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Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan

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Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t.

Consider some of these exclusionary social structures in Japan:

• Registry systems exclude noncitizen residents from equal legal and social standing with their citizen counterparts.

• Important laws, including those governing primary education for children in Japan, are only applicable to “citizens,” fostering a noncitizen underclass.

• “Nationality clauses” exclude noncitizens from employment opportunities far beyond the most sensitive government jobs that require security clearance.

• Taxpayer-funded sports leagues (with mottoes like “Sports for all”) overtly refuse or restrict “foreign” participants.

• Japan’s visa regimes, as fellow columnist Colin P.A. Jones has repeatedly pointed out, systematically deny noncitizens equal constitutional protections.

• Even the Constitution itself clearly states (in the official Japanese-language version) that all Japanese “nationals” (not “residents” or “people”) are equal before the law. And of course, that all-important law in the criminal or civil code forbidding racial discrimination still doesn’t exist.

• Meanwhile, the country’s blood-based citizenship laws ensure that people with Japanese blood (including noncitizens) receive preferential treatment for life in Japan. That is, of course, as long as they “look Japanese.” If not, see above.

I could cite more examples, but the point is that they add up to an exclusionary system that embeds the fundamental processes of racialization — i.e., differentiation, othering and subordination.

How is an exclusionary narrative created and enforced? The same way it is in all nation-states: Design an imagined community with a sense of “us” and “them”; draw borders both in terms of territory and between peoples; create laws and statutes explicitly granting privilege to the in-group (usually citizens) and subordinating the out-group (noncitizens). If you want equal treatment in a society, become a citizen.

But Japan goes further by adding physical appearance to the mix. This normalizes racial profiling regardless of citizenship.

For example, it is common procedure for Japanese police to target “foreign-looking” people on the street for invasive questioning. “Foreign-looking” Japanese have been detained and interrogated for lacking paperwork that only foreign nationals must carry at all times. Public prosecutors and criminal investigators are trained that “foreigners” (however determined) have no human rights. Japan’s justice system even has an extrajudicial track — the Immigration detention network — without domestic criminal justice oversight for “foreigners.”

Even when being processed by the same criminal justice system as Japanese, foreigners are often treated with greater suspicion, suffer harsher treatment as criminal suspects and enjoy less protection as criminal victims. And, again, if you don’t “look Japanese,” you are more likely to be singled out and subjected to extra scrutiny.

Emboldened by the public criminalization of foreigners, prominent figures have relative free rein to express racist views. Take former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s argument that foreigners commit crimes because they are foreigners, or former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma’s suggestion that citizens with “foreign roots” are somehow disloyal, to name but two. Yet all this is so normalized that these officials were able to brush off any controversy and even get re-elected.

Finally, Japan’s exclusionary narrative is disseminated and normalized through its media. Japanese are constantly fed a mantra about their country’s uniqueness and, therefore, by definition, how Japanese are different from non-Japanese. It’s one thing to be made to feel special (national narratives have precisely that role), but it’s another to constantly infer that foreigners are merely temporary guest workers (if not criminals, terrorists, etc.) and can never really belong in Japanese society.

And, again, how do you tell who is a foreigner? Display them in print and broadcast with “foreign” physical features (off-color hair and eyes, big noses, etc.) so they don’t look like “us.”

It’s been very effective. Government opinion polls have in the past indicated that a near-majority of Japanese (non-citizens were not surveyed, naturally) did not agree that foreigners should get the same human rights as Japanese in Japan. Why? Because they are foreigners. Axiomatically. The logical loop is thereby closed.

Now, devil’s advocate: Why should anyone care? This is Japan. Shouldn’t Japan organize itself as it likes, even if that means “foreigners” are treated as second-class noncitizens?

Well, you should worry if you care about Japan and your loved ones within. Japan has entered its third decade of economic stagnation. According to the International Monetary Fund, among the club of rich developed countries, only Japan’s gross domestic product per capita has shrunk year-on-year on average over the past 20-odd years (1993-2011, the most recent year for which data is available).

Japan as a nation has never suffered from such a sustained period of economic malaise. Pretty soon there will have been as many years of economic stagnation as there were of the “Japanese miracle’s” postwar high-speed growth.

Further, according to the government, the proportion of Japan’s total population that is elderly (aged 65 and up) will reach 36 percent by 2050. This will affect Japan’s food security most distinctly: By 2030, three-quarters of all of Japan’s farmers will be that age too, and by 2040 an estimated 896 Japanese cities, towns and villages will be extinct.

Who will man the countryside and feed the people? How many people of working age will be able to pay into the top-heavy pension system? As Japan’s society continues to gray into economic insolvency, it’s only going to get worse.

Do you think you, or anyone in Japan, will see a real return on your Japanese pension investments? Now, do you still not care?

Policymakers may offer salves and snake-oil solutions, such as more women or robots in the workforce. But women are aging too, and robots don’t pay taxes or pensions. No matter what, this situation is unsustainable.

You’ve heard all this demographic doomsaying before. But the news is that it’s not going to change until Japan takes the fundamental step of abandoning the embedded racism that dictates who is considered a Japanese.

The only thing that will keep Japan from getting old and decrepit is the influx of a younger labor force. Since Japanese citizens, with their incurably low birthrates, can’t accomplish this, the only alternative left is immigration and intermarriage.

But if those new entrants (including, again, Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”) are not guaranteed equal treatment in Japanese society, there will be an underclass of people perpetually discriminated against.

Once people realize (as Chinese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Brazilians and Peruvians have) that the Japanese government is only importing people temporarily to exploit them, they won’t continue to come. Moreover, many talented Japanese with international roots, facing alienation on a daily basis, are not going to stay. Even if both groups do, they won’t make (or be able to make) the same contributions to Japanese society as people who are welcomed, respected and prosperous.

You know, somebody ought to write a book.

Well, guess what: Somebody has. Everything above is substantiated within my new academic textbook, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books), on sale in a few days.

“Embedded Racism,” based on my doctoral research, describes how Japan’s racism is an intrinsic part of its national identity, how it “works” in Japanese society to stratify people, and how people justify it — and even deny that it is racism at all, arguing that it is merely an essential means of social ordering “unique” to Japan. They are wrong. It’s still racism, only more subtle and embedded than most.

In short, the most urgent problem facing Japan today is not economic; it is attitudinal. It is the incorrect belief that you can spot a Japanese on sight. Even if you keep a firewall of equal treatment between “Japanese” and “foreign” (as most societies do), the fact that Japan still sees Japanese citizenship in racialized (not legal) terms means that far too many Japanese are going to be alienated and subordinated.

Until Japan takes the first steps of removing bloodline-based and phenotypical conceits behind nationality and citizenship, Japan will continue to strangle itself demographically and, by extension, economically, politically and socially.

Thus, if not properly analyzed and addressed, Japan’s embedded racism will be its undoing.

Debito Arudou’s “Embedded Racism” is available from Amazon, or directly from the publisher with 30 percent off. See www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Steve Jackman

    “In short, the most urgent problem facing Japan today is not economic; it is attitudinal.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement. The hard part is that attitudes are extremely difficult to change and I see no signs of the Japanese trying to change their xenophobic, racist and insular attitudes.

    The Japanese backward attitudes manifest themselves in strange ways. For example, it baffles the mind that in the 21st century in a supposedly developed country like Japan, foreigners are often subjected to the following types of verbal and physical racist behaviors:

    1) Strange coughing: This is a weird cough because of how fake it sounds, or the person doesn’t seem actually sick. It is done when a foreigner is present as a way of saying, “you make me sick”, or it can act like an alert that “a foreigner is present.”

