Kudos to the Urawa Reds soccer team for taking action against the “Japanese Only” banner displayed at the team’s first game played at home this season.
The J. League also deserves commendation for prohibiting the public from attending the following home match in an effort to prevent similar behavior that could be construed as being racist. Such action is necessary as Japan is slated to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the Olympic Games the following summer in Tokyo.
Urawa made a bold but necessary declaration that the team would not tolerate any discriminating or insulting language or behavior. The message that we have the power to rid racism from sports and society, as quoted in the March 24 article “Urawa, Shimizu play to draw in silent Saitama Stadium,” must not fall upon deaf ears.
The Japanese government now carries the burden of responsibility that it, too, will not tolerate any discriminating or insulting language or behavior.
The country’s geography, along with its historical and cultural homogeneity, has led many Japanese throughout time to consider themselves molded from a unique or superior tradition. Unfortunately the consequential view of the general population the world over is that the Japanese are racist.
Although the bulk of Japanese society may not be overtly racist, the reference to the term for foreigners, “gaijin” (outside person), and to “we Japanese,” or even the use of superficial patronizing commentary to compliment non-Japanese for their seemingly unusual ability to speak Japanese, use chopsticks or eat raw fish does come across as being racially prejudicial or discriminatory.
Japan has much to do to cleanse its image. Increasing immigration to the country and ensuring foreign residents full participation in all aspects of life are necessary for the nation to overcome its negative stereotype.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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