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Thread: Fluent Foreigners Now Accepted In Japan!

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    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Fluent Foreigners Now Accepted In Japan!

    Take this with a grain of salt as it was intended.

    日本語 わかりますか (Do you understand Japanese?)

    Let's imagine for a minute that we entered the “Twilight Zone” and we all woke up tomorrow morning and Japan was everything a few immersed gaijin desired. (Lexico's poll, in another thread, would then show a majority selecting "with dignity and respect".)

    Now we were finally accepted as part of the Japanese culture with no discrimination or hypocrisy whatsoever. The law now states in Japan that all gaijin are to be first asked if they understand Japanese and if they do, they are to be treated as a resident equal.

    Upon hearing our fluent Japanese, all Japanese would bow to us and would know not to use silly sign language like we were monkeys or be flustered or embarrassed when they first encounter us. If they stepped on our foot in a supermarket, they would first ask "日本語 わかりますか?" (Do you understand Japanese?) If we were fluent, they would treat us as they would any normal Japanese person and would reply, “すみません 外国人さま”(I’m sorry most honorable foreigner.)

    Even the Japanese police would be required to first ask all gaijin riding their bicycles, in Japanese, "日本語 わかりますか?" (Do you understand Japanese?) and upon hearing our fluent Japanese, they would bow to us and wave us on our way without checking the registration number on our bicycle or asking for our gaijin card as, since we spoke fluent Japanese, we were to be treated as any normal Japanese and couldn’t possibly have stolen a bicycle or be in the country illegally.

    Upon entering a restaurant, bar, dry cleaners etc., we would first be greeted with “Welcome.” We would then be asked the question "日本語 わかりますか?" (Do you understand Japanese?) And, hearing that we did understand the language, we would be treated as a normal Japanese person. No sign language or shyness at all from the Japanese as after all, we are fluent in their language, know their culture and history, and deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as any Japanese person.

    However, because we are gaijin and hate redundancy, the Japanese would be informed NEVER to welcome us again into their place of business should we exit and return within a few minutes or hours. Heck, why not ever say “welcome” to us ever again as they should already know us and they know how much foreigners dislike them acting like robots.

    When we first meet Japanese people, they would be required by law, to first ask us “Do you understand Japanese?” Upon hearing our fluency, they would know NEVER to ask us if we could use chopsticks, like Japanese food, sleep in a futon, etc. because it would be assumed that since we are fluent, we must do all things a Japanese person does. And they would know how much a foreigner hates to hear those questions if they are fluent

    They would be told NEVER to ask a fluent gaijin if we like natto or ikura, or can eat sushi, or enjoy the Japanese bath because we probably do and they wouldn’t want to offend the honorable fluent gaijin as they were probably asked that question by someone else, somewhere, sometime. They would just take it for granted that we probably do, even though not all Japanese like all things Japanese. But, heaven forbid, they would not want to make the fluent honorable gaijin irate lest we come to disparage Japan and her customs.

    They would be informed that if the honorable gaijin looks lost or confused and, if they are fluent, to never offer ones assistance, especially if they have a map in hand. If we do ask for directions in fluent Japanese they would be informed to just reply with, “You are fluent, find it yourself,” as they might offend us otherwise.

    The Japanese people would also be required to first ask a gaijin’s country of origin before they ask us if we have such and such in “America”. Even though the majority of Japanese people have only interacted with Americans and it was Americans who occupied Japan after the war and gave them their constitution, and it was America who paid to rebuild Japan, and it is Americans who constitute the largest majority of gaijin in Japan, they should not offend other people from another country by assuming they were American.

    However, if the gaijin in question was not fluent, the Japanese could do as they please as the gaijin would not know the difference anyway and probably wouldn’t mind having those questions asked or be offered assistance. He might even welcome it and the chance to make a new acquaintance and maybe learn something new.

    Even if this were the law in Japan, some immersed gaijin would still say something like, “The Japanese do not speak to us and are just patronizing us.” They might even say, “The Japanese are not interested in us as they do not even ask us if we like their culture and food. They don’t even want to know why we are there and why we have lived in Japan so long. Therefore, they must hate gaijin and must secretly want us out of their country. The Japanese are discriminatory against gaijin!”