    2) Loudly saying “Atsui, Atsui!” (it’s hot) oddly or excessively: This is especially strange, when it is not that hot and the person saying this does not appear really hot or sweaty. The word can be used as a substitute for “you stink”. The speaker often exaggerates too much when saying these words and makes a big show out of it. This can be directed at foreigners and is not based on smell, but as a kind of protest of you even being in their area or near them, i.e., “I don’t like foreigners around me.”

    3) Fanning themselves excessively, particularly towards you: Similar to the above and designed to insult you, especially if they are directly their “sensu” (Japanese folding fan) at you and fanning it really hard (as in “get away from me”, or “you stink.”)

    4) Spitting on the street in front of you while you’re walking: This can happen as they approach you from the other direction, or in front of you after they have just passed you.

    5) Sucking air loudly through their teeth in front of your face: It’s a way of saying, “you are nothing!” It’s also often a confrontational move, especially if they’re staring directly at you or aggressively violating your personal space.

    6) Turning their back on you in your personal space: This is an insult used to ostracize people from the group or express that you are unwanted. It’s like giving you the middle finger in Western cultures.

    7) Acting way too surprised for no reason, or saying “Bikkuri Shita!” and overacting as if they were going to suddenly faint: This is to show that they don’t consider it normal to be see foreigners, or that they consider foreigners to be some sort of aliens from another planet who just scared the living daylights out of them.

    8) Cutting you off in line or walking into you while they’re looking straight at you: This is their way of saying that you don’t exist in their mind (for example, when you’re standing in a convenience store line or in front of the cashier, and they blatantly try to cut in front of you or stand weirdly too close behind you).

    I think it is pretty disgraceful that foreigners in Japan are subjected to these sorts of racist, small minded and petty acts. I can’t think of any other country in the world where these sorts of things are so common. When is Japan going to wake up and realize that such behavior says much more about their own character than about the foreigners they’re targeting.

    • Hendrix

      Some good points made there, well said , this happens to me regularly … theres also the staring when they are in their little groups that always ends with a little laugh at the foreigners expense and the word ” gaijin ” uttered under their breath sometimes…. then of course they play the victim if the foreigner calls them out on their bad behaviour.

      • Steve Jackman

        Good point. I should add this as number 9 to the list for all the times a Japanese person sees a foreigner and loudly exclaims, “ah, Gaijin da!”, as if they’ve just seen a dog with two heads.

      • tisho

        And if a Japanese is called ”Asian!” and then made fun of behind his back in a foreign country, he can write an essay on how hurt his feelings were, and how such an ill mannered behavior could never happen in Japan, because Japanese people would never do something so ill mannered, and how foreigners just don’t have any manners and are rude by nature. If you tell them that the same thing happens in Japan to foreigners, he will tell you that that’s a lie spread by the Korean media, and foreigners in Japan have never experienced anything like that, it’s simply impossible because Japanese have manners, and plus, it hasn’t been reported by the news, and there isn’t an officially signed official document by government officials that there are such complains made by foreigners, therefore it’s not true, not happening. And if you prove it somehow, they will say that it’s regrettable, then apologize on behalf of all Japanese, and then say that such behavior is not common for Japanese people and therefore he suspects that guy must have been a Korean.

      • blondein_tokyo

        That was pretty pointless, considering no one is making the claim that racism doesn’t exist outside Japan.

        Too often people use the fact that there’s racism in other countries to excuse or defend racism in Japan. But what you don’t seem to understand is that racisim is unacceptable everywhere, and fighting racisim in the country one lives in is not akin to condoning it elsewhere.

        The argument you’re making here is not only fallacious, it’s just stupid.

      • zer0_0zor0

        There are times when a misconnect is due to a gap in mutual cultural intelligibility.

        Japanese sometimes use the term “henna gaijin” in the context where a foreigner has an uncanny grasp of Japanese cultural intelligibility.

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s funny. I always thought that when the Japanese say “henna gaijin”, they really meant, “wonderful foreign God”.

      • zer0_0zor0

        There are times when a misconnect is due to a gap in mutual cultural intelligibility.

        Japanese sometimes use the term “henna gaijin” in the context where a foreigner has an uncanny grasp of Japanese cultural intelligibility.

      • zer0_0zor0

        There are times when a misconnect is due to a gap in mutual cultural intelligibility.

        Japanese sometimes use the term “henna gaijin” in the context where a foreigner has an uncanny grasp of Japanese cultural intelligibility.

      • 108

        Really? You get “atsui, atsui”, strange coughing, air sucking and speed fanning on a regular basis? I’ve got to check out my passport, maybe I didn’t spend 10 years in Japan but somewhere else. That, or I look more Japanese than I think.

      • blondein_tokyo

        The argument from personal disbelief isn’t a very strong one. The fact you haven’t experienced this shouldn’t be used to discount that others have. Additionally, I find it rather unbelievable that you’ve never once experienced any of the things Steve describes. Frankly, I think you’re being disingenuous.

    • KenjiAd

      1) Strange coughing:
      2) Loudly saying “Atsui, Atsui!” (it’s hot) oddly or excessively:
      3) Fanning themselves excessively, particularly towards you:
      4) Spitting on the street in front of you while you’re walking:
      5) Sucking air loudly through their teeth in front of your face:
      6) Turning their back on you in your personal space:
      7) Acting way too surprised for no reason, or saying “Bikkuri Shita!” and overacting as if they were going to suddenly faint:
      8) Cutting you off in line or walking into you while they’re looking straight at you:

      My uncle does those things to me. He probably doesn’t think I’m Japanese. lol

      Seriously, Steve, read what you just wrote, how you interpreted each behavior. Most alarmingly, you are clearly convinced you are interpreting it correctly.

      You may be right. I have no way of knowing why someone was saying “It’s hot!” when it wasn’t that hot.

      But it does sound like you are a bit paranoid. I say this, knowing that you would deny it and probably accuse me of some kind of racist. Oh well, take care.

      • Steve Jackman

        Actually, KenjiAd, my list is not based on only my own experiences, but on the experiences of many other foreigners I have gotten to know in Japan over the course of my decade-plus living here. Trust me, I would not have included anything in my list, had it not been validated by several other foreign residents of Japan. I think those of us who have lived in Japan for long periods of time can pick up these patterns quite easily.

        I don’t expect you to understand, since you have in the past stated yourself that you are a Japanese person yourself and that you have in fact been living outside of Japan for the last thirty years. For me to believe you, I would have to believe that the Japanese are the most prolific coughers and spitters in the world and that their bodies are not equipped to regulate their body temperatures like people of other ethnicities (which I know not to be true).

      • blondein_tokyo

        Steve’s right. We’ve both been in Japan long enough to interpret social cues and understand the subtexts of certain behaviours. This morning, for example, the man sitting on the seat in front of me on the train spent the entire ride muttering under his breath just loudly enough for me to hear it, yet not loud enough for it to seem he was actually addressing me. That’s typical passive-aggressive behaviour that Japanese use to show their displeasure without actually having to confront the person directly. His purpose was to let me know of his disapproval of my existence.

        This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me that much, probably because I’m female and less “threatening” or less of a direct challenge to his position at the top of the social structure as a Japanese male. My boyfriend though experiences this quite often, as do my male friends.

        I’m sure it’s happened to you as well, since these older men often see younger men as being below them and try to assert themselves whenever they feel their status is being questioned.

