Kamiya's Replies To Kotaku Cross The Line
Posted on Friday, January 11 @ 08:24:00 Eastern by Heath_Hindman
In the ongoing Kamiya vs. Kotaku showdown, the well-known Platinum Games designer recently made a slight misstep in the handling of his offensive toward the game blog. When replying to certain Tweets, he has used variations of the line "クソ馬鹿ガイジン", or "damn stupid foreigners".
For a high-ranking member of a company speaking in a public forum, this is unacceptable. Some people, in Kamiya's defense, have pointed out that the Japanese word "gaijin," meaning "foreigner," is not offensive. And they are correct, it isn't. The word on its own has nowhere near the negative connotations associated with racial slurs we hear Stateside—you know the ones I'm talking about.
But the point Kamiya's internet defenders are missing is this: He's using the term in a way that sounds like a man's foreignness is grounds for disregarding something he said. There's much more to communication that the words used; context and climate are huge factors as well.
To say, "多くの外人が毎年東京に行く" (every year, lots of foreigners go to Tokyo) is completely fine. But when a foreign person says something to you, even if it's totally ridiculous, saying "Damn stupid foreigners" is the kind of thing that places you right next to the dumbass asking the stupid question that got you so angry.
Imagine it another way. "Women" is by no means an offensive word, right? But acknowledge that in this world, men and women probably say, approximately, an equal amount of completely inane bullshit. Right? Right. So now imagine that several times in a row, females ask you, a male, a string of stupid questions (ladies, reverse the roles for this hypothetical; I'm a dude so I'm writing this as one). Is it okay for you to respond with "No! Fuck off! Gah, damn stupid women!"? Hell no it isn't. That's a dickhead response, right there, because even though it might not necessarily be true, and even though you might not have ill feelings towards all women, it looks like the reason for your dismissal of the question is the fact that it's being asked by a woman.
Similarly, while "foreigner" or "gaijin" isn't derogatory, it makes you look like a super tool when you use that way.
As a foreign national who lives and will one day die in Japan, I see this sort of thing all the time. One recent example relates to the nuclear power plant shutdowns that are happening across Japan in the wake of the 2011 tsunami. One problem, and suddenly, 80% of Japanese people (according to polls) want every single nuclear plant shut down, despite this area having few other options that would be as clean, as efficient, or affordable. (Well, geothermal is an option, but that would kill many of the country's bath houses, so whoa, whoa, that's off the table right away.)
This is kind of a knee-jerk reaction, based on little more than the emotions of the disaster, but what happens when I point that out? It's virtually a race to see who can be the first to point out that I wasn't born here and therefore my opinion is biased and invalid. The present tense doesn't matter, just the birth certificate and native language. Doesn't matter that I live and pay taxes here, doesn't matter that my kids will go to school here, doesn't matter that I have been to Iwate prefecture to clean up tsunami wreckage.
Is this attitude that of all Japan? No. Is xenophobia exclusive to Japan? Of course not. But the point remains that any foreigner living here will eventually see this very thing pop up: your thoughts will be labeled as invalid because you are foreign. That adds another layer to just how dumb Kamiya's comments are.
Kotaku may have made a bit of a blunder with its inflammatory headline, and Kamiya didn't do anything wrong in lashing out against such things. It's deflating, however, to see "Damn stupid foreigners" used as a go-to reply to non-Japanese people who happen to say dumb things. No matter how stupid a question or comment, a blowoff reply that brings the commenter's nationality, race, religion, social status, or gender into the mix is simply inappropriate.
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