March 8, 2014

How racist is this Japanese ad?



The ad was criticized and the airline company, ANA, quickly apologized, and Hifumi Okunuki, a teacher at Sagami Women’s University and  executive president of Tozen Union (Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union), has this to say:
What interested me in particular was the difference between the reactions of Japanese and foreigners who saw this ad. At my labor union there are members of many different nationalities, the large majority of whom expressed unhappiness or indignation toward the ad. “How did they fail to anticipate this would offend people?” many asked.

On the other hand, Japanese people I know reacted with bewilderment. “It’s certainly childish,” their comments tended to run, “but I couldn’t call it racist. On the contrary, since blond hair and big noses are something that in Japanese culture have long been held up as attractive, the ad is more an expression of Japanese people’s sense of inferiority.”...

So why is it that so many of the Japanese people I spoke to couldn’t understand why foreigners would be angry about this “racist” ad? I think, fundamentally, it has to do with the very narrow image that postwar Japan has had of what “abroad” and “foreigners” mean. Because postwar Japan has been politically, socially, culturally and in almost every other respect in thrall to the West — and particularly the United States — the view that blond, big-nosed, blue-eyed and English-speaking are somehow “better” or the “global model” is widespread....
Much more at the link, the last 5 words of which are... can you guess?

"Workers of the world, unite!"

73 comments:

Ralph Hyatt said...

I'm not Japanese and I don't see that ad as racist. Is everything racist now? I'm planning on having bacon and eggs for breakfast. Is that racist?

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Totally not racist.

It's clever cute.

St. George said...

Personally, when I'm in the mood for a glass onion or want to blow down the blues with a coconut fudge, I prefer a more workingman's establishment.

Shouting Thomas said...

I no longer care whether anything or anybody is racist.

rhhardin said...

I thought they apologized in 1962 or something and it's now a settled issue.

Move on.

The Koreans and Chinese have their diapers in a knot about this and that from WWII now and the Japanese are telling them to buzz off.

There are differing views of probable advantage to be had in taking offense. I hope it does not lead to war, but at least it would settle things again for a few years.

Also remember that the Japanese are seriously weird.

Pierre said...

hehe...No wonder you voted for Obama. Only an Obama voter would see this as racist.

Is everything racist now? Indeed!

Gahrie said...

How could that ad possibly be racist....there weren't even any African-Americans depicted...oh, that's why....

Ann Althouse said...

I was also going to blog "Japanese historians slam sex-slave apology review."

harrogate said...

Shouting Thomas used to care a lot about racism but since we are all asking he wants us to know that he no longer cares!

mikeski said...

"I'm planning on having bacon and eggs for breakfast. Is that racist?"

Well, you're certainly microaggressively appropriating something or other.

Shouting Thomas said...

Shouting Thomas used to care a lot about racism but since we are all asking he wants us to know that he no longer cares!

I am multiple layers of paradoxes.

David said...

It's self parody. Quite well done.

The intense Japanese belief that they were the superior race took quite a hit between 1941-45 and thereafter. Total defeat in a war and an extended military occupation will do that.

David said...

Glad to see that Shouting Thomas is going to stop berating Crack for being a racist.

We now return to our regular programming.

Bob said...

I hate it when short Japanese men engage in anatomical appropriation.

Titus said...

Is it racist of me to not understand a word they just said?

tits.

traditionalguy said...

The comfort girls must have been the lucky ones from Nanking.

Japanese militarism took most of its comfort in slaughtering the innocent. But the arrogant Japanese Officers did throw some comfort girls' bodies to their peasant soldiers when they weren't executing and eating US prisoners.

BTW the Japs always blamed their extreme arrogance and barbarity toward civilians and POWs on American Racism.

Phil 3:14 said...

I didn't understand the nose but then I never understood the term "peckerwood".

Rusty said...

If anybody is pissed off it should be Matt Damon.


Titus said...
"Is it racist of me to not understand a word they just said?"


It isn't very cosmopolitan.

