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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. #201
    Back leonmarino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    1) they associate me with lower-class economic immigrants. I was told by one of my English-school employers, while negotiating the salary, that "foreigners come to Japan to make easy money because Japan is a rich country". I automatically replied that my country had a higher living standard and higher salaries than Japan, as did most Western countries (see article).
    I couldn't have hold my laughter if I were in that position.. As the article point out, Japan doesn't look at all like a first-world country in some aspects!!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    2) they discriminate against people who belong to an equal or higher social class, are equally or better educated than them, equally rich or richer than them, etc.
    It seems like you are saying it is ok to discriminate against people of lower class and not against others. I know you don't mean that, and that you say it is understandable (from a historical/social point of view) why people would discriminate against people of lower classes, right?

    Anyway, it is indeed very frustrating that I and other people are being discriminated against. I think it is because many foreigners, including me, do not understand and follow every little rule in Japan. These constant culture shocks form the image of foreigners being different than Japanese. Sure, there are also Japanese people who break the rules or are impolite sometimes, but they don't stand out in the crowd.

    Speaking of "standing out", don't you think the fact that foreigners are easy to detect is also causing this racism? In Europe you can hardly see any difference between many people, Dutch, German, English, Belgian.. We all look the same. (Although I love to argue that we Dutch are different than you Belgians ) In Japan, any non-Japanese person would stand out immediately. This simple "they look different, so they must also be different from the inside"-way of thinking.. I think that factor also contributes to the in-group/out-group bias.

    Nonetheless, it is indeed frustrating, and from comtemporary western views it is.. Not good. But hey, what can you do about it?

  2. #202
    puzzled gaijin
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    Good points leonmarino, people looking different than oneself would make it easier to distinguish them as different, especially in a country like Japan where many residents have similar Asian features (I am thinking more of the Chinese, Koreans, and the Japanese, and yes, I know there are some broad diffrences, but often they are indistinguishable amongst themselves, unless their manner, dress, or language gives them away). The Japanese have never been able to let go on that aspect. Not that it is easy anywhere, but especially here, I think that is why so few non-Asians here take up citizenship (not that Japan's lack of a real immigration policy helps either), they realize that it is almost impossible to be fully accepted as an equal here.

  3. #203
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
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    Most Caucasians who end up in Japan are part of the group of Western society that's least racist,and most tolerate of other races.This is WHY they can't understand,if they are so open-minded,why anyone shouldn't be open-minded unto them.This is because previously as member of the majority in their home countries,they never experienced racism on the degree that they do in Japan.
    Last edited by ricecake; Oct 1, 2006 at 22:04.

  4. #204
    puzzled gaijin
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    ricecake posted
    Historically,it has always been Caucasians inflicted " racism " onto other races.
    I suppose we can overlook the African slave traders and the Japanese invasions during WWII then (though of course you could argue that the Jpanese in invading parts of Asia weren't being racist, just biased aganist ethnic or national backgrounds that were non-Japanese). You seem to have forgotten a lot of history, yes?

  5. #205
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    I should've worded it .... historically in the US.

    Hmmmm ... I think I flipped on the last sentence,just disregard it.

    Yes,I am well aware Arabs were slave traders.As for Japanese,there are 10-20 old posts of mine specifically acknowleged their attitudes toward other Asian folks.

  6. #206
    puzzled gaijin
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    Historically that has been true in most places. Either being in the majority and/or possessing more power (through numbers or just better military technology) has led many to abuse the minorties in places. The difference in Japan of course, is that we are talking about now and of course a non-violent type (usually) of discrimination.

  7. #207
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    I should've worded it .... historically in the US.
    Hmmmm ... I think I flipped on the last sentence,just disregard it.
    Yes,I am well aware Arabs were slave traders.As for Japanese,there are 10-20 old posts of mine specifically acknowleged their attitudes toward other Asian folks.
    As I am sure you know racism however is not an "American" thing.

