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View Poll Results: How far can a foreigner take criticism of Japan before it becomes inappropriate?

Voters 306. You may not vote on this poll
  • No criticism is valid because it is not your culture and foreigners can't understand it.

    20 6.54%
  • A minor amount of criticism is acceptable, so long as it doesn't offend anyone.

    38 12.42%
  • Polite criticism is acceptable, as long as you take into consideration cultural differences while making it and know what you are talking about.

    203 66.34%
  • Anything goes.

    37 12.09%
  • No opinion.

    8 2.61%
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Thread: Japan Bashing

  1. #26
    •Ö—˜‰® Male
    Join Date May 1, 2004
    Location Tokyo
    Posts 685
    Japan


    ‘ÛŒð—¬ƒp[ƒeƒB[
    Tokyo International Party

    I think that what exactly is being criticized is important to look at first. I believe that the issue of culture is fair ground to be discussed amongst any human being. We all have valid opinions based on our own cultures looking at a different culture. Being informed helps of course and someone bashing a culture they are ignorant of is not going to result in any decent ground for discussion and/or further debate. That problem will take care of itself.
    Living in Japan myself, the problem I have is of foreigners who bash Japanese *people.* They are criticized for being less than honest, not very forward with their feelings, for being ethnocentric... the list goes on and on. The problem that I have is that most of the foreigners that do this criticizing cannot speak Japanese very well or at all. They rely on conversations in English to judge the Japanese people around them. I want to put them to the test... present yourself as honestly and as much as you can in Japanese (or any other language that you cannot speak very well for that matter) and be judged yourself. I find it very disturbing that people can judge someone based on conversations outside of their mother language. They need to make more of an effort to communicate in a way more comfortable to who they are speaking to to elicit a more realistic and honest answer.
  2. #27
    Cute and Furry Male
    Join Date Nov 14, 2003
    Location Chiba/Tokyo
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    Japan-Chiba
    I feel its only natural for a group of foreigners who get together to bash their host country. Happened when i went to japan (along with our respective countries having a go). I'm with Maciamo, my country (australia) is normally first. Normally my japan bashing is limited to the pollution, bad weather, teacher at school who was being mean, that kinda thing. Usual whinging.
  3. #28
    Male
    Join Date May 7, 2004
    Location Eugene, Oregon
    Posts 26
    Japan
    My 2 cents:

    Speaking on the topic in general, yes, it's okay to criticize another country or culture as long as you have an idea what you're talking about. People that argue about topics they don't have a clue about aren't worth your time. And they aren't worth going into long paragraphs about either.

    Later,
    Stets.
  4. #29
    tokyo dancer
    Join Date May 9, 2004
    Location Setagaya, Tokyo
    Posts 330
    Colombia

    what do you want...

    I voted anything goes. But I think it's important to know a few things:

    - why you are making your criticism.
    A lot of people seem to have opinions on a lot of things, and feel it's more important to assert that opinion than to first assess why they own it.

    - what you expect to accomplish by making it.
    Again, not often thought of during the process; I am a pro at this one (and in a twisted way take pride in my increadible aptitude to that end). People often have low tolerance for criticism of social and cultural issues--they have less tolerance if all you hope to gain from it is some sort of emotional fulfillment. And yet less if you have no clue at all of what you expect to accomplish (you haven't given it thought).

    All criticisms represent an individual judgment. But they are just that, individual. Now matter how "matter of fact" you present it, your criticism reflects you more than anything else. At the end of the day, you are just as flawed as the rest of us.
    Last edited by chiquiliquis; May 9, 2004 at 19:44. Reason: typo
  5. #30
    æ”y
    Join Date Jun 17, 2004
    Posts 52
    United_Kingdom
    I think it's ok to do on a forum, but I wouldn't go over there and start saying 'this bed sucks, why don't you have proper ones' or something. I mean it annoys me how a lot of people who emigrate to England start whinging about it, especially the asylum seekers who have demanded mosques to be built and other rubbish.

    But if something sucks, it sucks, and there's no point deliberately not talking about it. In a polite way of course :P
  6. #31
    æ”y
    Join Date Nov 27, 2003
    Location KIX -> JFK -> LAX
    Posts 1,889
    What follows is not a case of Japan-bashing but an example of ignorance.

    In an article "Japan Wrestles with Sumo's Future" by Mike Street in
    Volume 14, Number 24, Tuesday June 8, 2004 edition of Asian (!) Reporter of the Pacific Northwest NewsWeekly, the author comments on page 11, column 5, that "a rule was instituted [in 2001] requiring all sumotori to speak fluent Japanese, effectively barring Westerners from the sport." (emphasis added) (I read the hard copy but it's also available on-line at http://www.asianreporter.com/arts/24-04sumo.htm see the very last paragraph).

    This is simply not true. Even if such a rule had indeed been instituted, there are more "Westerners" than ever before competing in Japanese Sumo today--3 Brazilians, 4 Russians, 1 Georgian, 1 Bulgarian, 1 Czech, 1 Estonian, and 1 from Kazakhstan, not to mention over 30 Mongolians, as of 6/21/04, which can all be verified at the Sumo website at http://sumo.goo.ne.jp/ozumo_meikan/s...chi/index.html

    There is a section at the very bottom of the site--though in Japanese--that indicates where all the Sumotori hail from.

    The writer did not bother to update his facts, and most likely did not imply that the Japanese are racist--I'll give him the benefit of the doubt--but his comment "effectively barring Westerners from the sport" could easily be inferred as such by uninformed readers. Such commentaries, if not protested, or at least questioned, will foster the misconception of the Japanese being racist.

    I have asked the newspaper to retract the author's comment.
  7. #32
    æ”y Male
    Join Date Jun 24, 2003
    Location canadian
    Posts 627
    Japan
    They shouldn't allow people who have no idea what they are talking about to write garbage like that. Even someone with only a passing knowledge of Sumo would know that a large proportion of the top ranked Yokozunas over the past decade or so have been foreigners.
  8. #33
    æ”y
    Join Date Nov 27, 2003
    Location KIX -> JFK -> LAX
    Posts 1,889
    Foreign-born Yokozuna Grand Champions in the past decade:

    Akebono (USA)(retired)
    Musashimaru (USA)(retired)
    Asashouryuu (Mongolia)

    Currently there are no Japanese Yokozunas
  9. #34
    Male
    Join Date Mar 6, 2003
    Location USA (Michigan)
    Posts 672
    United States
    That's a big fact to get wrong.

    I think the main rule governing foreigners is that is only one foreigner allowed per stable, isn't that right? So there is a limit. Baseball has a similar cap I think.
  10. #35
    æ”y
    Join Date Nov 27, 2003
    Location KIX -> JFK -> LAX
    Posts 1,889
    They've considered it but not implemented it.

    The main problem is, they're having recruitment problems. Numerous smaller stables have either dissolved or been absorbed by larger ones because of shortage of rikishis. Japanese kids today don't have much interest in Sumo. They prefer baseball and soccer. Besides, kids today don't have the necessary discipline to withstand the harsh conditions while being in the apprentice stage (only room and board and small allowance). Only those who have done well in collegiate competition who are confident enough to quickly get past the apprentice stage are signing up now. Plus, Japanese couples don't have too many kids these days and they won't allow a son to forego high school and join Sumo at the age 15.

    In baseball, even if each team is limited to only 1 foreignor, there are still plenty of Japanese players to field a team with. But in Sumo, the stables have no choice but to go overseas to expand their pool of prospects and continue recruiting in order to stay afloat. They used to have a minimum height requirement (about 170 cm) but they've even relaxed that rule and accept candidates who show a high degree of athletic ability who are shorter than 170cm.

    BTW, Kokkai from the Georgia Republic is competting currently in the top Makunouchi division. Rahou from Russia and Koto'oushuu from Bulgaria ended up with winning records in the Juryo division in the July tournament and are virtually assured of being promoted to the top level for the next tourney.
  11. #36
    ...what?!... Male
    Join Date Jul 17, 2004
    Posts 241
    Norway
    From what i have seen of Japans countryside. like on TV ... ....
    It is quite similar to Norway

    but i am insanly jelous of your night sky

    i wanna see it TOO ! !
    If In Doubt...
    Run And Hide...
  12. #37
    æ”y
    Join Date Jul 18, 2004
    Posts 21
    Japan
    this is an interesting thread. because I believe every foreigner has once,twice or more than a few times bashed Japan in some way. Why? well one reason and I think the main one is total fustration with the system. Also if you go through a day where everyone stares at you in a negative way (you know the way when there is no smile but a straight dry stare as if to say "go home!") and you experience a couple other unpleasures that is typically associated with Japan you will obviously have a pretty bad outlook of Japan by days end. But then you will go into a shop and get wonderfull kind service from someone and think "oh....why did I hate Japan so much.....this person is being kind). It is quite natural to say things to your mates (foreigners that is NOT Japanese as no matter what they will take it the wrong way) but you have to be carefull not to go overboard. I remember this Indian/Australian buy I worked with once at this Eikawa who just HATED Japan and went on and on and on. I was embarrassed the way this dick went on. So you have to be carefull. Also be very carefull if you are married to a Japanese person also. Even if you are right they do not like it. I can say from experience, this is why I am very carefull. Also if you come from some 3rd world country that has very poor human rights and then come to Japan and complain about racial discrimination I think you had better take another look at your own country. So yes you need to weigh things up and take a look at your own country. and when you criticize Japan about something it is also good to come out with something positive. I believe with practically everything where there is a negative there is also a positive.
    that is it for now.
  13. #38
    Manga Psychic Male
    Join Date Jan 22, 2004
    Posts 2,016
    Originally Posted by senseiman
    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!
    But on the other hand they do may very handy visual metaphors. c.f. Serial Experiments Lain.
    Originally Posted by Amazinggrace
    Also if you go through a day where everyone stares at you in a negative way (you know the way when there is no smile but a straight dry stare as if to say "go home!")
    To be fair I think that's as likely to be the "Wow, what is that?" stare of ignorance than the "Eww, what's that gaijin doing here?" stare of prejudice.

    Not that that's a vast improvement.
  14. #39
    æ”y
    Join Date Jul 18, 2004
    Posts 21
    Japan

    stare

    Originally Posted by PaulTB
    But on the other hand they do may very handy visual metaphors. c.f. Serial Experiments Lain.

    To be fair I think that's as likely to be the "Wow, what is that?" stare of ignorance than the "Eww, what's that gaijin doing here?" stare of prejudice.

    Not that that's a vast improvement.
    sure it could be that also. but it is hard to determine what is going through ones mind with just a stare apart from whether or not it is a + or - stare. If it is a glance without a smile it might mean all kinds of things. But that doesnt bother me. It is the direct stare without smiling and the slight frown that gets me. i got that the other day in a barber shop by some oyaji just staring. Obviously I just stare back until they give up and look away.
    On the other hand the is the stare and laugh. You notice it ESPECIALLY when they are in their cars (security) especially a couple and it is usually the guy who makes the joke (insecurity perhaps? worried the girlfriend might fancy me so he comes up with a joke??) and then you seem them laugh.
    This is what gets me down......the looks. And then ofcoarse the "you cannot rent this mansion cause you are a Gaijin!"......but why?? "cause you live differently than us"......but you have a western style toilet, a shower, an oven, a fridge, electricity etc etc......didnt we invent all of these????
    I was denied twice with renting a mansion. Both times I got my way! just throw it in their face about RACE and what westerners have achieved and invented. Why I say this is cause they love the "Race Theory" and have grown up with it. So if you tell them how it is then you might just get your own way.
  15. #40
    æ”y
    Join Date Nov 27, 2003
    Location KIX -> JFK -> LAX
    Posts 1,889
    Originally Posted by Sinspawne
    From what i have seen of Japans countryside. like on TV ... ....
    It is quite similar to Norway

    but i am insanly jelous of your night sky

    i wanna see it TOO ! !

