So this is what the Japanese think of us.
February 25, 2001 6:59 PM   Subscribe

So this is what the Japanese think of us. We already know what the Russians think. After the sub incident, they don't seem to like the US too much over in Japan, either.
posted by andrewraff (20 comments total)
I think it's a shame that "the Japanese" (as article author Stephen Horowitz refers to the Japanese people he has spoken to) are lumping together Americans and the American military. I'm not going to start bashing soldiers now, but I still don't feel that I have enough in common with the average military man to be adequately represented by one.
posted by Eamon at 7:22 PM on February 25, 2001

Horowitz makes some good points.

Compensation and a deep apology are needed, along with concessions on bases in Okinawa.

Marine thugs should be turned over to the prefectural police when they break the law, it's time America let 18 year-old alcoholic killers (Made by the Armed Forces, no less) act without fear of real consequences...
posted by Capn_Stuby at 7:47 PM on February 25, 2001

Japanese soldiers weren't known for their manners, back in the day.
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 8:24 PM on February 25, 2001

Of course Japanese people feel offended. It took days for the US to take the matter seriously. But if you think Japanese people are pissed with the US you should hear the dissing Japan's government is taking. It is even possible the Prime Minister could fall over this (although he has been working hard at making himself unwanted for a very long time....). If you want more info Japan Today ( has most of this issue covered.
posted by edjapan at 8:39 PM on February 25, 2001

I think the reaction is rather more complex than even Horowitz lets on. The families of the Ehime Maru victims were unsatisfied with the general letter of apology that Capt. Waddell issued through his lawyer, but they weren't demonizing him -- they were demanding that he apologize to the families in person.* That, to me, sounds much more like the reaction of a civilian class to a common military class: in other words, that they see themselves as part of the same larger society as Americans and are having a reaction similar to that which American civilians in the same situation would have.

The Navy has been egregiously ham-handed in its handling of this incident, with fact trickling out day by day, continually undercutting whatever firm ground that had been established the day before by Navy spokesmen. Americans have only had one ear to the ground on this and haven't necessarily seen how bad it is.

In relation to this, I'm more than a little worried that part of the fallout here will be fewer civilian tours of military assets. Yes, I mean fewer. One of the hallmarks of American democracy has been the openness of our military institutions to civilian oversight, and particularly in the half-century since WWII, broad levels of civilian experience and family connections to the military. As the Cold War permanent standing army recedes, fewer Americans will be in that class and the military will increasingly become an insular subculture with different goals and philosophies. (See American Beauty if you doubt this.)

* I actually see this as another example of the indulgence of a grief culture: What should it matter, the manner of the apology? The lives cannot be returned.
posted by dhartung at 8:40 PM on February 25, 2001

I think it's a shame that "the Japanese" are lumping together Americans and the American military.

Kind of like how American's lumped the Japanese and their car companies together in the late 80s? I agree that the lumping together is bad, but it's an easy thing to do when you're only contact with a country is through its military or its corporations.

edjapan is right. My japanese mother-in-law told me that Prime Minister Mori was playing golf at the time he received news of the incident. He issued a few orders, and went back to his game. The Japanese people took this very badly, seeming to think that he was not taking the situation seriously. Later, it came out that the crooked owners of the same golf course made large illegal contributions to Mori and other officials... But, corruption such as this is hardly news in Japan.
posted by Neb at 8:44 PM on February 25, 2001

I actually see this as another example of the indulgence of a grief culture: What should it matter, the manner of the apology? The lives cannot be returned.

dhartung, while i agree that the lives cannot be returned through an apology, you perhaps are not familiar with just how important apologies are in japan. The "manner of the apology" is incredibly important here, as it indicates the sincerity of the offender and the severity of the trespass. This has been pretty much a constant in the Sino-American relationship since the Occupation; the US Military makes a mistake, but then goes and makes it infinitely worse via the obtuse, ham-handed manner in which they handle the apology.

I won't get into the Japanese government's own dificulty with apologies. They still don't like anyone to infer they owe anyone an apology for the actions of the Imperial Army.

