I couldn’t help but laugh at Michiko Goff’s Dec. 27 letter, “Act intelligently to make friends.” She complains about discrimination in the United States without giving a single specific example, then proceeds to tell foreigners in Japan that any discrimination against them is not real — that Japanese are just “shy” and “hesitant.”

Does that explain why my application for a new apartment was instantly rejected despite my having steady income? I called the real estate office’s headquarters and found out that there was no rule requiring applicants to work for a listed company such as Sony or Canon! How could there be, when fewer than 5 percent of the Japanese population works for a listed company?

Does that explain the childish staring whenever a foreigner walks into a restaurant or store? It amuses me how someone always announces my presence: “Oh look, a foreigner!”

Does that explain why most of my Japanese friends say their parents would never want them to marry a “foreigner?”

I have found that people the world over are generally good-natured and that discrimination/racism is usually the result of a lack of daily contact with “outsiders” — just as Shawna Ueyama reported in her Dec. 22 Zeit Gist article, “Too innocent for prejudice?” On this point, the U.S. is far more diverse than Japan, thus Americans are far more open to different people.

And when people fail to listen to their better instincts, laws exist to protect minorities in schools, business, housing, etc. This is true in every developed country except Japan. Goff at least can rent an apartment with dignity in the U.S.

sal cohen