Photo: PR Times/Kazushige Nagaya
entertainment

Popular Japanese actress Suzu Hirose subjected to racist coronavirus comments on Instagram

29 Comments
By grape Japan

As reported by many media sources, the outbreak of the coronavirus and the resulting fear of infection, often combined with misinformation about its causes and spread, has caused racism and xenophobia to rear its ugly head in many Asian diaspora communities in Europe and North America, sometimes resulting in verbal and even physical attacks. In Japan, there have been reported cases of Chinese tourists being turned away at restaurants. And we reported earlier on a candy shop in Hakone which refused anyone of Chinese ethnicity.

While the above-mentioned attacks received some coverage in local Japanese media, a recent incident involving one of Japan's most popular actresses has served as a painful reminder of how racists easily lump all Asians together in their asinine and hurtful comments.

On Jan 30, Louis Vuitton posted the following image of Hirose, newly appointed as brand ambassador, to mark the opening of their flagship Midosuji Maison in Osaka (which opened on Feb 1):

Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 12.15.10.png

The 21-year-old actress and model Hirose is known not only for her roles in TV dramas (Natsu Okuhara in last year's NHK morning drama "Natsuzora") and live-action films (Suzu Asano in Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Our Little Sister," Chihaya Ayase in Norihiro Koizumi's "Chihayafuru" trilogy), but also as a voice actress in animated feature films (Kaede in Mamoru Hosoda's "The Boy And The Beast," Laetitia in Takashi Yamazaki's "Lupin III: The First"). Recently riding a wave of popularity, Hirose ranked second in Nikkei Style's "Power Ranking of Entertainers Under 30" in November 2019, coming second only to Kasumi Arimura.

As soon as the post appeared, positive remarks filled the comment section praising Hirose's outfit and her appearance and congratulating her on her new role. However, to the shock of fans and non-fans alike, racist comments also began appearing, all of them relating to the coronavirus. Some of the now-deleted comments were:

"Ahhhh corona virus!!!!"

"Koronovirus [sic]?"

"It is infected"

"Coronavirus"

Thankfully, the moderators finally stepped in to delete the offending racist comments, which then resulted in a game of cat-and-mouse, as more racist comments were made and then deleted and so on.

Justifiably outraged at the hurtful discriminatory remarks, many commenters stepped in to condemn these actions.

"I am Japanese. I was very hurt to see comments about the coronavirus."

"Hirose Suzu has nothing to do with coronavirus."

"Racist comments are so lame. Aren’t you embarrassed?"

"I'm glad the racist comments are deleted. I love Suzu."

But perhaps one of the most considerate and meaningful comments came from a Japanese person who put everything into perspective, pleading for people to stop saying "coronavirus" when they see Asians online, and to stop grouping Asians together based on their appearance. However, the commenter went one step further, condemning racism against Chinese people:

"If you think you can say the word 'coronavirus' when you encounter Chinese people, you're completely wrong. I am Japanese and am not Chinese but I want you (including Japanese people) to know Chinese MUST NOT be considered that they have coronavirus due to their (nationality). So, please think about other's feelings before sending some nasty comments."

Opportunistic discrimination like this should not be ignored or there is a danger that it will continue and grow unabated. Whether intended as "a joke" or not, it's important to speak out against racism online, to say "NO," and to demand immediate involvement from moderators. Actions like these not only show solidarity and compassion but send a clear message that whether it's in the streets, in our school, at work or online, racism won't be tolerated.

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© grape Japan

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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On Jan 30, Louis Vuitton posted the following image of Hirose, 

OMGawd! Posted where?

So many different SM sites, isn’t this important?

Naaaaa.

Because anyone who would follow a Louis Vuitton site probably isn’t worth taking serious anyway.

Nothing to see here. Move along. This is just yellow journalism. Yuk yuk

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

Well, this is the seed of populist leaders... no need to mention names, ey.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

I am Japanese. I was very hurt to see comments about the coronavirus.

What does being Japanese have to do with anything? Yet many Chinese people are not being defended when they are bashed and rejected over virulent fears.

16 ( +24 / -8 )

Racism is a shame. Shame on people who do it.

We just need to respectful to all human beings. So i feel sorry for her too, and her not being from Wuhan, and never been to Wuhan just shows how bizarrely ignorant these comments are too.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

"I am Japanese. I was very hurt to see comments about the coronavirus."

This sounds as if the person who wrote this doesn't mind if the racist remarks were directed at Chinese.

You don't have to mention your own nationality.

But the Japanese at the end of the article has got it right. Glad to see Japanese like him/her exist.

There was a group of Koreans who were abused in the UK because of the coronavirus. I hope the Korean media covered that story. Not very nice being on the receiving end.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Racism raises its ugly head at trying moments like this.

Stay calm, folks. If you want to get angry at anybody, get angry at the Chinese government for the way it took its sweet time before responding appropriately.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The best way too deal with this virus, is getting a Pneumonia vaccine, it will not protect from contracting the virus, but maybe stop you contracting Pneumonia and dying, I am not a doctor

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

@Yrral

The best way too deal with this virus, is getting a Pneumonia vaccine

The problem with that is that the vaccine only guards against Pneumococcal caused by streptococcus and bacteria. This Pneumonia is viral in nature and the vaccine won't affect it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

But perhaps one of the most considerate and meaningful comments came from a Japanese person ...condemning racism against Chinese people:

> "If you think you can say the word 'coronavirus' when you encounter Chinese people, you're completely wrong. I am Japanese and am not Chinese but I want you (including Japanese people) to know Chinese MUST NOT be considered that they have coronavirus due to their (nationality). So, please think about other's feelings before sending some nasty comments."

