3/11 and the “Flyjin”phenomenonARUDOU DebitoAffiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, HawaiiDownload this presentation at www.debito.org/flyjin032012.pptx
3/11/12Great East Japan EQ Ca.16K dead, 27K injured, 3K missing from tsunami Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters
NJ wags coin “Flyjin” on Twitter • (Also“Bye-jin”) a corruption of gaijin (the more racist epithet for “foreigner”) (Hoofin blog 4/2). • Flyjin.com also set up to depict NJ as panicky, overreacting to flawed overseas media depictions of disaster. • Self-deprecating humor soon escalates beyond sarcasm and irony into media epithet.
Flyjin Fallout hits J media • Wall Street Journal 3/23 reports in E and J of “fly-jin exodus”, blames NJ culture of “allegiance” of NJ to family 1st, company 2nd. • Although not called “Flyjin” in vernacular (e.g., Nikkei 4/9: nihon o sarugaikokurōdōsha), NJ reported as fleeing Japan. • NJ portrayed as deserting their work stations (Zakzak 4/15: affecting fast-food restaurant chain Yoshinoya’s profitability?, conjectured)
Media frenzy builds • Asahi’s influential Tensei Jingo column 3/20 has tone of betrayal: NJ (tourists, business travelers, students, diplomats) “scrambled” abroad, concludes “rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but Japanese”. • NikkanGendai headline 4/11: “All NJ have fled Japan”. SPA! 4/12: “Bad NJ” (Asians, Arabs, Africans) massing in Ueno where NPA, Yakuza “order-keeping ability” is weak.
Open season on NJ begins • Mainichi Shimbun 4/25: Factories crippled by shortage of NJ workers, conjectures that Yokohama Chinatown and entire J textile industry could suffer “serious damage”, if not “fall apart”. • Tokyo Sports Shimbun 4/14 blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ; says can’t run the facility without NJ dancers in parades (TDL reopens 4/15).
The media wave crests • Asahi 3/26: Rumors swirl about “NJ criminal gangs” carrying out muggings, lootings, rapes. Yet Sankei 4/1 reports no cases. • J-cast.com 4/7: GOJ unusually intervenes to quash internet rumors, avoid debacle of 1923 Kantō earthquake’s mass murder of 100s of Koreans/Chinese etc. due to rumors of well poisonings, rebellion, sabotage.
Restoring sanity • Shingetsu News Agency 4/13: NPA, ministries establish task force, notify media (including net providers) to erase, inter alia: • Descriptions of EQ as man-made (3/17) • Claims of EQ caused by NJ terrorism (3/28) (Critics decry this as censorship, as means to keep information on TEPCO and GOJ from public, avoiding responsibility for disaster.)
What was drowned out by the NJ blame game • More domestic reportage on what NJ were doing to help out in disaster areas. • Figures on/critique of J “flyjin”, who were also fleeing potential disaster areas (Sankei 3/19). • Other issues of discrimination, such as J fleeing from disaster areas being refused at hotels (Yomiuri 3/18, 4/9). • More accurate info re facts on the ground.
Aftershocks • 3/14 Tokyo Gov. Ishihara calls tsunami “divine punishment” (tenbatsu) to wash away Japan’s identity as “greed”, then retracts; still gets reelected to 4th term on 4/10. • Unexamined was Ishihara’s claim on 4/9/00 (the “sangokujin speech”) that “bad NJ” committing “heinous crimes” would riot in the event of a natural disaster, proposes JSDF round them up. Clearly didn’t happen.
Aftershocks • Also running in Ishihara’s 4/10/11 election was overt xenophobic candidate Furukawa Keigo, whose policy stump included: • “Safeguard the capital, safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.” • “Expel the foreign barbarians” (i.e., Chinese and Koreans) from Tokyo, etc. • Furukawa still garners 6000 votes.
The unexamined life: NJ population drop in Flyjins’ wake Source: Ministry of Justice, at http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000094842.pdf
The unexamined life (2)Raw stats for NJ population Source: Ministry of Justice, at http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000094842.pdf
The unexamined life (3):NJ crime keeps falling Source: National Police Agency, npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_Z_RAINICHI_ZANTEI.pdf
The unexamined life (4):Every NJ crime significantly down Source: National Police Agency, npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_Z_RAINICHI_ZANTEI.pdf
The unexamined life (5) • Irony: J workers, companies fleeing during Bangkok’s October 2011 floods, even bringing 6-month Thai workers to Japan. • Why blame NJ for a crisis created by domestic negligence? Because disenfranchised NJ are easy distraction, or as “Flyjin”, a scapegoat. • Still little to no J media or official acknow-ledgement of the good things that NJ do and have done for Japan’s economy and society.
Conclusion: Beware dodgy journalism misleading public • Cherry-picking data (e.g., Small-size or narrow-sample sources). • Using aggregate numbers that are inapplicable to regional/local numbers. • Not comparing with J in same position. • Using linguistic hedgers like “…to mirareru”, “…sō da”, “there are cases of…” etc. • Falling for hegemonic discourse of J as victims and NJ as disloyal, criminals, unreliable etc.
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