04 April 2010 ~ 49 Comments

Ambassador Extraordinaire

I was reading through my post from a year ago and came across a comment I wrote in response to a reader’s comment.  I had written the post in response to a Japanese reader’s advice as to how I should respond to Japanese people who avoid me out of fear of me. My response was about Shame. The shame I would feel pleading for common decency and the shame they should feel for not extending it in the first place.

Thought I’d share it with my readers just in case you missed it.

Here it is:

Living in Japan you come to learn that, in the Japanese world, there are two countries, two cultures, two types of people: Japanese and others. This perspective taints and paints all dialogues with nihonjin. When you arrive here you’ll see what I mean. As far as opening a dialogue with nihonjin is concerned, my WHOLE life is a dialogue with nihonjin. On a daily basis I am interacting with the people and the culture, at home and outdoors. Depending on my relationship with a particular person, like a nihonjin, they may see my hon’ne (real intent) or tatamae (public face). Most people see the latter, the Loco that goes about smiling and ignoring, pretending not to see, responding appropriately to incessant questioning about what Americans think and do and feel and what black people think and do and feel, etc…trust me, I am a model foreign citizen, an Ambassador extraordinaire. The handful that see my hon’ne have either entered my “circle of trust” (LOL- that’s from Meet the Parents) and thus I share my feelings with them, or have provoked me with some unacceptable assault on my good nature.

I wouldn’t give a damn about fueling flames at those times.

And I’m sure that some Japanese person has witnessed my hon’ne and said “Yappari” (just as I thought) and labeled me and anybody that looks even vaguely like me a bad person worthy of dehumanization. Sorry! A huge step back for gaijin / nihonjin relations I guess. But for every mile of good will I pave I might lose a step and to me, considering what I have to deal with, that’s an acceptable ratio.

I honestly don’t feel that people from the East should feel hard-pressed to acknowledge another race’s humanity. I’m not trying to shove “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” up their asses. I’m really not! I’m just saying let’s start the conversation from the foundation that we are both members of races capable of great wonders and great atrocities and everything in-between…you know, EQUALS.

Sora-san’s perspective is not so unique, JahC san. Most every thing most Japanese do is from a Japanese perspective. Most know no other (which is true of most countries.) which is the typical excuse for their behavior. Every other perspective has a…the Japanese call it Iwakan (違和感) Basically it’s a feeling of wrongness, incompatibility, not belonging, etc…This is the reason (I want to say excuse) given for their behavior. If a foreigner is in the vicinity then iwakan ensues like an instinct and they start acting all creepy uncontrollably.

Throughout my blog I have chronicled this behavior and my feelings about it, but I have arrived at a point where I see it for what it is. And it is something that no dialogue can really address. The only cure for Iwakan is probably experience. Japanese people need to talk with or interact with foreigners (and of course emerge unscathed) and maybe next time their iwakan will be diminished a bit.
ALL of my Japanese friends have had such experiences and thus that Iwakan Wall between us has been torn down, as it has with my kids at my job and some of the teachers and I suspect it has with Sora-san, as well.

But with the VAST majority of nihonjin it hasn’t and probably never will. And I think perhaps because of the contrast in colors or because of the image many Japanese have of people of color, that Iwakan is a bit more intense for darker hued people. That’s a fact of life in Japan. Is Iwakan racism? No. Not really but kinda. Is it Xenophobia? No, not really but kinda. Is it prejudice? No, not really, but kinda… I mean, I’m provoked by willfulness…but Iwakan has an air of helplessness. Like how a deer might respond as you approach it in the woods, with or without a gun. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hunter or PETA, that deer is going to flee. Would you say that deer is prejudiced against people? Hell, he wouldn’t run if another deer was approaching, now would he? And, is his response to humans the same as when his nostrils encounter the scent of a lion or a hyena? Anyway, I won’t drag out that metaphor. I’m sure you get where I’m coming from…

Also, the necessity, for most nihonjin, to confront and deal with these feeling does not exist. Most will never come in contact with foreigners, so why be bothered about such things? Understanding this has made my experience here much easier to endure, and my understanding of Japanese people and culture more substantial.

I don’t know if Buddhism or Shintoism are related. Maybe they are. However I don’t believe humility is an exclusively Eastern thing no more than civic-mindedness or consciousness of equality are American or Western. I don’t even think they are second nature to us. These are things that are learned through one’s experience and education. Yes, reading a few books was a gross understatement but my point was that the information is available if you care to learn it. Just as you’re taking the time to study about the Japanese mindset and the language before you come here. Are you saying the desire to understand other cultures is a western thing? Perhaps. But why? Is that connected to Shinto / Buddhism too?

Man, this is turning into a post. Sorry. You caught me on vacation and I have time to kill (so to speak) (-;
I’m not done. This response is sort of scattered, I know. I’ll probably highlight your response in an upcoming post…
Thanks for taking the time, energy and effort to do so!
Loco

What do y’all think?

Loco

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49 Responses to “Ambassador Extraordinaire”

  1. Francis 4 April 2010 at 6:55 am Permalink

    Hey loco, great post man. I also liked the analogy, if you don’t mind, I would like to add something. I believe that “Iwakan” is a big part of most cultures around the world. To me, it seems like the refusal to have one’s preconceptions challenged. Like you said, not fully racism, xenophobia, or prejudice, but something that is instinctive. Enjoy your vacation, I’ll be looking forward to the next post.

