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Japan: Verbal gaffs and Japanese politics

Blogger Ken writes about verbal gaffs in Japanese politics [ja]. Ken uses the example of a recent statement by Minister Nariaki Nakayama, which the blogger says became a gaff because Nakayama offended both the teachers union and citizen groups opposing expansion of Narita Airport. Ken argues that verbal gaffs are characterized by being value judgments and not factual statements, as in Nakayama's statement about Japan being “ethnically homogeneous”, which came on the heels of the Ainu being recognized as an indigenous people, and thus was not taken as a fact but as a personal criticism.

2 comments

  • RMilner

    The statement that Japan is ethnically homogeneous is a factual statement, though it is incorrect.

    The interesting question is whether it was a gaffe betraying the speaker’s belief that Japan ought to be an ethnically homogeneous country.

  • I agree that it is a statement of fact, but I think the bloggers point was that it was interpreted as a value judgment because it came right after the Ainu being recognized.

    Here is the passage in question:

    「では、「単一民族」発言はどうなのか、と問われるだろう。
    この場合は、つい先日「先住民族決議」が可決されたことを受けて、「日本は多民族国家」であるという「事実」が確立しており、「単一民族」は中山君一個人の価値観という解釈になる。」

    The post is quite long so I could only pick out a couple points, I hope I haven’t misrepresented the blogger’s position.

    “The interesting question is whether it was a gaffe betraying the speaker’s belief that Japan ought to be an ethnically homogeneous country.”

    There’s only one person who can answer that, and I doubt that he will.

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