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View Poll Results: How do you feel when a Japanese calls you "gaijin" ?

Voters
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  • "You are an outsider and will never belong to Japanese society" (exclusion)

    17 29.31%
  • "You are an outsider, ignorant of Japanese ways" (cultural ignorance)

    17 29.31%
  • "You are different from us ! Hahaha !" (childish differentiation)

    12 20.69%
  • "You are not Japanese, but I am" (opposition)

    13 22.41%
  • "You are not a Japanese national" (on the passport)

    11 18.97%
  • "You are not an ethnic Japanese" (different looks)

    13 22.41%
  • "Wow ! You are better than me !" (awe)

    8 13.79%
  • Don't know

    10 17.24%
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Thread: What connotation does the term "gaijin" have for you ?

  1. #101
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    While queueing, I heard a few comments from a lady in her 50s, standing behind us. She siad: aahah look at these stupid gaijini (baka gaijin), they`re taking the Japanese tour and won`t understand a word! How can they be so stupid..(sonna ni bakayaro)

    I couldn`t contain myself by saying something! I broke into the conversation and told her: look, I speak Japanese I`m going to translate for my friend. You`ve been very unrespectful and noisy (shitsurei and urusai) and you should apologise for what you siad!

    I would think someone would be more offended by the word baka, instead of gaijin, but obviously you and Maciamo are ok with that!

  2. #102
    puzzled gaijin
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    This is not a racially or culturally diverse society and I think you know that as well. You are wishing to impose or apply the rules of a diverse society as you think of them here on Japan and it's people.
    Interesting comment, one that has been applied to myself. The problem is that Japan identifies itself as a nation seeking to be more internationally minded and signed a UN decree in 1994 promising to pass laws banning racism or prejuidice aganist foreigners. So basically, if Japan wants to be seen as a 'fairer' society to minorities, they need to actually do something about it rathe than just put out more windowdressing about this being a global society because they have English signs in some of the major cities.

    Another interesting example is the right wingers who regularly yell through a megaphone in the Ikebukuo area with the continual 'chant' of 'get foreigners out of Japan because they cause all the problems here' tirade. Another right winger's comment about the above, "Oh no, they would want the foreigners allowed in to work here!" Uh, except that's not what they have been saying, duh!

    Uh, Maciamo, I usually would support your comments, though the comparison of Americans to Japanese did seem to be a low blow (then again, I probably used to think the same about French women, heh, heh).

    As to this tiff between Mikawa Ossan, Hachiro and CC1 and yourself,

    Uh, guys, you all have some valid points. I think Maciamo is not aganist Japan per se, he already has given you plenty of reasons why he would not rather live here in Japan (in this thread and others) and something I am starting to think myself (another PR for nine years). As to his wife, you haven't heard her side. My Japanese wife and I would also rather not live here, but at the moment it's what we're doing.

    I think that the Maciamo's critics are being overly harsh as they don't like the picture he is painting, that Japan is not such a welcoming place for minorities. This is something you seem to somewhat agree with, though everyone is not sure about the degree of problems it causes in Japan and whether it is something to worry about.

    Mike Cash, people that have PR status here are hardly tourists; we work, are usually married to locals, pay taxes, etc and may have lived here longer than some native residents!

    As to what language should be used when addressing people, well, I would tend to agree with what Maciamo said, using the local language if one wasn't sure what language the person knew would be a more logical choice normally, but since when do things in Japan follow normal Western logic ?

  3. #103
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways
    Mike Cash, people that have PR status here are hardly tourists; we work, are usually married to locals, pay taxes, etc and may have lived here longer than some native residents!
    Congratulations on a wonderful job of thoroughly missing my point.

  4. #104
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    gaijinalways firstly I appreciate where you are coming from think about this we are all minorities while we are in Japan. Sure there may be variations to how the Japanese treat Caucasians vs Black, but we are all minorities.

    This is supposedly a forum about Japan. Sure letting people know about the good points and bad points of the country are necessary, yet as a person that holds an Administrative (owner) position on this site it is more than just a little worrysome that Maciamo bashes it nearly every chance he gets.

  5. #105
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    I do not have a tiff with Maciamo. I just disagree with him. This disagreement is nothing new. It has been going on since I first joined. It's kind of an ongoing conversation that waxes and wanes.