    Sound inane? I thought so. What kind of country would Japan be if this was the way it was? A better place for immersed foreigners to live? I think not as someone, somewhere would complain about this also. I think it would be a boring place and it would be very difficult to meet new people as the only thing a Japanese can now ask you is your name and country of origin. Can you imagine what it would be like if the Japanese were not allowed to ask you why you like Japan, the food, customs, etc, just because you were fluent and may become irate? How many people would you meet or make friends with? Not many.

    Personally, as a fluent gaijin, I like Japan just the way it is. Sure there is room for improvement, but that will come in time. Heck, even if it doesn’t come as fast as I want it, it is not my country, I am not Japanese, and why would I want to criticize another country’s customs and culture when I am their guest even though I may not agree with some of them? Sure some constructive criticism is acceptable, and even encouraged. But to completely expect a country to change overnight or to disparage their customs and the way they act is going a little bit too far I think.

    Besides, it is too much fun being an immersed foreigner in Japan. We can pretend we don’t know the language to see what people are really saying about us. If we feign ignorance at first, and pretend that we don’t know the language, we can tell if a person really likes us for who we are or if they are just patronizing us just because we are a foreigner. This is especially useful when meeting new people. It is also useful when walking into a strange establishment as we can understand what the people are saying about us as to whether they want us there or not. If we screw up on their customs we can just say, “I didn’t know,” and we are usually forgiven. This can come in handy in some situations.

    Being totally accepted in Japanese culture would require me to act, think, and be Japanese to the core. That I do not want as I totally enjoy being the henna gaijin (strange foreigner) and thinking for myself. I enjoy meeting new people, walking into new establishments and don’t mind answering the usual “20 questions” all foreigners, fluent or not, are asked time and time again, sometimes from the same people, although this is rare.

    When in Japan, I usually walk into an establishment as if I belonged there and start speaking Japanese as would any indigenous customer. Upon hearing my Japanese, the transaction continues as normal as if I were a Japanese person whether it be in a post office, supermarket, department store, bar, or bank. And in 30 years, not one Japanese has ever used sign language while speaking to me and I have interacted with a countless number of them. When they hear that I can speak their language they are usually relieved, don’t treat me any different, and I have made numerous friends because of it.

    Japan can be a wonderful country if you are a fluent foreigner. Enjoy it!
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


  2. #2
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    good post !! I think indeed if u are fluent things happen more natural without all the signlanguage ! And if they wouldn't be able to talk to us japan would suck to the core
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    The premise has a huge flaw.

    Starting off encounters by asking "日本語 わかりますか?" would be discriminatory. At the very least, it is certainly not the way I prefer my encounters to get started. I prefer that people just speak to me under the assumption that I do speak Japanese.

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    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    The premise has a huge flaw.

    Starting off encounters by asking "日本語 わかりますか?" would be discriminatory. At the very least, it is certainly not the way I prefer my encounters to get started. I prefer that people just speak to me under the assumption that I do speak Japanese.
    He talked about that as if it would be that way Mike...not that it actually is so

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    Great post Pachipro!! You make some great points.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    He talked about that as if it would be that way Mike...not that it actually is so
    Did you not see the word "would" in my reply?

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    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    yeah but u started about the premise...It's with itention he stated that I think...

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    "Premise" kind of means a proposition (loosely, an idea). Using the word "premise" to refer to Pachipro's hypothetical situation shows that mikecash understood it was just that(a hypothetical situation).
    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

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    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    The premise has a huge flaw.

    Starting off encounters by asking "日本語 わかりますか?" would be discriminatory. At the very least, it is certainly not the way I prefer my encounters to get started. I prefer that people just speak to me under the assumption that I do speak Japanese.
    This preference has a huge flaw also. Of course anything the Japanese would do to help placate foreigners would be deemed discriminatory by some. Unless you look Asian, I doubt it very much if anyone would speak to you under the assumption that you do speak the language since so very few foreigners do. However, if we entered the "Twilight Zone", I'm sure that could be arranged and made a law in Japan. Therefore, all foreigners, regardless of whether the Japanese know if we can speak the language or not, would first be addressed under the assumption that they speak Japanese.

    Maybe, in the "Twilight Zone" the Japanese could impliment a button system for all foreigners, lest the Japanese discriminate against us by first asking us if we understand Japanese. Hypothetically, some may still find this discriminatory also. Therefore, they will make it mandatory for EVERYONE, Japanese and foreigner alike, to wear a button of their choosing.

