Japan Today

Gene Wheeler comments

Posted in: Multiracial Miss Japan hopes to change homeland's thinking on identity See in context

Yubaru - I've got a Masters in English. Trust me, I understand the definition of "Japanophile." I've been accused in the past on this site for not being critical enough of Japan. Someone recently accused me of living in the "Brigadoon" part of Japan. I see it's bad points, but I also see all of its good ones. Choosing to focus on the positive doesn't make me blind to the negative.

To be succinct, the one area where I am in agreement with @tina is that I'm not necessarily certain that Japan needs to be more like any other country. Are there problems here? Yes, but a bunch of foreigners being pedants and criticizing Japan and the Japanese way of doing things in the comment section of Japan Today isn't helping. Japan will change where and when and as much as it needs to - pointing out every little thing that we all personally find annoying about living here may be cathartic on a personal level, but it only reinforces the stereotype that "the Japanese" and "Japanophiles" hold about foreigners; namely that we want Japan to be just like wherever it is we came from.

-2 ( +3 / -4 )

Posted in: Multiracial Miss Japan hopes to change homeland's thinking on identity See in context

Not sure that I want to so this, given how people are reacting to each other on here, but I can somewhat understand where @tina is coming from - somewhat.

I think that there is definitely a tendency amongst the gaijin posters on here and (in MY EXPERIENCE in the real world) to make somewhat blanket statements about how Japan needs to change and become more like country A,B or C. As a permanent resident here there are definitely things that I'd like to see change (I'd like to be able to vote in elections, for example, since I pay taxes and am here permanently, among other things. Having said that, I won't hold my breath waiting for the opportunity).

I think it is pretty spectacular that this young lady has become Miss Japan - and it says a lot about just how far this extremely conservative country has come. Having said that, the negative reactions to her having been chosen are inexcusable - especially if they are based on her "race" - which is ultimately JAPANESE!!

Japan has (just like most other countries in the world), always had people that they've been prejudiced against - Ainu, Burakumin, Zainichi and yes, gaijin and haafu. But as I posted earlier - it's not like the U.S. (or France, or Germany, etc..) has exactly solved it's problems with race either. People who live in glass houses and all that. I think that - and yes this is a generalization - but I think that the Japanese attitudes towards accepting outsiders is slowly evolving - obviously not fast enough for some, based on the posts here, and too fast for others. All change involves a certain amount of friction, and I think that is what is happening on here. But that friction is ultimately the grist that is needed to polish something up and create something new. Hopefully the friction around this issue will do just that and create some positive, meaningful dialogue.

@Tina made some valid (if somewhat vague) points. How about if instead of jumping down her throat about being wrong you try engaging with her. From what I read she doesn't come across as a xenophobic far right wing nationalist - she'd probably have a conversation with you about this, given the chance.

I am a Japanophile, so feel free to excoriate me for loving the country I chose to spend the rest of my life in. I recognize the problems surrounding haafu - I'm going to be dealing with them for the rest of my life, but HOPEFULLY my kids will be more readily accepted than this young lady was.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Multiracial Miss Japan hopes to change homeland's thinking on identity See in context

jpn_guy & strangerland both make valid points. My Japanese wife refers to our son (with pride) as a haafu. I asked her just the other day if she didn't think it was strange or insulting and she looked at me like I was crazy and responded that she thought it was cool.

As someone who's been teaching here for twenty years, I have concerns about how he'll be treated in school - most of the Brazilian, Peruvian and Filipino kids I've taught over the years tend to be known first and foremost for their foreignness, even if they were born here, and I've seen how that has stressed some of them out.

I have a friend who insists on referring to his children as daburu, and while I understand his reasoning, it doesn't seem like a better solution than calling people haafu. I don't think looking at talento as being representative of how haafu are treated is realistic, but I'm hopeful that the acceptance they are shown bodes well for the future in regards to how haafu are treated in society at large.

I think that if there is a ray of hope in regards to this whole issue its the younger generations. When I first moved here I got stared at, petted(?), and was generally made to feel like an outsider pretty much daily. Now the kids I run into don't think anything about the fact that there is a gaijin in town, even if their parents and grandparents do act surprised to see me running around town on occasion.

The issue of race is still a difficult and complicated one even in hetrogeneous nations like the U.S., but the situation is markedly better than it was 50 years ago. Unfortunately I think the issue of race and multiculturalism is going to need a similarly long gestation period here in Japan.

Finally, I think we gaijin parents of haafu/daburu children need to be realistic - the article stated that our kids make up a whopping 3% or so of the population. With those sort of numbers I think that whichever side of the issue you come down on, a fair amount of "gaman" is going to be needed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: Youth gets 5-9 years in prison for killing Mie schoolgirl See in context

I don't know how I feel about this. Sentences in the states are far too harsh for most crimes, but this one is insultingly low. If I thought that a longer sentence would distract others from committing the same sort of crime, I'd be all for it.

Sorry but a 19 year old knows better and shouldn't be treated like a little kid. As an educator, a parent, and a permanent resident of Japan, I'd like to see justice be not only more realistic, but also more reflective of society's norms. I don't know anyone, foreign or native Japanese who considers this justice.

