El pacto tácito - Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate.
Espero que lo que se menciona en el texto este deje claros a los que en España se creen que Japón les va a tolerar como miembros de su sociedad, el hecho de que nunca va a ser así. Si alguien buscaba datos contrastados de lo que mencionamos, espero que le sirva, como aperitivo, este ensayo (es parte de un libro, por lo que está incompleto, capítulo 1 e introducción, tan solo), que relata los hechos de base sobre los que el autor basa su investigación.
Para resumir, si alguien se piensa que somos unos inadaptados, que no nos esforzamos lo suficiente, y sobre todo, si alguien piensa que esforzándose para que la sociedad japonesa te acepte (como Coelacanth y yo hemos hecho), te considerarán un ser humano con los mismos derechos que cualquier otro, que se lo piense de nuevo, porque va equivocado.
Nota: si tengo tiempo y encuentro algo adecuado, pegaré fotos al post para que quede más ameno, pero si no puede ser, se quedará así. Esta nota se autodestruirá cuando haya decidido algo al respecto.
Nota 2: Autobombo. He sacado un 90 sobre 100 en la tesis de lingüística (transitividad desde un punto de vista sintáctico). Molo.
Sin mas dilación (sic), procedo a pegar el texto.
Japan, Foreigners and the Unspoken Contract
-- March 2003 by Dan E. Venz PhD
"One of the biggest obstacles I, and the foreigners around me faced while living in Japan was the inability to be recognized as part of the Japanese society. Regardless of how much we studied the language and culture, regardless of how hard we tried to conform to the Japanese way of life, regardless of how well we adhered to Japanese etiquette and manners, regardless of how "Japanese" we became, we were always assigned a position "outside" of the Japanese population.
We were, and always would be, "Gaijin in Japan."
Treated as "gaijin", we longed to be treated with the same decency and respect that Japanese demanded for themselves. We longed to be able to live by "one" set of rules, instead of having to live by a "double" set of rules.
I have come to the conclusion that it is not a deeper immersion into the Japanese language and culture which will allow immersed foreigners to become members of the Japanese society, but the education and realization by the Japanese population that we have actually earned the right to be treated the same as members of the Japanese population." Dan Venz
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence." Albert Einstein This study examines how non-Japanese/foreigners cope under conditions of adversity in Japan. It follows in the tradition of a wide body of qualitative work that has investigated racial minorities and their everyday experiences. Much of the existing work, however, focuses on merely describing thematically and/or conceptually what goes on. The current study aims to construct an integrated conceptual understanding of how non-Japanese engage in the coping process.
More specifically, this study seeks to develop a substantive theory that can explain and predict the behavioral patterns of foreigners in Japan. This study further aims to construct a basic understanding of the Japanese views and behavioral patterns towards foreigners living in Japan (or the stigma of being a foreigner in Japan).
What makes Japan unique to other countries in regards to foreigners is that foreigners in Japan (in contrast to other countries) are not required to immerse themselves into the Japanese language or culture in order to live comfortably, nor do they feel any pressure to become a member of the host [Japanese] population while in Japan (many foreigners involved in this research have lived in Japan longer than 10 years and still cannot read, write or speak Japanese at even a basic level).
This has created a situation, as the number of foreign residents in Japan has increased, in which foreign residents who choose to immerse themselves into the Japanese language and culture are met with substantially more obstacles than foreigners residing in other countries. It has also created an opinion by the host population [Japanese] that foreigners are not willing, or are incapable of learning the Japanese language and culture to an extent which would allow them to become functional members of the Japanese society. Foreigners who have achieved "native-level" abilities in the Japanese language and culture are seen as anolamies and therefore their presence in Japan has not done much to aid in the de-stigmatization of being a foreigner in Japan.