  2. Matt 4 April 2010 at 2:11 pm Permalink

    The part about a change of heart needing experience, rather than dialogue, was the theme of a paper I wrote in a college composition class. I argued against the mandatory reading of a cheesy book about accepting different cultures. It was selected as the best argument and read publicly by one of my professors. Remember in American History X when Edward Norton finally overcame his racism by being imprisoned with a black man? This is what the Japanese need, a visceral, emotional, "live together/die apart" situation; forcing a change of heart through words almost always results in entrenchment and resentment.

    Nice blog btw.

    -Matt

  3. Billy W 4 April 2010 at 9:22 pm Permalink

    You know, I often find myself thinking how nice it would be to be so isolated, to have everything highly controlled and safe, and to have been taught to think everything about my nation and it's culture is special, without question, from the time of birth.

    Americans are fucking lucky for the opportunities they have. But, having grown up in a shitty area with guns, drugs and scumbag degenerates, my American upbringing was a little less lucky. But lucky, nonetheless.

    Japanese, though, get to be like children their whole lives in the sense that everything is perfectly ordered and provided as long as you are good. Yeah, the work hours are long and appearances must be kept up… But, be good and it's fairly smooth sailing…

  4. Our Man in Abiko 5 April 2010 at 7:43 am Permalink

    Insularity is not peculiar to the Japanese, they are just very good at it.

    Good stuff, as usual Loco-san.

  5. Locohama 5 April 2010 at 12:40 pm Permalink

    @Sora-san,
    thank you for your long and thoughtful response. As usual you are a voice to reckon with. One thing though. Clearly we are on the same page but your writing still seems to be attempting to counter me. Maybe it’s a language thing. Iwakan is not racism xenophobia or prejudice I said. You agree. It is something that all people feel. I wasn’t talking about all people in the comment but clearly (it goes without saying) all people feel this. If you thought that I meant that only Japanese people feel Iwakan (or any other feeling under the sun) then that is poor writing on my part or a misunderstanding. Japanese are human beings just like the rest of us. There, I’ve overstated the obvious. And Iwakan here is malaise elsewhere. Just a different word same meaning.
    Now, there is something I must address in your response. You said people everywhere feel curious or concern when they see different looking people. I think I should clarify. Curious, sure. But, concern? What kind of concern? Fear for their lives? For for their children’s safety? For their belongings? This is not a response I would say is “human” or universal, but predominant among societies (or communities) where there is no diversification or a total ignorance of the world outside of their own or a mind full of negative stereotypes, or a great deal of paranoia. And again I agree with you that Japan is not alone is this respect.
    Dialogue is part of the solution of course, but a small part, an overrated part I think. Education is a much more important part. Interaction with the world is also crucial.
    Thanks again Sora.
    Loco

    • 5 April 2010 at 5:19 pm Permalink

      Loco-san

      thanks.

      . “But, concern? What kind of concern? Fear for their lives? For for their children’s safety? For their belongings? This is not a response I would say is “human” or universal”

      Yes concerns. It is the attitude toward the unknown and I think it is legitimate.

      When the students graduate, they are full of hopes and concerns because they don’t know what is coming for them, aren’t they?
      When someone talks to a person from another country, s/he might wonder, for instance, how to ask what s/he want the person to do, is it is impolite to ask ? does it offend her/him? is it the right way to ask etc. That is legitimate concerns, isn’t it?

      ” What kind of concern? Fear for their lives? For for their children’s safety? For their belongings?”

      Perhaps you are talking from your experience of being avoided. I’ll talk about it a bit later.

      “This is not a response I would say is “human” or universal, but predominant among societies (or communities) where there is no diversification or a total ignorance of the world outside of their own or a mind full of negative stereotypes, or a great deal of paranoia. ”

      Supposing you are talking about how people treat new comers, new type of people in general , unfortunately it seems that it is more or less universal attitude. And in the worst case they are treated just the others.
      .

      England People Very Nice
      http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/?lid=42665&dspl=discover1

      Gangs of New York

      Vendetta

      These dramas show how immigrants can be treated because we tend to see the newcomers as just the others.
      There are lots of factors that have caused the situations like that.
      The lack of knowledge, the lack of education,the lack of interactions,the lack of dialgue etc, all of them will contribute to the tragedy like that.
      The U.S. is the diverse society and people are not totally ignorant of the world outside of their own;still, just last year, Eric Holder had to call for for more dialgue.

      I think it is more or less universal attitude.

      Now back to your experience of being avoided, there might be many reason people avoid the type of people you are not used to. We discussed it on my blog, as you know.
      http://blog.goo.ne.jp/kentanakachan/e/f4855f66e71b3e47eb352c13c230379e

      Being “black” might be one reason,but I don’t think people avoid black people like Bobby, an entertainer who naturalized recently, or Billy, a famous trainer;rather people will approach them. Black people like Bobby and Billy are familiar to Japanese people.
      So again it is a matter of getting to know each other.
      (As a side, for some reason, I think Japanese people tend to trust a person in a white shirt with a tie of quiet color.)

      “Dialogue is part of the solution of course, but a small part, an overrated part I think. Education is a much more important part. Interaction with the world is also crucial.”

      Every activism you mentioned is very important, methinks.
      On the internet, dialogue is a very useful tool.

      • Locohama 5 April 2010 at 7:56 pm Permalink

        Sora-san, sorry, I aint Billy nor Bobby, or Stevie Wonder, or Barack Obama, nor a dozen other black celebrities that Japanese people recognize and wouldn’t hightail it from upon seeing. Maybe when I become a popular celebrity and wear white shirts and keep my hair short (but not too short) and all the other things that wuld make Japanese people more comfortable they will see me as worthy of the courtesy they extend to one another without them being celebrities and regardless of garb.
        Concerns, was a question…in other words, the behavior I see can hardly be called concerns. Concern is reasonable. Terror is not! Fleeing is not. All other behaviors I describe are not. Not reasonable and not universal or natural human behaivior. deshou?
        Anyway, again it seems we agree and yet you paint it like you’re making counterpoints. Unless you just feel like elaborating my points because you think my readers may misconstrue what I’m saying, I don’t see the point.
        As for the clips you linked, these are all cases of the “natives” having negative preconceived notions about the new comers. Yes? But this is not universal. Just mostly people who feel superior to other people, for whatever reason. People who feel their humanity is different from others. Or people who feel that immigrants threaten their power. yes, of course, this can be found in countries besides Japan…but Universal? Natural? I think not.
        Anyway, nuff said on this topic.
        Loco

        • 5 April 2010 at 9:48 pm Permalink

          Loco san thanks.

          Yeah we agree for the most part, and perhaps we are looking at same thing from different angle : that is important part of dialgue, which is not a matter of winning or losing but a matter of better understanding.


          I aint Billy nor Bobby・・・・”
          Unfortunately you are not and you are getting sick and tired of being looked at the way you are looked at now.

          So are you saying that the Japanese people are looking at you the way they do because you are “black” or you are a foreigner, or some other reason?

          We talked about this topic on my blog and some people say in Tokyo, people seldom avoid sitting next to a foreigner on the train, anyway that is the way it is as far as I observed on the train—I live in tokyo—they might be too tired to give a space to a foreigner. As I look around on the street, there are lots of foreign tourists on the street but people don’t give a damn about foreign-looking guys; perhaps they have no time to care about them.

          That said, I understand your experiences have been as annoying as offensive. As a Japanese , I want to say, I am really sorry. Really I wonder what makes people act toward you as they do.
          We can meet sometime if you want and figure it out how things are going around you and why. In any case, you are not satisfied with the way people look at you but nothing will change as long as you are complaining of it in English on your blog.
          I think it was good that you showed how you were getting along with Japanese students because that will make difference to the way people who watched it act toward you.
          The exposure like that is vital in changing the situation, That might be a small step,but it makes difference anyway.
          And showing our discussion to Japanese people and letting people, Japanese or non-Japanese, white, or black, participate in it will raise awareness and change the way Japanese people look at you and the way you look at the Japanese people.
          That is why I’ve been encouraging foreigners to take issues if and when they think there are issues and talk about them with Japanese people.

          My impression is that for some reason, it is not natives, but non-Japanese who have been avoiding the dialgue.

          “As for the clips you linked, these are all cases of the “natives” having negative preconceived notions about the new comers. Yes?”

          I am not sure.
          New comers are the unknown. Yes, people sometimes have negative preconceived notions, but there are cases where people have both positive and negative notions and the notions sometimes differ from a person to a person. On the whole , they know little, they have inconsistent images about a group of people. But some incidents like recessions, earthquake etc,will turn the concerns into fear and terror. That is my interpretation.


          Just mostly people who feel superior to other people, for whatever reason.”

          I think people feel no fear against the inferior.


          People who feel their humanity is different from others. ”

          Exactly.

          “people who feel that immigrants threaten their power. yes, of course, this can be found in countries besides Japan…but Universal? Natural? I think not.

          I don’t think it is a built-in structure in humanity,but I think it is prevalent throughout history and the world
          So I wonder which country in the history of the world has welcomed the new comers and the immigrants with the full sense of humanity in your sense.

          “Anyway, nuff said on this topic”

          Do you really think so?
          Not that I want to drag this topic on and on ,but that I think people need to talk out and also I enjoy this talk.

          Sincerely, Sora.

          • Locohama 5 April 2010 at 10:48 pm Permalink

            Sora-san, I’m not sure what you mean by “unfortunately”. I think Bobby is a clown and Billy is a businessman. I don’t want to be either. I don’t want to gain Japanese approval because of my celebrity. If that’s the key to Japanese not feeling alarmed by my presence then that is indeed unfortunate.
            And i’m not sick and tired of anything. I’m approaching immune to it now (perhaps to my own detriment) I have accepted certain aspects of my life in Japan as syouganai. As, in NY, I had to tolerate gunshots in the night, litter in the streets, gentrification, and all manner of social ills… The things I tolerate here are equally annoying yet different, but the rewards are pretty good too.

            So, I am not complaining. This comment is a year old (remember?)

            If you check my blog you will notice that complaints have been reduced to none. I simply observe and report in as entertaing a fashion as I can. That’s what my blog is about. Not complaint central, and not a place for people to come and voice their complaints about their individual Japanese experiences. It’s good for blog traffic, but I grew weary of it. It’s such a deeply personal issue for me and a sensitive one to boot.

            I’ve drawn conclusions on the subject of international relations between Japanese and others. And, towards truly putting this issue to a close, at least for now (sorry I know you like this kind of thing) I will state them for you and my readers now。They are as follows:

            1- People will continue to come here and find Japanese intolerable and leave (or stay and whine)
            2- people will continue to come here, find paradise on earth and stay.
            3- People will continue to come her and find that people are people and live their lives, whether here or elsewhere (and not whine) and,
            4- Japan will become multicultural and japanese will become more “at ease” around others, due to people like myself who come here, live here, interact with the masses (especially the youth), thereby dispelling fear by virtue of being our (virtually) harmless productive selves.

