For almost a decade, the Japanese TV show "Why Did You Come to Japan?" has operated on the premise of finding foreign tourists and asking them the titular question. It might seem like an innocent query at first, but in fact this show and its ilk embody everything that is wrong with the depiction of non-Japanese in Japanese media.

Close contact with non-Japanese people in Japan, while increasing, remains a rarity for a majority of the Japanese population despite a rise in tourists from overseas (their numbers reached 31 million last year). That means most Japanese people's knowledge of non-Japanese has been left almost entirely in the hands of the mass media — and the results have not been good.

Life as a panda