But what I don’t understand, is why that same group of people gets so worked up when this obvious fact is pointed out?
Look it, I don’t see why we would need this whole apparatus for people to renew passports and do the occasional notarization. I live in Shibuya-ku, and I can tell you there are several nations’ embassies within a short walk of my home. You go in right off the sidewalk (no long security line with the barbed wire and the such), and I am sure they represent their country’s interests as well as America allegedly has theirs done here.
There is no big secret about this: the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo does not represent the interests of Americans living here. I appreciate that John Roos has been much more accessible and visible than the Texas crony that Bush had stuck in there four years ago (and the Texas crony before that). But just on simple facts:
The Canadian embassy holds a monthly picnic at theirs, easily accessible from Aoyama Street, in which all Canadians are invited. Not just military and/or ACCJers.
The British embassy takes an active role in employment issues with its citizens here. When Nova (the English conversation school) blew up financially in 2007, the British really took the lead in trying to get the Japanese to remedy the mess it created for the Brits.
We don’t have any of that. We have this barricaded office complex down in Toranomon, behind the Jersey barriers, which frankly does make America look like an occupying force in Japan. If you ever visit the place, the people act like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE??” and that’s even after you prove to the Japanese police that you are an American and have a right (presumably) to go in.
It’s this attitude that the people who are sent here from Stateside to help us have this little nice thing for themselves, and the actual expat residents are somehow an imposition on that.
I have previously referred to this sort of behavior as a kind of prostitution. That the Embassy people are more interested in kissing the butt of Japanese than serving American interests. And once I got a comment that maybe that wasn’t fair. However, if you’ve ever worked in Eikaiwa in Japan (an unregulated form of English teaching), you probably have experienced those now-and-then occasions where you wonder if you are being looked at as teacher or gigolo. (When I did Eikaiwa four years ago, I remember this. Wait, is the role to teach, or something else?)
And so I just wonder if America’s representatives need to be a little less friendly and a little more stone-faced about some of the behavior out of our friends the Japanese. The fact they can’t seem to keep treaties (military, social security, etc.) The fact that they don’t equally apply the labor laws. The fact that they seem to have trouble adhering to the terms of a contract unless they’ve rewritten the deal after they’ve threatened a breach, or unless the contract is meant to circumvent a law on the books that would be more in your favor.
I mean, I haven’t heard Peep One about any of those issues from the Embassy. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the child abduction issue (when the noncustodial parent takes the kid back into Japan and disappears.)
I appreciate when the State Department visits my website, I really do. But you shouldn’t have to read about these issues in the blogosphere. There should be people downtown who are enough in touch with the real expat community to know what is going on. Not just what the ACCJ wants or whatever is in the headlines.