    Japan doesn't have a corner on racism. In fact I would be willing to bet that racism in Japan is not as "big" a problem as nearly every country in Europe, as a comparison of course.

    In my opinion racism in Europe is much more of "problem" than Japan.

  8. #208
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    Most Caucasians who end up in Japan are part of the group of Western society that's least racist,and most tolerate of other races.This is WHY they can't understand,if they are so open-minded,why anyone shouldn't be open-minded unto them.
    I think that this is a very good point. Most of the Westerners who decide voluntarily to come and live in Japan belong to one of the least "racist" or intolerant section of Western society. Their open-mindedness and tolerance is basically what brings them to Japan: to learn about another very different culture. You don't go and live in a ethnically different country if you are racist.

    Historically,it has always been Caucasians inflicted " racism " onto other races.
    Gaijinalways has already replied to this, but I also wanted to add the examples of numerous genocides (many unknown to historians) by Africans against other African ethnic groups. One of the most famous recently was in Rwanda and Burundi. Darfur (now !) is an example of violent racism turning to genocide committed by the Arabs against Black Africans. China has also attempted the genocide or ethnic replacement over most of the non-Han territory, the most famous of which is Tibet.

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  9. #209
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leonmarino View Post
    It seems like you are saying it is ok to discriminate against people of lower class and not against others. I know you don't mean that, and that you say it is understandable (from a historical/social point of view) why people would discriminate against people of lower classes, right?
    Yes. Discrimination is nothing more than rejecting certain category of people which are not considered "good enough" to socialise with, work with, or even do business with (e.g. rejecting potential customers because we fear they might cause more trouble than profit). Usually lower-class peolpe, in any society, are those that do not have enough manners, education or good behaviour to be accepted by the others. It used to be ok when the lower classes made up most of the population (until the mid-20th century in the West, and until now in developing countries). It was a richer minority who didn't want to associate with the "poor, dirty and ill-mannered" majority.

    Now that such lower class people have become a minority, the term "discrimination" has become more significant for them. The problem in Europe nowadays is that economic migrants, especially from Africa, are even lower in the social scale than the native lower class. The gap being so big, many natives don't want to interact or socialise with such immigrants because they look so dirty, benighted, or even scary because of their less refined manners and lack of respect for many social conventions (e.g. they throw more rubbish in the street, urinate in public, commit acts of vandalism, talk too loud, spit, behave aggressively...). So yes, it is normal, and even natural, for people of higher classes not to want to associate with such people, regardless of their ethnicity. So even "natives" can belong to the discriminated group.

    Japan's case is a bit different from Europe. The Japanese being so "narrow-minded" in their social expectations and respect of conventions (so much that many Japanese who can't take it anymore leave Japan to live in more liberal Western countries), it is not surprising that their level of tolerance and acceptation toward non-Japanese is so low. It is not necessarily racist because even Japanese born or educated abroad, as well as some Japan-born ones, face such discrimination. People who look non-Japanese are easier targets, because even if they try to behave like "good Japanese", they are rarely given the chance to be accepted as such, just because of their different appearance. This, however, is racism or xenophobia.

    In Europe, I am personally ready to accept immigrants that do effortts to adapt to their host society, behave well, learn the language and culture, etc. I never have negative feelings against well-educated and well-mannered people from any ethnic origin. I have interacted and socialise positively many times with middle or upper-middle class Moroccans. But I just can't accept the "underclass" I often see in the streets of Brussels, because they are very ill-mannered, troublesome and scary (enough to make why wife cry for being around them). So discrimination in this case is not only understandable, it is a natural reaction to protect oneself.

    In Japan, however, I cannot see how some well-educated and well-behaved upper-middle-class Westerners who come to Japan to learn more about the country they like, and even get to know more about the local culture than some natives, should be seen as any "threat" to the locals. Discrimination against them is not based on a major difference of social level, so only actual xenophobia is the cause, which I cannot accept.