One main reason many of the barriers for foreigners attempting to assimilate in Japan exists is that a large percentage of foreigners residing in Japan, given the alternative of not immersing themselves into the Japanese language and culture, choose not to learn the Japanese language or culture, reinforcing many of the stereotypes that the Japanese population have regarding foreigners and perpetuating the inability of the host population [Japanese] to distinguish between immersed foreigners and non-immersed foreigners. This inability of the host population [Japanese] to distinguish immersed foreigners from non-immersed foreigners leads to stress, anxiety, paranoia, self-alienation and emotional trauma for the immersed foreigner as he/she is presumed by the host population [Japanese] to be non-immersed.
Furthermore, this "non-requirment" of foreigners [by the host population] leads to a tendency for "immersed" foreigners in Japan to engage in assigning a status to other foreigners based on quality of immersion. It further leads to the inability of immersed foreigners to escape the stigma of being a foreigner and at best they [foreigners] are only able to temporarily distance themselves from the stigma, which leads to the coping patterns described later on.
Many of the stereotypes that the Japanese have towards foreigners were created by members of the host population [Japanese] who had experienced living in other countries and brought their opinions back to Japan with them. Some of these Japanese became authors and published books or articles regarding foreigners. Most of these books and articles focused on the differences between Japan and foreign cultures rather than the similarities of Japan and foreign cultures. It was further established that many of the books had a tendency to present a negative perception regarding foreign behavior towards Japan and Japanese. The stereotypes were also reinforced by "immersed" foreigners living in Japan who had access to the media (T.V. and radio).
In many cases, it was found that these "immersed" foreigners saw "non-immersed" foreigners as a threat to their ["immersed foreigners"] status and over the course of the past 20 years these "immersed" foreigners have played a large part in creating the "unspoken contract" (which will be explained) that foreigners in Japan are bound to adhere to in order to ensure host tolerance. The following theories are regarding the attempts of foreigners who have chosen to immerse themselves into the Japanese language, culture and society (and how they cope with the barriers they face in attempting to assimilate, as well as the stigma of being a foreigner in Japan).
To uncover the coping and assimilation process, my immediate family, as well as long time Japanese, foreign and half-Japanese friends, associates, students, personal experiences, data collected from the internet, volunteers and numerous discussions with Japanese were used as the main data source. The discussions with members of the host population [Japanese] took place between 1987 and 2001 and have been used, along with discussions and data from both immersed and non-immersed foreigners, to establish the opinions the host population [Japanese] have towards foreigners as well as to establish the stigma assigned by the host population [Japanese] to foreigners living in Japan.
Other ethnic and minority communities, such as Korean, Chinese and Brazilian communities, which have been substantially more successful in assimilating than other foreigners were also used for comparative purposes. Data was obtained by a number of means; this included interviewing, participant observation, and documentary analysis. The collected data was analyzed over an initial six-year period using constant comparative methods.
To better understand the coping process of foreigners living in Japan a basic understanding of the Japanese views towards foreigners living in Japan is required. It has been documented by a number of academics that the majority of Japanese see themselves primarily as part of a larger group (the Japanese race), more than individuals. Japanese culture and society constantly reinforces the importance of maintaining the harmony of the group over individual opinions and desires by penalizing those who place more importance on personal opinions and desires over the harmony of the group. Japanese, therefore, rarely look or react to situations from a personal viewpoint, but tend to look and react to situations from a "Japanese" viewpoint.
It would be rational to deduce then, that Japanese would tend to look at foreigners as a group (rather than as individuals) as well. This would explain the grouping of many foreign nationalities by the host population [Japanese] into one group, which is the case in Japan. I call this behavior Gaijin Grouping. The most common two groupings of foreigners by Japanese are "gaijin" (Caucasian foreigners) and "kokujin" (Dark-skinned foreigners). It is interesting to note that most Asian foreigners are not put into these "assigned" mass groupings, but rather keep their nationality (i.e. "chugokujin" for Chinese and "kankokujin" for Koreans), therefore the stigma of being a foreigner in Japan is considerably less for "Asian" foreigners than for "non-Asian" foreigners.