            Sora-san, I feel you. I know you want to have a forum for addressing foreign complaints (especially those that are based on ignorance or misunderstandings) and try to give some guidance to those who really need it. And I’d like to help you out…but your way of doing things is a bit different than mine. I think, ultimately, we want the same things. But we have decidedly different methods. I’m not good at forums. I’m not a people-person per se. In fact I kinda hate them (not people, forums). Maybe I’ve just had too many negative experiences with them.

            I’d much rather let my writing, and my life here among the lovely people of Japan, speak for me. And I’m sure, in 7 years, it has spoken volumes.

            Loco

  6. 5 April 2010 at 6:20 pm Permalink

    Hi Loco-san

    I've stated my opinion on the original post, so there are not many things to say.
    But looking back, it might be better to explain the use of Iwakan.
    違和感 http://eow.alc.co.jp/%E9%81%95%E5%92%8C%E6%84%9F/

    I think everyone, Japanese and non-Japanese, has Iwakan when they find something operating differently from the way they are used to.
    For instance,if a older Japanese person drank a Japanese tea with a coffee cup, s/he would feel iwakan. Some Japanese might feel Iwakan when they see a foreigner sumo wrester is fighting on a sumo ring. That does not mean that they won't accept the new style of doing things.
    Once you get used to it, you don't feel Iwakan.

    It is obvious from your posts that Loco san is feeling iwakan in Japan. For instance you might have felt Iwakan at the public bath, but once you get used to it, you have no Iwakan. You are often stared at, you feel Iwakan because that has never happen in the U.S. The feeling might never leave you.

    Anyway Iwakan is not an indication that you can't accept it.

    "Also, the necessity, for most nihonjin, to confront and deal with these feeling does not exist. "

    Right, and that is how it is for everyone everywhere isn't it? The necessity arises when you have to live with it. In Japan so far there is little felt necessity for most of Japanese. Even when confronted, some people try to escape. That happens when the large number of new immigrant such as Latino flow into the neighbors of white community in the U.S, doesn't it? And it happens elsewhere too.

    And allow me to cite some articles from my latest posts.

    Here is a man's statement in Britain.

    "
    The strongest comments I hear about identity are from a young man of Yemeni ancestry on the streets of the former steel city of Sheffield.
    Sitting in the local cultural centre, he tells me that the debate about immigration has gotten out of hand.
    "No matter what I do I will always be seen as an immigrant or a foreigner," he says.
    "I pay taxes, I contribute to this country and every now and then a few of us make a name for ourselves.
    But mainstream British society will always see me as an outsider.""

    (3 April 2010 12:49 UK
    Journey up the M1 in search of English identity
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/85993

    Here is an news article about Miss Bebbu.

    泉都・大分県別府市のミス別府に3日、ベトナム・ホーチミン市出身の立命館アジア太平洋大学(APU)3年生、トオン・ティップ・ニャット・チャンさん(22)が選ばれた。

    A Vietnamese student was chosen as Miss Beppu. http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0403/SEB2010

    What do I want to say ?

    I want to say just as Loco san does not want to be labeled, the Japanese do not want to be labeled.

    People are different in some aspects, but people are not so different in other aspects.

    As for the new type of people, some feel iwakan, others accept them, still other will welcome them. That is how it is everywhere.

    "Black" people are super minority in Japan. Naturally people look at them with curiosity and concerns. (But please keep in mind that prejudice is not globally shared.)

    I stated the importance of dialogue at the comments on the original post. I think it is vital to expose how "black" people, for that matter, other non-Japanese, and "yellow" people like Japanese are getting along well to other Japanese so that people may feel less Iwakan.
    In that sense, I liked your videos with your students. The wall of Iwakan seems to break down and looking at the videos, Japanese people would feel closer to you.

    For myself, I've been suggesting to hold dialgues on my blog just as Eric Holder suggested dialogue among the races.

  7. Chris B 5 April 2010 at 7:00 pm Permalink

    I am a model foreign citizen, an Ambassador extraordinaire. The handful that see my hon’ne have either entered my “circle of trust”

    Yeah,
    Remember Loco, Once your outta the circle you can never get back in 😉 LOL at the classic reference 🙂

  8. Jamaipanese 5 April 2010 at 8:10 pm Permalink

    as a coloured person myself I often wonder how the colour of my skin will affect my time in Japan. This post did a lot to clear up some of my misconceptions and brighten that fine line I may need to walk.

    • Locohama 5 April 2010 at 8:15 pm Permalink

      Hey Jamaipanese, just calling it like I see it. you may have a different experience altogether though. You never know. And I hope I didn’t make japan and Japanese out to be all doom and gloom lol. Like most people the world over, they really can be great once you get to know them (or if you’re not cursed with overactive observation skills and sensitivity like me) lol
      thanks for the shout

      Loco

      • Rose 5 April 2010 at 11:02 pm Permalink

        Wow, great post, and great comments, with a wide variety of interesting things to add.

