Marxy's Guide to Foreign Views on Japan

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From the posts on my blog and views elsewhere, I’ve created my own Right-to-Left continuum for views on Japan:

Far RightThe Colonialists: “Japan is dumb. The West is better. J-birds are easy. The Japanese are bad at English. Nova, where’s my paycheck?”

Moderate RightThe Collaborationists: “Japan’s shining moment was the Dainippon Teikoku. Japan should stand up to North Korea more. Don’t criticize Japanese culture when its Asian market success proves it to be right. Ishihara is correct to try to keep out all the riff-raff.”

NeutralThe Casual Fans: “I like Japanese things.”

Moderate LeftThe Sociologists: “Japan is a modern society, and thus, should be judged on the same standards as other post-Industrial nations. Somethings work, but others could be improved. The remaining illiberal political culture should be eradicated for democracy’s sake.”

Hard LeftThe Anthropologists: “Japan is a unique nation and cannot be judged by Western ethnocentric criteria. Let Japan be Japan. Stop trying to interfere.”

W. David MARX (Marxy)
November 24, 2004

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

9 Responses

  1. Chris_B Says:

    you crack me up

  2. Momus Says:

    I’m assuming you’d call yourself a ‘sociologist’ and me an ‘anthropologist’ (I prefer ‘anthro-apologist’, because it ditches the pseudo-scientific claims.) I’m just a bit disturbed by this:

    The remaining illiberal political culture should be eradicated for democracy’s sake

    This is the democratically-elected Japanese government you’re talking about. I don’t see why or how that could be ‘eradicated for democracy’s sake’. Surely if the Japanese people don’t like it, they’ll vote for someone else? That’s democracy, no? Or are you advocating some kind of military intervention which imposes ‘democracy’ at the point of a gun, as in Iraq?

  3. marxy Says:

    This is the democratically-elected Japanese government you’re talking about. I don’t see why or how that could be ‘eradicated for democracy’s sake’. Surely if the Japanese people don’t like it, they’ll vote for someone else? That’s democracy, no? Or are you advocating some kind of military intervention which imposes ‘democracy’ at the point of a gun, as in Iraq?

    No, no. I am talking about changing the laws etc. If there is gerrymandering of districts, for example, that is a classic anti-democratic practice which can be fixed – within the democratic system. I think you could pass laws that would curb the power of the bureaucracy, who run the government without being elected to office.

    You’re like an anthropologist in that you see Japan as a “native culture.”

  4. porandojin Says:

    i’ve found a very interesting comment on a typical ‘an american in japan’ blog
    http://www.livejournal.com/users/starofpersia/359609.html?thread=1660857#t1660857

    can you agree it is quite a common feeling you, japan expats-us citizens have?
    and i think there is smth strangely jungian about it … there seem to be no other nation so much ‘angry’ with japan …

  5. porandojin Says:

    plus all these ‘racist repressions’ are not so really severe, or are they ?

  6. marxy Says:

    I’m not really angry at Japan as much as I am trying to analyze and report its decline. Momus seems to think I am inventing the decline in question through selective editing.

    I find that racism does not especially exist against those of Western European stock, but I also find it hard to really excuse racism towards those from “lesser countries.” I run into small annoying things once in a while, but I am not paranoid about the Japanese hating me. I’ve never had the desire to be accepted as a Japanese person. I just want to live where no one gets in my way. I find I can do this as easily here as in the US. Others may disagree.

    I don’t really like that people think I am “angry” at Japan. I’m not. I do think there are obvious places for improvement, however, and I also think the current view of “Futuristic Japan” and modern Japanese pop culture is way too rosy and ultimately unrealistic. My negativity stems from an attempt to counterbalance the overly positive.

  7. porandojin Says:

    yes, i understand your point, i try to read your blog carefully, i was just wondering if you agree many americans have a strange relation with japan, as if it was some kind of a missionary place for them … as if i was a land they feel they need to care and help …

  8. marxy Says:

    Well, historically America and Japan have been very close ever since America forceably opened Japan, Japan attacked America, America decimated Japan, and then America rebuilt Japan. Until the 90s, the Japanese always looked up to America as the “ideal” country. I think when they surpassed the Americans in wealth during the Bubble that Europe became a better model for “class” and “taste.” But in general, the Japanese are closest to America than any other foreign nation. American scholarship provides the majority of thought about Japan. There are very active sister city relationships between Japanese and American cities, plus many Japanese-Americans living in the US today. The JET English teaching program accepts mainly Americans, no?

    In some ways, it’s historical. In other ways, it’s the #1 and #2 economies sizing each other up.

  9. porandojin Says:

    Views of Korean children

    http://uqmgp.hp.infoseek.co.jp/