        But it’s quite racist when it’s aimed at you due to your nationality, as these guys make obvious by using the word “gaijin” over and over as they mutter.

      • KenjiAd

        If you start psycho-analyzing why someone does something “strange” (not the double-quote), the analysis is actually telling more about you than the persons you are analyzing.

        In Steve’s case, his analysis, nothing more than his conjecture, is entirely based on the nationality of the persons whose behaviors he is guessing.

        Now, that, making a guess based on nationality, is patently racist. In other words, if some white dude, say, in North Dakota is saying “It’s darn hot today!” to your face, you wouldn’t extract malice from his behavior. You might be annoyed, but no malice.

        This Steve guy, a possible alter-ego of the author of this article, sees malice when a Japanese person does and says something he doesn’t agree, which means most of the time. Again, that tells a lot about him than the Japanese person whose behavior offended him.

      • Steve Jackman

        “This Steve guy” is certainly not the alter-ego of the author, so kindly refrain from false accusations. I know public relations and image are extremely important to the Japanese, so they go to great lengths to discredit anyone who dares expose the real truths about Japan, but let’s try to keep it real.

        For example, the excellent article published just a couple of days ago in this newspaper titled, “‘Japan Lobby’ takes the gloves off in PR battle”, by Jeff Kingston, states the following:

        “The Japanese government, foundations and firms have developed an influential network in the United States that dates back to the 1970s. That era of acrimonious trade frictions spawned what American scholar Robert Angel has dubbed the “Japan Lobby,” a multipronged public- and private-sector effort to shape U.S. policy and attitudes. ProPublica estimates that total Japanese spending on lobbying and public relations was a whopping $4.2 billion in 2008, putting Japan third behind the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.”

        I understand that posters like me make such lobbying work more difficult for Japan, but I suggest you look at the mirror before you start pointing the finger at me and calling me racist.

    • blondein_tokyo

      You forgot to add staring to your list. It doesn’t happen that often to me, but it seems to happen a lot to the men I know.

      When it does happen to me, it’s most often an older man. I once saw an old guy run his bike into a telephone pole because he was trying to keep his eyes on me instead of looking where he was going.

      It’s obvious that they’re trying to make you uncomfortable. It doesn’t work though, I just ignore them.

      • Steve Jackman

        Yes, you’re so right. I should add being stared at as number 10 on the list.

      • Lemming

        Old men can be the worst for staring. It might be worse if you’re a woman, I don’t know, but the number of old men that will just stare at me as I go by or on the train is staggering. I’m not even that good looking of a dude!

    • blondein_tokyo

      You forgot to add staring to your list. It doesn’t happen that often to me, but it seems to happen a lot to the men I know.

      When it does happen to me, it’s most often an older man. I once saw an old guy run his bike into a telephone pole because he was trying to keep his eyes on me instead of looking where he was going.

      It’s obvious that they’re trying to make you uncomfortable. It doesn’t work though, I just ignore them.

    • COYP

      You poor man! What did the police say after you’d reported the hate crime of coughing? and how are the years of therapy needed to recover from such psychological cruelty going?

      • Steve Jackman

        Perhaps you’re Japanese, but such sarcasm is really uncalled for. We’re just pointing out these things, so that next time one of these happens to an unwitting foreigner in Japan, they know that they’re not alone and that it’s not because they’ve done anything wrong.

        The Japanese also need to read about these so they can do some self-reflection and think about what these sorts of actions say about their own character and culture.

      • blondein_tokyo

        What you seem to be saying is that people shouldn’t let themselves be bothered by racism. That’s a very interesting remark. You must not have any stake at all in your life in Japan, if you aren’t bothered at all by racism. It really is quite easy to ignore such things when you don’t care at all about the people around you, and don’t see yourself as part of their society. If you really are are satisfied at being on the outside of Japanese society, then I suppose I can’t argue with you.

      • KenjiAd

        Steve J reminds me of a Japanese expat in America.

        He was furious of “white” American racism and hated them because:
        1) his white professor called him xxx-san, not Mr xxx,
        2) some kids asked him if he knew any Ninja,
        3) some old dude told him “Welcome to America” with a big smile,
        and a whole bunch of other little things I don’t quite remember.

        I basically told him get a life.

    • COYP

      You poor man! What did the police say after you’d reported the hate crime of coughing? and how are the years of therapy needed to recover from such psychological cruelty going?

    • Yuki

      Literally not one of those things has ever happened to me except for number 10, but they were staring at me with curiosity. I waved and said konnichiwa, and we actually had a very pleasant discussion and they recommended several places in the area to see and eat at. Far from trying to make me uncomfortable, they were shy but otherwise very welcoming.

      Another time, we were in a train on the Joban line that wasn’t moving; some woman (who probably hadn’t used English since high school) came up to us and explained the announcement was saying the line was stopped, and when finding out our destination she told us another way to get there by subway. Literally nothing in her demeanor was anything but kindness.

      • Steve Jackman

        Your train incident indicates that the Japanese woman may have thought you were tourists. The Japanese can be very perceptive about whether foreigners are tourists or long-term residents of Japan, based on the attitudes and mannerism displayed by many foreigners. I actually think that most Japanese don’t have a problem with foreign tourists, since they know the economic contribution tourism make to Japan (for example, many surveys show that the great majority of Japanese have a very negative image of the Chinese, yet these days almost all large department stores in Tokyo make announcements in Chinese to target Chinese shoppers who are visiting Japan). However, many of the same Japanese want you to leave Japan as soon as you’ve done all your shopping and you have no more immediate economic benefit for them.

        The situation changes when foreigners stop acting or looking like tourists or short-termers and try to establish roots in Japan. That’s when they are most likely to encounter the things on my list, since the Japanese attitude suddenly changes to, “what are you still doing here?”.

      • Yuki

        Yet my friends in Japan are thrilled that I’m moving there once I finish school…

      • Steve Jackman

        Ah, so you don’t actually live in Japan. That explains it !

        Anyway, good luck and I hope you enjoy Japan after you finish school.

    • Todd Strickland

      Nice work, Jack!

      The fact that apparently no one picked up on the fact that you’re being sarcastic, basically showing the kinds of things Ardou regularly sees as “racist” in Japan is telling. I guess Ardou and those who think like him will see racism everywhere, because the expect–even want–to see Japan as a “racist” country.

      Of course racism happens here. It happens EVERYWHERE! But if Ardou is to be believed, Japan is absolutely the worst possible place in the world for a foreigner to live. You’d be better off living in Afghanistan, I suppose.

      Ardou is a joke, and I wish the Japan Times would stop wasting space letting him go on his same, tired old rant because he was discriminated against once, many years ago…

      • Steve Jackman

        I assure you, no sarcasm is intended in my post. No one is comparing Japan to Afghanistan. Japan is a highly educated and developed country, not to mention the world’s third largest economy. As such, the standard is a little different for Japan than a country like Afghanistan.

      • Todd Strickland

        Seriously?

        Coughing? Saying “atsui, atsui”? These are examples of racism?

        I mean…um…

        Seriously?

        I hope you’re just keeping up the farce, because if not, you are nuttier than Ardou!

      • Oliver Mackie

        This last fact is well established.

      • Steve Jackman

        Oh, hello, Oliver Mackie. In characteristic style, your comment is once again about me and has nothing of relevance about the issues raised in the article we are discussing here.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Some people like to play the man instead of the ball.