    And just because I disagree with Maciamo doesn't mean that I think Japan is some kind of utopia, devoid of problems for the non-Japanese residents. But neither is Japan a utopia for Japanese nationals. Japanese people are not immune from discrimination, either, you know. I look at the way Japanese treat me, and then I look at the way that I think the Turks were treated in Germany. The way Koreans are treated in Sri Lanka. The way my friend's Pakistani husband is treated in America, and the way she gets treated for having married him. Japan is just fine with me.

  6. #106
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    I would think someone would be more offended by the word baka, instead of gaijin, but obviously you and Maciamo are ok with that!
    Both words put together really annoy me! The term Gaijin is ok in some contexts but when used as derogatory, I really despise it. Sometimes they use it on purpose, especially when they rely on the fact that you don`t understand a word of what they say.

    During my stay in Japan I`ve been called baka-gaijin, ki no nai-gaijin, busho-nagaijin (slightly the same meanaing, kitanai-gaijin, urusai-gaijin...etc. etc. etc.

    They were all from Japanese people who thought I wasn`t able to understand. Most of the time I pretended not to hear, but sometimes they really winded me up...

  7. #107
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    I do not have a tiff with Maciamo. I just disagree with him. This disagreement is nothing new. It has been going on since I first joined. It's kind of an ongoing conversation that waxes and wanes.

    And just because I disagree with Maciamo doesn't mean that I think Japan is some kind of utopia, devoid of problems for the non-Japanese residents. But neither is Japan a utopia for Japanese nationals. Japanese people are not immune from discrimination, either, you know. I look at the way Japanese treat me, and then I look at the way that I think the Turks were treated in Germany. The way Koreans are treated in Sri Lanka. The way my friend's Pakistani husband is treated in America, and the way she gets treated for having married him. Japan is just fine with me.
    I agree that it isn't paradise, it could be a whole hell of a lot worse.

    Circumstances have put me where I am, where I live it is relatively safe and a reasonably decent place to raise my children. Sure there could be "things" that could make it better, but it is my choice and I choose to adapt to the location that I am in. It would be the same no matter where I live.

    The Japanese in generally are imo no better or worse than people any where else in the world.

  8. #108
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    During my stay in Japan I`ve been called baka-gaijin, ki no nai-gaijin, busho-nagaijin (slightly the same meanaing, kitanai-gaijin, urusai-gaijin...etc. etc. etc.
    They were all from Japanese people who thought I wasn`t able to understand. Most of the time I pretended not to hear, but sometimes they really winded me up...

    I am guessing that at least one of those terms was accurate? Most gaijin I have the opportunity to observe are quite urasai!

  9. #109
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    I am guessing that at least one of those terms was accurate? Most gaijin I have the opportunity to observe are quite urasai!
    On that I agree as well. What makes matters even worse then is the "guilty" by association mentality that some Japanese have as well.

    Some people may see that as my making their points for them with a comment like that but I see it as an opportunity to educate Japanese people to the fact that not "all" gaijin are the same. I have had many a lively discussion about this "differences" in culture discussions.

    To some here that often come across with negative comments about this subject I would suggest they attempt to look at things with a bit of optimism instead of always being so pessimistic.

  10. #110
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    Well, I`m not a loud person, not as loud as Japanese people abroad though:

    旅の恥は掻き捨て do you guys understand this?

    They just like to blurt words out...especially when they refer to a gaijin.

    I`ve been considered lazy because after work I put my shirt out of my trousers. A japanese colleague pointed it out and his mate said: oh he is only a lazy gaijin! We usually work harder than them. They just spend long hours in the office without doing anything serious.

    I`ve been considered dirty because I`m hairy. I was on a train from Osaka to Kyoto. It was really hot and I was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. I heard two ladies speaking about my hairy arms and legs. One of them said: all the gaijin look really dirty because of their hair! This really surprised me because they usually like hairy men.

    I`ve been called loud gaijin becasue I was speaking in Japanese with my girlfriend, on the platform, waiting for the tube!

    Hachiro - I tried to be very positive, I tried to wide my horizons, I tried to understand and accept the culture and everything, but enough is enough! They see us like Aliens, e.g. gaijin card, and they will never change their mind.

    They believe in stereotypes like: Americans are fat, Italians eat pasta everyday, English food is bad, Chinese are dirty and loud...

    how can they be so square?

  11. #111
    Junior Member SlipperyFrog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    They believe in stereotypes like: Americans are fat
    Have you seen the news lately? We are getting fatter!

