In another thread (Why does Japan suck so much) the issue of whether or not a foreigner should criticize Japan was raised. One poster said that it is inappropriate for someone to criticize someone elses country, while I felt that it was perfectly reasonable to do so, so long as you could back up what you were saying.
What do you think? Is it OK for foreigners to 'bash' Japan, and if so how far can you go before you go too far?
yah, dat's me voting
criticism is cool...bashing is left for folks like "blinky" Ishihara... :D
Criticism when constructive and presented in a proper context is great. The problem that I see though (myself included), is most people tend to use broad generalizations, categorical labels, general assumptions, etc. etc. to either oversimplify or dilute/concentrate things ala "Well, Japanese women like..." or "Japan will never agree to...". This can be misleading because it can present a distorted and or inaccurate image or portrayal of whatever issue is at hand being addressed. Let's face it... what's the one thing everybody hates on a public forum (besides trolls and spammers 8-p)? Someone who tries to come off as a "know-it-all" and that said person's point of view is the only one that should be heeded.
I try to preface my queries with statements like "From my experience" or "To the best of my knowledge" etc. etc. because I feel it is important to distinguish that none of us are truly experts per se on ALL things Japanese. Most of us who aren't Japanese will always have a different perspective that is shaped, molded, and influenced by the culmination of our experiences abroad, as well as the result of the socialization process in our own countries.
All that being said, am I or have I ever been critical of Japan? Sure, on many issues. Does my opinion really matter for squat when all is said and done? Nope, because that is after all just one person's opinion and by no means is representative or reflective of a broader population and as such should always be taken with a grain of salt (although I have been told I make a great Trivial Pursuit partner 8-p).
I can understand where some people are coming from when they get irate about people saying bad things about Japan. However, it doesn`t seem like everybody realizes that sometimes the bashing is aimed at the situation that occurred rather than a culture or group as a whole. For example, the misleading brochure could happen in any country, and I`m sure senseiman would be just as pissed off if it occurred in his own country. I am sure he would be complaining just as much as about that tourist company. The point is when you are mad, you end up talking smack about the people that are responsible for the action, and that is just human nature. Senseiman just happened to be in Japan when it happened. I agree maybe he was a little hostile, but he didn`t say that every Japanese person is messed up or anything to that extent. He was just venting about what occurred, and when people are angry sometimes they come off a little stronger than they really wanted to express. All he is doing is expressing his displeasures that happened while he was living in Japan. It`s not like since this one Japanese person did something bad to him, and so now he is going to label every other Japanese person as being the same. Therefore, I think Tiger overacted a little too much, but that`s about it.
Don`t get me wrong, because I`m not trying to defend people who bash Japan. There are ignorant people who use racial slurs, stereotypes, and other hurtful things about a race, culture, gender, or religion. I don`t condone this at all, and in fact I am usually the one retaliating against those kinds of people. I am talking about the people that are saying all Japanse are this.....or all black people are that, I have no patience for these types of imbasulic people. When it comes to discriminating against another group of people, that kind of bashing is unacceptable.
I agree with Iron Chef about the people who think they know everything there is to know about a country since that have lived their for an elongated period of time. They say that`s how it is, and there are no other possible point-of-view that exists.
Many times that person`s explanation or definition is a little skewed, and can`t really be taken as credible information. I`m not saying all of it is incorrect, but sometimes that kind of thing happens.
I myself have found various things about Japan to be a little frustrating, but I have also had a plethora of awesome experiences here. Sometimes, I get a little ticked about things that happened to me here living in Tokyo. However, I don`t go bad mouthing the population as a whole, just the offenders. Wherever you go there will be nice people and mean people, so just go with the flow and try not to blame the country or people as a whole for your own mishaps.
I never have that problem...too many people have told me that I don't know anything, so that must be true.... :D
So, I am the self-proclaimed "Know-it-nothing" guru of this and other forums... :D
Age inhances ability to criticise ?
