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“Japan girai” — dislike of Japan — is an allergy that seems to afflict many Westerners here. If someone handing out Japanese-language flyers assumes they cannot read Japanese and ignores them, they cry racial discrimination. If they are left sitting alone in a train, they assume that is because the racist Japanese do not want to sit next to foreigners. If someone does sit next to them and tries to speak to them in English, they claim more discrimination, this time because it is assumed they cannot speak Japanese.

Normally these people do little harm. In their gaijin ghettoes they complain about everything from landlords reluctant to rent to foreigners (ignoring justified landlord fear of the damage foreigners can cause) to use of the word “gaijin” (forgetting the way some English speakers use the shorter and sometimes discriminatory word “foreigner” rather than “foreign national.”). A favorite complaint is that Japanese universities discriminate against foreigners. How many Western universities would employ, even as simple language teachers, foreigners who could not speak, write and read the national language?

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