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What do you think about Naomi Osaka being asked to comment in Japanese by Japanese reporters at news conferences?

24 Comments

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I think it reflects the belief among the Japanese that Japanese "blood," or DNA, overrides the most extensive environmental or cultural effects. Simply because Osaka has Japanese DNA, speaking Japanese should come natural to her, regardless of her growing up and being trained and educated in the US, they believe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think it reflects the belief among the Japanese that Japanese "blood," or DNA, overrides the most extensive environmental or cultural effects. Simply because Osaka has Japanese DNA, speaking Japanese should come natural to her, regardless of her growing up and being trained and educated in the US, they believe.

I don't think they do, or the word 日系人 (one of Japanese decent) would not exist. If they thought that DNA overrode culture, this word would have no need to exist nor relevance, as one who is of Japanese descent would be the same as one who is Japanese, and there wouldn't be a word trying to explain a difference where one does not exist.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Being as she identifies as Haitian-Japanese, I think it's reasonable for them to ask. As I think any Haitian reporter might ask her for a comment in French (or...Creole?).

It is also reasonable for her to politely decline, as she often does.

Also, (and I've never met her so I'm just guessing) she may feel condescended to when she says something in Japanese, and her Japanese fans coo and 'kawai!!' all over the place. I do. Not the fan part, obviously, but the condescension part.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

She is extremely personable and dignified and tried to speak some words in Japanese. I am sure this will contribute to her continued popularity and increased fan base. It is really nice to see a top athlete like her who is a great role model and a good person.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

She should just copy the sumo wrestlers and grunt out one of four or five stock phrases that completely ignore the question. In other sports, the number of stock phrases used by Japanese competitors goes up, but is usually within a dozen.

I wanted to play my own game

I want to stay fit and try hard

It's all the work I did paying off

I'm taking it a match at a time, but won't give up to the end

etc. etc.

She should avoid any questions about her nationality with a barge pole.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Agree with RM, 'reasonable' indeed although J journos should use their common sense and a little thoughtfulness perhaps: English at major, international pressers (for now) and only a few, simple questions in J in a more relaxed environment. No need to bombard her with questions she doesn't fully understand (again, for now).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm sure she knows the words gambarimasu and 'so desu ne'. That will solve 90% of all interviews.

Being as she identifies as Haitian-Japanese

all the while holding American citizenship? Well October's coming soon.

I think it reflects the belief among the Japanese that Japanese "blood," or DNA, overrides the most extensive environmental or cultural effects.

which is why the government thought Japanese-Brazilians wouldn't behave like Brazilians. And when they found out they were wrong and that the JB's liked having parties and felt more comfortable speaking Portuguese, they were put on the top of the list of people to boot out when the economy goes south.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

To answer the question, I think it's damn rude.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

What do we think about Naomi being asked to comment in Japanese? or about Japanese reporters asking Naomi to comment in Japanese? She can politely decline if she has problem or Japanese reporters may not be able to ask in English.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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Journalists- with the exception of a few cultivated cosmopolitan minds - are for the most part ignorant parasites.

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Osaka is an International persona.

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The least a Journalist could do is demonstrate their skill at bi lingual fluency.

.

Anyway why would a media company send out a monolingual reporter to interview an international super star.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No problem at all. She smiles and answers in Japanese as long as she can, until she has to break into English. Most Japanese fans know and appreciate that, and she can feel their warmth.

Her Japanese is actually coming along nicely lately; even as she studies the language, what she learned from her mother seems to come bubbling up more and more naturally. Although critical in the beginning I was quite impressed hearing her at Melbourne. :8)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I have a friend, Japanese-American, who grew up speaking English until he was four or five, then stopped and eventually became not able to speak it, other than a few words here or there. Then he moved to Japan, and has been here for 15-ish years, and his Japanese is more natural, both is usage and pronunciation, than most foreigners I know.

