Debito Arudou is currently an affiliate scholar at the East-West Center in Honolulu

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145 Comments.

  1. @Laxman Sivaramakrishnan:

    Are you sure you will be all right outside Japan?

    Please report how you will be doing economically outside Japan. It will be more convincing to encourage people to leave Japan and discourage them to go to Japan.

     他の方々にも参考になるでしょう。

    日本が経済的に停滞しており、時代的にも衰退期にあるのはそうでしょうけど、しかし、多かれ少なかれどこの先進国も同じでしょう。もともと祖国など日本以外で仕事を持っている人、あるいは若い人ならともかく、ある程度の年齢以上の人がこれから新しい仕事を見つけてやっていくというのはどこの国でもかなり大変じゃないでしょうか? 

    Some English conversation teachers fare better living in Japan, keeping other rival teachers away from Japan by ranting about Japan in a way the problems will not be solved—ring a bell? —just like the way people on Debito org are behaving.

     もっとも、英語ができても、日本語ができず、英会話の先生以外ということになると、英語が通用する国の方が断然有利であることはたしかであろうと思います。

     頑張ってください。明るい便りを期待しています。

    .

  2. His blog also stated that Arudou’s father was attempting to make Arudou’s eldest daughter his legal heir and thus cut Arudou’s right to inheritance. Talk about getting it from all angles!

  3. I just re-read Debito’s story of his renunciation and would love to see him try to recover his US nationality with the ‘duress’ claim, just because it would be fascinating to see what a judge thinks the word ‘duress’ encompasses.

    Mr. Schufletowski abruptly re-routes Debito’s conversation with him from a harmless discussion of whether or not the US should stick up for patrons of certain bars into what could be construed as an implied threat. What he literally says looks like nothing more than a harmless question, but when you consider the context, it feels a lot like many other indirect, roundabout ways in which people use both polite language and threatening language.

    (There’s a great discussion of conversational implicature and similar topics in ‘Politeness’ by Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson; I wish I hadn’t sold my copy years ago.)

    Consider the speeding motorist who asks the traffic cop if “we can settle this situation right here” rather than issuing a ticket. That’s probably an offer of a bribe, of course, but the speaker can later claim that he made no such offer, and indeed his *words* only imply such a thing between the lines.

    Schufletowski’s seemingly-innocuous question to Debito could be interpreted the same way: it’s what’s behind the question that matters.

    I got the impression that when Debito actually showed up in person to renounce, Schufletowski had either realized his error or had recognized how Debito had interpreted what he had said (which could well have been nothing more than a way to get Debito out of his hair on that day).

    He gives Debito an ‘out’ twice: first he says that he can’t accept the document (or, between the lines: “Debito, I shouldn’t have made that implied threat on the phone. I’ll tell you I can’t accept the document, you say OK, you tear it up, and we all go home happy.”).

    Then when Debito insists, he offers Debito another escape route with “You’ll have to give me a better reason why you want to give up your US citizenship than this.” (“…but since you don’t really have one, you can just keep your two passports, something my consulate has nothing against. Let’s just forget this whole thing even got started.”)

    But Debito didn’t grab that implied fig leaf, and instead went through with the renunciation.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if an enterprising lawyer were able to classify the implications of Mr. Schufletowski’s sudden conversational shift as a form of “duress”. Debito later insisted twice, but the whole thing got started with the implied threat.

    It would be a really interesting case, from an implied-language perspective. I’m no legal scholar, but I’d love to know if there have ever been cases like this before. I know that there have with bribes and the language that accompanies them.

  4. @Simon:

    “Debitard” is politically incorrect and somewhat offensive towards those with learning difficulties. An acceptable alternative term would be “maladjusted racialist paranoiacs”. Please take care in future.

  5. I kind of like “Debitard” Correctness be damned.

  6. @skibum: That’s all well and good, but it was decided a while ago by Ken that term is unacceptable here.

  7. @The Dude: Ouch! Badly phrased! That makes Ken sound very godlike in a Debito.org sort of way. If you ask nicely I’ll be happy to voluntarily desist.

