Thursday, October 24, 2013

Racism and Xenophobia in Japan

is something a lot of people outside of Japan love to believe exists in Japan, with out knowing the situation.  What people don't hear about, is that there are plenty of people that love foreigners, and interact with them regularly.  There are also plenty of people that don't normally interact with foreigners, but would be more than willing to, and enjoy the process, so long as they have the means to communicate. 
In my opinion, it greatly comes down to language.  I mentioned a few posts ago (bottom part of Pictures from around town) about how broken the English education system is here, and how it seems to instead be training Japanese folks how to be scared of foreigners.  Japan is however trying to move in positive directions.  As of yesterday's headline, English education will be taught to children from third grade elementary and onward, as required by the new educational law.  We'll see how this goes. 
As many folk in the English industry love to point out, when it becomes required by law, it means that the Japanese teachers are being put at the forefront of the matter.  That sentence in itself holds some racist connotations.  But one can only expect baby steps if real progress is to occur.  As it stands, Japan is 98% Japanese.  Increasing English language requirements also means increasing English speaking people, aka foreigners.  Those are my thoughts on the situation, at the moment.

Actually what really made me want to make this post today, is the principal at my Thursday school.  She had a very terrible relationship with the English teacher before me, because he did not speak Japanese and was not interested in helping the kindergartens.  I came into town and was the opposite personality, and what I found was that she is a person of no prejudice.  Work is work, and there will always be something to do for everyone, and she made sure I had a role in the kindergarten from the day I started working there, which is not an experience you often hear about here in Japan.  I had to work very hard at my other kindergartens to make anything like this happen.

I guess what I am saying is, one could say that there are X amount of problems in any situation, but it is never the whole story.  It's still a good thing to work on problems, but if we focus too much on them, I wonder if sometimes that's what leaves them to stay as problems. 

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