites writers and researchers other than himself here — quite often! — and makes an honest attempt to back up his statements. How well he actually does is obviously and understandably a topic of debate in the comments here, but I think this is a radical improvement for him, even over his last column.

      Without attempting to analyze it, I’m just going to go ahead and hope that this marks a more constructive and thoughtful (if not overly positive; the topics he covers don’t often lend themselves to that) direction for this writer and his column.

    • Steve Jackman

      I think your alarm clock is going off, so time to wake up from your dream and join the rest of us who live in the real Japan, not some dreamscape.

    • Tonyed

      As a long-term NJ living in Japan, I think you have made an excellent counterclaim to this author’s arguements. Generalisations and disingenuous rationalisations are invariably blown clean out of the water by fact.

      Japan may be more racially homogenous than the West (whatever that definition of ‘homogenous’ or ‘The West’ may be), but prejudices are, unfortunately, universal and multilayered in equal measure the world over.

    • GaijinToy

      Taro, I don’t mean to doubt your story, or second-guess your experiences. But this:

      ‘”I don’t think of their nationality nor their ethnicity. I think of them on an individual basis. There are ones that I like and ones that I don’t.”‘

      One thing about prejudice is that – no one ever admits it. No one. I don’t doubt that your friend is lovely, and I’m not accusing him of being racist, but what I am saying is: yes, your friend SAYS that he “doesn’t see color” but that’s what EVERYONE says if you ask them about their prejudices.

      So it’s nice that your friend SAYS he “thinks of them on an individual basis,” but his actions will always speak louder than his words on this.

    • Steve Jackman

      Taro-nechan, your comment lacks credibility for me, since you’ve made the cardinal sin of basing your argument on an anecdote about your best friend, a young Japanese, telling you that he is not a racist.

      Anyone who’s lived in Japan for any period of time knows that one needs to pay attention to what people here do, not what they say. This point seems to have escaped you.

      I have met many Japanese here in Japan who I find to be extremely racist in their actions and attitudes, yet they never think of themselves as racist. This is one of the biggest problems about racism in Japan, since the first step to addressing any problem is to first admit that the problem exists. Most Japanese are in denial of the deeply ingrained racism and sexism within Japanese society and therein lies the problem.

  • Upageya

    It is a rare occasion, to agree with something written by this gentleman in toto.
    But, when he is right, he is right. So I started thinking why that would be so, and I realised, that this time he writes about what and how the Japanese people ARE. Usually he writes about things they DO, and he always wants them to be different, to better suit his preferences.
    Even if I were to accept japanese nationality, I would never be anything than a guest in their country. If this is no longer good enough for me…. Haneda, here I come.

    People in Japan will let you do your own thing, as long as you let them do theirs. If this happens to be sitting without a foreigner in the same onsen water or eating without a foreigner at the next table in a restaurant, why should I have a problem with this?

    The football worldcup was indeed a perfect example for what Aroudo writes. I have played in two teams here and realised that they lack some of the basic skills to ever achieve greatness in this sport. They lack vision, cannot remain aware that space and other people exist on their sides and behind them also (you will all know this from traffic!) and can never disregard their “gambere, gambere” conditioning.
    But… it is their country and so it was my turn to simply stop playing with them, and not for them to do the impossible, and understand soccer.
    And yet, before the kick-off they were dreaming of successes and more or less made a joke of themselves.
    That is Japan, take it or be unhappy…. they are wonderfully kind an friendly people, and I enjoy my life here, so far 8 years.
    But why should I take them seriously? What to do, if they elect Abe (remember, the americans elected Bush… twice!) and if Abes “politics” push this country over a certain top into a war and I will be forced to leave it, so be it.

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

    Apparently the time difference between Japan and Hawaii is greater than I thought – that, or Japanese TV programs are only broadcast in Hawaii more than a week after they are shown in Japan.

    Arudou is right that, during the first round, the height disparity between Japanese players and Greek players (or Japanese players and Drogba of the Ivory Coast) was pointed out, although I don’t recall such commentary concerning Japan’s game with Colombia. Personally I don’t recall much of said commentary being “we lost because we are little weak girly men playing against tall strong manly men”, but perhaps such did exist.

