Monday, February 16, 2009

I Don't Hate Japan

Last week I saw a Facebook status update addressing a conversation about why Sesame Street isn't shown in Japan. The reason cited was that there is an HIV positive character on the show and Japan doesn't want to advertise the existence of HIV by televising the show. (I looked online and the dubbed English version stopped airing in 2004 and a Japan-produced version started airing later that year, but nowhere did it say why.)

And more along the lines of the 'keeping foreigners out' thread, last year Japan instituted mandatory photographing and fingerprinting of any foreign national entering the country. Also last fall, according to some news reports I heard about, the Japanese legislature was contemplating a Japanese language requirement for any foreigner hoping to live here. You'd have to pass a test!

My point is, when living in a foreign country, it's easy to take note of things the host-country is doing wrong. In Palau - a developing nation - there were quite a few critiques we armchair politicians (Peace Corps Volunteers) could make regarding the decisions of the young nation.

Here, many foreigners get in their minds that Japan wants to keep bad things (disease, us) out and they look for evidence supporting this. Even if it's fourth-hand or lacks factual basis (Sesame Street is shown here).

But aside from my MIXI experience, I have not had any anti-foreigner sentiment. The closest I've come is talking to women who say they would never date an American because their parents/grandparents would forbid a marriage to anybody but a Japanese person.

But I am living in Japan. And I'm here by invitation. So there would have to be some level of hypocrisy to me making the 'Japan doesn't like foreigners' argument. (There is a lot more to it, of course, such as my country of origin, English language ability, and higher education counting in my favor.)

But I don't have much bad to say about this country. I haven't come to hate Japan. There are faults, but they don't dominate my experience. The scales are tipped heavily in the other direction: things Japan does right.

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