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Maciamo
Sep 19, 2005, 17:26
Thread split from My Docomo experience (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19397)


Yes, I know of about 6 people like this, myself. I'm not surprised that a good number of Japanese don't trust foreigners. I think that in large part it's a reputation we deserve. I have huge sympathy for those of us just trying to make an honest living, though.

No, the sempiternal problem is that they do not differentiate between foreigners, although there are people from hundreds of countries in Japan, and many different social classes for each country. For me, no one falls in any category wider than "country+ethnic group+social class" (i.e. every person I meet has an etiquette with these 3 basic information). If the Japanese did the same, they would notice huge (I mean huge) differences between the so-called "foreigners" depending on the categories they fit in, and probably a clear trend for each group of people sharing the same 3 factors.

If you ask me which of an "upper-middle Indian from India" or a "lower class white Briton" would behave best in Japan, I would answer the first one without hesitation. Now, you ask me a middle-class white Belgian or a middle-class white Australian, I am pretty sure that the first one will behave better too. I know that from experience living in those countries. I have also analysed the raw crime rates by nationality for Japan (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/foreign_crime_in_japan.shtml), although the ethnicity and social class are not mentioned (big factor in any country, but especially those with big gaps between the classes, such as the US or UK).

Mike Cash
Sep 19, 2005, 19:14
I find the idea of treating people differently based on their country of origin, ethnic group, and social class to be elitist and repugnant. For those of you keeping score, I'm JREF's resident conservative Republican.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2005, 19:29
I find the idea of treating people differently based on their country of origin, ethnic group, and social class to be elitist and repugnant.

I didn't say I would treat them differently. But it is certainly better (more accurate) to classify people (for statistical purpose) on these 3 criteria than just on "foreignness".

Anyway, elitism is justified in many ways. People are what they want to become. Everybody is free to educate his/herself and behave the way they want. However, they will be treated accordingly. Elitism is just doing the selection process of those judged to have tried harder than the others to become good citizens (i.e. well-behaved, honest, well-educated, reasonable, ethically correct, etc.). Without a sense of elitism, there would be no civilisation and people would go back to the dark ages.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 19, 2005, 20:31
But it is certainly better (more accurate) to classify people (for statistical purpose) on these 3 criteria than just on "foreignness".
Point taken. But since we live in Japan, for practical purposes I guess I choose to lump us all together as many Japanese seem to do. But that being said, not all foreigners are created equal. There are the "good" ones who behave and the "bad" ones who don't. As one bad apple spoils the lot, so do the "bad" foreigners make it difficult for the "good" ones.
IHHO we must never forget that unless we obtain citizenship we can not expect to be treated exactly the same as others. Even if we do obtain citizenship, we will still be part of a small minority of the population, and ignorance about our situation is unavoidable, and we will continue to face unequal treatment. Do I think this is right? Of course not. But that's just how it seems to be.
I agree with Mike Cash that we (meaning everyone in the world) should not treat people differently just based on their country of origin, ethnicity, class, etc., but that is an ideal. We live in reality, and in reality people do discriminate. In terms of foreigners, between two people on this thread alone, we know of at least a dozen other foreigners who bailed on their last month's bill of cel phone use. Do you know of any similar cases? If you do, then I think we can all agree to see the beginnings of a trend: foreigners have a high likelihood of not paying for at least their last month of cel phone service in Japan. Say what you will about the Japanese, they're not morons. They can see the same trend just as easily as anyone else. It's perfectly understandable that they would then change their behaviors accordingly.
On the language issue, what percentage of non-asian foreigners (chosen just because they look different) in Japan do you think are competent enough in both Japanese language and the local geography to answer someone's question about directions? I would guess not a high percentage. The person in your example made a reasonable assessment of the situation in my opinion. I have posted similar experiences, and yes, I too was not very happy. But I think we have to take it with a grain of salt and step back to see a bigger picture.

Mike Cash
Sep 19, 2005, 20:46
I didn't say I would treat them differently. But it is certainly better (more accurate) to classify people (for statistical purpose) on these 3 criteria than just on "foreignness".

Was the registration of Jews and some certain others once upon a time in a certain European country based on some of your criteria, also just for statistical purposes?



Anyway, elitism is justified in many ways. People are what they want to become. Everybody is free to educate his/herself and behave the way they want. However, they will be treated accordingly. Elitism is just doing the selection process of those judged to have tried harder than the others to become good citizens (i.e. well-behaved, honest, well-educated, reasonable, ethically correct, etc.). Without a sense of elitism, there would be no civilisation and people would go back to the dark ages.

You're confusing the personal struggle to be the best one can be with snobbery.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2005, 21:09
IHHO we must never forget that unless we obtain citizenship we can not expect to be treated exactly the same as others.

I may not be Japanese, but as a permanent resident married to a Japanese, speaking Japanese and knowing at least as much about Japan as most Japanese, I think it would be unfair to put me with the "tourists", as Mike call them.


We live in reality, and in reality people do discriminate.

Then they should do it better, based on stricter and more accurate criteria. For example, if people from "x country" steal a lot of bicycles in Tokyo, no need to stop people from "y country" (assuming they look distinctly different). What are statistics made for ? Contemplating ? That would be a bloody lot of money spent just for the Japan Statistical Bureau and National Police Agency's statistical department.