  8. Just read Aldwinkle’s latest Just B Cause in which he rather half-heartedly lists 10 reasons why he likes Japan.
    Is it me or is there a glaring omission there? The people who made Japan what it is (the Japanese) are not even given a mention. To me they should be number one on any such list. Perhaps Aldwinkle doesn’t consider them important, or, yet more damning, doesn’t think very much of them.

  9. No no, it wasn’t a dictatorial decision on Ken’s part. The consensus was that we don’t need to use epithets like that. In my eyerolling at Tim’s comments I had forgotten. Sorry about that. I’ll try to restrain myself better in the future.

  10. @simon: No problem. But all the same, it’s kind of funny the first time you hear it

  11. I wish there was an emoticon for “deadpan”.

  12. @VK:

    VK: I had got what you were saying — I wrote my comment after The Dude spoke up. :cool:

  13. I prefer the term “Debito Disciple”.

  14. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

    @:

    Sora, I will still have business interests here that will need me to visit twice a year, but other than that no concerns with leaving Japan.

    You are right though, some people may be better off in Japan than outside it.

  15. Well gentleman, I think this it. After that last JT article which Debs put all of jack shit of an effort into, I’m thinking he’s in the twilight of his career as a blogger. Married and in Hawaii, he’s having a honeymoon of sorts. He’s starting a new chapter in his life and I don’t think its going to be as important to him to write about Japan.
    What’s going to become of Tepido if he moves on in life? Will the site be pulled down? Are you will continue on looking for others to, mmm..,critique?
    I predicted a few months ago Hoofin was on the short list, I read some of his writing and it I thought this guy is going to get it, and then I noticed his name popping up here and there, but I don’t think he is prolific enough to really warrant an effort, he seems to mostly dabble.
    So as a topic of conversation, what is the plan?

  16. @skibum: I don’t revel in people’s hardship. I must be hell to bring two children into the world and not be able to see them. It’s tragic really.

  17. Greg2: You assume that this site exists to “stalk” Aldwicnkle. This site is the necessary factual-content-with-free-commenting-allowed yang to Aldwinckle’s OMG-Japan-hates-everybody-and-you’ll-all-be-gassed-soon yin. If he fucks off, and the sooner the better by the way, there won’t be any lies, damned lies or embellishments needing countering.

  18. @Greg2: Neither do I

  19. I remember Debito saying his activism was for his children. “Think of the children!” is the cry of every mountebank, rascal, and ne’er-do-well on this earth.

  20. @Matt: I’m sure in his mind that is true. Personally, I would cut off my right arm before I unnecessarily exposed my child to discrimination, which is precisely what Arudou did in Otaru. Arudou is pure proof of the adage “seek and ye shall find”. To my knowledge he has never actually been excluded in any random situation. (Does anyone know of an occasion in which he has?) If you want to go miles out of your way to look for a scrap then fine, I can respect that, but is it really necessary to involve young impressionable children?

  21. @Greg2:

    Arudou is just a high profile example of a more intractable phenomenon – the ex-pat westerner who thinks like a colonial but talks as if he’s oppressed. There is a permanent suspicion of the locals; a paranoia that what they do is (a) irrational or ignorant (they really need to listen to the opinions of “us” smarter, wiser westerners on everything even if back home no one would listen to “us”) and (b) deliberately designed with the aim of promoting their own ethnic group. The local population becomes undifferentiated, conspiratorial – but only in the head of the colonial. This is what produces that curious phenomenon of someone professing love for “Japan” while expressing a deep dislike and mistrust of “the Japanese”. Such people will always be around; if debito.org wound down, another lightning rod for them will appear.

    It seems to me that Arudou failed continually to make one of the key steps in adjusting to a new country successfully: learning to treat the culture with the same validity with which you treat your own. His apparent failure to understand tatemae/honne as shown in a column last year wasn’t the result of a lack of intellect, but a lack of empathy. He found it easier to believe that a culture could have institutionalised deceit (in its full, nasty meaning) than that he hadn’t grasped it.

