| May 5, 2009

Fujimori gets his; Japan left shamed

by Debito Arudou

News item: Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison by a Peruvian court for connections to death squads. In my humble but loud opinion, hurrah! World media headlined it “a victory for the rule of law.” ...

| Mar 3, 2009

Of toadies, vultures and zombie debates

by Debito Arudou

If there’s one thing execrable in the marketplace of ideas, it’s “zombie debates” — discussions long dead, exhumed by Dr. Frankensteins posing as serious debaters. Take the recent one about racial discrimination. When you consider the human-rights advances of the past 50 years, it’s ...

| Feb 3, 2009

2channel: the bullies' forum

by Debito Arudou

Bullying in Japan is a big problem. The victims have limited recourse. Too often they are told to suck it up and self-reflect. Or if they fight back, they get criticized for lashing out. It’s a destructive dynamic, causing much misery and many a ...

| Jan 6, 2009

Japan makes progress in 2009

by Debito Arudou

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for Japan in 2009, in ascending order: 6. The U Hoden victory (Dec. 21, 2007, but close enough): The plaintiff is ...

| Dec 2, 2008

Hailing the tail end of Bush

by Debito Arudou

Regarding Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president, I welcome the groundswell of hope. It’s about time. The past eight years have been, well, awkward for Americans overseas. The Bush II administration undermined America’s image abroad. The Pew Global Attitudes Project, which surveys views of ...

| Nov 4, 2008

Truth: a delicate matter of give and take

by Debito Arudou

Every activist and essayist must deal with a singular phenomenon when addressing the public: just how “truthful” one should be. I’m not talking about a choice between lying or “truthing”; I’m talking about just how much truth one should inject into the message. Because, ...

'Gaijin' mind-set is killing rural Japan

| Oct 7, 2008

'Gaijin' mind-set is killing rural Japan

by Debito Arudou

Allow me to conclude my trilogy of columns regarding the word “gaijin” this month by talking about the damage the concept does to Japanese society. That’s right — damage to Japanese society. I previously mentioned the historical fact that “gaijin” once also applied to ...

| Sep 2, 2008

The 'gaijin' debate: Arudou responds

by Debito Arudou

Last month’s column (Aug. 5) was on the word “gaijin.” I made the case that it is a racist word, one that reinforces an “us-and-them” rubric toward foreigners and their children in Japan. It generated a lot of debate. Good. Thanks for your time. ...

| Aug 5, 2008

Once a 'gaijin,' always a 'gaijin'

by Debito Arudou

Gaijin. It seems we hear the word every day. For some, it’s merely harmless shorthand for “gaikokujin” (foreigner). Even Wikipedia (that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists) had a section on “political correctness” that claimed illiterate and oversensitive Westerners had misunderstood the Japanese word. ...

| Jun 3, 2008

Good news from grass roots

by Debito Arudou

Reader Rodney in Vancouver recently e-mailed: “I’ve often found your articles informative and useful, but they tend to take a tone of complaint. Please tell us about some face-to-face, grassroots efforts that have helped make Japanese more considerate and respectful of those who are ...