• Sanjo, Niigata


Although bombastically titled, Gregory Clark’s Jan. 15 article was a welcome riposte to the chorus of criticism originally inspired by Paul de Vries’ Dec. 2 Zeit Gist article, “Back to the baths: Otaru revisited.”

A subscriber to the Japan Times for several months now, I have been routinely disappointed to find the opinion page littered with the gripes of so many foreigners. Reading Clark’s article, I was surprised to find that this general atmosphere of disapproval is common enough to warrant a name, “Japan girai.” Clark is right to emphasize that the efforts of these antidiscrimination “activists” are misguided.

Allow me to add that the issues they choose to champion are, in a word, petty. While some of the arguments leveled against de Vries’ defense of “group accountability” are perhaps correct in principle, more important is the matter of degree.

If one considers that violent hate-crimes are committed in every major Western country on a regular basis against people who are not even necessarily foreigners but simply nonwhite, then to be denied admission to a luxury spa seems like a trivial matter indeed.

I urge every gaijin who is experiencing problems with “racist” Japanese to smile brighter, bow deeper, learn some Japanese apologies and use them vigorously. Let’s keep in mind that not too long ago Japan and the West were mortal enemies engaged in combat. In such a context, our lives here take on an added meaning on which we can draw in any trying situation encountered from day to day.

colin garvey

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