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Maciamo
Mar 31, 2005, 22:33
I sometimes get people asking me why my posts are so critical of Japan (especially regarding the legal system (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/japanese_backward_legal_system.shtml), discrimination (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/discrimination_in_japan.shtml) and prejudices (http://www.wa-pedia.com/culture/misconceptions_prejudices.shtml), and why I am living in Japan if so many things bother me.

It seems however that those people have only read the most critical of my posts and not seen what stands beside them. Out of 4000 posts on this forum, only a few are really critical and mostly of the government. Many of my readers just don't see how passionate I am about Japan. I have spent thousands of hours writing most of the hundreds of articles in the Culture (http://www.wa-pedia.com/culture/), Glossary (http://www.wa-pedia.com/glossary/), Language (http://www.wa-pedia.com/language/) and Practical (http://www.wa-pedia.com/practical/) (including Travel Guide) sections of this website; something I would never have done had I not been deeply interested in Japan (probably more than most people who claim an interest in the country). Please keep this in mind when reading my posts, and you will understand what may seem at first undue criticism.

As I explained here (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=188068), if I criticise a few things related to Japan, it does not mean that I dislike Japan on the whole. For me rational criticism is clearly distinct from personal sentiments. I am the kind of person who can coldly criticise one's friends or relatives without having bad feelings toward them. Some problems just need to be identified and solved, especially if they concern people or things you care about. To understand me people must first understand the Latin/French/Italian proverb "Who loves well chastises well", as it suits me very well.

For example, the main purpose of criticising a country's economical and political system is to point out the problems and hope for improvement In Japan's case I cannot keep mum because continuing like this, Japan is doomed in the long run. Otherwise, when I write about most apsects of the Japanese culture (e.g. history, Shinto, Buddhism, traditions, festivals, sightseeing, kimono, food, fireworks, anime, etc.) I not only have positive views, but have done more than 99.9% of all other foreigners interested in Japan to promote the Japanese culture via the practical, culture, language and glossary sections of this website. I can hardly be called a Japan-basher. But I am not a blind Japan-lover either. I am a mixture of both - balanced.

Note that my rant about Japanese people only concerns 2 things : education and discrimination. In my views, the discriminatory practices I encountered in Japan mainly come from ignorance or misinformation fed to the population via the education system and media. If I may put it this way, the two "evils" that spoil the spirit of the Japanese people are the education sytem and the media, both of which are closely monitored by the government. So the source of all evils, be them economical, social or educational is always ultimately the Japanese government.

As they (the government) don't seem to realise it, and the people don't not do much to change things (because they are just too passive and compliant due to the education system), someone needs to take care of letting the world know the truth about Japan, and hopefully, when enough people around the world will have become aware of the situation, there might be some pressure from outside to change things, as in Japan history has shown that things just do not change (even for centuries on end) if there isn't some kind of external pressure (be in Perry for the Meiji Restoration, or MacArthur after WWII).

Why do I spend so much time and energy to improve the situation in a country that is not mine and which I could leave anytime I want ? People who can't empathize with my posts would probably never understand. It's called passion and (cynical) idealism. Living in Japan with my Japanese partner, these two characteritics of my personality force me to react to everyday situations, reflect about the causes of the problems I come across, analyse how the society in which I live works, and find solutions to improve ir. I have lived in several European countries, and did the same as for Japan.

As a matter of fact, before coming to Japan I wrote hundreds of pages about things that had to be changed about European politics, economy or educational system. I submitted the relevant dosuments to a few leading politicians or university professors. But there was IMHO much less to complain about in Europe than in Japan, as most of the issues were already common knowlege, and the solutions were already being tackled by the various governments and the EU. Looking at how much progress has been achieved in the EU in the last 10 or 20 years, I can only applaud. But looking at the same period of time in Japan, all I see is that the situation has mostly deteriorated, except for a few minor, but notable positive changes, such as the increasingly better position of women in society or a few measures to revive the economy.

Some of the motivations behind my criticism is aimed at improving the situations of long-term foreign residents in Japan (eg. experience of discrimination (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=187491)), but some is more idealistic, like getting rid of government corruption. Other things are a mixture of both, such as like improving the education system, which I want based on my own ideals to improve the Japanese society and the relations between Japanese and foreigners, but also because I wouldn't like my future children, who will probably be born or spend at least part of their childhood in Japan, to be raised with the current dysfunctional and indoctrinating education system.

I came to live in Japan mostly because of my Japanese wife, and cannot move to another country so easily for this reason. But I am not the kind of person to sit idly by when seeing a dysfunctioning system. Wherever I live I call my home, and now this home is Japan and I am resolved to make it a better country for everybody, and that hopefully the Japanese people and government will benefit from the insight of someone who can compare their country and system not just with one other country, but several, as Japan is my 7th country of residence.

