Good comments. It's hard for outsiders to understand what is going on when they just come by for a brief holiday, or to teach for a few years. Hence the giant "they are all so kind and polite aren't they" perception gap. Even among native English speakers who also speak Japanese you have a lot of "cultural ambassador" useful idiots who get by selling a rosier picture to people in the first group, or people who arrived already high enough in the corporate ladder that they don't have to deal with the really nasty shit directly.
Tokyo is a sick place. Love the food options, love the public transport (when it isn't rush hour), but god damn there is just so much exploitation and hopelessness. To experience it directly is really enraging. To know you are being screwed but can't really do much but plan an exit. To watch somebody you care for become really ill and seriously depressed from overwork.
Funny story. The J government funded three years of my graduate education at a J university. As a Japanese speaking ex monbusho scholar I'm now hoped to be somebody who will help contribute to relations between my country and Japan due to my better (and supposedly positive) understanding. Woops! Maybe if I'd left directly after graduation and hadn't really seen the inside of job-hunting and corporate slavery that might have worked. Unfortunately I have, so now I've been "radicalized" to feel quite the opposite.
Recent experience kind of encapsulates this weird divide between what a certain type of Japanese person wants me to think, and what I actually end up thinking. I got to know a guy whose dad is a rich old fellow that likes a nice whisky. Invites me to the old bar in Tokyo Imperial Hotel. He gets a kick out of talking to a Japanese speaking foreigner who can say politely nice things about his country, I get to show off a bit as you do, and drink some nice single malt for free. But it doesn't take long before, once they think you are "on their side" all the anti China, and Korea stuff comes out. The "comfort women" were all prostitutes. Nanjing massacre was a lie. Etc. etc. Japan was fighting a good fight for East Asian freedom. They know in the back of their heads that my partner is Chinese, but can't actually believe that I could both have a good understanding of Japan and Japanese, and at the same time not actually be a shin-nichi-ha, on "their side". Because they know Japan is great, and they know I know Japan, hence they know that I know Japan is great.... It's a funny experience getting fed the cool-aid when you are not just years into indifference but even a few years deep into bitterness and anger. Oh well. Was some great whisky.
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The establishment have had things their way for so long it's allowed them to develop a kind of absolute arrogance and complacency in their treatment of the people, Japanese natives and immigrants.
When your major companies flagrantly disregard the labor laws of the country what actually makes Japan even "developed"? If people can't expect safe and decent treatment according to the rule of law then how can you expect them to be comfortable in making the sacrifices that immigration demands? If you have an education there are other places more welcoming that pay better and treat you nicer without constantly reminding you of your outsider status or inferior position.
I would be interested to know for example, what percentage of smart Chinese graduates who learned Japanese and took jobs in Tokyo stay around longer than five years. I remember reading an article that talked about the poor retention rate and the various differences and problems in corporate Japan that was starting to actually discourage exchange students from even bothering (they were hearing about the conditions from their friends who got jobs ahead of them, and were leaving for home). The comments in Japanese below were along the lines of "Mostly lazy Korean's I'd bet. If you don't want to work hard go home!" That summed it up for me. Problems? There are no problems. Japan is fine and foreigners are just lazy.
Well, good luck with that. Only a few more months before my partner and I are gone.
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