Engineering Manager | Trail Runner | Stockholm, Sweden

Which comes first?

He shook his head: ‘Most people who’ve lived in Japan come away with mixed feelings. In many ways the Japanese are wonderful people. They’re hardworking, intelligent and humorous. They have real integrity. They are also the most racist people on the planet. That’s why they’re always accusing everybody else of racism. They’re so prejudiced, they assume everybody else must be, too. And living in Japan … I just got tired, after a while, of the way things worked. I got tired of seeing women move to the other side of the street when they saw me walking toward them at night. I got tired of noticing that the last two seats to be occupied on the subway were the ones on either side of me. I got tired of the airline stewardesses asking Japanese passengers if they minded sitting next to a gaijin, assuming that I couldn’t understand what they were saying because they were speaking Japanese. I got tired of the exclusion, the subtle patronizing, the jokes behind my back. I got tired of being a nigger. I just … got tired. I gave up.’

‘Sounds to me that you don’t really like them.’

‘No,’ Connor said. ‘I do. I like them very much. But I’m not Japanese, and they never let me forget it.’ He sighed again. ‘I have many Japanese friends who work in America, and it’s hard for them, too. The differences cut both ways. They feel excluded. People don’t sit next to them, either. But my friends always ask me to remember that they are human beings first, and Japanese second. Unfortunately, in my experience that is not always true.’

‘You mean they are Japanese first?’

He shrugged. ‘Family is family.’

Michael Crichton: Rising Sun