        Thanks, Loco, for so thoroughly articulating such a tricky issue.
        I understand all the arguments have defending their “iwakan”-ness around anything and everything foreign, and sure, it’s not quite racism or xenophobia or even aggressive, but I really feel like the Japanese need to wake the hell up, get over their unfounded fears and start participating in the global society. HIding behind excuses about their homogenous culture preventing them from acting like mature global citizens isn’t going to hold out for much longer.

        (Ps – I preferred your previous use of the cat-licking-its-ass metaphor to the deer one. LOL)

        • 6 April 2010 at 12:16 am Permalink

          “I really feel like the Japanese need to wake the hell up, get over their unfounded fears and start participating in the global society. HIding behind excuses about their homogenous culture preventing them from acting like mature global citizens isn’t going to hold out for much longer.”

          I don’t want to sound nitpicking. But I am sorry , this might sound talking down to the Japanese .

          Again which nationals do not need to get over unfounded fear?
          And who is acting like mature global citizens in an international society in which some people say the clash of civilizations is taking place?

        • Locohama 6 April 2010 at 8:17 am Permalink

          @Rose
          LMMFAO! You made my day!
          Thanks for the shout!

  9. 6 April 2010 at 9:01 am Permalink

    Loco san Thanks.

    Sora-san, I’m not sure what you mean by “unfortunately”

    Well unfortunately you are not well known like Billy and Bobby.
    If people know enough about you, people will change their attitude toward you.That is what I mean.

    "
    If you check my blog you will notice that complaints have been reduced to none"

    Yep.
    But for some reason you've taken it up again, and I sometimes notice some people quoting your blog to draw the conclusion about Japan for their purpose.

    1-3

    I totally agree.

    "
    4- Japan will become multicultural and japanese will become more “at ease” around others, due to people like myself who come here, live here, interact with the masses (especially the youth), thereby dispelling fear by virtue of being our (virtually) harmless productive selves"

    Nowadays I am giving a thought about multiculturalism. You know, Japanese culture is not pure;it is already a hybrid culture from china, Korea, India, the U.S. etc. Contrary to the common conception, Japan has been open to other cultures, methinks.
    If you are talking about "at ease" with "white" and "black" people in Japan, yep, that is one of the challenges Japanese are facing. The Japanese tend to look at them as tourists. And that is still true for the most of the times. But more and more people from different countries are coming to live in Japan.
    We need to interact more and education matters as you said, and at the same time, Japanese people need to talk to the new comers more often: new comers need to talk to the Japanese more often. (To do so, the Japanese language skill is crucial, though) I see some foreigners living in Japan ranting based on misunderstandings, sometimes on ill intention. That is counter-productive,methinks. Rather we should talk. That is my way of doing things and incidentally that is what Eric Holder suggested.

    I understand your way is a bit different. That is no problem;in fact,your latest posts are excellent in giving a new perspective on Japan and the Japanese from an African-American living in Japan. That will give people having troubles a new perspective to cope with the problems they are facing and to survive and enjoy their lives in Japan and that is very interesting to me in part because there are few African-Americans in Japan.

    I am looking forward to your posts. I'll leave a comment if I feel like it.

    Thanks Loco san. I enjoyed this discussion with you. If there are some issues you want to take up or something you want to raise awareness about, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog.

  10. XO 6 April 2010 at 10:12 am Permalink

    This is probably your best post. But I still think you are missing one last part, which is a dash of cruelty. If an old lady grabs her bag because you walk near her, she cannot possibly think she is truly protecting her bag. You could still grab it. And Iwakan is not enough to explain that away. There has to be another aspect, which I think is a passive-aggressive act of hostility. I see it as a sly middle-finger, a way to humiliate you. It is an overt act to fuck with you, although the act is small. Add up about 50 of those small acts a day, and you get a very unhappy life experience in Japan. So, there is another element added to the general uneasiness that you need to add.

    There is a lot of new research that is proving what you have always said. See:
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123315

    • 6 April 2010 at 8:25 am Permalink

      ” If an old lady grabs her bag because you walk near her, she cannot possibly think she is truly protecting her bag. You could still grab it. And Iwakan is not enough to explain that away. There has to be another aspect, which I think is a passive-aggressive act of hostility. I see it as a sly middle-finger, a way to humiliate you”

      ”You are ABSOLUTELY right in your assessment I think Sometimes they cannot believe their behavior does anything but say fuck you”

      I seems to me there is a difference in assessment if I am not mistaken.

      One is saying that she means to humiliate somebody by grabbing the bag.
      Another is saying that her act is not meant to humiliate somebody but the person reacted that way is most likely to take it as a humiliation and probably is justified in taking it in that way.

      Supposing that she somehow felt the need to protect, it does not mean she needs to run away from the spot. And considering that she should refrain from provoking, I tend to support the second interpretation.

      Here is another interesting research paper concerning the perceptions of ethnic
      minorities in England

      Sources of resentment, and perceptions of ethnic
      minorities among poor white people in England
      Report compiled for the
      NATIONAL COMMUNITY FORUM

      http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/1113921.pdf

      • Locohama 6 April 2010 at 9:10 am Permalink

        Sora-san, you are mistaken.
        XO was saying that on the DL that he caught me being nice to Japanese (something I wasn’t prone to do back in the days) and he knows what I’m truly thinking feeling and experiencing.
        It”s subtle, possibly even only me and XO got that.

        thanks

        • 6 April 2010 at 9:29 am Permalink

          Loco san thanks.

          “Sora-san, you are mistaken.”

          I might have been mistaken,yes.


          he knows what I’m truly thinking feeling and experiencing”

          I am sure he knew.

