Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ask a Korean! News: Rumors Begin to Spread in Japan

Well, it would be strange if a society was totally immune to crazy rumors in the wake of a disaster in a historical scale. According to Asahi Shimbun (via Dong-A Ilbo,) around northeastern Japan rumors such as "there is a group of foreigner thieves," "there are more rape cases," etc. are spreading.

The zainichi community -- Korean-Japanese people who are mostly the holdovers from the colonial era -- is apparently getting somewhat nervous, as they clearly remember the Kanto massacre. In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in 1923, false rumors spread that Koreans were poisoning the well in a plot to kill Japanese. Vigilante mob violence broke out, which killed numerous Koreans living in Japan -- estimates run as high as 6600 Koreans dead. According to the Dong-A Ilbo article, some parts of the Japanese Internet are starting to blame Korean-Japanese or Chinese-Japanese communities for the perceived lawlessness.

The world is admiring Japan for its calm and orderly response to this unimaginable disaster. Let us hope that Japan can keep it up.

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  1. I wonder how these rumors even get started ...

  2. I'm nipo-brasilian, have some relatives there in JP.
    I think that Asahi article was written with japanese readers in mind, to remind them of their own history.
    Let's remember the fact that 1923 was imperial Japan, very different from post-60s Japan.
    I think the "right-wing" in Japan is much smaller than the noise they make.
    IMHO, I don't see mob violence against foreigners occurring nowadays.

  3. It is always those darn not-like-us people doing all those rapes and poisonings all those criminal miss deeds isn't it?

  4. Interesting. Most Koreans seem to be dismissing such rumours as something that's exclusive to large Japanese online communities such as 2ch or Yahoo Japan - nothing to be taken seriously (this is not to ignore the historical context, as mentioned in this blog post), in the same way people don't treat 4chan or YouTube comments seriously on the English-language online world.

    Can anyone who's familiar with Japan shed more light on this aspect?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I would take these stories with a grain of salt. I was in Tokyo for 10 days after the earthquake and I was amused with all the news stories in the Western media. Stories of wide-spread panic, food shortages, bottled water shortages, foreigners fleeing Tokyo, etc. The fact was I didn't see any of that. Restaurants were open, food and bottled water were in ample supply, and plenty of expats on the streets of Azabu.

    As for stories of foreign thieves raping and pillaging. I am rather dubious. I would really like to see a link to the Asahi Shimbun (or any other major Japanese news outlet) giving credence to this story.

  7. Digirati//

    Here you go.


    Hopefully that is the case. I was disgusted by the comments I saw on yahoo article about Korea sending rescue teams and water bottles. Not a single comment was positive, just filled with egregious ridicule, xenophobic slur, and downright hatred against Koreans, those living in Korea or otherwise.

  8. I made a mistake here.

  9. Hrm, I haven't heard any ridiculous rumors on TV here in Tokyo.
    But maybe that's because the Japanese media doesn't even bother giving us REAL news/information let alone bogus stuff.

    I'm so sick of seeing the same AC Japan commercials on repeat every commercial break. "Say Hello and Thank You, unplug your appliances to save electricity and stop buying up all the water and toilet tissue."

    The only news is a 30 second warning before most of the constant earthquakes.

    I don't know where you were in Tokyo... but I live in Shinjuku, one of the main centers of the city, which is more provided than most areas, and there STILL isn't any bottled water in stores.

    We live near Korea town tho, so we were able to find small bottles of seoksu to buy.

    One day they say that the water isn’t safe for consumption due to raised levels of radioactive iodine, and they distribute bottles of water to all families with infants, and then the very next day they get on TV and drink tap water with a grim face, saying Yum! It’s so safe today! But uh, radioactive iodine has a half life of 8 days…

    At first I thought Japanese ppl were very commendable for not panicing after the mag. 9 quake. It took me 7 hours to get home instead of 30 mins b/c there were no trains and you couldn’t drive b/c traffic was at a standstill. From that day and from then until about 2 weeks later, the convenience stores and supermarket shelves were bare of food and drinks. But no one really complained, everyone just stood in line quietly and took their turns to try and find something to eat. At least there was beer.

    However, now I think that the Japanese public are just sheep. News in English says how enduring and accepting Japanese ppl r, but Japanese ppl say that they’ve just given up. The economy was just starting to pick up after the collapse of the Lehman brothers, and now this triple disaster comes along and there goes the future.

    And yeah, lots of non-Japanese fled right after the disaster. Germany had a recall on citizens living as far out as Tokyo. My boyfriend’s company manages dormitories for Korean exchange students, and over 90% of them evacuated, so all the dorms r empty. I would totally have gotten out too if I didn’t have a full-time job. Who wants to die in a foreign country? Especially one that originally refused to accept help from other countries because they were too proud. And let’s not even get into how they slapped Korea in the face, after Korea donated millions of dollars and supplies, by making new textbooks claiming Dokdo as Japanese territory that Koreans were illegally inhabiting.

    If Japan is going to boost up their xenophobia in the wake of the disasters, I’m not going to be worried, cause the only thing moving and shaking in this country is the ground.


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