As a translator of journalistic Japanese many years ago, I once brashly announced, being conversant with both Korean and Chinese, that I would henceforth follow the general East Asian practice of surname first. That, by the way, is taken for granted by scholars, to whose group I also belong. I was sternly told that such would be very much contrary to policy...Mr. Kono is not, contrary to the snarky comments made by some here, simply nitpicking...When East Asian names are reversed, there is an unnecessary distortion in the intonation. The Japanese accentual pattern will, of course, be altered according to foreign pronunciation, but not so severely if the Japanese order is observed...A further complication is the fact that pre-Meiji names are already given in Japanese order. It's Utagawa Toyoharu, not *Toyoharu Utagawa.
I agree with "Nic": The tendency to refer to Occidentals by their personal names can be irritating, and it's not just a matter of confusion regarding the order of names. Part of it may reflect the notion that all "foreigners" are Americans and that Americans call everyone by their personal names--something that, when I was young, was in much of Europe unthinkable. But then there may be the feeling that foreigners don't have (modern) honseki and therefore might as well be Edo-period peasants...And then there are those pseudo-Westernized Japanese who meet, let us say, Prof. George Smith, a veteran Japanologist, fluent in Japanese, and then, though knowing who the person is, nonetheless say: "Hi, George...My name is Toshiyuki Yamamoto. But you probably can't pronounce my name, so just call me Tosh." (Sure, anything you say, Tush...)
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Dumping on Japan is common in the English-speaking community here, so I was somewhat surprised at the negative reaction here. That is, I would have thought that the usual suspects would be sympathizing with the litigant and screaming their usual nonsense about xenophobia and, yes, "embedded racism"...Unfortunately, we do not know the details of this case. If the young man is (a) reasonably well educated, (b) able to speak Japanese, and (c) religiously tolerant, he could join those de-facto "immigrants" who are contributing to Japan's future. We should remember that though Saddam Hussein was a murderous monster, his regime was not Islamist and that, even such aside, there are many from Islamic nations who loathe all that "Allahu Akbar" stuff as much as we do.
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I have lived in Japan most of my life (and I am old). I am also a Japanese citizen...I remember when the entire topic of "discrimination" was either incomprehensible ("racism is a white people's problem") or taboo. Japan is vastly open and tolerant than it was years ago...But that's not an interesting or satisfying story, especially if one heeds to appeal to non-Japanese readers. So...Report on some survey of highly dubious scientific validity, clearly intended to "prove" what its compilers already want to believe.
I could claim that I've suffered "discrimination" in every country in which I have lived--and I have quite a list. So what?
It's encouraging, I must say on the other hand, to read posts reminding us that Japan is, on the whole, a lovely country in which to live.
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It is naively utopian to think that everyone can have everything. Children are not allowed to vote or drive a car. Retired professors cannot get teaching jobs after a certain age. As much as one may wish to have five wives or a dozen husbands, such is not permitted...Marriage is a special union, related to reproduction and the rearing of children. Homosexual relationships are simply not the same, as anyone with observational skills and a modicum of common sense will know. If Taro wishes to leave all of his property to Kenjiro, he should be allowed to do so. And as ambivalent as one's view of their relationship may be, the police should stay out of their bedroom. But the state should likewise not be in the business of overturning centuries of tradition simply to satisfy Alice-in-Wonderland liberals and intellectoids...Hang tough, Japan! Just because the West has lost its way doesn't mean that the rest of us must follow suit!
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It is a matter of modernist dogma that separating sex from procreation is an absolutely good thing and that Margaret Sanger is thus a secular saint. Well, she wasn't. She was not primarily concerned with making women's lives easier (or more fun). She was first and foremost focused on eugenics, and though the term "racist" has come to be used much too carelessly, the label clearly applies to her. Today's "liberals" consistently whitewash--as it were--MS...
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Sensei258 is either Japanese or a long-time resident who knows Japan very well...What he says reflects my immediate reaction when I saw the story. But lest anyone think that Japan is "unique" and/weird in this regard, it might not be so different elsewhere.
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Most of the comments here are inane: mindless pseudo-liberalism. I'm old enough to remember when Barbra Streisand, whose talent far exceeds her intelligence and education, was young. She has learned nothing, though I do like her rendition of Hatikvah.
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As a professor at a Japanese university, with several friends at Chuo, I am horrified by the murder of this gentle scholar. Social and cultural generalizations are and will be quite meaningless - at least until the circumstances are clarified...There's a lot wrong with higher education in most parts of the world, including Japan, where passivity, it seems to me, is the long-standing problem, along with a "hierarchy" obsession. (I teach in an elite institution, so this is not sour grapes.) But for now let us grieve - and wait...
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