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    I’ve packed my bags / I’ve cleaned the floor

    Perhaps if I spent more time reading the WaPo‘s coverage of Japanese culture stuff, I would have known that Anthony Faiola, who was the irritant behind this flip-out of mine a few weeks ago, is a repeat offender. (Is Faiola supposed to be a Japan specialist? I got the impression that he was based in China.) This from Japundit about a more recent example:

    It’s sort of an interesting enough article – Faiola reports that many Japanese women suffer from a stress disorder called RHS due to the unwanted presence of their retired husbands – but it’s hardly news, especially from a reporter who specializes on Japan topics for the Washington Post. And the issue has been reported on in the English language media in Japan for years.

    As well, the entire “love letters and wooing words under pink cherry blossoms” stuff is a little suspect, too. The entire idea of marrying for romantic love is a recent affectation imported from the West. Arranged marriages were the norm for today’s 65-year-old cohort, as were strict ideas about the roles and responsibilities for each partner in the marriage.

    Kind of makes you wish the Post and all the other papers out there could find stringers who actually understand Japan and write stories that dig a little deeper, and go beyond stereotypes.

    That’s the thing that’s so annoying: a lot of these reporters probably have a healthy journalistic skepticism, but if they don’t know anything about Japan, their warning bells don’t go off when they should; they end up swallowing clichés the way a cormorant swallows fish.

    I just looked at one of the WaPo staff pages. Faiola is based in Tokyo. Sheesh. At least his reporting was just dull this time, as opposed to very likely inaccurate.

    2 Responses to “I’ve packed my bags / I’ve cleaned the floor”

    1. Toren says:

      Probably one of those guys who lives in a gaijin enclave, only goes out to Roppongi, and hangs at the Press Club (where they have–I kid you not–franks and beans on the menu).

      When I moved to Japan, I was too poor to hang out with the expats, and frankly, too clueless to even know I could. So I ended up associating mostly with poor Japanese animators, comic artists, SF writers and other such riff-raff.

      I’ve never regretted that.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’ve heard about the Press Club plenty from a few friends, though I was blissfully ignorant of the franks and beans. Japan is a place where it’s hard to break the ice; I really do sympathize with people who, after a few attempts that leave them feeling cold-shouldered, give up and withdraw back into the foreigner-friendly Roppongi/Azabu/Aoyama agglomeration. It’s not as if you never ran into Japanese people there.

      But (you didn’t quite say this explicitly, Toren, but I assume it’s what you meant) journalists are supposed to be figuring out where the real information is. On the evidence of the pieces I’ve seen, anyone with a subscription to the Japan Times, on-line access to the English pages for the major dailies, and a gaisen Japanese girlfriend (since I find his writing about culture unperceptive and devoid of flair, I’m going to assume he’s a hetero–hope that doesn’t offend anyone) could make the observations Faiola does.

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