Singer, musician and occasional actor/author/jack of all trades Gackt has had a long and successful career on the Japanese music scene, and also enjoys considerable popularity abroad. During an overseas trip recently, he encountered an unsettling example of what he claims to be blatant racial discrimination in a Parisian hotel. But just what happened?
In the wake of the protests in the US over the controversial Ferguson decision and subsequently President Obama’s unfortunate choice of words galvanizing anti-immigration sentiments in Japan, the Chinese are facing a racism scandal of their own, but this time by their own people.
A Beijing store recently came under fire when they hung a sign outside of their shop proclaiming: “Chinese not admitted. Staff excluded.” Just so we’re clear, this is in China.
Japan seems to have a worldwide reputation for cute skirted uniforms loved by all ages and genders. However, Taiwan seems to have embraced the style with an unbridled enthusiasm. One only needs to look towards Taiwan’s highly organized school uniform map and subsequent online vote for the cutest uniform in the country.
Now, Taiwanese media outlets are sounding the alarm that the days of uniforms with skirts are numbered. In some cases predictions are being made which say that all uniforms containing skirts may disappear from Taiwan within the next three years.
China’s World Metropolis Center (WMC) has become the center of controversy recently over their decision to lay out 10 parking spaces intended for women only. As a result, what we assume was a well-intentioned gesture by the shopping center has seemed to upset some people online drawing cries of discrimination. On the other hand, visitors to the mall seemed pleased with the initiative.
Many of us have an impression that Japanese girls are slim and petite (which many of them really are), but one of the sad truths behind their stick-thin figures is a rather serious case of discrimination from society. While voluptuous women are popular in certain parts of the world, being even slightly chubby (not obese) is a big no-no in Japan and chubby girls often get called “debu” (fatso) online and sometimes to their face.
But recently, a new nickname for such chubby ladies has started trending among Japanese netizens, which hopefully will change the attitudes people have towards them. Behold, the rise of the “marshmallow girls”!
Much ink has been spilled about the supposed homogeneity of Japan and the dangerous idea of racial purity that goes along with it. Some expats have made entire careers writing — or ranting — about the problems of discrimination in Japan. And yet, the number of foreign residents has more than doubled in the last 20 years and international marriages in the country have been steadily rising, so it can’t be all that hostile either.
So how racist is Japan, really? Here’s my take—admittedly only one perspective—on where things stand.
From women-only seats in libraries to female-only university cafes, it would seem that women get a lot of preferential treatment in Japan. Whether it be a restaurant with “ladies’ courses” on the menu or cinemas offering “ladies’ day” discounts, it is difficult to ignore the abundance of cheap deals or special services on offer to women. On the one hand, it all serves to help the struggling Japanese economy, but a lot of men can’t help but feel that they’re being a little discriminated against.
There are few experiences less fun than going through a job interview. That 30 minute walk across eggshells as someone combs through your life story is an exhausting ordeal for many people. One mistaken gesture or misspoken answer can bring your future plans crashing down around you.
Even if you don’t do anything wrong, who knows what kind of prejudices the interviewer may have. Maybe they don’t like the way you comb your hair or your Mötley Crüe face tattoo.
As unfair as those things are, one student looking for work in China recently came across a more heinous form of workplace discrimination – ant-iPhonetism.