A while back, I published an article about discrimination and racism against foreigners in Japan. That article sparked a very interesting debate on my blog -- so interesting that it's actually worth writing about. In this editorial (and the follow-ups I'm working on), you'll see what happens when a foreigner dares to criticize Japan. Mandatory disclaimer -- I've only had 2 (two) Japanese commenters, and I'm keeping my opinions strictly about these two (i.e. no generalizing). They were a handful, anyway.
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When I first started my blog -- back in the day, when I was still a WordPress n00b and recovering from a monster writers' block -- I never imagined I would ever have mode than 10 comments at a time, let alone 50, or even (gasp!) 100. Then again, the Internet is full of surprises -- and, lo and behold, my article on racism and xenophobia in Japan has spawned not 10, not 50, not 100, but 132 comments (that's one-hundred-thirty-two!) and going strong.
Before I go on, the original version of that article arguably did suffer from a lack of solid documentation on certain issues. I never said I was perfect; heck, I'm still getting the hang of this whole "blogging" business (when I'm not over at LiveJournal QQ-ing about how iPwn screwed up on Professor Putricide and DeathRose doesn't even know I exist*).
Meet the contenders. First off, we have Erin: a friend I know since way back when (...actually, only since about three years ago, when we braved Kishida and the CJLC together**). Erin agrees with me on some issues and disagrees on others, and that is perfectly understandable. At some point, Erin says that:
yet, (in my own experience), once you get the "Japan bashing" label, its hard to get rid of it.
She has no idea how right she is, because it doesn't take long for another commenter to show up and throw a troll party in my backyard... But I'm getting ahead of myself. The next commenter is Mari, an Italian girl who points out a paragraph in my original article that could be easily misunderstood:
The only thing I didn't like in your post is what you say about that maid who said she was harassed by a drunken black man: "(If you dress slutty, you get what's coming to you, no matter whether that's your job or not.)" I don't know how it is in Japan or in your country, but that's what many people here in Italy often say to justify harassers and rapists: if a woman is raped or harassed, there's always someone who says that "it was her fault" because she was wearing a miniskirt or tight jeans etc (...) A man (black, white, asian or whatever) is NOT allowed to harass or rape you just because you're dressed a certain way. A woman should be free to go out dressed the way she wants (even slutty, if she likes it) without risking her life. Wearing sexy clothes and looking not-so-innocent does NOT justify a man for harassing or raping a woman.
I completely agree with her stance and fix the paragraph in question (my bad, didn't think it could be interpreted in that way). I pat myself on the back for a job well done --
-- and then wake up one morning to find this comment from "nipponjin" (<- nickname means literally "Japanese [person]"). Mr. nipponjin starts off quite mellow --
You are like a hatemonger．
why do you hate japan?
but,Japan is not bad country than you think.
maybe..sorry,i think better than Romania．
If you have complaints about japanese society,japanese people,
you must talk in japanese language to japanese people．
don't speak ill of japan behind our back．
open your mind．
we will welcome all good people from any nation．
There are so many wrongs with this comment I don't even know where to begin. For starters, this guy seems to have missed the point of my post entirely. His point of view, in a nutshell, is this: "You criticize Japan, therefore you hate Japan, therefore you are bad. Japan is an awesome country... well, better than yours, anyway. And how dare you talk about Japan in any other language than Japanese? You're creepy and close-minded. Peace"
After I try to point out the flaws in his "argument", nipponjin steps up:
Sorry,it not seems to me you don't hate japan．
Protest about the infamous mad party "Yamanote Halloween"?
most of japanese people say those protested have it coming.
these nuisance gaijin just like"Monster"．
it's not racism．
we japanese peoples look down upon these monster．
because our country is not playground for barbarians.
(...)You should stop hatemonger,
I suggest you don't come to our country ever again．
i think,you'd better close this silly blog．
it's all people happy,
Wow, my previous comment was a waste of Internets Let's try this again: I point out in a calm, concise manner that: a- using words like "nuisance gaijin" and "barbarians" is racist in itself, and b- the very notion that I would close my blog because he asks me to is laughable. Also note the "If you don't like the country, then you can giiit out!" argument.
In my next comment, I also invite this guy to state his case in Japanese, since his English is obviously lacking (hear, hear). And he wastes no time to reply with:
Don't you have any Japanese friends?
