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It's about time for Japan to join the 21st century

Ghost

後輩
13 Dec 2003
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This is something i got from a friend in japan.


After contact with the West and the subsequent loss in WWII, Japan's love/hate relationship (combination superiority complex/inferiority complex) with all things Western began in earnest. Frantically trying to emulate and at times best their occidental counterparts, the Japanese undertook the huge task of modernization. They revamped their banking system, set up a stock exchange, and rebuilt bridges, roads, and other infrastructure. They began pseudo-compulsory English education in public schools, embraced Western styles of dress, and started drinking CocaCola and eating at McDonalds. In all this furious activity, a very important facet of modernization was completely and totally ignored. Everything had been modernized and internationalized except the way of thinking.

This is a country that wants to have it's cake and eat it too. Yearning for international attention, they were thrilled to host the World Cup alongside South Korea. The government's even gone as far as to send non-combat troops to Iraq and to contemplate amending the constitution to allow for a permanent military in order to be more accepted by the foreign powers that be. "Finally," those in power think, "we will join the international stage in full force and be accepted as a world power." This can never happen as long as people maintain the hard-headed attitudes toward internationalization that kept them isolated for so many centuries in the past. They want all the benefits of being international without the responsibilities. I call this the "Bob Sapp is kawaii as long as he doesn't marry our daughters syndrome".


Case in point: my girlfriend of 14 months' "internationally minded" mother had this to say of our relationship recently: "I think it's great that international marriages are on the rise in Japan (read between the lines - "so that Japan can be more `international` and accepted by the Westerners"), but no daughter of mine is going to do that. You two had better break up before it get's to serious."

Or how about this example:

Walking down the street the other day, an elementary age school kid with his mother approached from the opposite direction. the little smart-*** looked up at me and said "Haro Johnny! Japaneez peepuru! Appuru! Wan tsu surii!" His mother thought it was hilarious. I suppose an argument could be made that he was making some sort of legitimate attempt at communication, but let's face it: my name's not Johnny and the sentence fragments "Japanese people" and "1, 2, 3" are meaningless in any tongue. What he was really doing was making fun of foreigners by trying to imitate what he thought one would sound like. Imagine for a moment that the circumstances were different. Imagine walking down the streets of suburban America with your mother and seeing an Asian man on the street. Then imagine pointing at him and saying "Ching Chong Chow! Banzai! Sushi! Karaoke! Chow mein!!!" Your mother would doubtless slap you in your damn mouth so hard you'd never consider doing that again. My point is that maybe innocent kids say dumb crap, but then the responsibility falls on the parents to correct that behavior and not laugh.


I worry for the future of this country unless people start to change their Meiji era style "us and them" mentality. The population in Japan is decreasing at an alarming rate, and if they hope to keep the economy humming and the infrastructure tended to, they have no choice but to let in millions upon millions of immigrants. This will doubtless happen in our liftime (the population will be cut completely in half in far less than 100 years according to most analysts). I predict chaos in the streets - molotov cocktails, violent civil rights protests, the whole enchilada. And on a scale the world has never seen before. This can be avoided, but Japan needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century in order for that to happen. No more gawking on the streets. No more banning foreigners from public baths. No more "Ching Chong Haro Johnny BS. It all needs to stop right the hell now if Japan wants to avoid cataclysmic clashes on the streets and - more importantly to the average salaryman on the street - to be accepted by the West and claim their rightful place in the pantheon of modern nations.

By the way, I'm well aware of the usual "Well, Japanese people simply aren't used to foreigners yet and don't know how to react." or "Japan is an island nation with a homogenous population. They're not used to having to deal with difference." arguments. I think they're total and complete crap. Quit with the damn excuses already and modernize! If you don't want to, fine, but then you can't whine about not being "international" and "accepted by the West." Japan can no longer have her cake and eat it too!
 
They've obviously still got the seperatist deal going on.