Michael said...

Just remember that ANA stands for All Nippon Airways. A piece of that is racist. So there is that.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"I was also going to blog "Japanese historians slam sex-slave apology review.""

Which would be an interesting subject. The linked article mentions our current ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy.

Japan is an important ally in a part of the world were the U.S. has vital interests and an increasingly aggressive China is testing both U.S.and Japanese resolve.

But, the current administration decides to treat this incredibly important position as a sinecure?

I can see awarding your supporters with ambassadorships to the Bahamas or Monaco, but Japan?

David said...

Titus, half the ad was in English. That was part of the point.

Ironclad said...

What is racist about it? It is making fun of their own uptight culture. And it's true that they have a thing about foreigners - the reaction is to admire or totally to despise. (I lived there twice - I remember the reactions on the train)

As far "anatomical appropriation" goes - the Japanese are built quite western scale under the hood. Unlike most other Asian nationalities.

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"Much more at the link, the last 5 words of which are... can you guess?

"Workers of the world, unite!""

The professor nailed it. The author sees the world through a Marxist prism.

If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail. Traditional Marxism had only one tool, economic forces manifested in class struggle. One of the breakthroughs in the New Left is that they discovered another tool -- race. Now everything in the world is reducible to class struggle and racism. The lefties honestly think the Tea Party is a new KKK because they know that the Tea Party people are mostly middle class folks not rich people. Since class struggle doesn't work well there the only other explanation for the Tea Party is that they are all racists who are acting against their own economic interests because the leaders of the Tea Party are using dog whistles.

Illuninati said...

I do want to clarify one thing about my previous post. Economic self interest, class struggle and race are all important. However, people are much too complex to be reduced to one or two interests. In order to survive and prosper, humans need myths. Anyone who discounts the power of religion to shape human culture has blinded themselves to one of the most powerful forces in existence which shapes the human psyche.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Totally off topic, just came in from doing some work in my garden/backyard. High of seventy and lots of sunshine here.

Titus said...

My volume was down. I heard it again and now got it....tits.

Do you know I can identify every latino's country of origin by just looking at them? Because, I have done at least from every latin country-now that is cosmo. They do have major foreskin.

Do women care if there man is cut or uncut?

Biff said...

I've long been suspicious of Westerners who understand (or pretend to understand) anything on Japanese tv, especially commercials.

Biff said...

PS. I am aware that the author of the linked piece is a Japanese labor union leader and academic. Not all Western imports, including political ones, are beneficial.

dreams said...

April, 1963, I arrived in Tokyo as an 18 year airman in the Air Force. I had never been anywhere having grown up in rural KY, it was like a different world. At the Tokyo Air Base, thankfully for me, I was paired with a fellow airman who was slightly older and a little more worldly wise than me, we were provided with train tickets to Misawa, Japan with Misawa Air Base being our final destination. We arrived at the massive Tokyo train station, neither one of us knew the language but a young entrepreneurial Japaneze guy helped us find the right train so we gave him a good tip. We rode the train all night and half of the next day. It was a very slow train and sometimes seem to be going no faster than five to ten miles an hour. Two years in Japan and I've never been back but I know it has changed a lot since I left 49 years ago next month.

Sam Hall said...

The Japanese are racist. Look at their treatment of the Koreans that have lived in Japan for generations.

wildswan said...

I think the ad is kind of funny but I'm not entirely sure where it's coming from. It seems to be a joke about being insecure about looking Japanese and these guys - who project confidence - are teasing each other by pretending to have that insecurity or pretending the other one has it. Or else they are pretending to be sex tourists and saying they'd have a better chance as a blonde American. It's as if Japan was a different culture than America and as if this were a joke from that culture and I don't quite get the background - as other commenters have said already. Can a national airline use an inside-culture joke to promote sales? Maybe not a good idea in the day of the internet. Or maybe we should learn a bit about other cultures.

Rob said...

