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I
was with Gregory Clark through the first few paragraphs of his Jan. 15 article, “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people.” Whingeing foreigners here often seem the norm and not the exception. Thus I understand his frustration with many of his fellow expatriates. I too have little patience with conversations that devolve into a litany of tiresome complaints and generalized portraits of a nation of 126 million individuals.

Yet, for every paranoid foreigner who misinterprets a slight, there is the expat who is blushing with unmitigated joy because a native happened to praise his or her Japanese (“Arigatou”) or the ability to use chopsticks without impaling an eyeball.

If it were mere devil’s advocacy or hyperbole, I could take Clark’s rebuttal with the likes of (writers) Alex Kerr or Debito Arudou. But for a vice president of an international university to go so far as to excuse discrimination writ large is nothing short of astonishing. His most breathtaking statements are: “. . . as proof I harbor no anti-Russian feeling let me add that I speak Russian,” and “Let me add that I also have no anti-China feeling; I speak Chinese too.” Whew! The next thing you know, Clark is going to say that some of his best friends are black.

If fluency in a language means that one cannot be a bigot, then someone like Arudou, well-versed about Japan as well as fluent in the language, who is leading the charge against discrimination in Otaru, Hokkaido, and beyond, cannot possibly be anti-Japanese. Wow.

jeff esser

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