Mycernius
Apr 1, 2005, 03:47
I've never thought you where over critical of Japan. If you don't like a country you would normally try to get out of it ASAP. The fact you have written many articles on the subject proves that you like the country. Let's face it, no matter which country you live in you will always find something to criticise and it is normally the government and it's policies.
The post sounds like you just need to get a few things of your chest. No worries man, we all need to do it occassionally :wave:

Faustianideals
Apr 1, 2005, 07:51
Well, I didn't know you wrote those all by yourself. Good job, seriously.

Uncle Frank
Apr 1, 2005, 08:47
your wife held you over the PC with your arm twisted over your head to write this post!

Frank

:-) :blush:

lexico
Apr 1, 2005, 09:05
Please sticky this post so every new member gets a good intro to the spirit of JForum. That is, in case there is no further discussion. What is there to discuss ?
Your view and aspirations deserve high regard, regardless of the individual points in the relevant threads.
Cheers, Maciamo !

kirei_na_me
Apr 1, 2005, 09:07
Excellent post, Maciamo.

As soon as I "spread more reputation around"(within the next few seconds), you'll be receiving some well deserved points from me.

I don't think an explanation from you was necessary, though. A lot of people who come to this forum have an extremely sugar-coated view of the Japanese and Japan. I think it's good that someone has the nerve to try to make people aware of the the bad points sometimes, even if it can be very unpopular.

Leroy_Brown
Apr 1, 2005, 09:24
your wife held you over the PC with your arm twisted over your head to write this post!

Frank

:-) :blush:

LMFAO Frankie!

No country is ever perfect. We're all mature enough to know that already.

Japan has its problems, agreed. But what country doesn't. I didn't think this forum is designed for extensive discussion of problems of Japan. People who have interests in Japan, Japanese culture, or its language come here to learn, share information, and have a good time. They aren't necessarily all interested in hearing about each and every problem they have over there. That's not what we're interested in. There are websites that deal specifically with what foreignors do not like about Japan. I wish this forum would not degenerate into those. It would be a tremendous disservice to those who are gullible and impressionable who end up losing their interest in Japan because they believe all the negative stereotypes and generalizations posted here, which are basically personal opinions anyway.

If I were interested in another country, Spain for example, and joined a discussion forum for those interested in Spain, and found that someone continually made criticisms of Spain who is not even SPANISH!, I might be a bit discouraged.

Leroy_Brown
Apr 1, 2005, 09:50
A lot of people who come to this forum have an extremely sugar-coated view of the Japanese and Japan. I think it's good that someone has the nerve to try to make people aware of the the bad points sometimes, even if it can be very unpopular.

Oh?

And have you spent much time in Japan?

Is that how you know about the bad points?

Leroy_Brown
Apr 1, 2005, 09:52
Please sticky this post so every new member gets a good intro to the spirit of JForum.

That, I agree with 100%.

kirei_na_me
Apr 1, 2005, 09:54
Oh?

And have you spent much time in Japan?

Is that how you know about the bad points?

Love your sarcasm.

I know a little about it, yeah. Living with a native Japanese person for 8 years, it kind of comes with the territory.

Just like you said, every country has its good and bad points, right?

I did not say that there weren't good points. I just think that people shouldn't have their heads in the clouds.

Why are you so defensive?

RockLee
Apr 1, 2005, 09:56
U should come visit Belgium, and notice how the whole place is going bad ! Maciamo should know, afterall he's from Belgium :)

ArmandV
Apr 1, 2005, 13:06
U should come visit Belgium, and notice how the whole place is going bad ! Maciamo should know, afterall he's from Belgium :)


Then again, you should come to Los Angeles. I was born in L.A. and lived there all my life. Now it is so congested that the freeways are even clogged on weekends! It never used to be that way. In comparison, Tokyo seemed less congested and it has a lot more people there. Maybe it's because of their mass transit system and most everyone is in the subways?

bossel
Apr 1, 2005, 13:11
I don't think an explanation from you was necessary, though. A lot of people who come to this forum have an extremely sugar-coated view of the Japanese and Japan. I think it's good that someone has the nerve to try to make people aware of the the bad points sometimes, even if it can be very unpopular.
Well said. It's a bit sad that Maciamo has to defend his position. This is not the forum of "Japan Adoration" but of "Japan Reference."

lexico
Apr 1, 2005, 21:44
U should come visit Belgium, and notice how the whole place is going bad ! Maciamo should know, afterall he's from Belgium
Then again, you should come to Los Angeles.Awright ! Let's have a bitching competition who lives in the stinkiest place on earth. How about it ? :evil:

Does someone know how to make a 50-60 choice poll ? Then what are the 50 most populous cities / regions on the forum ? How would I find that out ? :?

Maciamo
Apr 1, 2005, 21:58
Does someone know how to make a 50-60 choice poll ? Then what are the 50 most populous cities / regions on the forum ? How would I find that out ? :?