      • Oliver Mackie

        It IS about you, yes. And every single claim that you make in the comments here (supported by several of your friends, nonetheless!) It’s really hard to resist commenting on the utter insanity of your claims in this thread. But, after many disagreements on threads here over the past couple of years, during which I was at least giving you the benefit of the doubt as being well-intentioned but mistaken, the utterly mentally-unstable rubbish you have been spouting on this thread shows me I was wrong even to grant you that much.

        Just giving Mr. Strickland the opportunity to avoid making the same mistake.

      • Steve Jackman

        OK, but what do you think about the article and the effects embedded racism in Japan is having on Japanese society?

      • Oliver Mackie

        I think the article’s ‘thesis’ has more holes in it than Swiss cheese and that anyone who really wants to debate Japan properly with people (of all opinions) who actually know their facts, think logically, and don’t allow personal shortcomings to influence what they think they should say, had better spend all their debate time on the (free) NBR Japan Forum and not here. In fact, seeing how ridiculous things have gotten here (epitomized by your list of nine) I’m going to practice what I preach.

        To anyone who is new to Japan and wants to make the best of their experience here, long or short, I implore you to stay away from this congregation of people frustrated at the imagined failings of others (which are mostly an illusion and likely a substitute for their own.)

        Life is what you make it, and so is Japan. Indeed, Japan is one of the few places in the world where there is no limit on the upside you can make.

      • Steve Jackman

        Oh, hello, Oliver Mackie. In characteristic style, your comment is once again about me and has nothing of relevance about the issues raised in the article we are discussing here.

      • Steve Jackman

        No, Japan suffers from much bigger problems of racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination, such as the deeply entrenched and institutionalized racism and discrimination in employment, housing, at the hands of the police and its corrupt judicial system, etc. These have been covered here and in other forums in the past. However, I think the list of ten things I have compiled above also provide an important window into the Japanese psyche and these are things which many foreign residents of Japan can relate to in their daily lives.

      • Todd Strickland

        Yes, as a long-term resident in Japan, I, too can relate. On a hot day, I often hear Japanese people saying, “Atsui, atsui.” When someone has a cold, I often hear them coughing…

        However, unlike you, I don’t see anything remotely racist in such daily HUMAN behaviors.

        As to the bigger issues, I understand there is some discrimination and some racists here and there. But in 21 years of being here, I have never seen the LEVEL of racism that Ardou (and you, apparently) seem to suffer under daily. It really is absurd, the intensity of Ardou’s claims. You want to talk about institutionalized racism, let’s look at the good old USA! Japan is heaven compared to that!

      • Steve Jackman

        Did you even bother reading my post carefully? I’m referring to Japanese saying “Atsui, atsui” while invading your personal space and looking directly at you, even when it is really not hot. Same about coughing…it’s the very fake sounding growling cough, not a regular cough that I’m talking about.

      • Todd Strickland

        Oddity does not equal racism. Cultural differences about what constitutes personal space, etc., does not equal racism. The 10 or so examples you gave were completely ludicrous as examples of racism. Just because it bothered you personally you scream “Racism!” I hear this kind of claim often enough in the JT, but it’s really silly, to tell the truth.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I don’t think his examples were necessarily that great either, and while they may not be automatically racism, if someone does those things BECAUSE of race, then is it still not racism?

      • Steve Jackman

        Oddities like these which happen only to foreigners in Japan just because they are non-Japanese and not for anything they’ve done are very much considered racism. For example, the Japanese are famous for respecting each others personal space, but only if the other person is also Japanese. When they aggressively invade someone else’s personal space just because they see a foreigner, that is racism!

      • R0ninX3ph

        Once again with emphasis, just because other places might be worse, that means people shouldn’t fight to right the wrongs in the country they reside?

      • R0ninX3ph

        Once again with emphasis, just because other places might be worse, that means people shouldn’t fight to right the wrongs in the country they reside?

      • KietaZou

        Well, DA has his… peculiarities. I much prefer him to you, though, even after a single comment. In every way.

    • George

      Of course the author just happens to a histrionic, vagrant Jew. Just a coincidence, goyim.

    • George

      Of course the author just happens to a histrionic, vagrant Jew. Just a coincidence, goyim.

  • Hendrix

    Another very good article that hits the nail on the head, good to see that someone can articulate the deep seated racism in Japan so well…

  • Derelerembius

    Ah, the enlightened ones sweep in to save yet another foreign people from themselves…it’s your burden, isn’t it? Let’s achieve multiculturalism by making everyone the same! To hell with the natives, they’re all backwards! It’s not like this is their country, right? We can just come in an appropriate everything and remake it as we see fit, because we know best!

    Seriously, GTFO. And don’t go back to America, go to Sweden or somewhere. If you really want to change the attitudes of Japanese towards foreigners, stop giving them reasons to be embarrassed and afraid of us. They’re not going to do it just because you feel entitled to special treatment in someone else’s country.

    • zer0_0zor0

      I’m going to read his book before commenting, but he basically is spouting neocolonialist rhetoric in the service of the transnational investor class looking for the next place to exploit, which first requires the dismantling of the social structure.

      In light of the fact that the Constitution of Japan was drafted mostly by Americans, I will say, however, that Debito (and Jones, whom he cites) have misrepresented both constitutions, as the Constitution of the United States also distinguishes between citizens and non-citizens with respect to “rights”.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      So, as a Non-Japanese father of a legally Japanese child who has blonde hair and blue eyes, what should I do when she is discriminated against? Should I tell her that this is ‘her country’s unique culture’ and that ‘I have no right to tell her it’s not fair’, and that if she doesn’t like it, she should ‘go back to her own country?’ Oh, wait, this IS her country…

      • SpiderMars

        Good point. What is Japanese?

      • Lemming

        *mic drop*

    • blondein_tokyo

      Giving them reasons to be embarrassed and *afraid* of us?

      This implies you think that Japanese people are afraid of foreigners and that we’re doing doing something that scares them.

      What is it that we do, exactly, other than existing?

      What you’re describing sounds like xenophobia. No?

  • Firas Kraïem

    People should care because human rights should be held as self-evident, period. The whole economic argument is unnecessary and even harmful, because it makes it sound as if all this embedded racism would be acceptable if Japan weren’t in such economic dire straits, and more generally puts economics above humanity.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Neither the USA nor Japan has ratified the UN Conventions on Human Rights.

      • Steve Jackman

        The difference is that whereas the U.S. has strong laws against racial discrimination and for protecting civil and human rights for all, Japan does not have such laws.

      • Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson

        Indeed, if only the Japanese could see that #gaijinlivesmatter and pass some laws, we could live in the same racial harmony that exists in the USA!

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Hey, look, classic deflection technique used by apologists; ‘B, b, but America has racism!!!’
        So? Does that make it ok for Japan to have racism? Or do you agree that all racism is unacceptable?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Hey, look, classic deflection technique used by apologists; ‘B, b, but America has racism!!!’
        So? Does that make it ok for Japan to have racism? Or do you agree that all racism is unacceptable?

      • Lemming

        Indeed, all foreigners in Japan are from the USA. Your logic checks out that systematic racism is a-OK. America does it, therefore it’s an inherently moral system.

        Thanks for the clarification.

      • zer0_0zor0

        That’s a false leap in logic from human rights to “systematic racism”, which is the rhetorical meme embedded in “embedded racism” being pushed by the American author of the article.

        There was no point about morality, just hypocrisy.

        Japan has never been a pluralistic society, and is under no obligation to sacrifice the aspects of its culture that are compatible with modern norms to become one, no matter how many culturally illiterate self-righteous ideologues rant at them incoherently.