  10. #210
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alt View Post
    In my opinion racism in Europe is much more of "problem" than Japan.
    In the light of my last post above, I think that there is not so much real racism in Europe, but a lot of discrimination (both ways) or social tension caused by :

    1) the sheer difference of "class" between the natives and some economic immigrants (rarely the Eastern Europeans).

    2) the lack of integration of Muslim immigrants for religious reasons.

    However we can see that European government are doing their best to help these immigrants to integrate. For example, there are now compulsory "integration courses" in several countries (Belgium, Netherlands...). The local election will take place next Sunday in Belgium, and I noticed that about 1/3 of the Socialist Party ("PS", the biggest French-speaking party in the country) canditates in Brussels are of North African or Black African descent. This is proportion is much higher than the number of naturalised African immigrants in Brussels (onlt 5% of the Moroccan immigrants have adopted the Belgian nationality). So we can say that this party was so concerned about not giving good opportunities to those economic migrants that it has overdone it and given them an exceedingly important representation. Just have a look at the elected representative of the PS for the state of Brussels. Out of 24 elected politicians, 12 are of Arabic/Moroccan descent, 1 of Black African descent, and only 11 of European (not even all Belgian) descent ! As the PS is the ruling party, we can say that Brussels, the capital of the EU, is ruled at 55% by African immigrants !

    This kind of excess of kindness toward immigrants is very usual in Belgium. For instance, they are given the same social security and unemployment benefits even if they have not been naturalised. Islamic communities now even received state subsidies equal to those of the Catholic Church in Belgium ! Yet Muslims only make up less than 5% of the population, and almost all Christians in the country are Catholics. So if their is discrimination from the government, it is against the native and non-Muslim Belgians.

  11. #211
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    My observation here in the USA,only those Japanese women married to Americans can forge " close friendship " with Chinese and Caucasians.I've always been approached by Japanese females ( ones have been in America for an extend of time ) sought casual chat,haven't had any similiar encounters from Japanese FOB with in-group mentality as if they're programmed to keep a distance from NON-Japanese.

    My Taiwanese neighbor has a Japanese female friend for nearly 30 years,they both met at a college in Monterey County nearby.

  12. #212
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    I've been reading for a while and trying to understand where everyone is coming from and I just had to comment on one thing.
    they look so dirty, benighted, or even scary because of their less refined manners and lack of respect for many social conventions (e.g. they throw more rubbish in the street, urinate in public, commit acts of vandalism, talk too loud, spit, behave aggressively...).
    Are you refering to ALL lower class citizens especially African ones?
    Not everyone who comes from a "lower class" fits into those categories.
    I think I'd be more offended by that than someone calling me a gaijin.
    I was really feeling bad that everyone was against you and was trying to figure out why you felt the way you did. I figured maybe you felt that way because you felt you needed to fit in moreso because your wife was Japanese and everytime someone called you a gaijin you were reminded that you were different.

  13. #213
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    Regardless,Maciamo was bombarded with " unwarranted " direct mudslings from several forumers for months and I was appalled by the scene at that time.Individuals all have different life experiences,we shouldn't discount there is one or two person(s) actually stinged by ugly human behaviours he or she never anticipated.I've encountered a few ******* Japanese male forumers in cyberspace,I could feel " evilness " in their posts.

    I've had a few disagreements with him either indirectly or directly in diplomatic manner.

  14. #214
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IheartNihon View Post
    I've been reading for a while and trying to understand where everyone is coming from and I just had to comment on one thing.
    Are you refering to ALL lower class citizens especially African ones?
    Not everyone who comes from a "lower class" fits into those categories.
    I think I'd be more offended by that than someone calling me a gaijin.
    I think you should read my threads about social classes to understand what I mean by that :

    What is your image of each social class ?

    Do you care about social classes ?

    I don't know where you are from, but for many Europeans including myself social class is more about behaviour, manners, education and family background than money. So if someone is illiterate or has no social manners (as described above), they are automatically lower-class, even if they are billionaires in euro/dollar.

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  16. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    Regardless,Maciamo was bombarded with " unwarranted " direct mudslings from several forumers for months and I was appalled by the scene at that time.Individuals all have different life experiences,we shouldn't discount there is one or two person(s) actually stinged by ugly human behaviours he or she never anticipated.I've encountered a few ******* Japanese male forumers in cyberspace,I could feel " evilness " in their posts.
    I've had a few disagreements with him either indirectly or directly in diplomatic manner.
    Whether or not that is true, "unwarranted" is one persons opinion and I do see an awful lot of "banned" people on this site in comparison to other forums like this which tells me one thing disagreeing with an administrator is not tolerated here. So be it. If that's the way it is then thats the way it is.

    Imo Maciamo's comments and opinions on the differences between racism and discrimination are similar to attempting to split an atom. Sure there are distinct differences semantically yet practically they go hand in hand.
    Japan doesnt have a Nazi party glorifying Hilter, it doesnt have French immigrant workers being burned out of their apartments, nor does it have Algerian workers being racially discriminated against in Germany either.
    Imo the examples that he gave, be they true or otherwise are the exception and not the rule for life in Japan.

    If the comments or experiences are true then it just sounds like he was a magnet for discriminatory actions, which may mean something else as well, I don't know.

    Racism and discrimination go hand in hand in many cases, at least from what I have read so far about Maciamo's experiences here so far on this thread at least the racism or disrimination was color-blind. Which to me lends credence to it being a isolated case.

    I feel sorry for both him and the people that he felt were discriminatory towards/against him, racially or otherwise, in the case of the latter I would be willing to bet it was out of ignorance more so than any outward sense of "racial superiority".

  17. #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by alt View Post

    Whether or not that is true," unwarranted " is one persons opinion.

    I do see an awful lot of "banned" people on this site in comparison to other forums like this which tells me one thing disagreeing with an administrator is not tolerated here.


    I stand by my word on the nasty scene I eyewitnessed in those past months,involved individuals attacked Maciamo like a pack of wolves as if they meant to ripped him in bits and pieces because he rattled their extreme pro-Japan appetite.

    I've seen some forums NOT effectively ban overt racist troll-like forumers propagating hate-messages,JT's crisscross forum is one ugly place.I regular several Asian-forums ban forumers right and left for not tow the line of the site's administrators or moderators there.

  18. #218
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    I have witnessed a lot worse things than you see here at 'Young Dude's guide to Japan' . On that forum, I'm not sure who is worse, the resident right winger, or some of his 'friends' who try to defend his attitude of coming down hard on any criticism of Japan. I don't have anything aganist people having a different opinion, it's people who think they come across as being tough by being insulting that annoy me or just sling out examples that it must not be that bad an experience living here (when they never have even experienced living here).

    I feel sorry for both him and the people that he felt were discriminatory towards/against him, racially or otherwise, in the case of the latter I would be willing to bet it was out of ignorance more so than any outward sense of "racial superiority".
    I'm not sure this excuses them very well. As has been explained earlier (in either this thread or one like it), the Japanese have hardly been isolated from foreigner contact (travel, media, etc., so being ignorant at this point would be just odd in my opinion (slow learners, anyone?).

  19. #219
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post
    I'm not sure this excuses them very well. As has been explained earlier (in either this thread or one like it), the Japanese have hardly been isolated from foreigner contact (travel, media, etc., so being ignorant at this point would be just odd in my opinion (slow learners, anyone?).
    Exactly. Japan has been one of the most avid learner of the Western system, and probably the singlemost eager non-Western country to copy all things culturally Western from fashion to cuisine. What is more, the Japanese are well-known for travelling a lot, and are among the most numerous long-term language students in European language schools (especially in the UK, France and Italy). The Japanese media relates events from all around the world (much more so that the Australian media, as I noticed, having lived in both countries myself).