I could change the max. limit of choices for the polls. What do you mean by "most populous cities / regions on the forum" ? The places where most members come from ? We already have polls for the countries and US states.

lexico
Apr 1, 2005, 22:08
I could change the max. limit of choices for the polls.Excellent !
What do you mean by "most populous cities / regions on the forum" ? The places where most members come from ? We already have polls for the countries and US states.Yes, the underlined. But not by country, but by city or county (smaller than country, state, or province). DO we have that information somewhere ? Once we have the "place names of origin" we can have a "the ugliest, the dirtiest, the rottenest, the most detestable, stinkiest place to live in poll." Please offer suggestions before I consolidate my wordings and poll design. Hehe..this is going to be fun !! :p

den4
Apr 2, 2005, 01:30
I live and work in the Mushroom Forest, but I don't think that really qualifies as the stinkiest place :D

I hope I didn't come across as one who was being overly critical of Master Maciamo. But, like Lexico, Frank (love your april fools' avatar by the way), pretty eyes and many others, I'm sure he's wise enough to not take me too seriously anyway :D
'sides, what do I know? :D

Leroy_Brown
Apr 2, 2005, 06:57
I know a little about it, yeah. Living with a native Japanese person for 8 years, it kind of comes with the territory.


Living with one Japanese--a single person--makes you as expert on Japan? From knowing 1/100,000,000th of the population of a country without ever setting foot there you think you can generalize?

Fine with me.

Leroy_Brown
Apr 2, 2005, 07:03
A member here who agrees with much of what I've got to say sent me the following PM:

"It's kinda strange to have a "JAPANESE" forum with so VERY few real Japanese members. The few times a Japanese person posts something, it gets stampeded
by Germans, Americans, Frenchmen etc. with their 'CORRECT' Japanese answer."

kirei_na_me
Apr 2, 2005, 08:07
Living with one Japanese--a single person--makes you as expert on Japan? From knowing 1/100,000,000th of the population of a country without ever setting foot there you think you can generalize?

Fine with me.

I never said that I was an expert. It seems you are an expert of sorts.

You have no idea what I've been around and what kind of experiences I've had.

I don't understand why you have to be so defensive about everything. No one said anything to you, personally, but yet, you take it personal.

Oh well, I'm finished with the bickering.

Duo
Apr 2, 2005, 08:45
Living with one Japanese--a single person--makes you as expert on Japan? From knowing 1/100,000,000th of the population of a country without ever setting foot there you think you can generalize?

Fine with me.

I'd have to go for what Kirei says here. She knows first hand; living for so long with a japanese individual, meeting his friends, family maybe, etc etc etcc, during 8 long years she prolly has gotten to know what japanese culture, customs and attitudes are really all about. Much more than us anwyays, who can only pretend to be knowledgable from second hand sources, internet, movies, and what not, so i'd go for what she says over most people here, and I think we should listen a bit more to what the foreigners who live there are telling us from firsthand experience.


And i agree with bossel's remark about Maciamo not having to defend his position, this is a forum about Japan, but we don't have to love everything about it; yes we all like certain aspects of Japan, else we wouldn't be here, but this should be no reason that we can't criticise Japan and its people. After all, I'm sure we can all be objective here
:souka:

DoctorP
Apr 2, 2005, 09:28
I for one do not understand why you felt as though you needed to justify your own opinions by creating a seperate post. One thing that I admire about you is how you stick to (and defend) your opinions. I will say however that to only criticize and not offering valid options on how it should be corrected really does little good. It is very easy to point out that something is wrong, but quite another when you offer valid advise on how to smoothly transition into a better situation. You can not simply state (A) is wrong, and you should do it more like (B). That doesn't always work. But as I said you are certainly open to your opinion, and free to voice it.

I don't always agree with your views of Japan, but then again I am living quite a different lifestyle than you are. You are in the city, living amongst corporate execs., salarymen, the tall Tokyo skyline, and congestion (quite a dull lifestyle for me) while I live in a more rural environment surrounded by all professions. That is why I read your posts and consider your point of view.

Ma Cherie
Apr 2, 2005, 10:03
I would have never thought you hated Japan, Maciamo. Besides I think it's admirable that you point out the negative aspects of the nation. Not to bash it, of course. But I think it's rather beneficial for foriegners traveling to Japan, weather it's short term or long term, to be aware of how they may be treated. And I agree with what CC1 said.

kirei_na_me
Apr 2, 2005, 10:11
I would have never thought you hated Japan, Maciamo. Besides I think it's admirable that you point out the negative aspects of the nation. Not to bash it, of course. But I think it's rather beneficial for foriegners traveling to Japan, weather it's short term or long term, to be aware of how they may be treated. And I agree with what CC1 said.

