As a post-scriptum to my previous post, commenting on the difficulty encountered by the condition of ‘otherness’ of the foreign scholar operating within the Japanese field, I wanted to share something that popped up on my laptop screen right after I closed the WordPress window.
It’s an anti-virus advertisement showing up when visiting websites hosted outside Japan. The heading reads: ‘Hey you, browsing foreign websties! Have you taken the appropriate security measures?’ while the worried girl, depicted in the typical bikkuri pose (a mixture of surprise and innocence) is thinking ‘Really? Are foreign websites that dangerous?’
The ad campaign is founded on the Japanese stereotype of the ‘world beyond the seas’ (kaigai) as receptacle of impurities. The risk of visiting the alien territory is obviously that of contracting some unknown disease. I know for sure that Japan pullulates with indigenous internet crap (spam, viruses, malware of all sorts) and it was explained to me that one of the reasons why Japanese people of all ages have such ridiculously long mobile email addresses (ie sl33py-OxOfirstname.lastname@example.org) is to prevent spam attacks. Nonetheless, advertising the risk of not being ready to face the unknown dangers of the outside world is certainly a great way to convince users to purchase an anti-virus and feel safe, who will nod at each other on the dangers of something they ignore, and, I am afraid, will continue to ignore for a long time. Sure, Japan is not the only ‘xenophobe’ (excuse my language) country in the world, but they way it does it is so, so peculiar.