Occidentalism
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“The two faces of Japan”

May 18th, 2006 . by Matt

A regular commenter sent me this Naver News article that is in the most viewed news section called “일본의 두모습” (The two faces of Japan).

homeless

The picture is of a homeless man in Tokyo in a shopping area. Here is the text accompanying the picture –

한 일본인 노숙자가 토쿄의 긴자 쇼핑지구에 있는 상류계급의 유럽 디자이너 부띠크의 전시장 앞에 누워 잠을 자고 있다.

My translation – One Japanese homeless is sleeping in front of a high class European boutique located in a shopping area.

Obviously calling the article “the two faces of Japan” is designed to draw attention to the difference between the luxury shops and the homeless man. What is equally obvious is that the only reason that this article could be the ‘most viewed news’ is that it is supposed to be embarrassing for Japan.

I saw plenty of homeless when I was in Korea, but I have never seen articles like this about homeless Koreans in the Japanese news.


2 Responses to ““The two faces of Japan””

  1. comment number 1 by: Travolta

    Korea is jam packed with homeless people. If you want to take a very similar picture you only need to head down to Seoul Station and you’ll see drunks sleeping in their own vomit and piss outside the super modern station building. You can see homeless people begging in every major subway station and at Yongdeongpo station they dance in a drunken stupor as christians try to convert them with song. I’ve seen homeless people in Korea foaming at the mouth standing in the middle of busy streets shaking violently while people drive by hardly slowing down.

    Sure Japan has homeless and drunks too. Most major cities around the world do. There are many in Sydney I’d guess.

    I can imagine some Korean’s taking delight in such a picture. As if the suffering of some homeless no name in Japan in some way makes Korea better because it makes Japan look bad.

    I hope there are more people though who might look at this picture and realise there are people even in rich countries who live on streets. It’s not funny, it’s a social problem which every country deals with.

    Matt I see where you’re coming from with this post but possibly the title of the peice drew the hits. Koreans love to use the excuse “but they don’t really mean it” when the Japanese apologise for EVERYTHING they’ve ever done. Many may have thought it was something about that.

  2. comment number 2 by: Malaclypse

    I think it just goes to show how few homeless people there are in Japan that anyone would even think to find one particular homeless person and go “look! see!”

    If it was San Francisco, you’d better have at least a couple dozen homeless people in the shot for it to have any effect at all.