Well said. I feel the exact same way.

Uncle Frank
Apr 2, 2005, 10:34
I think it's human nature for us to complain about things in life that upset us. Seeing as this here Forum is about Japan and everything to do with it, I guess complaints would be about Japan. I guess the Forum is like the news a little bit, it seems sometimes all we hear is negative. But the millions of nice things about Japan don't generate posts that get people talking like negative posts do. The thing we all need to remember are the beauty, history, and people of Japan are what draw us to this Forum and the negative things are a small percentage of what Japan really about. I figure if someone has something negative to say, let them say their piece and forget about it. Just cause they had a bad experience doesn't mean someone else might have the same happen to them; but you have to figure at least you were warned about a posible problem. I guess for someone who has not been to Japan, we should hear the good and the bad, and make our mind up from what happens to us while there(hope you all make it there some day). Enough, I'm rambling now.

Frank

Elizabeth
Apr 6, 2005, 05:54
A member here who agrees with much of what I've got to say sent me the following PM:

"It's kinda strange to have a "JAPANESE" forum with so VERY few real Japanese members. The few times a Japanese person posts something, it gets stampeded
by Germans, Americans, Frenchmen etc. with their 'CORRECT' Japanese answer."
Not every member's personality and temperment is going to find resonance in Asian or the Japanese culture and there is nothing shameful in admitting that. What is objectionable is expressing frustration with so many any aspects of the life there (freely ranging from Japanese mindset, emotional expressiveness, language, art, culture....) nominally as a way of helping the people become aware of and ultimately solve their own problems. Most of which are patently obvious to anyone who has spent time there, foreigners and natives alike. Maciamo is obviously welcome to share his observations and inferences without reservation, but when the discussion degenerates from how to improve education or limit government corruption into subjective arguments over deeply held values and beliefs without being open opposing views is the point I think it becomes a bad experience for a lot of us. :souka:

Maciamo
Apr 6, 2005, 08:28
What is objectionable is expressing frustration with so many any aspects of the life there (freely ranging from Japanese mindset, emotional expressiveness, language, art, culture....) :

I don't remember criticising anything about the art or culture (non including mindset). As for the emotional expressiveness that was just an observation. It doesn't bother me and didn't ask them to change. My rants are mainly about the political and educational systems, and I know that many Japanese agree with me, but often don't know how to change because they haven't experienced anything else. I think I a wide enough experience of education system (having studied in 5 countries + teaching in Japan) to be able to compare the various systems and hopefully change Japan for the better.

misa.j
Apr 8, 2005, 12:15
"It's kinda strange to have a "JAPANESE" forum with so VERY few real Japanese members. The few times a Japanese person posts something, it gets stampeded
by Germans, Americans, Frenchmen etc. with their 'CORRECT' Japanese answer."
Actually, this forum is mostly for people who are interested in Japan, so I thind it's kind of natural to have more members from other countries than Japan.

I've always felt welcomed here. I'm sure most other Japanese members will agree with me. The reasons why the discussions sometimes seem like the way you discribed might be because of a longuage barrier or different ways of communication.
It never really seemed that way to me, though.

Anyways, I appreciate anyone who is trying to lead Japan in better directions, like Maciamo, because I really know how difficult it can be to live there sometimes.

cicatriz esp
Apr 8, 2005, 12:28
A member here who agrees with much of what I've got to say sent me the following PM:

"It's kinda strange to have a "JAPANESE" forum with so VERY few real Japanese members. The few times a Japanese person posts something, it gets stampeded
by Germans, Americans, Frenchmen etc. with their 'CORRECT' Japanese answer."

I've given at least 5 Japanese people the url of this forum and told them to join if interested. They've usually told me that it's very interesting to lurk here, but they don't want to join because they don't want to debate people, due to little confidence in their language skills but also because they simply don't like to debate or argue.

I (and several other westerners here) love to debate. I love to argue. They don't. The end.

Pachipro
Apr 9, 2005, 03:59
No need to post an explaination Maciamo. I completely understand where you are coming from as I said in my post here (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=172792#post172792) . But do you really think you can change the thinking and culture of a country whose beliefs are so embedded and has hardly changed in hundreds of years?

I've read your reasons why you feel the way you do, but you have only 3.5 years experience in Japan. I have 10x that amount and I have seen many, many, people (famous foreign tarento and those not famous) that have tried to change exactly what you want to change and they have failed miserably only to become overly critical and/or they have come to despise and hate Japan because of it. Neither of which I hope happens to you.


What is objectionable is expressing frustration with so many any aspects of the life there (freely ranging from Japanese mindset, emotional expressiveness, language, art, culture....) nominally as a way of helping the people become aware of and ultimately solve their own problems. Most of which are patently obvious to anyone who has spent time there, foreigners and natives alike. Maciamo is obviously welcome to share his observations and inferences without reservation, but when the discussion degenerates from how to improve education or limit government corruption into subjective arguments over deeply held values and beliefs without being open opposing views is the point I think it becomes a bad experience for a lot of us.


