Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I am very happy that my prediction in my September 27, 2000 letter “Unloved and Unwanted” has been proved false - that in the event of a major disaster in Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara would quickly empower Japanese police and military indiscriminately to sweep up resident foreigners into concentration - excuse me, relocation camps in the name of public order, on the fantastic assumption that foreigners are prone to violence in a disaster. Such was the gist of the graduation speech the Governor delivered to graduating Self Defense Force cadets that year. Perhaps the recent major earthquake here does not count as a “disaster” in the capital, and so we might still have to wait and see the Governor’s disposition on resident foreigners during some future unfortunate event.
The Governor is kind of cute in the way he drops the most xenophobic and racist drivel ever heard from the mouth of a democratically elected official in an educated society with apparent infantile innocence. That kind of cuteness is an acquired taste, like affection for a hairless cat. Still, I am happy to be wrong so far on this point.
On Friday 11th people in my neighborhood were amiable and sympathetic. We all sported surprised expressions on our faces, and spontaneously struck up conversations with strangers like, “How are you? How’s your home?” It demonstrates a deep human need for bonding during periods of emotional stress, I guess, regardless of our nationality. Emergency services were too busy to bother sweeping up the dangerous foreign fifth column who turned out not to represent any threat to public order at all.