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Okay.  So here's my confession.  I was a bully.  The last confrontation I had was with a sixty five year old Japanese man I ran into over at a shopping mall here in Yokohama.

I remember him approaching me and asking me what I  thought about his new U.S. Navy cap.  I hate being bothered by stupidity when I'm on my way to work.  He was pointing to the wording on the hat with this stupid little grimace on his ugly little unshaven face.

And then he smiled and the only teeth he had in his mouth were  molars, and no others teeth ladies and gentleman.  Hideous looking man!  I went for the first insult by first telling him in Japanese at how stupid he looked for sporting a U.S. Navy hat with pride in spite of  the dark history of thousands of his own people who were raped, murdered and brutalized way back in HIS generation. 

I had asked him to remove it because I felt that not only was it an insult and an affront to the thousands of sailors who died fighting against YOUR people in the Pacific, but to the thousands of Okinawa's who were victimized by the U.S. Marines.  He had no goddam right to wear the hat jus' cause' it's cool looking or because he wants to appear friendly.   Had the U.S. lost the war  it would be a crime to wear such a hat on American soil glorifying the Japanese military!

"You're not a man," I shouted!  "You're a Yankee lovin' boot licker who would whore his own daughter off just for a chance to go to the States and to look cool in front of your friends.'  He was super shocked!  I could sense his blood pressure rising as the vein in his neck began to pump.  He started pointing at security and began motioning one of the officers over.  Security wouldn't come near, especially after I gave them one of my patented Samuel L. Jackson glares.   

I continued: "How can you ask me such a stupid question?"  " Where is your daughter at right now?  Is she clubbing on one of the American military bases?"  “There are thousands of Japanese people every year paying their respects at Yasukuni, but you.   You have to stop me and ask me about how good you look in some stupid little U.S. Navy hat!  Like I’m supposed to cheer you on and say attaboy that’s showing your national pride and spirit. 

I enjoyed watching his stupid little smile turn to anger.  I felt so relieved after I let off into him.  So many ignorant people forget their history and think that it’s perfectly okay.  It’s not OK!  It will never be okay!

Since then I stopped.  I know I may have overreacted but I have no regrets.  It’s what he needed to hear.  I just didn’t need to hear him asking me something like that.  Maybe I’ll sport a KKK hat next time and stop some black guy and ask him how I look.


  1. We had a similar experience when we walked into a chinese owned fish and chips shop here, the chinese guy behind the counter said to my husband "are you Japanese? look at my Yamaha jumper!" and pointed to his jumper....i kind of felt like..."you idiot"...why should a chinese be sucking up to a Japanese?

    But i guess in the long run war is war, and it's best in the past, and maybe you overreacted a tad, just a tad.

  2. Thanks. I will try and be nicer

  3. So how long do you think US culture should be off limits to Japanese people? I guess Japanese culture should be off limits to us (Aussies and Americans like you and me)?

    I prefer the German, introspective this must never happen again, response to the war than the Japanese one. Never the less, I think its a good thing that we can all get along so soon after WW2. Never forgetting and demonizing eachother's culture and symbols smacks of whats happening in the middle east to me.

    I think you pushed the envelope a bit too far on that day Tony.


    PS. I hate those hats too. But for aesthetic reasons :-)

  4. @Tornadoe, I agree. I will relax more.


    I think respect for each other and each other's culture is very important. Forgiving and forgetting is good, too. But, there should be a line that should just be respected. Too many people died in the Pacific and through out the war for him to be casually wearing a hat like that and then walking around proud!

    And though I was a little harsh on the old man, he reflected alot of the pacifism and weakness in this country, which has only served to further ruin it through its obsession with all things American. It's just so hard for me to accept him wearing such a hat under the guise of friendship and cooperation between the U.S. and Japan. In America, some teenagers may fawn over the exploits of the Kamikaze, but you would never see an old man doing that. Some people wear "Made in America Tested in Japan" T-shirts which glorify the atomic bomb - Many Americans still believe it was the right thing to do, and have no problem glorifying it. If I walk around Japan with such a shirt it would be considered an offense.

  5. i think this is stupid and wrong. i dont know if I'm not seeing the whole context. The old man initiated a talk about navy-stuff, and the writer blew up and told him that he shouldnt say things like that and its none of his business? "The likes of you shouldnt be concerned with this"?

    Glorification of atrocities (like the A-bomb shirt) and the mentioned white-hat KKK thing is morbid, i agree. But was that really what the old man was trying to do? Like I said, I probably need more context to discern that.. but still, this just feels stupid.

  6. Hi Niclas,

    Thank you for your comments. Again, this is only a confession, and it was the best secret I could've confessed up to.

    The old man looked homeless, dirty, and stupid. At first I thought he was approaching me for money, in such a case I would of given him a few coins, but this American military paraphernalia he was sporting that day really vexed me, and I thought that with all the shit that's been goingn on in Japan and the world this food would be glorifying the military conquest of his former enemies at his AGE!

    Had he been younger I would have just blame it on his/her poor education at home and schooling, but this old man has seen everything.

    He deserved every bit of wrath I unleashed on him! I hope the next time he picks up that stupid little hat he cringes and quickly puts it down. He should wear a Japanese navy hat instead.

  7. You totally over-reacted and you're right, you were a bully. Doubtless you are 5 times the size of him and much louder- why did you feel it was necessary to really 'vent' on him? It says more about you than it does about him. Dude- you're not Japanese, and you didn't get raped by US Navy Marines on Okinawa. This old guy however was close to living through that, his parents may have done- if he wants to wear a stupid hat he has every right to. You have no right to off-load every bit of bile in your system at one weak old guy.

    I won't argue it might have been annoying to be approached in this manner, and perhaps he was 'stupid' as you say (in which case he'd deserve to be treated with kid-gloves, no?), but you were absolutely and completely out of line, your response was massively disproportional and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    You want so badly to be Japanese that you'll try to out-Japanese the nationalists on this kind of fervent right-wing pride, while simultaneously totally forgetting Japanese ideals of 'wa' and keeping your anger and frustration to yourself. Bottle up inside whatever anger you've got dude, so it can give you a heart attack and harm only you. This old guy did not deserve what you laid on him- I think you'll find that in the US Bill of Rights.

  8. MJG, thank you for venting. I appreciate your comments. Do you really think I overreacted? What is he going to tell his wife when he gets home...? Honey, some big gaijin told me how stupid I was for wearing a U.S. Navy hat. His wife will probably side with me and tell him to get out and go to work and bring home the bacon and be man and save the goddam country.

    When this man was young, and able to make an impression on young peoples lives he didn't. Now he's old and dried up and the best he can show is the RIGHT to wear a Navy hat glorifying his former enemy. I have no guilt and remorse for what I said to him.


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