    So nice of you to say.
  16. #41
    Œã”y
    Join Date Jul 5, 2004
    Posts 5
    United_States
    Could anybody survive japan without complaing about it at least once a week? I don't mean "constructive" or "polite criticism". I mean REALLY sitting down with friends and complining about how sexist, perverted, dirty, and ignorant Japan can be at times.

    The difference is WHO you do the complaining and bashing to. It is different when you are trying to change things than when you have just had TOO MUCH Japan.
  17. #42
    Cute and Furry Male
    Join Date Nov 14, 2003
    Location Chiba/Tokyo
    Posts 2,294
    Japan-Chiba
    Originally Posted by dayjp
    Could anybody survive japan without complaing about it at least once a week? I don't mean "constructive" or "polite criticism". I mean REALLY sitting down with friends and complining about how sexist, perverted, dirty, and ignorant Japan can be at times.

    The difference is WHO you do the complaining and bashing to. It is different when you are trying to change things than when you have just had TOO MUCH Japan.
    I think this is normal human nature, move somewhere else and your bound to whinge about something. I go to Japan I complain about the bs and the humidity. I come back home and whige about how tatty everything looks and how unreliable public transport is.

    I know someone who came from England and quite seriously complained that the sky is too blue and its sunny too much!
  18. #43
    Œã”y
    Join Date Jul 5, 2004
    Posts 5
    United_States
    Let me put it another way.

    If you live in Japan, Japan bashing is a way to stay sane. Often, the better you know the culture and the language, the more difficult it gets.

    Critizing Japanese culture to Japanese people is a different matter. It is easy to lump Japanese people into one big group. It is a mistake.

    However, those political vans that come around at 8 in the morning on Saturday should turn the volume down. Jesus Christ.
  19. #44
    Male
    Join Date Aug 3, 2004
    Location Barcelona
    Posts 34
    Spain
    A little criticism is good for the evolution of a society
  20. #45
    æ”y
    Join Date Aug 12, 2004
    Posts 63
    United_Kingdom
    My experience is this: Foreigners complain.

    I don't mean foreigners in Japan. I mean foreigners everywhere.

    About three quarters of foreigners everywhere spend three quarters or more of their conversation-time complaining about the country they're living in, and at least three quarters of their complaints are unfair (either too slight or too obvious to mention, or inaccurate, or the same back home, or not really a bad thing, or just plain absurd). How much a foreigner complains is not a reliable indicator of how bad things in their adopted country really are. Rather, it is a sign of how much the foreigner misses home.

    Of course, most expatriates and travellers don't quite notice how much they're doing it. They have to be told by the locals to shut up many times before they get the message. The one's who can't stop usually go home sooner -- fortunately.
  21. #46
    Join Date Nov 25, 2004
    Location Where your live? Aidane...(GA, it sucks)
    Posts 60
    United_States
    Originally Posted by senseiman
    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?
    Um, you can bash anything. It's called using your lungs, or your hand if you choose to write it down. It is physically and verbally possible to "bash" something.

    Now that that's over with, you should know alot about something before you recklessly bash it, because you might and probly will be proven wrong and will then be porved to be an ignorant *****. I mean, just how would one "bash" Japan?

    More importantly, what'd be the point? Bashing things doesn't generally get anything accomplished...
  22. #47
    Ooh, i'm a green belt.
    Join Date Oct 6, 2004
    Location ƒVƒJƒS,Illinois
    Posts 209
    United States
    So if a japanese says to me "I think your hair is colorful" can i tell them that i think their wife is hot/beautiful?
    Want to learn how to lockpick?