Rusty is right: it's totally Matt Damon. But the other interesting theme in the commercial is the slightly shocked reaction of the shorter guy to "You want a hug?" and the subsequent response, "Such a Japanese reaction." Is this meant to suggest a Japanese aversion to homosexuality or to physical contact?

Gahrie said...

The Japanese are racist. Look at their treatment of the Koreans that have lived in Japan for generations

While the Japanese do discriminate against the Koreans, it isn't racist, because the Japanese and Koreans are nearly genetically identical. (Modern Japanese are basically ex-Koreans)

Now, you could call the Japanese treatment of the Ainu as racist....

William said...

Blonde haired men with aquiline noses are impervious to criticism. They should have gone with two blonde women and made fun of their big western tits. It would have generated lots more controversy and air play.

wholelottasplainin' said...

The ad shows a "live" version of a Westerner as portrayed in "manga". They always have long noses and huge blue eyes; most are blond as well.

No racism, just an artistic stereotype that all Japanese will "get".

MarkD said...

Projecting one's culture on another is an exercise in futility. It's folly to assume their values are your values. You can understand the differences, or advocate from ignorance. You can accept the differences, or not. You're not Japanese and you'll get tolerance, at best.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Why is it that so many of the Japanese people I spoke to couldn’t understand why foreigners would be angry about this “racist” ad?"

The Japanese don't understand, like themselves as historically murderous insanities, whites are extremely insecure about their cultural status. They suspect insult even in praise because they know - despite history - they ain't "all that".

Do you ever notice blacks don't get caught as often in this "you acted racist" game?

It's just not as much of a problem for the oppressed,...

Meade said...

I wonder if "non-whites" will oppress "whites" after 2043 when "whites" become a minority in the U.S. Or will "whites" simply stop self-identifying as "white".

southcentralpa said...

To answer the Professor's actual question, "Not very (if at all)."

The Crack Emcee said...

Meade said...
I wonder if "non-whites" will oppress "whites" after 2043 when "whites" become a minority in the U.S. Or will "whites" simply stop self-identifying as "white".


It's interesting - if conservatives keep up the bullshit, I can see that happening because people will be so sick of their shit, making them slaves (or defacto criminals) will just be the default for being so uncool.

On the other hand, that's never been blacks' goal, so I doubt it.

Racist Ken from South Carolina was mentioning changing his identity, yesterday, and so many white kids today feel less-than blacks (thanks slave breeders!) it's more possible that'll be the trend.

Whites will wipe themselves out - out of shame,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Shouting Thomas said...
"I no longer care whether anything or anybody is racist."

I like how that moron thinks that needed to be announced.

You can't get much more stupid than a racist,...

wholelottasplainin' said...

"Do you ever notice blacks don't get caught as often in this "you acted racist" game?"
"
Why no, I didn't ever notice that", said Darryl Issa after being attacked by the Black Caucus for "racism" against Elijah Cummings.

Snork!

Rusty said...

The Crack Emcee said...



It's a good thing you think you're brilliant.
Otherwise you'd be very lonely indeed.

Meade said...

And what about me? I'll be 89.

Every year since 1954, no matter how much I've tried to "act white", I just seem to have gotten blacker and blacker. When minority/majority flips in 2043, I might not be able to pass even if I want to.

Good - all my racist white cousins will then be in the minority and will finally have to think twice before oppressing me, the non-white sheep of the family.

Freeman Hunt said...

No one is allowed to question trans, so transracial allows anyone to be whatever race he wants.

Lucien said...

So giving a funny look to a guy who asks if you want a hug is a "Japanese reaction", and ANA wants to "change the image" of the Japanese.

Because they will be flying to Vancouver or Hanoi? Will the flight attendants be hugging people? How does the content of the ad help to sell the product?

It pokes fun at the Japanese for not being huggers -- or at least not openly.

If you consider "racism" as including the belief that the race you belongs to has something to do with what kind of person you are, this isn't even in the same area code.

The Crack Emcee said...

Rusty,

"It's a good thing you think you're brilliant.
Otherwise you'd be very lonely indeed."


