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1 3/11 and the “Flyjin”phenomenon ARUDOU Debito Affiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii Download this presentation at

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Presentation on theme: "1 3/11 and the “Flyjin”phenomenon ARUDOU Debito Affiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii Download this presentation at"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 3/11 and the “Flyjin”phenomenon ARUDOU Debito Affiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii Download this presentation at

2 3/11/12 Great East Japan EQ Ca.16K dead, 27K injured, 3K missing from tsunami Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters 2

3 NJ wags coin “Flyjin” on Twitter  (Also“Bye-jin”) a corruption of gaijin (the more racist epithet for “foreigner”) (Hoofin blog 4/2).  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. 3

4 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 saru gaikoku rōdōsha), NJ reported as fleeing Japan.  NJ portrayed as deserting their work stations (Zakzak 4/15: affecting fast-food restaurant chain Yoshinoya’s profitability?, conjectured) 4

5 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”.  Nikkan Gendai 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. 5

6 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). 6

7 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.  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. 7

8 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.) 8

9 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. 9

10 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 4 th 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. 10

11 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. 11

12 The unexamined life: NJ population drop in Flyjins’ wake 12 Source: Ministry of Justice, at

13 The unexamined life (2) Raw stats for NJ population 13 Source: Ministry of Justice, at

14 The unexamined life (3): NJ crime keeps falling 14 Source: National Police Agency,

15 The unexamined life (4): Every NJ crime significantly down 15 Source: National Police Agency,

16 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. 16

17 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. 17

18 18 More on this and other issues: ISBN 4 7503 9018 6 English version, Japanese version ISBN 4 7503 9001 9

19 19 More on this and other issues: English and Japanese ISBN 4 7503 2741 9ISBN 978 1 257 02640 1

20 20 ご清聴ありがとうございました! THANK YOU FOR LISTENING! Download this presentation at x

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