One last thing: Capn Stuby, are you absolutely certain you want foreign powers taking American soldiers into custody? There's a reason we have MPs... it's the same reason the US government fights the idea of United Nations War Crimes council - who would willing put its military up to judgement by potentially hostile nations?

[And if you're wondering why Japanese crime is so low, you should know that you can be held without a charge for up to 72 hours here, during which time its not uncommon for people to be mistreated. The fact that over 70% of arrests lead to convictions based on "confessions" is something Amnesty International is very interested in. You want one of our well-armed farmboys failing prey to a system like that?]
posted by gangcandy at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2001

Tell you what Andrew most of the foreign countries dont like the US for many of reasons. Reasons that i couldnt care less. Right now im stationed in Germany and ive taken some trips to Regensburg. Man whoever said that German chics were sluts for an American soldier dont know thier asses from a hole in the ground. Whether it would be becuse of history or most of the fact is they just dont wanna try to speak in English. Most can they just dont wanna deal with it. What it really boils down to is jealousy. If youve been to Europe you'd agree that its a good place to visit but n ot to live. Dealing with currency exchange, different road rules, different laws, the climate of course, and the culture that people possess in different parts of Europe are far fetched to us Americans. Any questions about Germany gimme a holla email me at
posted by pfc_washburn at 12:28 AM on February 26, 2001

I live in Europe, and I quite like it thank you very much.

To me Washburn's attitude seems so typical of Americans in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. Europe is not one country - and it certainly isn't the USA (hence the currency exchange, road rules, laws, climate, culture).

I'm sure most average people wouldn't find the idea of different cultures, languages and traditions "far fetched".

I'm not surprised that "German chics" (sic) aren't "sluts for an American soldier", if this is the attitude you have towards them. All of the Germans I know are friendly and 90% of them speak good English.

Perhaps they just don't want to talk to you.
posted by blastboy at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2001

Marine thugs should be turned over to the prefectural police when they break the law, it's time America let 18 year-old alcoholic killers (Made by the Armed Forces, no less) act without fear of real consequences...

< sarcasm >Tell us how you really feel. < /sarcasm >

Alcoholic killer thugs eh? Typical stereo-typing by someone who has no idea what they are talking about.

But you are probably one of those people who think we don't need a military and should just hug and kiss everyone else in the world.

Yes, the Japanese people are pissed. And yes, they have every right to be. America does manipulate its relationship with Japan, and that is a shame.

But I would rather see these people accused of crimes go before a Military jury then have to face the Japanese. Why? Because the Japanese can be a lenient people. If apologetic enough and sincere, a person found guilty of a serious crime in Japan will more likely receive a less harsh sentence then one handed down by a military court.

And Stuby, I don't think it is "...time America let 18 year-old alcoholic killers (Made by the Armed Forces, no less)act without fear of real consequences..."

It's time to stop letting 18 year old MILITARY personel act withoug fear of consequences.

But since I doubt you have ever served in the military, I doubt you know what type of consequences people in the Military face...
posted by da5id at 5:39 AM on February 26, 2001

Man, Washburn you talk like the PFC you are... young, dumb, and full of cum...

I have been to Europe, I have lived in Europe. I have dated German women. I find them to be more intelligent and classy then most american women.

I enjoyed my time overseas. I lived in Greece and Italy. Let me tell ya... Those are 2 countries whose cultures are VERY different from one another. I enjoyed each of them.
It isn't up to the people of those countries to adjust to YOU the american. It's up to YOU to adjust your ways, attitudes, and actions to them. You are a guest in that country. Just because we have a base there doesn't give you the right to go out and act all dumb and stupid, and reinforce the negative stereotypes that a lot of people already have about Americans.

Show some class. Learn about the country, the people, the culture. Treat the people with respect and show their country some respect, and that respect will be returned.
posted by da5id at 5:47 AM on February 26, 2001

If I were in Europe, I'd pretend I didn't speak English just to avoid people like Washburn. Nein, nein, ich spreche kein Englisch. Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Nein? Auf Wiedersehen!
posted by dagnyscott at 6:14 AM on February 26, 2001

it's the same reason the US government fights the idea of United Nations War Crimes council

You think it's good that your government doesn't want to be constrained from committing war crimes?
posted by Mocata at 7:31 AM on February 26, 2001

I'm an American, and I'm deeply, deeply ashamed of my country's military right now, specifically everything related to the whole Ehime Maru tragedy. It makes me sick to think of it - I wish I could completely dissolve all connections, real or imagined, between myself and those whose attitudes, behaviors, and lack of responsibility led to this disaster.

