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Is 'Gaijin' a racist descriptor?

Discussion in 'Japan' started by TOFF, Mar 2, 2020.

  1. Sage Oya

    Sage Oya Like the herb, lover of Pabst, cup ramen devotee Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s not that it demeans a particular race imo, rather it supports the ideology that you’re either Japanese or you’re alien/foreign/don’t belong.
     
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  2. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you are a foreigner, you can use it. I think almost nobody is offended (and actually, many foreigners like calling themselves Gaijin). If your Japanese friends call you Gaijin, in many cases, it's just because the Japanese friends think you are very close friends for them (no intention to offend you at all). If Japanese people (not your friends) suddenly call you Gaijin face to face (I have never seen / experienced the case, though), there are two cases. One : The Japanese people don't know Gaijin is not a politically correct word and it can offend foreigners. Two : They hate foreigners.

    In most cases (in my experience), the word Gaijin is not used to offend foreigners. And, it's not a word that foreigners need to be careful but a word that Japanese people need to be careful. If you are foreigner, I think you can call yourself Gaijin, but it might baffle some Japanese people who were taught "Don't call foreigners Gaijin" and it might make you sound a bit "less sophisticated"
     
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  3. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook! Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    No they're not, they're just very insulting, of whoever is called them
     
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  4. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook! Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Agree. Not a racial descriptor, just a term that connotates a general inferiority of anyone non Japanese
     
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  5. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook! Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    The same goes when people scream racism at being referred to as Moslem in a derogatory way. That's not racism in the slightest. If anything, it's religionism, if that's even a thing.
     
  6. Hermannator

    Hermannator One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Is it surprising that they use the term 'gaijin' at the end of the day? After all,
    • They have seldom (if ever) been invaded
    • Only 2% of the population is 'gaijin' - presumuably due to
    • Low immigration
     
  7. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Foreign workers have been increasing quite rapidly in the last 5 years or so. I sometimes visit Mito city (= the capital city of Ibaraki prefecture). Ibaraki prefecture is the least touristic prefecture of Japan's 47 prefectures, and foreigners there = not tourists but workers. I can sense the big surge whenever I go there. But no wonder, Japanese people keep working up to 65 years old on average (some a lot longer, though), and 65 years ago, the number of new born babies were about 2.2 millions. The number of the Japanese people who turned 20 years old this ear is only 1.2 million. So, in recent years, Japan lost about 1 million Japanese workers per year. So, in the last 5 years, Japan have lost nearly 6 million Japanese workers. Japan needs more workers from abroad.
     
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  8. Any

    Any One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    +1

    I call myself gaijin all the time, daily even. mostly as a bit of fun. including baka gaijin when I **** something up like a dumb tourist would do.
    if a Japanese joined in in a fun context it'd be easy.
    unfortunately the Japanese don't seem to get sarcasm at all, and the Aussie/NZ way of insulting your friends is very unique compared to the rest of the world. so I don't see this happening unless real good friends with one that has learned to do so.
    but if anyone called me Gaijin in the wrong tone i'd be pretty pissed off.

    actually this same recipe could be used for any word, in any language or even a made up word.
     
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  9. Hermannator

    Hermannator One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Ageing population, low birth rates, 8 million abandoned homes... something has to give.
     
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  10. D-eye

    D-eye Photographer and skier Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I know someone who grew up being called a wog at school in the 70's, then at work in the 80's and 90's - including being told that they couldn't do certain types of work as it wouldn't be accepted by the public. They're still dealing with how it affected them over those years. Even though they were born a couple of km from where I'm sitting they consider themselves "foreign" and not "Australian" because that is how they were made to feel.

    They may call themselves a wog, but it hasn't lost its power.
     
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  11. Greysrigging

    Greysrigging One of Us

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    When I was a young bloke the local younger 'wogs' called us WASP Aussies 'skip' ( referring to skippy the bush kangaroo ) as in "call me a wog again skip and I'll punch ya lights out....."
     
  12. expatgm

    expatgm Addicted

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    Charity starts at home. Here you go.
     
  13. Greysrigging

    Greysrigging One of Us

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    Having worked with many Japanese men and women on large LNG Projects in Australia, I never heard the term 'Gaijin' used. These blokes and sheilas were way too polite to do so in mixed ( racial ) company, unlike Aussies, Kiwis and Yanks who used words like Nips and Japs, even 'rice niggers' ( southern Yanks usually ) in general conversation among themselves of course, not in the company of English speaking Japanese people, but would do so casually without thought.
    Now I suspect among themselves Japanese folk us the term 'Gaijin' just as casually without thought of offence or otherwise.
    One of the Aussie women on our crew had lived in Japan for many years, had studied Japanese language at Uni and she horrified some of the Kawasaki engineers when she let on she spoke, read and understood the language fluently......
    My son does something similar.... he lived in Thailand for 5 years and picked up the lingo.... he had a Thai girlfriend, watched Thai TV and found he had a gift for learning the lingo..... so here in Darwin, we go to the Markets for a feed of Thai..... he always orders in English, then listens to the stall owners insulting us among themselves ( mildly haha ) in Thai, then thanks them and pays in fluent Thai.... freaks them out lol !
     
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  14. chrisj

    chrisj A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    The correct term for that is Pom.
     
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  15. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    Is calling an Englishman a pom racist ?
     
  16. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook! Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Pohm is the correct original racial slur

    Prisoner of His/Her Majesty
     
  17. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    So whingeing pom is bad also ?
     
  18. chrisj

    chrisj A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I dunno. "Dry as a Pommy's towel." does have certain pejorative connotations.
     
  19. Harper11

    Harper11 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    They can start taking refugees
     
  20. Ramenman

    Ramenman One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Definition and connotation of a word can change as time goes by. I think Gaijin is a good example. I guess Gaijin used to be a bit more "aggressive / offensive / insulting" word before than now. Parents and teachers told children "You must not call foreigners Gaijin, it's rude and insulting, so call them Gaikokujin". But, more and more foreigners are coming to Japan and it looks like they rather like calling themselves "Gaijin", which baffles Japanese people and they think "it's okay for me to call them Gaijin?". But they still feel "strange (or guilty)" to call foreigners Gaijin. Then, a weird thing is happening now. I mean, some Japanese call foreigners "Gaijin-san". Name - san is very polite. So, some Japanese people add -san to Gaijin to make it sound nicer. That said, I think it's still a politically incorrect word for Japanese people to use. It's okay for foreigners to call themselves Gaijin, though.
     
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