    What commentary about height I saw was pointing out the obvious: when playing a team that is taller than you, who can run faster than you due to having longer legs, who can kick the ball harder than you or head a ball that is higher off the ground than you can, you need to play a close ground game and defend your possession harder, and play defense deeper as the other side can hit your goal from farther out than you can. Common sense stuff, actually.

    However the pundits, at least the ones I see on my TV here in Japan, have pointed the finger more at Japan’s lacking a Messi, Ronaldo, Shaqiri or Neymar. Japan’s team as a whole is a good one, and Honda is far from a slouch, but Japan lacks a truly dominating player. This hurts them. And is one reason why the JFA is looking at Aguirre for their next coach: Mexico’s national team faced the same handicaps and still plays competitively, so a coach who knows how to bring out Mexico’s strengths would, in theory, also know how to bring out Japan’s.

    Perhaps in another week or two the recordings of these discourses will make the trip across the Pacific by slow boat and Mr. Arudou will be able to catch up with what is actually being talked about in Japan.

  • anoninjapan

    GT.

    I used to have “faith” in the next generation, as you indicate too, however, sadly it is all superficial. On many occasions I have met Japanese returning from overseas, either studying or simply living (for a period of years) yet wished to maintain their English skills via a native speaker, me/friends. Over the ensuing weeks and months i see their spark, zest and enthusiasm of life slowly ebb away. After several months of being back in Japan they are a shadow of their former self.

    Their openness and proactiveness and sense of freedom and being an individual has been snuffed out by Japan Inc. To exist inside Japan they must conform – they are Japanese after all. There is no alternative. They are able to work and live back in Japan so long as they tow the Japan Inc line of “we” and “conformity” and minimising fraternisation with NJs for fear of being “indoctrinated” by thoughts of self and thus never to behave as an individual. As such they slowly dispensed with “that” part of their lives where they had a life to do as they wished.

    After several months the visits became less and by the year out non-existent, save for the occasional text/email of hello. I simply reminded them too much of their former lives of freedom without scrutiny, a lifestyle they can no longer enjoy whilst in Japan.

    I no longer have faith in the next generation. Not because i have no faith in them, just no faith in the society to allow them to be who they want to be; whatever it may be.

  • Tangerine 18

    Debito – I’m afraid your comments on Japan’s failure at the World Cup are as off the mark as a Shinji Kagawa pass. I’m not sure which “pundits” you are referring to but nobody connected with the game here in Japan is blaming a lack of height or strength for the team’s poor showing. The causes are many and varied: poor initial squad selection, outdated tactics, a reliance on clearly past-it veterans, unusual player selection, mis-timed and ineffective substitutions and the poor form of key players Honda and Kagawa. Zaccheroni has to shoulder a lot of the blame, I’m afraid. There have also been dark rumours of discord within the squad.
    On the other hand Japan’s best performers were Inter Milan’s Nagatomo ( 1.70m ) and Uchida of Schalke ( 1.76m ). Neither are giants but both played well and will remain first choices for their club teams next season.
    In contrast South Korea had one of the tallest squads in Brazil but also fell at the first hurdle and performed so badly they were pelted with toffees by disgruntled fans on their return home.
    Please stick to subjects you know something about; football clearly isn’t one of them.

  • Tangerine 18

    Debito – I’m afraid your comments on Japan’s failure at the World Cup are as off the mark as a Shinji Kagawa pass. I’m not sure which “pundits” you are referring to but nobody connected with the game here in Japan is blaming a lack of height or strength for the team’s feeble showing. The causes are many and varied: poor initial squad selection, outdated tactics, a reliance on clearly past-it veterans, unusual player selection, mis-timed and ineffective substitutions and the dire form of key players Honda and Kagawa. Zaccheroni has to shoulder a lot of the blame I’m afraid. There have also been dark rumours of discord within the squad.
    On the other hand Japan’s best performers were Inter Milan’s Nagatomo ( 1.70m ) and Uchida of Schalke ( 1.76m ). Neither are giants but both played well and will remain first choices for their club teams next season.
    In contrast South Korea had one of the tallest squads in Brazil but also fell at the first hurdle and performed so badly they were pelted with toffees by disgruntled fans on their return home.
    Please stick to subjects you know something about; football clearly isn’t one of them.

