Regarding the article “For me, 2018 was the year Japan began to listen” in the Dec. 20 edition, after wading through the self-promotion and self-adulation, I was able to turn my thoughts toward reasons for living in a foreign country.

For those of us unencumbered, there are many. Often, the foreigner is asked not necessarily why we stay, but rather why did we come — and decide to stay. Recently attending a bōnenkai (end-of-year drinking party), the typical answer was, “I came for one year and one turned into two. …”

Regardless of where we have wound up, we bring ourselves and our “baggage” with us. This could include our past — good and bad — and our passion to pursue new adventures and shed the old. Contemplating leaving a “home” predicated on a natural disaster is how one’s fear is observed whether real or imaginary. Once the fear is released, we can find a freedom to aspire to do anything, anywhere.

I have never thought about leaving Japan, which has been my home for 15 years, because of a natural disaster or the numerous instances of rudeness I have experienced. Frankly, I was unaware of the mass gaijin exit — maybe my head was stuck in the sand.

In giving a platform to speak about non-Japanese issues, it isn’t rocket science to obtain the views of Japanese on perhaps some sensitive subjects, in order to gain another perspective. To get Japanese to participate in dialogue, however, may be a daunting task. It is only when we segregate ourselves that we limit ourselves. So, when one decides to live in a foreign country, stepping outside our comfort zone, upon arrival in lieu of asking “where are my people,” just be among all people.


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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