Social Expectations in Japan and Why I Can’t Ever Live in Japan

During Sakura-Con, I had chance listening to Roland Kelts talking about foreigner living in Japan. He said that if foreigners visit Japan, they can’t be one of them (Japanese) but they will be able to enjoy benefit of being in Japan without being expected to be Japanese. (and any effort of blending into them will be taken favorably by Japanese.)

This was very interesting to hear from “foreigner perspective”, as its flip-side is exactly what I had in mind, and what I have written in the past. In the US, even though I’m considered to be American, a lot of people still may see me as foreigner, but at same time, that doesn’t mean much, as a lot of Americans are originally from foreign country; it’s just part of the society. However, this creates very awkward situation for me to be in Japan.

I have been long enough in Japan; first 13 years of my life to be exact, and I understand sociological norm in Japan. However, it is also true that I have lived in the States for 18 years. This makes it very awkward when I visit Japan; while I understand that norm, I do not necessary believe in executing it myself. I speak perfect Japanese, I look like Japanese, and I don’t look like a foreigner — so unless I pretend I don’t speak Japanese; which actually I have done casually in the past, Japanese people expect me to behave, and more importantly, think like Japanese.

Because their social expectation for me to act like Japanese, I do not get any credits for efforts of act (and think) like Japanese, because they assume that what I am supposed to be doing, yet any deviance from it would count negative toward me.

I don’t have any problem living in the States looking like Japanese, but this is why I sometimes wish I looked like foreigners in Japan.
While I am doubtful I will ever be living in Japan, this will be certainly life-long wonder of how I should mitigate this “identity crisis” every time I visit Japan, or merely dealing with Japanese elsewhere.

Tokyo to Outlaw Fictional Characters Breaking a Law?

It has been a while since I’ve written about so-called Tokyo Wholesome Youth Fostering Ordinance (青少年健全育成条例) earlier in the year. So what’s happened with it?

Adaptation of this ordinance has been indefinitely deferred, but not surprisingly, they are still pursuing this, even with stricter control.

They are seeking new ordinance to cover, any act of sexual behavior in fiction, regardless of their age, that would break a law. (Again, please note, that this ordinance is specifically talking about such activities expressed in fiction and not real life.) It even doesn’t have to be explicit — if Tokyo somehow define some work indecent, even ambiguous, they could classify them as “inappropriate.”

As with past authors from various media are already standing up to oppose this. This could be death of anime and manga, people. Especially if you are into moe stuff!

The Way Japan Treats Japanese

There’s a law in Hyogo, and now Saitama prefecture that forces parents writing essay to their carrier in order to the parents to lift mandatory internet filtering service on their childs’ mobile phones.

It is their effort of preventing children in their community to not be exposed to inappropriate contents, but I just felt it’s quite creepy. It is parents responsibility to be conscious about what their children are being exposed to, but isn’t it ultimately parents’ decision, and also authority to determine what their children can do and not? I just don’t see why parents need to “beg” to their service providers. (It is worthwhile to note that this clause is also included in TWYFO as well.)

In recent years, I’m starting to see news about government going into individuals’ jurisdiction. For example, people cannot use mobile phone at some ATMs because that would encourage fraudulent transaction directed from the phone.

Seriously, people in Japan are willing to put up with it?