  • Taro-nechan

    My criticism wasn’t that Arudou Debito’s pieces are lies or that Japanese do not have racial views. My criticism was that Arudou Debito’s pieces show only one side, and the angry side at that.

    Arudou Debito’s stories do not reflect my experiences when:

    I went to a small town in Gunma where an old woman spontaneously told me she was thankful for the town’s Brazilians otherwise there would not be young people anymore;

    Of the dozens of small farming villages I visited where the villagers cannot get over themselves singing praises to the Filipinas who joined their communities as wives and mothers and made their lives richer;

    Of half Japanese-half Iranian kids who are so good looking they are so popular at school because being half-something is so popular right now;

    Of scores of Japanese who come to Koreatown trying to find a Korean boy or girl to date because they are so tall and handsome;

    Of a half Bangladeshi lawyer and a half Pakistani colleague of mine whose internationalism enriches our work.

    Of Filipinos, Chinese, a Kiwi, a German, and American colleagues of mine who have decided to naturalize and take on obligations pertaining to Japanese citizenship.

    My gripe with Arudou Debito is that his fame is built on one Sapporo Onsen where a white person was refused, but I have been to so many onsen with so many white friends and we have never been molested. Which experiences are more valid?

    Maybe Arudou Debito was the pioneer who enabled our white friends to join us at onsens. But maybe it is also time to acknowledge that, while not perfect, Japanese society has progressed leaps and bounds and now is perfectly able to see the individual rather than the ethnic membership.

  • Taro-nechan

    You got it, Greg Estelcherry.
    Arudou Debito puts up a straw man than he can then take down himself then take credit.
    I am a NJ in Japan with mixed ethnicity and Arudou Debito does not speak for me nor describe my experiences.

  • Steve Jackman

    Debito did not come up with the concept of Japan’s “Cult of Uniqueness”. If you know anything about Japan, you should know that the Japanese are the one’s who created a whole genre of Japanese uniqueness, which they refer to as Nihonjinron in Japanese.

  • Upageya

    You write:

    „Debito has a way of taking the unspoken and making it easy to discuss.“

    That depends. Where I live, amongst Japanese, we talk about these subjects, the way we talk about the football worldcup. Its nothing special. These things are not unspoken, the truth of the problem is that there is nothing in Japan worthy of being called news-media, it all belongs to the same mafia. Debito writing in the Japan Times is nothing but a fig leaf. No one except us notices him, nothing he does has any consequences worth anything.

    It took a few years of living here, then I recognized the same phenomenon that I know from f.e. Australia.
    Japan is another isolated island at the ….. of the world. Surrounded by other third world countries, some of them rich, some of them poor. They all have one thing in common, whatever they ever had that might be called a culture and which never were anything but slave-societes, lies centuries in the past. In Europe every country has a dozen neighbours with competing cultures, you grow, you
    learn or you disappear, as so many cultures in Europe have done. What Japan sells as its culture does not exist today and never did in the past. Being confronted with a globalised world they now realise the ridiculously lousy quality of life for the people here and… of course, they cannot admit that openly and start changing.

    That is the true point that Debito makes..

    THAT is why the people elect gentlemen like Abe or Aso, as voting for change would mean admitting that this is not the best of all countries, and that would be extremely painful.

    So, they dislike foreigners, Debito explaines why.

    But, as long as I can enjoy sitting by myself in two seats in JR trains instead of being squeezed in, because all those standing do not want to sit next to me, a gaijin, I will stay. When this kind of behaviour becomes to overwhelming and repulsive, then I will leave…

    Asking the Japanese to change, because it makes Debito uncomfortable and even angry, is simply
    ridiculous.

    This is THEIR country, not mine, I am a guest and usually treated very exceptionally gracious….
    compared to some other countries I know.