You can blame people for being ignorant, but it doesnt do much.

By the way Ghost, I liked this post.
 
Hmm a good read that
I agree with most of that too.

I work in a JHS and it feels like Im in a time warp.
The teachers:
Charles Dickens style on one hand and soft as shite on the other.

Im surprised anything gets done here due to the pissing around and the inability to actually do anything during working hours.
ramble ramble.

This country is fcucked up and it needs to change.
I hope us people living here can make a change cos they are not going to do it for themselves.
The apathy here is unique.

Im not making sense cos me dictionary isnt here.😊
 
Well, even though it's really not "proper" for me to admit it, this is the way I feel sometimes. I'm not a fan of my own country and the way things are here most of the time, and I'm not happy with the way they are in a lot of areas, either. Each country has good and bad things about it. I'll just leave it at that.

Interesting post, Ghost.
 
I guess this all relates to the Japanese concepts of 窶愿?窶堙??O uchi and soto. "Them and us" mentality. Even the word gaikokujin ha窶壺? the kanji for soto ツ(ナ?Oツ坂?伉人ツ)
For a country that has only opened it's doors for less than 200 years (not sure of the exact dates....) it might take longer than we would like for them to change. It's a pretty ingrained thought. It's not just towards foreigners but in every aspect of life... e.g colleagues working for the same company are "uchi" but anybody outside the company is "soto".
Once you're inside "uchi" life is pretty good though;)

On a personal note living in a country that treats you as an outsider does take it's toll. I feel it, but perhaps I haven't been here long enough to feel the need to rant... maybe it's slightly different if you're married to a Japanese?
 
:D
Loved the post, Ghost....but, then I will have to repeat what was said to me, when I felt the same way, years ago living over there.....if you don't like the way you're treated, nobody is forcing you to stay there...nor did anybody force you to go there :D

ok....time to be serious....

the same kind of crap that you dislike goes on in any country, not just Japan....I've had the same kind of BS to go through while living in the US, not being caucasian, and then feeling just as indignant when I saw the same thing while living in Japan....but, after awhile, you either learn to live with it or do something about it, but the one constant is that change is slow in Japan, and the only real change that matters is how you deal with it, since you do have to realize by now that nothing you do will change their ignorance unless you do something to change it for the masses....that's just my two yen's worth coming from a fella who knows nothing anyway :D

but I feel for ya, dude.....harro jonny, wan tsu sulee would get on my nerves, too :D
 
Inside and Outside

Originally posted by nzueda
I guess this all relates to the Japanese concepts of 窶愿?窶堙??O uchi and soto. "Them and us" mentality. Even the word gaikokujin ha窶壺? the kanji for soto ツ(ナ?Oツ坂?伉人ツ)
For a country that has only opened it's doors for less than 200 years (not sure of the exact dates....) it might take longer than we would like for them to change. It's a pretty ingrained thought. It's not just towards foreigners but in every aspect of life... e.g colleagues working for the same company are "uchi" but anybody outside the company is "soto".
Once you're inside "uchi" life is pretty good though;)

That reminds me of what someone once said about learning Japanese. It went something like this: "you have to get used to the different language used whether you are in the in-group (which is always them) or the out-group (in which you'll always be). Here is an example dialogue:
Japanese teacher: Good morning, class.
Japanese students: Good morning.
You: Good morning. (Japanese students gasp in horror)"

I remember reading that on a site, but I don't remember which one it was or where it is located. :( It's a shame, too, cause that was a funny site.
 
Re: Inside and Outside

Originally posted by Glenn
different language used whether you are in the in-group (which is always them) or the out-group (in which you'll always be)

That's so true. I get annoyed at foreigner who use broken slang or casual speech and think they are being cool.... when in fact although the Japanese smile, really they are looking down at them. These kinds of foreigners will always be left on the outside.

It is possible - although very difficult - to find your way to the inside.
 
