Trigger warning: racism and anti-Blackness.
A friend of mine sent me this video via Twitter DM today. I thought for a moment the text in the thumbnail read “BLM message to Japan,” but I was too optimistic. It was a horribly anti-social justice message from a Japanese man who seems to believe that he somehow represents the majority of Japanese people (and in his words, he “felt like it’s [his] obligation to tell [Japanese people’s] message to [his] audience”).
Don’t watch the video and give him views and thus money. I’ll respond to everything he says in the below. The URL is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLrpa1ojeKs just for the sake of making sources clear.
*Before we jump in, let me humbly remind you that making fun of a non-native speaker’s errors in grammars and word choice is not cool at all. His English is decent enough for us to understand fully. I’ve added some words in square brackets [ ] to make sure what he says in Japanese is properly conveyed in the translation.
First thing first. The title.
It says “Black Lives Matter Pisses Many Japanese Off.” I am vaguely sure that he meant “Black Lives Matter movements” or “Black Lives Matter protests” but saying that Black Lives Matter pisses someone off sounds very racist. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and move on.
To be clear, [the intention of] this video is NOT like insulting or attacking black people or BLM at all. Actually, it’s also towards Japanese protester, not just foreign ones. That’s why I’m speaking Japanese today.
（*All quotes are from his own English subtitles.）
First of all, let us capitalize the B in “Black.” I’ve made this mistake countless times until only recently, and I thank my friend, Princess, for patiently walking me through why the capitalization of the B was important. Now I know that “black” in all lower case means nothing but the color. So by calling someone “a black person,” you are describing their color like I call my curtain “my green curtain.” That is degrading. But Black people have reclaimed the name as a community and “Black” with the capital B now represents their collective identity, culture, and sadly, their history of oppression. See George M. Johnson’s Mic post, Yes, ‘Black’ is capitalized when we’re talking about race, to read more on this issue.
Okay, so now we got Nobita’s intention. He means no harm to Black people or BLM. But the thing is, this is something that, when we hear it, we immediately get ready for whatever bullshit may come out of their mouth in the same breath. He nails that in just 7 seconds.
As you know, BLM is happening here now and unfortunately, many Japanese got pissed off. This is very rare but some Japanese even sent me emails and asked me like,
“You have many foreign audience, right?”
Please ask them to stop it!”
Some of my Japanese friends or [sic; he means “and”] acquaintances also said the same.
“This is not the right time.”
(*The embedded text on the video is underlined.)
What he means by “many Japanese” is vague. Is it 50% of the population? 80% of the population? Or 20 people with whom he’s friends or acquaintances with? I myself am Japanese and I live in Japan. I have a social life and most of the people around me are Japanese. I don’t even talk politics with them that much. They’re old classmates and people in the neighborhood. And I haven’t heard a single person expressing their anger towards the Black Lives Matter protests. See, “pissed off” is a very strong phrase to use. I wouldn’t be surprised if people were “skeptical” or “having mixed feelings.” Actually, my guess is that most people here don’t care much about the protests or they don’t even know that there were protests in Japan. “Pissed off” Japanese people and BLM supporters are both in their own epistemic bubble if they believe that even 1% of Japanese people are aware of the protests.
So, no. Not many Japanese people are “pissed off.”
As for the timing, I don’t know if Nobita knows this, but “not now” is the anti-social justice cliché that we always hear from bigots. Coincidentally, Nobita and I were both thinking about the timing of the BLM protests around the same time (June 15), and here’s my take on it.
Every social movement, and I mean, every single social movement, gets blamed for a “bad timing.” It’s always too early or too late. (E.g. former comfort women are blamed by Japanese alt-right bigots for not speaking up earlier which bigots attribute to an imagined political campaign.) That’s why we decide on our timings and never let them make that decision.
In fact, if you go see the Japanese internet (the social media/4chan/blogs,etc) [in Japanese, he omits “blogs,etc”], you see a full of angry Japanese complaining about it. Those comments are all written in Japanese so maybe it’s hard for foreigners to notice that but I wish the BLM’s organizers [had] noticed those Japanese opinions [in Japanese, he says “BLM organizers should have been aware of such opinions”].
EPISTEMIC BUBBLE. And 4chan is not a place to go to see public opinion. It’s an alt-right haven.
And how dare he suggest that the organizers lack Japanese proficiency and that they had no idea about Covid-19-related risks. That’s all his imagination. Readers, stay tuned for more of his condescending attitude toward the organizers.
