Meet Mr. James, gaijin clown

| Sep 1, 2009

Meet Mr. James, gaijin clown

by Debito Arudou

If you want to sell stuff, it helps to have a recognizable mascot representing your company. Disney has Mickey Mouse, Sanrio Hello Kitty, Studio Ghibli Totoro. These imaginary characters grace many a product and ad campaign. However, McDonald’s Japan dropped a clanger on Aug. ...

Cops crack down with 'I pee' checks

| Jul 7, 2009

Cops crack down with 'I pee' checks

by Debito Arudou

My blog has been getting periodic pings about rumblings in Roppongi: Tokyo cops cleaning out pesky foreign touts before Olympic inspectors see them; the U.S. Embassy warning Americans to stay away from the area after reports of drugged drinks and thefts. The latter was ...

| Jun 2, 2009

The issue that dares not speak its name

by Debito Arudou

A few columns ago (“Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates,” March 3), I discussed how foreign apologists resuscitate dead-end discussions on racial discrimination. Promoting cultural relativity for their own ends, they peddle bigoted and obsolescent ideologies now impossible to justify in their societies of birth. ...

| 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 ...