  • etchasketch

    These Debito articles must run on the same algorithm that type out Donald Trump tweets.

    • Steve Jackman

      I happen to agree with Debito on most of the points he makes. But even if you don’t agree with everything he writes, I think he should still be credited for helping facilitate a discussion about such issues which is sorely lacking elsewhere and one that needs to take place. Think of it as food for thought.

      • 108

        Out of curiosity, which points don’t you agree with?

  • Hanamanganda

    First of all, readers should appreciate that this author is promoting an upcoming book.

    Second, once again we hear the “population is aging, so (by implication of crisis) let’s bring in millions of non-Japanese into the country so our old folks can get looked after” mantra. This notion, of never ending population growth being required to keep a nation going is false. At some point population has to stabilize, or even shrink. Nothing can grow forever on a finite planet or finite island with finite resources. Yes, this will cause some hardship, for a time, but the older generation will died off, an the population will stabilize. It is not a justification for destroying the social structures of a nation for short term gain and long term pain.

    I don’t entirely disagree with some of what the author says, but it seems to me that the cry of “racism” has turned into the lazy academic’s way of getting attention for for their ideas, whatever their actual merit may be.

    Ultimately, if this is about promoting multiculturalism, then beware Japan – Multiculturalism is a device for destroying national identify and cohesion. Don’t do it!

  • 108

    Congratulations Mr. Arudou on your 1,500-word self promotion article. I hope your book sells like hot sushi.

    • George

      The author is an American Jew.

  • 108

    Congratulations Mr. Arudou on your 1,500-word self promotion article. I hope your book sells like hot sushi.

  • Les Grossman

    Thank you Dr. Debito. An excellent article and I am looking forward to reading your book very soon.

  • saru850

    I, for one, can positively identify a Japanese female from 91.44 meters. ^_^

  • Ariko Honda

    This guy is like a broken record: Every article is a whine about imagined slights that happen because he is not a native-born Japanese. Can’t the Japan Times find some new contributors?

    • SpiderMars

      I do not see writing a Doctoral thesis on racism in Japan as whining. What contributions to the Japanese society have you authored?

  • SpiderMars

    For those visible minorities who live and have vested interest in Japan, would like to see change. The Japanese do make foreigners feel singled out, uncomfortable, and scrutinized. It is also true that foreign residence do not share the same basic rights in Japan as “blood line” nationals. I think Japan is capable of making this paradigm shift, just as it has before in it’s history ( meiji period for example). But it has to start somewhere, and there seems to no notable public figure willing to stick their head out, because in Japan if a nail sticks out .. hammer it down. ganbate Japan, but I have a gut feeling it will not happen anytime soon. it will take decades.

  • Joe Kurosu, M.D.

    “Public prosecutors and criminal investigators are trained that “foreigners” (however determined) have no human rights.”
    Anyone know if this is a documented, formal training system?

    • R0ninX3ph

      Whether it is a documented, formal training system or not, I am unsure. But last year at a conference, we had the local Police PR team come to do a session with us.

      We had the Police telling us it is perfectly fine for them to question any foreigners in the street regarding crimes/their status of residence at any point.

      When asked how they knew who to target, their response was “by looking at you”. Which is racial profiling. So, while it might not be an official stance, it is what they do and what they pass onto the new members of the police force each year.

      • Hendrix

        its part of the police training in Japan to target and racially profile foreigners, all new recuits are given ledtures about how dangerous foreigners are and to keep an eye on them.

      • 6810

        prove it.

      • Hendrix

        your avatar is exactly what you are..

      • Hendrix

        your avatar is exactly what you are..

    • Lemming

      Had a gathering with a few foreigners and Japanese at a friend’s place the other day.

      I guess someone was smoking on the balcony, and a little ash fell (ok, not good, fair enough), but someone called the police.

      The police officer explicitly explained to us that all the foreigners had to leave. The Japanese people could stay.

      You don’t need to believe my story, but the police discrimination here is very, very real. He was very upfront about it.

      • 6810

        prove it.

        What did the police say? Who did they say it to? Did you verify the grounds on which you were to leave the premises? Did you confirm if any laws that were being broken? Do you even speak Japanese? Did someone relay/interpret this event to you?

  • Paul Martin

    I and sons (married to Japanese) have been stopped in the street for ID just because we son’t look Japanese or Asian ! That is racial profiling, something that infuriates Japanese and Asians when it happens abroad !
    It is also BLATANTLY racist and MUST stop or Japan and anything Japanese risk being ostracized from the World community !

    • xexex

      Just like the US will be ostracized by the world community since it’s own citizen’s who have lived there for hundreds of years (blacks) suffer institutional harassment by the police? The police can even shoot and kill them for no reason and get away with it. This is real racism. What you mentioned on the other hand happens more or less everywhere as the authorities search for illegal immigrants.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Because Japan has such a real problem of illegal immigration that I needs to randomly stop and check the I.D. of foreigners… right?

  • Tangerine 18

    “Steve Jackman” is a troll account, seemingly used by several different people. Please don’t take anything “it” says seriously, it’s all a wind-up..

  • Tangerine 18

    “Steve Jackman” is a troll account, seemingly used by several different people. Please don’t take anything “it” says seriously, it’s all a wind-up..

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      No he isn’t. Paranoid much?

    • Steve Jackman

      Rest assured, I am one person. Last time I checked, I wasn’t suffering from multiple personality disorder, either.

    • Steve Jackman

      Rest assured, I am one person. Last time I checked, I wasn’t suffering from multiple personality disorder, either.

  • COYP

    I have an idea that is crazy enough to work.

    Remember a couple of years ago a woman in NYC secretly filmed herself while she was walking around to record the sexist slurs she received. There were soon other efforts a Jewish man in Paris and a Muslim woman in Milan (in religious garb) filmed the abuse they got, a gay couple in Moscow walked around holding hands and were even physically assaulted towards the end of their video.

    Well, why doesn’t Steve, Blonde or one of the other oppressive victims do similar and make a ’24 hrs in Tokyo as a westerner’ video and whack it on youtube.

    I guarantee after the world watches people coughing in your vicinity and informing you of the temperature the global disgust with Japan will be off the charts.

    The UN will impose sanctions, all right minded foreigners will stomp through Narita and Haneda in disgust leaving only the weeaboos and apologists who will commit seppuku in shame.

    After the former members of the Japanese government are carted off to the war crimes tribunal in chains then Debito can return from his exile and take his rightful place on the imperial throne vowing to complete his lives work of getting Japan to lose the racism and complete the transaction.

    • Steve Jackman

      No need for such an over reaction. We’re just pointing out these things, so that next time one of these happens to an unwitting foreigner in Japan, they know that they’re not alone and that it’s not because they’ve done anything wrong.

      Also, the Japanese need to read these so they can do some self-reflection and think about what these sorts of actions say about their own character.

  • Jay

    I have always characterized it as “benign racism,” as opposed to a more malignant form practiced by the Nazis, white supremacists, or others. It is the constant harping on difference and “otherness” that seeks to reinforce nationality by race. An example of this benign racism was recently given by a member of a major international Japanese company who, having interviewed my son 3 or 4 times for a job, finally questioned him about his long-term commitment to the company, because he is of mixed race, and therefore “not Japanese.” My son had to remind the interviewer that he is a Japanese citizen, educated in Japanese and far more fluent in the native language than in English, and intending to reside in Japan for life. And yet the success of my son’s job application seems to depend not on his qualifications, but on the interviewer overcoming his own racist inclinations and bias.