I notice I find it easier to complain the older I get!
if a japanese person come into this forum and post a thread on why america sux, nobody betta say nothin
all i'm sayin
It is a tricky issue definately and, as has already been stressed, one that probably depends a lot on precisely how you phrase the criticism, whether you are thoughtful enough to solicit their input beforehand and make sure to lay out a good preface "this is often how Westerners view things" or this is just my opinion" etc. As for the few Japanese I've ever had the courage to ask the best/worst things about their country: the best most won't say or can't think of anything but for the worst it is often something like Japanese are too close minded about outsiders and even about other Japanese that don't fit in. It just tends not to be assocated with racism or xenophobia in their minds, so if you baldly approach it from that angle you'll most likely get the standard reply about prejudice and discrimination everywhere. But I do agree with factual and constructive "criticism" or sharing individual experiences of difficulties with another culture as a way of provoking thought and understanding whether you have lived there two years or three months and leaving it to the recipiant to judge your credibility.
Considering that I would first shamelessly bash my own country, then the neighbouring countries if there is a reason for it (there always is, we don't live in a perfect world, and my standards are very high anyway), bashing Japan, especially if one lives there, is as perfectly acceptable.
Politeness ? Yes, as usual if one is well-educated, they should know that. Knowing what one is talking about ? A basis to credibility, isn't it ?
Thanks for replying everyone.
I think it is a touchy subject. I too think it depends a lot on the circumstances in which the criticism is being made. Obviously criticism based on racial prejudices is totally indefensible. But I think criticism based on limited personal experiences and personal tastes is also often hollow. There are people who tend to attribute certain isolated problems to the Japanese nation as a whole. Like some foreigners who see young Japanese spending huge sums of money on designer clothing, brand name hand bags and expensive cell phones - and then project this image of shallow consumerism to all of Japanese society, when in fact it only relates to a small minority.
On the other hand, I've noticed the tendency to defend Japan on the basis that a foreigner can't understand its culture is almost unique to this country. Anyone suggesting that a Japanese persons criticism of Canada is skewed because they cannot possibly understand our complex and mysterious cultural ways would be laughed out of town. Yet that sort of comment seems pretty standard when a debate about some negative aspect of Japan's society comes up.
I've notice that Japanese seem to have a much more heightened awareness of their national identity than people in other countries. Perhaps this makes them more sensitive to criticism of their country and more likely to take it personally. I notice that the Japanese government, for example, tends to ignore some issues until the foreign press starts to criticize it and only then does it take action to stem international embarassment. Like with the Onsens in Hokkaido with their 'No foreigners' signs out front. Wasn't a problem until the foreign press started printing pictures of the signs. Solution? Take the English out of the sign so that it won't be embarrasing to Japan.
i don't want to waste time providing a real cool analogy (maybe for the rebuttal :))
i'm sitting in MY house, on MY couch chilling
it's an old/new/yellow/purple/whatever couch, but its comfy and paid for
somebody comes in (i didn't invite him, but my roommate might have)
dude starts tripping about "man, that couch is ugleee! you should get a new one!"
"oh, you gone buy me one?" "naw, i'm telling you to go buy one though!"
"and get another bookcase! you may want to get a tv someday, so you should go buy a new one -- just in case"
"i like your curtains, but you need to open the shutters more to let in air or light/whatever! my girlfriend thinks so too! ain't that right honey!"
and i got a second floor balcony
I can see the point that you are trying to make Budd, but I think its kind of a flawed analogy. Its not like there are a lot of guys just barging into Japan, picking out random Japanese that they don't know on the street and telling them whats wrong with their country and why America or wherever they are from is better. Well.....on second thought perhaps there are such people and they obviously shouldn't be put up with, but thats not really what I was talking about.
I would view my personal situation as more analogous to this. You have an apartment and I have moved in as your roomate. I like living there and we get along, but there are some things I dislike about living there (maybe you are a messy roommate or something). I'm frustrated because I know you are set in your ways and I can't change you so I don't want to cause any hurt feelings by confronting you directly. It also pisses me off that even though I pay half the rent, utilities, etc. you still think of it as YOUR apartment and look at me as some sort of transient even after I've lived there for a few years. So I go complain with my other friends, who also live in someone else's apartment, about the things we don't like about the situation. Its not that we don't like living with our roommates, its just that when we get together we like to poor out our frustrations as a way of venting.
that's baloney, and it's also the reason why i can't (also) bring MY friends over...
i'll leave this thread alone though (some heavy-handed people pulling the strings) and probably the board pretty soon as a result, so it doesn't matter that much i guess
What are you implying? Your veiled comment lost me...
