Sunday, November 19, 2006

Japan in a word or two

Back in the early 90s, after I had spent a year in Toyama City working for a small Japanese company---and pretending to teach English as a foreign language part-time at the YMCA there and in Takaoka City, I thought that if asked to describe Japan in a single word, I would have said xenophobic.

Now I realize it isn't that simple. I would still describe Japan as very xenophobic but would also add passive-aggressive (note how wikipedia's definition in most part describes Japanese society, in nearly the same way as as the Japan explainers/apologists/Edwin Reishcauer-types do) and racialist with some racist tendencies.

I am looking for an additional word which would mean something like unrepentant, unapologetic for past actions, assuming it has done no real wrong (unless forced to by evil, sneaky foreigners or foreign ideas), always in the right, pure at heart etc. I haven't found a single word or phrase for that.

Words I can't imagine using are: exceptionally or especially polite, especially kind, clean, open, straightforward, politically aware/active, educated---none of these come to mind.

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