In terms of foreigners, between two people on this thread alone, we know of at least a dozen other foreigners who bailed on their last month's bill of cel phone use. Do you know of any similar cases?

No, I don't frequent "bad people", whatever their nationality (well as far as I know). In fact I had never heard of foreigner not paying their bills properly in Japan. But I admit knowing very few foreigners in Japan outside this forum.


They can see the same trend just as easily as anyone else. It's perfectly understandable that they would then change their behaviors accordingly.

I couldn't find any data about Belgian committing any crime or offense in Japan in the NPA's statistics. Well, there are just about 500 Belgians in Japan, most of them well-paid expats.


On the language issue, what percentage of non-asian foreigners (chosen just because they look different) in Japan do you think are competent enough in both Japanese language and the local geography to answer someone's question about directions?

As I don't know many foreigners in Japan, it's difficult to answer. But anyone who had stayed at least one year in Japan should speak japanese well enough to answer such basic things. As for knowing the local geography, I don't see why people get lost or don't know where they are in the first place. From the first day I set foot in Japan, I never got lost (in fact I had to guide my wife in the train from Narita Airport as she can't read a map properly). My sister and her boyfriend came to Japan last month and I didn't have to guide them around. How can you get lost in Tokyo ? There are (bilingual) signs everywhere ! Not like if one was in the middle of the Amazon.


The person in your example made a reasonable assessment of the situation in my opinion.

I was wearing a suit and riding a bicycle, so the guy should have guessed that :
1) I was not a tourist but somebody working there habitually (so I probably knew at least some Japanese)
2) I probably lived in the area if I was on my bicycle (so I knew the area)

From this, his judgement was forcedly mistaken, and his reaction must have been that :

1) Foreigners, even living and working in Japan, cannot possibly speak Japanese (=> racist assumption)
2) Or he just didn't want to talk to a foreigner (cowardice or xenophobia)

I am sorry, but my way of thinking based on logics and deductions, and if I am wrong I cannot see right now what element I may have missed in my reasoning.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2005, 21:13
Was the registration of Jews and some certain others once upon a time in a certain European country based on some of your criteria, also just for statistical purposes?

Do I have to answer that ? This was clear discrimination as only the Jews had to register and carry this special ID card. If an ID card is imposed on the entire population (like In Belgium, France, Italy, etc.), then it is not discrimination as everyone is treated the same way. Because of this, I find the gaikokujin torokusho (which foreigners must carry at all time) to be discriminatory as the Japanese do not have ID cards at all.


You're confusing the personal struggle to be the best one can be with snobbery.

Snobbery is actuallt pretending to be that kind of person, but not being it.

What is your definition of "a good citizen" then ?

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 19, 2005, 21:38
I may not be Japanese, but as a permanent resident married to a Japanese, speaking Japanese and knowing at least as much about Japan as most Japanese, I think it would be unfair to put me with the "tourists", as Mike call them.
I don't disagree, but just by looking at you, no one can possibly know that.


Then they should do it better, based on stricter and more accurate criteria. For example, if people from "x country" steal a lot of bicycles in Tokyo, no need to stop people from "y country" (assuming they look distinctly different). What are statistics made for ? Contemplating ?
But you're talking about average people. How many of them do you think actually know or care what the statistics like that are? Also, no one can possible know for certain what country you're from just by looking at you.


No, I don't frequent "bad people", whatever their nationality (well as far as I know). In fact I had never heard of foreigner not paying their bills properly in Japan. But I admit knowing very few foreigners in Japan outside this forum.
Well, I try to avoid "bad people", too, but when I did Eikawa, I knew foreigners who did the darndest things. Every last one of them was a white American, Austalian, Brit, or Canadian (No Belgians, though :)). Why does race matter? Because that's what people SEE.




As I don't know many foreigners in Japan, it's difficult to answer. But anyone who had stayed at least one year in Japan should speak japanese well enough to answer such basic things.
Maybe they should, but I don't think most of them do. And even if they do, just by looking at someone, you can't know how long s/he has been in Japan or his/her Japanese ability.

I was wearing a suit and riding a bicycle, so the guy should have guessed that :
1) I was not a tourist but somebody working there habitually (so I probably knew at least some Japanese)
2) I probably lived in the area if I was on my bicycle (so I knew the area)

From this, his judgement was forcedly mistaken, and his reaction must have been that :

1) Foreigners, even living and working in Japan, cannot possibly speak Japanese (=> racist assumption)
2) Or he just didn't want to talk to a foreigner (cowardice or xenophobia)

I am sorry, but my way of thinking based on logics and deductions, and if I am wrong I cannot see right now what element I may have missed in my reasoning.

I think we probably agree on a lot more than we disagree on. It's probably just our different ways of interpreting the same thing. I think your suit and bicycle are non-issues, because there are other explanations. I would say that based on what that guy saw, he could reasonable assume that you were an honest, clean person, but little else.

I don't mean to put you on the defensive, and I'm sorry if it sounds that way. I used to feel very similar to how I think you do, so I'm just trying to help you find a less stressful approach to your situation. :beer: :singer: :gulp: :smoke: :sing: :dance:

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2005, 21:46
I don't mean to put you on the defensive, and I'm sorry if it sounds that way. I used to feel very similar to how I think you do, so I'm just trying to help you find a less stressful approach to your situation.