I’m personally not pissed off [he doesn’t say that in Japanese], but I felt like it’s my obligation to tell their message to my audience who might plan to go to BLM.
Toxic fake neutrality. Nobita IS pissed off. He just doesn’t admit it, but pretends to be the messenger, some kind of mediator, when in fact he is completely siding with the bigots whose voices he WANTS to amplify on his platform.
They’re all saying the same thing;
“The BLM protests risk spreading coronavirus in Japan.
It may be more dangerous than police brutality or racism.”
Comparing racism and a pandemic is not gonna cut it when right now we are witnessing what racism in a time of a pandemic looks like. By the way, in excavating that link from the Google sea, I found a sentence in the article that struck me; “Politicians are also concerned the protests may trigger an increase in the spread of COVID-19, so public health experts are providing tips on how to protest safely.” The stark contrast between those public health experts and Nobita’s argument is just… I can’t even.
Especially medical workers or Japanese who refrain from attending a gathering, they are really not happy about it. The timing is quite bad. For this 2 or 3 months, residents here have been working so hard. The state of emergency was over and finally we could go to school/company. The infection cases were dropping down even to 20 or 10 but recently, it got up to nearly 50. For those who don’t know, in Tokyo, for example, (*translates the embedded text into Japanese).
“The request to suspend business will be considered when there are more than 50 positive cases a day.” – Yuriko Koike, Tokyo Gov.
Well, for those who wanted to participate in BLM protests, the timing WAS bad. It was bad for me, too, since I have been extremely busy these past couple of months and I haven’t left my town (and ones adjacent to it) since February. So I do agree that the timing was regrettable for BLM supporters. But I’m sure Nobita gives no fuck about BLM supporters anyway. He only mentioned them to pretend like he cared and were “neutral.”
As for the statistics, Japan’s or Tokyo’s official numbers are questionable at best. We don’t know if the risks have lessened or not because testing remains quite low and the governments arbitrarily choose particular demographics to allow testing (e.g. people in Yoru no machi or red-light districts).
I completely agree that there are risks of contracting and spreading Covid-19 if you go out and about like we used to be able to before the pandemic. But Nobita could have chosen to support the protests AND raise awareness about risks and strategies like the public health experts I mentioned earlier are doing. That, he seems to do later in the video, but remember, he doesn’t actively support BLM in the first place.
Many companies and people’s lives are still in crisis or struggling a lot because of the virus. Currently, Japan has about 900 confirmed deaths from the virus which is quite lower than other developed countries. I don’t think it’s just lucky. The effort and sacrifice so many residents in Japan have been paying may be difficult to see for those BLM protesters. But I hope the organizers should care about those people who are really worrying about spreading virus infection.
Why he keeps assuming that BLM organizers and protesters are stupid, is mystery. They live here (except for few who didn’t happen to be in Japan at the time). They have seen plastic curtains in stores. They have stayed home as much as they could like everyone else. They closed their restaurants. They took classes online. They’re scared. They’re worried. They KNOW.
I haven’t been to any BLM protests, so I’m not really sure how much they’re actually taking virus-measures there. But from the live streams, I saw some of them chatting without masks at close distance or gathering in 1 small spot for a long time. They’re so closing [sic; he means “close”], breathing a lot which seems very high risk. And seeing like that, it’s no wonder many [Japanese people] are upset and asked me to warn about it.
Have you stepped outside your residence at all in the past couple of weeks, Nobita? People are having parties. People are karaoke-ing. More and more people are not wearing sanitary masks. Risky, indeed. Ignorant, maybe. Careless, for sure. But people’s behavior cannot be controlled 100%. Singling out Black Lives Matter protests for blame is a selective choice he and other bigots are making. It’s a choice one can only make if they don’t think Black lives do actually matter.
But I want to make this clear. It does NOT mean Japanese people don’t support BLM or we don’t care about black lives. No one in Japan says like that as far as I know. Actually, it’s kinda opposite. It [the death of George Floyd? BLM in the U.S.? not sure] has been a big news here in Japan too and I see many Japanese sympathizing with black people and agreeing with the intension [sic] and anti-racism action itself. But maybe it’s just not the right time and right way.