[We] Japanese hate foreigners like you, who try to find excuses for crimes
There are also people who suffer from anti-Japanese movements. It would be best to stop.
He says other things before and after that, but his credibility at this point is close to zero anyway. I also notice the fact that he never uses a real e-mail address to post, but I shrug it off for now.
At this point in time, Erin steps in and asks all parties to keep it civil, and also to write in both Japanese and English to make it fair for all, a concept I agree with. Erin also goes on to warn me that:
I think you might want to be aware some of your other articles are coming off a little discriminatory to Japanese people that read it (Engrish, Japanese girls walking etc) (not saying they are but are being interpreted that way)
That may very well be the truth, since different people interpret things differently (for instance, if anyone says anything bad about Runescape, I couldn't care less, but on the other hand, if anyone badmouths World of Warcraft in front of me, it's on!).
This is when Sora steps in and starts a debate that will go on for 100+ comments. But before we get to that, let's review nipponjin's other two comments -- one published, one deleted.
The first comment is bilingual (English and Japanese). Essentially, it can be broken down in two main points: a very loud call for foreigners partying on trains to "giiiit out", and this:
i strictly advise,
It's not your rights that you foreigners can work at Japan, and study.
this is japan,our country.
It's special special favor from the Japanese country&japanese people.
Please don't misunderstand it.
All foreigners must think about the importance of showing respect&gratitude for japan．
Surprisingly many foreigners have a mistaken sense of superiority that can push japanese.
because Japanese people spoilt the foreigner too much.
we'll be only scoffed at by them．
Now,we need to say clearly to silly foreigners．
"Don't get carried away,BAKA GAIJIN!"
ITT: Obvious troll is obvious. Poor wittle Japanese people got pushed around by "stupid foreigners" because the Japanese are too kind and understanding, etc. How we got from an article clearly describing ways that foreigners are being victimized in Japan to someone stating the exact opposite, I will never know. Also, let it be noted that Erin tried to talk some sense into the guy... even though, if we go by what he said afterwards, she probably failed.
nipponjin was quiet for a long time after that. Meanwhile, the debate between me, Sora, Erin and a few others was already going strong -- but then, the troll decided to take one final swing, which I decided not to publish until now. Here it is:
Sora, forget about this woman. Whatever you say, it's pointless. She came here to study on our tax money and instead of being grateful, she's both rude and an asshole. Of course Japanese people are gonna hate her. What, she gets paid from [our] taxes just so she can promote anti-Japanese hatred? How deplorable.
She was engaged to a Japanese? Probably to get herself a PR visa... how disgusting.
ITT: butthurt troll is butthurt. "WAT! You guys are ACTUALLY having a discussion?! HOW DARE YOU? We Japanese are purrrrrfect and anyone who says otherwise is an ass!" Aww... I'm sorry, did I hurt its wittle feelings? Sorry to have wasted about -- hmm, I think it's coming close to 4.500.000 yen out of your tax money. Guess what? Your government paid me to sit on my ass and do nothing for three years straight, while you probably had to bust your microscopic nuts just to get by. In your face, troll. Go ahead, rage some more. (Very aware that I'm a-trollin' here, too -- hey, he asked for it!).
Apparently, Sora was a bit surprised that I didn't publish nipponjin (a Japanese citizen)'s comment, but I let Krossfire's "hateful comments" through (more on that coming up in parts 2 and 3). Sora... if you're reading this, I hope you see why.
Finally, Rashasasha (probably a stray commenter from Arudou Debito's blog) came in to make a quick point:
Personally, I don't blame the japanese. The americans were even going as far as vandalizing! Sure, the words were harsh, but wouldn't you be pissed if a bunch of random people from another country overthrew your train and acted like the dumb, loud americans this country just so happens to have a lot of? All I have to say to the japanese is that we're not all like this! More quiet, moral americans must go to japan to clear our image before we're banned from the place just because of these partying idiots!
Indeed. It's good to know that other people share that feeling. The only thing I'd like to add here is that Americans aren't the only one who pull that kind of crap. Europeans do it too.
This post is more of a side-story to the debate that followed. Will post the continuation... soon(TM).
* Chances are he does know I exist now. Hi there. Thanks for the BRD run the other night, and if you ever need anything for your alts, just ask. If I'm not in-game, hit me up on MSN.
** ...at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies