The scapegoating of Asa

Two thumbs up for James Eriksson and Debito Arudou on their article (Zeit Gist, Sept. 4), the first and only in Japan that actually looks at the facts of the whole (Asashoryu) situation and doesn’t just follow the bandwagon of “Asa-bashing.”

For the past four years, it was Asa that basically carried the entire sumo industry and raised its popularity among youngsters and yet (the Japan Sumo Association) is treating him like an outcast and a “traitor” of the sport.

JSA utilized his “bad-boy” character commercially when he was the only yokozuna around, but now we have another — more mild-tempered Hakuho — they try to destroy (Asa), both personally and professionally.

The media loves to play that two-minute soccer clip and remind people that he handed in a “falsified” doctor’s claim on his illness.

Imagine you return to your home country for rehab and you get invited to a charity event. High-ranked officials and your pal Hidetoshi Nakata ask you to kick the ball around for a few minutes. Who in the world would refuse?

Imagine it was Nakata or Ichiro that was in Asa’s shoes. What do you think the Japanese press would write?

“Our national hero Nakata/Ichiro endures tremendous pain from his severe injuries and shows the world his big heart at an overseas charity event.”

Welcome to reality in Japan.

Toshisuke Hayami, Tokyo

The blame game

I always enjoy Debito Arudou’s letters and articles, and mostly agree with the points he makes in “The blame game” (Zeit Gist, Aug. 28).

However, leaving aside the Japanese people’s unarguably generous capacity for hypocrisy on the question of so-called “internationalization,” I completely sympathize with Japan’s underlying view on the inadvisability of importing people. In my opinion this has been a social disaster in Britain in general, and in my home town of London in particular, where the vast majority of violent street crime is committed by our more recent citizens. You only have to check (the London) Metropolitan Police’s “wanted” page to see what I mean ( www.met.police.uk/wanted/ ).

Like Japan, we were told that we “needed” to import workers for the good of the economy. But perhaps there are, after all, more important things than mere money, like the preservation of one’s own culture, values, and way of life, the maintenance of security, and the cohesiveness of society.

Japan shouldn’t make the same mistake.

Brian Clacey, Croydon

(In “The blame game,” Debito Arudou has) listed up formal discrimination and found everything possible to complain about, but you have neglected the other side of the coin: Foreigners who stick out are also treated well as guests. This means that years ago homeless Iranian refugees were fed daily in Ueno Park by neighboring Japanese. Middle-class foreigners also receive special hospitality.

Even after 22 years in Japan (and five years of not going abroad), I am asked to teach. Even when I admit to being corrected, by a family member living in an English-speaking country, when I made “Japlish” mistakes in my English, they asked to to continue!

We can never be anonymous, it seems. We always get special attention, perhaps. Yet it is not always negative. We may be lovingly expected to return to our home country in old age (for our own sakes, they think), but if we persevere, we can stay happily like (Edward) Seidensticker and others.

Some even live in Japan not reading and writing or even not speaking Japanese. What other country offers such service?

Christina Tsuchida, Tokyo

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