This thread has prompted me to say something. I think people who want to move to Japan, should realize that becoming accepted in society like every other ho hum Japanese citizen isnt going to happen. At least, its safe to say that you can assume it never will.

Then, provided mere acceptance and existence in the country wasnt your only goal, I'd say stay focused on what you wanted to go to the country for in the first place. I think if you accept that you wont be accepted, you can lift that weight off your chest, and do what you wanted to do in the first place.

It also helps to have a combination of an apathetic-elitist mindset/attitude. Makes serveral aspects of the move easier, I think.
 
not that the US is such a great example but it has only existed for a little over 200 years so japan cant really make the excuse of well weve only been open for business for this long blah blah waaah.
 
"Imagine for a moment that the circumstances were different. Imagine walking down the streets of suburban America with your mother and seeing an Asian man on the street. Then imagine pointing at him and saying "Ching Chong Chow! Banzai! Sushi! Karaoke! Chow mein!!!" Your mother would doubtless slap you in your damn mouth so hard you'd never consider doing that again."

I HAVE had those things said to me, and never have I seen a mother slap the kid over it. She probably thought it was cute, and if I don't like it, get the hell out of U.S.A. If you're mature enough, you just ignore it.

If your friend is so uhappy in Japan there ARE other places he could go to.

"my girlfriend of 14 months' "internationally minded" mother had this to say of our relationship recently: "I think it's great that international marriages are on the rise in Japan, but no daughter of mine is going to do that. You two had better break up before it get's to serious."

When my girlfriend (who happened to be of German/Colombian descent) in college and I decided to marry, her mother said "Japanese are no different from blacks or Mexicans, you will not marry this boy." I'm sure there are plenty of other white parents who disapprove of their kids dating someone Oriental.

Why is it such a crime if a Japanese person (living in Japan) says it but a white person gets a free pass?
 
I don't think that white people get free passes any more than anyone else does. I guess this is one of those revolving door issues; everyone feels discriminated against in some way or another. Whether whites with affirmative action, blacks with, well, a lot of things, etc., everyone does their bitching about it. This seems to be along the same lines as, "why can black people say ni****, but white people can't?". I hope I'm making myself clear, but I don't feel that I have. Anyway, does anyone understand what I'm trying to say here?
 
talking about skin color, I loved the scene in the book The Lathe of Heaven, where George Orr dreams up a new reality where everybody is grey skinned, so that it eliminates all racism on earth....thought it was kind of funny, too.....also kind of funny that anybody would drop a nuke onto Portland, Oregon of all places, too :D
 
Yeah, that's why my response to, "racism will never go away" was, "it will if we do enough crossbreeding." ;)
 
I worry for the future of this country unless people start to change their Meiji era style "us and them" mentality. The population in Japan is decreasing at an alarming rate, and if they hope to keep the economy humming and the infrastructure tended to, they have no choice but to let in millions upon millions of immigrants. This will doubtless happen in our liftime (the population will be cut completely in half in far less than 100 years according to most analysts). I predict chaos in the streets - molotov cocktails, violent civil rights protests, the whole enchilada. And on a scale the world has never seen before.

This is nonsense, complete BS.
 
Never thought this topic would hit off like this. Then again my topics never do.

I usualy listen to my friends but that isnt going to stop me from going to japan. Half the stuff he talked about happend in school, at least to some of us, and it never made me mad.

Besides, im really not afraid of getting pointed and gawked at, I just shrug it off anyways.
 
As of 2000, one out of every 20 marriages in Japan was between a Japanese national and a foreignor. How could such statistic be possible if Japan wasn't already in the 21st century?

Does the U.S. have such a high rate of mixed marriages? Any other western European nation?

I'll be willing to bet my life savings there are more people who have had positive experiences in Japan than negative.
 
