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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Answer to those who wonder...

    I sometimes get people asking me why my posts are so critical of Japan (especially regarding the legal system, discrimination and prejudices, 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, Glossary, Language and 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, 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), 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.

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  2. #2
    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    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
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  3. #3
    Comfortably Ignorant Faustianideals's Avatar
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    Well, I didn't know you wrote those all by yourself. Good job, seriously.

  4. #4
    You SPAM/We BAN !
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    We Know.....

    your wife held you over the PC with your arm twisted over your head to write this post!

    Frank

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    I USED TO BE FUNNY, BUT MY WIFE HAD ME NEUTERED!

  5. #5
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Thumbs up United we stand !

    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 !
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

  6. #6
    Heimin
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    Please sticky this post so every new member gets a good intro to the spirit of JForum.
    That, I agree with 100%.

  7. #7
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    U should come visit Belgium, and notice how the whole place is going bad ! Maciamo should know, afterall he's from Belgium
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
    http://www.fin-style.be/blog -> My Blog about Finland and other random thingies.

  8. #8
    Heimin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D. White
    your wife held you over the PC with your arm twisted over your head to write this post!

    Frank

    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.

  9. #9
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    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.
    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

  10. #10
    Heimin
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirei_na_me
    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?

  11. #11
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy_Brown
    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?

  12. #12
    Heimin
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirei_na_me
    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.

  13. #13
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy_Brown
    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.

  14. #14
    As the Rush Comes Duo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy_Brown
    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

  15. #15
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirei_na_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.
    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."

  16. #16
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    I live and work in the Mushroom Forest, but I don't think that really qualifies as the stinkiest place

    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
    'sides, what do I know?
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

  17. #17
    Heimin
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    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."

  18. #18
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy_Brown
    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.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    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.

  20. #20
    Regular Member cicatriz esp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leroy_Brown
    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.

  21. #21
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    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.

  22. #22
    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
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    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.
    "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  23. #23
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie
    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.

  24. #24
    You SPAM/We BAN !
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    Well......

    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

  25. #25
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    No need to post an explaination Maciamo. I completely understand where you are coming from as I said in my post here . 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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D. White
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    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.
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


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