And the above commenter is correct - the police/courts go nuts about relatively inconsequential things like traffic crimes and small amounts of pot, but they seem at a loss when something like this happens. Fushigii...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Small step by Tokyo's Shibuya Ward could be giant leap for LGBT equality See in context

I find this whole issue rather bizarre given how comfortable the Japanese media in particular is with gay, transgendered and transsexual talento, etc., and given the long history of acceptance of homosexuality dating back hundreds of years. One would think that if any country in this part of the world WOULDN'T have an issue with same sex marriage, it would be Japan, and yet, in a country run by old conservative men, people who ought to already have equal rights are forced to remain in the closet. Bizarre.

Here's hoping that this bill passes and that it becomes the metaphorical snowball rolling downhill that causes an avalanche of acceptance and understanding - and more importantly, equal rights.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Posted in: Ex-adviser to Abe praises apartheid as means of immigration control See in context

@Gary Raynor. Two things #1 the fact that you know I live in Shizuoka is a bit creepy, since I didn't mention it in my post - but I'm pleased to know that you recognize that Shizuoka is in fact, Brigadoon. #2 Sono is an ex-advisor to Abe - not a current one. The fact that she thinks we should all live on an island away from the rest of Japan can hardly be considered a proposal. I think it is closer to the rantings of a crazy old lady.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Ex-adviser to Abe praises apartheid as means of immigration control See in context

I find most people the comments posted here at least as disturbing as the content of the article. Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that most of the commenters seem to biased against the Japanese? Don't paint the entire populace with the same brush you reserve for the politicians. I've been here twenty years, own a house, have a Japanese wife, and the vast majority of the people I've met these past two decades have been wonderful. Are there some (mostly older) xenophobic bigots out there? Of course there are, but if any of you can't honestly say the same thing about your country, please don't single out the Japanese for your ire.

I'm originally from the U.S., and there are still a tremendous amount of racial problems there. And segregation. And what amounts economic apartheid. I'm not defending the asshat Sono - with attitudes like that she should in no way be allowed an advisory role in any administration - but I also realize that one doesn't need to scratch the political surface in my country of origin very deeply to find an equal number of outrageous and offensive attitudes. Temper your arguments people and focus them on the appropriate targets, not the citizenry as a whole.

Unless of course you happen to hail from a country with absolutely no racial issues, issues with inequality - or immigration problems, in which case - carry on.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Posted in: Japanese high school girls on mobiles 7 hours a day: survey See in context

In other news, people breathe air. Was anyone really surprised by this?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan See in context

What's with all the hating on Japan on this site? Maybe nobody cares about because it doesn't matter to the people here. Maybe nobody cares about it because after a long history of the petulant kingdom shooting missiles over Japan and kidnapping it citizens, an IT hack of SONY over a movie that, from the looks of things would've bombed anyway just doesn't seem all that important.

Being a critical thinker and being a critical ass are two different things, people.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Posted in: Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' strikes a nerve in Japan See in context

I really wish Japan would just face up to the past - so that everyone can forget about it. Admit there were comfort women and pay restitution to however many of them may still be alive. Bite the bullet and deal with the rape of Nanking, and then move on.

Japan was an extremely aggressive player in the events leading up to and during WWII; admit it already so that everyone in the region can just move on.

I've been living in Japan for the past 20 years - and I also happen to have been an Asian History major in college. I love this country and I love living here, but theJapanese governments refusal to deal with the past is causing so many problems in the present that it hardly seems worth the effort of denying it at this point.

It also doesn't really jive with the whole Japanese tradition of accepting responsibility for ones mistakes. There are territorial issues now over some islands that really aren't all that important, but which keep being placed in a larger historical context so they are given all this deep historical meaning. It's pointless and I suspect, ultimately going to ve disadvantageous for Japan.

China is a political, and I am afraid, military behemoth in Asia that needs to be dealt with in a practical manner, and continually having the past dredged up isn't doing anything positive for Japan. One final point to consider is that WWII ended in 1945 - no one in power in Japan had anything to do with what happened during the war. I know that memories are long in this part of the world, by 70 years is a long time to hold a grudge.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Obesity costs more than $8 bil in lost U.S. productivity See in context

I never realized just how large a percentage of the U.S. population was obese until I moved to Japan twenty years ago. I think most people there just accept it as a matter of course that the older you get, the heavier you get. I'm in the worst shape of my life right now, and I'm still in much better shape than most of my peers back in the states. People there really do need to readjust their perception as to what is healthy and what isn't. Criticizing models for being too thin strikes me as more than a bit ... strange given how heavy most people are. Get down to a healthy weight yourself, then you can complain about people who are too thin.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer See in context

Wow, who knew that there were so many perfectly fluent speakers of Japanese and Mandarin/Cantonese on this site, that you all feel so free to jam on somebody who, even though his language skills are far from perfect, made the effort to learn. More than that, how many of you critics would be able or willing to spend thirty minutes speaking a language that you weren't fluent in speaking to a bunch of college students?

People like you are the reason that getting my students to be comfortable in their own skin and to embrace the fact that they don't need to sound like a native speaker in order to speak English is so difficult. You don't need to be fluent in every facet of a language in order to speak it - some have a better grasp of grammar than others, some have particularly good ears and can learn to emulate native speakers fairly easily. Anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to become fluent enough to be understood for thirty minutes deserves respect.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Shatner, 'Star Trek' director to meet about role See in context

I loved him as Denny Crane - so sad when they cancelled Boston Legal. He and James Spader were such a wonderfully smarmy combo.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Is it time for Japan to get over trying to connect your personality and blood type? See in context

Man I hate it when someone uses logic and reason to totally disprove a completely ridiculous theory. ;)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Magazine survey picks Japan’s 10 best places to live in See in context

I'll happily stay in Kakegawa (Shizuoka Ken). Nice weather year round, friendly people - neither too big nor too small. After twenty years here I can't imagine being happy anywhere else. Which is to say that everyone's tastes are different. This almost seems like such a personal matter or opinion that it couldn't realistically be made into a top ten list.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan to slash corporate tax rate to below 30% See in context

"Company taxes, including a rate of 35.6% in Tokyo, are the second-highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) behind the United States,..."

Yeah, this will work - because everyone knows that U.S. corporations are well-known for conscientiously paying their taxes... NOT.

I have to agree with the above poster that this policy makes little to no sense, especially when they have raised the sales tax, which is well-known to be a regressive tax that hurts the poorer segments of the population disproportionately, while simultaneously encouraging people to have more children - despite the fact that there is a dearth of preschools already. If the government is hurting for money as much as they seem to be, why disregard a substantial source of revenue like this? There is a logic to government thinking that makes absolutely no sense to anyone outside of government - this would be a classic example of that.

The government needs to start doing things that don't contradict the policies they are pushing. For example; if you want people to have more children, make sure that there are affordable preschools to send the children to. If you want to increase revenues through taxation - don't disregard corporate taxes and then try to increase revenues on the backs of the populace. I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes - but it does annoy me that they now want to decrease the burden on the companies to do the same.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Chiba city says no more children on daycare waiting list See in context

Now if they could just do this in Kakegawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hulu selling Japan business to Nippon TV See in context

It"a me - how did you do that? I have a ps3 also and couldn't get hulu to work at all. I would gladly pay for hulu US if I could get it to work here. Wowow isn't bad these days, by the way. Yes, their shows are fairly old, but at least they are in English. I've been in Japan for almost twenty years, so old show or not, I'll take what I can get. I don't dislike Japanese TV, per se, but given the option to watch TV from the states, US TV wins hands down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: NHK chief vows impartiality after wartime sex slavery remarks See in context

As an educator in this country, and as a parent whose child is going to be educated here, I find it extremely disturbing that the Education Ministry and political leaders are so willing to revise history to suit their needs, and so unwilling to accept the facts of the past, particularly when there is an overwhelming amount of empirical, historical evidence refuting their claims. This guy ought to be removed from his post at NHK, plain and simple. I am really tired of politicians and other people in power here doing ridiculous things, upsetting people here and in other Asian countries, and then trying to slough off their stupidity/actions as being those of an individual, as opposed to the actions of someone who clearly is a part of the government.

I've lived here for almost 20 years, and I've seen this farce repeated more times than i can count. It's past time that someone in government here makes an apology for the past - one that cannot be retracted or refuted by future politicians. I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen, however. Just like politicians in the States, politicians here seem tone deaf in the extreme.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Who owns Mt Fuji? The answer will probably surprise (and confuse) you See in context

Fuji san - beautiful mountain to look at, but REALLY boring to climb. After the 5th station the scenery doesn't really change from volcanic rock as far as the eye can see - that and the ankles of whomever is climbing in front of you. That being said, I'm still thinking about climbing it again this summer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: U.S. vows to defend Japan against China See in context

I really wish that all of the politicians in Japan, China and Korea would think a hell of a lot more before they say and do things. I'm an American who has been living in Japan for almost twenty years and I obviously love it here and love the country and it's people - with the exception of the politicians. Every time any politician of any affiliation visits Yasukuni, all I can do is cringe and wait for the inevitable (and legitimate) uproar from China and South Korea.

Fighting over uninhibited rocks in the middle of nowhere seems pointless to me. Japan not facing up to what they did prior to and during the Second World War seems equally ridiculous. However, holding the current generation of politicians responsible for what happened 70 years ago seems pointless to me. My grandfather was, by all accounts, a real son of a bitch. By the logic being applied in this situation, I should be held accountable for his actions - which hardly seems fair to me since I never knew the man. I would hate to have the generations to come be expected to atone for the sins being committed by the current crop of politicians - and that includes the politicians in the states.

It seems to me that until the leaders in all three countries ratchet things back a few notches and forget about the past and try to move forward in a positive direction that this game of insulting and being insulted by the words and actions of each other is only going to continue. I studied Asian history as an undergrad and I understand just how long the history and memories of the people in this part of the world can be, as well as just how important a sense of honor is, but that memory doesn't seem to be doing these countries any good these days.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

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