  22. @Eido Inoue: I think I’ll go for “Merp”. People have to ask what it means: they’ll consequently be more invested in the answer. :smile:

  23. Regarding his column on his favourite things – what’s his problem with “irradiated” food? It’s a pretty standard method for food sterilisation worldwide. Or is he meaning something different?

  24. Oh and as for drawing – does he really not know why this is?
    Doraemon, along with a number of other characters and various animals, has a song to facilitate drawing that all Japanese children would learn. So it’s not really an example of Japanese drawing talent – more learning in order simple shapes by rote. Although, I’ll grant that the devising the shapes in order and the songs is pretty clever.

  25. @Nogbad:

    ドラえもん えかきうた (Doraemon Drawing Song)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksCqV7J_PLE

  26. @Nogbad:

    He’s talking about all the food massively iradiated by the Fukushima incident and released into the food chain…

    :???:

  27. @Nogbad:

    As for “irradiated”, it’s yet again debito showing that a word-does-not-mean-what-he-thinks-it-means.

    ir·ra·di·ate (-rd-t)
    v. ir·ra·di·at·ed, ir·ra·di·at·ing, ir·ra·di·ates
    v.tr.
    1.
    a. To expose to radiation.
    b. To treat with radiation:

    As nogbad notes, “Irradiation” is a common method to kill bacteria and help preserve food, at least in cultures where alarmist parents don’t stop the practice “for the sake of the children!!!” (Better that hundreds die of e-coli infections each year than be exposed to absolutely zero additional radiation…)

    Thus the informed person will avoid the term “irradiated” which can be confused with a perfectly safe practice. I’m sure he is looking for “contaminated (with cesium, etc)” but “irradiated” sounds so much more evil.

    Of course, such contaminated food IS irradiated, but not all irradiated food is contaminated. These tricky science words have specific meanings. :facepalm:

    “Irradiated” food can just be exposed, but contain no radioactive material..or should I say no EXTRA radioactive material beyond the naturally occurring ones.

    If you seal up beef and irradiate it enough, it will keep for several years. The most troublesome side effect is it tastes “like goat”.

  28. @Level3:

    He also claimed that crime was not a “social construct”. I’ve seen it literally used as a textbook example of a social construct. (eg what’s the difference between murder and manslaughter, or whether homosexual acts are criminal).

    Unlike “irradiated” (where he obviously meant (dangerously) “radioactive”) I still don’t understand what he wanted to mean by “social construct” or how people don’t partake in and enjoy low crime levels.

  29. @VK:

    “social construct”?
    We ain’t got no need fer yer hi-falutin’ words ’round these parts. :wink:

    Dunno what it means, but I’d at least check a dictionary before I tried to use it. :lol:

  30. @Level3: You’re excused. He has social science degrees. He should know what it means. It would be like a physics graduate not knowing Newton’s laws of motion.

  31. “social construct”

    I think in this case he actually means “public goods,” but he has misused the term before:

    “‘Japaneseness’ and ‘language ability’ may in fact not be a racially-based social construct”

    http://www.google.com/search?gcx=c&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=debito+%22social+construct%22

    Huh? What he seems to be trying to say is that language is not grounded in race. Why not just use simpler terms? Instead he gets the meaning completely wrong. If he wants to use “social construct”, he should be saying that because the connection of race to language is in fact “socially constructed”, these things can change. So, as usual, his brain is saying one thing and his hand is writing another.

  32. James Grey has started reading the Mirror, and is apparently in with “Japanese mothers groups”.

    This is amazing progress, but all of the cleared debris from the photos is now piling and up generating disease in open sites, and will soon be trucked to every incinerator in the country for burning, spreading radioactive contaminants over the whole country. Japanese mothers groups are fighting hard to stop this, but are being ignored by the Japanese press. The Japanese government is even forced to sweep up leaves that fall from trees in the affected areas because of the radiation in them.
    - James Grey, Kobe, Japan, 13/2/2012 03:22

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099811/Eleven-months-tsunami-earthquake-ravaged-Japan-new-pictures-incredible-progress-multi-billion-pound-clear-up.html#ixzz1mIA95wOx

  33. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer:

    Actually that’s not the Mirror, it’s the Mail: A rabidly nationalistic rag that has little to no tolerance for foreigners… :shock:

    Massively entertaining to read though… :cool:

    Not everybody is suited to looking in The Mirror.

  34. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer:

    It takes a special kind of person to both complain about debris not being cleaned up, and then complain about it being cleaned up.

    Ah yes, along with the NIMBY moms who offer no alternatives. I guess JG and the moms want Harry Potter to come and make it all disappearus with magic?

    :headdesk:

  35. @Level 3, would you say you’ve led a happy life? A successful one?

  36. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer:

    I don’t think he can mean public good either – because a low crime rate clearly is a public good, whereas manga (he likes) is not.

    The survey he conducted to make that statement about language not being a “racially based social construct” is so riddled with problems it would be an excellent example to use in a research methods class. He ignores researcher effect (Hello, despite you might think, I’m Japanese. Hands up, who thinks I’m Japanese? What about my daughters?), timing effects (Latin American politician accused of crimes against humanity in “not universally accepted as one of us” shock), gets his facts wrong, confuses concepts, changes questions halfway through, presents mish-mash of data with totally inadequate reference to response rates, location, time etc. (Alas, it’s not so far from the standard of a lot of university native English teacher presentations.)

    I think my favourite bit is when he reports on the “general confusion” created by telling the respondents being surveyed that Akiko Wada is not a Japanese national. He thinks he’s subverting their expectations, when actually he’s got his facts wrong. She naturalised decades ago when she got married. As a cursory internet search would have told him.

  37. @iago: @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer:

    If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy this: A Daily Mail automatic headline writer. http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/

  38. @VK: I wish* I’d been in one of those presentations. He could have his passport out, notarised copies of his juuminyou, an extract of his koseki fresh from city hall, two bureaucrats attesting to his having naturalised, a handful of used tickets to Japanese-national-only HIS tours, and I would still state, to his face, that not only do I not consider him Japanese, but that there are FOB eikaiwa teachers that I consider more Japanese than him.

    * I don’t really wish this because attending one of his presentations would surely be worse than sitting through a SMAP anniversary special.

  39. @:
    Thanks Sora
    You could certainly use that to create copyright-infringing images – but would the creator say – oh wait…. :wink:

    Note, I’m not trying to put down Japanese artistic talents here, but just trying to explain the reality of the results that Debs appeared surprised to observe.

  40. @VK: I wonder why he didn’t use Sadaharu Oh instead. If I remember correctly, he still holds citizenship of Taiwan. Or is that fact more widely known?

  41. @The 2-Belo:

    He did use Oh as well. He managed to get Oh’s status correct.

  42. @VK:

    Oh. :smile:

    Regardless, from what you related, I don’t suppose it advanced his point very well anyway.

  43. Okay, now here’s a story that needs following up, one that should concern us all. Apparently, Japanese media is actually killing people for proift! :shock:

    Speaking of Japanese media profiteering off NJ by peddling images of them to the public (after in some cases killing them first…)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9938

    I should add that

    While I haven’t read the book

    I am outraged by its assumed content.

  44. Am I wrong in thinking that if Debito found out about any of the cases in this book, he’d be whining away about to his readers about how the system treats foreigners unfairly so that they have to engage in less salubrious forms of labor than their station as a foreigner with rights to a dignified life deserves? And didn’t he read the last sentence of the article?

    “Even while he cuts deeply into the lives of Japan’s foreigners, lending a critical eye to their doings, Ishii manages to portray the people who fight hard to survive in a foreign land with compassion.”

    Isn’t he all about treating foreigners who get a bum deal with “compassion”? Or is it only the suffering foreigners that he discovers?

    And does the first guy on the comments thread pulls out the “bad social science” meme. Somebody should tell him NHK is a journalistic, not academic organization. It isn’t bad social science. It is just not social science.

    @VK: “because a low crime rate clearly is a public good, whereas manga (he likes) is not.”

    Oh, that’s right. Low crime was a “social outcome,” apparently. For some reason I thought he labelled it as a construct. In other words I have no fucking clue what he means. Does he mean “(cultural) commodity”?