Positive Aspect of the Story of Little Black Sambo

In Japan, people have a lot of different images of black people. Many people, especially the older generation, have the images of them as the slave, the savage, the buffoon, and the GI as John Russell claims in his book “日本人の黒人観(Japanese People’s Images of Black People)”. And some people in the younger generation think black people are cool. They listen to Hip-hop, R&B, and Reggae, and watch many black celebrities and athletes on TV.

I went to New York during the winter vacation, and that was the very first time for me to get to know black people personally. Although I went to high school in the US as an exchange student, I had never had any black friends because where I was living was a pretty much white community and I went to a private Catholic high school in which I don’t think there were any black students. Before going to New York, I had the both images of black people as scary and cool. I don’t remember why, but my friends and I decided to stay at a hostel in Brooklyn. On the first day, we got scared as hell because more than 80% of people we saw there were black. But as time went by, we realized black people were nice. Whenever we asked them for help, they helped us. And the guy who was staying at the same hostel with us was super nice. So now my negative images of black people are totally gone.

But how can we, Japanese people, get rid of negative stereotypes against black people? To me, it was to have a talk with them and get to know them personally. I was lucky to have the opportunity to go to New York, and to be able to speak English. However, not so many people have that opportunity and not all Japanese people speak English. Furthermore, there are not that many black people in Japan, so people don’t have many opportunities to get to know them here either. Japanese people tend to create negative images against things they don’t know very much. I think “ちびくろサンボ(The Story of Little Black Sambo)” is a good way to introduce black people to the Japanese society. When we watched a video of Little Black Sambo in class, I didn’t feel it was offensive or gives children negative images of black people. What you see when you are a child has huge impact on your life. Although I have heard that even a three-year-old child notices differences of skin tones, I don’t think children will have prejudice or feel barriers against people of different skin tones if they grow up having positive images of them. When it comes to racism, people usually don’t really know about people who they hate. Getting to know people of different races will increase understanding among races. And I think The Story of Little Black Sambo is a good beginning of knowing black people.

by Haruka Kono

The Stereotype of Black People in Japan

Some Japanese people have stereotypical images of black Americans, gleaned from American television and press accounts. Black people are often described like with black skins, dangerous, funny, strong or lazy. Most of the black TV celebrities we can see on TV act silly and do not speak Japanese well and people make fun of them. Those black talents have to be silly to show up on TV, otherwise we never see them, because people do not want them to speak Japanese well and want them to be just like their stereotype. Bobby Ologon speaks weird Japanese, Bob Sapp eats raw meat. I do not know how they feel about doing the performances, but it is like watching circus show. People look down on them and it is obviously discrimination.

I think that is based on that a lot of Japanese people believe Japan is a homogeneous nation. They sometimes do not accept foreigners. Unless people admit that the concept of homogeneous is myth, people keep looking at black people “You can never be “Japanese”, because you look totally different from us and don’t speak Japanese well. So you have to be at least just like our stereotype, then you will be all right.

On the other hand, There are quite a few young people who love the black culture, like Hip-Hop, dance or clothe. They go to Hiyake salon to burn their skins, because they want to look like black people. Some people are concerned about those young guys, because they think turning their skins into black aggravates the stereotype. However, I do not think it is negative, because those young guys respect the black culture and they are trying to be who they respect.

I think there are many TV programs which implant bad stereotype of other countries or races. I watched a TV program which investigates the most kind country by observing how many people out of 20 pick up the stuff that someone drops and the program investigated Japan, China, The United State, Italy and Ethiopia. Although I forgot the results of The United State, Italy and Ethiopia, the number of China was 1 out of 20 and that of Japan was 20 out of 20. The results means Japan is full of kind people and China is not, but is that really true? There are so many unkind people in Japan and most of my Chinese friends are nice. The same is about black people.there are many different black people in Japan. He might be a professor, cooker or student. However we do not see and talk them very much and the only chance seeing them is when we turn on the TV and they act like silly as usual. However We have to keep it in mind that the black people on the TV act like our stereotype on purpose to live up to us and do not represent all the black people.

by Yuya Kuori

Nationality as Protection

One of my high school friends is Zainichi Korean, and she is now studying in Canada. While I was in New York for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day, she was also staying there, so we went out for dinner together. At the dinner, I told her I had been studying about Zainichi Korean people, and asked for her opinions.

