The longer I live in Japan, the better I get at reading the atmosphere. And at the moment, the atmosphere is hinting at some significant changes.

The Asahi Shimbun recently published a cartoon depicting several types of child abuse, and the perpetrators in most of the panels were illustrated with darker skin. The idea that "blackness" is an indication of evil intent has a long tradition in Japan — and pretty much every majority-white society — but these days it's a particularly problematic artistic choice to say the least.

To those of us of a darker hue who call this country home — both Japanese and non-Japanese alike — the cartoon was clearly the perpetuation of an idea that has resulted in discriminatory behavior toward us over our entire lives. From student to job-seeker to person on the street, the likelihood of someone linking our darker skin to a darker character is unacceptably high.