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3/11 and the “ Flyjin”phenomenon ARUDOU Debito Affiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii Download this presentation at / f lyjin 032012 .pptx. 3/11/12 Great East Japan EQ. Ca.16K dead, 27K injured, 3K missing from tsunami. Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters.

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3/11/12 Great East Japan EQ

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3/11 and the “Flyjin”phenomenonARUDOU DebitoAffiliate Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu, HawaiiDownload this presentation at

3 11 12 great east japan eq
3/11/12Great East Japan EQ

Ca.16K dead, 27K injured, 3K missing from tsunami

Fukushima nuclear power plant disasters

nj wags coin flyjin on twitter
NJ wags coin “Flyjin” on Twitter
  • (Also“Bye-jin”) a corruption of gaijin (the more racist epithet for “foreigner”) (Hoofin blog 4/2).
  • also set up to depict NJ as panicky, overreacting to flawed overseas media depictions of disaster.
  • Self-deprecating humor soon escalates beyond sarcasm and irony into media epithet.
flyjin fallout hits j media
Flyjin Fallout hits J media
  • Wall Street Journal 3/23 reports in E and J of “fly-jin exodus”, blames NJ culture of “allegiance” of NJ to family 1st, company 2nd.
  • Although not called “Flyjin” in vernacular (e.g., Nikkei 4/9: nihon o sarugaikokurōdōsha), NJ reported as fleeing Japan.
  • NJ portrayed as deserting their work stations (Zakzak 4/15: affecting fast-food restaurant chain Yoshinoya’s profitability?, conjectured)
media frenzy builds
Media frenzy builds
  • Asahi’s influential Tensei Jingo column 3/20 has tone of betrayal: NJ (tourists, business travelers, students, diplomats) “scrambled” abroad, concludes “rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but Japanese”.
  • NikkanGendai headline 4/11: “All NJ have fled Japan”. SPA! 4/12: “Bad NJ” (Asians, Arabs, Africans) massing in Ueno where NPA, Yakuza “order-keeping ability” is weak.
open season on nj begins
Open season on NJ begins
  • Mainichi Shimbun 4/25: Factories crippled by shortage of NJ workers, conjectures that Yokohama Chinatown and entire J textile industry could suffer “serious damage”, if not “fall apart”.
  • Tokyo Sports Shimbun 4/14 blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ; says can’t run the facility without NJ dancers in parades (TDL reopens 4/15).
the media wave crests
The media wave crests
  • Asahi 3/26: Rumors swirl about “NJ criminal gangs” carrying out muggings, lootings, rapes. Yet Sankei 4/1 reports no cases.
  • 4/7: GOJ unusually intervenes to quash internet rumors, avoid debacle of 1923 Kantō earthquake’s mass murder of 100s of Koreans/Chinese etc. due to rumors of well poisonings, rebellion, sabotage.
restoring sanity
Restoring sanity
  • Shingetsu News Agency 4/13: NPA, ministries establish task force, notify media (including net providers) to erase, inter alia:
  • Descriptions of EQ as man-made (3/17)
  • Claims of EQ caused by NJ terrorism (3/28)

(Critics decry this as censorship, as means to keep information on TEPCO and GOJ from public, avoiding responsibility for disaster.)

what was drowned out by the nj blame game
What was drowned out by the NJ blame game
  • More domestic reportage on what NJ were doing to help out in disaster areas.
  • Figures on/critique of J “flyjin”, who were also fleeing potential disaster areas (Sankei 3/19).
  • Other issues of discrimination, such as J fleeing from disaster areas being refused at hotels (Yomiuri 3/18, 4/9).
  • More accurate info re facts on the ground.
  • 3/14 Tokyo Gov. Ishihara calls tsunami “divine punishment” (tenbatsu) to wash away Japan’s identity as “greed”, then retracts; still gets reelected to 4th term on 4/10.
  • Unexamined was Ishihara’s claim on 4/9/00 (the “sangokujin speech”) that “bad NJ” committing “heinous crimes” would riot in the event of a natural disaster, proposes JSDF round them up. Clearly didn’t happen.
  • Also running in Ishihara’s 4/10/11 election was overt xenophobic candidate Furukawa Keigo, whose policy stump included:
  • “Safeguard the capital, safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.”
  • “Expel the foreign barbarians” (i.e., Chinese and Koreans) from Tokyo, etc.
  • Furukawa still garners 6000 votes.
the unexamined life nj population drop in flyjins wake
The unexamined life: NJ population drop in Flyjins’ wake

Source: Ministry of Justice, at

the unexamined life 2 raw stats for nj population
The unexamined life (2)Raw stats for NJ population

Source: Ministry of Justice, at

the unexamined life 3 nj crime keeps falling
The unexamined life (3):NJ crime keeps falling

Source: National Police Agency,

the unexamined life 4 every nj crime significantly down
The unexamined life (4):Every NJ crime significantly down

Source: National Police Agency,

the unexamined life 5
The unexamined life (5)
  • Irony: J workers, companies fleeing during Bangkok’s October 2011 floods, even bringing 6-month Thai workers to Japan.
  • Why blame NJ for a crisis created by domestic negligence? Because disenfranchised NJ are easy distraction, or as “Flyjin”, a scapegoat.
  • Still little to no J media or official acknow-ledgement of the good things that NJ do and have done for Japan’s economy and society.
conclusion beware dodgy journalism misleading public
Conclusion: Beware dodgy journalism misleading public
  • Cherry-picking data (e.g., Small-size or narrow-sample sources).
  • Using aggregate numbers that are inapplicable to regional/local numbers.
  • Not comparing with J in same position.
  • Using linguistic hedgers like “…to mirareru”, “…sō da”, “there are cases of…” etc.
  • Falling for hegemonic discourse of J as victims and NJ as disloyal, criminals, unreliable etc.
more on this and other issues www debito org
More on this and other

ISBN 4 7503 9018 6 English version, Japanese version ISBN 4 7503 9001 9

more on this and other issues www debito org1
More on this and other

ISBN 978 1 257 02640 1

English and Japanese ISBN 4 7503 2741 9




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