I'm pretty sensitive when it comes to Japan bashing, but I feel there is no problem with valid criticism as long as it's not all the time (no one likes a moaner!)
For me, I really get upset about the pollution problem and the way people keep dogs (or any animal) in extremely small cages or keep them tied up with a short rope all day :( (but, both of these things happen in most countries.)
It's people that moan or make fun of things of personal taste - like how it's "stupid" how Japanese eat raw fish or the like that I think is unacceptable.
I didn't really understand your last post, Buddd. But if you are leaving, it was nice talking with ya!
Yeah, I agree with you, nzueda. There is a difference between complaining about universal problems that effect us all equally (pollution, animal cruelty, etc.) and issues related to cultural differences and taste (food, etc.).
Not that there is anything wrong with saying "I don't like Sushi", but there has to be a line drawn between questions of taste and moral judgements.
Some of my Japanese classmates from 2 yrs ago really hated London, i think all they really did was sit in class and complain about how crap the country is / was, how dirty it is compared to Japan, how the sky isnt as blue, etc, etc..
I think they most likely expected too much, and got dissapointed which led to their frustration.
Sometimes it was a bit annoying considering i live in London and i think it's ok, but then everyone is entitled to their opinion eh ?
But then again sometimes i think it sucks here too. LoL ! :D
they thought the sky was more blue in Japan? When I lived in Kobe sometimes I couldn't tell if the sky was clear or grey - bad pollution!!! I can only guess places like Tokyo are much worse. Those guys must've come from the countryside.....
I guess it comes down to personality too - some people just like complaining and I've found if people are in a situation that makes them uncomfortable or inferior they complain to make themselves feel better.....
And that is not mentioning the fact that you can't even see the sky in most cities through the massive jumble of power lines draped over every neighborhood!
Mind you, the view from the mountains in Japan can be quite breathtaking if you are away from the urban areas. But then again, the views in the English countryside can be equally lovely.
I think that it's okay to criticize something, in this case Japan, IF you feel that you really have reason to do so. But it ain't cool to bash something just for the sake of bashing, and when one starts a thread, for example about bashing Japan, there will be a number of "trolls" on the thread who will cry their eyes out about everything they might come up with. Complaining can actually be a good way to handle the fact that the world isn't always what you want it to be, but one must be careful no to get lost in the complaints and forget to think if one really thinks/feels that way. I know do it some times, though I don't intend to, and sometimes other people might feel offended/hurt unnecessarily due to someones careless rant about something.
Yeah, I still can't get over all those powerlines!! so ugly!
Japanese countryside is beautiful! Living in a small town luckily I can enjoy blue skies and starry nights and the scenery is gorgeous! DH and I are thinking of renovating an old country house ... that would be so great! :happy:
My friend showed me a photo once and it did look considerably blue'er than the sky in London.
Not too sure where the photo was of though, because it was her collection of photos whilst she was having her little travel around parts of Japan and her hometown.
When people say London is a grey country they arent really far off from the truth :D
But yeh i guess, when u feel uncomfortable complaining does kinda help ya feel better.
I always complain college is boring, but when i'm on summer holiday period i complain being at home is boring :D
Cant satsify everyone right ? :clap:
Originally Posted by senseiman
While I agree that Japanese are highly aware of this, I disagree with it being so distinctive. I've known about a dozen Italians and they were like that big time -- and also used the "You don't understand our ways" a lot. At least when they weren't simply stating "our way is the right way."
And Israelis?? You can't talk about anything with them except maybe the weather on a sunny day. Of course, they probably have good ground for saying we don't understand what it's like to live your whole life in a war zone.
Let's see, who else ... Croatians. I tend to get a "don't even think about the Croatia-Serbia problems, you'll never understand. But trust us, we're good and they're bad" from them. I'm sure there are many others, but those come straight to mind.
Constructive or polite criticism is ok.. But when it gets categorized as bashing, It becomes no longer acceptable to me.. :p