It became obvious in my study that both Caucasian and dark-skinned foreigners were assigned to a group based more on physical appearance than by country of origin or nationality. I theorize that this is the main reason for the difference in the successfullness of assimilating when comparing "Asian" foreigners in Japan with "non-Asian" foreigners in Japan. "Asian" foreigners tended to have the distinct advantage over "non-Asian" foreigners due almost solely on their physical appearance (In other words, even though this study regards all foreigners as foreigners, there were certain groups [Caucasian and Dark-skinned] that seemed to have more difficulty assimilating into the Japanese society due to their physical appearance). This has created a condition of "perpetual foreignness" for most Caucasian and dark skinned foreigners.
To the contrary, most "Asian" foreigners were able to mask or hide their foreignness to a certain extent by developing "near" native Japanese language skills. This was not an option for "non-Asian" foreigners in Japan.
This "gaijin grouping" by physical appearance has led to the inability of certain distinctive groups of foreigners to shed the stigma of being a foreigner, regardless of their knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. The aforementioned "stigma" stems from the tendency of the host population [Japanese] to assign foreigners to groups rather than to see foreigners as individuals. Each foreign group comes with pre-conceived stereotypes and behavioral patterns of that group by the Japanese population and any foreigner assigned to that group is regarded and treated by the Japanese population as if those stereotypes pertain to him [the foreigner] regardless of whether or not those stereotypes are characteristics of his [the foreigner's] personality. As a result, these physically distinctive foreign groups are forced to cope with a great deal more stress in Japan than other less physically distinctive foreigners.
It was further discovered that the foreign population also assigned other foreigners to groups, but instead of physical appearance foreigners tended to use quality of immersion (length of time in Japan, Japanese language ability, knowledge of Japanese culture and adherence to the rules of the "unspoken contract") in assigning other foreigners to a group. The "unspoken contract" is explained in more detail before my theories of the assimilation process are presented. Interestingly, it was noted that the longer a foreigner resided in Japan, the more likely he/she was to begin grouping foreigners by physical appearance [like the Japanese] as well as the quality of immersion of the foreigner.
Being assigned a status of perpetual foreigner and having to cope with the stigma of being a foreigner in Japan, regardless of quality of immersion [of the foreigner] has lead to the realization of many foreigners that being accepted as a member of the Japanese society is virtually impossible. This has led to the unwillingness of many long-term foreigners in Japan to immerse themselves into the Japanese language and culture past a depth which enables them to live comfortably. Foreigners living in Japan have [in absence of the opportunity to be accepted as a member of the Japanese society] adopted a rational behavioral process in order to cope with the assigned status as a perpetual foreigner and the stigma of being a foreigner in Japan.
The discovered core process of foreigners living in Japan was one of "enhancing security". There are two types of insecurity that non-Japanese are concerned about: first, insecurity can be seen as "content", which relates to material factors, and second, insecurity can be seen as "emotive", which relates to psychological factors. Ultimately, non-Japanese are seeking to resolve both content and emotive insecurity and they do this by "placating", "challenging" and "affirming". "Placating" refers to various strategies used to pacify the host population and encourage tolerance. Hegemonic structures are acknowledged but not challenged. "Challenging" involves a confrontation with hegemonic structures in an attempt to secure tolerance and hence content and emotive security. "Affirming" is the means by which a foreigner will seek solace from their ethnic identity.
Foreigners engage in the processes of placating, challenging and affirming in many different ways. Some engage in all three processes, others only one or perhaps two. Whatever the case, various factors can be identified that enable prediction of the type of coping process(es) that individuals may employ as they seek to enhance their security.
This study contributes to three areas of research. First, it adds to the small but growing body of work relating to living as a foreigner in Japan. Second, it contributes to research in the area of ethnic relations, especially work that focuses on interaction. And finally, it adds to the formal theoretical literature on stigma and its management.
