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Letter to the Editor in the Daily Yomiuri (off-topic)
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JimDunlop2



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 2286
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:37 pm    Post subject: Letter to the Editor in the Daily Yomiuri (off-topic) Reply with quote

Hello! For those of you who are interested, since we've recently been discussing issues of racism in Japan, I wrote a Letter to the Editor which was published in the Daily Yomiuri yesterday (July 14th).

For the sake of comments/discussion, I've re-printed the article here:

----------------


Like many of the foreigners currently living and working in Japan, I do not support Japan's pursuit of a permanent UN Security Council seat. Time and time again, Japan thumbs its nose at the organization they wish to play a greater role in. True, the behavior of the current members falls short of being exemplary, but the last thing needed is another gross violator. UN rapporteur Doudou Diene, appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission recently visited Japan and expressed his concern at Japan's elected officials using racist and nationalist terms, while remaining oblivious to the seriousness and depth of the existing levels of racism and xenophobia in daily society – a sentiment seemingly echoed by many Japanese citizens, as reported in a BBC News story entitled “Japan mulls multicultural dawn,” (October 5, 2004).

How can a country presume to embrace internationalism and participate in United Nations affairs when the general view of a non-Japanese is mired in stereotypes and educating the nation's children consists of racist literature such as the unfortunate, recent republishing of “Little Black Sambo” and “The Five Chinese Brothers” (Shina no gyo-nin kyoudai); the word “shina” being a highly offensive term to describe a Chinese person – no different than “sambo” used in reference to someone of African origin. Does anyone protest? Are there boycotts? Hardly. It's on the best-seller lists. Perhaps Mr. Diene, a Senegalese, should have been presented with a copy of “Little Black Sambo” as a memento of his recent trip to Japan, as well as an equally popular “golliwogg hugging doll” (Dakko-chan), which incidentally still exist here, to really exemplify how Japan views him and other international guests.

Indeed, many others have also come to the same conclusion; people like Irene Kahn, Secretary General of Amnesty International, on a recent trip to Tokyo. Her statement, “Japan must start by putting its own house in order” is a wonderful way to sum things up.
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AndyH



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 417

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are correct in your view that many Japanese have "issues" with race (to put it mildly), but I must respectfully disagree with your view that the country shouldn't have representation on the UN Security Council. Not to make excuses, but look at the other countries: is China a model of human rights and brotherly love? What about Russia? Even since the fall of the USSR, they have a long way to go. And even my country, the US, has a terrible history of thumbing its nose at UN resolutions, unless they benefit them or Israel. Especially given the fact that Japan is the #2 contributor to the UN general fund, why should they be held to higher standards than the rest of the Security Council permanent members?
The two countries leading the anti-Japan bandwagon, South Korea and China, are nothing more than hypocrites, who are using the excuse of WWII, a war that ended 60 years ago, to try to keep a potential rival poltically weak.
The war has been over for a long time. Japan still has a way to go, but the country can make positive contributions to peace, stability, human rights, and economic development through membership on the Security Council.
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6810



Joined: 16 Nov 2003
Posts: 309

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

drag... I had to teach a class and got scooped by the author himself.

Oh well, perhaps by the end of the day the post will have drifted into obscurity.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If this matter pertains the the Security Council, one has to be concerned with security issues, not necessarily racism. So, let's ask ourselves, how well does Japan participate in international matters of security? Do they send in troops to do battle, or merely to police things after the danger has subsided? Does that warrant being admitted to a UN Security Council?
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bearcat



Joined: 08 May 2004
Posts: 367

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyH wrote:
You are correct in your view that many Japanese have "issues" with race (to put it mildly), but I must respectfully disagree with your view that the country shouldn't have representation on the UN Security Council. Not to make excuses, but look at the other countries: is China a model of human rights and brotherly love? What about Russia? Even since the fall of the USSR, they have a long way to go. And even my country, the US, has a terrible history of thumbing its nose at UN resolutions, unless they benefit them or Israel. Especially given the fact that Japan is the #2 contributor to the UN general fund, why should they be held to higher standards than the rest of the Security Council permanent members?
The two countries leading the anti-Japan bandwagon, South Korea and China, are nothing more than hypocrites, who are using the excuse of WWII, a war that ended 60 years ago, to try to keep a potential rival poltically weak.
The war has been over for a long time. Japan still has a way to go, but the country can make positive contributions to peace, stability, human rights, and economic development through membership on the Security Council.


Just because others on the SC are bad justifies why another one should be allowed? That's pretty flawed logic.

You skirt the point he made: Why should we add another gross violator to table? Are there not other countries that perhaps better exemplify the type of country that -should- sit on the SC?
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yamanote senbei



Joined: 28 Jun 2005
Posts: 435

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:41 am    Post subject: SDF Reply with quote

Even though Japan's constitution forbids them from having any military forces, there's a little organization called the SDF. Until Japan's government gets around to amending their constitution to fix this oversight there isn't much of a chance of Japan ever getting a permanent seat. Considering how difficult it is to get the LDP to even get their own party to agree on something simple like postal reform, it's unlikely that they'll ever be able to do anything challenging like alter the constitution.
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JimDunlop2



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 2286
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh... 6810: Sorry, dude. Wink I was wondering how many Dave's-goers read the DY but I gave it a day before posting up the letter, wondering if someone else would bring it up or not. I posted up this thread between classes as well...

Glenski: My point is, although the issue relates to security, I question the competence of a country whose views of peoples outside of the Japan are so grossly skewed. IMO, foreign policy is directly related to domestic policy in that the government's ability (or inability) to govern is likely to be invariable. A clear demonstration of incompetence on the domestic front would probably be a reasonable indicator of comparable incompetence internationally.
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malcoml



Joined: 28 Dec 2004
Posts: 215
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Even though Japan's constitution forbids them from having any military forces, there's a little organization called the SDF.


You must meen those guys currently in IRAQ self defending
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Miyazaki



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
Posts: 635
Location: My Father's Yacht

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Japanese people are pretty xenophobic - does that mean racist?

It's systemic and starts in the school system. Anyone that sticks out or is different gets ostracized or singled out or punished.

Chinese are racist.
The Koreans are also racist.
I guess the Thais are racist also.

In fact, prior to coming to Asia, I never realized how racist the were to each other here in this part of the world.
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markle



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 1316
Location: Out of Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Umm Glenski has a point. Japan should be judged on it's suitability to aquire a permanent seat by it's record on security and such not on a percieved problem with racism. It's like saying South Africa has no place because of it's AIDS problems or that Mongolia is too poor. There are a number of good reasons why Japan is worth considering, it is a fully functioning democracy (you mightn't like them but there were elected in free and fair elections), it is the second largest economy in the world, meaning it is less likely to be swayed by economic pressure from other powers (US, CHINA) And finally, SDF and the current involvement in Iraq aside, it's consitution forbids it to maintain a offensive army or to wage war.

All these factors make it a more than worth considering, with probably India the only other country more worthy.
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AndyH



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 417

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bearcat, do you really understand what the issue of the Security Council is? It is not to promote "racial awareness month" or govern what books can be published. I made my acknowledgement of Japan's shortcomings on racial issues clear (or at least I thought I did), but if we are to look at what the UN Security Council actually does, which is to give the final stamp of approval to UN resolutions and have a greater voice in steering UN policies, than Japan is more than justified in seeking candidacy.
I worked for the United Nations in the 1990's, in El Salvador, and from my experience, the Japanese government was one of the most active in contributing to the mission of the UN.
The UN Security Council was created to give greater power to the victors of WWII, which has been over for 60 years now, except in the minds of a few thousand Chinese and Koreans (with some justification, admittedly, but hardly an excuse for their level of hostility). Times have changed, and greater representation should be allowed to reflect the current state of the world.
If Japan is not a deserving member, than what do you propose? What countries would be better members? Should the Japanese level of UN contributions give them some greater say in how the body is governed?
What should be the standard for membership in the UNSC if you feel Japan should be denied a seat?
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Captain Onigiri



Joined: 20 Jan 2005
Posts: 103
Location: fly-over land

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe the original purpose of having permanent members of the Security Council was that the founders of the UN were realistic enough to realise that some countries were powerful enough that if any of those countries opposed an UN resolution, it would be near impossible to implement that resolution. It was an act in realism. The USSR insisted that France be included because it was thought in 1945 that France would become Communist at any time. The US insisted that China be included because it was a "democracy" ran by Chang Kai Chek. One the ironies of history is that the member insisted on by the US became a communist country and the member that was insisted on by the USSR didn't.
If the critiria of being a permanent is being powerful enough to thwart UN resolutions, Japan might have just enough economic clout to meet that definition. Of course, if the critiria for permanent member status was paying your UN dues, the US has underpaid for so many decades that we could take the US off and have Japan take its place.
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AndyH



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 417

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point, Captain Onigiri!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
if we are to look at what the UN Security Council actually does, which is to give the final stamp of approval to UN resolutions and have a greater voice in steering UN policies, than Japan is more than justified in seeking candidacy.

And, do you know WHY Japan is not on the UN SC right now?
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6810



Joined: 16 Nov 2003
Posts: 309

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you all see the rebuttal in today's Yomiuri?

I have no time to type it all, so I'll condense and extract (does the Yomiuri publish letters onlin? Where?)

Western View of Japan as Racist is Misguided.

The world won't be free of racism soon.

Shina isn't a bad word as it was derived from a "chinese dynasty". It was used from the mid-edo period until just after WW2.

Japan uses Chuugoku, which is a transliteration of zhongguo. But Western Nations don't. So who is really wrong here?

Dakko-chan is not racist. After all it is cute and lovable.

"Please don't preach an egoistic and hypocrytical opinion of others".

[end].

Fair enough rebuttal.

However, what makes my blood boil is the lubricant for the Japanese denial of racism - ignorance. As long as one remains ignorant, then one's racist actions aren't actually racist (or so it seems). Furthermore, the outsider has no right (even when the outsider is to some extent an insider through tax, employment and residency) to comment on injustice?

To me, the long standing blinkered, ignorant and isolationist view of racism both within and without Japan is to me the biggest problem. Personally, I am rather ambivalent about Japan's entry into UN permanancy. I am not however, ambivalent about conducting rigorous and engaged dialogue into the implications and ramifications.

Letters such as Ikuo Nakamura's are to me representitive of people who have had little contact with discrimination whether gender, race or sex. Yet at the same time, this view represents a real majority view. So then we can ask the question - how to respond to ignorance?

Just some thoughts.

Ciao
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