And this is why the Japanese will always be known for being more cultured and more matured. You will rarely, if ever, find a prc china-nese speaking up for the Japanese. THAT's racism.

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

Nothing like an emerging pandemic to bring out the worst elements of society... Racists are as bad (and harder to get rid of) than most viruses.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

this is why the Japanese will always be known for being more cultured and more matured.

@Wesley

Is this true? Have you done your research or paid attention to any articles about Chinese people in Japan. Also, while many Chinese are being prosecuted over this disease in Japan and the world, it took someone doing the same to a Japanese person for a Japanese person to come out and speak against it. However, prior to this, it largely remained silent and okay.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Why the vagueness and pussyfooting? Is she of Chinese extraction or not. It would explain the online bullying.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Trolls.

Still virus originated in Asia. Fact.

Then if you don't know what is a virus, ignorance kills way more than stupidity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

a prc china-nese

A what?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This so wrong on so many levels...small minded,dumbass people blaming this poor woman (and most people of Asian decent) for the virus just because it started in China.Its just like the racism towards African -Americans here in the United States in many ways.Its just sad that the masses are asses and don’t check facts before opening their mouths.Keep your non-intelligent thoughts to yourself.If not....Don’t get mad when you get a right hook across your mouth.People these days just suck.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Jonathan Prin, you are probably right and those were just dumb trolls (at least I hope that you are right). Nonetheless no one should be the target of racist comments (even if they just think that they are being funny).

What does being Japanese have to do with anything? Yet many Chinese people are not being defended when they are bashed and rejected over virulent fears.

What Pukey2 wrote sounds about right. It's probably the same you see quite often everywhere. Why even think about it and care when it doesn't affect yourself? Obviously that's not something exclusive to Japan, so I wouldn't be surprised to see similar comments by people from other places in such situations.

sometimes resulting in verbal and even physical attacks.

It's not as simple as people attacking (Asian) people wearing masks (at least not in this case). The person who apparently filmed the whole situation gave an explanation. The woman sat on a narrow stair and was obstructing the guy. This lead to him slandering her (calling her "diseased bitch") and ultimately hitting her on the head once before going his own way. This is where the video starts then. You see her giving chase with a glass bottle raised in one hand seemingly ready to at least throw it at him. This then lead to the guy attacking her. So there is a lot more to the story than just one guy randomly attacking someone for wearing a mask. I do hope that they get the guy though and that he gets punished accordingly.

But why am I writing all this? There is no place for racism (at least there should not be any place for it...). The first time I actually saw the video of said attack on twitter it had been posted by a Japanese guy. He did not give the context (granted that he probably didn't know it himself) and merely told people to be careful. Several Japanese had no issue writing downright racist comments here themselves. They didn't care for the context at all. There were also many comments saying that there is probably more to the whole story. But the only one calling them out for their racism was a foreigner who is currently living in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

am Japanese. I was very hurt to see comments about the coronavirus.

What does being Japanese have to do with anything?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

What does being Japanese have to do with anything ?

Well they are the specialists, the ones that "do not understand well the difference between racism, free speech, an "unique culture"" So how shocking to discover something "so Japanese" is practiced by Gaijins too... Feeling less special maybe ?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Instagram - the home of the best and brightest.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I don´t get it. Is she ethnic Chinese? If not, how do these stupid comments even make sense?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ho hum... catching a virus has little to do with race!

But Asians do look similar sometimes, so no need to feel offended.

Just put it down to ignorance....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

hah , the old classic among ignorants : Asia / Asians = China / Chinese ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well she's mad cute.

As for the racist comments, eh. Everyone's tough on social media, behind a keyboard. Nothing new here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

yes , there is no place for racist comments or racist acts anywhere including Japan.

However, we can speak out and have Chinese people and their government own this crisis.

My question is why after SARS crisis , 20 some years ago, nothing was done about these markets selling exotic animals. These people continue to eat and use these animals as part of their medicine.

They continue on like nothing happened and another world crisis was created in China.

I don't need to call people names,but I want them to own this problem and tell the rest of the world, what they going to do in the short and long term that this type of virus doesn't happen again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When Chinese people are turned away by Japanese in restaurants and candy shops it is small news. It is big news when a popular actress is accused of having coronavirus it is big news.

I'm glad Hirose Suzu is a tough lady and that the moderators swashed the troll commons quickly. Trolls are very bad news. Two South Korean stars committed suicide thanks to them.

I gather that a couple of postings were in English and bad English ("It is infected") leading me to question just who were the trolls. The bad English suggests non-native writers. And that suggests that some of the trolls could have been Japanese, in which case they would have been motivated by jealousy.

I suspect jealousy and then likely racism motivated these trolls to attack this young and very talented actress.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The comments are not racist....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Instagram and social media...take it all with a grain of salt, at best. Getting bent over some stupid comments is a waste of time. Those who make it a big deal are just enabling the trollers, and guilty of getting reeled in.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sometimes, it is sad that japanese people are very interested i idol that have no brains.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Some customers of mine were complaining about this kind of thing the other day, about how they were being lumped together with 'Asians' recently (the inference being that they are above that). Now since they pay my bills I usually 'so desune' my way around this kind of sanctimonious tosh, but on this occasion I reminded them of how they lump together almost 8 billion disparate people into the 'gaijin' box.

It seems to have been a shock to lots of Japanese people that they are in fact able to contract this virus in exactly the same way that 'gaijin' are.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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