I understand and appreciate that. I was not on the defensive, but just explaining the things that naturally flow through my mind in such situations. Sometimes I tell myself that either this or that person is racist/xenophobic or I really can't understand how they think. Either way it makes me feel somewhat nervous or insecure (or even angry).

Kara_Nari
Sep 19, 2005, 21:51
The whole bicycle thing is interesting.
Arriving her on Saturday I was soooo worried about riding my friends bicycle because of everything I had read here about being stopped. Anyway I asked my Japanese friend about it, and she had no idea what I was talking about.
So... if I buy my own bicycle next time, is it a difficult procedure to go about getting it registered etc, even if I dont have a gaijin card?
Or would I just be better hoping that I dont get pulled over?

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 19, 2005, 21:52
Either way it makes me feel somewhat nervous or insecure (or even angry).
I feel the same way. :kanashii:

Silverpoint
Sep 20, 2005, 00:43
No, the sempiternal problem is that they do not differentiate between foreigners, although there are people from hundreds of countries in Japan, and many different social classes for each country. For me, no one falls in any category wider than "country+ethnic group+social class" (i.e. every person I meet has an etiquette with these 3 basic information). If the Japanese did the same, they would notice huge (I mean huge) differences between the so-called "foreigners" depending on the categories they fit in, and probably a clear trend for each group of people sharing the same 3 factors.

I fear I'm not adding much to the debate, but what kind of world do you think we live in? Who, in whatever line of professional work they do, has the time and the resources to cross-reference every foreigner they see, with a set of 'easy to hand' statistical data to judge how to treat them. And then even if they did have this data, what possible purpose could it serve?

Even if you have some kind of information that suggests that this or that person comes from a country more likely to 'behave badly', do you really think you should judge every person from the same place in the same way; based on your general impression of their national character? Or is that not the very definition of racism?



If you ask me which of an "upper-middle Indian from India" or a "lower class white Briton" would behave best in Japan, I would answer the first one without hesitation. Now, you ask me a middle-class white Belgian or a middle-class white Australian, I am pretty sure that the first one will behave better too. I know that from experience living in those countries. I have also analysed the raw crime rates by nationality for Japan (http://www.wa-pedia.com/society/foreign_crime_in_japan.shtml), although the ethnicity and social class are not mentioned (big factor in any country, but especially those with big gaps between the classes, such as the US or UK).

And do you use your statistical superpowers frequently? Do you judge people from other countries that you meet, based on their statistical likelyhood of being an undesirable character? If you don't, you've undermined your entire argument. If you do, you've basically shown that rather than judge people as individuals, you'd prefer to grossly discriminate based on someone's nationality without having the slightest idea about who they are or how they will actually behave.

I'm surprised at you Maciamo. For someone who is constantly impressing on us how well travelled and culturally experienced you are about the world, a number of your comments in this debate have skirted very close to sounding like a sequel to Mein Kampf.

Minxie
Sep 20, 2005, 01:42
Japan is a polite society regardless if they hate you or not, but I guess over-generalized stereotypes are being applied to those issues/problems that you are discussing here.

For example, one of my old professors handles the JET program which sends Americans (primarily recent grads out of college) to teach English over in Japan. However, the requirements are very strict, and it is really hard to get accepted into this program. I am sure that these people do have Japan in their best interest, and probably know and realize that some of the recent grads they sent over, may or might have caused some problems for companies (ie Dokomo). This in turn may have led these corporations to act a certain way towards "foreigners" - by asking for all sorts of IDs etc. I'm sure they aren't being totally like "dickheads" (excuse my language), but I'm sure they are taking extra precautions (well in the cases mentioned so far... extra extra precautions).

I mean I guess you can parallel that to here in the US. Look at all the "precautions" America is taking to protect our country (yeah right). One is by by stereotyping all people who look like "terrorists" or look like they came from Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan or any Middle-Eastern country. Take for example one of my friends who is from Bangladesh, is Muslim (has the traditional long beard and all), who kind of resembles Osama (it's a long standing joke amongst friends), who gets pulled over in the airport (or at other major American checkpoints for terrorists), gets arrested, treated like a criminal, when all he is doing is going to see his wife or coming back from seeing his wife. This has happened so many times, and he's the only one who gets pulled over by the cops or feds or whatever, and is searched and handcuffed. Now, you guys are going to tell me that's not racial profiling?!

Oh, and don't forget the background checks that the FBI/CIA is doing on everyone who lives in the US. Our pure, civil "right to freedom" is totally being violated... ya know what... don't let me get started on that issue... lol

I think this is a more worse-cased scenario than the cellphone story (which is outlandish also), however, at least many of us don't have to go through stuff like that. And I'm glad Madpierrot that you finally got a cellphone! sorry you had to go through all that trouble though. :-)

If i offended Mikecash (who is the republican in this forum) I'm sorry, but living in New York totally opens your eyes to everything out there. And for that matter... i guess im all out Democratic & join the many people who want to impeach Bush lol. (but this is not time for my political views of our president to be published here lol)

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 01:55
So... if I buy my own bicycle next time, is it a difficult procedure to go about getting it registered etc, even if I dont have a gaijin card?
Or would I just be better hoping that I dont get pulled over?

No, it's very easy to have a new bike registered. You just have to fill your name and address on a piece of paper at the bicycle shop, and they put a sticker on the bike, and send the registration for you.

