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About a month ago, I exercised my right to vote in the U.S. presidential election as an absentee expat. I voted for Barack Obama because of the vision of the future he has inspired in us after eight long years of political and economic divisiveness.

For most Japanese who do not read Western newspapers, a long established myth promoted by the Japanese media about the “racist” nature of American society has been broken. Americans know that racism still exists, and the goal of equality for all is still a work in progress. However, unlike many other societies in the world, including Japan, we Americans can be proud that we do NOT practice selective amnesia or sweep our problems of discrimination under the carpet as so many do. They are open for debate and that leads to real improvements.

It is my hope that the Japanese media will be forced to rethink and debunk some of their stereotypes about my country that do little to foster mutual understanding and cross-cultural efforts to build bridges between our two nations. This can happen if the Japanese are open and honest about their own cultural skeletons in the closet. A lot of hard work is ahead for us. I wonder if the media in Japan will also seize the moment of change.

kerry berger

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