    English food is bad
    an opinion, but to me it really is!

    and another stereotype:

    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    This really surprised me because they usually like hairy men.
    So true that there are many rude people out there that would say such things, but that is true of any nation and it's people don't you think? It doesn't mean that all Japanese are this way does it?

  12. #112
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    ex-gaijin, I'd be curious to hear more of your story, esp. where you lived.

    I'm curious as to why you were called such things so much. In my years in Japan, I have never had such problems with people calling me names, at least not within earshot!

  13. #113
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    Hachiro - I tried to be very positive, I tried to wide my horizons, I tried to understand and accept the culture and everything, but enough is enough! They see us like Aliens, e.g. gaijin card, and they will never change their mind.

    They believe in stereotypes like: Americans are fat, Italians eat pasta everyday, English food is bad, Chinese are dirty and loud...

    how can they be so square?
    Thanks for trying, but you do sound awfully bitter.
    ex-gaijin, I'd be curious to hear more of your story, esp. where you lived.

    I'm curious as to why you were called such things so much. In my years in Japan, I have never had such problems with people calling me names, at least not within earshot!Today 03:25
    I would also be curious to hear more as well. Like Mikawa Ossan I have been living here for a number of years and never had things happen like and others have described here. Leastwise outside of the times I deserved it.

  14. #114
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    Well, all my american friends are not fat...

    English food is bad? Have you ever tried it? Do you know much about Cottage Pie, Cornish Pasty, Sunday Roast?

    For me Japan is one nation with one mind (forma mentis), they are 99% so predictable and discouraging...

    I have to admit though that sometimes they really surprised me. When you are too sure about something they are going to do, they end up doing completely the opposite. It`s scary though, because at the end of the day, you never know what they actually think....

  15. #115
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan
    I'm curious as to why you were called such things so much. In my years in Japan, I have never had such problems with people calling me names.
    I second that because with all the years I lived and worked in Japan I never overheard some of the things you heard or some of the things you experienced except for maybe once or twice. Especially from your own mates in your own company and within earshot or directly at you. Why did you not defend yourself when you were called lazy and accused of not working as hard as your mates? I don't know you, but were they speaking the truth to be so forward?

    But, as was said above by Slippery Frog, things like that happen in every nation and city on the planet. Do not the people of your own country sometimes talk that way about foreigners from a particular country or about their own people from the countryside or the ghettos and such? I'm sure they do and please don't tell me they don't.

    I don't care who you are or where you live, there will always be sterotypes spoken about people who are different and "alien" to one's culture. To paint just Japan with one long stroke in that the Japanese are ALL that way is quite unfair and, in its own way, a little discriminatory in itself don't you think?
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


  16. #116
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    ok guys, I lived in Osaka for three years. I worked in a busy office and I moved to Japan because I studied Japanese linguistics at university. I used to love every minute of it, but after the second year I started feeling uncomfortable and not accepted by my japanese colleagues, by the neighbours, at the gym...etc. I also thought it was me, maybe I was expecting something different, but I wasn`t the only one to feel like that...

    Well, they were nice with me, but in a weird way...I don`t even know how to explain it. Just words, polite words, empty words, the classic Omote-Ura...

    Maybe in Kansai they have a more provincial mentality? Unwilling to accept foreigners? There is still alittle bit of Sakoku? Maybe Tokyo (I never lived there) is different?

  17. #117
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    Thank you for your quick response!
    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    Maybe in Kansai they have a more provincial mentality? Unwilling to accept foreigners? There is still alittle bit of Sakoku? Maybe Tokyo (I never lived there) is different?
    I have never lived in Tokyo, but I find that there are two Tokyos. The city and the suburbs, and they are completely different. I much prefer the suburbs.

    As far as Osaka is concerned...that's a toughie. Osaka people are generally known for being "in your face", even among Japanese people. How they in the aggregate feel about foreigners, I don't know, but when I used to go there a lot, I never had problems. But then again, the longest I have ever stayed there is a mere 3 months. Incidentally, one of my least favorite places in Japan is America-mura.

    A couple more questions. Sorry.
    Did you associate with a lot of other foreigners?
    Do/did you feel comfortable calling yourself a gaijin to Japanese people?
    How "Japanese" do you think you acted? dressed?

    If I think of other questions, I might ask some more. I hope you don't mind, but in my experience there is rarely only one truth to be had, so the best thing to do is to gather information. I certainly do not deny your experience; I am just trying to understand it.