She said she used to want to get naturalized as Japanese because that makes it easier to live in Japan. She has seen in reality some discrimination against Zainichi Korean people. For example, her brother when he was in high school got fired from his part time job just because he was Zainichi Korean. However, now she doesn’t want to be naturalized in Japan, and wants to keep Korean nationality because that’s her identity and that is where her family is from. Even though she knows almost nothing about Korea and speaks Korean very little, she is 100% Korean. I totally understand.

Although I had focused on the feeling of Zainichi Korean people as above, she told me her biggest worry is who is going to protect her if something happens to her while she is in Canada or somewhere else besides Japan and South Korea. I was kind of surprised because I had never even thought about that. I had taken for granted the Japanese government would protect and take care of me even outside of Japan. The Constitution of the Republic of Korea says in Article 2 “It shall be the duty of the state to protect citizens residing abroad as prescribed by Act.” Since she has a South Korean passport, the South Korean government is responsible for her safety. However, I have heard a story about a Zainichi Korean girl who lost her passport while she was in Paris, France. Because she did not speak Korean, French, or English, it took a very long process until the Korean Embassy in Paris issued a new passport to her.

I think that will increase legal protection for Zainichi Korean people if they get Japanese nationality. Professor Moorehead was saying in our class, because the US has “-“ culture, you can also have your identity as something else besides American, like Japanese-American, Italian-American, and Indian-American, but in Japan on the other hand, if you are Japanese, you’re just Japanese. If you are Zainichi Korean and get Japanese nationality, you can’t identify yourself as Korean any more. Although I thought that was right when I heard that, now I don’t think that’s true. Even Japanese-American, Italian-American, or Indian-American has only one nationality of American. I don’t think Zainichi Korean people have to throw away their identities as Korean just because they get Japanese nationality. In this world today, states are responsible for their own citizens. Nationality shows the state is responsible for you. So I think people should have nationality from countries they were born and raised in, they feel most comfortable to live in, and they can rely on. I’m sure it is much more complicated, but to me, nationality is legal protection, and identity is who you think you are.

by Haruka Kono

Homeless behind the success

Zainichi is now one part of Japan. Not like as past, the Zainichi`s status changed a lot in decades. The reasons for that, we can raise high popularity of Kpop singers, actor and actresses recently. Korean culture became poplar in Japan and those affected Japanese change their images to Korean. Compare to the past, now some of Japanese admire Korean and visits Korea tons of times. Not only that Korean entertainment movement, the real Zainichi success in Japan affected many to take a look at the situation of Zainichi. Not only to Japanese but also Korean as well. Here I want to discuss two successful Zainichi, Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank;the biggest mobile phone industry, and Chungsung, Lee; soccer player.

Masayoshi Son is now inevitable character when we discuss Japan`s economy. Outstanding planning and design for advertisement made successful development of Softbank. Many books are sold which tells the stories of Masayoshi. He is 3rd generation Zainichi. His grandfather compulsory moved to Japan. Like the other Zainichi, Masayoshi also bullied from other Japanese children. However, his father always told his son, Masayoshi, that he could do anything and he is the best. This great education made him strong and leads him to study abroad in USA. He then, it was the first time in his lifetime which he faced equal society. In the USA, all the people are treated same and they were estimated by their abilities not their nationalities. In the circumstance, Masayoshi can concentrate on studying IT and economy, which lead the one of the top company in Japan

Chunsung Lee, is also the Zainichi. Unlike Masayoshi, he has faced more discrimination. That was because he raised as he is Korean, he endured every tackles of Japanese. However, when he could enter Korean team, Korean pointed him as Japanese as using the word “Chokbari”; the bad word used in Korea when criticizing Japanese. He then shocked from the reality. What he had believed to be his country did not welcome him. He was in the other words, homeless. He belonged nowhere. Now, he came back to Japan.