The problem is that the police cannot see that it is your bike until they have checked the registration number on the sticker. What bothers me is the shame of being stopped by the police in front of everybody. You know if feels almost the same as if sometime suddenly shouted "stop the thief !" pointing at you in the middle of a shop, when you are completely innocent. It's utterly embarassing and you could wonder why they (the police in this case) do such things. I talked to a lawyer about it, and the Japanese police has no right to check bicycle registration if you don't want to. But go and tell them that and you will end up at the Koban for questioning. When you know that the police in Japan has the right to arrest anyone for any reason, without proof/evidence, for up to 21 days, without being allowed to contact even a relative, lawyer or your embassy, and that they might not let you sleep and question you until you confess to some crime you never committed, it is enough to be scare when you see a police car chasing you in the middle of the day for no reason. You start wondering "do I look like some murderer they are looking for ?", "Are they going to arrest me and question me for 21 days for this person's crime ?". This is something I worry about ever since I have been stopped at noon in the middle of a business district in Tokyo with hundreds of people watching. It makes me very nervous to ride a bike (but I have little choice considering where I live and work).

As Thomas said, the solution is maybe to buy an expensive mountain bike (even better, an imported one not sold in Japan :p ), so that the police will suppose only a gaijin actually buy such a bike, and leave us alone. Another solution could be to paint the bike in very original colours, so as to be sure that nobody else as a similar one (and the police will not be looking for one like that). I haven't tried because it's not my type (I already stand out enough as a foreigner). But if we still get stopped with that, then it's clear it is discrimination.

I still recommend not to ride a friend's bike, because if the police check the registration and you don't have a phone to call immediately your friend (or your mobile's battery are empty), you are in serious trouble. I never understood why the Japanese police made so much fuss about 10,000-yen bikes, but mostly let the yakuza carry out their illegal activities in front of their nose. In fact, I am more scared by the police than the yakuza, given the legal power they have to harrass honest people to amuse themselves when they are bored (and believe me they are often bored, not like the yakuza).

budd
Sep 20, 2005, 02:23
"Anyway I asked my Japanese friend about it, and she had no idea what I was talking about."

and that is one of the main problems with living in japan but being foreign (imo). thanks for posting.

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 02:42
Who, in whatever line of professional work they do, has the time and the resources to cross-reference every foreigner they see, with a set of 'easy to hand' statistical data to judge how to treat them. And then even if they did have this data, what possible purpose could it serve?

You have misunderstood me here. There shouldn't necessarily be a st of statistical data for people to browse. Most people have experienced meeting foreigners, and if not, they all have some kind of opinion about them anyway. What annoys me in Japan is that all the foreigners are encompassed under the term "gaijin", as if there were no more difference between them than between the Japanese people as a whole (same culture, language, ethnicity, and if you believe the Japanese, mostly the same social class). What I meant is that the Japanese (or anyone on earth) should not have an opinion of "all foreigners" as a single, relatively uniform entity, but differentiate people according to their nationality (i.e. culture), ethnicity or language (depending on the country, but it is usually linked, except in immigrant countries like the USA), and social class.

Why ? Because people are already different enough in such a uniform society as Japan to generalise, so it misunderstanding and false stereotypes will only increase as one broadens the generalisation.

Don't misunderstand me, the best is to judge people as individuals, but many Japanese can't because they live in a deeply collectivist, conventionalist and uniformist society, and therefore like stereotypes and generalisation (e.g. they always ask what foreigner think of "Japanese people" as if all were the same).

In fact, the longer I stay in Japan and interact with Japanese people, and the more I feel inclined to generalise myself (I didn't used to do it much in my first one and half year in Japan, but found it convenient to do it about the Japanese, as they claim to be so homogenous).

So, if the Japanese want or feel the need to generalise about non-Japanese people, they should try to at least talk about "the Americans", "the French", "the Chinese", etc. everytime they normally say "foreigner". I am not sure about the USA, but I have hardly ever heard European people talk about "foreigners" to describe their behaviour or mentality. But the Japanese do. They ask me things like "Do foreigners like ramen ?", so I am forced to ask "Who are you talking about ? Me ? The Chinese ? The Zimbabweans ?"

If they were a bit more accurate that would faciliate communication, and that would decrease the incidence of racist stereotypes in Japan. You can't say "foreigners commit a lot of crime" if you are forced to replace the word "foreigner" by specific nationalities, ethnic or linguistic groups, and even less if you have to care about their social class. There is so much data that one cannot simply generalise, or the data may not be available at all (esp. for social classes, as it is mostly subjective).

It always makes me laugh when I see, for example, a NOVA ad that says that one can improve their language skill if they are taught by "gaijin" (I have seen the word used this way in an ad in the metro recently), without any specification on the nationality or mother-tongue of those "gaijin". That is why it is so easy in Japan to teach a language without qualification or without even being a native speaker. People don't really care, as long as you "look" foreign. In fact, many people truly believe that any Caucasian can speak English. :sorry:

If only the Japanese had a greater awareness that people can be very different (regardless of the personality) according to their nationality, mother-tongue and (I insist) social class (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15637) (as I define it, so watch out that the meaning could be quite different from how you define, especially if you are not European. For me social class is not at all defined by money, but by how one thinks and behaves !). In fact, I have realised from my international experience that people are usually more similar or compatible if they belong to a similar social class whatever the culture. It is also true for Japan.