If it's in there, the neural pathways have been built. I'm sure Naomi will be able to pick up Japanese quite quickly.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I do not believe it to be a problem for Japanese reporters to ask questions in Japanese to an athlete that purports to represent Japan. Why is it that nobody bats an eye when Nishikori or your average Mongolian sumo wrestler gets pelted with questions in Japanese?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why is it that nobody bats an eye when Nishikori ... gets pelted with questions in Japanese?

Why should we? We all know he speaks Japanese. Perhaps more interesting is how we never hear in the Japanese media of Nishikori's English ability. He's very good. (I believe Andy Murray has quipped that he's better than himself.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think it's not only exclusive to Japan, its kind of stereotyping that if a person is of this descent, they are immediately expected to know that country's culture and language even though they are just as an outsider to that country as other people would be. I had a friend when I used to live in Canada who's half Chinese and would be always spoken to in Mandarin by Chinese people we meet and would be asked by my classmates if he could speak Chinese. I think this is not a case of ignorance but just a common case of curiosity. However, I would say that doing that during an interview is outright rude and ignorant

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@albaleo

Why should we? We all know he speaks Japanese. Perhaps more interesting is how we never hear in the Japanese media of Nishikori's English ability.

Why would that be more interesting? Has Japan turned majority Anglophone since I last lived there? Why should a Japanese make an especial note of his English ability?

@Toshihiro

I had a friend when I used to live in Canada who's half Chinese and would be always spoken to in Mandarin by Chinese people we meet and would be asked by my classmates if he could speak Chinese. I think this is not a case of ignorance but just a common case of curiosity. However, I would say that doing that during an interview is outright rude and ignorant

Was your friend also claiming to represent China in global sports? Why is it rude or ignorant for Japanese media to ask questions in Japanese to an athlete that purports to represent Japan? Seems like very reasonable behavior to me.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

since everyone is aware she doesn’t speak Japanese, I think it’s rude and patronizing. How would you feel being put under the international spotlight and being asked to do something you’re not capable of? I’m one of the interviews, you could see the annoyance in her face. And I think I’d feel exactly the same!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Why is it that nobody bats an eye when Nishikori or your average Mongolian sumo wrestler gets pelted with questions in Japanese?

But Nishikori grew up in J and all/most Mongolian wrestlers moved to J as teenagers i.e they do speak the language. J journos do not expect guys like Wimpie van der walt or Derek Carpenter to speak fluent J yet they both represent Japan (rugby). It's all about discernment & a little common sense.

Osaka, van der walt and a few others only speak rudimentary Japanese (for now) and that's fine.

@that person, spot on.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I think it's a rude request.

However, I understand the motivation. I think that right now, I think Japanese fans/media are looking at their relationship with Osaka as an exciting first date. You have a cursory connection with an exciting person, but you're still in the trial stages, and you need to see just how compatible you are with each other by testing each other's limits a bit. Can she speak Japanese? How Japanese is she? How willing is she to appease Japanese fans? These are issues that people are curious about, as they subconsciously determine how they feel about her beyond just "She's representing Japan and she's a champion! Yatta!"

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

At this point, A Japanese reporter asking her to speak in Japanese is being disrespectful, rude, and demeaning. With the amount of coverage she gets on TV, a reporter would have to be an absolute idiot to not know she can't speak Japanese very well. And it doesn't matter either. But maybe this question really should be left up to her to answer because, she's the one who really decides if it was rude or just an odd request.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Is there any video/text of them actually asking her to speak in Japanese? Because there would be a big difference between, for example:

日本語で話してください。

日本語で何か話してもらえますか?

The first one is a (politely phrased) demand, the second is a request for the person to give it a go. Both are asking to speak in Japanese, but the second one is a lot more palatable than the first.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The reporter should first ask in English if it's OK to ask a question in Japanese, giving her the opportunity to duck it if she doesn't feel like it for whatever reason.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Maybe a bit of Japlish instead?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Based on the amount of coverage she has garnered, reporters/media needs to pander to her rather than the opposite.

I don't particularly think the request is rude at all. But her response shouldn't raise any eyebrows either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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