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Japanese companies confront reality of racial harassment

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By Songmi Woo

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It just common sense, that racial bias should not be tolerated, in America, they will fire you in the spot

10 ( +24 / -14 )

Certainly Japan needs to do way better.

But other countries that indoctrinate hatred against all things Japanese from youth don't get a pass.

7 ( +29 / -22 )

What a joke.. in China, Japan and Korea plus other Asian countries the racism is often so deeply embedded in the culture that no one would even realize it's wrong.

The majority of victims aren't going to go public with whatever harassment they face as long as the government refuses to recognize it as a problem and actually forces companies to do something about it.

That being said these non profits are doing a great job and am really appreciative of them.

The only thing that's going to take care of this issue is time- hopefully as time goes on and younger people who are educated more on this become older, it will fade.

33 ( +39 / -6 )

Racism is so embedded Japanese don't know they are doing it. Don't profile, don't ask a foreigner if they want a fork unless you ask that to everyone.

You might read that and say, they are you trying to be nice. That is not correct you assumed something based on how they look.

2 ( +25 / -23 )

I think a lot of Japanese people have become Bitter more so than racist.... just like in the USA. They see their country changing so fast. Gone are the "good old days", and they're unable to handle it. Things in their life didn't work out well and sometimes they have to blame something. Just be thankful that overall Japan's politicians do not promote or propagate discrimination or racism. Could you imagine a Japan where the Prime Minister spoke the same was as does Donald Trump.

3 ( +16 / -13 )

@Yrral, only a white person would be fired. They wouldn’t fire a minority out of fear of a lawsuit.

4 ( +20 / -16 )

For example, "You understand what I mean because we are Japanese, right?"

This doesnt make sense, "You understand what I mean because we are Japanese right?" should be "It's impossible for you to understand because you are NOT Japanese" (Or something along those lines!)

or in extreme cases, such statements as, "I hate Chinese people."

Evidently the writer of this article doesnt have a whole hell of a lot of experience living in Japan as a foreigner!

This statement is hardly "extreme" and happens more often than people want to admit.

Which is a HUGE part of the problem! First folks have to accept that there IS in fact a problem for any change to happen! Otherwise you WILL experience the often used "Well if you don't like it here, go back to where you came from!" "This is Japan. We do things OUR way, and there is no way you can understand because you aren't Japanese!"

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Good for this organization; it is good work but do not take it so far that it gets to the ridiculous level of my country of citizenship.

Having been here so long most things do not bother me. Being offered a fork? I think people are trying to be nice (when my mom visited she was very happy to say yes please). If offered a fork I just say no thank you. If someone comments me on the use of chopsticks...just say thank you. I might even ask them if they can use a fork,

If no one sits next to me on a train.....great!!!! More room for me. The stares are still difficult but I just stare back.

I guess my point is there is a place for this type of organization and if they focus on true harassment or hatred then it is a good thing. Do not get caught up on so called "micro aggressions"

Japan will become more multi-cultural out of necessity (someone will need to pay the taxes for the country to survive)

7 ( +15 / -8 )

There is a false premise in this article, that there is a "type" of racism in "the West" that is different from the type of racism in Japan. Not at all. America is not Europe, and "the West" is not a monolithic entity like the media and some people want to think. Europe is exactly like Japan in many ways. European nations are just as homogeneous as Japan is, and that's why you see the exact same kind of racism and discrimination in Europe as you see in Japan. Unlike America, in Europe, nationality matters more than skin color. In Europe, it doesn't matter if you are Black as long as you are from the US or Canada or other "good image nation". Just look at England and their anti-Polish xenophobia and hate pandemic against WHITE Europeans. It's the same in Japan. Just like Europeans, Japanese view themselves as an "ethnic state", and anyone who isn't "ethnically native" is seen as an outsider. It used to be similar in America in the early days of the nation. With each new wave of immigrants, the previous natives opposed them on the basis of nationality. The English opposed to Irish, then both opposed the Italians, until eventually all Whites ganged on the non-Whites. Same will happen in Europe when the demographics change, and same will happen in Japan in time.

Also, why do people always assume a regulation will fix the problem? If there is a problem, get the government to pass a law to fix it. I've said this before, one of the differences between minority rights movement in Japan vs that in America is that in America the movement was aimed toward the general society as an education campaign, wheres in Japan it is always aimed at the central government to pass laws, often including subsidies or money. That's why the Ainu movement failed badly in Japan while the Black movement in America was successful. Now they are doing the same thing, trying to get the govt. to pass laws against social prejudices against foreigners. It will not work. Focus your energy towards the public at large and education campaigns. Educate the public that prejudice is bad and that they should stop it. Forget about the government, try to persuade the public to look beyond prejudice.

Often anti-racism laws have the opposite effect. In America, laws against sexual harassment and racism have made minorities a liability, and as a result fewer employers want to hire them. In Japan, some of the temp visas for low skilled workers have a specific employer binding contract, which obviously traps the workers without alternatives, and that makes them an easy target. Foreigners should have the freedom to switch jobs at will and pursue any job they want, including starting their own business if they want. That is a much more effective way of helping foreigners fight work harassment than government passing laws and regulations.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

Little has changed in Japanese culture since the beginning of last century. Most still believe Japan is the superior race in Asia and others are just slaves for Japan Inc.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

Japan must adapt or languish.

Unfortunately, there will be a period of languishing...

12 ( +21 / -9 )

I think Japan has a better balance than most other countries. These days you can’t say anything without someone getting their feelings hurt and crying that they were offended.

-3 ( +13 / -16 )

As a black man living in Japan, I have experienced an incredible amount of racism and pure ignorance. The biggest issue for the average individual is that they don’t realize that they are doing it and generally don’t understand what it means. I’ve experienced it with regular interactions, hiring, work placement, genuine expectations.

I have been introduced to others by Japanese people as someone that can dance or sing well even though I provided absolutely nothing to for them to base that claim on.

Although I have several people at work larger than me (Japanese and white), my Japanese boss is consistently reminded of someone that I may or may not resemble everyday and tries to point it out. Until I started pointing out how he resembled different Asian people that are not held in high regards.

30 ( +35 / -5 )

On the surface, Japan has no racial problem. If you're a tourist, then everything is honky-dory. For foreign residents, however, there are established barriers that prevent foreigners from receiving a fair shake. Trust me, I know. Over the years, I've found ways to maneuver around such barriers, but they do exist.

27 ( +30 / -3 )

My mother-in-law, God Bless her soul, used to scream hates for Koreans until one day I angrily confronted her as to why. She sat straight as if in attention, not looking at me answered, 'because that's the way we were educated'. She stopped. I've had several other experiences with even foreign non Korean. I found that all it took was one experience and they made an immediate about face. One guy has 4 mixed blood grandchildren he adores.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

If someone comments me on the use of chopsticks...just say thank you. I might even ask them if they can use a fork,

If no one sits next to me on a train.....great!!!! More room for me. The stares are still difficult but I just stare back.

Yeah...do both often too..especially the knife /fork reactions are priceless :)

12 ( +13 / -1 )

When you have children born here (but are biracial or "look foreign"), it breaks your heart that some people constantly Other them. Why would my children, born here, have to be offered a fork or spoken in (broken) English? They might speak only Japanese and Russian or French... Imagine your biracial child and nobody else at the table being offered chopsticks in a restaurant overseas. How does that feel? Or being spoken in broken Chinese, for good measure.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Racism in Japan will never disappear after spending a few decades here you realize the racist ones are the most scared ones also most insecure ones...I've learnt to laugh in its face and can do a pretty good job of totally embarrassing those who are racist to me its comical even the wife gets a good laugh out of it...Living in Japan its just something you have to deal with if you cant well its better you live somewhere else its never going to change.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

yet you live here. Why not go home?

It isn’t as easy as that for some. You are not speaking wisdom here.

15 ( +23 / -8 )

The first time I lived in Japan I was totally unprepared for it. On subsequent opportunities to live in Japan I knew what to expect and have been able to deal with it. It isn’t my country so who am I to demand the Japanese people order their society to my liking? As long as my freedom was not denied to me, assuming I obeyed the law, I never felt the need to tell Japan what to do.

I feel like there are people pushing to make the laws and culture of every country the same. If you cannot tolerate a foreign country you are just as free to leave as you were to go there in the first place. And keep in mind, it’s not your country to mess with.

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

@What a joke.. in China, Japan and Korea plus other Asian countries the racism is often so deeply embedded in the culture that no one would even realize it's wrong. The majority of victims aren't going to go public with whatever harassment they face as long as the government refuses to recognize it as a problem and actually forces companies to do something about it.