Those two successful people tell us that why Japan and Korean cannot catch up USA and lack of knowledge among Zainichi. In reality, Korean does not handle about Zainichi problem in children education. Sometimes media focus them, however sooner or later they are forgettable. It is a very sad reality. Therefore, there is no way but more Zainichi to learn and successful and become inevitable characters in Japan like those two, who have very influential on every movement and saying.

son jungwee -http://100.naver.com/100.nhn?docid=777197

by. Sujin Kim

The Ethnic School of Korean Japanese Needs Change

Since the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910, a lot of Koreans came to Japan for economical reasons or came by force for hard labor. Now, the number of Korean residents in Japan (in general they are called Zainichi) is expected to reach 60 million. They live in Japanese society as members of society while adopting Japanese culture. However, even though most are second or third-generation Korean Japanese, born and raised in Japan, discrimination is still a factor they have to live with. There are many difficulties that Korean Japanese face now. However, I especially want to focus on the ethnic schools for Japanese Koreans.

After Korea was divided, two ethnic groups, the pro-North Korean residents’ league (Chongryon) and the Korean residents union, were established. Now, there are about 140 ethnic schools of Chongryon and all of 4 of Korean schools of the Korean residents union. The reason that the ethnic school is prevalent is related to the history of Korean Japanese. Because North Korea tried to send an aid fund and award a scholarship every year to the ethnic school, the front of the classrooms were covered with the portrait of the North Korean leader in gratitude for what North Korea had done. However, recently a wind of change is blowing through the ethnic school. In 2002, the portraits were removed from the classrooms. Now they do not need to follow the policy of North Korea through the liberalization of Chongryon. In addition, 60 percent of students have Korean nationality. Although the ethnic school received financial aid in the beginning, those who all the while established and made the school better were Korean Japanese regardless of nationality. In other words, the school is a very valuable asset to them, not to North Korea. This also has great significance in supporting Korean Japanese spiritually and helping to preserve the identity of Korean Japanese society. However, despite the importance of the school, lately student enrollment has decreased rapidly.

Many Korean Japanese do not want their children to go to the ethnic school in today’s fast-paced social conditions because of a thoroughly pro-North Korean education. Also, it is a problem that students cannot have their academic courses accredited in Japan. They usually experience discrimination during their entrance examinations and in finding a job. As well as these, some of students have been faced with ordeals such as having their uniforms torn by rabid right-wing fanatics ever since North Korea recognized kidnapping Japanese during late 1970s and early 1980s. For these reasons, Korean Japanese are worried that their children might not adapt to Japanese society well if they send their children to the ethnic school. Also, they do not want to send their children to the Korean school because the Korean school has been recognized strongly as the school for sojourning employee’s children. Therefore, a lot of them decide to send their children to an ordinary Japanese school. This has lead to the decrease in student enrollment. Now there are lots of problems trying to manage the ethnic school as it faces a rapid decrease in students. If this situation continues, these schools will have to close in the end. Thus, in order for these schools to be maintained, they must change into schools that Korean Japanese parents can trust and want to send their children to.

The ethnic school is important to the link that holds Korean Japanese and in keeping their identity. Also it plays an important role in forming the future of Korean Japanese society. However, because of ideology education and worries that they may not able to adjust to society, parents are reluctant to send their children to the ethnic school. The only way for the school to survive is for that the school to bring Korean Japanese together, regardless of nationality, and to be accepted as a regular school in Japanese society. Many Korean Japanese still feel that they do not belong to Japanese society, and this can make them feel frustrated about their lives. I wish that the schools would help and support Korean Japanese, not only in receiving recognition from Japanese society but also in preserving their Korean Japanese identities.



在日本朝鮮人総聯合会 (http://www.chongryon.com/index.html)

MINDAN (http://www.mindan.org/eng/)

Cool Images of Black People

Although the history of black people is complicated and there are many negative images of them in the world, in Japan, people usually think that as the past thing. In the past, they were controlled by the Western countries as slaves. People in the U.S., mainly, strongly care about those history of discrimination, and some people who is called racist do not think good about them.

Black people are famous in many fields these days. I think one of the broadest place for them is music. The music which created with black people such as Jazz, Blues, and Hip-hop is called Black Music, and it is spread all over the world to listen and play. The Blues music is known as the roots of Jazz and Rock ‘n Roll. In late of 19 century, this music was created from spiritual music. Those facts are enough for those music to be known as black music.

For my situation, sometimes I was studying the history of black people at school, and have seen what was going on in the past. Actually, most of those were negative images. On the other hand, those images we see on entertainment contents are positive images of black people. Especially, I love listening to or play the music with instruments. Many Japanese try to play instruments like black people do, because they are so good at it usually. This is positive image of black people, and that could be said in sports. All of people who is in those fields are kind of trying to be like black people. I am one of those, to be a really good player. So, the important thing is black people are seen with cool images in Japan, and it means that we are respecting black people.

As we learned in the class lecture, some of images of black people are sometimes likely to images that racists think of. The movie we saw in the class that is “ufu and mufu” would be counted into it. We do not have strong images that black people are living in a forest and playing with animals all day long, but it is actually in the product.

I think that Japanese people are seeing black people with a mixed image. One is to see black people with images that we see on TV or the internet, which is positive images. Another one is to see them with the knowledge that we learned at school as history and which is not that negative, and it is for the basis. Just for the foundation, Japanese people know how black people lived in the past days. However, of course, we do know how they are living these days, too. I think that those became the materials to mix and create the new image of black people.

As the conclusion, I do not think Japanese people are not racists. People do not look them down, and even they respect black people as a longing. Japanese people think that the history is the history, and for now, they have their identity.


Source: History of Black Music ( http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~zip2000/bs-history.htm)


by Junsuke Fujino

Identity Crisis of Biethnics Living in Japan

In Japan, the numbers of biethnic children are increasing due to the increase of international marriages. The term Biethnic comes from the article, An identity based on being different (Oikawa et al. 2007), which is pointing at those who have a Japanese parent and a non-Japanese parent, which in Japan is usually called “Haafu” (Half), “Mix”, or “Double”. The terms “Haafu” (Half), “Mix”, or “Double” are taken negative to some biethnics so the author have chosen to use the term “biethnic” to describe them which will be more neutral. These biethnic children face identity crisis living in Japan because of their appearance.

Biethnics who have a parent that is non-Asian will face the difficulties of having non-Asian appearance which makes them stand out of the homogeneous society in Japan. Even those who have been living in Japan their entire lives, those who have a Japanese cultural identity, cannot blend into the Japanese society easily because of their non-Asian look (Oikawa et al. 2007, 642). On the other hand, those who have a parent that is non-Japanese but Asian will blend in the Japanese society very well because no one notices that they are biethnic. However, when they show their non-Japaneseness, they will face difficulties trying to make others understand that they are biethnic (Oikawa et al. 2007, 638).

In the research by Oikawa, she has discovered that there are three types of reactions in order to identify who they are, which are: Unique Me; Model Biethnic; and Just Let Me Be Japanese.

Unique Me is those “who do not like to be stereotyped and who wanted to be seen as unique individuals (Oikawa et al. 2007, 644)”. There are many positive stereo types towards biethnics (such as pretty/handsome, stylish, tall, bilingual, etc.), but to Unique Me, this does not mean anything. They think that although they are biethnics, it does not mean that everyone is the same. Unique Me does not want to be categorized as one type of biethnic.

