One of the reasons I dont blog much about Japan
Is what my friend Alisa puts out so bluntly here...
I will not say that Japanese are racist, but, I can definitely say with confidence that a huge number of them are...
You see, we "gaijin" or "mukonohito" = the people from far, will never have the pure genes of the superior japanese...
we've gotten used to being eyed in the train, or people leaving their seats when u sit, or not talking to u when u need to ask for direction, or... or...
read the post... it's kind of like "fashet khele2" but, the problem goes way much deeper inside...
I'm feeling better now, much better.
In Japan you have to get over things quickly.
They have a saying that means "there's no way around it"- shou ga nai.
They say it often, too often. They use it as a blanket to cover all kinds of sins, corruption, and laziness. But the culture of shou ga nai is infectious, a carte blanche for every inaction.
But, take my example. When I was searching for apartments I got rejected from four different places, sight unseen, because I was a foreigner. The first time, I was really hurt and stunned. The second time, I was angry. The third time I was annoyed, and the fourth time, I was numb to it. Shou ga nai.
This is how it happened. I was sitting in a sunny realtor's office, flipping through a gigantic binder of apartments in an area I wanted to live in. When I found one of a decent size for a good price, I would tell the kid who was helping me, and he would call the other realtor's office. They would say if the apartment was still available, why it was so cheap, and when it would be available for a viewing. If everything seemed OK, my agent would go into his speech:
"Now there is just one thing, my client is a foreigner. She's a girl, she's American, she works for a Japanese company, she has two guarantors, the president of her company, and another friend, who is Japanese. Is that OK?"
Then there would be a pause, and sometimes he would say "yes, she speaks Japanese...Thats OK? Alright thank you."
I got so used to the eventual OK that I was beginning to think that the whole process was just a formality. It wasn't.
Eventually I asked about a place in the area and the guy went through his lines. Then the pause.
"Oh. Oh. Oh I see. Well, thanks anyway."
I watched his face as he put down the phone, and I could see the poor kid was trying to work out how to break the news to me. "Well, apparently they don't rent to foreigners. They've asked the landlord before, and they've always said no"
He watched my face as I took the news. I didn't say anything, I just smiled and blinked. What could I say? I wasn't surprised, and although I was angry, who could I be angry with? It wasn't the fault of this kid in front of me, nor the decision of his manager. I couldn't blame the voice on the other end of the phone, and the landlord, three degrees of separation away from me, was probably some crotchety old lady who didn't like anybody and was afraid of everything.
After a few minutes, he said. "daijoubu desuka?" I looked at him and smiled too big. "Hai."
The next day my coworker tried to explain it to me, "Well, you know, the landlords, they don't like renting to gaijin because they don't know their habits."
I threw down my chopsticks and gave him the most dangerous look I've given anyone in a while. I was sitting in a basement restaurant, eating raw egg and grated yam over rice. No one had any right to say anything to me about my "habits". He didn't notice my look though. He continued, "What? They don't know what they will do to the room? Desho?"
No. Not "desho". This is what I wanted to say, but what I couldn't say:
"Don't justify their RACISM to me!!"
That's right people, I said RACISM.. about JAPAN!!! Not xenophobia, or protectionism, or isolationism, or any of the politer words that Japan, as a world power, seems to be entitled to.
I can't go into all the reasons why Japan systematically and unrepentingly gets away with racism. It has to do with their massive foreign PR mechanisms, their houdini-like ability to pretend problems aren't there when they are, and the magical timing of the MOJ, which swoops in with symbolic reforms just as people were starting to make a big to-do about some injustice.
But mostly, mostly, it has to do with the fact that foreigners like myself, white, privileged, educated foreigners, are generally treated very, very well here. They love my English, they love my skin, and they love me when I can use their chopsticks and eat my food. Sure they may never accept me, they may never offer me a real job and they may get huffy when I refuse to leave after three years or so, but when I complain about those things, people just scoff and tell me to get over it. Of course, every once in a while, the deep seated racism that lives in this country blindsides me in a way that ruins my week and makes me angry. But because I can't complain about the general way my life is going, I forget about it that too. In a few days I feel better, and I let it go.
The people who lose in this situation are the Chinese, Korean, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern residents, immigrants, and temporary workers. They don't get well compensated for their jobs; nearly no one finds them "cute" or "kakkoi". They don't have time to write letters to their prefectural government, or write blogs about racial equality in a supposedly homogeneous and traditionally isolated country.
The racism, the widespread, institutionalized, and accepted racism in this country needs to stop. And not because Japan will need to open its borders as their workforce decreases, and not because they signed some pact with the UN. Just because its wrong, and because its wrong anywhere.
Yeah, I know my life isn't in danger, and in other places there are genocides and riots and violence over race. And I know America has far more race- related problems than Japan. But at least in America we can talk about it. We have shows like Chappelle's show, which actually brought some complicated racial dynamics to the forefront. We can major in Ethnic studies, and we can talk about the psychological impact of transracial adoption. (right lisa?). But because everyone thinks that Japan is a magical land of cherry blossoms and lollipops, where the trains run on time and everyone is polite, nothing ever gets discussed. And therefore nothing ever changes.
For anyone needing some final proof about the extent of the problem, check out the review of a magazine that was released and sold in Family Mart, a huge convenience store chain. It is a sensationalistic, fear mongering chronical of evil foreigners and the crime wave they are inflicting on Japan. Check out the evil, slanty-eyed Chinese, whose inferior DNA makes them predisposed to be violent. And how about that terrorist in the background? This magazine was published with cooperation from the national police force, making it in part a government concoction. Imagine if a magazine like this was sold in a 7-11 in America. Just imagine it.