You bring up 2 points deeply embedded and not going public. The government has acknowledge it by passing hate crime laws etc. The issue lies with the entertainment, news segments on TV industry around the world not just Japan in both movies, music. Education can be taught but the behavioral portion is not and the mind sees or rather is bombarded with media expressing itself though not aware. For example, every time something happens in the US that is majorly significant which includes the US, if it involves a Hispanic, Asian or Black the reporter is either Asian, Black or Hispanic, but if its a white issue, it doesn't matter what reporter is doing the reporting. This happens again and again. Same in Japan the experts are of the ethnicity of the issue at hand. This is racial selection/profiling. As one post pointed out just because one is black that doesn't mean this person can dance or be great at sports. WE are all unique in our skills and talents because simply we are all human. Each is an individual and should be respected for their skills, talents and experiences not ethnicity. I know many Germans, but does that mean that they are all Nazi's. No of course not, same as the Russians are they all Communists? The Chinese are they all part of the CCP? Of course not. I"m not saying I support political correctness by any means but just use common sense, respect and courtesy for each other.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I love Japan. Always have and always will. And part of that love, involves trying to change or at least, highlight its problems.

There shouldn't be any place for racism in the 21st century. In such a forward looking nation, it's heartbreaking to experience it here and to read it online.

That said, a lot of bigotry here is ironically often displayed by gaijin towards other gaijin.

It has to end.

Companies can do their bit, as can JT.

Here's to a better, loving future. Wherever you're from and wherever you're at.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

I think some people get triggered when they hear accusations of 'racism' but it's just one aspect of an exclusionary mindset that happens to be based on race. It is racism, but Japanese people don't think of it like that - 外国人 aren't a single race, it's more how the world revolves around Japanese people.

The country really needs to work out how to integrate people from other backgrounds though because the number of workers is shrinking. I'm just worried the country is going to turn in to Qatar where the locals are a minority and get imported labour wihh no legal rights to do everything for a pittance ...

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

why can,t we all just get along? because it,s impossible to ignore the thousands of years of European and Japanese history and the hundreds of years of American history (of European immigration), see where this is going ... the (often regarded as the) three best places in the planet, and white and Japanese discriminating against others. it,s not a coincidence. and it,s going to be extremely difficult obviously. imo we can only wait for the new generations and that,s gonna take a while. about Japan in particular, the racism in Japan is a little different from the racism in Europe and North America. in Japan they discriminate even against white people from Europe or North America, that has to do with the fact that (from a certain point in history) Japan was always just Japan (one of the reasons why many Japanese are pure ignorants about the outside world), while Europe and North America ,s history and culture were always connected...

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Japan, at least on a government level, is trying to make society aware of issues such as "sekuhara" and "pawahara". An almost ridiculous amount of effort is also being made in terms of LGBT awareness. But racism and prejudice is one area where Japan has yet to make a serious effort. There is no doubt that laws need to be enacted in this regard. At some point, the J-govt will have to accept that if they want to realize all their other hopes as regards foreign workers, residents, vistors, then this is essential.

There are rascists in Japan as there are in every country. And it's true that with the changes happening in modern Japan, many people are resisting and offended by these changes. Again, same as in other countries, such as the United States and Europe. Really, it is a global issue, not just some isolated national issue.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Japan is socially a tough country for foreigners, we are living here by constraint.

If you start rising up such foolish behaviors, There will no reason to live in Japan anymore.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Bullying is an endemic part of Japanese culture, and bullies will always find victims, whether at school, work or at home. If there were no foreign employees, the intimidation and abuse would continue unabated. The presence of foreign staff simply makes them low hanging fruit.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Contrary to some, Japanese nationals are not all 100% about all that is Japanese. There are wide spectrums of opinions on all the major issues even dividing the political parties. For instance support for the death penalty isn't 100% nor is support for the emperor and imperial family.

There are Japanese citizens who are not Japanese by birth. Koreans and Chinese born here and have selected nationality. Then those who become Japanese citizens.

Japan is the country for all the people living here and all have protections of the constitution and laws.

I haven't experienced too much racism during my decades here. Less than many people experience in my birth country, Britain but there again I have never worked a single day for any company so I don't know anything about that.

I think there are something like 3 million Japanese living in overseas countries. I think in Britain there are about 60,000 Japanese nationals. In Japan there are only about 15,000 Brits.

Some politicians campaign for long term residents who work, pay taxes, health and pension to have a vote, at least in local elections.

These days, some industries rely on foreigners to provide the workers. Such as the Japanese Merchant Navy is mostly crewed by foreigners.

I spent all of my time with only Japanese people and none are like some of the posters on this topic.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

And part of that love, involves trying to change or at least, highlight its problems.

A big problem with racism today is that it's couched in so called good will. Trying to change a country You're not from in order that it make you feel good or welcome, or so that it fits in with your kumbayaa ideology is equally offensive and disturbing as blatant racism.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Japan for all its faults and ignorance is still quite a wonderful place to live and work. Personally I quite like living in a country that has so little care or awareness of the outside world. It does feel like quite a warm blanket.

