Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Susan McCaffery has been taking quite a beating in the Readers in Council page for her July 13 letter “Misfit foreigners in Japan.” It’s unfortunate because, really, she has hit the nail right on the ead. Her mistake is in casting being a misfit as a negative attribute rather than something to revel in. Perhaps it is a further mistake to try and apply this observation of our being misfits to the matter of Japanese reticence in renting to foreigners, because the two seem somewhat unrelated. She would have done well to separate the two, and not let her views be case in the context of the first two letters written by Dean Farms (“Foreigners make nasty tenants.” July 2) and Mark Thompson (“Good reason for rejecting foreigners,” June 25).
Billy Woolfolk (“More rent discrimination woes,” July 30) advises McCaffery to “find the moral courage to understand” the injustice of racial discrimination when race was not the point of her original letter. The point was being misfits. cCaffery’s willingness to speak up seems to demonstrate plenty of moral courage, as well as honesty and accuracy. I would recommend Woolfolk find some moral courage of his own.
McCaffery’s detractors seem more concerned with the propriety of her remarks and the extreme positions that her remarks can support than with the accuracy of her remarks. Her observation is accurate, and we should revel in it rather than run from it.
Published on Sunday, August 3, 1997 as “Revel in being a misfit.”
I thought of Susan McCaffery again in August 2009 when I read Satsuo Matsumoto’s letter “Left keeps trying to disgrace Japan”(Thursday, August 9, 2009). In that letter, proposing historical revisionism, the writer accused readers of The Japan Times as being “retarded aliens.” He did not identify foreigners as the readers of the paper that he was calling retarded aliens, and in fact the majority of readers of The Japan Times are Japanese, not foreigners. But the phrase struck me as akin to the “Misfit foreigners in Japan.” The 2009 writer Matsumoto complained about the misfit ideas of people who blame Japan for starting the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific. So that could include all the Japanese readers as well as the foreign readers, but it is easy for me to imagine Matsumoto thinking of foreigners as the most likely “retarded aliens.”