Regarding the Baye McNeil article “Time for Japan to scrub off the blackface” in the Jan. 11 edition, it was shocking, embarrassing and not at all funny as I watched a Japanese comedian on TV with their face colored black.

This comedian was supposed to be imitating the African-American actor Eddie Murphy. Blackface as shown on “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!” is clearly disrespectful to those of African ancestry, especially with its dark past in American minstrel shows during the late 1800s.

In response to heavy criticism, many claim that there were no racist intentions behind the blackface. Maybe that is true; however, that then raises another grave concern — the preposterous ignorance of some of the Japanese population.

As a student at an international school where people of all races and ethnic groups are found, I found this especially upsetting. Behavior such as this is downright shameful and deteriorates the reputation of this great country.

Surrounded by minorities and being one myself, it is worrying to realize that many of the Japanese people around us believe it is acceptable, and even entertaining, to do these kinds of things. In a nation where politeness is crucial, the Japanese must comprehend the offensiveness of their actions.

Japan is not a very diverse nation, and if it wants to encourage immigration and tourism to Japan, especially with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics coming up, then there needs to be more done to combat blackface and other racially insensitive conduct.

It has been reassuring to hear about the Japanese who have already condemned this blackface; however, more of the Japanese population must raise their voices against the racism and ignorance still inherent in Japanese society today.


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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