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I am certainly not among those wishing to silence our friend Debito Arudou. I sincerely hope that he continues his mission of exposing discrimination in Japan, as his articles are a reliable source of amusement, and sometimes hilarity.

Were he to get down off his high horse and look at things as a rational person, he would realize that it is his hypersensitivity, not the environment he has chosen to live in, that is the problem. Simply, Arudou takes himself — and, it would seem, everything — far too seriously. Or perhaps he is outraged at “Mr. James” because he sees himself in the clumsy caricature.

In fact, Japan is full of foreigners who closely resemble Mr. James. There were many things I liked about Japan, but one that I didn’t like was the notable presence of distinctly weird foreigners. Yes, perhaps the Japanese are taken aback by dorky, clumsy people who cannot speak the language. But believe me, there are lots of them living there.

Arudou says the problem is the Japanese, not the language. Rubbish. In expecting a negative reaction from people, he receives one. In the end, “Mr. James” will have no impact on Japanese perceptions of foreigners. He is what he is — a lighthearted dig at a phenomenon that undoubtedly exists in Japan. As a foreigner — or a Japanese, for that matter — behaving in a strange manner will mean you are less likely to be accepted. Behaving naturally and respectfully while observing the customs of the country you are in will lead to people being much more accommodating toward you.

And in the end, “Mr. James” has the last laugh — he is getting paid for all this. I hope he gets the chance to perform near Arudou’s house in his travels.

david blecken

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