Model Biethnic is those “pleased to be associated with the prevalent stereotypes, most of them being positive, of Biethnic individuals in Japan (Oikawa et al. 2007, 644).” Model Biethnics prefer to been seen as the stereotypes mentioned beforehand, since it makes them seen as special people.

Just Let Me Be Japanese, are those who want to be treated like Japanese and they even wished that they looked more Japanese. This appears to those who have been living in a complete Japanese society for their entire life and they are completely Japanese inside.

These different reactions towards their biethnic identity appear to be not permanent. Biethnics change reactions over time, and sometimes fit into two different categories depending on the identity crisis they are going through. Identity crisis cannot be avoided among the biethnics.

Oikawa, Sara, and Tomoko Yoshida. “An Identity Based on Being Different: A focus on Biethnic Individuals in Japan.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 31. (2007): 633-653.

by Rashel Phillips

Special Recognition of Third Culture Kids in Japan

The number of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) has increased its number due to globalization. TCKs are children who have lived in more than two countries other than their parents’ countries until they turn eighteen. In 1998, it was  estimated that there may be over four million TCKs globally. Considering that this estimation has been made over a decade ago, it can be expected that this number has grown significantly. Although the numbers of TCKs are growing, not many countries recognize them. However, in the study of TCKs, Japan is often raised as a good example of dealing with TCKs. Japan gives special recognition for Japanese TCKs as kikokushijo and provides special programs for them.

In the past, kikokushijo did not have a positive image, since many of them were “westernized” which caused them to lose some of their Japanese identity and that they looked arrogant to the Japanese. However, recently, their status is changing because their ability of languages and cross-cultural skills is starting to be valued (Fail et al. 2004, 325).

According to Goodman, kikokushijo are commonly defined as those “Japanese children who have lived overseas (Normally thought of as the “West”) for such a long period of time that they have lost many of their Japanese cultural traits; have certainly forgotten many of their Japanese-language skills; and have become imbued with non-Japanese ways of behaving, most notably with Western ideas of individualism (Goodman 2003, 178).” However, this is just the general definition to the term kikokushijo. There are many children that do not exactly fit this definition but still are considered kikokushijo. Goodman gives five general features that those who are considered kikokushijo have in.

1. Both parents of a kikokushijo are Japanese.
2. They went overseas before they are twenty years old.
3. They went overseas because of their father’s temporarily post overseas.
4. They have been overseas for more than three months (This is because if it is less than three months it is more like being a tourist than a kikokushijo).
5. When they return to Japan, they will enter schools that are part of the mainstream education system rather than going to an international school.

Because of Japan’s recognition of the existence of TCKs, Japan has created programs for them so that they will have to face fewer difficulties coming back to the Japanese society. Programs for kikokushijo were created because the Japanese felt sympathy for them since they did not choose to go overseas but had to go overseas due to their parents’ business. Since these kikokushijo have missed a large part of the Japanese education, it is hard for them to catch up to it. This would be a huge problem for the kikokushijo because in Japan, education is very important and in order to have a good job in the future, people must go to college. However, with the lack of the Japanese education kikokushijo have, it will be very difficult for them to enter college or even to high school as there are exams for applying for high school as well. As a result, many schools, including colleges, have considerations for the kikokushijo having special allowances to enter schools. Nowadays, there are many schools which have sections “for the kikokushijo”. Being kikokushijo in Japan is now a privilege because they have special education advantages.

Eakin, Kay Branaman. According to my passport, I’m coming home. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of State, Family Liaison Office, 1998.
Fail, Helen, Jeff Thompson, and George Walker. “Belonging, identity and Third Culture Kids: Life histories of former international school students.” Journal of research in International Education. 3. (2004): 319-338.
Goodman, Roger, C. Peach, A. Takenaka, and P. White, eds. Global Japan: The experience of Japan’s new immigrant and overseas communities. New York, NT: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

by Rashel Phillips

To Be “Japanese”

I think that many Japanese people tend to distinguish between Japanese and so-called Gaijin. As Japan is consisted by 98% of japanese people and almost all people in Japan speak japanese as a first language. Some people sometimes insist that japan is a racially homogeneous nation, which is not true. And the rest of the people in Japan are mainly from Korea or China, so it’s hard to figure out that they are not Japanese unless they speak. However when we see those who seem to be from Europe or Africa, we say “oh there is a gaijin over there”, even though they have been officially allowed to live in Japan or were born in Japan.