For example, the main purpose of criticising a country's economical and political system is to point out the problems and hope for improvement In Japan's case I cannot keep mum because continuing like this, Japan is doomed in the long run.

I have to agree with Elizabeth here for the reason I stated above. (I know you said you didn't criticize the art or culture.) What I would like to see is some input from Japanese people themselves on how they feel. And are they up to changing long held beliefs/customs no matter how discriminatory they may feel or be to us. Sure we can argue and ***** all we want, but if the Japanese themselves don't desire to change the system as it is, who are we to force them? Are we General Macarthur who can impose our will on Japan and force them to change like he did? Not.

Also, why is "Japan doomed in the long run"? It has survived for over a thousand plus years just the way it is. The Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Americans have tried to change Japan and failed (with the exception of Macarthur). I think Japan will solve it problems as Japan and the Japanese see fit. On their own terms, in their own way, no matter how slow or archaic it may seem to us.


Some of the motivations behind my criticism is aimed at improving the situations of long-term foreign residents in Japan (eg. experience of discrimination), but some is more idealistic, like getting rid of government corruption. Other things are a mixture of both, such as like improving the education system, which I want based on my own ideals to improve the Japanese society and the relations between Japanese and foreigners, but also because I wouldn't like my future children, who will probably be born or spend at least part of their childhood in Japan, to be raised with the current dysfunctional and indoctrinating education system.
Sure, I understand exactly your reasons and your thinking, but to change the thinking of 150 million people and an entire country? I think not. Look at all the criticism Bush has taken for trying to establish democracy in the Middle East based on his ideals. The whole world hates him because of it. I am no Bush supporter, but his ratings have fallen to their lowest ever here in the US.

The Japanese education system, for all it's flaws, works for them as it has for years and years before we ariived. If they are unhappy with it, it should be they who change it, not us. If I had children in Japan I may send them to a private international school instead of the Japanese schools if I felt so strong about it.

I admire your passion as everything you are saying is true and if you do end up changing it, you'll be a hero to all gaijin and a statue will probably be erected in your honor. However, based on my experience nothing will change. And if it does, it will be gradual. Sure, I'd like to not be turned down for an apartment or house when I return to Japan permanently, but I know it will probably happen. However, I know that sooner or later I will find one. To me it's par for the course. This is Japan. Maybe it will change someday, but I don't think it will in my lifetime. If a Japanese person doesn't want to sell me, or rent to me, his house or apartment it is their choice. It is their property not mine. What am I to say? "Give it to me because I want it or I will sue you!" How American! (and maybe European). To me that would just not be right. Am I complacent or docile? I don't feel that I am as some Japanese would not even rent or sell their apartment/house to other Japanese if they didn't feel right about it. Maybe the guy/gal had a tatoo or was missing a finger or had long hair, or looked too young or had a pierecing. Again, to me, it is their property and it is their choice to whom they sell/rent it to.


I guess the Forum is like the news a little bit, it seems sometimes all we hear is negative. But the millions of nice things about Japan don't generate posts that get people talking like negative posts do. The thing we all need to remember are the beauty, history, and people of Japan are what draw us to this Forum and the negative things are a small percentage of what Japan really about.
I couldn't agree with you more Frank!.

Maybe I'm too old, I don't know. But I do know one thing and that is Japan, for all it's flaws and subtle discriminations, is a wonderful place to live for me. I have never been on the receiving end of some of what you have experienced, and maybe I will someday, but the good things about Japan and it culture, and most of it's people, and what I have come to love, far outweigh the flaws to me. I have discovered in my 50 years that no matter where one lives, even in one's own home country, town, or city, one will always find something to ***** about whether it be schools, local politics, discriminatory practices, etc. It's just human nature.


I not only have positive views, but have done more than 99.9% of all other foreigners interested in Japan to promote the Japanese culture via the practical, culture, language and glossary sections of this website. I can hardly be called a Japan-basher. But I am not a blind Japan-lover either. I am a mixture of both - balanced.
Maybe I might be considered a "blind Japan-lover", but I do understand it's flaws and agree with most of what you are saying. I just hold the view that this is Japan and until I become a Japanese citizen, if I ever do, things may change, but not at the pace I or you desire them to unless I run for local office and change them myself.

Whatever you do Maciamo, please do not stop expressing your views. Your honest and sincere input, logic, passion and research, coupled with your inputs on the good things about Japan and it's culture are most welcome to us who have experience with and live in Japan, and those who have never visited, but desire to. You have made this site most educational for all and I thank you.

qwertyu
May 25, 2005, 01:30
Maciamo, very thoughtful, and although I am also skeptical of your success in changing Japanese minds, the alternative is simply to keep silence, isn't it? No criticism, no problems, right? :-) No NYTimes, no torture in American prisons!

