We’re all apologists now

Forbes today posted quite a rant by Eamonn Fingleton with the click-bait title of “What’s Japan’s Guiltiest Secret?: (Hint) It’s Not The Comfort Women” and contents that wouldn’t look out of place on Japan Focus, in which he says:

As a practical matter, Tokyo wields a panoply of carrots and sticks in controlling what Japan-based foreigners say to the outside world and most long-term foreign residents are overt or covert agents for Japan’s public relations agenda.

Where’s my carrot? If there’s money or privilege to be had, I’ll turn my Japologising up to eleven, no questions asked. Used notes in brown paper bags will suffice, thank you very much.

There’s also a line that cuts quite close to the bone:

What is clear is that as most American and British correspondents in Tokyo don’t read Japanese, the Japan Times is the unstated source of many of their reports.

Did he also get an article rejected by the paper? There must be a juicy back-story to this rant!

Leave a comment ?


  1. Click bait on Forbes? Say it isn’t so! :twisted:

  2. Ha! I guess liking living here makes me an “agent” for the GovOfJpn. Are these whiners so miserable they have to come up with this rubbish to make themselves feel better?

  3. Speaking of the Japan Times, it’s headlines are used often by Mari Sekine on NTV’s morning show Zip for some eikaiwa point- which reflects its usage by the occasional Japanese who picks it up at the sundry station kiosk- certainly not for (real) news content.

  4. The Chrysanthemum Sniffer

    Holy shit! Does this mean that DA is working for “the man?”

  5. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer: Ah, that explains everything! :mrgreen: There had to be a reason for consistently awful articles that only serve to piss people off; he is such a bull in a china shop when dealing with matters that it irritates both the natives and the foreigners into disliking the strident Westernised human rights advocation.

    I’m of course not in the pay of any part of the Japanese government; it’s the South Koreans who pay me to Japologise and incite Mr Arudou and pals. :lol:

  6. Against my better judgement I RTFA. Oi vey! What a load of crap! And he is getting savaged in the comments.

    One other line from the article states “all you have to do is Google it” as a source. :roll: Well, I did some Googling and a lot of what I found says pretty much the opposite of what he was trying to state.

    The author reminded me of a certain other blogger I used to read that was convinced he “knew” Japan and all about their “evil practises” in spite of being pointed out that, no, he really DIDN’T know that much about Japan.

    (No, not that blogger, the other one. And I am not going to name names. :cool: )

  7. Did I hear somebody barkin’

  8. Finkleton and Ludwig van Wolfman know they shit and they ain’t shittin.
    Y’all are overt covert agents of the Japan Man

  9. I like to think of the Japan Times as the nation’s college newspaper, where English-speaking expatriates pretend to be student reporters enlightened by their pursuit of social justice, and the citizens of Japan pretend to be the backwards, ignorant townies. This arrangement is beneficial for both sides — the only victim is responsible journalism. As long as the paper continues to adopt such an unserious tone, they will never be able to take on the establishment with the commitment of more serious Japanese-language publications like FACTA and Akahata.

  10. I don’t agree with everything Barton Finkleton says, but his bark is worth the bite when talking about the foreign media. The Japanese human resources managers of foreign media organization hire supplicant sycophants for two things and two things only: ability to read and therefore copy (rip-off) the Japanese press; and loyalty to the Japanese way, which means “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  11. @Warrior Man Dog: Go away CJ. No one is talking about you.

  12. “I believe you. I read the article in Forbes.”

    — Hans Gruber

  13. But, ah, yes, the article:

    “Japan has paid virtually nothing to victims of its war crimes”

    I… I just… :headdesk: I wish I had the time today to write a suitable rant about this.

  14. I love the bit in the comments where Fingleton, who’s joined in to defend every last dotted i that he wrote, keeps asking one critic to produce evidence against the alleged conspiracy of silence about the low foreign brand penetration of the Japanese car market. So the critic, exasperated at Fingleton’s rhetorical antics, googles and finds loads of JT articles on the topic. Fingleton’s response: you can’t expect Forbes readers to read news articles. So therefore the JT links don’t count. :headdesk:

  15. Kingstonbefürchtung noun The nagging sense of uneasy foreboding, while reading a surprisingly well-balanced news article on contemporary Japan and its politics, that it is constantly about to be ruined by a rent-a-quote from the director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan.

  16. Having a little dig on Fingleton (he loves to argue with his detractors – apparently if he knows who you are, he’s been known to call or Skype you to berate you), I found this comment from him on a similar Forbes article last year on the same basic topic:

    Right hand drive cars have enormous snob value in Japan because they are so rare and expensive (they have to be expensive because of all the adjustments that have to be made to meet Japan’s unreasonable import requirements). Where Japanese drivers of luxury models such as BMWs and Mercedes Benzes have a choice, they will pay $5,000 to $10,000 more to have the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car! Check your facts.

    Is this true? I’d never heard of anyone doing this. It sounds like something out of the 1970s, not post-bubble.

  17. @VK: I work with one of those companies, and no, it’s not. Or rather, it might be true for the customers that “have a choice,” but the number of them is so small and so specialized as to be meaningless.