    Because of the political incompetence of its people this country will sooner or later let itself
    be dragged into a war, to defend American interests. This is sad, but cannot be avoided. Japanese culture of putting appearances before being, and hypocrisy and NEVER speaking out openly (with single exceptions of course) will have their price and their consequences.

    There will come a time to leave… fighting against racism in an onsen is ridiculous, compared with the real problems in Japan.

  • iago

    So Ayu Majima said: “While an inferiority complex is generally regarded as a sense of inferiority towards oneself, it should rather be regarded as a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . . . for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’ ”

    Wait. Who are we talking about again? Reading through a number of the comments here and elsewhere, this seems to be less a trait unique to “The Japanese”, and more a trait of the human condition.

  • Taro-nechan

    I did watch the movie Hafu with a few hafu friends and half said they couldn’t relate to it, a reaction which I wasn’t expecting.

    My explanation is that even within hafu there are differences in background, situation, personality. Again, broad strokes fail to capture the full picture.

    In contrast with Arudou Debito’s writings, though, I did enjoy the movie as it showed kids dealing with and getting comfortable with their own skin, which we don’t need to be half-breeds in order to struggle through and appreciate.

  • Kenji

    But also we just get the weird foreigners

  • Simon Rudduck

    Excellent article.

  • anoninjapan

    “..All I can say to you is that I think you are misinterpreting the situation…”

    Couldn’t agree more. You’re barking up the wrong tree totally and trying to justify a position that you have made yourself based upon your own assumptions, incorrect as they are.

    My comment has nothing to do with “being friends”. All you’re demonstrating is that you’re myopic and superficial, even to the point of arrogance in your interactions with people. Bully for you. Not everyone is.

    As for a flimsy relationship….ugh!..er…please state where i have mentioned this above?…er…you can’t. Because it is not there, another strawman argument.

    If you’re going to comment at least attempt to make it about the subject matter at hand rather than a ramble about nothing in particular and a lame attempt create a link that is so clearly not there even a blind man could see it!

  • Greg Estelcherry

    Toolongone,
    I have three ‘hafu’ children. They are, to my mind, fully Japanese. I know of several other such hafu children. They, too, are fully Japanese. But do any of them correspond to Debito’s descriptions as to what “The Japanese” supposedly think and how they behave? (Use his preposterous notion as to how ‘anger and insults ineviably ensue’ if outsiders don’t praise Japan as a reference point).
    My hafu children don’t respond like that, in fact neither do my Japanese family, friends, neighbours, or colleagues. When Debito rails against “The Japanese” he is either not including our mixed-race children, because they apparently do not meet his criterion for Japanese-ness, or he thinks that this society is completely uniform and fails to recognize diversity, a standard ultra-rightist trope, which contradicts a good portion of what he has writttten in the past.

  • Maria

    wow… very good article! very well written and full of historical good reasoning! However, 500 years ago Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world, after being ‘approached/discovered’ by Europeans!

    Very good ideas in here though!

  • Maria

    It is a very well written article! However, is not to forget that 500 years ago Japan closed itself to foreigners only to open up again much later (Meiji Era) if I am correct!

  • Maria

    why are my comments being removed/deleted?!

  • robertwgordonesq

    Arudou–san has descended from the racial utopia of the United States to bring civilization to the savages of Nippon.

    The funniest part of his essay was where Arudou–san said:
    “The West has largely moved on from this dangerous bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution.”

    Ha, ha, ha…ho, ho, ho..must…pick…my…self…up…from…floor.

    Ahem.

    What he should have said (if he were honest), would be:

    “The West has largely moved on from this dangerous [outward] bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution, [but unfortunately has still maintained this worldview yet kept it more clandestine].

    I think Arudou–san’s piece in and of itself is racist as the above quote seems to imply that the Japanese should become more “Western” in order for them to be considered citizens of the world. As the West has “moved on”, so too must the Japanese “grow up” to catch up with their White idols.

    Phooey.

    The ancient reality, at least for China, was that the West were the barbarians, from whom nothing was needed. And the British, in order to enforce a racial hierarchy, pumped China full of Opium and invaded the country to bring it under Western submission through force of arms.