I guess many do declare "my country right or wrong!" but if one cares for the country, one would want it to go in the right direction. Just ask the good Germans of 1935. Don't we wish more people had spoken up then, within Germany and without. And these things usually take one by surprise. Who would have thought that America, another country I care deeply about, the beacon on the hill, etc. would be setting up torture and killing camps one day? Likewise, the current government of Japan is doing some very scary things to its constitution. It is the duty to be critical. The ancient Chinese saying goes, the ordinary citizen is responsible for the success or failure of the country. And also "good medicine tastes bitter but is good for sickness, good advice sounds horrible to the ears but is good for deeds." It is the responsibility to speak up when you feel something is terribly wrong, even if others shout you down for disloyalty, treachery, etc. We live in a period when the glorification of militarism, cheerleading of our leaders and daily affirmation of the goodness of ourselves is no longer considered Orwellian. I hate Star Wars, but there was a good line, "This is how liberty is lost, through loud applause."

Pachipro
May 25, 2005, 02:39
Maciamo, very thoughtful, and although I am also skeptical of your success in changing Japanese minds, the alternative is simply to keep silence, isn't it? No criticism, no problems, right? No NYTimes, no torture in American prisons!
Very well said and I couldn't agree with you more. We must not keep the silence when it comes to the subtle discriminations Japan and some Japanese impose on foreigners. The Japanese are so hard headed about it though, that I often wonder if they will ever listen to what the foreigner is saying and step into the 21st century.

Sadly, after 30 odd years, I have yet to see any real changes in their culture as far as the treating of foreigners is concerned, and I have just about given up hope as who in Japan will listen when I reside in the US?

To me, Japan is exactly the way it was (save for the construction) when I was living there. Nothing has changed. This is exactly why we must never give up the fight, especially those that are living there and experiencing these discriminations everyday. Maybe the Japanese are just trying to wear us down, I don't know. But when the likes of a Maciamo comes along, it gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the Japanese will listen this time to a foreigner who is actually living there. I have my doubts, based on my experience and the experience of those who came before me, but we must never be silent!

In this case, the quote by Pastor Martin Niemoller, a Protestant priest during the Holocast in Germany seems quite appropriate:


'First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.'

Apri1
May 26, 2005, 08:23
I hear this all the time. Every japanese forum I go to a guy is married to a japanese girl and then he complains about being called "gaijin" and other things that japanese people discriminate against. I feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over.

Faustianideals
May 26, 2005, 08:25
I hear this all the time. Every japanese forum I go to a guy is married to a japanese girl and then he complains about being called "gaijin" and other things that japanese people discriminate against. I feel like I'm reading the same thing over and over.
I'd get pretty pissy too, lol.

Elizabeth
May 26, 2005, 09:41
http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?p=128394&highlight=pottery#post128394

It isn't any big deal, but this is what I was referring to in the criticism of culture bit.

Otosan-no-Conan
May 26, 2005, 14:31
Maciamo,
Thank you for your initial post.
I can better appreciate your position/view when reading your posts.

I have never lived in a foreign country, save Los Angeles, so have not been involved in the day to day life challenges (in Japan) you face.

I've traveled internationally (17 countries) and have experienced many cultural events.

Now the devils advocate view...

Hmmm the changing of culture(s).... or should we call it forced global conformity.

This hits a nerve in me for some reason.
Who are we as foreigners to perpetuate cultural change in any country?
Shouldn't they want to change? Shouldn't it be their responsibility to perpetuate change, or bring it home from traveling abroad?

Why should the Japanese have to change?
It is their country, their politics, their language, their culture.
Why should Japan change to suit Euro-American desires/wants.

I think the root of the issue, global conformity, is based in economics/money and power. By getting countries to change their ways and accept cultural intrusions, products and services can be sold. By the government controlling the educational system they maintain power.

Just another way to view the situation.

I have visited Japan three times and would love the opportunity to live there. I am also willing to concede that if I lived in Japan my views would probably change as I run into cultural problems/differences based on the language barrier, my ethnicity and nationality. I would have to find a way to adapt.

Maciamo
May 27, 2005, 00:32
This hits a nerve in me for some reason.
Who are we as foreigners to perpetuate cultural change in any country?
Shouldn't they want to change? Shouldn't it be their responsibility to perpetuate change, or bring it home from traveling abroad?

Why should the Japanese have to change?
It is their country, their politics, their language, their culture.
Why should Japan change to suit Euro-American desires/wants.