If now is not a good time to fight against racism and you care about Black lives, what about you started a BLM protest in Japan, say, 5 years ago? No, you didn’t. You didn’t do that because you do not care about Black lives. Starting a protest is such hard work (and for that exact reason we owe a lot to people like brianna who organized BLM Kansai). So let’s lower the standard. Nobita, have you ever spoken publicly against racism? Have you ever stood up for any Black person being harassed and/or stopped by the police? Have you ever offered emotional support to any Black person who needed it? If you have, well, I hope you continue your action and more. If not, you are not in a position to tell people, especially Black people, what timing is good.
Since BLM is happening all over the world, I understand maybe it’d be unfair if only Japan didn’t follow the movement. So I’d like to suggest the organizers if they’re watching this now. For example, how about protesting by zoom or online? Or maybe dividing into small groups and doing a demo in different locations not gathering in one spot for a long time. Or bringing a lot of masks or hand-sanitizers for those who aren’t so cautious. If those measures were taken, probably that so many residents wouldn’t have been upset. I know it may not be a normal protesting as you want but I think you could still get your message across and raise the awareness in Japan.
Has anybody said anything about unfairness? I don’t think so. Even if someONE has said such a thing, it’s definitely, absolutely not the primary motive behind the protests in Japan. This morning, I was asked on Twitter this question (translation follows):
And I replied:
Now, Nobita says, “I’d like to suggest the organizers if they’re watching this now,” and I have a huge problem with him right here. No, Nobita. It’s pretty obvious that the organizers will never watch a video titled “Black Lives Matter Pisses Many Japanese Off.” BLM protesters and supporters know that bigots hate their activism. They have experiences of hatred directed at them. Your video’s title is screaming, “I’m going to talk shit about what you care about.” And you know what? We know that you know that the organizers won’t take a single look at your video. You’re not talking to them. You’re talking to your bigoted fans.
Online. Small groups. Those are valid suggestions. I do agree with Nobita on the “get the message across” premise. I just wish that he had made those suggestions to the organizers directly before the protests. But “bringing a lot of masks or hand-sanitizers”? Didn’t he say he “[hasn’t] been to any BLM protests” and he’s “not really sure how much [the organizers were] actually taking virus-measures there”? The BLM Kansai, for example, specifically instructed participants to bring masks and gloves.
They also talked with the public officials and police and obtained the permission to accommodate 200+ people under specific conditions e.g. social distancing instructions and the use of umbrellas. Masks, gloves, and protection glasses are mentioned, too.
And they asked people from outside Osaka not to participate. They also said anybody without a sanitary mask on would be escorted out.
So, my response to his statement that “[i]f those measures were taken, probably that so many residents wouldn’t have been upset” is fu*k you.
Again, most Japanese people are not saying BLM itself is a bad idea [in Japanese, he phrases this sentence as “most Japanese people don’t have any problem with the BLM movement itself”]. In fact, a lot of Japanese people also participate in it. But I think the organizers should keep in mind people’s lives in Japan do matter as much as black lives.
It is astonishingly condescending of him to assume the position of a third-party here. As a non-Black person, neither Nobita nor I could possibly judge BLM. We can’t. You don’t go around and pick up some movement that you have no stake in, and say, “hmm, this one is good.” It is not cherry picking, Nobita. It is not about whether you think BLM is good or bad. It’s about whether you think Black lives do matter and act on that belief, or fall on the bigots’ side. If you have health concerns about the protests, talk to the organizers.
And that last sentence doesn’t even make any sense. Black people and other people who went to the protests ARE people in Japan. You’re constructing a false dichotomy here. And to think that it never occurred to the organizers that lives of the people living in Japan like themselves matter? Nobita, you piss me off.
If you still want to do it in Japan, I’d appreciate it if you could do that in safe and considerable [sic; he means “considerate”] way.
No, you wouldn’t appreciate it. You wouldn’t appreciate Black Lives Matter protests no matter when they protest, where they protest, how they protest. You just don’t care.
Edit: @AngryDaenjangny pointed out that behind the BLM protests in Japan was also a recent incident of police brutality against a Kurdish man in Roppongi. Details in the Twitter thread below.
Also, that was not an isolated case of some random violence officer.
Also please remember Japan’s police brutality against Ryukyuans, the indigenous peoples of Ryukyu. They forcefully remove, harass, and stalk peaceful Ryukyuans on a daily basis. pic.twitter.com/MQMJhfeZfi— Robert Kajiwara ｜比嘉孝昌｜ 魏孝昌 🌷🌱😷 (@robkajiwara) June 7, 2020