Sun, Apr 24, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Stop anti-Japanese displays

By Mark Wolfe

Watching the recent racist demonstrations in China targeting the Japanese, you may think that this is some particular phenomenon only seen in China.

Think again. Anti-Japanese sentiment is alive and well in Taiwan, although not as visible. Ask any Japanese who lives and works here and you will hear a clearly disturbing pattern of intimidation and aggression.

One good friend told me that last week she and a friend were on the MRT chatting in Japanese when a Taiwanese man, after staring them down for some minutes, jumped to his feet and cursed at them and told them to shut up. Oddly, his tirade was in Japanese.

Another Japanese woman recalled that at a recent lunch with other Japanese, an elderly Taiwanese couple sitting at the next table had the audacity to interrupt her meal to berate her and her country.

Yet another incident involved a female student at a well-known university here. The Japanese woman was walking in a hallway when she was surrounded by six male students and asked, none too politely, "Why do you think you own the Taoyutais?" She was then physically shoved to the floor.

Nearly every Japanese I have spoken with has a tale to tell, from having daggers shot at them from the eyes of some hateful person to actually being berated and threatened -- all from Taiwanese.

The Japanese here have said to me that they turn the other cheek in these encounters. They do not want to cause trouble or be the center of media attention, given the circus-like atmosphere that can ensue when someone's story comes out.

My hope is that if any Taiwanese see such behavior here that they stand up and make it clear to the offender that this is not acceptable.

Mark Wolfe


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