Could you tell me which topic in particular you are referring to. If it is about the legislation changes, it is unrelated to the culture, especially regarding discrimination, immigration, international treaties (eg. about child abduction), and other international issues. As for social changes (again discrimination, women's rights, quality of education, etc.), rare are the Japanese who disagree wıth me. Many of the issues I raise were brought to me attention by Japanese people themselves. I am often only speaking for them and criticising the government and education system because I can compare it to systems in other countries I know (what many Japanese can't do). Japan has imported new systems and laws from the West since the late 19th century and from China before that. It is part of its culture to copy to progress, and I am usually only pointing out at what should be improved and how. Hope this is clearer.

Otosan-no-Conan
May 27, 2005, 14:17
I am thinking more the later, social changes.

It is not our (those of us who are not Japanese citizens) responsibility or place to impose our will or desires on the Japanese. The citizens of Japan need to to create their own change. We (gaijin) should only be role models or advisors regarding the change.

I should ask herec.
Maciamo, you live in Japan and have a Japanese wife.
Are you a Japanese citizen? Dual citizen?

I agree that there are values and morays in Japanese society that are outdated or counter productive (discriminatory) to various segments of the population. But I still feel, change has to come from the citizens or they will not appreciate the new ways or freedoms. Let the Japanese import the cultural changes they want, immigrants and tourist should not be forcing change on the citizens.

Yes, I think it deplorable that if my wife and I go back to Japan with our children it will be very difficult if not impossible for her to get a job based on her age, family and possible my nationality and/or ethnicity. I know I will be resigned to teach English or work for an American company. These issues will have to be overcome with inventiveness and ingenuity if and when the time comes. I also accept that I will most likely be an outsider or yabanjin when in Japan, maybe even amongst fellow Americans.

This is a tough topic for me for some reason as I really enjoy people from other countries and I have a strong desire to reside outside the US. I try to see the issues from multiple angles and keep coming back to it is the citizenfs responsibility to perpetuate social change through self education and/or voting in sympathetic public officials.

I don't think I am doing my argument justice and am having a difficult time defending it, probably because I have not lived in Japan.

lexico
May 27, 2005, 17:09
Now the devils advocate view...

Hmmm the changing of culture(s).... or should we call it forced global conformity.

This hits a nerve in me for some reason.
Who are we as foreigners to perpetuate cultural change in any country?
Shouldn't they want to change? Shouldn't it be their responsibility to perpetuate change, or bring it home from traveling abroad?

Why should the Japanese have to change?
It is their country, their politics, their language, their culture.
Why should Japan change to suit Euro-American desires/wants.

I think the root of the issue, global conformity, is based in economics/money and power. By getting countries to change their ways and accept cultural intrusions, products and services can be sold. By the government controlling the educational system they maintain power.
...
I am also willing to concede that if I lived in Japan my views would probably change as I run into cultural problems/differences based on the language barrier, my ethnicity and nationality. I would have to find a way to adapt. "This hits a nerve...why should they have to change ?"

I see in your statement a healthy, wakeful, critical view on American 'arrogance' often seen in political rallies, human rights hearings, and disrespectful propaganda dwarfing and demonizing a country's government that the US wants to bring under greater control. And in this sense, though perhaps not in others, I agree with you in sentiment.

Yet the argument to respect Japan's ethnocentric tendencies must also be brought under close scrutiny. One major aspect of Japanese society that perhaps citizens of the winning side of WWII seem to overlook is... well not exactly overlook, but rather succumb to the false and ill-based impression of content, or perhaps even guilt ? Or even the impression that all is okay since Japan has learned to fear the power of the greater good; that the Japanese people have somehow learned their lesson.

The purpose of the Marshall Plan was not to repeat the mistake of the harsh punishment imposed on Germany after WWI. It was to rebuild society and trust in a healthy manner, based on change, reform, mutual understanding and forgiveness. It looks as if the idea worked for Germany; but Japan doesn't see it, and refuses to do so out of self-interest. Bankrupcy is a system to reinstate a person so he can start over and not be ostracized from society for ever. But then he must accept the terms entailed to qualify.

Japan as we have seen for the past 60 years certainly has not been intent on these positive ideas of acceptance and change. Calls for reform have been grossly ignored by the administration, the legal system, right-wing political parties, ultra-facist nationalist elements, and the media. How many liberals and humanitarian voices were crushed, ignored, terrorized, and even put behind bars under the ignoble names of Communist, Anarchist, and even Christian !

pipokun
May 27, 2005, 22:42
Could you tell me which topic in particular you are referring to. If it is about the legislation changes, it is unrelated to the culture, especially regarding discrimination, immigration, international treaties (eg. about child abduction), and other international issues. As for social changes (again discrimination, women's rights, quality of education, etc.), rare are the Japanese who disagree wıth me. Many of the issues I raise were brought to me attention by Japanese people themselves. I am often only speaking for them and criticising the government and education system because I can compare it to systems in other countries I know (what many Japanese can't do). Japan has imported new systems and laws from the West since the late 19th century and from China before that. It is part of its culture to copy to progress, and I am usually only pointing out at what should be improved and how. Hope this is clearer.