Dealing with the odd ignorant simpleton is just part of life anywhere I suppose

15 ( +18 / -3 )

You can't tell people to stop being racist while programming them to be racists. and a conscious human being can never be a racist. Regardless of what rules they create or force on people, Racism exists coz of emptiness and lack of love.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

We are all people of this globe, and by nature we mostly do default to readily helping each other out. This is our humanity.

The problem arise with poor leadership. Racism, classism, discrimination, bias, extremism all have roots in poor, self interested leadership. It takes a confident, self aware person to recognize poor (self inrerested) leadership.

Japanese society unfortunately is structured to recognize and respect leadership regardless, and self awareness is frowned upon. Therefore racism, discrimination etc. are pervasive and exploited by poor leaders.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

zichiToday  11:18 am JST

These days, some industries rely on foreigners to provide the workers. Such as the Japanese Merchant Navy is mostly crewed by foreigners.

I agree with most of your post, however this reference really is not applicable. Because it is not only Japan, but the US, UK, EU countries, everywhere where labor costs make crewing vessels with it's own nationals prohibitive that have been doing this for decades. In the case of Japan, they were late comers and only came to be in the late 1970s when the All Japan Seamens Union finally caved into shipowners' demands. Additionally, Merchant Seaman travel on "Seamen's Papers" a class of Passport that allows transits and limited entry, and does not add to "foreigners working in Japan" visa numbers. I believe the enormous number of foreign workers; Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesians, etc who have entered that Japanese workforce, from factories to farms, are the ones that you should cite.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

OssanAmerica

My point in my post was that the Japanese Merchant Navy needs foreign crews, including the captains to run their ships. The hospitals could do with foreign nurses to boost the falling numbers. Home healthcare workers.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Julian Keane, a researcher at Osaka City University, born to an American father and Japanese mother, recalls bitter memories of his childhood. His schoolmates would often make remarks such as "Why can't you speak English?" or "It's a pity that even though you're hafu (biracial), you aren't talented in sports."

Really, if these are the worst insults this Julian Keane has ever faced, he should shut up. For the first question, I don't think it is an unreasonable assumption that someone with an American sounding name and with an American parent can't speak at least some English. To say this is impermissible is to deny people the ability to make initial assumptions based on what they see, which is both inexigible and unreasonable.

As for the second question, all he has to do is say "Yeah, I know." If anything, isn't this question kind of an tacit admission of racial inferiority?

Really, clear out and leave the floor to some real victims. In mixing your case with theirs, you are actually making people less sympathetic because when a random foreigner claims he's discriminated against, we'll remember this.

-22 ( +6 / -28 )

The company I used to work for closed down its profitable Business English training section the day before they'd have to make all the yearly-contracted staff permanent under Dear Leader Abe's magnificent Five Year Rule.

Every single Japanese member of staff was found work in other departments.

Every single non-Japanese was tossed out on the streets. They didn't even pay me until the end of my contract term, after close on 20 years's work.

They decided to close down a profit-making division rather than give those of us not of Pure Blood the same protection as the Japanese.

They want us to believe race played no part in this decision.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

@Bungle - I agree Japan is a great place to live!!

Everywhere can use some improvement (every country in the world) and I think this would help considering there will be more and more foreigners coming to Japan.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I was born hafu/mixed in the 70s in the US. I am half black and half white. I have experienced racism from both sides of my family. I have been discriminated against at school, at work, by neighbors by complete strangers in person and on the internet. My white family in Kentucky didn't even bother to tell us that my my grandmother (mom's) died and waited a couple months after they sold my mothers home. At school I had people tell me I was pretty smart for a black boy. At work I had management block me from moving up in the company and I was HR & Training management for a much larger company with thousands of employees under me before I came there. They still questioned my ideas even when they were working at other companies. Nothing about the abuse that people go through in Japan surprises me because there are people that still claim that reverse racism is not a thing Japan has always had a habit of glorifying European (Caucasian) and Western countries on TV, and in print either in the news or manga. Unless its sports or movie related you don't see Black or Mixed people.

The only difference between the East and West is that the US had slavery and wars for reasons that people were racists. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese have all fought against the United States. If the animosity had never been there to begin with I doubt it would be as bad as it is now. It's all about the brainwashing though on all sides either by the government or by people that were tricked into fighting and then that survived those wars taking the bad blood home.

