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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


'Discontinuous minds' and discrimination: some responses

Following are some readers' views on Dan O'Keeffe's June 16 Zeit Gist article " 'Discontinuous minds' block progress on discrimination":

Taxation, but few benefits

Dan O'Keeffe has it all wrong. Japan, for most gaijin, is "the land of the lotus-eaters." There isn't much to teaching English if any ESL teacher was truly honest. And most teachers don't have to spend more than 10 or 20 hours in a classroom each week to make a fairly comfortable living.

Housing is affordable. Food is great. What's to complain about?

The streets are relatively safe compared to most major cities in the West. If the gaijin is fluent in the language, then things can get even better.

But don't expect any fairness in the housing market.

Don't expect any fairness in employment; all gaijin are temporary and very expendable.

Don't expect any retirement benefits unless you've lived here for 25 years or more and faithfully paid into the pension plan. Few foreigners are able to do this since most gaijin employment is temporary.

Don't expect your Japanese spouse to understand your situation.

If you have any mixed-race kids, know that they will never be fully accepted by Japanese society and will spend a lifetime attempting to explain why being mixed isn't necessarily a crime or a violation of Japan's unspoken "racial purity" obsession. Adolf Hitler would have admired (Prime Minister) Taro Aso's statement in 2005 that "Japan is one civilization, one culture, one language and one race."

Yes, pay your taxes but don't expect to get any benefit. Hell, most gaijin can't afford a car in Japan, but have to pay for the nation's highway maintenance costs.


'Shoganai' is a cop-out

I am an American working on Yokosuka base. I am retired navy and married to a lovely Japanese woman.

We discuss these kinds of topics at home and the result is usually the same: "Shoganai."

I get this from everywhere: "That's just the way it is. What can be done about it?"

I agree with your views on this topic, and I know that everything can't be fixed to make my life a bright, sunny, happy place all of the time, but "shoganai" is a cop-out. It is the easy/lazy way out of a problem.

That's the way it is and has always been, but that doesn't mean it can't be better.

I'm not asking for all of the answers, just for someone with the position and authority to at least try.

RICHARD MCMANUS Yokosuka, Kanagawa

Ban should be permanent

The Tsukiji misbehavior by foreigners was not at all "alleged"; it was shown on the television news. Not only was all those foreigners touching the fish quite unsanitary, but the hooligans climbing onto the forklifts posed a direct danger to personal safety.

Tsukiji is primarily a workplace. I have worked in construction in Japan for seven years, and I can tell you there is a certain rhythm to how one moves around a workplace. Such clowning foreigners can get people hurt or killed.

I think the ban should be permanent.


Regarding reefer madness

Re: "Reefer madness hits Japan's shores" by Mike Mullins (Hotline to Nagatacho, June 30):

I just wanted to thank you guys for providing a more reasonable perspective on this issue. It is something I rarely see here in Japan, and I think it is a step in the right direction.

The simple fact is that cannabis has the potential to save lives, and does not kill people the way alcohol and tobacco does.

I wish more people would realize this.


Send comments on these issues to community@japantimes.co.jp

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