    The cars BMW, MB and Audi import to Japan are all made for left-side driving. If you really wanted a right hand drive car, but didn’t want to go overseas to buy one and ship it yourself, there are channels you could go through, but the official dealerships just aren’t set up for it.

    If you did go through these other channels for your car, it would be classed as ‘grey market’ (not illegal, just not from an official dealer). And looking at sales figures for 2013, grey market accounted for less than half a percent for Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

    Of that fraction of a percent, though, I have no idea how many specifically request right-hand drive. Probably not many, since if you’re going to the trouble and expense of specially importing a car not available in Japan, you’re probably going for a less-common, market-specific model that simply may not have a choice of drive styles. Though what I wonder is, why would right-hand drive (the standard in Germany) be the more expensive choice? Would left-hand be less common and harder to acquire?

  18. Though what I wonder is, why would right-hand drive (the standard in Germany) be the more expensive choice? Would left-hand be less common and harder to acquire?

    :?: :?: :?:

    I think you have your left mixed up with your right.

  19. I’m using right-hand and left-hand to mean the side of the road the car is on, not the side of the car the steering wheel is on, to be consistent with Fingleton’s usage.

  20. Changing topics but still talking about apologists and the commenters that love them & hate them:

    The lack of Japanese reading comprehension, witnessed by the English summaries that are posted (and approved by the moderator with no comment) with the Japanese articles, that Debito.org nyms post is sometimes stunning:



  21. KT88 (still illuchrut aphtre orl deez yers)

    Do I dare lol? Which is the bigger dickhead? Andrew coz he carnt read, innit? Or the esteemed Dr Debito (PhD) who moderates and approves EVERY comment appearing on his site? Hope this gets cached/print screened for the sake of history…

    That little slip explains a whole lot more about Debination than all the “on purpose” words put together.

  22. @havill: Indeed, machine translation parses that better for comprehension, and you can’t get more damning than that.

  23. To catch people up on the Avril Lavigne thing:

    Here’s a recap of the situation:

    Avril, who is big in Japan apparently, gets assigned by her Japanese in Japan label to make a song + M/V for Japanese in Japan, for the Japanese market.
    The Japanese in Japan record label uses Japanese in Japan directors, producers, choreographers, and dancers, and sets the video in Japan.

    After doing this, non-Japanese complain that Avril Lavigne is appropriating and stereotyping Asian/Japanese culture — their evidence being that Asians don’t really act that way.

    Yet another P.C. derp by activists.

    If anything, the Japanese “appropriated” Avril Lavigne, not the other way around.

    Negative cultural appropriation, according to Wikipedia:

    when the subject culture is a minority culture or subordinated in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture

    Last I checked, Japanese in Japan are neither a minority to nor subordinated by white Canadian English-speaking girls in Japan.

  24. People may be interested in checking out todays Asahi Shimbun p.29 for a familiar face.

  25. @Andrew in Ezo: えくに かおり?

  26. The Chrysanthemum Sniffer

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Our intrepid anti-racism advocate has made it into the national press.


    I would like you to consider the following quote from the article. Given that this is information that the man himself might have supplied, can anyone see anything wrong with it?

    “Arudou, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about discrimination in Japan at the University of Hawaii, asked whether the Japanese have ever imagined how many foreigners have been hurt by such words.”

    Anyone? Anyone? Is Mr Guest here?

  27. The Chrysanthemum Sniffer

    And by the way, I don’t mean the “asked whether the Japanese have ever imagined how many foreigners have been hurt by such words” bit.

  28. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer: After re-reading what you wrote several times to work out what you were implying, I finally see where you are going with it.

    While it would certainly fill out the years recommended daily supply of Irony (and hypocrisy which is par for DA’s course) I feel that this is actually the fault of what passes for journalism these days. Note: there is a lack of “” around the statements. And I am sure DA will try to weasel word his way out of it in that manner.

  29. “Is Mr. Guest here?”
    Indeed, he is.

    Whether AD got his doctorate from The University of Hawaii or a university in Hawaii, nothing will ever, ever trump the fact that he did his undergrad at CORNELL UNIVERSITY. In the Ivy League.

    Actually, it’s kinda sad to see that some reporters and news sources still see him as the go-to guy on foreigner (aka ‘human’) rights issues in Japan.

    BTW (self-plug warning)- I wrote a bit of fiction myself. It involves one minor character, a foreigner in Japan, who might salute Debito. It’s not the best part of the book but some of you guys might enjoy it…

    Yeah, yeah, another obligatory expat novel. But I think it succeeds simply due to the fact that it doesn’t include the word ‘poontang’.

  30. @The Chrysanthemum Sniffer:

    Interesting how the Japanese original article and English translations have different content in them.

    Here’s the same phase/quote/paragraph (much shorter) from the original Japanese article:


     「Japanese Only」「Foreigners are not allowed」。北海道のパチンコ店、群馬のパブ、愛知のクラブ、大阪の不動産屋、広島のバー、沖縄のカラオケ店……。いたる場で、「外国人お断り」を意味する看板や案内を確認した。その数、50以上。



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