The only way to remove racism from decision at work is to make every persons decision questionable the higher you go in the company there should be internal reviews on management by the employees. If it wasn't for skip level meetings I would never have moved up in the larger company because it held people accountable for listening to their employees. HR could not sweep issues under the rug when external HR lines were used to report incidents. This same thing should be applied to bullying in schools in Japan as well since people tend to look the other way more there than in the US. If something like that had existed for me as a kid in the 80s I would have had a completely different time at school.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

@zichi

I know what your point is. Every merchant navy of a developed nation needs foreign crews and that includes Masters, Chief Engineers and officers. It's a practice that Japan was late to start therefore not a good example of the point you're making. The foreign nurses, home healthcare workers etc working in Japan, all of which are more recent, are good examples.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

If no one sits next to me on a train.....great!!!! More room for me. The stares are still difficult but I just stare back.

Like you, Tokyo-Engr, I don't mind chopstick comments and no one has ever asked me if I wanted a fork.

I also see the silver lining on having the seat next to me free, but I do not dismiss it either. If someone is so mistrusting of a person who looks a bit different that they won't even sit next to them, how about extrapolating to other areas of life.

Would they offer you a job? Become your friend? Let you marry their children? And it isn't just the odd person - we wouldn't realise it otherwise. It is obvious when you are on a crowded train and only one seat is still vacant - the one next to you. The attitude must be widespread.

Most of the time we can laugh it off, but the more you think about it, the more disturbing it is.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

There will be racism or some form of poor attitudes towards others everywhere on earth. Most of the 'racism' here is not overt. I usually just ignore it. I find that trying my best to socially and culturally adapt, speak the language and contribute positively wins me many friends and life here is great for me.

It's not fun dwelling on victimhood. Despite the odd real racist here, most Japanese are great and so living here.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Despite the odd real racist here, most Japanese are great and so is living here.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Racism... where to begin? Of course it would be wonderful if it didn't exist, but it always has (everywhere) and it always will (everywhere). Maybe it's a matter of degree, and what can be done to reduce it.

There are many comments that I feel like responding to, but the ones that caught my eye most were from

@JJ Jetplane and @Derrick Smith

Why? Because there's "chocolate" in their veins. In my opinion, and I can't believe it's in dispute, people of color/colour have, now and for so long in the past, suffered incredible injustice and discrimination. Native English speaking Whiteys such as myself, and probably most other commenters on this site, have surely never experienced racism in its ugliest form. If someone doesn't want to sit next to you in the train, offers a fork etc., it hardly rates as a massive blow, does it. I'm more inclined to feel sorry for the ignorance of people who can't relate to me in a "normal" way.

There's certainly no easy solution, but I very much doubt that government regulations are the answer. It has to be about educating young kids better. My daughter is just finishing her 4th year at elementary school. Yes, she's been on the receiving end of some of those inevitable "soft racism" issues but,

as @Kazuaki Shimazaki rightly suggests,

it shouldn't be devastating. I basically tell my daughter to suck it up, because if she can't take that, she can't take anything. I do, however, have an issue with the Japanese education system. At a time when they should be educating the future generations (on various issues, including racial matters), my daughter learns kanji and maths... and ****- all else. There's loads of singing, drawing, assorted things that she also did at day care, but things haven't moved on a lot from that level (apart from kanji and maths). When I was her age we studied world history, geography, and all sorts of "mature" topics. Why can't Japan make a more serious effort to give kids a more rounded education?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Bullying is an endemic part of Japanese culture, and bullies will always find victims, whether at school, work or at home. If there were no foreign employees, the intimidation and abuse would continue unabated. The presence of foreign staff simply makes them low hanging fruit.

Very true. Sometimes I have stepped outside of myself and watched how other Japanese talk to foreigners. interesting observation indeed and I know Im not alone when it comes to being on the receiving end of their bullying.

I know we all got to play along to get along but, sometimes I check that because when I go abroad, Im woke and watch Japanese and how they act. So different and inviting. Im like why arent you that way in your own country?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Dr MaybeToday 07:25 pm JST

There's certainly no easy solution, but I very much doubt that government regulations are the answer.

It took government regulations to end segregation in the United States. Hasn't ended racism, but at least it forced society to reject racism as something acceptable.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I remember being asked in class many years ago if I liked natto. "Yes," I replied. "I like natto."

"You like natto," said one student, incredulously, "Futsu no gaijin ga natto kirai to omoimashita." (I thought normal gaijins didn't like natto."

"Futsu no gaijin? What on Earth is a "normal" gaijin?" I asked, equally incredulously.

I tried to explain. "I mean, here is Japan, a small group of islands and the rest of the planet is "gaikoku." So how on Earth could you have a "futsu" no gaijin?"

But it went right into the teeth of the gaijin/wareware nipponjin fixed idea.

Things got better after that with two popular TV programmes, "Naruhodo the World," and "Sekkai Marugoto How Much?" But since then, it has slipped back. With a bit of thought and planning, much could be done through the media. If someone had a mind to, that is.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

@OssanAmerica

It took government regulations to end segregation in the United States. Hasn't ended racism, but at least it forced society to reject racism as something acceptable.

As we both know, segregation doesn't exist here, so you're not not really making a point there.

What I'm saying is that the Japanese government making "bold" new proclamations counts for nothing. Look no further than the recent Abe government "Womenomics" farce. What has that achieved, in reality? Nothing.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Dr Maybe

Of course segregation does not exist in Japan. At least not officially anyway, as there are some who claim that access to some onsens are discriminatory. But segregation is instututionalized racism, and only the power of government can force changes upon something that is ingrained. So I do believe I an making a valid point.

The womenomics thing as silly as it seems has resulted in some changes, I personally know a few women in large J-banks and investment firms who have gotten promotions and overseas assignments that I would not have expected a decade ago. If you're looking for some massive change overnight, that isn't going to happen. But I do believe that each small step in the right direction should be supported, rather than dismissed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@OssanAmerica

There have been women in responsible positions since well before either of us arrived on these shores. The fact that you know a few means nothing, but yes, I take your point, even baby steps are to be applauded.

I still maintain that better education is the more promising way to make more meaningful, long-term change. And we're really talking long-term. Change happens at glacial pace here.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ Dr Maybe. Why can't Japan make a more serious effort to give kids a more rounded education?

Thank you for taking the time to reply with this thought provoking commentary. My observations and experience also show that the issue of racism comes down to building awareness through education -- in school, at home, work, and government leadership. There has been a lot of talk about inclusiveness in the English speaking world community, and it is starting to be discussed more in Japan. I always wonder how the concept of inclusiveness is translated and if the true meaning comes across.

It also seems that racism is more prevalent in societies that are hierarchical, as we have in Japan. The idea that the people on top have a right to manage the people on top fuels inequality. Only education can change this.

I grew up in a society that was part of the British Empire hierarchy and had racist tendencies after WWII but changed over the years because society developed and a new set of values. I would say to establish these values, one needs to appreciate the value of different opinions and not be shot down. In reply to your question, "Why can't Japan make a more serious effort to give kids a more rounded education? My answer is it is happening slowly now, but the faculty and parents need to be educated as well. Please don't wait for the system to change, but continue to raise awareness around those we meet in our daily lives and continually point out the issues and create awareness.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Things got better after that with two popular TV programmes, "Naruhodo the World," and "Sekkai Marugoto How Much?" But since then, it has slipped back. With a bit of thought and planning, much could be done through the media. If someone had a mind to, that is.

Ive always thought things in Japan and China, they dont really change, they just go forwards and then backwards, and thats just part of their culture. I think, "things got better" was just an illusion for you. There really isnt any catalyst for change, ancient cultures that rely on this foundation, if that change occurs, then it all falls apart, thus the extreme risk aversion we can see here. Even this recent immigration reform efforts...brings out the worst in some Japanese. Ive noticed however, that with more foreigners arriving in Japan, there are more complaints about discrimination, something that we have experienced for years, and the zealot defenders of the faith apologist have all but disappeared.......... Interesting.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Dr Maybe There's certainly no easy solution, but I very much doubt that government regulations are the answer. It has to be about educating young kids better. My daughter is just finishing her 4th year at elementary school. Yes, she's been on the receiving end of some of those inevitable "soft racism" issues but,

If you want the way kids are educated to change then that's going to have to come through government regulations and/or guidelines to schools, either at the provincial or national level.

I don't think anyone is talking about extreme speech policing but when the government introduces a law to curb hate speech without any penalties, the people who it affects the most are going to wonder how serious they really are about it.

As for corporate environments, Japan Inc. is going to take their signals from the government. Short of them speeding the process up by actually introducing stiff penalties, time will have to take care of the issue as the older nationalist citizens die out and the younger more liberal ones replace them. That's not to say all old people are nationalists and all young people are liberal, but they obviously slant in different directions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

time will have to take care of the issue as the older nationalist citizens die out and the younger more liberal ones replace them. That's not to say all old people are nationalists and all young people are liberal, but they obviously slant in different directions.

more wishful thinking friend. Some of the younger ones are far worse than the older generation, some have even hijacked what the older generation built or hoped for, a pacifist progressive Japan and replaced it with some weirdo neo fascism. Your rarely if ever see an oyaji over 70 driving a green bus with loud speakers. And who do you think the people in their 40s 50s and 60s learned it from? Its been my experience that some of the most kind and beautiful people in Japan are in their 80s and 90s; those who experienced the war.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@TheLongTermer more wishful thinking friend. Some of the younger ones are far worse than the older generation, some have even hijacked what the older generation built or hoped for, a pacifist progressive Japan and replaced it with some weirdo neo fascism. Your rarely if ever see an oyaji over 70 driving a green bus with loud speakers. And who do you think the people in their 40s 50s and 60s learned it from? Its been my experience that some of the most kind and beautiful people in Japan are in their 80s and 90s; those who experienced the war.

Wow, I remember reading an article around 2009 saying that most youth were liberal but just looked at up again and you're right. I'm pretty stumped by this:

While 49% of voters aged 60 and up said they support Abe, according to a Nikkei survey conducted last month, the figure among citizens in their 20s reached 70%. In the early years of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party government, from 2012 to 2016, there was no significant difference between the two age groups, but since 2017 the gap has widened to more than 15 percentage points.

I'm not saying Abe is one way or the other, but they are certainly the more conservative major party. Thanks for the clearer insight.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I've visited Japan and I'm going back again later this year. I love Japan. Yeah I've experienced some racism as a single white guy from America but I just laugh it off and and ignore it. Seriously, not a big deal from a tourism perspective for me cause "most Japanese" I've encountered are so very respectful. Just not sure I would want to work in Japan.

Could you imagine a Japan where the Prime Minister spoke the same was as does Donald Trump

Gave me a chuckle. :) Someone always finds a way to criticize President Trump.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

To all the Japanese who treat me and others as an outsider because we are not Japanese Nationals. As I can only speak for myself on these points; I pay federal tax, resident tax, corporate tax, car tax, land tax, health insurance, home owners insurance, car insurance, life insurance, just to name a few, have paid into the pension system for over 31 years, so far. This is just a few things that I and many other non-native Japanese do live in Japan. So before you judge people based in where they come from, remember that we ARE paying into YOUR system and living in Japan no different than you are.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

So before you judge people based in where they come from, remember that we ARE paying into YOUR system and living in Japan no different than you are.

But, but, but, how is everyone supposed to actually know any of this? You still look like a foreigner right?

I know, how about making a mark of some type that all folks like you, have to wear on their clothes everyday so we Japanese can identify who you are and not discriminate based on that?

(Anyone, and I mean anyone that can't read the sarcasm there has a problem!)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yubaru, I get your point. I guess I'm trying to say that people shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

For the Japanese folks that can read all of this. Thanks for at least taking the time to do so. If you sitting there thinking "Well that's how it is, what are we suppose to do?"

Don't think of this as demonizing or an attack on anything Japan or Japanese. It's about being better.

What was the nice phrase shared with the Chinese when Japan sent supplies during the Corona virus outbreak?

"Lands apart, shared sky."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Bertie

With a bit of thought and planning, much could be done through the media.

With a bit of thought and planning, much is being done through the media. In the wrong direction.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Harassment in Japan is not just limited to race, it is directed towards anyone who is not seen as Japanese enough.

I did some work for a global pharmaceutical company in Tokyo around a decade ago and one of the senior managers was a Brazilian of Japanese ancestry. I used to see some of the junior Japanese staff tick him off at meetings saying he cannot understand things because he is not Japanese. And this was a multinational ....

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I don't think it is an unreasonable assumption that someone with an American sounding name and with an American parent can't speak at least some English. 

Indeed, and since he is 30 now, that means his childhood experiences in school would be from 24 to 16 years previous.

I have two haafu sons, one 19, one 16. Neither has reported any hassles although if I am around, people tend to assume they can speak English. When I say in Japanese, "We are all Japanese" or I chime in with a comment in Japanese, people switch to Japanese.

I spent 10 years in Britain as an invisible gaijin. Instead of asking you whether you like natto, Brits, ask "Do you really like bitter?" (Bitter is British beer served at room temperature.) I've even been complimented on my ability to speak English, possibly because some Brits (and Japanese) think I am eastern European. I've also had Brits try to pick fights with me in pubs when they hear my Chicago accent.

Further, there were times when I was told very explicitly that my allegedly American ideas were not suited to British culture.

When I see negative comments about Japan here, I always wonder how many of those making such comments have any experience living as a gaijin in a country other than Japan. Even in the US, I've been hassled because of my strong Chicago area accent.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Too many Japanese care too much for non-Japanese people, good way , bad way. maybe. But don't worry,

racism in Japan is not as ugly and direct as in Europe.

Those Japanese particularly living in the city like Tokyo are cold, unfriendly, indifferent enough even towards Japanese themselves, your neighbors, etc as if they always hate you. Go to rural Japan before decide getting out of the country if your financial conditions allow for it.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Those Japanese particularly living in the city like Tokyo are cold

That's my experience for big cities everywhere. If someone starts chatting to me on the Underground or a bus in London, it is creepy. If they do it in Sheffield, it is perfectly natural.

It's also age related. Elderly people in Tokyo will strike up a conversation with me at a bus stop. Young people don't.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@ulysses Harassment in Japan is not just limited to race, it is directed towards anyone who is not seen as Japanese enough.

I've seen this type of harassment as well, but it is more to do with a bully trying to control people to fit their views. I've asked many people what Japanese values (in your words not Japanese enough) are and they can't provide an answer. Not having a specific set of values for society just helps fuel harassment.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japanese criticize other Japanese for being un-Japanese. A really biting criticism in Japanese is 日本人らしくない - you're not acting like a (real) Japanese.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

There was a before/after difference with the TV programmes I mentioned, Naruhodo the World and Sekai Marugoto How Much.

Before, there was little or no information about foreign countries on TV. There was Kanetaka Kaoru's excellent Sunday morning travel programme, but that was about it. No one had a clue about anywhere except "America," and they knew precious little about that. "What's the capital of the U.S.A?" "Los (Los Angeles)!" "New York!" Stereotyped "gaijin" (with big, false noses and blonde wigs) appeared regularly on comedy programmes.

Then, when these programmes came out, they were immensely popular and overnight Japanese people became clued in about the outside world. Well, clued in in the sense of having more data, especially that of the more sensational variety.

Yes, it has slipped back to some degree, but not to the stage it was before these programmes. It created an interest in other countries and many people went abroad as a result, and what was encouraging is that they went alone or in small groups, not following the robot holding the flag.

Putting out this kind of programme, perhaps on the lines of the excellent QI, would be a good way to give Japanese people more information on the people and lives of non-Japanese. The more people understand, the less likely they are to fall into the racial stereotype and fixed ideas that underlie racial harrassment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Being born to an Okinawan mother and Caucasian father, I am your typical "hafu" here in Okinawa. My father insisted that we were to be raised speaking Japanese and English. With that being said, I pull more Caucasian than I do Okinawan, but am fluent in both languages. Occasionally I'll run into a Japanese person that says. "oh you speak great Japanese." I'll smile and say, "thank you, so do you." I'm not saying that there is not any racism here in Japan, but I think a lot of people are just too sensitive sometimes. You will come across rotten apples anywhere you go. Just my 2 yen..............

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Well it's all subjective really isn't it.

I've been living in Japan just over 2 and a half years now. I ride the bus 4 times a day and can't think if a single time that someone has avoided sitting next to me. I actually wish they wouldn't sit next to me so I could have my precious space but oh well what can you do. I've had people fall asleep on my shoulder numerous times, old people striking up conversation with me etc.

As for the chopsticks thing and the staring, who cares? There really are more important things to think about or be bothered about than someone pointing out your 'amazing chopstick" skills or having a good look at you.

Yes there is discrimination in Japan but no more than anywhere else. I'm from England and have encountered plenty more bigotted nasty people there than in Japan. I'm not defending Japan in any way though. It has its good days and bad days, nice people, and moronic simpleton assholes who want to bring you down just like anywhere else. The key is to rise above that.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

1.  speak little Japanese, read no Japanese. 

Do not generalize and try to sweep under the rug what are real issues.

I have lived and worked happily here for close to 2 decades.

Did I meet racists, yes.

Did I meet nice people, yes.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Occasionally I'll run into a Japanese person that says. "oh you speak great Japanese." I'll smile and say, "thank you, so do you."

This made me laugh, my daughter gets the same thing

3 ( +3 / -0 )

 I get your point. I guess I'm trying to say that people shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

I totally agree! I get it and go through it daily, and I have given up all hope of it making a difference beyond those that know me!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Further, there were times when I was told very explicitly that my allegedly American ideas were not suited to British culture.

He is right. Democracy and individual freedom are not suited to English culture. Their culture is about nationalism and monarchy.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I really wants to see this ways or laws really coming to true happening. After working for more than 24 years with a kansai person, I do not think the thoughts of these news will work because these people do not have a open mind and open nature. Laws can change only if the people really practice the true actions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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