Friday, June 16, 2017

A very strange form of racism in Japan

I once saw a YouTube video (which I can't find anymore) of the rather strange experience of a guy teaching English in a school (I think it was a high school) in Japan.

The guy was born in the United States, and one of his parents was American and the other Japanese. Naturally he was always interested in visiting and perhaps working in Japan. Since he was a university graduate on the subject, and had all the necessary qualifications, he decided to seek for a job there as an English teacher.

In the video he goes to lengths explaining the experience, but I'm going to summarize the interesting bit here: In the school where he first got the job, the principal (a native Japanese) was strangely antagonistic against him. She would keep demanding lesson plans far beyond what was reasonable, she would assign him unreasonably many teaching hours, she would often go to his class, in the middle of the lesson, to berate him for something, in front of the students, and so on and so forth. It was quite clear that the principal was trying to make his life as miserable and hard as possible, without outright doing anything explicitly illegal. She quite clearly wanted him to leave the job.

And it worked, too (although according to him, probably for the better). He sought a job on another school, and finally got it.

But why was the principal at the first school so antagonistic?

It turns out that it's a rather strange form of racism in Japan. Not all places, but many. It turns out that it was because he looked too Asian, too Japanese. (While half-Japanese, half-American, he certainly looks more Japanese than American.)

You see, in many places in Japan there's this quite strange prevalent prejudice that people want English teachers to look foreign, rather than Asian. They don't trust a non-foreign-looking person to be a good English teacher. If the teacher looks too Japanese, they don't trust him to be competent at the job. The prejudice is so strong that it doesn't even matter if the teacher has lived his entire life in the United States and has plenty of academic qualifications. It was not only the principal of the school who was prejudiced like this, but also many of the students' parents.

Japan has quite an obsession with the English language, for certain, but this is one of the strangest forms of it that I have ever heard.

No comments:

Post a Comment