  18. #118
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    I second that because with all the years I lived and worked in Japan I never overheard some of the things you heard or some of the things you experienced except for maybe once or twice. Especially from your own mates in your own company and within earshot or directly at you. Why did you not defend yourself when you were called lazy and accused of not working as hard as your mates? I don't know you, but were they speaking the truth to be so forward?
    But, as was said above by Slippery Frog, things like that happen in every nation and city on the planet. Do not the people of your own country sometimes talk that way about foreigners from a particular country or about their own people from the countryside or the ghettos and such? I'm sure they do and please don't tell me they don't.
    I don't care who you are or where you live, there will always be sterotypes spoken about people who are different and "alien" to one's culture. To paint just Japan with one long stroke in that the Japanese are ALL that way is quite unfair and, in its own way, a little discriminatory in itself don't you think?

    ok, I always reacted to those "attacks" and I always caught them out.

    My colleagues were speaking in Osaka-ben, underestimating again that fact that I could actually understand them. Maybe they were right, BUT I was on a different contract, 40 hours a week instead of 50; 10 (?) days paid holidays instead of zero, two days off a week instead of one....you guys know that when it come to work conditions foreigners are treated differently!

    What you say about slagging foreigners off it actually true! But it is also true that in the country where I live, we make foreigners very welcome. I know people who have been here for ages and are completely well intagrated. No one thinks of them as foreigners. I would like to state the same about Japan...

  19. #119
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    Did you associate with a lot of other foreigners?

    Well, for the first year I didn`t really have many friends apart from my Japanese colleagues. I used to go out with them, to the local Izakaya/Kaiten-zushi/Italian restaurant...but I didn`t feel comfortable. Also, my Japanese wasn`t really good at the beginning. I improved a lot though, but still there was something missing. I didn`t really know those people, I didn`t know if they were married/ingaged, what they liked to do outside work, if they played golf only because the Kacho said so, or because they liked it!

    During the second year, I started hanging out with other foreigners, americans, English, Italians...it was fun, I started enjoying myself more.

    Do/did you feel comfortable calling yourself a gaijin to Japanese people?
    Yeah it was not a problem for me to say "I`m a gaijin". Some of my Japanese freinds used to laugh at me as well. I didn`t like it when it was used as a negative thing, a derogatory word..

    How "Japanese" do you think you acted? dressed?

    I never dressed Japanese. I thought it was stupid trying to emulate them...I got my own personality.
    Sometimes though I acted Japanese, especially when speaking in Japanese. It`s all part of the process, the language, the aizuchi. the gitaigo...that all helps to make you clearer and to undestand the locals, I think! Obvioulsy when I speak English, I don`t really say ehhh tooo, sokka....ahaha ehhh nani?

  20. #120
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    You know a long time friend of mine once commented that in some cases it it easier for a gajin to get along here without knowing more than rudimentary Japanese.

  21. #121
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    I do think though there is a danger of playing the gaijin card too strongly, or at every opportunity. I think there is a certain mindset that often jumps to the wrong conclusion either through laziness or prejudice and just assumes that every time a Japanese doesn't satisfy your every whim, they're obviously being negative to you because you're a foreigner.

    I'm reminded of a time several years ago, when I was tired after a long day's work and couldn't be bothered to cook, so I called up a pizza delivery place. The guy asked for my phone number and name and I confirmed both at which point he hung up. He could obviously tell I was a foreigner and just didn't want to have to deal with me, I thought. I was just cursing the company, thinking how I'd never use them again, when the phone rang. It was the pizza guy calling me back to apologize for accidentally hitting the wrong button on his phone and to ask for my order.
    Last edited by Silverpoint; Jul 4, 2006 at 10:35.

  22. #122
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    A couple more questions. Sorry.
    Did you associate with a lot of other foreigners?
    Do/did you feel comfortable calling yourself a gaijin to Japanese people?
    How "Japanese" do you think you acted? dressed?
    I went through a phase here where I wanted nothing to do with any other gaijin at all. Where I lived I was the only caucasian "gaijin" male around. There were a few nesei and sansei from Peru and Brazil but we never hung out together. I felt "uncomfortable" having to share my space with them. After I got over the "special" gaijin phase it no longer bothers me in the least and we often have fellow "gaijin" over to the house.

    I have no problems calling myself gaijin to other Japanese people, it doesnt phase me at all. I have gotten accustomed to the staring, pinching, poking..... . It is truly no big deal whatsoever.