So, in short, no need for ordinary people to study statistics (the police, though, should know about their own crime statistics as it is part of their job).
What I wanted to say is that it is more racist to put all foreigners in the same bag than to clearly differentiate between their nationality, language and social class. Once people realise that, they cannot really become racist, as they see that English Japanese-American will think and behave very differently from true Japanese, or that an Arab, a German, a Indian and a Japanese from the same social class may have more in common than a lower-class and an upper-class Japanese.

So people should judge other people based on their individual characteristics, and if need to be to generalise, be as specific as they can to avoid saying things that aren't true at all for a specific group of people. I know it is sometimes difficult. I tend to view American people as mostly Christians, although about 15% are non-religious and 5% belong to other religions. In this case, there is a clear majority that makes the stereotypes mostly true. But stereotypes are never 100% true, otherwise they would be called hard facts. Anyway we cannot talk about millions of people without generalising a bit. The important is to try being specific when one can.


Even if you have some kind of information that suggests that this or that person comes from a country more likely to 'behave badly', do you really think you should judge every person from the same place in the same way; based on your general impression of their national character? Or is that not the very definition of racism?
...
And do you use your statistical superpowers frequently? Do you judge people from other countries that you meet, based on their statistical likelyhood of being an undesirable character? If you don't, you've undermined your entire argument. If you do, you've basically shown that rather than judge people as individuals, you'd prefer to grossly discriminate based on someone's nationality without having the slightest idea about who they are or how they will actually behave.

Hope you understand better what I meant now. Maybe it is difficult for you to understand things exactly as I say them. If I say 3 critera, just 1 doesn't count. To make pancakes, you need eggs, milk and flour. If you only have one, well, you only have that and no pancake. So, I don't understand why your remark was almost only about nationality (e.g. when you said "do you really think you should judge every person from the same place in the same way; based on your general impression of their national character?" => No, I don't think so and that was the point of my argument !)


I'm surprised at you Maciamo. For someone who is constantly impressing on us how well travelled and culturally experienced you are about the world, a number of your comments in this debate have skirted very close to sounding like a sequel to Mein Kampf.

Well, now I hope you understand that reading properly is often more important than judging people from what you think they have said, or reading out of context. :bluush: My starting point was "The Japanese generalise so much that they do not even differentiate between nationalities". My advice was for them to try to classify people according to my 3 criteria (3 criteria for every single person they meet). If after that they see a trend, they it could be interesting to analyse that trend on a bigger scale to prove or disprove it as a stereotype (stereotypes usually need a majority of the specified group to match the descripton, so 50% or above). So, if I were to say that over 50% of the middle-class Tamil-speaking Indians I have met (I spent 5 months in India) were vegetarian, the there could be so truth is saying that most of the people in this group are probably vegetarian (if I have met enough of them to have a representative segment of course).

I did mention crime statistics, because I found it interesting that over 80% of the foreigners in Japan arrested for robberies were Vietnamese. In fact, it was an organised gang that robbed hundreds of houses. For prostitution, the Chinese and Filipinas made up most of the arrests in the statistics. There are some trends by nationality sometimes. That is why the police makes statistics. Unfortunately not precise enough to my taste.

Mike Cash
Sep 20, 2005, 05:37
Amazing. In his denial he manages to shove his foot even farther into his mouth.

Silverpoint
Sep 20, 2005, 10:10
I know... I'm speechless...


What I wanted to say is that it is more racist to put all foreigners in the same bag than to clearly differentiate between their nationality, language and social class.
...

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 14:23
Amazing. In his denial he manages to shove his foot even farther into his mouth.

?? What are you talking about ? Is that beyond you comprehesion abilities ?

Basically you are saying that to avoid being racist people should :

- "treat individual as individual" => limitations : cannot discuss cultural, national or ethnic differences between big groups of people

The other extreme (the most racist imaginable) is to have a extremely simple dual world views, in which there are people of the same race, nationality and language, and "the rest". This view is adopted by a majority of the Japanese.

Consequently, if one wants to avoid gross generalisation and racist prejudices, yet cannot differentiate everyone on an individual basis for practical reasons, the solution is to refer to people according to more specific groups.

My example of the 3 critera (nationality, language, social class) was just an example of "standard" way of categorising people. Now we could also use religion, interests, political affiliations, or whatever. to classify people, depending on what contrast we want to emphasise.

Some people are too simple-minded to realise that clear differences exist between such groups. It makes me angry to hear Japanese people assume that all Europeans are the same, or that a Asian, European, Africa or American share more in common in their "foreigness" than an East Asian shares with a Japanese. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most Japanese do not want to be associated or compare themselves to other East Asians. So they close themselves into this dual view of the world where there is only "uchi" (inside) and "soto" (outside), which is primitive and inclined to Japan-superiority-based racism.

It is usually common knowledge for Westerners that people differ according to their culture (nationality + language) or social class. But not to many Japanese.

Is there anything in my explanation on which you, Mike or Silverpoint, disagree ?

duff_o_josh
Sep 20, 2005, 14:48
well the categorization of people by their nationality and languge is racist however social class interest and religion is predjudice.

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 15:05
Mike, it seems that you have deeply ingrained dislike for classifying people around the world by criteria. It looks like you assimilate 'racism' and 'classification', even when the classification has nothing to do with the race (e.g. culture, nationality, language, social class...).

Furthermore, you visibly do not understand the difference between elitism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elitism) and snobbery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snobbery).


