Although the front-page April 1 article “Shibuya’s loyal dog Hachiko vanishes” was clearly an April fool’s joke, I don’t think The Japan Times should do things like this at the expense of minority groups. (In this case the story suggested that soaring prices for copper and other metals, spurred by the construction boom in China, could be a motive in the theft.) The Chinese have a hard enough time in Japan as it is. Even though people won’t blame them in this particular case, the story could suggest to the unintelligent among us that Chinese people in Japan are potential copper thieves. That’s how prejudices stay alive, even if no harm is intended.
Born and raised in Germany, I know what I am talking about (or maybe I’m just too sensitive about this kind of issue). Jokes are a “great way” to maintain a prejudice in people’s minds, and we’re all better off avoiding them completely, instead of trying to explain later that obviously not all people from (whatever country) are lazy thieves. Just ask anybody of Chinese descent if he or she believes that the opinions of 100 percent of this newspaper’s readers won’t be affected in some way the next time a real copper-theft story breaks.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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