Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The End of Self-censorship

It was short-lived, and I am still in Japan and repercussions are still possible from the foreign-sugarcoaters, or a few Japanese who cannot stand any less-than-complimentary things said about Japan, but to censor myself would be to fall victim to the same thing that many long-term foreign residents do. They become Japanese in that way. People have no choice. I still do in daily life, I have gotten so used to it that when a Japanese person says something completely idiotic, debatable, or even flat out racist, I am very guarded in direct criticism or a direct challenge. If it were in private, I might do it, but in general, with the average person, especially in a business setting or relationship, criticism of even the slightest or implied sort is very, very risky.

What got me to change? I have to pretty much live a lie---basically tatemae, in Japanese---anyway, so I don't want to waste time writing a bunch of sugar-coated lies. I guess the controversy about Ichiro Suzuki, and what he said, or did not say about the Korean team in the WBC started it. Naturally, many are now claiming he was mistranslated Perhaps, but that is ALWAYS the excuse used when a public figure makes a statement which in other countries would be considered intolerant or bigoted. (Remember former Prime Minister Nakasone in the 80s and his openly racist comments about minorities in the US? It was all a misunderstanding due to poor translations. Strangely, my wife said the translation was correct and that he did make those racist statements. Perhaps she doesn't understand the Japanese since she went to university in the US and was polluted with nasty foreign ideas. For example, honesty.)

Another reason is the constant equating of foreign products, people, and ideas as evil in some way and the Japanese as pure. This is a constant theme in every area of life in Japan. The word gaijin, in addition to being simply rude, is racist. It has historically been used to refer to non-Japanese of white European descent. Other races, are held in even less esteem. There is tons of evidence for this, and should not need more proof. But in the West, the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and the like, many people still buy into the lie that the Japanese are the most polite people in the world, or that they are the only peaceful country*, or that being non-white means that there can be no bigotry or racism in the society.

*Michael Moore came to Japan and actually said that Japan has done more for world peace than any other country. As long as idiots like that run around, we cannot stop pointing out the fallacies of the Japanese myths. Ahhh ware, ware, Nihonjin...

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