          But XO said,

          If an old lady grabs her bag because you walk near her, she cannot possibly think she is truly protecting her bag. You could still grab it. And Iwakan is not enough to explain that away. There has to be another aspect, which I think is a passive-aggressive act of hostility. I see it as a sly middle-finger, a way to humiliate you. It is an overt act to fuck with you”

          From the sentences above, I thought he was saying that she was trying to humiliate you by grabbing the bag.

          Was I mistaken in taking him as saying that ? And are you also saying that?

          • Locohama 7 April 2010 at 7:00 am Permalink

            sora-san, yes, you are right. i think that Iwakan doesn't explain away all the behaviors I encounter in a day. i focused that response on iwakan, and on distinguishing it from racism and such. But, in that case, and similar cases, it looks, smells and feels like a "fuck you, from the heart" from the person. In other words, if it slithers and hisses and bears it fangs, I'm hardpressed to call it a worm, is my and XO's point.
            That said, I believe a good portion of the behavior i see is simply Iwakan.

          • 7 April 2010 at 3:02 pm Permalink

            Loco-san
            Thanks.

            I understand that Loco san and XO san felt as if you were told "fuck you" at the time.
            And you are probably justified in taking the act that way whatever their intentions.

            What I was wondering was if there were really such haters against "black" people in Japan.

            The old lady you mentioned was ignorant, impolite, insensitive at best, offending and racist at worst whatever her intention.
            But from your description, I don't see aggressive intention in her act.

            The Japanese don't talk about black people since there are few in Japan.
            So I can't tell how Japanese people view "black" people.
            There are some haters against Koreans and Chinese . You can see some nativists shouting out "Koreans out" on youtube, But in general, it is rare that people act aggressively toward them. So I was curious whether there are such haters against black people.

            I am curious and concerned how "black people" are accepted in Japan because they are relatively new residents in Japan. I hope native Japanese and "black" people will integrate smoothly and set an example to the world. To do so, interactions and dialgue are crucial. Thanks.

    • Locohama 6 April 2010 at 10:40 am Permalink

      XO! Thanks for the shout YO! I'll peep that link in a sec.
      You are ABSOLUTELY right in your assessment I think. Sometimes they cannot believe their behavior does anything but say fuck you 50 times a day is about an accurate number.
      Loco

  11. Chris B 6 April 2010 at 6:51 pm Permalink

    "s/he might wonder, for instance, how to ask what s/he want the person to do, is it is impolite to ask ? does it offend her/him? is it the right way to ask etc. That is legitimate concerns, isn’t it?"

    No offense but THIS is part of the problem. I have my own little business and no one tells me what the f__ to do. I don't care how someone takes ___, if it's the topic or question at hand.
    This tatemae bullshit is just an excuse to be a two talking bitch hiding under a cultural umbrella.
    I got students waiting to get in and it's not because I'm a "nice guy". Fuck the bullshit and say what you want and let shit fall where it may….which is where it usually belongs.
    In a perfect world I could don a ninja suit at night and tap motherfuckers with my brass knuckel and then leave a sticky note on their forehead for them to read after they regain conciousness (I'd need a Japanese Robin to my Batman)to write the notes in Japanese though 🙁

    The only thing i hate more than racist narrow minded Japanese is foreigners who come here and adopt that shit. (I'm mostly lookin at you England) You fuckers both have some weird formality a.k.a social bullshit that goes back to your King/Emperor pasts. I don't trust either of your lying asses and thankfully I have already put brass to brain on one English flunky with too much juice in him.

    *****waits for another chance***** 🙂

    • Locohama 6 April 2010 at 10:01 pm Permalink

      Chris, MAnnnnnn, you made me spit my ice coffee on some people at Starbucks YO. LMMFAO!!!

      • Rose 7 April 2010 at 8:09 am Permalink

        空said:

        "I don’t want to sound nitpicking. But I am sorry , this might sound talking down to the Japanese ."

        Sorry, but yeah, I guess I am talking down to the Japanese. Other commenters have added insightful and well-written comments, and I don't need to repeat what they've said. …

        And I don't care to get involved in a war of semantics.

    • 7 April 2010 at 3:09 pm Permalink

      Chris Bsan

      " No offense ・・・・・."

      Probably that is how you show you concern not to offend someone,[:)] no?

      Anyway I enjoyed your comment, [:)]

      Thanks.

  12. XO 6 April 2010 at 9:17 pm Permalink

    Sora-San, if you want to post a link that responds to what I posted, you would have to find an academic article that found less/little/no bigotry against immigrants in Japan. But of course you cannot, because those articles do not exist. No sane person would deny the simple truth that there is horrible bigotry against immigrants in Japan. See Shintaro Ishihara, or any of the hundreds of other well-known examples.

    What happens in the UK is utterly irrelevant to this topic. We are speaking about Japan’s problem, because Japan is causing us problems. If you have a problem with bigotry in the UK, then go to a UK blog and post about it.

    What you are doing is called denialism. Rather than trying to learn anything from those who have experiential knowledge, you simply try to nit-pick every sentence. But all you are doing is showing that you are emotionally invested in protecting the status quo. What I posted was an academic study that found a high level of belligerence against immigrants in Japan. Why do you still doubt it?

    • Rose 7 April 2010 at 8:07 am Permalink

      Just wanted to thank you for your comment.

    • 7 April 2010 at 2:10 pm Permalink

      XO san

      Thanks.