    • Tangerine 18

      Jay
      My daughter recently had a similar experience at her university, a popular and prestigious one in Tokyo, where she studies Japanese literature. A professor she hadn’t taken a class with before suddenly asked her if she was American. She replied as your son did,”No, I’m Japanese, born and educated here”. The professor went on to make some strange comments about “foreigners” in the university. A Korean girl in the same group was also very annoyed by his comments as were the other students. The last I heard they were discussing whether to make a complaint about the professor or not.
      My daughter was extremely angry: born and raised in Japan, fluent in the language, studying at a top university yet somehow not Japanese, because one parent is British. It’s disgusting and as Debito says will have a negative effect on Japan’s future. My daughter is now hoping to do post-graduate study in the US; if she goes there I’m sure she’ll end up staying, like so many intelligent and talented young people.

      • Jay

        It will be Japan’s loss if your daughter leaves. I have told both my children that they should maintain their foreign passports just in case . . . You reminded me of the experience of my other son! Last year he went to see a career counselor at his university. The counselor told him he should plan to leave Japan in the future. When I heard that, I concluded that either 1) the counselor is a racist jerk, or 2) he speaks the truth, in which case the country is riddled with them, and my children don’t have a chance. Either way, it is depressing, when both kids have studied so hard in order to be where they are.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I’m sure “Hachiko” would think it would be for Japan’s better if the half-barbarian girl leaves Japan.

      • Tangerine 18

        Depressing is the word, you’re right there. She’s a smart, outgoing girl and won’t take any nonsense ( but she’s keeping her UK passport as well ). Like your sons she’s studied hard and is involved in all kinds of university activity as well as working a part-time job. Exactly the kind of person who always seem welcome in the US; but here she’s only half a citizen, and one who may well have to leave her home country to be treated as a whole one.

      • SpiderMars

        Your daughter goes to one of the top Universities in Japan and is treated poorly. The insular, xenophobic, and group narcissistic mentality really knows no bounds in Japan.

      • Lemming

        I hope your daughter is able to do post-graduate studies in the USA. I enjoyed studying Japan and learning Japanese much more in Canada than I ever have here.

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s because the Western (fetishized) concept of Japan is much more interesting than the reality of Japan.

      • Lemming

        I feel like you can also find more honest discussion of Japan outside of Japan too. At least at my university, they did an excellent job of shattering any images or perceptions and making me think about it much more deeply.

        You just don’t get any honesty here, only advertising for Japan Inc.

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s because the Western (fetishized) concept of Japan is much more interesting than the reality of Japan.

    • Tangerine 18

      Jay
      My daughter recently had a similar experience at her university, a popular and prestigious one in Tokyo, where she studies Japanese literature. A professor she hadn’t taken a class with before suddenly asked her if she was American. She replied as your son did,”No, I’m Japanese, born and educated here”. The professor went on to make some strange comments about “foreigners” in the university. A Korean girl in the same group was also very annoyed by his comments as were the other students. The last I heard they were discussing whether to make a complaint about the professor or not.
      My daughter was extremely angry: born and raised in Japan, fluent in the language, studying at a top university yet somehow not Japanese, because one parent is British. It’s disgusting and as Debito says will have a negative effect on Japan’s future. My daughter is now hoping to do post-graduate study in the US; if she goes there I’m sure she’ll end up staying, like so many intelligent and talented young people.

    • SpiderMars

      cute !!! It’s Hello Racism :P xox

    • Steve Jackman

      I wouldn’t really call racism in Japan “benign”. It stops being “benign” when it happens to you for the 100th time, especially for those of us who live here long-term. Besides, there is really nothing “benign” about the institutionalized and deeply entrenched racism and racial discrimination found in Japanese institutions, such as the judiciary in Japan. There are real consequences to such racism and racial discrimination.

      • Jay

        I call it benign because it stops short of being beaten up in the streets or arrested and held without cause. Sometimes, Japanese people are even friendly when they make racist remarks; they simply don’t register that they hold very insular attitudes.

      • kyushuphil

        Let’s see, too, how the Japanese are hurting themselves.

        Wendell Berry noted this 40-some years ago in his book on black-white relations, “The Hidden Wound.” Yes, of course white racism hurt blacks, he said, but it put huge limits also on the imaginative range of whites.

        Maruyama Masao observed something similar as to how Japanese hurt themselves by allowing limited thinking to rule them. In his great essay, “From Carnal Literature to Carnal Politics,” he noted how richly westerners entertain fictions — stories, possibilities — when meeting new people. They invent these scenarios totally as fictions, but they open up wide areas to explore things in others.

        Japanese, he noted, on the contrary do not set up any possible fictions when they meet others. This is because, he says, the Japanese accept as a given that all their possible stories, all their possible behavior, has already been handed down to them.

        There’s nothing to change. Nothing to imagine.

        This accounts for why Japanese in schools ask no questions.

        It accounts for the near total lack of essay writing among people who just want to take the places (in groups) assigned them.

        It may account now, too, for the alarm Minae Mizumura has expressed in the abandonment of reading whole novels in Japanese schools. Everyone’s now satisfied with snippets in gawd-awful textbooks. No one needs at all to learn to see anything in larger contexts. Passivity suffices to rule on and on.

      • Steve Jackman

        Great post. I think that’s also why the Japanese dread communicating or interacting with non-Japanese. I’ve travelled to many other countries around the world and everyone else people are curious and excited to get to know foreigners (I think this is human nature). Japan is the only exception, where people have so many hangups that they go to extreme lengths to avoid interacting with foreigners in any meaningful way.

      • kyushuphil

        Let’s see, too, how the Japanese are hurting themselves.

        Wendell Berry noted this 40-some years ago in his book on black-white relations, “The Hidden Wound.” Yes, of course white racism hurt blacks, he said, but it put huge limits also on the imaginative range of whites.

        Maruyama Masao observed something similar as to how Japanese hurt themselves by allowing limited thinking to rule them. In his great essay, “From Carnal Literature to Carnal Politics,” he noted how richly westerners entertain fictions — stories, possibilities — when meeting new people. They invent these scenarios totally as fictions, but they open up wide areas to explore things in others.

        Japanese, he noted, on the contrary do not set up any possible fictions when they meet others. This is because, he says, the Japanese accept as a given that all their possible stories, all their possible behavior, has already been handed down to them.

        There’s nothing to change. Nothing to imagine.

        This accounts for why Japanese in schools ask no questions.

        It accounts for the near total lack of essay writing among people who just want to take the places (in groups) assigned them.

        It may account now, too, for the alarm Minae Mizumura has expressed in the abandonment of reading whole novels in Japanese schools. Everyone’s now satisfied with snippets in gawd-awful textbooks. No one needs at all to learn to see anything in larger contexts. Passivity suffices to rule on and on.

    • SpiderMars

      I can see your point. There are few hate crimes, or outward violence against foreigners or visible minorities in Japan. The Japanese racism is more subdued yet ever present. It’s like being in a weak acid. And as SJ commented, after a while .. even a weak acid will start to hurt once it burns through your defenses.

  • Jay

    I have always characterized it as “benign racism,” as opposed to a more malignant form practiced by the Nazis, white supremacists, or others. It is the constant harping on difference and “otherness” that seeks to reinforce nationality by race. An example of this benign racism was recently given by a member of a major international Japanese company who, having interviewed my son 3 or 4 times for a job, finally questioned him about his long-term commitment to the company, because he is of mixed race, and therefore “not Japanese.” My son had to remind the interviewer that he is a Japanese citizen, educated in Japanese and far more fluent in the native language than in English, and intending to reside in Japan for life. And yet the success of my son’s job application seems to depend not on his qualifications, but on the interviewer overcoming his own racist inclinations and bias.

