There is this rather odd-sounding word in Japanese, “jun-Japa”, which is quite widely used in younger generations in Japan. This word is originally an abbreviation of “Junsui-na Japanese”, which literally means “a pure Japanese” or “genuine Japanese”. You might roll your eyes and immediately get a sense that this word, created maybe out of some petty national pride or outright xenophobia, should probably refer to a Japanese of Japanese descents all along. The actual definition is, though, a little more complicated and can be quite confusing, especially when you know the implications of the word.
My name is Taishi Ito, I’m working for Institute for International Strategy and Information Analysis (IISIA) located in Tokyo, Japan, and I basically fall into this category of “jun-Japa”. This is because I meet the requirements of “being Japanese” and “never having lived abroad”, and people tend to, yes, compliment me for that.
So, as you might be wondering, or possibly horrified, does it mean people believe that living outside of Japan “contaminates the Japanese blood” and so better be avoided? Please feel reassured, this is not the case. I get such compliments because I can speak English despite not having studied abroad, not because of the “purity” of my pedigree by any means.
As my example indicates, the word “jun-Japa” is often used in the context where people say someone’s English is pretty good EVEN THOUGH they have not studied abroad, or people acclaim themselves for their linguistic ability DESPITE having no long-term experience outside Japan. We are tempted to distinguish these people because English is extremely hard for us to master, and having lived in English-speaking countries is obviously a huge benefit in this regard.
I’m not here bragging about this trait. After all, I do not have a long-term experience outside Japan indeed, but I do have quite a lot of experience working with people around the world using English and some other languages, and such definition hardly matters for me. But because my current mission at the institute is to achieve “Pax Japonica”, which I will inevitably describe in later posts, my standpoint should be something to consider.
Please stay tuned for what this Japanese has to say about the world through his views, which can be “pure”, perhaps more like “naive” at times, slightly biased or impressively neutral because of his background. See you all again soon.