I recognize the need for my country to have armed forces capable of adequate defense. This in no way means that we have to let hideous monstrosities such as this continue to happen.

I want to see accountability - who was truly responsible, and what were the decisions that led up to the accident? How can we (both the world and the American public) be reassured that nothing like this will ever happen again?

And I want to see the people directly involved issue in-person sincere apologies to the families of those who were injured and lost to the sea.

It makes me doubly sick to know that this happened with hotshot well-connected rich civilians on the sub, interfering with normal, safe operations.

What a load of crap. That's not part of my idea of America. I'm so ashamed that this is typical of the way things are run nowadays, and there seems so little impetus to change things in a direction of more responsibility and less bowing down to anyone with money.

And one more thing - members of the U.S. armed forces who cannot behave themselves off base should remain confined to their bases for the duration of their tours. No one would tolerate another country's soldiers behaving as abominably on *our* soil with *our* teenage girls.

I'm still seething over this. I'd better stop writing about it now, or I'll be at it all day.
posted by beth at 9:33 AM on February 26, 2001

I just wanted to add one more thing: part of being a decent human being, in my estimation, is apologizing for something even when it may not have been entirely 100% your fault.

But then again, I am nuts.
posted by beth at 9:36 AM on February 26, 2001

And you wonder where the idea of the ugly American comes from. While "Most [Europeans] can they just dont wanna [speak English]," how many Americans speak German, French (or any of the other European languages.) Fewer Americans speak a second language than in any other country. It's this "head in the sand" attitude that could come back and bite us in the next century, as we remain arrogrant about our "superiority" here in the US as the rest of the world comes to despise it...
posted by andrewraff at 10:07 AM on February 26, 2001

I was full of piss and/or vinegar at the time, sorry for the vitriol and sething sarcasm...

I have been a military brat all of my life, and my father (an officer) made sure I knew how to handle myself. I also knew that military folks got some bad juju in the UCMJ if they messed up. I then learned that loyalties and politics can corrupt justice in the military just like in civilian life, so that the best thing in any case was to be self-disciplined. The Marines that were arrested demonstrated little self-discipline, odd since it's at the core of the Corps.

Self-discipline is what the military attempts to instill in its recruits, but it often fails because the recruit has nothing in which to take pride except for the killing power or rank that he is given. The illusion of power (guns and strength) make the soldier more likely to break laws in countries where he KNOWS that Uncle Sugar will take good care of him. He wants some Japanese schoolgirl, who can stop him? The Japanese can't. I can see where it would be bad to turn them over completely, seeing as how kangaroo courts are fairly common in some parts of the world...On second thought, a council from the local government that was present at a capital crimes trial would be of great value. I'm not saying that Marines should be handed over to the Jap police (where you can be held for 2 WEEKS for "observation," and usually you can act apologetic and they'll go easier on you), but that the Japanese should have a say in demanding a personal apology and be informed of the punishments. As was stated above, if Japanese troops were here and did what we do over there, then they'd all be lynched and bombed back to Amaterasu by hordes of angry civilians.
posted by Capn_Stuby at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2001

And 90% of what I say are generalizations, hyperboles and random senseless nignogs. Like everyone here, I'm just spouting off and enjoying the privilege of expressing opinions, even if I'm so lazy that sometimes I truncate my statements until they mean something I don't want them to.

So take everything I say with a stiff shot of bourbon, dig?
posted by Capn_Stuby at 11:09 AM on February 26, 2001

Like truncating Japanese to "Jap"?
posted by sudama at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2001

I can call my people "Jap" if I want. I could easily call them "Nihonjin" or sometimes I call them "sushi-eatin' foolz".

Jap is not offensive at all to me or any Japanese people I know. Nip is more offensive, so I guess I'll be using that.
posted by Capn_Stuby at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2001

« Older "Blogging" makes Newsweek.   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments