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Racism in Japan?

 
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Which country would be the most easiest for a non-white to obtain an EFL position?
Japan
33%
 33%  [ 2 ]
Taiwan
33%
 33%  [ 2 ]
Hong Kong
33%
 33%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 6

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deshell32



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 2:28 am    Post subject: Racism in Japan? Reply with quote

I am a black American who is currently teaching as an EFL instructor in Korea. I have 3 months remaining on my contract. Although I have a Master of Science in education (no type of teaching certification) and one year of teaching experience (Korea), I still remain very apprehensive about race playing a negative role in my search for employment in Japan. Can anyone tell me if the desire for the "blond hair-blue eye" teacher in Japan is as strong as it is in Korea? Do you think that it would be better for me to enter Japan on a tourist visa and search for employment, or obtain a job first and then enter Japan? Also how would you compare Japan to Taiwan in terms of teaching opportunities for blacks? Also any mentioning of equal opportunity employers in both Japan and Taiwan (although I realize this isn't the U.S.) would be very beneficial. I have endured 9 months in Korea, a country which I have lost a lot of respect for while living here, due to what seems to me to be a very nationalistic country, and one that does not care for non-Koreans especially if you are also non-white. I am ready to go. Thank you for any input and advice.
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Celeste



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 814
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sorry that you are having such a bad time in Korea. I lived there for 2 years, and I know how hard that country can be. I am in Japan now. It is so much easier. People here are very polite. I think you should obtain employment from abroad, if only because this is a terribly expensive place to hunt for work. (Transportation alone can break your budget.)

I do not know any black people living here at the moment, but I have seen many non-white foriegners around in my city. While I haven't asked them personally about their experiences here, I have noticed that the service personnel in local businesses are as polite with them as they are with me. Also, I do not get asked ridiculously ignorant questions about racial traits of different North American minority groups here. (And while we're at it, I went to a public bath here and no one stared at me, and I have been here over 6 months and no one has dared to ask me about why I am so fat- something I was asked on a weekly basis in Korea. No one here has thought it necessary to inform me of the superior attributes of their race- something I was treated to regularly in Korea.)

I cannot compare Japan with Taiwan; I have never been to Taiwan. Comparing Japan and Korea, I think that anyone who survives Korea will thrive in Japan. Apply for some jobs, and cross the East Sea.
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rcn



Joined: 11 Feb 2003
Posts: 38
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They're all the same in Asia. Even university level positions discriminate against non- white candidates. However, your position is nothing compared to people with Asian features that want a job in Asia-That's where the real discrimination is!
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to second what Celeste said. I too lived in Korea and have found Japan to be ALOT more tolerant. They have their problems here but nowhere near the problems that are found in Korea.
I work for a big company that sends out teachers to public schools. In my Board of education, there are not only Blacks (one guy from Nigeria) but non native speakers of English. That's how open minded many people in Japan can be. They realize that there are a variety of different kinds of accents, colors and cultures that speak English.
While some language schools might discriminate if you are Black, almost no one will get in your face about it and the discrimination is rare.

Anyway, good luck and sorry I don't have any information on Taiwan or Hong Kong.
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deshell32



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2003 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course I realize that racism is going to exist everywhere, I am simply searching for which country it might affect me to a lesser degree. Thank you all for your comments.
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cafebleu



Joined: 10 Feb 2003
Posts: 404

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:46 am    Post subject: deshell32 - suggest you try to come to Japan Reply with quote

Hello, I am so glad I did not go to Korea.

I live in Japan and I do not share Celeste`s benevolent views of the apparent non-racism of the Japanese. If you live here longer than 2 years you begin to really notice it in a number of ways, often in the guise of superiority complexes and belittling of foreigner`s abilities and home countries).

You will also find it instructive to read gaijinpot`s postings and find the entry by a black man who was blatantly told at a rental company that they did not deal with his kind of person.

However, if you come to Japan you will also find the racism expressed in a different way from that in Korea. In general the Japanese avoid conflict and while you will have to get used to a certain superiority complex expressed in a number of annoying ways, you could very well find that as a black teacher you are respected and you are very interesting to the Japanese.

Of course there is the tendency do stereotype black people - some think that all black men do are rap in bands and carry guns. But this kind of stereotype is also held by some whites. I think generally the racism white people experience here (yes Celeste, you have been lucky so far or maybe you have not threatened the Japanese by staying too long - I could tell you some interesting examples of racism I have experienced but they are not enough to make me want to leave yet) is the same that black people will experience here.

In other words, you can live and work here without harassment and the kind of xenophobic bullshit you`ve experienced in Korea. You will get relatively minor forms of racism here but you will also intrigue the Japanese, particularly when you do not conform to their stereotype based on selective news, etc.

The Japanese essentially do try to keep a certain level of harmony and I have met very few overtly rude people here. It is just that when you live here long enough, you will notice the ingrained racism in a number of everyday matters. But you can learn to live with that if your enjoyment of Japan outweighs the disadvantages. For me it does.
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Celeste



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 814
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cafe bleu-
You are right, I have only been in Japan for about 7 months. Many of my fellow foreign teachers have complained about the Japanese superiority complex, but the one who also spent a few years in Korea agrees with me in the point of view that racism here has nothing on Korea.

I know that the reason I often get a bench to myself on the bus or subway is that no one wants to sit next to a stinky foreigner, but the people are too polite to say that. They are also too polite to harangue me, spit on or at me, or refuse me service in cafes and pubs(all things that happened to me when I lived in Korea).

I have had conversations with other relative newbies in Japan who complain that the Japanese people are nice to their faces, but don't actually have respect for them. I suppose that after experiencing open hostility, I much prefer the land where people are nice to my face, and I couldn't give a darn about their secret opinions.

It is difficult for foreigners to rent apartments here. Generally, to rent an apartment, you need a guarantor. As well, many rental agencies have a no gaijin policy. This is racist by my Canadian definition, but I'm sure that the Japanese agencies rationalize it with stories of foreigners damaging apartments beyond repair or causing great inconvenience to their Japanese neighbors. I think that difficulty finding apartments is the kind of problem that a foriegn person would have in most countries. While this is frustrating and unfair, I wouldn't sweat it too much because there are agents who do deal with foreigners here.

A last piece of advice for Deshell:

Stay out of small towns. Big cities have this fabulous thing called anonymity. In a small town, you will be under great scrutiny and people will think that the details of your life are their business. (A woman I know who is in a very small town says that the townspeople are intensely curious about what a gaijin woman eats, wears, watches on TV, who she dates, and it gets more personal from there.) In a city, you will be old news because as well as not being the first gaijin there, you will also not be the first black gaijin there. Much easier not to be a pioneer.
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deshell32



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 8:27 am    Post subject: Japan Reply with quote

Thank you all for your replies. it has helped a lot. I don't want to present a false impression. Korea has its share of outgoing, friendly, and courteous people (unfortunately this is a small percentage). I was speaking in general terms. I know racism exists in Japan, but I am simply looking for courtesy and not receiving continuous stares of hate. If I go to Japan, I thought a big city would be better for the reasons mentioned above. I preferred a small city close to a large city simply for the price of living. But it looks like if I go, I will settle for higher priced living in a big city, because anonymity is exact what I want. I had a feeling if I chose a small town, everyone would have an eye on me, which is the last thing I want. I want to be "just another foreigner." thanks again.
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cafebleu



Joined: 10 Feb 2003
Posts: 404

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 11:42 am    Post subject: Nice to read a measured opinion from Celeste Reply with quote

Hi Celeste, thanks for responding to my posting. Reading it now I realise it sounded as if I was intent on correcting you - I wasn`t and thanks for your measured opinion.

I don`t like people who come on to chatboards to prove they are `right` and others are `wrong` and I hope I didn`t give the impression I was one of those people. I also found your opinion on small town mentalities spot on as I have experienced that.

Keep posting your helpful and rational views.
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Celeste



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 814
Location: Fukuoka City, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2003 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cafebleu- No worries. I took no offense. I know that the opinions of those who have been here a while are different than those of newbies like myself, just as I realize that the Korean experience is one that is difficult for me to describe to others who haven't been there. Glad to hear different views-keep posting. Smile
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Joe Thanks



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Posts: 25
Location: Asia

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 7:08 pm    Post subject: I hear ya, Celeste Reply with quote

Celeste wrote:
Cafebleu- No worries. I took no offense. I know that the opinions of those who have been here a while are different than those of newbies like myself, just as I realize that the Korean experience is one that is difficult for me to describe to others who haven't been there. Glad to hear different views-keep posting. Smile


I survived two and a half years in Korea. I know what you mean. I agree with your observations: feel and think what you want but be civilized about it. If I do nothing to you don't come and harrass me. Ironically, I never experienced refusal of service in bars, pubs, nightclubs, restaraunts or hotels until I went to Korea. I even speak the lingua franca and I was treated worse. I was even assaulted when I defended my Korean girlfriend from a drunken, racist bore of an ajosshi who felt the need to start yelling at her. Not so when I've been to Japan. I sensed it here and there but that's fine with me. Nobody threw it at me like racist Korea (I can't play politically correct and dismiss racist jingoism in Korea as "nationalism" like far too many do, when it is what it is: cold blooded racism).

Thanks for your help on other threads,

Joe
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