This is true - if people like you didn't single me out, continually, thus proving how potent I am - I'd suck for company.

But, you do, so I just get to pat myself on the back all day,...

The Crack Emcee said...

wholelottasplainin' said...
"Do you ever notice blacks don't get caught as often in this "you acted racist" game?"
"
Why no, I didn't ever notice that", said Darryl Issa after being attacked by the Black Caucus for "racism" against Elijah Cummings.

Snork!


I said "caught in it" - not "accused of it"


Racists can't read,...

Illuninati said...

Gahrie said...
"While the Japanese do discriminate against the Koreans, it isn't racist, because the Japanese and Koreans are nearly genetically identical. (Modern Japanese are basically ex-Koreans)."

Good point.

In my experience Westerners tend to view other people through the racial lense while people traditionally have been more likely to compete at the tribal level since the tribes lived in close proximity while races were usually widely separated. The dynamics between tribalism and racism are the same, different groups competing against each other for resources. For example, the Hutu and the Tutsi look very much the same and are genetically very similar -- probably as similar as the Japanese and the Koreans. In fact some authorities believe that the Hutus and Tutsis were originally the same tribe.

There is a heuristic which I learned in biology that no two species can occupy exactly the same ecological niche. That might not always work but it is a good rule of thumb. If this is applied to people, conflicts between closely related groups who are fighting over resources would be as deadly or even more deadly than conflicts over less closely related groups.

The Crack Emcee said...

Meade,

All my racist white cousins will then be in the minority and will finally have to think twice before oppressing me, the non-white sheep of the family.

"Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty,…"

Freeman Hunt,

No one is allowed to question trans, so transracial allows anyone to be whatever race he wants.

Careful, history says that's a dangerous game to engage in,...

David said...

Titus said...
My volume was down.


That's a first.

Anonymous said...

No big, except when you consider the shit people get here for making slanty eyes.

Michael K said...

" They should have gone with two blonde women and made fun of their big western tits. It would have generated lots more controversy and air play."

Japanese men are fascinated by blond American women. About 30 years ago, my wife, who was blond and cute, was at the harbor and met some Japanese men touring southern California. They all wanted to take a picture with her and with the boats in the background. They told her that individual ownership of boats in Japan was rare and this was a nice example of US egalitarianism.

Also, they each wanted a photo of himself with a cute blond.

She's 70 now and my ex but I will have to remind her of this.

Rusty said...

The Crack Emcee said...




Thus proving my point.

Jupiter said...

Meade said...
"I wonder if "non-whites" will oppress "whites" after 2043 when "whites" become a minority in the U.S. Or will "whites" simply stop self-identifying as "white".

You've got it exactly backwards. White people in the US used to self-identify as "Americans". We are now being taught to regard ourselves as white. The people doing this are trying to make us ashamed of being white. But the people who are willing to be ashamed of being white are the same people who are ready to die fighting for the right to kill their own babies. They won't be around much longer, and they won't be missed.

Seeing Red said...

"Banana."

Jupiter said...

Well, actually, I suppose they will be missed. But not by white people.

Bob R said...

I don't get it. Isn't he supposed to be an Anime character? So, a Japanese fantasy rather than a western stereotype?

The Crack Emcee said...

Jupiter,

"The people doing this are trying to make us ashamed of being white."

You HAVE heard me saying that, haven't you, Meade? Be ashamed. Be guilty. Bow down.

This guy really knows his stuff,...

Harold said...

"You've got it exactly backwards. White people in the US used to self-identify as "Americans". We are now being taught to regard ourselves as white."

Top ten descriptors game. Again. Whites in America almost never describe themselves as white. WHite is not an identity per se. Low down on the list might be Irish/Italian/Polish/Sicilian or somewhere else their ancestors came from. But most of us "whites" are by now of sufficiently mixed ancestry we have zero cultural relationship with any particular ancestral group. The few peoplee I know who would describe themselves as white are people I don't like very much. And the term racist does fit them to a tee.

