Monday, November 03, 2008

What Part of Enclave Does Onishi Not Understand?

Norimitsu Onishi does a credible of reporting on a public housing estate, a blue collar neighborhood near Toyota City of Toyota fame, whose population is split almost equally between the original Japanese inhabitants on one hand and Japanese-Brazilian workers and their immediately families (not just Japanese-Brazilians, I presume) on the other. By trial and error, many of them seem to have found ways to get along with each other, giving the lie to the conventional wisdom, parroted here by Onishi, that “homogeneous and insular nation,…… Japan is notoriously unwelcoming to immigrants; Koreans who came here during World War II are still treated as second-class citizens.”

Or not. Who knows? But isn’t it the job of the journalist to give some thought to reconciling these two incompatible claims? And what’s this about “Koreans who came here during World War II… still treated as second-class citizens”? Let’s be clear, they are treated as less than “second-class citizens”, but not for the reason that Onishi insinuates. In fact, it’s astonishing that the reason for this escapes him completely, possibly by choice—no big surprise, I assure you.

Now the Japanese media reports from time to time about the troubles that many children of Brazilian and other immigrant laborers encounter in Japan. But Mr. Onishi’s article paints a less alarming (if still troubling) picture on this point. Is this an illusion? Or does the sizeable Brazilian community provide an environment that does a reasonable job of keeping its children out of trouble? I’ve been saying for some time that if you want to bring in Bangladeshi software engineers to Japan, you have to bring in Bangladeshi grocery managers, Bangladeshi barbers, and Bangladshi what-have-yous. You can’t expect them to come here in droves unless you let them have a community. Funny thing is, it wouldn’t be the first time in Japanese history that this happened.

One more thing: When does a housing estate become a Brazilian enclave—the original gated community—when half the population consists of Japanese citizens?

Sorry I’ve been distracted. I’ll let you know when I respond to the comments in my most recent posts.

No comments: