Comment on a Colonialistic View of Moral and Integrity in Japanese Language and Society: A Reply to James F./ガメ・オベール







「他言語を学ばなくてもいい日」は来ない。言語と機械翻訳を改めて考えてみる | 人間編


「James F./ガメ・オベール氏の投稿への批判の追記」

There is this blog written by James F. I started reading his blog time to time since I was a high schooler. He writes about Japan from an interesting perspective. I liked that.

Very recently I got to know that his blog will become a book, and I was excited.

But then he posted a new article on his blog titled "To my young Japanese friends whom I haven’t met yet,". Which I've read and thought outrageous. My wife also read it and thought outrageous. So we wrote a series of comments on his Twitter account (which sadly lead him to block my account).


Thank you for your latest post. Me and my Finnish linguist wife had a very interesting discussion. 

We wholeheartedly disagree on the Japanese not surviving. That's nothing to do with the lack of the word integrity. (By the way, Finnish also does not have the word: you are not saying that all languages without that one word are going to cease to exist? Quite English centered world view.)

In my opinion, lack of integrity is not a problem. Lack of integrity makes the language-culture more adaptive to the situation. At the same time, I agree that the personal integrity can be easily melt into the context of the situation.

Moral is not integrity. Japan has moral. Your understanding of moral is not the one and only. Japan has its moral and you saw people acting according to it.

Probably Japan sees many other language speakers in Japan more selfish because a strong personal integrity is considered lacking  moral in Japanese society. In that sense, Japanese language-culture has stronger integrity in that.

I take it so you've seen this pregnant woman not getting a seat on trains in Japan many times and on the other hand rarely in England or USA. But are you certain that in English speaking countries people are giving the seat out of some High Moral of God, or could it be actually very similar human mind working as in Japan? In Japan, a rush hour train full of salarymen and one pregnant women, there is no social pressure to give the seat: the sitting men are tired and not judging each other of not letting the seat. Maybe they would if their mom was sitting next to them, but not in this situation. But maybe in England there are more certainly people who will say something to those who are not letting the seat. And more people who want to impress someone by doing a good deed. So yes, giving a seat to a pregnant woman is not considered a good deed enough in Japan and Japan could do better and try to educate the masses to judge each other of not letting the seat to the pregnant woman, but you cannot judge a whole society to be moral-less because of that. 

The concept you call "common decency" is not only achieved by integrity nor moral, it can be reached by hypocrisy.

I think you're view of point in this text is extremely imperialistic: you are basically saying that only the moral of a "white Christian man" is Moral and others don't have it because they don't have the word that you use to describe morality. 

Source: To my young Japanese friends whom I haven’t met yet,