It is important to note at this point that the following study deals with foreigners and half-Japanese who have immersed themselves in the Japanese language and culture (i.e.; long-term foreign and half-Japanese residents who speak and write the Japanese language at near native level). This study does not refer to short-term foreigners who have not immersed themselves into the language or culture (i.e.; tourists, working holiday, short term English teacher's, entertainers, ex-pats, etc.). Although not discussed in detail in this study, the aforementioned short-term non-Japanese/foreign residents do play a vital role in the difficulties immersed foreigners encumber while attempting to assimilate into the Japanese society due mainly to their very presence in Japan reinforcing many stereotypical idea's and beliefs the Japanese have towards foreigners.
It is further important to note that in many instances during this study regarding "half-Japanese", I not only observed "half-Japanese" children both in Japan and the United States, but also had the opportunity to observe my own children, who are half-Japanese, to gather data. Since they were born in Japan and lived there for 4 years, and consequently relocated to Seattle, Washington (where they lived for 3 _ years), and have now relocated, yet again, back to Japan, it offers me the opportunity to witness, first-hand, the processes of assimilation discussed in this report as well as to verify the accurateness of many of the theories presented in this study.
During the course of this report, vocabulary or words, which may be difficult to recognize for someone who has never lived in Japan, may arise. I chose to include quotes inclusively and did not alter the vocabulary used by informants. The following vocabulary is listed in the hopes that the reader will better understand the report.
Gaijin (in direct translation, means foreigner. However, this term has come to be used by Japanese to identify Caucasian foreigners.)
Kokujin (refers to "black" or "dark-skinned" foreigners)
Halfu (refers to someone living in Japan who is half-foreigner/half-Japanese)
Immersed Foreigner (in this report, the term "immersed foreigner refers to non-Japanese, living in Japan, who read, write and speak Japanese at near native ability)
Non-immersed Foreigner (in this report, the term "non-immersed foreigner" refers to any foreigner residing in Japan who has either a basic grasp or no knowledge of the Japanese language, culture or society)
In the summer of 2000, I started a website in the hopes of gathering more information as well as sharing information with other foreigners in Japan. Many of the examples given in this discussion are taken from foreigners who visited the website. The website "Gaijin in Japan" can be accessed at http://www.geocities.com/danchan33/ . [ NOTA: El enlace está roto. Añado un enlace a la web a través del Wayback Machine, cortesía de Canduterio. ]
Chapters are uploaded onto the website upon completion. As of December, 2002, there are 8 completed chapters. Feel free to visit the website to read more of the book or to leave a comment about the book. The book is scheduled to be published in March of 2003.
Chapter 1 The "Unspoken" Contract
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions." Albert Einstein
Before I outline my theories about foreigners attempts at assimilating into the Japanese society, a more thorough understanding of the "unspoken contract" mentioned earlier is needed.
Throughout my research I came across a fundamental belief that was shared by the majority of the foreign population and the host population [Japanese] alike. I call this belief the "Unspoken Contract." The "unspoken contract" is a set of rules that is placed upon foreigners living in Japan "not" by the Japanese government, but by the Japanese society as well as other immersed foreigners. It is a set of rules that foreigners new to Japan learn rather quickly, either by the host population [Japanese] or other foreigners. The quicker a foreigner learns the "unspoken contract", the easier it becomes for the foreigner to "enhance security" (placate).
The "unspoken contract" consists of a broad range of rules and stereotypes that a foreigner must learn in order to ensure tolerance from the host population [Japanese]. A summarization of the "unspoken contract" is that in order to ensure host tolerance a foreigner must conceed the he/she is part of a powerless minority group which is tolerated but not accepted [an observer but not a participant] into the host population. Furthermore, it is expected that foreigners must conceed (publicly) that it is the very fact that they are "non-Japanese" that they feel discrimination in Japan and are led to believe that the deeper they immerse themselves into the Japanese language and culture, the lessor the feelings of discrimination will become (In other words, the host population [Japanese] believes that discrimination does not exist in Japan, but rather, it is the foreigner's perception of discrimination coupled with the need for a deeper knowledge of Japan, which makes foreigners feel as if discrimination exists in Japan).
