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Mr James

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Mr James, the American mascot of McDonald's Japan, is a character invented by advertising giant Dentsu for McDonald's Japan's new burger line - the "Nippon All Stars." The campaign, running through Nov 5, promotes four burgers available only in Japan. On his blog on the McDonald's Japan website, Mr James is described as a 43-year-old Japanophile from Ohio. According to a TIME magazine story, Mr James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens' Association of Japan, for being "white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese" which the group feels plays to Japan's xenophobic tendencies. TIME reports that Debido has officially protested the Mr James campaign with a letter to McDonald's Corp headquarters in Illinois.

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Mr. James is taking a job as a manager at McD's. Look for him to be dead in 5 years either from overwork or eating the food.

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Just like most Japanese speak mangled English? The two languages are so different it's really hard to make a proper transition unless you really focus and try to.

Haha, Mr. James is a white and nerdy US guy. That's awesome. So, Japan is xenophobic of foreigners and has been for a while but I think it has and is becoming better. Isn't it good for them to be amused by a white, nerdy guy from the US? Or are they thinking that this will display all Americans as white and nerdy... this is really reminding me of a Weird Al song.

Furthermore, I hate McDonalds! Ahhh! If the Japanese should fear anything, it's McDonalds and other American fast food chains!

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James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan, for being “white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese” which the group feels plays to Japan’s xenophobic tendencies.

Arudou Debito, naturalized Japanese citizen. Have lived in Japan for over 20 years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=JP&hl=ja&v=IZNfZMZ8fg8&feature=related

Mr. James. Loves Japan so much that he’s accompanying her daughter who is currently studying in Japan.

http://mcdonalds.dtmp.jp/blog/2009/08/post.html

I don't know about you guys but Mr. James linguistic ability is at least couple notches above Debito.

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I had a look at the TIME story. This is what Debito said: If this were in a different country, and we had a Japanese in a kimono and wooden sandals saying ‘Me like Mcflied lice, please eato,’ we’d have the anti-defamation league speaking out and saying this is disparaging to Asians or Japanese."

I know Debito means well, but sometimes I think he does more harm than good with his crusades. Personally, I see nothing offensive about Mr James. He's just an advertising gimmick, not unlike Colonel Sanders for KFC.

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I've lived here for 15 years. When I got here, I was surprised and pleased to find, coming from a nation of porkers, that the Japanese were on the whole, pretty slim and healthy-looking.

Fast-forward to now, and I see uncomfortably overweight people - often children - sweating, mouthbreathing and waddling their way through life every single day. A bit of research shows an astronomomic increase in type II diabetes over the same timescale.

What's to blame? What's significantly changed in that time to cause such a massive demographic shift?

Answer: the prevalence and fashionability of fast-food craphouses like these. Put something unthreatening, cutesy, or likely to flatter the sense of superiority of the locals on TV, and watch the punters flock in, cramming the grease and slurry into their credulous faces.

This Mr. James is a very sinister character. Look at me, I'm harmless, I'm trying (albeit hopelessly) to assimilate into your oh-so unique culture. Make me feel welcome, eat what I do. Teach your children to eat what I do. Eat it. Go on, eat it. Eat. Eat.

That said, it's better than that bleeding clown. I bloody hate clowns.

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That red shirt and necktie look ridiculous.

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Is 'James' his first name or his last??

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Is 'James' his first name or his last??

I don't believe it is specified. Debito doesn't believe there are people in the world with the last name of "James" so Harry James (bandleader) and Jesse James (bank robber) are just figments of some deranged imagination.

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Brainiac;

I know Debito means well

I'm not sure he really does mean well, or at least it's secondary to his own self-aggrandizement, but regardless I'm sad that TIME has given him another soapbox to spout from.

Anyway, if I passed by Mr. James on the street I'd just assume that he was an English teacher.

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I only ask because I thought I'd been winning the battle against "Mr. (First Name)" vs. "Mr. (Last Name)" or "First Name (no Mr.)" ... Maybe Dentsu intentionally picked a name that could swing either way...??

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I retract part of my previous statement after reading the TIME article - it's reasonably dismissive over the supposed uproar over Mr. James. But I still think he looks like an English teacher.

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Mr James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman >of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan, >for being “white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese” which the group >feels plays to Japan’s xenophobic tendencies.

That's exactly what Hollywood and American Television has been doing with Japanese and other asian characters on the screen since the 1930s. So what's the big deal?

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What's the name of that fat white dude who reps for Subway sandwiches?

Big non-issue.

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Good thing the micro soft geek has been reinvented. Mac guy would be too cool for japan.

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mr james is actually cooler than half the gaijin guys in japan

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I strongly feel this so called "Mr. James" represents a new icon of the time-honored stoic symbol of freedom of speech, i.e. "The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, to communicate ideas and opinions without government intervention." Charlton Heston would be proud of this young man.

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My problem isn't with using foreigners in advertising. One issue is that I didn't expect it from McDonalds. They have one clown already, isn't that enough??

Another issue I have is the katakana use. Has anyone seen his blog? That thing is damn near impossible to read! Even though it frustrates me, I understand the use of katakana for subtitles used for gaijin on TV, but to type in 90% katakana takes MORE WORK than typing in kanji or even all hiragana, so why would anyone do it?? It just makes it hard to read and IMO furthers the idea that foreigners speak a Japanese different from native Japanese, no matter how good it may be.

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white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese

Arudou Debito's Profile

White: Check

Dorky: Check

Mangled Japanese: I don't know.

I think Debito is just pissed he wasn't chosen to represent McDonalds.

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The First Amendment doesn't apply in Japan.

Hollywood has come a long way since the 1930's or that infamous Breakfast at Tiffany's scene.. they can't put images of characters like that in movies without backlash. There was no backlash against Jared (The subway guy) because he wasn't speaking pigin english and not looking like a tool.. well, maybe a little bit, but for the most part it was a guy going on and on about how healthy those sandwiches were.. not also about how much he loves america and americans.