    How I dressed......well sometimes I get accused of looking like a member of the mafia because I wear black suits, pastel colored shirts with appropriate ties and with mirror sunglasses. It is the only time I get comments about my clothes that are notable.

  23. #123
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ex-gaijin
    My colleagues were speaking in Osaka-ben, underestimating again that fact that I could actually understand them. Maybe they were right, BUT I was on a different contract, 40 hours a week instead of 50; 10 (?) days paid holidays instead of zero, two days off a week instead of one....
    So many foreigners in Japanese companies have exactly that sort of arrangement, then scratch their heads and wonder why their Japanese coworkers "include them out". There's no "maybe" about it; they're exactly right to do so and who can blame them?

    you guys know that when it come to work conditions foreigners are treated differently!
    I know nothing of the sort. I am employed under the exact same conditions as my Japanese coworkers, perform the exact same tasks, and receive the exact same pay/holidays/etc.

    I also know that all the foreign employees who p1ss and moan about not being treated equally in the workplace would turn their noses up at the thought of having to work under the exact same conditions as their Japanese cohorts. Yet they're perfectly comfortable going on and on about how they felt excluded or even discriminated against.

    I know people who have been here for ages and are completely well intagrated. No one thinks of them as foreigners. I would like to state the same about Japan...
    Try finding foreigners who would volunteer to live and work among the Japanese on the same conditions as the Japanese do, and then you will be able to state the same about Japan. Not all of the blame falls on the shoulders of the Japanese; foreigners do a wonderful job of holding themselves apart all on their own.
    Last edited by Mike Cash; Jul 4, 2006 at 15:24. Reason: tags

  24. #124
    puzzled gaijin
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    Originally Posted by gaijinalways
    Mike Cash, people that have PR status here are hardly tourists; we work, are usually married to locals, pay taxes, etc and may have lived here longer than some native residents!
    Congratulations on a wonderful job of thoroughly missing my point.
    So, please tell me, what was your point, beyond being misleading or overly sarcastic (not sure, yours or mine)?


    Mikawa Ossan posted
    I just disagree with him. This disagreement is nothing new. It has been going on since I first joined. It's kind of an ongoing conversation that waxes and wanes.
    Sorry Mikawa, didn't realize it's 'old' water under the bridge, so to speak, I haven't posted here that long in this forum.


    Hachiro posted
    To some here that often come across with negative comments about this subject I would suggest they attempt to look at things with a bit of optimism instead of always being so pessimistic.
    Ah, well racism and sterotyping are not usually 'happy' subjects. I guess this is one of those the glass is half full or half empty outlooks.

    CC1 posted
    I am guessing that at least one of those terms was accurate? Most gaijin I have the opportunity to observe are quite urasai!
    Interesting, I guess you haven't noticed the young Japanese with their ipods/walkmans that crank their music and 'share' it with everyone on train! That and some of junior high and high school students who seem to think everyone should 'share' in their conversation as well!


    Hachiro posted
    On that I agree as well. What makes matters even worse then is the "guilty" by association mentality that some Japanese have as well.
    Uh, you mean you agree with the comments, that they are loud, if so read my above comments.

    Hachiro posted
    This is supposedly a forum about Japan. Sure letting people know about the good points and bad points of the country are necessary, yet as a person that holds an Administrative (owner) position on this site it is more than just a little worrysome that Maciamo bashes it nearly every chance he gets.
    I haven't gotten that impression, as Maciamo's interests range far. He often compares things in Japan with other places he has lived and traveled to, not always negatively painting Japanese customs, as some posters would seem to think he does.

  25. #125
    Regular Member ex-gaijin's Avatar
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    gaijinalways - thanks for sharing this. Especially the part regarding the URUSAI youth in Japan....especially girls who scream and shout with thier "angelic" voises....

    I find them so annoying...

    Mike-cash - I don't know what sort of company you work for but I'm sure it's not the norm. I could never work 50 hours a week maybe more, no sick-leave, no holidays, no time-off...etc. etc.

    All the Japanese who live and work abroad, say that they never coulf go back to their home country. Most of them don't even feel Japanese anymore and never go back to Japan for holiday.

    Hachiro - I don't like the attention on me. I don't like being stared all the time. I don't like the feeling of being "unique"...just because I'm tall and hairy. Most people love that probably, I don't!

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