It was discovered that by adhering to the rules of the "unspoken contract" foreigners were able to ensure host tolerance to a certain extent, however adherence to the "unspoken contract" created feelings of anxiety, paranoia, emotional trauma and self-alienation for the majority of the foreign population. It was also obvious that though most foreigners do attempt to adhere to the rules of the unspoken contract, there were many situations in which they [foreigners] could not. Each time an immersed foreigner failed to adhere to the rules of the unspoken contract strengthened the host population's [Japanese] stereotypes and distrust towards foreigners as outsiders that regardless of Japanese language ability and knowledge of Japanese culture can never really be integrated into the Japanese society.
It was further discovered that the belief that "greater immersion equaled lessor feelings of discrimination" was a falsity (opposite to what foreigners had been led to believe). When compared to other countries this situation is unique to Japan (i.e., the better a foreigner speaks English in English speaking countries, the fewer the instances of discrimination). This demonstrates that while a lot of the discrimination against foreigners in other countries can be accredited to the language ability [or lack of language ability] of the foreigner, in Japan discrimination against non-Japanese is more apt to stem from the physical attributes of the foreigner, rather than the Japanese language ability of the foreigner. [The only other instance I found where this type of situation was present was in Hawaii. The number of short-term Japanese tourist was so great in number during the 1980's and 1990's that it created a situation where long-term Japanese/American residents were grouped into a category as "Japanese tourist" by the host population based solely on their Japanese physical appearance. As a result the number of discrimination cases reported by long-term, immersed Japanese/Americans in Hawaii increased dramatically.]
To acknowledge the former discoveries as a fact however, would require immersed foreigners residing in Japan to concede that immersing themselves into the Japanese language and culture as well as adhering to the rules of the "unspoken contract" has reared them virtually no benefits. It would further require them [immersed foreigners] to acknowledge that their status within the Japanese society is little, if at all, different than foreigners who cannot speak, read or write the Japanese language and who have little or no knowledge of the Japanese culture. To acknowledge this would be to contradict not only the "unspoken contract", which many foreigners use to rationalize placating, but also the "status" which immersed foreigners tend to assign to other foreigners. I call this inability of immersed foreigners to acknowledge they are still part of the powerless minority regardless of Japanese language ability and knowledge of the culture "gaijin denial", for these immersed foreigners are actually attempting to deny their assignment to the foreign population [by the Japanese] and would like to believe that they have reached some sort of "almost Japanese" status due to their quality of immersion into the Japanese language and culture.
The study found that the only "real" benefits for immersed foreigners were greater abilities to placate the host population [Japanese] than non-immersed foreigners. The only "real" difference in status was among the foreign population themselves, and being a powerless minority, this "self-assigned" status by foreigners to foreigners was purely a "token status", with no real benefit assigned by the host population [Japanese] to the foreigner. The study showed that foreigners in Japan are assigned a position as a powerless minority in which the host population tolerates and sometimes enjoys the company of, but which cannot be accepted as members of the Japanese society, regardless of the foreigner's quality or depth of immersion into the Japanese language and culture.
[I theorize that it is specifically the unspoken contract which has created this situation for foreigners in Japan. The unspoken contract has set foreigners [living in Japan] up to fail. The rules of the unspoken contract are so broad that it is virtually impossible for a foreigner to adhere to all of the rules, all of the time and the host population's [Japanese] stereotypes, distrust and inability to accept foreigners into the Japanese society stems from the failure of foreigners to adhere to the rules of the unspoken contract. One of the most difficult rules of the unspoken contract for foreigners to continuously adhere to is that of being an observant, but not a participant. While in normal, everyday life it was easy for foreigners to adhere to this rule, there were certain situations when the upbringing, culture and ethics of the foreigner prevented them from doing so. Such as when a foreigner witnesses a young girl being molested on a train. Most foreigners find it almost impossible not to assist the girl in this situation, however, assisting the girl is breaking the rule of being an observant and not a participant.]
This is not to say that there are no foreigners in Japan that have achieved success and status within the society, as there are. These foreigners are the exception, however, and not the rule. Those foreigners who have achieved success and status in Japan contribute to immersed and non-immersed foreigners belief that if they adhere to the rules of the "unspoken contract", they [foreigners] will also achieve success and status within the Japanese society as well as being accepted as a full member of the society. Being accepted as a member of the Japanese society would reward the foreigner tremendously as it would allow the foreigner to rid him/herself of the stigma of being a foreigner.
Members of the host population [Japanese], however, see these successful immersed foreigners as anomalies of the foreign population and therefore the success of these foreigners does little to assist in the de-stigmatization of being a foreigner in Japan. In contrast, the Japanese often use these foreigners [by having them as guests on T.V] to reinforce the stereotypes [and therefore the stigma] of foreigners that members of the host population [Japanese] have.
An excellent example of this is a T.V. program in Japan entitled; "kokoga hendaiyo nihonjin" (here is the weird Japanese). While this program had 30 to 40 foreign guests weekly discussing the weird side of living in Japan, paneled by 3 or 4 prominent Japanese, the theme of the program became obvious during its first airing. Most of the immersed foreigners were selected on their basis to make the viewers [Japanese] laugh rather than their quality of immersion into the Japanese language and culture. It quickly became a program that reinforced how "weird" foreigners were instead of actually educating the Japanese population on the difficulties foreigners face living in Japan. This program, due to members of the Japanese population belief that the foreign guests represented the views and opinions of the entire foreign population, reinforced many negative stereotypes regarding foreigners in Japan.
The "unspoken contract" also serves an important purpose for the host population [Japanese]. It allows them [Japanese] the rationalization that their discriminatory behavior [towards foreigners] is not actually discriminatory. The "unspoken contract" can be used whenever a confrontational situation arises between a member of the foreign population and a member of the host population [Japanese]. It [the "unspoken contract"] allows the member of the host population [Japanese] to discount the argument or confrontation of the foreigner as superficial or exaggerated by focusing not on the argument or confrontation, but on the foreignness of the foreigner and referring to the need [of the foreigner] for further immersion into the Japanese language and culture. In this way, they [Japanese] can always rationalize discriminating behavior by adhering to the belief that "if the foreigner understood the Japanese language and culture better, they [foreigners] would see it my [the Japanese] way." I refer to this type of behavior later on as "Rationalized Discrimination."
The unspoken contract further allows members of the Japanese population to expect foreigners to abide by the rules of the Japanese society when beneficial for the member of the Japanese population, yet to disregard the rules of the Japanese society when it is beneficial for the member of the Japanese society. This creates a lose-lose situation for foreigners living in Japan. A prime example follows in the foreigner's comments:
Dean: "I was late once because my daughter was sick and I wanted to make sure she was o.k. before I left the house. My [Japanese] manager really gave me a guilt trip about this. He told me that in Japan, it is unforgivable to be late. He further related to me that it was my wife's duty to look after the kids and advised me to learn about the Japanese way if I wanted to be successful in Japan. A few months later, I asked the same [Japanese] manager if I could reschedule an appointment I had with a foreign company. The appointment was scheduled for a Japanese National holiday and my wife wanted us to go on an out of town trip. He flatly refused. I asked him why I was the only person in the office scheduled to work that day. He related to me that I was not Japanese and had a different contract than the Japanese [full-time] employees. The same was true for X-mas, my children's birthdays and other days where I would have been off in my own country. It was a double edged sword with no benefits."
Interestingly, this type of "rationalized discrimination" was noticed to be present among the foreign population as well. It was reported by many foreign informants that the most confusing and stressful discriminatory situations came "not" from the host population [Japanese] but at the hands of a "fellow" foreigner who usually held a position of authority over the informant. It was in these instances where the most emotional trauma occurred. I would theorize that the ability of the foreigner to rationalize discriminatory behavior lessened when the discriminating figure [person] was part of the foreign population [another foreigner] and not part of the host population [Japanese]. I refer to this type of behavior later on as "Gaijin -vs- Gaijin."