Battlepanda: Racism: Making Things Worse all over the world


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Racism: Making Things Worse all over the world

I totally missed the boat on the blog against racism day thing. I suppose I didn't have anything especially perceptive to add. I could have mentioned how my high school in England herded all the minority kids (plus the dumb white ones) into one class and made us read 'Roll of Thunder, hear my cry' while the normal class was reading 'Lord of the Flies'. But that would be petty when racism is such a harrowing day-to-day experience for so many people.

But I'm very glad other people participated. Rox Populi links to a post that shows white people don't have a lock on this racism thing:
As Japanese public opinion moves ever further to the populist, isolationist right, as Japan brashly alienates itself even further in Asia, as the bellowing black vans with their tin-pot thugs become noisier and more frequent, the official xenophobia continues at its accelerated, reactionary post-September 11 pace. Small past victories are being erased as the liberal voices huddle in corners, hoping only that the deluge will pass.

There's a real feeling of dark clouds descending over this country these days, a sense of an ugly impending storm. It's a bad time to be a minority anywhere in the world, but is it any wonder long-term expats in Japan feel uneasy, certainly not protected, and often end up hating the place? Life here would become all but impossible for a foreigner if ever a terrorist attack, or the long-overdue big earthquake, does take place.

My feeling is that nothing is changing here. Japan is just reverting back to past, never-lost insecurities. The corridors of power are filled with the same old dinosaurs. They articulate the same old insecurities felt deeply by most of the population. The young are learning from the old. The newer generation is more reactionary than the ones that came before. Japan is a nation that doesn't really trust anyone else. It's a nation with a profound identity crisis. And so it swings, like the stages of salaryman drunkenness, from belligerence to self-pity, politeness to ignorance, nice words to harsh acts, strong rhetoric to nervous laughter. All the while, it clings uneasily for protection, like the favoured child, to the coattails of a country it both admires and despises. It looks back at the past and feels defiant and aggrieved, a victim, at the very least of double standards. Not much has changed since the first black boats of foreign barbarians disturbed paradise all those years ago. Japan remains suspicious of the rest of the world, wondering how does it fit in and why it's not getting the respect it innately deserves.

And its expats, who once had, and even still have, so much love for the place, continue to feel barely tolerated, routinely degraded. Things stop becoming surprising in the Groundhog Day world of the Japanese cocoon, until you slap your cheeks to wake yourself and think.

I still consider myself primarily a Taiwanese person, and Taiwan is probably the most pro-Japan country in Asia. Still, Japan's recent lurch to the right has elicited a lot of disappointment and disgust there. Simply put, Japan's behavior in WWII was criminal on par with Nazi Germany. But unlike Germany, many Japanese simply never shed that master-race mentality which made the brutalities of WWII possible.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Taro Aso [ed -- he is now foreign minister!]has called Japan a "one race" nation, an expression similar to a controversial statement in 1986 by then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, sources close to the minister said Monday.
In a speech during a ceremony at the new Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Saturday, the sources said Aso described Japan as having "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race. There is no other nation (that has such characteristics)."
More at Elaine Supkis.

Needless to say, all this animosity does no good to anybody. Asia has the option of putting the past behind and thrive as bloc. Instead, last generation's war is continuing to poison the well. Lest it seems I'm placing all the blame on Japan, I'd like to add that I consider the anti-Japanese riots in China responsible for precipitating the Japanese people's recent resolve to shut the door on the world and continue on their appalling course to rehabilitate their WWII history.