A snob, guilty of snobbery or snobbism, is a person who imitates the manners, adopts the world-view and affects the lifestyle of a social class of people to which that person does not by right belong.
vs

Elitism is a belief or attitude that an elite \ a selected group of persons whose personal abilities, specialized training or other attributes place them at the top of any field

Elitism is very close to Meritocracy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy)


Meritocracy is strictly speaking a system of government based on rule by ability (merit) rather than by wealth or social position.

As for where I stand in this regard, I dislike snobbery (as I explained in the thread Do you care about social classes ? (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15637) - see my discussion with Pachipro, esp. from #43), but I am not opposed to elitism or meritocracy, as I believe that capable people are more likely to rule a country well than incapable ones. The real issue is not about merit/abilities, but values and morals of those leaders. Many people confuse both issues, because powerful people all too often become corrupted or too self-conscious. So, I am in favour of people who are both capable (elite) and really care about the country and its people.

But I am not quite sure why you raised the issues of elitism and snobbery in this thread (e.g. your first reply to me). :?

This thread is about understanding that people in the world are fundamentally different based on their culture and social class (in fact, there is such a thing as "social class culture", and everyone who is not an hermit belongs to one whether they want it or not). I have never said that people should discriminate against such or such cultural or social group. I just intensely dislike people who cannot even acknowledge those fundamental socio-cultural differences and pu everyone in the same bag, for the better or for the worse.

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 15:10
well the categorization of people by their nationality and languge is racist however social class interest and religion is predjudice.

Is it ? If I start counting the number of JREF member and categorise them according to their nationality or language, am I a racist ? If a government decides that people from country x need a visa, but those of country y don't for 90 days, is that racist ? It is categorisation by nationality at its most extreme (there is nothing an individual can do about it).

I really don't understand how you three (duff_o_josh, Mikecash, Silverpoint) think. Even thinking seem like a racist act to you. :mad: Yet, ae you defening the Japanese saying that over-categorising all foreigners under the term "gaijin" is not racist, or less racist ? Doesn't make sense ! You logic is based on the principle that "all humans are equal in every respect" and that individuality or difference should not be acknowledge as it hurts the harmony and uniformity of the "whole". Is that some kind of fundamentalist Christian belief that all humans were made to God's image, and are thus equal and perfect ? What nonsense is that ? Nobody is equal, not even true twins !

Silverpoint
Sep 20, 2005, 16:02
Maciamo. Putting aside the fact that you appeared to be losing your cool during that last comment, and started to turn it into some kind of mindless rant, let's look at what you've said:

1. Putting people into a large social/geographic grouping (all foreigners), and judging their behaviour based on it is wrong.

2. Putting people into a large social/geographic grouping (country, class, religion) and judging their behaviour based on it is ok.

Justify the difference between the above and explain why one is better than the other. All discrimination, whether it is on ethnicity, gender, religion, social status or any other criteria you care to choose is wrong. Period.

Having a discriminatory attitude, regardless of what it's based on, or how you came to arrive at it, is wrong. Discriminating between two social classes, two countries or any two criteria is exactly the same demonstration of prejudice as the 'us and them' or 'Japanese and foreigners' attitude which you so abhore.

Or perhaps it's ok, for me to say that all Americans are loud, fat and rude, just so long as I don't lump them in with 'other foreigners'? Because that's what your argument boils down to.

I think we have two issues here. One is that we think your argument is wrong. The other is your inability to be introspective and examine your own ideas. Everyone who disagrees with you is either simple minded, can't read, or just isn't smart enough to understand you. You have such a blinding belief in your own ability, that the comments of others don't even seem to register as plausible. I clearly remember the last time I locked horns with you. You made a statement which I fundamentally disagreed with and I said so. You then went to the reputation system and marked me down a few points because of it. For you to genuinely think that if someone has the audacity to disagree with you, then their reputation should actually suffer as a result is arrogance that beggars belief.

Maciamo
Sep 20, 2005, 17:54
1. Putting people into a large social/geographic grouping (all foreigners), and judging their behaviour based on it is wrong.

2. Putting people into a large social/geographic grouping (country, class, religion) and judging their behaviour based on it is ok.

Justify the difference between the above and explain why one is better than the other. All discrimination, whether it is on ethnicity, gender, religion, social status or any other criteria you care to choose is wrong. Period.

I think I understand the problem. For you "judging" has a negative connotation, as in "judging if someone is a criminal or not". I wished you had realised that I was talking about any kind of behaviour (or characteristics), and not just criminal ones. What is wrong with saying that a majority of the American citizens are Christian if that is true ? What is wrong with saying that a majority of the Japanese are non-confrontational and confomist if that is true ? What is wrong with saying that the Brits are in average more individualistic than the Spaniards if that is true ?

I really cannot understand why all these categorisation would be racist, and why you seem so convinced that they are "by default", just because they are based on a wide categorisation (here "nationality"). Why is that discriminatory ? Please explain !


Or perhaps it's ok, for me to say that all Americans are loud, fat and rude, just so long as I don't lump them in with 'other foreigners'? Because that's what your argument boils down to.

Here is another huge difference in reasoning between you and me - maybe one that will make communication between us impossible. First of all, you do not make any difference between "a majority" and "all". How could you speak of all the Americans in that case ? It is already a factual mistake to say that "all Americans are fat. When I were to say "the Americans" without the "all", it means by default "a majority of them" (= 50% or more). Have you ever seen me write "All the Japanese" on this forum to talk about cultural or national characteristics ?