  • Hachiko

    Japan has every right to be racist! The Japanese people are superior to westerners anyway! Why should we share our country with western barbarians.

    • R0ninX3ph

      I give this troll attempt 2/10. Not subtle enough.

    • SpiderMars

      Not in making babies apparently …

    • Hendrix

      if you are gonna troll then try harder… you are an amateur..

    • Hendrix

      if you are gonna troll then try harder… you are an amateur..

  • Yuki

    Japan is not racist… everyone keeps saying this, but the Japanese people are the NICEST I’ve ever met in the world, and I have some very good friends who love me despite the fact that I’m a gaijin (actually, they don’t treat me any differently). I’m sure the author has reasons for their views, but it’s just their opinion and not representative of many people who have had nothing but positive experiences in Japan

    Oh, and I was never asked for identification or treated badly, despite being a clearly non-Japanese white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.

    • R0ninX3ph

      So anyone who disputes your singular world view must be lying? Cool.

      Just because YOU’VE never been stopped by the police for random I.D. checking because of some unnamed crime in the area and the person being identified as a “foreigner” doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

      Debito gave multiple examples of real, embedded racism in the system within the article, systemic racism doesn’t automatically apply to all of your friends.

      I agree, I have plenty of Japanese friends who aren’t overtly racist, but the idea of needing to “look Japanese” to “be Japanese” is everywhere here, and I am sure your Japanese friends would think the same.

      • Yuki

        “who am I going to believe, Mr. Debito, or my own eyes?”. I’ve never seen any evidence of this alleged discrimination, nobody I’ve spoken to in/from Japan has related it to me. The only place I hear about it is on the internet, and I personally weigh anecdotal internet stuff a lot less than firsthand accounts that can be verified.

        Also, he gave like one specific example, that a few politicans said some dumb stuff. They do that everywhere, politicians are dorks. Everything else in the article was just vague accusations that we’re supposed to believe because he said so.

        I’ll forward this article to some of my regular Japanese friends and see what they think, but I suspect their outlook is a bit better than the one expressed here.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Again, this isn’t about everyday racism, it is about discrimination built into the system.

        Things like the most basic of rights being only enshrined for those who are “kokumin” which, after a Supreme Court ruling (I want to say last year but it might have been early this year) now ONLY refers to Japanese citizens, when before it was assumed to refer to Japanese citizens AND residents of Japan.

        Whether people like or hate Debito, he has a lot of research behind his writing, it isn’t just vague accusations because he said so, and while I dislike that this article is basically just an advertisement for his book, it doesn’t make the facts any less true.

        I love all of my friends here in Japan, and 95% of the time I love living here, but I don’t delude myself into thinking its all peaches and roses either.

        If you ever want to naturalise, you can, and thats great for you, you will be legally Japanese, and I am sure your friends will accept that you have Japanese ~citizenship~, but… you wont ~really~ be Japanese in the eyes of “true” Japanese.

      • Yuki

        Even if these “true” Japanese people exist, who cares? If my friends and coworkers and people I meet all are nice to me, I couldn’t care less what some random hypothetical people think. I’m not in Japan and get people looking at me with dirty looks for what I wear or how I act with my friends, but I’m not going to let it ruin my day. They’re an extreme minority if they do exist. Don’t give them any power and they’ll cease to be relevant.

      • R0ninX3ph

        “Don’t give them any power and they’ll cease to be relevant”, while a true statement, the most xenophobic are those far-right wing thinkers, and currently the ones in power in the Government.

        Again, it isn’t about the general daily interactions you have in the short term, it is about the long term effects on you, or heaven forbid, on your children if you have them in Japan, when they have lived here their entire lives and are still seen as not Japanese because they don’t LOOK Japanese.

        I feel like either, you’re incredibly young and haven’t experienced much in Japan yet, OR, you’re being purposefully stubborn and don’t want to accept that people judging others based on their outward appearance IS actually racist, whether positive or negative.

      • Jay

        That’s just it. They aren’t just a tiny minority. They are practically every bank clerk, public official, police officer or school teacher.

      • etchasketch

        But then how else will Debito make money??

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        You never experienced racism in all your time in Japan as a tourist? Well, most tourists don’t, do they?

    • Hendrix

      Had a laugh there, must be sarcasm, you cant be serious… just because it hasnt happened to you doesnt mean racism in Japan doesnt exist…. let me tell you it does, mostly they hide behind fake politness as a cover..

      • R0ninX3ph

        Using that logic, because I’ve never experienced racism in Australia, Australia must not be racist.

        (Despite being Australian myself, I am well aware of how racist Australia can be/Australians can be)

      • R0ninX3ph

        Using that logic, because I’ve never experienced racism in Australia, Australia must not be racist.

        (Despite being Australian myself, I am well aware of how racist Australia can be/Australians can be)

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Err, yeah, but like you explained below, you don’t actually live in Japan, you’ve only visited. I think if you live here and have a Japanese spouse and children, your rose-tinted specs will fall off.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Err, yeah, but like you explained below, you don’t actually live in Japan, you’ve only visited. I think if you live here and have a Japanese spouse and children, your rose-tinted specs will fall off.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Japan’s not racist because your Japanese friends love you ‘despite being a gaijin’.
      Do you realize how racist that sounds?

  • Hachiko

    japan is for japanese. you come if you so choose, that doesn’t make you the owner.

    • Jay

      If I said something like that in my country (Canada), I’d get lynched.

      • Hachiko

        too bad it aint your country

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yeah, but it will be China’s country when the Japanese die out from not reproducing!

    • R0ninX3ph

      And yet if a Japanese person went to any other country and experienced what foreigners experience in Japan, they’d shout it out from the top of buildings to tell everyone how had XX country is.

      Hypocrisy much?

      • Hachiko

        at least not on your newspapers

      • R0ninX3ph

        If you don’t like left wing media, don’t read left wing media. I thought that was a staple of the right wing….. to ignore the left wing and pretend like they’re all crazy.

      • Hachiko

        that’s why japan must be made ‘right’ again.

      • R0ninX3ph

        While we’re at it, we should just go all the way and return Japan to Military Fascism. It’ll be fun for the whole family.

      • Hachiko

        japan was never fascist. japan fought to protect our country.

      • R0ninX3ph

        “Japan was never fascist” hahahahahahahahaha.

      • R0ninX3ph

        “Japan was never fascist” hahahahahahahahaha.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Japan STILL IS fascist! Elementary school students don’t march in my country.

      • Lemming

        I don’t know if that counts as fascist lol

        It was interesting when I first saw it, though. It’s hard to imagine it being anything other than a hold-over from when public education was under the purview of an explicitly fascist regime.

        I wonder when marching actually started. It could be an interesting topic for research :)

      • Lemming

        I don’t know if that counts as fascist lol

        It was interesting when I first saw it, though. It’s hard to imagine it being anything other than a hold-over from when public education was under the purview of an explicitly fascist regime.

        I wonder when marching actually started. It could be an interesting topic for research :)

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Japan STILL IS fascist! Elementary school students don’t march in my country.

      • Hachiko

        japan was never fascist. japan fought to protect our country.

  • Hachiko

    we are no longer a western colony, no longer a castrated loser country of the war. we need to be a free and independent country again. westerners need to understand japan is our land, not theirs

    • Hachiko

      the first step is the constitution. The prime minister did the right thing.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I agree, Japan should change its constitution, but the way Abe did it, is wrong.

