If the image of Hachiko on his way to China on a junk freighter brought a smile at the expense of any “minority group” in Japan — as Eve Campbell alleges it might have in her April 8 letter, “A joke that can fan prejudices” — the only group that would qualify as the butt of such humor would be an international crime ring composed of Japanese, Chinese and other members — as many reports on illegal human and material traffic between Japan and China have noted.

I sent a link to the story that Campbell thinks The Japan Times should not have published as an April Fool’s Day joke — “Shibuya’s loyal dog Hachiko vanishes” — to several friends, including a Japanese woman who until recently was Chinese and is now writing a doctoral dissertation on China-Japan relations during the war years. Her first reaction was shock and sadness over Hachiko’s fate. She laughed, though, when she clicked on the picture. But then, she is intelligent.

Campbell worries more about “the unintelligent among us” — which I would imagine is also a multinational cohort of Japanese, Chinese and others. I would share her concern — if I didn’t believe the majority of people of all nationalities are capable of perceiving the difference between good-natured levity and prejudice, while the less perceptive also stand to benefit from light humor, which ultimately plays on everyone’s biases.

william wetherall

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