Wednesday, February 07, 2007

“Nigger is not an offensive word in Japan”

So says the publisher of this distateful magazine.
"This is not a racist book, because it is based on established fact," Saka said. "If we wanted to be racist, we could write it in a much more racist way"
The "Established facts" include a picture of an inter-racial couple with the caption "Oi nigger! Don't touch that lady's arse!" (Pic here. "Nigger" is explicitly written in phonetic form in the katakana ニガー, and the overall phrasing is probably a bit rougher than I've translated it.)

Around the world, it's been featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Scotsman, Yahoo News, ABC News, the People's Daily (China), Khaleej Times (Dubai) and most recently on the English-language Japantoday news site. As far as I can tell, there's not yet been anything in the Japanese-language press, however. In a country that republished "Little Black Sambo" a couple of years ago, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

Family Mart are now pulling it off their shelves, but Amazon say that since it's not illegal in Japan, they will continue to sell it. I'll continue to not shop there. It's now up to 700 on their sales ranking - but maybe this is mostly increduous foreigners, since the "customers also bought" list contains books on learning Japanese.

4 comments:

Lumo said...

Japanese may be funny, at least for others. I think it is wise from Amazon, in contrast to you, to have more respect for their internal cultural rules and traditions.

James Annan said...

Lumo,

I'm not sure what your point was really, but as far as "internal cultural rules" go, note that there are actually "n******" living in Japan, and every so often one of them gets refused entry to a shop based on nothing more than his colour.

Note further that Japan signed up to UN CERD but has refused to take the required action to eliminate discrimination, despite strong criticism from the UN on this.

Lumo said...

Dear James,

as you may expect, I am not the biggest supporter of the idea that the unelected United Nations should dictate what should happen inside individual countries.

I certainly don't endorse a negatively preferential treatment of African Japanese folks. But I don't support any anti-Japanese-culture attacks either. It is a right of a country not to treat different cultures and groups of people exactly equally. The exact equality is an obsession of far-left-wing radicals.

As far as am I concerned, an individual shop owner has the right to define criteria who can do shopping there unless additional rules are enforced by his community. For example, most shops don't allow children and old children to buy XY. It's also discrimination. All these things are matters of convention and your conventions are not qualitatively better than others' conventions even though you apparently think otherwise.

What happens to me here - and it is driven by similar people like those behind the U.N. - is sometimes worse than to be occassionally denied shopping in a supermarket. But that's what *you* don't care about. It's more important for you whether one black person is denied entry to 1 shop once a century than whether a right-of-center European citizen can open his mouth, date women, or create a website in an Anglo-Saxon country.

Have a nice day
Lubos

James Annan said...

Lumo,

No-one forced them to sign up to the UN CERD. Moreover, such discrimination is actually unconstitutional in Japan. It's just that they aren't prepared to provide any teeth to back it up. Racist attitudes have of course been globally widespread in the past (including the USA and UK) but most modern democracies have made some effort to grow out off it.

I didn't realise your website had been banned. Seems harsh.