Dear Ponta,I have really enjoyed reading your informative comments, and in fact, found you by way of Occidentalism, recently. Thank you for posting your comments in English, since there must be many of us out here who may not otherwise be able to get such an important Japanese perspective on issues of racism in Japan. Not that I have anything all that important to say, but I am a gaijin woman who is married to a Japanese man. My knowledge of Japanese is roughly conversational, I recognize some kanji and can read hiragana and katakana - I am interested in learning Japanese in order to communicate better with everyone around me, and am doing my best to learn on my own. We live in a ward of Osaka that is known for having the largest concentration of Koreans in the country. I've only lived here 5 months yet, but I have not experienced racism of any kind. The closest I even came to it was in a Aeon department store in Hirano, where some kids walking by said "gaijin" as they passed by (oh, big deal - in fact, I was surprised that after all that time, it had only been the first I'd heard it! I wasn't offended in the least, however), and a woman made a tisking sound at us as we walked by. My husband and I both were puzzled by the attention, and later on, one of his co-workers mentioned that the reason this happened was because we were in a (and I know this word is considered taboo by many Japanese, please forgive me if I am offending anyone) "buraku" area, where they don't like foreigners. I'm not exactly sure if I understand the connection there, either way...I really just wanted to step forward as a gaijin woman living in Japan to say that I have yet to experience any kind of direct racial discrimination - in fact, everyone is extremely kind for the most part, even when I fumble around with my Japanese when I've forgotten a word (they're probably more forgiving than I am of myself!).With regards to Debito, I find his site to be useful for helping out with visa information and other topics of interest to English speaking foreigners who are coming to Japan for the first time. I have to admit, though, I became a bit worried when reading through things involving how the police may treat foreigners...It seems to be the source of a lot of negativity about Japan, and after reading through it, it was hard not to wonder if whenever I walked outside to do my grocery shopping, I'd have something to worry about.Otherwise, I'm not here to start trouble - Just saying that I appreciate your perspective and the things you have to say. I'll keep you on my watch list. :)
Thank you for the kind words. I've never been to Osaka.I live in the downtown in Tokyo. Looking at the photos on your blog, I can see the similarity. Japanese people are not used to foreingers other than Chinese and Koreans. I think gaijin in Japan agree that they rarely meet other gaijin on the street. So when they meet, to greet, or not to greet, that is the question, right? The Japaense people are not used to them either. Here in Tokyo, you see relatively lots of gaijin on the train and on the street;still, older people will be puzzeled if gaijin start talking to them, in Japanese or in whatever language.In Tokyo people do not realize which area are buraku. People come in and come out all the time.So I know the problem of buraku only by books. And reading the books about buraku, I think buraku leaders are against all the sorts of racism. So if you have trouble in Japan,having an experience of descrimination, get contact with them. I think they are most eager to help you.You go to the rural area, I think you will hear "gaijin, da!" whether it is buraku or not. ----The first direct encounter in their life with GAIJIN !!! They have little knowledge about gaijin.They see gaijin on TV but not on the street.And the first impression is crucial. You smile and give them kind words, they think "gaijin is kind" You look down, taking me-first attitude, they think "gaijin is arrogont and difficult to deal with. I am afraid Debito is giving the second impression.Thank you , Keep up the good work on your blog!!!
Dear Ponta, Thank you for starting this blog. I just stumbled across while researching about Debito. That started after reading his foolish article in the Japan Times regarding Gaijin as a racist word. I have lived in Japan for about 8 years and sorry my Japanese is very poor. I study everyday but generally fail. But dont feel sorry for me as I get by fine.I want to learn more about Debito. He teaches at Hokkaido Information univeristy. Basically what kind of programs does the School offer. It looks to me, it specializes in TV media related programs.?Thanks againMike
I think this sums up Debito's blog very well: "it was hard not to wonder if whenever I walked outside to do my grocery shopping, I'd have something to worry about."