    Yet, I have not experienced half as much "ignorance" from Indian, or even Thai, Malaysian or Indonesian people as I did in Japan. My strong reaction of surprise toward the Japanese was mostly in contrast to my previous experiences in Asia. I have since noticed that the Koreans and Chinese may be quite similar to the Japanese in this regard. I suppose it is less the case in the Philippines because it is a Christian country, with even closer ties to the USA, and a Spanish colonial past. In Thailand it may be due to the extemely high number of European tourists, which give them more opportunity to observe the differences between people from each country. In Malaysia or Singapore, it is surely because these countries are multicultural (Malay, Chinese, Indian) and people are so aware or the differences between each of their own community, and so do not assume that all Westerners are be alike. The same is true for India, to an even greater extent (the country has over 800 languages, numerous ethnic groups and all major religions).

    So it could very well be Japan's (or Korea's) apparent cultural, linguistic and ethnic homogeneity, and their self-centered education system that are responsible for this "ignorance". But even a lot of those who have travelled or lived abroad keep this naive ignorance, so it runs deeper than that. I think that Japanese culture promotes a lack of critical sense, so people may see and hear things, but their brain doesn't process the information. It has to be pre-processed for them.

  20. #220
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    I think certain forms of racism will always exist. I just think that sometimes people shouldn't care TOO MUCH about about it.

  21. #221
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutch Baka View Post
    I think certain forms of racism will always exist. I just think that sometimes people shouldn't care TOO MUCH about about it.
    This thread is not about racism itself. It is about the term "gaiijn", and the ignorance that goes with it. Racism itself is not what bothered me in Japan, it is ignorance, xenophobia and their daily expression.

  22. #222
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post

    Japan has been one of the most avid learner of the Western system, and probably the singlemost eager non-Western country to copy all things culturally Western.

    What is more, the Japanese are well-known for travelling a lot,the Japanese media relates events from all around the world.

    Japan is the best disciple of Western modern culture more so than one and only truly " Westernized " Asian-Pacific nation named Phillipinnes.The " Japanese ONLY " sign is a copycat of long-gone US segregated era,Japanese are good at throwing indecent crap back at Westerners.One scene in 1990's Hollywood film " Black Rain ",this one middle-aged Japanese actor bluntly said to Michael Douglas " You Americans stuffed American values down our throats ! ".

    Decipher Japanese psyche becomes a pastime for me,Japan is one Asian nation traps between 2 worlds since Meiji Era.

    I've seen some Japanese variety shows with overhead ceiling string of worldwide flags with Japan alongside some European nations plus America NO NON-Western nations.Only in past few years,they would display PRC's flag accasionally.

  23. #223
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    Re-read last 10 words in the paragraph.Is English,a native tongue of Japanese ?

  24. #224
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    I used to argue much like alt that people shouldn't get so upset about these injustices such as the use of the term "gaijin". But now, I say, let them get upset. I don't really care anymore. The only person they are 'hurting' by getting upset is themselves.

  25. #225
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    I would say it's neither of these as being sensitive, something sometimes the Japanese pride themselves on, is a cultural attribute and has varying degrees. Sometimes the Japanese are very sensitive about some things, avoiding hurting people's feelings by lieing about something, about attributing blame, etc., but other times it's like using a hammer when Japanese fail to recognize that using some labels does hurt people.

    The main difference again seems to be this inside/outside concept, in which most Japanese don't allow foreigners to truly penetrate into their group. Hence, why I state again, sometimes I think most of Japan has more of a 'small villiage' mentality (don't trust outsiders) than the 'international minded' mentality they claim to be seeking. Hence, I often think teaching English here is sometimes a lesson in futility, because quite a few Japanese still use English for entertainment rather than as a tool to unlocking the world outside of Japan (of course business men do use it, but it sometimes is still on a very limited basis, unless (gasp) their company merges or is acquired by a foreign entity.

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