Now, there could be cases where a Japanese could say "(a majority of) foreigners" instead of using the nationality, language-group or ethnicity, but such cases are very rare, because there are hundreds of countries in the world, and I cannot think of one cultural characteritics that is shared by all and NOT by the Japanese as well. This is the point of my argument since the beginning, regardless of whether we are talking of fatness, individualism, tendency to like hamburgers, or tendency not to pay one's phone bills. It's the same.

Mike Cash
Sep 20, 2005, 21:11
You seem to be under the impression that I called you a racist. I did not.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 21, 2005, 01:21
It makes me angry to hear Japanese people assume that all Europeans are the same, or that a Asian, European, Africa or American share more in common in their "foreigness" than an East Asian shares with a Japanese.
This here is a good point.
Obviously this whole issue means a lot to you, Maciamo. I ask you, though, do you really think that most people should or even could think in terms of foriegners in that way? Here is one example of what I mean (perhaps not a very good one). It seems to me that if you're the average white American (USA citizen) (maybe just in the Midwest they think this?), then there's only one kind of Mexican living in the USA--the poor illegal kind. Of course that stereotype is not true, but that seems to be the stereotype. (Americans out there, do you agree? Or am I full of it?) It seems to me to be the same problem albeit on a somewhat different scale. How about your native country? How do they in the aggregate (honestly) think about different foreigners and larger ethnic groups?

Maciamo
Sep 21, 2005, 02:57
It seems to me that if you're the average white American (USA citizen) (maybe just in the Midwest they think this?), then there's only one kind of Mexican living in the USA--the poor illegal kind. Of course that stereotype is not true, but that seems to be the stereotype.

You are rasing the issue of stereotypes in general. What I was discussing was not even that the Japanese had stereotypes about each major country (and they do), but that for many things they just assimilate all foreigners as one uniform entiry (and not just those living in Japan). To take your example in the US, it would be like a Midwest American thinking that all Americans are white, Christian and speak English, and that if they ever come across an Asian or a Hispanic in their area (say, Kansas or Nebraska), they would assume that they are foreigners. More than that, they would assume that there is hardly any difference between a Chinese, a Japanese, an Thai, a Mexican and a Peruvian, as they are all foreigners. They probably all think the same way and speak a similar language called the "foreignian". That is closer to how the average Japanese think.


It seems to me to be the same problem albeit on a somewhat different scale. How about your native country? How do they in the aggregate (honestly) think about different foreigners and larger ethnic groups?

Being from a small country (about the size of Maine or Shikoku), which is pretty international and has 3 official languages (thus 3 different cultures), few Belgians assume that people from 2 different countries could be alike. They understand all too well that the cultural differences between citizens of a same country can be huge just based on their mother-tongue. What's more, if you drive one hour in any direction (but the coast) from almost any point in Belgium, you are in another country (the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg or France - and Britain if you take the ferry or Eurotunnel). Consequently there are probably no Belgian (except small children) that have never been abroad (I personally don't know many people who haven't been to at least 10 countries, except among the elderly for whom it is at least 5). In these circumstances, few people would have seriously distorted views of of "foreigners" as a whole. I also don't know anybody who would assimilate Chinese and Japanese people (apparently that is common in English-speaking countries), because everyone is conscious that it would be like assimilating the French and the Germans, or the French and the Brits, and who in a sane mind would do such a thing ?

Yet, I found that there is ignorance in Belgium. For example, few Belgians know that there are over 800 languages spoken in India, or that Balinese religion is a mixture of animism and Hinduism. That's why I started a thread about improving education in Belgium or EU countries. It's not enough that people just name any country and their capital, or know the great lines of world history; they need to know more details about society in every (major) country in today's world, and learn to update their knowledge by themselves constantly. Unfortunately many Belgians seem to be self-satisfied about their knowledge of the world too easily - contrarily to me.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 21, 2005, 22:14
You are rasing the issue of stereotypes in general.
You're right. I think it's all the same.



Yet, I found that there is ignorance in Belgium. For example, few Belgians know that there are over 800 languages spoken in India, or that Balinese religion is a mixture of animism and Hinduism. That's why I started a thread about improving education in Belgium or EU countries. It's not enough that people just name any country and their capital, or know the great lines of world history; they need to know more details about society in every (major) country in today's world, and learn to update their knowledge by themselves constantly. Unfortunately many Belgians seem to be self-satisfied about their knowledge of the world too easily - contrarily to me.
Obviously, you have much more international experience than many. You care about other countries, and people in other countries. Am I right in this?
But not everyone is the same.
[DISCLAIMER]I do not pretend to speak for everyone.[END DISCLAIMER]
In my experience from a country with an isolationist vein living in another, most people think of foreign countries as a novelty, but not anything that really affects their lives personally, except in negative ways. (For example rising gas prices, the death toll in Iraq, terrorists.) Therefore, they really don't care about other countries and peoples, and foreigners in general, except in negative ways. One does not need to look far for discrimination against immigrants in American history. But the point is, due to lack of interest, there is a lack of knowledge. To combat the lack of knowledge, you need to combat the lack of interest. Being negative will not accomplish this goal. Debito-san may help in changing things, but if we non-native-Japanese living-on-Japanese-soil all acted in the same way, I truly think that things would get worse in this country. This would be in spite of the asthetic improvements. If you think that Japanese (and other people, of course) should know more about others, I think you put the burden to do the same first. In your case, since you do know about Japan, I think you should at least put that knowledge to use. In Japanese society among Japanese themselves, what kinds of actions tend to get good responses? So long as said actions are not immoral, these are what we should emulate if we want to live in peace here. We are not the ones with power, nor should we be. We are non-citizens. I think naturalized citizens are in a different category, as they are afforded every right and privilege afforded to every other citizen by law.
Sorry if I started to ramble!

duff_o_josh
Sep 22, 2005, 15:03
what i meant is that to do so in a durogitive way, you dont have to give me negative rep points because i dont agree with you, you facist.

