Regarding the June 7 story “Protesters hit Tokyo and Osaka streets with rallies against racism and police brutality,” in the past week or so I have seen coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in Japanese news media, and I must say that I am extremely disappointed in how the issues are being portrayed. The main focus for many news programs has been the looting and rioting; and while some commentators made sure to mention that not all of the protestors were rioters, that does not change the fact that they presented plenty of footage to their audience about the looting but only minimal footage of the violent police responses to the protesters.
Also, no one is talking about using this as an opportunity to take a look at Japanese society. In fact, they are doing the opposite: making sure to highlight that this is a “foreign” issue by showing the protests in the U.S. and Europe but not the ones here in Japan. They are still harping on this narrative that Japan is somehow above all of this “racism stuff.” Japan is just as guilty as the U.S. and other nations of portraying black people as aggressive; just take a look at NHK’s latest flop, a cartoon in which overly muscular and dumb-sounding black men try to explain the current issues surrounding the recent protests (and doing a poor job of it).
Is Japan guilty of ignoring social issues like this by reiterating a narrative that Japan is a homogenous island nation — not an internationalized, multinational (ahem, the Ainu and Ryukyu anybody?) one — that is somehow free of these issues? Yes. Can they afford to ignore these issues? In a globalized and interconnected society, no they cannot.
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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