    "Watch Me Kill" by GG Allin is the best song in the world.
  23. #48
    Twirling dragon Male
    Join Date Jul 17, 2002
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    Belgium - Brussels
    As French or Italian people say : "Who loves well chastises well" (Qui aime bien chatit bien/ Chi ama bene castiga bene).

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  24. #49
    Occasional visitor Female
    Join Date May 21, 2004
    Posts 101
    Canada
    Originally Posted by chikazukiyasui
    My experience is this: Foreigners complain.

    I don't mean foreigners in Japan. I mean foreigners everywhere.

    About three quarters of foreigners everywhere spend three quarters or more of their conversation-time complaining about the country they're living in, and at least three quarters of their complaints are unfair (either too slight or too obvious to mention, or inaccurate, or the same back home, or not really a bad thing, or just plain absurd). How much a foreigner complains is not a reliable indicator of how bad things in their adopted country really are. Rather, it is a sign of how much the foreigner misses home.

    Of course, most expatriates and travellers don't quite notice how much they're doing it. They have to be told by the locals to shut up many times before they get the message. The one's who can't stop usually go home sooner -- fortunately.

    You may be interested to know that, as much as I can, do, and have complained about Ireland, the demographic which complains MOST about this country is the Irish themselves. I have my own theories as to why this is, but I did want to point out that in my personal experience, the locals whinge "more" (frequency, length of time devoted to complaints) here than the immigrants. It's a way of bonding, and a way of life here, to complain that is.

    Also, I was thinking about Canada, where I grew up - again, multi-generational Canadians were the most vocal; the new-comers didn't complain as much, or even at all. Tourists and exchange students, likewise - many of them wouldn't know that I was local, but I still never heard anything negative about their impressions. Quite the contrary.

    Oh, and I NEVER once complained about my years in New England. I really enjoyed living there, even as a foreigner.

    Actually given all that I've experienced and heard, I believe quite strongly that what you've said does not hold universally true.
  25. #50
    JREF Resident Alien Male
    Join Date Jan 19, 2005
    Location Goodlettsville, Tennessee
    Posts 1,831
    USA - Tennessee
    ragedaddy said:
    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.
    ...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.
    Amazinggrace said:
    this is an interesting thread. because I believe every foreigner has once,twice or more than a few times bashed Japan in some way. Why? well one reason and I think the main one is total fustration with the system.

    It has been my experience over the years, and this thread proves it, that foreigners in Japan constantly have a "love/hate" relationship with the country, myself included.

    They are torn between the culture they grew up and were educated in, and the culture they are struggling to survive in. When things don't go as expected, or what they think should be the "norm", to them, they complain and lash out to friends or anyone who will listen.

    If it is about renting an apartment and getting turned down, the hassles at the immigration office, or the frustrations you, and all Japanese for that matter, have to go through at the City Hall, or just registering a car, it is completely acceptable and a way to let off steam to me.

    However, if it's just plain lashing out at the country, and the culture as a whole, with no basis whatsoever other than you realize you made a mistake and are now stuck for a year or two on a contract in a country that you have come to despise, that is crossing the line I think.

    In my 32 year relationship with Japan, I have come to the conclusion, even when I was living there, that this is not my country, I was not born here, and I am not a citizen. I am a guest and if I don't like it, I can just leave. Or, I can attempt to learn the language and culture to gain an understanding of just where the Japanese are coming from and the basis for their thinking.

    Sure, I can "***** and moan" about the traffic problems, and the crowded commuter trains, or the fact that they stop running just when the party is getting started, and numerous other things. But I have come to learn over the years that my frustrations are also felt by the Japanese as a whole and they complain about it as much as I do.

    Therefore, its quite ok to let off some steam once in a while. As I was not born in Nashville, TN, I sometimes do it, as the customs down here differ somewhat from what I learned up north and in Japan. It's just a matter of blending in and enjoying the culture and country for what it is. And, as I said above, if I don't like it, I can always leave.
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!

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