        If Japan wants to change its constitution? Cool, let it go to a referendum like it should, let the Japanese people choose to change it, not the ultra-right wing currently in power with less than 50% voter turnout at the last election.

      • Hachiko

        we need a strong leader to restore japan its honor.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Denying the past atrocities does nothing to restore “honor” to Japan.

        Accepting and moving forward is what is needed buddy.

      • Hachiko

        all the ‘atrocities’ are fabricated by the victors of the war. japan only brought prosperity to asia, standing up to westerner bullies.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Oh, so thats why all of Japan’s ex “colonies” are rushing and jumping up and down to become part of the glorious Japanese empire once again, right?

      • Hachiko

        taiwanese people disagree with china anyway.

      • R0ninX3ph

        So, Taiwan is rushing to return to the loving embrace of Japanese colonial rule?

      • Hachiko

        pro japan party is winning the election.

      • R0ninX3ph

        A party being pro-Japan doesn’t mean they would give up their independence to return to “the fold”. Your assumptions are ridiculous.

      • Hachiko

        they don’t want to be part of china even more.

      • R0ninX3ph

        They don’t want to be part of china != they want to be part of Japan.

      • R0ninX3ph

        They don’t want to be part of china != they want to be part of Japan.

      • R0ninX3ph

        They don’t want to be part of china != they want to be part of Japan.

      • Hachiko

        pro japan party is winning the election.

      • Hachiko

        all the ‘atrocities’ are fabricated by the victors of the war. japan only brought prosperity to asia, standing up to westerner bullies.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Abe is a historical revisionist who can (and does) only bring shame on Japan.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        It’s a shame he couldn’t change the constitution without breaking the law, but I guess he didn’t have a choice because most Japanese don’t agree with him.

    • Jay

      What with its aging population, declining birthrate, weakening economy and exploding debt to GDP, Japan will be exiting history in this century. Too bad you didn’t embrace the world when you had the chance.

      • Hachiko

        what is there to embrace? we are a people with our own traditions, we don’t need to be mixed with outside blood. it’s better to have a pure japan as our home than a rich colony of the westerners.

      • Jay

        Wow, you are quite a piece of work. But you don’t seem to be getting many likes, do you.

      • Hachiko

        should i be overjoyed if westerners like what i say? hardly.

      • Jay

        Hachiko, your racist points of view are contradicted by your skill with English, which goes to show that you have embraced a western language and culture a lot more than you’d admit!

      • Hachiko

        english is not my favorite language, it’s not nearly as elegant. i speak it so that you westerners can understand.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Your assumption that people commenting on here in English must be Westerners is hilarious, being that you yourself, are commenting in English.

      • Hachiko

        i know you are australian.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Your assumption isn’t proven correct based on my citizenship….

        You assume that I am white and Australian born, I could be Japanese born and immigrated to Australia when young, you don’t know me.

      • Hachiko

        you could be but you aren’t.

        that’s why you will never be part of japan.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I love your assumptions, they’re hilarious.

      • Hachiko

        so are you?

      • R0ninX3ph

        I don’t feel the need to discuss my ethnicity or nationality with random people on the internet, humans are all far more similar than they are different due to geographical borders and political rhetoric.

      • Hachiko

        who is the hilarious one now.

      • R0ninX3ph

        It is entirely irrelevant to the topic. Would my opinion suddenly change your mind if I am “Japanese”? No, so why does it matter?

      • Hachiko

        because you are foreign you will never really understand

      • Hachiko

        because you are foreign you will never really understand

      • Hachiko

        because you are foreign you will never really understand

      • R0ninX3ph

        More assumptions, keep going buddy. I enjoy the false logic you employ.

        I think you might need a few lessons in critical thinking.

      • R0ninX3ph

        More assumptions, keep going buddy. I enjoy the false logic you employ.

        I think you might need a few lessons in critical thinking.

      • R0ninX3ph

        More assumptions, keep going buddy. I enjoy the false logic you employ.

        I think you might need a few lessons in critical thinking.

      • R0ninX3ph

        Your illogical deflections do nothing but damage your own arguments. I love it.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Ah, yes, the ‘gaijin can never understand Japan’ racist superiority myth. It’s all rubbish; when you understand Japan is institutionally racist, that is when the fog lifts and the truth becomes clear. The 2020 Olympics will let the cat out of the bag forever on Japan’s ‘politeness’ and ‘harmony'; it’s all fake.

      • Hachiko

        it’s our country. why should we accept anyone with open arms? our institution is right to favor our own people.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        It’s not ‘your country’ though, so luckily other Japanese will ignore your crazy ideas.

      • Hachiko

        it’s our country. why should we accept anyone with open arms? our institution is right to favor our own people.

      • Hachiko

        it’s our country. why should we accept anyone with open arms? our institution is right to favor our own people.

      • R0ninX3ph

        It is entirely irrelevant to the topic. Would my opinion suddenly change your mind if I am “Japanese”? No, so why does it matter?

      • Hachiko

        who is the hilarious one now.

      • Hachiko

        i know you are australian.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        But maybe we’re not interested in ‘understanding’ your racist comments?

      • Hachiko

        i will be happy if you are not interested in coming to japan at all!

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Well then, lucky for us you don’t represent the Japanese majority, and have no effect on reality!

      • Hachiko

        i will be happy if you are not interested in coming to japan at all!

      • Hachiko

        i will be happy if you are not interested in coming to japan at all!

      • Jay

        Hachiko, your racist points of view are contradicted by your skill with English, which goes to show that you have embraced a western language and culture a lot more than you’d admit!

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Then why even bother to comment here? All those years studying English, and still have a massive inferiority complex?

      • Jay

        Wow, you are quite a piece of work. But you don’t seem to be getting many likes, do you.

      • R0ninX3ph

        So those of mixed heritage now can just go and burn? Those “half-Japanese” are only half-pure, so they’re not worth the time of day for you?

      • Hachiko

        only if they recognize they are japanese

      • Hachiko

        the westerners dont make contributions anyway. they are only here to take ours away.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Err, yeah, coz ‘we westerners’ have got a massive O-yaji/Obaasan deficiency? Japan hasn’t got any other natural resources!

      • Hachiko

        we have technology to trade with other countries. we don’t other people to come here and take our things away. do you bring natural resources when you come over?

  • GJM

    1,500 odd words of shameless self promotion…

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      But you read it…

    • blondein_tokyo

      What’s wrong with self-promotion? It’s done every day, in all kinds of contexts, from actors going on talk shows promoting their new movies, to lecturers mentioning the book their lecture is based on.

      I guess it’s only bad and wrong when Debito does it, because you don’t like him.

    • blondein_tokyo

      What’s wrong with self-promotion? It’s done every day, in all kinds of contexts, from actors going on talk shows promoting their new movies, to lecturers mentioning the book their lecture is based on.

      I guess it’s only bad and wrong when Debito does it, because you don’t like him.

  • George

    The author is a Jewish parasite who should be expelled!

    • R0ninX3ph

      Wow……. just wow.

  • George

    The author is a Jewish parasite who should be expelled!

  • KietaZou

    Japan will change or, pretty literally, will die. As someone who plans to live the rest of his life here, I’m rooting for change to be the choice, before things get uncomfortable for the callous and “too-comfortable” Japanese. Those are the people who are always all too ready to harm others when their selfishness and false pride are poked by reality.

    They do NOT like reality at all (see my nation, the USA.)