I'd have to agree with Golgo on that one....but then, again, before you bet the life savings, also remember that Japan is the nation that has the minute by minute changes in fads, so.... :D

then again, for those that do complain more loudly about Japan, they tend to go to the other forums page that has the dubious title of f'dgaijin :D
 
yeah but the US is already mixed up, one could marry a different race without their spouse having to be a foreign national...
 
that's true only within the past 30 years or so...back in the '60's, it was much harder for mixed couples...
 
In general a good article and I agree with much of what was said. Japan has a lot to work on. Thanks for the post.

Originally posted by Ghost
This can be avoided, but Japan needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century in order for that to happen.

With all respect, who does the author expect to do the dragging? Less than one percent of the population (ie foreigners)? From the tone of the article, it sounds like the author doesn't think the Japanese public is capable of doing this themselves. Thus, how is a group of people, a vast minority and one already kept on the outskirts of society by both intentional and de facto means, going to bring about such radical change?

This seems to be a fairly shallow understanding of how change happens in Japan and sells the Japanese population short on their own feelings for change. There is a good deal of highly critical tracts on Japan produced by Japanese people themselves. Unless you read Japanese, or someone has taken the time to put some of them in book form, like Kerr, it seems like all internal criticism of Japan is mute. This is not the case.

The only ones who can do the dragging are Japanese people themselves. A foreign populations best chance to achieve effective change is through education and discussion and helping those on the fence see that it might be a good idea to try things in a new way.

In the episode with the kid, your immediate concern is not how the kid got to that point, but how you can point him/her back int he right direction. At a later date you can work on stopping such incidences from occurring. Instead of getting pissed off and stomping away, stop and say hi. Maybe teach him/her a real phrase. If you leave a negative impression behind, you only enforce negetive images many may already have (foreigners are tempramental and to be avoided). Parents know their kid is being rude but they don't know how to react. I agree this is a bad situation, but like it or not the ball is in your court.

Humor is a good way to defuse the situation. If I get the "Gaijin da! Gaijin da!" from a little kid, and the parent is standing right there, I say "iie, Nihon jin da yo.(No I am Japanese)" When the kid gets confused, I point to my legs one at a time and say "ippon, nihon." The counter for two long objects is -hon, and Nihon is another way of saying "Japan." It is a pun. The parent gets the joke, sees you are not offended, throws the child off balance (probably won't try it again anytime soon and has a vauge notion they did something wrong) and leaves the situation much better than a slap across the mouth could achieve. Of course the tactic relies on language and is highly situational. Still, happens more than you think.

With the "wan tsu suri" incident, maybe teach the kid to use "1, 2, 3" as a substitute for "jan ken pon" the phrase used to coordinate the opening for what we know as rock paper scissors.

A lot of it comes down to communication skills. If you want to communicate ideas effectivly to your audience, in this case Japan, you need to opperate in thier comfort level and learn Japanese . A lot of messages in Japan and Japanese are recieved by very subtle means. For example, a lot of weight might be given to something that is not said directly, but is said in a certian way, by a certian person and at a certian time. This is all classic high-context vs. low-context communication, but that is a tangent left for another thread.
 
Originally posted by Ghost
This is something i got from a friend in japan.


I call this the "Bob Sapp is kawaii as long as he doesn't marry our daughters syndrome".

My . . . I wonder where they got that from . . . sounds awefully similar to white Americans who go to see a Harlem Globetrotters Game and think the Trotters are fun and very entertaining as long as Meadowlark Lemon or Curly Neal doesn't marry their daughter.

* * *

Japanese pro baseball has had American MANAGERS!
Nissan Motors has a president who is BRAZILIAN (not even Japanese-Brazilian)
A white guy from the Georgia Republic competes at the top level in Sumo.
These things were unthinkable 30 years ago.

Add to that, Kim Chee is commonly eaten throughout Japan today. When I lived in Japan in the 1970s I never heard of Kim Chee.

You cannot expect Japan (or any other country) to be a melting pot like the U.S. But things have changed and continue to change in Japan.
 
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