Maciamo
Sep 22, 2005, 15:18
what i meant is that to do so in a durogitive way, you dont have to give me negative rep points because i dont agree with you, you facist.

Durogitive ? Derogative ?

Quoting you "well the categorization of people by their nationality and languge is racist however social class interest and religion is predjudice."

In consideration of all my posts in this thread before, it could only mean that you saw my point of view as racist and prejudiced. This was a personal insult and deserved the negative reputation you got. It's not a matter or disagreeing, it's a matter of free provocation (and if you didn't bother to read the previous posts before writing something, don't be surprised if people react like that toward you).

Suki-Yaki
Sep 22, 2005, 15:26
I get Japanese men asking me whether I'm from france or italy ,which I am very not. But then I get Japanese women asking my wether I am from the Argentine or places in Latin America... pretty wierd... :relief:
I must say Japanese people are very racists about nationalities. ...

Maciamo
Sep 22, 2005, 15:49
I get Japanese men asking me whether I'm from france or italy ,which I am very not. But then I get Japanese women asking my wether I am from the Argentine or places in Latin America... pretty wierd... :relief:
I must say Japanese people are very racists about nationalities. ...

And where are you from ? From what you say I suppose to your are a Latin-type Caucasian.

duff_o_josh
Sep 22, 2005, 20:38
Durogitive ? Derogative ?

Quoting you "well the categorization of people by their nationality and languge is racist however social class interest and religion is predjudice."

In consideration of all my posts in this thread before, it could only mean that you saw my point of view as racist and prejudiced. This was a personal insult and deserved the negative reputation you got. It's not a matter or disagreeing, it's a matter of free provocation (and if you didn't bother to read the previous posts before writing something, don't be surprised if people react like that toward you).
ofcourse your comment for giving me negative rep points was"do you really believe that?" so it appeared that you gave it to me because my opinion does not agree with your own.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 22, 2005, 21:10
Calm down, everyone! Please.
Maciamo, I think you may have overreacted a bit. I suppose that duff_o_josh may have indirectly said bad things about you personally, but he didn't actually say that you are racist or prejudiced; he just said that classifying people based on certain criteria is. I might add that you indirectly questioned duff_o_josh`s intelligence by bringing up his incorrect spelling of derogative. Do you think that you deserve negative reputation for that? I'm sure I can think of at least one person who does. Lighten up a little!

Having said that, Maciamo did have a valid point that in order to find statistical trends among populations, it is very convenient to categorize your data pool. You can categorize people according to a number of criteria, whether it be age, sex, income, nationality, religion, height, weight, political affiliation, etc. Just because you do so for statistical analysis in and of itself does not make you ageist, sexist, racist, or otherwise prejudiced. This categorization happens every time a poll is taken, for example. Think about the last time you read a newspaper article describing the latest political poll results. It WILL classify people according to certain criteria, I assure you. It's how you interpret the data that makes you racist or prejudiced.

duff_o_josh
Sep 22, 2005, 21:42
well said, well said :bravo:

and sorry about the spelling mistake.

Mike Cash
Sep 22, 2005, 22:33
Just look at the whole implied premise of "Why don't the Japanese differentiate more between foreigners?" and you will see that it can be restated as "Why don't they differentiate (read: "discriminate") more between foreigners and accord me better treatment than those foreigners whom I I consider myself to be better than?"

Kinsao
Sep 22, 2005, 22:48
Just look at the whole implied premise of "Why don't the Japanese differentiate more between foreigners?" and you will see that it can be restated as "Why don't they differentiate (read: "discriminate") more between foreigners and accord me better treatment than those foreigners whom I I consider myself to be better than?"

Hmmm, I don't think that the question is saying that. :?

I can understand that anyone would be annoyed at being perceived just as "a foreigner" and maybe constantly being mistaken for another nationality/origin than their actual one. I'm not meaning racism here, I just mean the irritation. If people make a wrong assumption it's irritating even if it isn't meant as insulting. In some countries (not all), people generally (I can't really not use generalisation here :sorry: ) do differentiate between foreigners from various different countries, to more or lesser extent, and Japan it seems to be (from what I read here) to very much "lesser extent". So I think the question is simply asking "why is that?"

"Differentiate" is not the same as "discriminate". It's been said before, I'm sure - "equal" doesn't mean "the same". People are different and it's not racist or otherwise prejudiced to say so.

Mikawa Ossan
Sep 22, 2005, 22:53
But if you honestly don't think that the average Japanese person makes no differentiation among foreigners whatsoever, you're kidding yourself. gaijinn is just a useful catchall phrase that can mean different things according to the situation, just as the word "foreigners" can in English.