American is still in the top 10.

The Crack Emcee said...

Harold said...
"You've got it exactly backwards. White people in the US used to self-identify as "Americans". We are now being taught to regard ourselves as white."

Top ten descriptors game. Again. Whites in America almost never describe themselves as white.


Incredible. So all those years with the "whites only" signs were my imagination. Whites never called themselves that - they were "Americans". Huh.

Learn something new everyday,...

Shouting Thomas said...

An other day of begging, whining, bitching and pointless stupidity from Crack.

Get an education and a job!

The Crack Emcee said...

Shouting Thomas said...
An other day of begging, whining, bitching and pointless stupidity from Crack.

Get an education and a job!


Get a white woman, loser.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ooops, I forgot - they don't want you.

Better stay with the girls in poverty.


Oh - and fuck Myrna.

Anonymous said...

I actually wish we had more people like Crack screaming racist all day long.

Reminds me of a pretty good movie, even though it's a cartoon. The Incredibles. Boy is riding with his mom in the car and she tells him everyone is special. He says, "If everyone is special, then no one is special."

Putting it another way. When I was a young adult in the 80's, if someone said the word rape, immediately my mind would go to some foggy, horrible place of dark alleys and sinister, evil men, beating innocent women into unconsciousness while forcefully having sex with them. Today when someone says rape, I think of a college campus and two people getting drunk together and then the girl regrets her actions in the morning.

Being a racist isn't so bad when everyone's a racist.

In other words, Crack isn't making every person on this blog look bad (By calling them a racist), he's making racists look good.

Keep it up.

Gahrie said...

Incredible. So all those years with the "whites only" signs were my imagination. Whites never called themselves that - they were "Americans". Huh.

Jim Crow laws and culture were present in a small minority of states (14 I believe) and people....people who were Democrats, whom you now apparently support.....

The Crack Emcee said...

At first, the excuse for robbing others of their land or labour at gunpoint was religion. What Jesus would do. By the 1670s the excuse was race. That was when White Americans started calling themselves “Whites”.

The Crack Emcee said...

Gahrie,

"Jim Crow laws and culture were present in a small minority of states (14 I believe) and people....people who were Democrats, whom you now apparently support….."


You keep leaving out the part where that famous black Republican I keep hearing so much about - MLK - told blacks not to vote with Republicans until they change.

Why does the Right keep leaving that out?

Why does the Right keep bragging that "MLK was a Republican" but leaves out his abandonment of the party?

What is it about lying that is so attractive to you guys - and why do you think anyone else, that you're lying to, would find your lies attractive?

At the very least, you're lying to yourselves,...

The Crack Emcee said...

And BTW - MLK died in 1968:

When are you guys going to change?

The Crack Emcee said...

eric said...
I actually wish we had more people like Crack screaming racist all day long.


I've been reading about that.

Great to know racists enjoy the status and have figured out a way to exploit it.

You're still going to lose,....

Anonymous said...

Crack,

Is your head going to explode if the Republicans nominate Ben Carson?

Or has your mind already figured out a way to make Ben Carson white?

The Crack Emcee said...

eric ,

Crack,

Is your head going to explode if the Republicans nominate Ben Carson?

No, he'll get creamed. The Rs have got nothing. Blacks don't care about Uncle Toms. There's always been Uncle Toms. And we know them by whites cynically putting them up as the answer for the problems whites made.

It's like they think we're stupid,...

Gahrie said...

You keep leaving out the part where that famous black Republican I keep hearing so much about - MLK - told blacks not to vote with Republicans until they change.

So who gives a shit? MLK Jr was a great man, but not the messiah, I really don't give a shit.

look I get it...you guys were willing to go crawliing back to the party of slavery, Jim Crow, Bull Connor and Orval faubus because they promised to give you lots of free shit. And to be fair, they have kept up their end of the bargain, so you feel obligated to keep your end of the bargain.


But don't try and get all noble on us.....