Monday 7 October 2013

Nope, sorry...

Still not getting it.

Further to the continuing contretemps over the cartoons, this letter was published in the Japan Times a little over a week ago, and I’m afraid I’m still no wiser as to exactly what it’s talking about. Judging from the correspondent’s name, I’m guessing they’re a Japanese national and thus writing in (or, going by that massive bit of exposition in the square brackets, have been translated into) their second language. That’s not the problem. The sentences and clauses seem fairly grammatical, but I’ve very little idea how they’re actually meant to relate to each other. It’s not the language, it’s the ideas; there does, for example, appear to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of ‘satire’.

As far as I can make out, the message appears to be, “Don’t take the piss ‘cos you’re just jealous, oh, and peace!” Would that be unfair?

Regarding the Sept. 14 Bloomberg article “Japan to protest Olympic cartoons” (carried by French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine): The article makes some of the differences between Japanese and French society quite apparent.

We know that satirical cartoons use humor to show faults or weaknesses. But some of us cannot admit that the [published cartoons poking fun at Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster] are worthwhile.

Satire should either elicit our admiration or please us. We expect the newspaper editors to be sympathetic to our concerns irrespective of individual preferences and the social circumstances. I’m sorry that we find insolence, instead of a high degree of excellence displayed in the satire.

Yet, we are ready to accept illustrations that express general envy of our well-ordered society. Our own ideals match our aspirations and talents; however, without self-respect and respect of others, nothing may seem worth doing.

The rivalry for hosting the Olympics likely aroused particularly strong feelings of envy. Still, the Olympics is a festival for people who believe in peace.


  1. "Yet, we are ready to accept illustrations that express general envy of our well-ordered society."

    I'm sorry.....what?
    Caesar? Is this a line he spoke to the germanic hordes??

    1. Nice. And also makes the point that this letter might have well have been in Latin, for all the difference it would make in understanding it.

      "...we are ready to accept..."

      How very magnanimous of you, Ms Fujita.

  2. Why do the Japanese care about a crappy cartoon in a French newspaper?

    Are they embarrassed about the dog's dinner they made of the Fukushima reactors?

    1. Bad at taking criticism in general, as a nation. I think it's part of the 'small country' mythos they've built up, so it always feel like people are punching down to Japan, whereas the reality is very different.

  3. didn't just read that. Forgive me. I shouldn't be laughing (should I?). Wait...let me read that again.

    It may not be related, but the image of a dominatrix 'practicing medicine' comes to mind. Funny the brain works.

    Thank you.

    1. I think laughter would be one of the few wholly comprehensible responses to this, with or without the Yoda-speak :)