    I'm fluent. (With a little flag of the country(ies) you are fluent in)

    I speak SOME Japanese (English)

    I speak no Japanese (English) at all.

    I've already answered your 20 questions!

    I am NOT from America!!

    :let's get a drink and get to know one another (All Languages)

    I'm single and available (International Language)

    I'm gay (International Language)

  10. #10
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    This preference has a huge flaw also.
    No, there's nothing wrong with my preference. If I had said it were my expectation, it would be not only flawed, but foolish.

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    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    Mike you computerjunk ! You just got up and already online...

    And I know what premise means Rach...it's just that I don't get what mike wants to make clear sometimes...

  12. #12
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    This preference has a huge flaw also. Of course anything the Japanese would do to help placate foreigners would be deemed discriminatory by some.
    I don't think it incumbent upon the Japanese to go out of their way to placate me, or any other foreigner.

    Unless you look Asian, I doubt it very much if anyone would speak to you under the assumption that you do speak the language since so very few foreigners do.
    I don't look Asian, and people speaking to me under the assumption that I do speak the language is pretty much a daily occurance.

    However, if we entered the "Twilight Zone", I'm sure that could be arranged and made a law in Japan. Therefore, all foreigners, regardless of whether the Japanese know if we can speak the language or not, would first be addressed under the assumption that they speak Japanese.
    I certainly hope that remains a "Twilight Zone" solution. I would personally abhor such a law.

    Maybe, in the "Twilight Zone" the Japanese could impliment a button system for all foreigners, lest the Japanese discriminate against us by first asking us if we understand Japanese. Hypothetically, some may still find this discriminatory also. Therefore, they will make it mandatory for EVERYONE, Japanese and foreigner alike, to wear a button of their choosing.

    I'm fluent. (With a little flag of the country(ies) you are fluent in)

    I speak SOME Japanese (English)

    I speak no Japanese (English) at all.

    I've already answered your 20 questions!

    I am NOT from America!!

    :let's get a drink and get to know one another (All Languages)

    I'm single and available (International Language)

    I'm gay (International Language)
    When do we pass out yellow stars?

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    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    As an outside observer, I'd like to offer several minor points if that didn't offend anyone entrenched on either side of the gaijin camp regarding how the Japanese public should treat gaijins in general, and the fully immersed gaijins in particular.

    First, by presenting this bold assumption as a possible scenario some time in the future, we are finally able to discuss the problems arising when people from different cultures meet in greater detail. This is one step closer to the solution of the problem however unsatisfactory it may be. Therefore it would help to define the intermediate and transitory nature of Pachipro's proposition (let's call it PachiProposition No. 001) before we discuss the flaws or shortcomings of it; which brings me to the second point.

    Second, the Japanese general public do not seem to be aware of the "irritation" their "naiive" hospitality is causing the gaijins. They are not aware that their lack of individual attention is vastly dehumanising for people from the Americas, and even more so for people from European nations who value their invidivualtiy with utmost value. PachiProposition 001 assumes that Japanese society as a whole has become aware of the seriousness of the problem, AND that they have come to a major decision to break away from their comfortable ways (of at least 1400 years) and to make a truly serious effort to make the fine distinction between fully acculturated gaijin and those who are just passing through for some sightseeing.

    Third, because this new way, or requirement, of having to treat all gaijins in general with individual attention, the Japanese will have to bear more psychological stress from the simple fact that they have to worry about not stepping on each and every gaijin they happen to meet randomly each day. Not stepping on a gaijin's feet figuratively could become adequate cause for indigestion, insomnia, schizzophrenia, ucler, hypertension, loss of appetite, loss of hair, miscarriage, and even premature death in extreme cases. The national health care system would have to go through a major restructuring to accomodate the increase in psychological or pschosomatic symptoms, which would increase the yearly budget, forcing the revenue service to demand higher income tax to cover the difference in expenditure. All for the well being of the Japan loving gaijins.

    Fourth, having a law is not everything. To make it work, a full fledged social program has to get rolling to educate the average citizen from kindergarten to college to the grandmas and grandpas who are likely to meet a gaijin sooner or later. To make the program work, the Ministry of Education / Culture would have to write up a curriculum for all age groups of Japan. The level of awareness, the quality of understanding, and amount of work and funds that is required by Pachiproposition 001 is nothing small.

    I've only touched upon several things I noticed from an outsider's viewpoint; there should be more to say on this proposition, and much more to think and discuss as to how this proposition that seems farfetched now can become reality in this zone as in the twilight zone. The proposition may become unnecessary if Japan is capable of making the quantum jump from the insular mindset to the cosmopolitan, as it has done in the technological field since the first year of Meiji. But what would be more sincere and appropriate for the Japanese than making it a legal requirement?

    I would like to invite propositions as to how the final stage of Japanese cultural transfromation should be regarding the currently uncomfortable state of gaijin affairs. What can Japan to do make life in Japan more equitable and humane for you?
    Last edited by lexico; Feb 11, 2005 at 01:33. Reason: type-o
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

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    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeCash
    No, there's nothing wrong with my preference. If I had said it were my expectation, it would be not only flawed, but foolish.
    Whoops. Should've said premise and not preference. gomen, neh.

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    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    the problem is japanese worry to much on how to treat a westerner instead of just treating us with the same politeness they would treat anyone.

    saying that also japan is a very strict society in the sense that there's rules and guidelines for nearly every part of life and living in japan.

    in the west its more relax, and its easier to go with the flow, japanese just havnt been brought up with the ability to improvise and take things as they come.


    ...i can only emagine the problems that will occur between humanity and an alien race should we ever survive long enough to engage in communication....

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    Japaustralian jieshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    The premise has a huge flaw.

    Starting off encounters by asking "日本語 わかりますか?" would be discriminatory. At the very least, it is certainly not the way I prefer my encounters to get started. I prefer that people just speak to me under the assumption that I do speak Japanese.
    I agree with uncle frank, only problem is that I am nowhere near fluent yet (probably not even basic conversational)
    When it comes down to it the art and sport of Kendo is a question, "I'm going to hit you in the head with a stick, but can you hit me first?" - Me

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jieshi
    I agree with uncle frank, only problem is that I am nowhere near fluent yet (probably not even basic conversational)
    This is the second reply to me which mentioned "Uncle Frank" in a manner which can be read in such a way that it appears you have me confused with Frank.

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    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    This is the second reply to me which mentioned "Uncle Frank" in a manner which can be read in such a way that it appears you have me confused with Frank.
    Frank, why would anyone confuse you with Mike?

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad pierrot
    Frank, why would anyone confuse you with Mike?
    I always try to be frank, but I have never tried being Frank. Maybe I should look into it.....

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    I was going to comment on that, but I thought maybe I was reading something wrong. I think you've been mistaken as Frank a few times now, mike. You're such an impostor.

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    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirei_na_me
    I was going to comment on that, but I thought maybe I was reading something wrong. I think you've been mistaken as Frank a few times now, mike. You're such an impostor.
    It's easy to tell us apart. We're both decrepit, but I'm the crotchety one.

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Yes, that...and you don't use smilies and lots of punctuation....

    Or maybe that goes under the crotchetiness?

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    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    the problem is japanese worry to much on how to treat a westerner instead of just treating us with the same politeness they would treat anyone.

    saying that also japan is a very strict society in the sense that there's rules and guidelines for nearly every part of life and living in japan.

    in the west its more relax, and its easier to go with the flow, japanese just havnt been brought up with the ability to improvise and take things as they come.
    I'll be Frank with you; I think your observations are valid. Just for argument's sake let me say that;

    "Treating an outsider with the same politeness is absolutely unpermissible for an honorable Japanese."

    "Maintaining formal distance is the ultimate expression of respect for a Japanese."

    "Being relaxed, improvising, going with the flow, taking things as they come are all signs of lewdness, licentiousness, and immorality for the traditionally minded Japanese."
    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    i can only emagine the problems that will occur between humanity and an alien race should we ever survive long enough to engage in communication....
    ...which is one more reason to believe whoever made it this far couldn't possibly be that dumb... unless you're a Mars Attacks fan.

  24. #24
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jieshi
    I agree with uncle frank, only problem is that I am nowhere near fluent yet (probably not even basic conversational)
    Note how Jeishi used the lower case frank. It is synonymous to Uncle as a proper noun; in fact why don't we let all the youngsters call the elders frank as of today as a term of endearment? Wouldn't you agree uncle frank?

  25. #25
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    Remember....

    "He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot."

    F.Y.I. Duck Soup is one of my favorites movies....


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