      "
      you would have to find an academic article that found less/little/no bigotry against immigrants in Japan."

      Excuse me? what kind of article do you want?

      "
      No sane person would deny the simple truth that there is horrible bigotry against immigrants in Japan. "

      To some extent,yes.

      "See Shintaro Ishihara, or any of the hundreds of other well-known examples"

      Ishihara and some other politicians made statements as if Chinese and Koreans were criminals. Is that what you are talking about?

      "
      What happens in the UK is utterly irrelevant to this topic"

      I don't see why. Do you want to make it sound as if Japan is unique?
      And do people not want to learn from precedents?

      "
      What you are doing is called denialism"

      Huh???? By your logic, what you are doing is also denialism . Rather than trying to learn anything from countries worldwide, your are trying to nit-pick every sentence. But all you are doing is showing that you are emotionally invested in ranting instead of being willing to talk with natives.

      "What I posted was an academic study that found a high level of belligerence against immigrants in Japan. Why do you still doubt it?

      There is xenophobia in Japan as well as in other countries as academic studies shows.

      I don't understand what you mean by "high level of belligerence"
      But my impression is contrary. In part due to the fact that there is relatively few immigrants, there is not high level of belligerence. Do you find noose? Do you see violent hate crimes against the immigrants? Do you find monkey chant? Do you find chants, Japanese job for Japanese?

      By the way do you read and write Japanese?

  13. Franzi 7 April 2010 at 6:04 am Permalink

    >The only cure for Iwakan is probably experience.

    Totally agree 🙂

  14. Chris B 7 April 2010 at 6:58 pm Permalink

    Chris Bsan

    ” No offense ・・・・・.”

    Probably that is how you show you concern not to offend someone,[:)] no?

    Anyway I enjoyed your comment, [:)]

    Thanks.
    ***************************************************************************

    No that was me showing courtesy to Loco by not just saying something like…
    "Hey you fukin clueless bitch, how boutz I beat your head till your fuckin brainz leak outta your ears you stupid ass mother fucker" (then I threaten you personally right here).

    Now that woulda been an obvious lack of courtesy towards this deep and important topic and the author of it. So…I aint gonna do it 😉

  15. XO 8 April 2010 at 10:29 am Permalink

    What you are missing is that the old lady is just an example. This type of action happens to us dozens of times a day, hundreds of times a month, thousands of times a year. Sometimes this action is more belligerent, sometimes less. But a general hostility is a constant factor in our life. And that is necessary and wrong, even if it is not a noose.

    By the way, I am a white American. And yes, like most of us who have lived here a long time, I speak and read Japanese. My wife is Japanese, and I work and live around almost 100% Japanese people. So, just in case you are thinking I am the stereotypical foreigner living in Roppongi Hills and out of touch with daily life here, I am not. This stuff happens everyday to me.

    • Locohama 8 April 2010 at 10:51 am Permalink

      Thanks again XO!
      Ashita mo ganbarimasyou ne

    • 8 April 2010 at 6:15 pm Permalink

      XOさん
      ありがとう。

      This type of action happens to us dozens of times a day, hundreds of times a month, thousands of times a year.

      この手のタイプのことが毎日何十回も起きる、というわけですね?

      この手のタイプって具体的にはどんなことでしょうか?

      general hostility is a constant factor in our life.

       正直、ここらへんもちょっと想像つかないのです。

       誰からどのような敵意をどのような形で感じておられるのでしょうか?

       先日、ある日本人の人が、外国人の方に肘鉄を食らった、といっていました。よく聞いてみると、列に並んでいて前に割り込もうとしている、と誤解されたそうです。誤解ですけど、双方、敵意を感じた、と思うかもしれない。

      また、ある人は、日本語で書いて下さい、と頼んだら、外国人の方が突然、英語かなにかで怒りだしたそうです。

      僕なんかも、ある外国出身者の名前を片仮名で書いたら,Fuck you などと罵られたことがある。

      英語で話しかけて、怒られた、というという日本人などいる。

      日本人も外国人の方から敵意を感じた、と思うかも知れないし、外国人も日本人から敵意を感じた、と思うかもしれない。

      、具体的でないと、なかなかわかりにくい。また、具体的でないと、単純に愚痴を言っているのか、あるいは、それこそ、日本人に敵意を感じているだけとも受け取られかねない。失礼かもしれませんが、同じようなことは、例えば、排外主義者の日本人でも在日外国人について言いそうなことだからです。

      どうか、できましたら、日本人にもわかるように具体例をだしていただけないでしょうか?

  16. XO 9 April 2010 at 8:29 am Permalink

    This blog is filled with very specific examples. My experiences are very close to Loco's. So, just read his stories. The problem also becomes that if I tell you about recent experiences, such as when I was not allowed to buy a product in a local store, or the person on a very crowded Shinkansen (everyone standing in the aisle) asked to be moved because they did not want to sit next to me, and so on, then you will attack each case. You will try to attack each example, without seeing how it is all apart of a bigger problem, that cannot be denied. You are not trying to see the big picture, you just keep denying. You will not tie together these hundreds on insults, into a larger picture.

    Does people grabbing their children and saying "abunai! abunai!" when I walk by destroy my life? No. Does people stopping and making sure that I am not walking behind them, really harm me? No. But try living with all of that and much more everyday. All we want is to be full-functioning productive equal members of Japanese society, and the resistance that comes everyday is morally wrong and needs to stop.

    By the way, most foreigners complain that they do not get spoken to in Japanese. Or when they speak in Japanese, people will reply in English etc.

    • 9 April 2010 at 12:18 pm Permalink

      This blog is filled with very specific examples. My experiences are very close to Loco’s. So, just read his stories.

      席で避けられたということでしょうか?

      You are not trying to see the big picture, you just keep denying. You will not tie together these hundreds on insults, into a larger picture.

       とんでもない。席を避けるのは失礼である、と日本人に訴えたり、他のロコさん記事を翻訳して、日本人のみなさんにうったえたのは僕ですよ。

       他の点でも問題があれば、紹介し、また、在日外国人の方に問題提起していただくよう再三頼んでいるのも僕です。
       
       XOさんは日本人から敵意を感じるといいますけど、英語圏のブログで投稿する日本人もかなり外国人からの、ーーーXOさんの言葉を拝借すればーーーー”ハイレベルな敵意”を感じている。例を出すまでもないでしょう。
       それや、他の在日外国人の否定的な態度をとらえて、「外国人は、敵意に満ちている、日本人からのアドバイスを聞こうとしない、なにかと言うとすぐに否定し、怒りだす」などとやりだし、、抽象的に外国人の敵意や好戦性を云々したり、外国人との嫌な体験談を集めながらも、外国人からの意見も聞かずに外国人との対話もする意思もない輩がいたら、それは陰険な排外主義者でしょうし、また、収集がつかなくなるでしょう。同様なことは在日外国人の方もやめたほうがいい。

       それに、抽象的な愚痴ならば、フランスでパリ症候群にかかった日本人と似たようなものだ、と思われてもしかたながない。 http://blog.goo.ne.jp/kentanakachan/e/614d403b9ad

       大きな枠組みで見ようとしていないのはXOさんではないでしょうか?

      By the way, most foreigners complain that they do not get spoken to in Japanese. Or when they speak in Japanese, people will reply in English etc.

       日本人がなぜ、英語で話しかけるか、おわかりになったでしょう。
       こうして日本語で話しかけているのに、英語でかえってくる。こうした話題でも、日本人読者を想定していない。
       日本人が外国人風のひとに英語で話しかけるのも理由がないわけではないわけです。
       XOさんが英語で返答され続ける限り、日本語で話しかけられて英語で返答し続ける問題にされている日本人について苦情は言えないことになります。

       XOさん、僕は、在日外国人の方々それぞれ問題を抱えているのを否定するつもりはない。どの国でも外国人の方々は問題を抱えている。
       だからこそ、それを対話を通じて、日本人のみなさんにうったえていただきたい。
       アメリカではマイノリティーに属する司法長官が対話を提案している。。
       日本ではマジョリティーに属するぼくのようなものが対話を提案している。一部在日外国人は拒否している。

       問題があるのか、誤解なのか、正当な主張があるならば、それはどうやって解決すべきか、そうしたことを、”ともに”議論していくこと自体が日本人と在日外国人の絆を深めていくものであると、と考えます。

       逆に、抽象的、あるいは誇張された苦情、日本独自論的な日本を異分子扱いするような態度、誤解に基づいた言説を閉ざされたコミニュティーで増長しているだけでは、問題を解決するどころか悪化させるだけだと考えます。

       どうか、XOさんも具体的な事例や、問題提起をしてくださり、日本人との対話に参加し、日本の社会に参加されることを希望します。

       
      ”if I tell you about recent experiences, such as when I was not allowed to buy a product in a local store”

       ためにしにどうです?この話を具体的に聞かせていただけませんか?

       

  17. Eric 7 June 2010 at 7:55 pm Permalink

    Hmmmm

    Lots of thinkin, wheels are turnin and people are making attempts to write something worthwhile. For that, well done Loco.

    I wont get too specific because I'm hungry and want to make a sandwich, however, I wanted to comment on what someone said regarding the Japanese being comfortable with people like "Bobby" or "Billy" or whatever.

    They are comfortable with the TV persona and that's it. I have spent time around some celebrities here, big ones, big black ones, and have watched the Japanese interact with them. for those who do not know them, its like they are approaching the guy in the Mickey Mouse suit at Tokyo Disney Land. Its fun and goofy and clowny. There is no interest in that individual as a real human. He is a character from a TV show. Hes a T-shirt.

    The Japanese that I have seen that got to know these people, often seemed disappointed or flat out insulted. And no, it isnt the same with Japanese celebrities. a Japanese celebrity always has the comfortable world of the ambiguous Japanese language, social patterns and other tricks that are used here to make everyone's rapport essentially instant. So even when Mr. famous drops the facade, he can still connect with the other Japanese people because they are comfortable and content to wallow in their maze of linguistic tricks and indirect meaninglessness. I'm not condemning this, just speaking clearly. Something to be said for everyone being locked into a cage of behavior and patterns. Ms. Manners would be pumped.

    The foreign talents, they don't have that and as "well known" as they might be to the Japanese, in reality, most Japanese want to see the show, they want to go to the party and have a good time but they don't want to stay and clean up. That would mean dropping the BS and learning about these people genuinely and face, 95% of the time, that is not something people are willing to do.

    • Locohama 7 June 2010 at 8:02 pm Permalink

      Well said Eric! I'm glad you took time away from your meal prep to drop me a line. yep, and i agree with you 100% as you probably know being a frequent reader here. Thanks again for the shout and enjoy that sammich! (-:
      Loco


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