Political correctness in many parts of the world is often seen as either essential for a sensitive society or simply censorship, whereas in Japan, it invariably appears to play little or no role in vetoing peoples vocabulary, regardless of whether any potential blunders are perceived to be big,
i don’t get it
Does japan have any black people (a somewhat significant number, that is)? It would only be poltically incorrect then.
Otherwise, its just a colour after all.
That’s an issue I wondered myself Hades, and I generally try not to judge such things by western (or in my case specifically British) sensibilities, that’s why I was especially cautious with my language, with the use of ‘potential’ and ‘perceived’.
In fact, it was actually my parents who spotted it on a recent trip over here, and seeing their reaction made it seem worthwhile posting. Even if that does tend to contradict what I just wrote…
Although English is taught in schools, it is also willfully ignored, rendering English statements – politically incorrect or otherwise – more like background noise than anything. The only significance this statement has is to whoever dreamed it up. It’s been my experience that, upon questioning an individual like that, you might get such a surprising answer (i.e. full of logical gymnastics, hopelessly naive, or cryptically personal) as to render the real intention inert. Japanese people seem quite aloof even of the English on the clothes that they are wearing (i.e. “Why are you wearing a shirt that says ‘Brain’ on it?” “Oh, does my shirt say ‘Brain’ on it? I never realized…”). English in Japan tends to be more decorative than anything, much to the dismay of educators of all backgrounds. The language of Japan is Japanese, and in my experience the attitude seems to be that public English in Japan is as significant as public Japanese would be in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, or wherever. If Canadians were exposed to random politically incorrect statement in Japanese on the street in Toronto, would they care? Of course, it could be a direct attack against those very dark-skinned foreigners who would be able to read it, but it seems more likely to me that it’s a bit of nonsense.
And then there are incidents like the one described here: http://www.kingbaeksu.com/bbs/view.php?id=bug&page=1&sn1=&divpage=1&sn=off&ss=on&sc=on&select_arrange=headnum&desc=asc&no=1489
The picture here is of a similar situation, with writing in Korean. Without reading the caption, can you guess what it might say?
Then again, even if you do read the caption… you have to take the word of the person who’s translation. Devilish.