Don't know if we should get angry or not, as this may be an attempt of being cute by McDonalds Japan but personally I think the commercials are stupid

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Im pretty sure Arudo Debito is actually Japanese now after getting naturalised.

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Good to see Altria raise the level of discussion to a new level. With regard to Mr. James, I don't think we should read too much into it, it is just another bit of marketing fluff turned out by those clowns down at Dentsu. Sooner or later it will be all over.

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Another marketing gimmick from MickeyD's... what a shocker! As for him speaking broken Japanese, don't native Tokyo residents consider native Okinawans to be speaking broken Japanese? I don't think any of us gaijin really feel we have the language down so well that we don't sound strange to native speakers. This is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. "Mr. James" is not offending me by seeming barely literate in Japanese.

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There's nothing wrong with Mr James - dorky white Japanophiles with funny Japanese are inherently amusing.

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I have listened to debito's speech in fluent Japanese at a conference some years ago. Believe me, he is indeed very fluent and speculation to the contrary is expected from the likes of nigelboy.

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I met Debito and his Japanese sucks. All relative really.

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First time I saw this on a Makku paper tray I nearly ralphed my quarter -pounder to be honest.At least Bobby won't feel alone in the 'foreigners to be lampooned' market,I suppose.

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I think the goose in the ad is annoying too but I'm not going to send a letter of complaint to Chicago about it.

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This "Mr. James" is annoying at best, and when I hear him speak very simple Japanese on the tele it makes me want to reach out and sink that damned boat hes on. Seriously, hopefully either McD's will fire that terrible advertising company, or someone will brutally maul this guy so hell go home and I dont have to hear his annoying voice anymore. Its bad enough they have gaijin speaking terrible Japanese in most movies/shows, but to throw this guy into the mix... where he cant even say one WORD properly... thats a bit much.

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Thankfully, they are bringing back the Chicken Tatsuta for a few weeks. I haven't had one of those for like 10 years.

Oddly, Mr. James appears to be blogging positively about non-McDonald's food on a McDonald's website. I'm not sure what the idea is with that. http://mcdonalds.dtmp.jp/blog/index.html.

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And none of us have ever laughed at "Little Britain" or Dave Chappelle's sketches on race. I suspect the outcry about this is because it's a little too close to the bone for a certain percentage of us gaijin. That and how dare the Japanese make fun of us!!!!!!!!!!! racism, racism, prejudice, someone call the Human rights commission, Asians are making fun of white guys!!

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The big question is - Will he become a vegetarian like Geoffrey Giuliano, a former Ronald McDonald clown ? The former Ronald McDonald clown says that, after years of "deceiving thousands of innocent, trusting children," he has thrown in his rubber nose and striped socks to promote the joys of vegetarianism. Not only did Giuliano spend time as a member of what he calls "the McDonalds' corporate juggernaut," but also says he is ashamed to admit to a stint posing as "the Marvelous Magical Burger King," which involved performing a children's magic show celebrating the glories of meat-eating for McDonalds'-rival Burger King Corp.

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Remember one of the burger chains ad campaign "Spot the nerd?" I thought this was a flash back to this. LOL

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Debito has a record of campaigning against both globalization (questioned by police as a troublemaker at the G8) and the US (renounced his citizenship).

It's little wonder he's going after the biggest US multinational of them all.

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“white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese” which the group feels plays to Japan’s xenophobic tendencies.

This is how Japan sees foreigners, white, dumb and stupid. All foreigners on Japanese TV are portrayed like this.

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Debito needs to get a life, trouble only finds those who are looking for it, and it always seems to find him! He needs to go live in North Korea and protest there for a while!

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This Mr. James is a very sinister character.

Right on Ivan! This guy is way too thin to represent the very icon of Mcsuper size grease gluttony and the obese herds of cow chomping clowns.

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It's little wonder he's going after the biggest US multinational of them all.

That's Exxon Mobil. According to Forbes, McDonald's is ranked 107th, although there are probably 6 or 7 purely domestic companies ahead of them on the list.

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every white guy i see around tokyo looks like Mr. James ... he he he. he reminds me of my former colleague: "Mr. Tim" (japanese pronunciation: "misutaa cheemu)... he he he. i see no problem with this caricature. my only greivance is McDeez didn't include his female counterpart: "Miss Jane" (read: misu jeinu"). he he he ... you've all seen her type, i'm sure. wink

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I've been wondering what this character was about, and why he was a "nippon all-star". Thanks JT!

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onewrld - go on, what does Miss Jane look like?

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Ivan, she looks like Mr. James but without the whatsis.

This doesn't trouble metrosexuals.

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"Mr. James" is creepy. He looks like an accountant, or a kids english teacher in Japan. Why don't MacDonalds bring back that red-haried , big footed clown they used to use?

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How can a foreigner living here lower himself so much in doing such an ad? Just disgraceful with really bad taste, makes me wonder how those burgers will taste.

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Foxie: He is an actor, he plays the role

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I don't understand all these people on JT ragging on Arudo Debito. He's honest and his website is informative, and he's trying to improve the lot of foreigners living in Japan by actually, you know, doing stuff. Rather than just whinging on a forum.

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The guy is getting paid to do nothing. He will be famous for years and probably be on TV shows for the next year. Leave him alone, at least he is working and isn't on the dole.

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As a dorky white guy who speaks mangled Japanese, I'm offended by Mr Debito's comments.

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Complaining against this is...well...for people who prefers to have things the way they are. Complimentary phrases on chopsticks skills, foreigners viewed as clowns, ad infinitum...

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Anyone who's paid any attention to the Japan Times letters pages should know that Arudou's input isn't worth the time of day. Self-aggrandizer indeed.

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Mr. James describes himself as a 43-year-old Japanophile born in Ohio with a penchant for travel, who, when particularly excited, generously treats people he doesn't even know. (That seems to be a plug for the $1,000 cash prizes for 1,000 people who submit photos of Mr. James or people imitating Mr. James.)

Oh man, I'm gonna dress up my cat like Mr. James.

An animal. Dressed like Mr. James. They love that stuff!

$1000, here I come!

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Anyone seriously opposed to this short-lived ad campaign is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

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Its bad enough that I am mistaken for American all the time, now they will expect me to speak badly pronounced broken Japanese and to only be able to read and write katakana and eat Burgers. Oh wait, that stereotype was already there. harmless as it may seem, promoting stereotypes doesn't do us any good. couldn't they have a cute, intelligent and fluent character? something at all positive?

This isn't the first time Japan has been questioned over its questionable racial stereotyping in media. Its not the first or the last, but it doesn't excuse it.

If I meet Mr. James, he meets my boot with his kisser at high velocity. what an annoying twerp.

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Mr James seems like he's doing his job. Everbody is talking about him and giving an American successfull company, more success.

Nothing is better than going to McDonald's after work and having a real US company burger and delicious freedom fries. James is a hit. McDonalds reign supreme, yet again!

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If McDs served a whale burger Debito would be praising Mr James. The guy just pumps out the spin for whomever is paying him.

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I'd be more worried that a 43 year old looks like that... well at least he's not the typical fatty 43 year old but still this guy looks like he gave up a while ago. I mean I hang [shop] around Akiba but I sure as hell don't go "CHO DORKO" and play the role. I mean really, who throws a shoe?

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Mr. James isn't in Japan for the green tea and onsens.

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I remember before I came to Japan I was really amazed and excited about how creative people here are.... but now seeing this uncreative adds and commercials really disappoints me....

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Ha ha ha, good job !!

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the guy in the photo doesn't look like the real Mr James to me, he's an imposter !

@bgaudry damn right

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Mr. James has just reached his peak in life and congratulations to him. His stereotypical character does not offend me. I am nothing like him but I can see how those who are similar to the character may take offense to the commercials.

Imagine having the truth of who you are (clearly not the charisma man you imagined) rammed home to you on national television in Japan after your great escape from your home country. Thats gotta hurt!

It seems that quite a few of those Mr. Jamesish foreigners are posting here today.

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This type of thing doesn't bother me at all because Japan has always been about jumping on the American bandwagon. Back home we always have these TV shows that show white men as stupid fumbling incompetent dorky people. Think of "Everyone loves Raymond" or worse "King of Queens." It seems like every time I turned on the tube there was a commercial that shows an idiotic husband submit to his wife's "superior" common sense. Japan wants to do it too. There is nothing to see here...move along.

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I want to show my support for Mr James, but I don't want to eat one of those godawful tamago burgers. What's a man to do?

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Mr. James should wear a hat sideways, get a gold grill, sag his pants, walk with a pimp limp, listen to rap music and speak ebonics. Now that would be an appealing campaign for Japan's youth and would raise the bar for us foreigners living in Japan.

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One thing I ntoiced the image of Mc Donald's here in Japan is a bit different from thwe usual Mc Donald's , they don't use Ronald Mc Donald that much....

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I admire Mr. Debtos activism, although I dont always agree with him. However, allowing this little piece of ridiculousness to offend him is a little beneath him. Dont be so sensitive Arudo, its completely harmless. I also think it insults the intelligence of the Japanese people to suggest that this will somehow play to their xenophobic tendencies. How will this contribute to a fear of foreigners (which is what xenophobia really is)? I`m sure most will see it for what it really is, simply a campaign using a dorky white guy to sell bad-tasting chicken, and nothing more.

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I am sure Mr James is much cheaper to hire than Ebi-chan. Debito's actions are called for, I don't see anyone else saying anything... Maybe this will teach McD's to be sensitive. Much like what Mendom did with the Rasta monkey.

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At least Mr. James attempts to learn and speak Japanese. I know many people who have lived here for years and don't know jack.

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a 43-year-old Japanophile

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They should get the softbank guy! He is smart, attractive and cool. The problem is he would cut into the confidence of the Japanese psychy. That is why they give a lesser role in the campaign ads. They put these types "dorky" foreign characters on TV to make Japanese folks feel superior. That's why this stereotypes are perpetuated on all the TV shows. Don't get me start on how they have to over exaggerate every action they do to stay on TV.

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@ TuneinTokyo

Mr. James should wear a hat sideways, get a gold grill, sag his pants, walk with a pimp limp, listen to rap music and speak ebonics.

It seems like the Japanese aren't the only people stereotyping here.

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Only in Japan could a complete dork become a famous mascot. The campaign only runs til November fourth, so he will be back at his job in Taco Bell by the end of November.

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How this one character breeds xenophia or stereotypes is beyond me. Average Japanese are exposed to a variety of foreigners on TV from Hollywood stars and fashion models to more approachable types. If you are upset with one dorky character, toss the company that's selling.

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Personally, I have no major problem with Mr. James, per se. I'm arrogant enough to not care one bit what Japanese people's stereotype of foreigners is. But, what confuses me is why would Dentsu/McDonald's pick a 43 year-old American to endorse products available only in Japan? Makes no logical sense to me. It's like having Dice K as the spokesperson for Taco Bell in the U.S.

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On one of his videos he is very stupidly practicing Japanese from a phrasebook. Then he gets to a tongue twister, the one about the customer next to me ..., he stumbles through it couple of times then lets it rip perfectly at full speed.

There's a little message there.

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@biglittleman

a little stereotyping never hurt anyone. what's wrong with having a little fun? it seems many are taking this way too seriously. lighten up!

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A lot of this hullabaloo could have been avoided if they'd made him a cartoon character, like half the other big-name "mascots" in Japan. Cartoon characters are allowed to get away with anything without anyone taking it seriously, using a real person only confuses consumers.

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@bobbafett

It seems that quite a few of those Mr. Jamesish foreigners are posting here today.

I think you hit the nail on the head.

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Fair play to him. He may be a dork to us, but he is a "cool, hip foreigner" to the Japanese, and judging by the pic, has his fair share of female groupies, too. It's only a matter of time before all the cool kids in Harajuku start dressing like him, too.

I don't know how long James will be in Japan on this promo, but he will no doubt get the rock-star treatment all the way. Do I detect a little envy from some of the JT regulars?!?

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43-year-old Japanophile from Ohio

Creeped me out right there.

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has his fair share of female groupies, too

Hmmm. I wonder if MACkin on the groupies are in his contract.

"Yo. Back to ma crib f'r a 'fish sandwidch', if y'know what I mean..."

He IS from Ohio, y'know. Ohio. "Ohayo! How do you like your eggs Mc(MACkin)Muffin?"

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My bad.

I wonder if MACkin on the groupies IS in his contract.

Peasout.

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If Debito every starts getting coverage by the Japanese media, THAT will cause backlash more harmful to us foreigners than anything the Japansese can throw our way. CEASE AND DECIST DEBITO, before you ruin it for the rest of us.

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I don't get al this hate mail towards Debito. Why shouldn't the guy be allowed to air his opinions and take actions where he deems appropriate, just because they may differ from your own? Its a free society, and he once in a while makes a good point. Beware of burying your collective head in the sand, just because you find this society refreshing in the beginning. In time, you might start to thank a guy like Debito for his diligence.

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hey, thats not the same guy from the pictures. Thats just some out of worl ex nova teacher in a in a plaid shirt and glasses making sen yen an hour. And whatever happened to the hamburgler and grimace? now those were random nonsensical characters that the japanese could easily relate to!

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thepro: "mr james is actually cooler than half the gaijin guys in japan"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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Sounds to me that some of you are taking this a little too personally. Stop playing the "race card." This image is about being a dork/nerd/loser... it doesn't have anything to do with race (being white) because this guys is a nerd whether he is in Japan, USA, UK, or Australia.

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he he he ... before "re-man shokku" Mr. James was a system's engineer.

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timetimeagain: being white is a race? i thought we were all a part of the human race (you?).

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wtf? what happened to Ronald (or his Japanese "twin", Donald) McDonald?

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Mr James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan, for being “white, dorky and speaking mangled Japanese” which the group feels plays to Japan’s xenophobic tendencies.

Debito (not his real name) is also a white dork (why would anyone want to be a naturalized "citizen" of Japan?). But he's pretty much spot on with his appraisal of "Mr. James."

Why is this necessary anyway, Ronald McDonald couldn't get his visa renewed?

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that Debido doesn't waste his time

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1 why does Times care? 2 Why does Debito care? 3 I PROTEST!! Where is Ronald!!!!! James is a Dork (according to Debito) not a Clown!
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isthistheend -- agree. I'll agree that sometimes Debito is a little too melodramatic and can be his own worst enemy. But, at least he has the guts and conviction of his causes to actually do something about them, rather than just sit on his computer and throw cheap shots at folks on blogs.

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I have to laugh at the ex-pats who are critical of Debito for two reasons. No 1, they are utterly naive that they are being made the butt of a joke (enjoy being called "James" for the next 3-4 months), No.2 They criticize one of the few people out there who can and do things to improve the situation of ex-pats in Japan.

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Pathetic campaign, but I see that the the short termers here give the seal of approval, which is to be expected.

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hoserfella, Yes Debito does agreat job. Naturally the short termers, the english teachers, don't care as they come here to be charisma man.

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TV commercials are full of caricatures of one thing or another. Now there is a caricature of a foreigner, so we've made it! Japanese caricature themselves unmercifully in commercials. I've even seen a commercial that caricatures Buddha. Nobody complained. That is just the TV way. Get on UTUBE and search for "shwa-chan", and see that California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did in TV commercials in Japan before he became what he is. Rumor has it that as part of his contract, these commercials were forbidden from ever being shown in the US. You'll see why. Nobody complained about that. Cheers for UTUBE!

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Rumor has it that as part of his contract, these commercials were forbidden from ever being shown in the US.

It's not a rumour, it was in his contract.

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RBS employees in Tokyo are a joke.

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For the curious:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZnXWf8oUPQ

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hoserfella at 07:03 AM JST - 28th August No.2 They criticize one of the few people out there who can and do things to improve the situation of ex-pats in Japan.

David Aldwinckle can't do anything for anyone in Japan. He's considered a weirdo and annoyance by both the Japanese government and most ex-pats, who don't need his "help" anyway.

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I have to laugh at the ex-pats who are critical of Debito for two reasons. No 1, they are utterly naive that they are being made the butt of a joke (enjoy being called "James" for the next 3-4 months),

Sorry hoserfella. If people (co-workers/colleagues in japan) are going to call someone "Mr. James," then obviously that person fits the mold of "white, dorky metabo" speaking mangled Japanese.

Maybe that's why Debito is protesting so hard.

They criticize one of the few people out there who can and do things to improve the situation of ex-pats in Japan.

Speak for yourself, hoserfella.

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If there's an "I love Mr James" group on Facebook, I want to join it.

We can beat the haters! This is a cruel character attack on Mr James.

What's the poor man's crime? Having a great time traveling around Japan absorbing Japanese culture? He may not have perfect Japanese but he's doing his best to learn. And to all the people criticizing his appearance - I bet you're no George Clooney or Rolf Harris yourself.

Leave Mr James alone!!!

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I for one do not want a tool like Debito representing me.

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Mr James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan

Just curious to know how many members he represents through his organization.

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Just curious to know how many members he represents through his organization.

Details are sketchy at best:

http://www.francajapan.org/index.php/Main_Page

Doesn't seem to list how many members but does include a place to send money to.

Meeting minutes from last year show that about 12 people met in Shibuya while 16 or so gathered in Sendai. The mailing list is said to be sent to about 45 people.

Of the 2 Million+ foreigners in Japan, not a whole big percentage of the foreign population here.

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what about the nerdy Japanese guy in HEROES... havent seen any Japanese people offended by it!

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what about the nerdy Japanese guy in HEROES

"Hometown boy makes it big in Hollywood!" The locals are likely to be offended by that.

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Debito, while annoying at times, is doing more than anyone else to fight the crap that we face here. I'm glad someone is doing it.Maybe someday we might actually have equal rights and not deal with such crap as Mr. James. If we ever get there, Debito certainly deserves credit for it.

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Mr. James is disgusting. The kind of "happy face" harmless gaijin that the Japanese love to drag out and chuckle at behind our backs.

The fact is that he is being used as a shill for Bic Macs and the big meat farming factory industry worldwide---the source of more emmissions to the atmosphere damaging the ozone layer than all of the automobilies and coal mines in the world combined.

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"David Aldwinckle can't do anything for anyone in Japan. He's considered a weirdo and annoyance by both the Japanese government and most ex-pats, who don't need his "help" anyway."

The above statement is 100% correct!

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There really should be a note somewhere "The 45 member strong" Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan.

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But lets be honest: Foreigners bring a lot of the trouble on themselves. We normal foreigners who get along here quite nicely have to live in a mess created by a small number of vocal and extremely ill-manered and brutish foreigners who preceded us here, and never should have tried living in a foreign country. Rather than blame themselves for the mess they created, it is much easier to blame all these Japanese who live in Japan and speak Japanese and don't do things the way we do back home.

And one last thing. All those places Aldwincke shows having the "Japanese Only" signs? I really appreciate them because it says "everyone here has poo-poo for brains", and I can avoid going there. The signs are very convenient.

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Mr James should be put in charge of the 45 member strong Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association.

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"David Aldwinckle can't do anything for anyone in Japan. He's considered a weirdo and annoyance by both the Japanese government and most ex-pats, who don't need his "help" anyway."

I further concur that the above statement matches everything that I have observed in my years in Japan. I consider Aldwinckle to be more of an embarrassement for foreigners than Mr. James. He refers to himself as the japanese "Rosa Parks" - if you can imagine that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, gamera99, a few months ago he published an article in the Japan Times saying that "gaijin" are the "nggrs" (his exact word printed in the Japan Times, not my word) of Japan. Preposterous. Yes, I think he is a bit of a loon. However, as the story goes, when he was first refused entrance at that spa in Hokkaido, the event that triggered all this, his son was refused entrance, but they would let in his more Japanese-looking daughter. I would be pissed off by that too, and I'm sure he is works for the sake of the future of his kids. I can completely sympathize with that. But the means he has chosen to pursue this are not, in my opinion, constructive. But to be honest, I wouldn't know what to do that is constructive. You know, everyones a critic.

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As an American very passionate about the environment, and horrified by Supersize Me, I guess my biggest beef is that "Mr James" too closely resembles the eco-warrior Representative Henry Waxman, who is a personal hero of mine.

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As soon as McDonald's in the States finds out Ardwinckle's Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan represents 45 people out of millions of foreigners living here, his protest letter will find its way into the circular file.

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But lets be honest: Foreigners bring a lot of the trouble on themselves. We normal foreigners who get along here quite nicely have to live in a mess created by a small number of vocal and extremely ill-manered and brutish foreigners who preceded us here, and never should have tried living in a foreign country. Rather than blame themselves for the mess they created, it is much easier to blame all these Japanese who live in Japan and speak Japanese and don't do things the way we do back home

As long as were being honest... You obviously do not own your own home, or even worse, business in Japan. The rules are much different. Even Japanese have a hard time fitting in to a new neighborhood, school, etc. We gaiijin are generally looked upon as an entertainer, much like non threatening clowns, transient and ethereal, with no possible threat to the locals, much like Mr James, and just like Mr James, here for a limited time only. Sorry if I offend... Mr Debito makes a good point, and obviously is trying to help out, however, he is not a lawyer and anyone following his advice should take it with a grain of salt. Put yourself in his shoes and think about how you would feel if your children were discriminated against.

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We gaiijin are generally looked upon as an entertainer, much like non threatening clowns, transient and ethereal, with no possible threat to the locals, much like Mr James

Anecdotal side note - the actor who plays "Mr James" is in fact a very talented & experienced entertainer who has lived in Japan for many years. He is a respected professional magician and a former Ringling Brother's Clown.

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Look around you, how many foreign faces do you see living and assimilating in Japan, who actually own property? It must be a tiny percent if you exclude the ethnic Korean population. You could never receive a loan from a bank, or be taken seriously by a bank, or any government organization in Japan

Never say never, guest. I own property. I have received loans from my bank, in the past they've even come asking me to take out a loan. I receive a lot of my work from government organisations. Maybe as you say it's the job you have that counts, but that applies to Japanese as well as non-Japanese. How many Japanese whose only income is from baito are welcomed with open arms by the banks?

Moderator: Back on topic please. The subject is Mr James and McDonald's.

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Is 'James' his first name or his last??

Last. His first name is Jim.

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what about the nerdy Japanese guy in HEROES... havent seen any Japanese people offended by it!

Actually there are two nerdy j-guys. A nerdy nice guy and his bumbling friend who's sarariman who's into online live sex shows. And yes, my Japanese friend who lives in the U.S. is offended by it, mostly because Mr. Bumbling Sarariman (Ando) speaks pidgen Engrish as well as halting Japanese.

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"His first name is Jim."

Jim James. Oh,my...

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Wow, what a hunk! I bet he's got lotsa hair on that chest!

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I like Mr James, he is one very sexy man. Good choice for McDonalds. Women will frequnt it because of this hero.

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Mr. Jim James : The thinking woman's sex symbol.

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"His first name is Jim." Jim James. Oh,my...

I'm going to call him LeBron.

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I agree entirely that the character is repugnant. They DO show him as a representation and reinforcement of a stereotype. They DO show him speaking broken katakoto nihongo, which is also offensive.

Arudou Debito, like him or not, is doing the right thing again.

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"One thing I ntoiced the image of Mc Donald's here in Japan is a bit different from thwe usual Mc Donald's , they don't use Ronald Mc Donald that much...."

Noypika: In point of fact, they don't use him at all. They use DONALD McDonald. It is so weird that you would not know that.

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Hey Shinjuku, you don't know Jack. Debito does not have a son. He has two daughters and one was allowed in and another was not. Korean and Chinese citizens were allowed in, he was not even though he was a Japanese citizen. Some of us who were here when it happened were moved by it. It was a family place, not a Roppongi strip joint. Go ahead and be apathetic about it, but Debito is entitled to an opinion on this, and he is spot on this time. The guy has paid his dues and walked the walk.

You know, Martin Luther King got a big boost from silly stupid little things like being forced to sit in the back of a bus or not sitting at a lunch counter. This company is bigger than Woolworth's and it has to put due care into its portrayals and images and policies. Period. This ain't no hick onsen, people. It is the largest service company in the world. It is bigger than Nagatacho.

I got a huge chuckle out of this.--- "what about the nerdy Japanese guy in HEROES... havent seen any Japanese people offended by it!" --- First of all, that nerdy Japanese guy was an actor before he was in junior high. He has an IQ of about 180?? He chose the role and is obviously shown in some episodes (post to prenuclear attack time travel) as having perfect English. Why not? The actor is Japanese, but has lived in the US almost his whole life. The OTHER Japanese in the show are not even Japanese. A Chinese American sidekick, and Japanese-American George Takei (Mr. SULU LOL) as his father, etc. So clearly, so much more care went into that character than Mr. James. There is no comparison.

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i think the route of this problem links to the japanese social/psychological inability to connect with people that do not look like themselves. don't get me wrong, this is a disease of the human race, but it seems to me that next to nothing is done in japan to combat this tendency, which is strongly at odds with the way people live in the 21st century: if every foreign face you ever see is either a beautiful, strong, super confident movie star, or a geeky advertising caricature then neither of these does anything to improve your ability to see people that do not look like you as just normal people just like yourself. the average japanese has a grand total of ZERO contact with westerners, and if the only representations of them that they see are brad pitt or mr james then how are they supposed to learn how to treat white westerners "naturally"? it's funny that programs like JET and jnr high alts have intentions to teach japanese kids how to interact with westerners, but due to the existing and overriding stereotypes, they quite frequently end up reinforcing the very stereotypes that they might be hoped to break

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Mr James is an abomination. He represents the epitomy of all Japanese stereotypes of gaijin roled into one. That the Big Mac meat factory farming giant could come up with this racist insult is not surprising at all. Why? Because, like it or not, Mr James will be very popular and will increase the sales of Big Macs.

I will register my protest with the manager of my local neighborhood's McDonald's and then draw a magic marker mustache and $ and yen signs on his dorky shirt.

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Mr. James arrives in Japan and the LDP is promptly turfed out.

Coincidence?

Think again.

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it's funny that programs like JET and jnr high alts have intentions to teach japanese kids how to interact with westerners, but due to the existing and overriding stereotypes, they quite frequently end up reinforcing the very stereotypes that they might be hoped to break

Griff- 100% agreement. I have always seen JET as being a ground level Mr. James campaign- confirming to Japanese kids that foreigners are just that foreigners, so very different to Japanese and welcome for a few years at most. I find it weird that JET does not keep talented AETs on longer.

Great point Griff.

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I think you are all jealous of Mr. James because he is popular with women. All the women want a handshake with him. Me too.

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nipponreddog:

Mr James is an abomination. He represents the epitomy[sic] of all Japanese stereotypes of gaijin roled[sic] into one.

Mr James reminds me of a lot of JT posters. That character is an accurate portrayal of the typical foreigner one can see lurking all over Japan. He even looks a little like Debito Arudou, "the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan". I think it is this uncanny resemblance that has upset and embarassed these wannabe crusaders.

bgaudry:

programs like JET... have intentions to teach japanese kids how to interact with westerners,but due to the existing and overriding stereotypes, they quite frequently end up reinforcing the very stereotypes that they might be hoped to break

Well, no. There is no discrepancy between goal and result. The "intention" of JET is twofold: 1) give many foreigners a chance to see Japan in a superficial way 2) give many Japanese a chance to see foreigners in a superficial way

And that is exactly what happens, so it is a success, and this "success" is not accidental.

Mr James might as well be in the JET program teaching kiddies how to say Big Mac.

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Debito does not have a son. He has two daughters and one was allowed in and another was not. Korean and Chinese citizens were allowed in, he was not even though he was a Japanese citizen. Some of us who were here when it happened were moved by it. It was a family place, not a Roppongi strip joint.

We have two boys and one definitely looks non-Japanese. I would scream in their faces until they closed the place or the cops arrived if we were turned away.

Moderator: Back on topic please. The subject is Mr James and McDonald's.

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hoserfella

They criticize one of the few people out there who can and do things to improve the situation of ex-pats in Japan.

gamera99, jeffrey

David Aldwinckle can't do anything for anyone in Japan. He's considered a weirdo and annoyance by both the Japanese government and most ex-pats, who don't need his "help" anyway.

I concur with Jeffrey too. For some reason, there is a small group of loudmouths going around extolling Aldwinckle as the "Rosa Parks of Japan", but he never has done a darn thing for anyone here. The vast majority of long-termers in Japan regard him with disdain at best.

But Mr James is another story! He has done more for foreigners in Japan in a few short weeks than Aldwinckle has done over the years with his useless self-aggrandizing.

Apparently, McD's realized that Mr James is the best sort of clown, and Aldwinckle is miffed.

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I think you are all jealous of Mr. James because he is popular with women. All the women want a handshake with him. Me too.

Ooooh, yeah, LoveUSA. I think you - and all straight women here - want more than a "firm handshake" from Mr. Jim James... Wink-wink...

Jim James has now replaced Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp as the most sought after foreign man amongst the Japanese ladies... Damn him! Why don't they bring back Donald MacDonald, the Hamburgler and Grimace?

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Read Debito's Japan Times article on this. Much bigger fish to fry. For example, last night on TV- two "comedians" in black-face, another with buck teeth and eyes narrowed (to be "Chinese") and another dressed as an "Arab." Much more offensive than Mr. James and his geeky, Japan otaku persona.

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Do you know in which MdDonald's "restaurant" can we meet with this cute character? He is very fashionable, especially his passionate red shirt.

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I know what my Halloween costume's gonna be this year!

I can pick up the gear at Uniqlo - just need a few tamago double macs to fill it out.

TAMARAN DESU!!!!!

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Am I the only one who finds Mr James lovable and attractive? I am tired of everybody dissing him. He has a lovely affectionate smile, nice sense of fashion, sexy glasses and looks kind and good hearted. And his uniform is very cute. I like the coordination of colors and the warm way he treats the customers. We need more people like Mr James in our lives - good-hearted, smiling, encouraging and well-dressed with nice manners.

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LoveUSA- If Mr.James meets your standard for an attractive guy, it would explain why dating foreign chicks in Japan is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel..

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"We need more people like Mr James in our lives - good-hearted, smiling, encouraging and well-dressed with nice manners." This comment is a joke and a double standard. You can't live here for long without being dramatically pushed up against the hard reality of space, expenses, and total disregard of your "equality" or "acceptability", normal things. How about expecting the natives to be "good-hearted, smiling, encouraging and well-dressed with nice manners?" Because it can't be done. Too many miserable people get in the way and try to push you aside and ignore you. Its a survival of the fittest, pure and simple.

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This campaign is a new low for the foreign community in Japan. The victim mentality of Debi-chan and his dweeb crew is pathetic and divisive.

The people are transferred here to work in cool jobs and have a natural assertiveness and popularity don't give a toss about this kind of thing, because they don't define themselves according to Japanese media stereotypes.

They just get on with life, enjoying going out with mates, dating girls, drinking, clubbing, skiing, sports, culture and all the other trimmings of a rich liberal democracy. Their Japanese friends see them as who they are, confident, accomplished people worthy of respect here as they would be in their own country. And they see the expat losers with the same kind of instinctive equanimity, not harshly but fairly.

The irony of Debi-chan et al. has always been that while they constantly complain of generalisations made by the Japanese about foreigners, their responses always frame the Japanese in generalised terms, related to supposed ignorance, limited horizons and discriminatory attitudes.

It's not so much about whether the portrayal of Mr. James is fair or not, but more about why any accomplished, secure person should care.

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tomtokyo- My definition of an accomplished, secure person is someone who doesn't roll over.

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Japanese people will always make fun of foreigners. I realize that it is hard to accept, but everyone who looks foreign over here will always be viewed as comical by many people. I find the broken Japanese Mr. James uses terrible and offensive and can't believe the put that through, however it's a pretty truthful portrayal for the most part. Couldn't it also be said that people who speak Japanese take even more pride in the fact that they can communicate and break past these stereotypes? This ad hasn't affected anything in my opinion. Annoying, so I say remove it, but not terrible. Wow.. we're nerds.. big deal

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Tomtokyo, nice work if you can get it (and be helped by connections from back home and live the high life you profess, but you ain't my role model or necessarily worthy of respect just because you can live the high life here. "Expat losers?" Is that how you want to address the 99% rest of us who came here for reasons besides the economy if you could fathom that, which I doubt. The problem with Mr. James is that its promoting BIG MAC and its doing so in an outdated way. Black Sambo anyone? Happy Bob, the character that made fun of Japanese in the dailies 15 years ago till his one liners became down right, RIGHT ON, and too directly painfully true, and was henceforth withdrawn forever more. Personally, I didn't get offended by James because I to feel secure with who I am, what I do with my life, and what values I try to uphold in whatever culture, country I reside. But to have this character in 2009, is simply VERY OUTDATED, and both the ad company who created it (Japanese domestic company) AND Big Mac should know better. as in period. Still it doesn't surprise me when I see many very still derogatory, blatant commercials on the trains with people of non-white expressions. Did you see the Coca-Cola commericial recently with the African UN rep. (big, fat, and none too intelligent looking mind you) drinking the juice and then making an exaggerated expression, then laughing stupidly when he finally gets the Japanese UN rep (dressed impeccably in grey designer suit). Its very marginal whether this should go unaccounted for also, I believe. Hello Debito, you've seen that one on the Yamanote line, haven't you?

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tomtokyo: good post!

The irony of Debi-chan et al. has always been that while they constantly complain of generalisations made by the Japanese about foreigners, their responses always frame the Japanese in generalised terms...

Yet another irony of the little Debito Arudou gang is that they loudly proclaim that Arudou somehow stands for (or represents) resident foreigners in Japan, but --alas-- Debito Arudou is not a resident foreigner, he's a Japanese!! He does not speak for 99% of foreigners in Japan. He could speak for resident naturalized citizens, I guess, but I doubt that group wants to be represented by him, either.

I'm rather glad he went on his Mr James campaign trail, because it shows more clearly than ever what a phony clown he is.

In great contrast, Mr James is a real clown selling real burgers and attracting a real following. Still, let's give credit where credit is due. Debito Arudou, and his tiny groupie following of wannabe crusaders, are good for laughs, even when they themselves don't seem to get the joke.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

again, so sad to see the number of Japanophiles who don't mind compromising their dignity for the acceptance of the locals

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According to a TIME magazine story, Mr James has upset non-Japanese, among them Arudo Debito, the chairman of the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens’ Association of Japan

so the naturalized Japanese citizen is a "non-Japanese" ? The article is factually incorrect.

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Perhaps there is a difference between "Japanese" and "Japanese citizen." In fact, I would wager there is not one Japanese (ethnically speaking) person in the entire country who would regard Debido as being "Japanese." In the West, when we say American, Australian, British or whatever, I think we are referring to nationality, rather than a racial concept, but in countries like Japan and China, I believe that Japanese" and "Chinese" do connote race, more so than citizenship. In other words, Debido is a Japanese citizen but he is not Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm rather glad he went on his Mr James campaign trail, because it shows more clearly than ever what a phony clown he is.

That's a bit harsh. Exactly what is a phony clown anyway? I think he is basically helpful and making life better for us hairy barbarians.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

helloklitty:

Exactly what is a phony clown anyway?

This is a very perceptive question. Mr James is a clown in the sense that he is a stand-in for Ronald the Clown.

Debito Arudou is a phony because he is not even a Gaijin but he pretends to represent Gaijin. He is, however, a Clown nonetheless and many people mistakenly believe he is a foreigner.

I think he is basically helpful and making life better for us hairy barbarians.

I think your statement is vague to the point of meaninglessness.

If you are trying to say that Debito Arudou has been a help to resident foreigners, why not specify exactly how he has helped what group of foreigners? Tenured professors that meet with him over coffee to discuss frivolous lawsuits that accomplish nothing?

If so, then yes, I agree he has helped them learn how to make some extra money by giving "inspirational" lectures (this great advice is on his website). Not much to sink one's teeth into...

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Razor you mean racism? If nationality is based on race then you mean racism is the standard to decide Japanese nationality. The Japanese constitution outlaws this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cicada You think Debito's efforts in getting foreigners access to housing that had previously denied doesn't help those people. I think you are spouting opinion without knowing your subject, except for a quick cursory glance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Razor's point about Debito's passport is correct. Just as many Japanese are paper drivers, Debito is a paper Japanese. I can't think of a better argument against naturalization in Japan.

And I hate to write this, but I think it's true: if Debito weren't white, he'd be taken more seriously by more people. Whites in Japan enjoy far too high a level of material and financial comfort in Japan to be seen as a vulnerable minority under attack. And this Mr. James advertisement is, I think, a part of the universal and basically accepted tendency of non-whites to poke fun at the mannerisms and speech patterns of whites. The ad has more in common with the black comedians of Def Comedy Jam than with any expression of Japanese xenophobia and arrogance.

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masswipe:

The ad has more in common with the black comedians of Def Comedy Jam than with any expression of Japanese xenophobia and arrogance.

Yes, this is the source of the portrayal as developed by the ad agency.

Mr. James advertisement is, I think, a part of the universal and basically accepted tendency of non-whites to poke fun at the mannerisms and speech patterns of whites.

Yes, but as several posters pointed out, the Mr James character is not perceived by most people as a negative one. Common sense would dictate that the "mascot" selling a product is not designed to induce negative feelings. So Debito Arudou has a tough sell on that point.

spudman:

You think Debito's efforts in getting foreigners access to housing that had previously denied doesn't help those people. I think you are spouting opinion without knowing your subject, except for a quick cursory glance.

You are correct that I do not know everything there is to know about Debito Arudou and his activities, for I am definitely not a fan. I'm familiar, from his website, with a series of lawsuits he got involved with, which accomplished absolutely nothing for foreigners, and actually tended to hurt those who cooperated with him.

And despite your post, I am no wiser now. "Those people" -- exactly to whom are you referring? Are you suggesting that Arudou has made a difference to many people in the area of housing? You don't provide substantiation, so I somehow doubt that escapade had any more significance than his other ones, which have benefitted no one but himself.

The ill feeling he arouses amongst both Japanese and foreigners certainly does nothing to improve anyone's image of foreigners.

And of course the fact is that Debito Arudou is not a foreigner. He is Japanese, an elite tenured professor enjoying all sorts of benefits that ordinary foreigners will never enjoy, including a lot of free time to launch campaigns against McDonalds. But if he helped a few people rent the house they wanted, good for him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also, since McDs have been knocking out Big Macs for 200yen, "Debito" has been very quiet on this issue. Maybe they bought his silence?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most western foreigners in japan are short termers ie they stay less than 3 years and probably are employed just as english teachers. So naturally they are not concerned with their rights/dignity etc. This is not surprising since mostly they come to japan for cash and girls. Naturally they are against or indifferent to Debito Arudo. Just reading this thread illustrates the point.

Debito is fighting for the long termer who may well be a permanent resident, have a japanese wife and kids and a proper job/career. The short termer and the long termer are very different animals in their perspective.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well I have to say that this Mac "campaign" is just pathetic and insulting. But I also have to say how amused I have been reading the comments of the many japanophiles and japanapologists on this thread. The short termer can see no wrong.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am a long termer and am completely indifferent to Mr. James.

What little I have seen of Mr. James comes across as an exuberant F.O.B. newbie. As much as he would deny it, Debito was just like him in his day, I am sure.

Sure, those people can be annoying to us lifers but eventually they either settle down or leave, to be replaced by the next batch. Just as Mr. James will.

Debito, on the other hand, will not...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok...thats the typical image in Japan about foreigners. Foreigners = white dorky American Japanophiles. Me too i am often mistaken for an "Amerikajin" and japanese people come to talk to me by saying "Nyuuyooku cool dane", even though i have never been there.

So...why not? After all, for Japan, everything weird and strange is trendy. Personally, i find Mr. James as a very annoying guy, even though many English teachers here actually look like him (sorry guys).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wmd:

Debito is fighting for the long termer who may well be a permanent resident, have a japanese wife and kids and a proper job/career.

No, Debito is not fighting for anyone, short or long term. I'm a long termer and I have yet to meet any other long termer who thinks otherwise. Only on the Internet I read such comments, which are most likely produced by Debito's little gang of supporters.

And to reiterate, Debito is not himself a long termer. He is a Japanese, a tenured professor whose "research" is constituted by these phony crusades of his. It is nothing more than self-promotion. He goes all out with publicity-seeking, so that even if we did not want to know about him and his foolish exploits, we have to read about them from time to time.

Now, in this case, he chose to take on Mr James. Possibly he is truly offended that McDonald's did not use him as a model instead. But complaining about the "racism" of Mr James is about as silly and ludicrous as one can get.

bgaudry:

Also, since McDs have been knocking out Big Macs for 200yen, "Debito" has been very quiet on this issue. Maybe they bought his silence?

Wouldn't be surprising. Or maybe Debito has realized that he is no match for Mr James.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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