From Japanese points of views, I am afraid that your opinions are probably mistaken as Japanese liberalists'
http://www.jcp.or.jp/english/index.html
http://www5.sdp.or.jp/
http://www.jtu-net.or.jp/
Or even from J far-left's
http://www.jrcl.org/english/e-top.htm

J liberals tend to eat most delicious parts of food, that is, just focusing only upon great freedom, equality, democracy or whatever and miss reality such as severe discriminations against foreigners, crimes in the context of European liberalism or socialism/communism.
Liberalism may stay sound as long as we all believe that it is just a fiction, I believe. But J liberals have been too loyal to the idea that liberalism is all and that it should not be denied, even criticism for better liberalism itself.

As Japanese liberalists would not start a thread like this, I think you are totally different from Japanese liberalists, though it was a bit sad to see you changed your nationality from Edo to European, correct me if I am wrong.

I'm more into conservatism culturally or politically. For the left it would be taken as the far-right or outdated, for the right as the opportunistic. I know it is Muzukashii.

About the Japanese culture in the post, you, in fact, have quite a different view from the post, don't you? :)

alexriversan
May 27, 2005, 23:13
i observed too: only 5 percent japanese. many japanese may stay away, because of long intellectual explanation:

including "is" "be" "can't" "will/will be". japanese does not have direct word for "is" "will"

japanese people have great difficulty to understand/do not want to make absolute assumption about tomorrow.

now, my weblog does not leave so much room for discussion.

though, i could criticize the IRISH government a lot- this does not occur productive to me.

so, first i go to produce, then to criticize. or even save the time.

well i understand, if *forgets name, really* writes a lot, including a few criticizing lines. nothing for ungood.

personally, i would write keyword list- because some people, including me, they just look for keyword.

and, try to outsource politic affair stuff completely.

because, approximately 90 percent of people are NOT looking for that.

now, i remember, name=maciamo?

i suggest a customizeable keyword list: these word's are getting censored. like "war" "communism" "dead" "police" "hash" "sex"

japanese people would appreciate that- i assume, they do not want to waste time with these topic's- even not to see/read these word's.

for japanese eye, this occurs as massive treat.
they are looking for distraction free/low distraction atmosphere.

customizeable censorship as advertising attribute :relief:
anonymus scare counter: people can vote "this reply/post scares me", and:
"this reply/post scares me unexpected". not the same as bad post.

probably, a system of scales for approval, customizeable. this displays, what one intends to talk about. (means, one might explicitely look out to get "scary" point's)

like the different personal title's in japanese :bluush:

and, this may get people who like/appreciate such a system...

lexico
May 27, 2005, 23:15
Alex, this is a fine idea !!!
I suggest you make it a separate thread. I would hate to waste this wonderful post hidden in this very hot thread. What do you say ?

alexriversan
May 27, 2005, 23:21
i just started to learn jp language, the month count occurs as three.

lexico: i see a need to customize the forum/even jref, towards japanese customer/visitor.

lexico
May 27, 2005, 23:30
Yes. I agree. We seem to have such a clear divide between Japanese speaking / English speaking membership.
Greater diversity could achieve more for everyone.
JRef as engine for cultural exchange between Japan and the rest !
Less bigotry thru talks and friendship !
Revolutionary idea of yours !

edit: Mad Pierrot just signed out. Ask Thomas instead. :)

kirei_na_me
May 27, 2005, 23:59
And I'm chopped liver? :p

lexico
May 28, 2005, 00:07
Sorry, Kireiname ! I was looking real quick not to be late to reply. I apologize if I missed. Honest, I didn't mean to ignore you; not at all ! :blush: :gomen:

kirei_na_me
May 28, 2005, 00:13
It's ok. I just felt like picking. ;-)

My name is in blue just because it's pretty, I guess.

Tonysoong
May 28, 2005, 00:15
Maciamo,.you have a thousand more reasons than me to love this forum as you are a much greater contributer to it. You need to defend a thousand things but yourself.

We are here not to check out how others think of us, but to check out how others think and for others to know how we think.

And despite all the vast gaps of opinion that we individuals may lack the power and influence to bridge, I persomally never doubt that we (the many posters on this forum)would still hug each other warmly if someday we met in a street in Shanghai or Tokyo. Would you hug me, Kireiname? Sure, no doubt.

qwertyu
Jun 16, 2005, 00:36
Thanks Pachipro. And here's something for Maciamo to chew over. I read this to think things over when I question what the hell am I doing trying to effect change in peoples' minds and attitudes?? Why is it that we think forcing progressive changes to some conservative societies [eg. Islamic ones] is "good" but other conservative ones [eg. Japanese, Indian] "bad"? IMO, progressive changes are always good for any society.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=3273