For nikkei, It doesn’t have to be a bug’s life: readers bite back

Readers’ responses to Debito Arudou’s last Just Be Cause column, “For nikkei immigrants in Japan, it doesn’t have to be a bug’s life” (Aug. 7):

Arudou of the Occident

As a former nikkei resident of Japan, I, as well as my community colleagues, must express strong disapproval of The Japan Times’ decision to publish Debito Arudou’s racially offensive piece comparing our community to cockroaches.

Arudou thinks can get away with writing about controversial topics if he uses amateur gimmicks like mimicking Franz Kafka or evoking Jonathan Swift. Unfortunately, you need to be a good writer and you need to understand your subject matter to do this effectively.

Arudou, who has managed to avoid most forms of editorial control of his published anger, avoids criticism (including The Japan Times’ own critics, who have called some of his work “sludge“) by arrogantly claiming he’s misunderstood by lesser minds.

Arudou thinks that his sophomoric language gimmicks excuse him from accusations of latent bigotry. Those with prejudice always claim, when exposed, that their opinions are misunderstood satire. Arudou’s clumsy attempts to hide his lack of empathy or understanding of his subject matter may fool his followers and many of the readers of The Japan Times, who are learning the English language. But he doesn’t fool us.

Because Arudou chooses to remain living in the native English diaspora in Japan, which continually benefits from reverse discrimination, he lacks the experience to understand or empathize with life as a non-Occidental foreigner in Japan.

Even if he did have the experience or did the research, he lacks the writing skills needed to communicate his opinion without offending the very groups he seeks to portray sympathetically.

I beg you, Japan Times, to keep from further alienating your readers who are neither American nor European tourists, to show a little editorial backbone and keep your token bombastic disgruntled American with a victim complex focused on subject matter he actually understands: life as an English teacher in Japan.


Sao Paulo

Readers deserve better

I don’t understand why The Japan Times keeps printing Debito’s rants. Yes, I am for better treatment of immigrants, but he doesn’t say that; instead he goes on a ridiculous diatribe that had me annoyed by the first paragraph.

Instead of just talking plainly about the serious problems that immigrants in Japan face, he chose to obfuscate the message with a pointless and contrived allegory of a bug.

Using a story of an insect to illustrate a point might be acceptable in elementary school, but I think the readers of The Japan Times deserve better.


Sasebo, Nagasaki

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