Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'let's not beat ourselves up'

the New York mag piece (cited in previous post) got so many comments!

Take this one, for instance, posted by JugglingTam:
"Nice article and completely on point. I was 1 week away from moving to Tokyo when the earthquake hit. My life was packed, the decision was decided, and then this happened. I decided to go despite all of the protests from friends and family... mostly because I had made a ready decision a long time ago to make the career change. Now that I am here and realize that the media is fairly sensationalized and that Tokyo life has moved on, I am relieved that I made the decision I did. I wouldn't say I feel pride for coming or scorn toward those who left or are leaving, but I feel that I want to help others realize that the conditions here are safe. On the other hand, though I do occasionally roll my eyes at the fact that people are delaying or canceling trips, I can't help but agree that all the pressure from friends and family is almost impossible to handle, as well as the 24/7 scares from the news. Whatever your decision is, I think it's justified and we (including myself) should accept it and move on."


And this one, from American Tokyoite:
"Please try to imagine the courage of the Japanese people. Their calmness. Their fortitude. Not only the folks trying to get the reactors under control at Fukushima, but also the thousands who have lost a family member or a home, the ruined farmers, the millions of Tokyoites shivering in the cold without complaint because they want to do what little they can to help.

No hysteria, no panic, no looting.... Instead, cohesion. Kindness. Support.

Now look at the foreigners, particularly the relatively new "expats," many who live in luxurious apartments in essentially earthquake-undamaged, radiation-free Tokyo, where there is electricity and plenty of food, pushing each other out of the way as they scramble to flee the country.
[Blogger's note: Harsh! and totally unfair characterization given all the agonizing...]

We long-time Japan residents have Japanese friends, Japanese spouses, even Japanese children. We care what people think. We try hard to project an image as responsible parents, coworkers and neighbors. It has taken decades to build what we have.

So again, look upon the quiet strength of the Japanese people. Then turn to the frantic flight of the foreigners. Can you blame us for not wanting to be associated with them? "

And from 34Watts:

"Agree with (previous poster) in that while it's easy to simplify what's going on here as unique to Japanese culture or a foreigner issue, there was a similar exodus of transient Americans (and probably foreigners too) leaving NYC after 9/11. The backlash towards those who fled the NYC then was less extreme, but there was certainly a renewed pride among those who chose not to leave the city. At any rate, there is no shame in re-evaluating one's choices after a brutal reminder of mortality."

Many of my Facebook friends also commented when I posted the link there. Here's the transcript:

The Departed: Exodus of Expats Draws Scorn in Japan

Is leaving Japan for safer ground an act of betrayal?

(CHM) Ooh LIKE! Shall we discuss while on the secrecy of Facebook?!
(MB) Well, where do I start.....I don't really like to idea of "foreigners" sometimes myself, (in my opinion) they're sometimes loud and bawdy and I've met some that are proud that they've lived here for 15 years and still don't speak a word of Japanese, to a Japanese person leaving when things get "tough" must only serve to compound this cultural division further, however, we'll never fit in, not in a million years...so, I think its a personal decision that you make for your family at the time and no one should judge that.
(Me) Carole! be sure to read the comments posted below the article too- some are a bit nutty/angry/hostile...
(Me)‎@MB yes I agree everybody's situation is different. I am trying not to be too defensive- not just about our leaving, but also about our plans to go back
(MB) Don't be defensive at all M..., if anyone has completely embraced this city and its culture you have....xxx
(KE) we went "home" to protect our children...less use of electricity and food items, and many city guys stayed and held the fort...lets not beat ourselves up about this...
(KP) You linked to a blog some time ago that gave a foretaste of this discussion, the wall growing between those who left and those who stayed. I looked forward to watching the discussion grow but now it is already leaving a bad taste. Only home a few days and some comments I've heard are rubbing in the wrong places. There is so much to discuss. I just hope the fallout doesn't get uglier than necessary.
(KP) I was the only Gaijin at Nissin and National Azabu. Very empty stores. Man it felt weird. The cashiers at Starbucks Roppongi gave a very very warm welcome. Will those that need our patronage be the first to welcome us back?
(LH)Awesome! I get to witness yet another pissing match among American expats. The dialogue is always the same. The name-calling. The arrogance and self-righteousness. The shame-blame-guilt game...
(AL) I am simply a simple expat living in Japan for financial means. I don't try to be a hero and have no guilt of leaving Japan now or later.
(KW) for some reason this term 'flyjin' annoys me enormously. I want to slap anyone who uses it in anger! However I do think any of you coming to HK for sanctuary may have been somewhat misguided! 'cough cough' the air here is dreadful! I don't think there is anything to discuss. Whether you stayed or left is surely ones own business, desu ne?

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