To be recognized as a Japanese, we have to look like Japanese or eastern Asian. For example, Bobby Ologon is one of the most famous gaijin in Japan. He’s lived in Japan for many years, speaks Japanese very well, has a citizenship and his real name is Konda Bobby. However when he show up on the TV, we see him as a gaijin and nobody treats him as a Japanese.

What about Hafu? The most famous Hafu is probably Becky. She is actually from kanagawa and one of her parents is British. she is the same as other japanese people except for having a british parent, however many Japanese would think she is a bit different. Is it because she is a Hafu? That’s not true. Rie Miyazawa, for example, Is also a Hafu of Japanese and Dutch parents, but we would’t think she is different at all. We even think she is an actress who represents Japan. The difference between Becky and Rie Miyazawa is only their looks. Becky doesn’t have Asian tastes, but Rie Miyazawa does.

I do think that many Japanese tend to judge others from how they look. Japanese usually feel relieved by acting just like the same as others, and we tend to dislike those who stand out.  I think this way of thinking is a bad heritage from our ancestors. This idea could lead to bullying or discrimination. We could hurt their identities.We have to get rid of this way of thinking to create a better society.

by Yuya Kuori

Revoking Our Labels: Impact on the Social Images

The process of labeling is at the heart of our communication, because labeling, or naming, is about differentiating one group from the rest (male and female, up and down, right and left, arms and legs, etc). The names help us to share the context of what we want to convey, and makes our communication efficient. In fact, the power of label is so strong that it could have a strong impact on how we perceive the world.

In terms of society, we have a horrific history of creating social hierarchy based on racial labels. Japan is no exception, where the society is segmented and ranked, and social labels categorize us by means of appearance, by profession, hobbies and so on. Also, social groups are often given labels in order to separate the majority and the minority. For example, being called a Japanese-Peruvian is not saying that you are Japanese AND Peruvian, but rather categorizing you into something other than Japanese or Peruvian. I believe that today, such labels are used for discriminatory purposes in a very dangerous way.

Many experts such as Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow”, suggests that poverty and incarceration are integrated into certain community in the United States and Britain through forming a social structure where target community is easily oppressed under the name of “law and order”, and blinding the rest of the society through deliberate negative connotation to target cultures. Both in Britain and United States have stereotypes that connect violence, crime and drugs to Black, Latino, Arab and young communities (Alexander, 96). It is not only the ethnic profiling by the police that is spreading the negative image to certain people. It is the underlying recognition penetrating through the society that makes society blind and slow to react to the condition that these communities face.

I believe a similar pattern can be seen in Japan as well, where we discriminate against certain social groups only based on the group they belong to. For example, Chinese are seen as extremely wealthy or extremely poor, Zainichi Koreans has a long history of being blamed for all types of crimes, and these images are subconsciously reminded through news media and rumors. Of course, many of us know that such prejudice is false but I believe that the collective stereotypes are rooted deep inside our society, and it will not go away overnight. At the same time, I am not a believer of under-labeling. Calling all Zainichi and Peruvian-Japanese as just “Japanese”, and treat them as if they are no different, is disrespecting their background and oppressing their identities. We must continuously recognize the strength of labels, and try to assess the positive/negative connotation that is attached to it. This may not be the best solution, but I believe the society could only change when each member is consistently trying to change. Perhaps we will someday be able to accept differences in social groups as a fact, rather than treating them as “exceptions” of our society.

Works Cited
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow. New York: The New Press. 2010. Print.

by Nanako Kurioka