    Is it no wonder that Asians are leery and weary of foreigners?

    The Japanese merely adopted the racial stratagems already in use (and still in use) by the colonial West. When the West practiced this form of elitism…it is praised as the “White Man’s Burden” by Kipling. Yet, when the Japanese do it, it’s something to be condemned?

    In pre-Meiji times, it made sense to adopt Western ways since the West proved they had become a dominant power. Had the samurai and Tokugawa clan been able to keep the West at bay, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    However, Arudou–san’s point is well taken and well made. I.e., when Japan saw itself as the inferior, it sought inclusion with the West via the League of Nations and the reforms of the Meiji Restoration.

    Perhaps Arudou–san is suffering from a similar sense of inferiority which prompts all of his efforts for inclusion into Japanese society???

    Arudou-san says it best himself when he says: “When people
    try this hard for validation and don’t get it, it doesn’t engender the passive humility and must-try-harder attitudes so often gushed about in the Western media regarding Japan”
    [rather, this inferiority complex generates] “….a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . .. for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’“

    By Jove! I think he’s got it!!!

    Thus, can’t we say the same of those like Arudou–san wishing to be included into Japanese society as “equals”?

    That is, the same theory applies to Arudou-san himself and we can now officially give him the nom de plume of “The Angry White Man”.

    Well, he himself even confirms this when he says “(I’m sure you long-termers who feel unrecognized for all your efforts to “fit in to Japan” can relate to this.)”

    Anyway Arudou-san, keep it coming. No one can ever accuse
    you of being uninteresting.

    Bob
    (the not so angry black man)

  • anoninjapan

    That would explain your incoherent baseless ramblings then.

  • anoninjapan

    Oh dear more non sequitur and misdirection rambling. But still, at least you’re true to form and consistent about it.

  • Taro-nechan

    Thanks, GaijinToy. I do see your point. I think there are shades to this discussion but am unsure whether branching off from this thread at this time is the way to go. Would be open to hear what you think.

    Without being too dramatic, my stance is that I have lived through “negative discrimination” (stage 1) which makes me appreciate “positive discrimination” (stage 2) on the way to becoming “valued as an individual” (stage 3).

    As I said above, humans have eyes and it is impractical to expect them not judge everyone else. What I think people suffering from “negative discrimination” need is a “positive discrimination” respite/space, to enable them to develop until they can prove themselves to their classmates/colleagues, and finally be accepted or rejected on an “individual basis.”

    I have a corollary argument, although it is not ethnicity-based, just visual: Several studies have confirmed that taller, better looking kids end up getting better jobs and get paid more in the long run. I don’t think the answer is to penalise taller, better looking kids for their advantage. Nor is the answer to tell taller, better looking kids to hide their “advantages” just so the odds are equalised. I think the answer is to teach those taller, better looking kids to use all their luck of the draw to get ahead in life, while at the same time coaching shorter, less good looking kids that they should work harder and polish off some of their other skills to be able to get more attention from the taller, better looking kids.

    Thank you for your story about your stepchildren. I have no children so I haven’t really given it much thought but the first idea that came to me was for you to talk to your children and tell them that if someone asks again, they can say than ethnically they are not half-Japanese but their father loves them 100% and through their NJ father they can enjoy another culture, another language and another way of thinking that makes them richer otherwise than ordinary 100% Japanese, monocultural, mono-lingual children.

    Please feel free to treat my shortly considered idea with a grain of salt, but I sincerely believe that the trick is to always to focus on the glass half full.

  • Gordon Graham

    I read what you wrote. You might want to review your incredulous tone.

  • Taro-nechan

    When my best friend says he is not prejudiced I trust what he says because it matches his actions as I have seen in other occasions.

    On the contrary I do know other people who are quick to say they are not prejudiced but their subsequent actions and declarations somehow do not match. I try to stay away from these types of people.

  • Taro-nechan

    Again, when my best friend says he is not prejudiced I trust what he says because it matches his actions as I have seen in other occasions.

    On the contrary I do know other people who are quick to say they are not prejudiced but their subsequent actions and declarations somehow do not match. I try to stay away from these types of people.