The Independent’s Simon Cotterill reports on a new Japanese loan word: Flyjin 

Ha, ha! What a chuckle. This one, which I caught through the Schott’s Vocab blog, (itself in the New York Times real-time blog roll,) is play on the word “gaijin”. Gaijin itself is short for gaikokujin, “outside the country person” or foreigner, in Japanese.

Cotterill, as a foreign-based reporter, says that he is staying in Japan. He is married to a Japanese, and, well, his work is there. This is not surprising and he well makes it clear.

What he reports on is amusing, though: Japanese who are being inconvenienced by non-Japanese who have picked up and gone home. Geez! Remember, the problem usually in the gaishikei (foreign-capital comanies) is that the foreigners are there! That’s the jyama (annoyance). I can only imagine that the cracks about the flyjin would be in the context of how these Japanese are “forced” to work in the international context (because their own domestic economy can’t generate enough good jobs), and now, here is yet one more pain TO HAVE TO ENDURE!

From the post:

However, despite the lack of a nuclear threat, a huge exodus of foreign workers continues from the capital and the level of international hysteria has caused many Japanese people to complain. Countries like Germany and Switzerland have moved their operations out to Osaka and Kobe, as have many large multinationals. Much of the criticism of the so-called flyjin has come from Japanese workers at companies in Tokyo. They’ve been trying to keep a stiff upper-lip (or in Japanese, shiran kao shiteiru, ‘making know-nothing faces’), but their jobs have become impossible because their foreign colleagues, customers, and clients have left Tokyo.

He he! Aw, come on. The jobs are often allegedly “impossible” with the foreigners around. Now, they’re “impossible” if they leave. What does that tell you about the level of regard the non-Japanese is being given?

I bet you that the vast majority of P.R. and other long-term residents are right there in Japan, where they’ve been for some time. I bet you that anyone who really can’t move their job easily is still right there, in the mess of whatever sort.

The non-Japanese who are getting out are among:

1) those with short-term commitments in the country, including Englsih teachers, study-abroad students, and the JET. (This is so, whether or not their associates think that “Japan” is going to commit to them if they just keep repeating the mantras about how everything Japan does is great. So it will be funny when their butt is being shoved on a plane in 2012, despite their protestations that they stuck “the big one” out with their adopted homeland while the “flyjin” cut and ran.)

2) Chinese who are stuck in low-wage jobs. I wish I had the link handy, but one report I surfed through said that a large number of Chinese were looking to leave the Tohoku region. Basically, Tohoku’s underground shadow economy.

3) “Assignees”. These people are part of international companies that operate in many countries and some of which are practically nationless. They operate by the mythical “free market”, and earthquakes, tsunami, and radiation are a market imperfection that the company simply doesn’t want to deal with. If you want these corporate employees in your country, you have to do something about your tectonic plates. When they start slinging the corporate jargon about what “space” their company is looking to occupy in the market, sometimes it’s the actual literal use of the word.

If there hasn’t been already, I am sure there is going to be the inevitable post from those flyjin-inai gaijin (the real foreigners who stick it out like good gaijin), looking for brownie points from their readers (if they have any), bragging about [how] they didn’t leave. This is the cheap patriotism of the lapel flag. The yellow ribbon on the SUV antenna. Everyone is supposed to clap like it’s where the three-year-old was able to balance blocks.

When Chuckers, one of my readers, tells me that U.S. embassy in Tokyo is posting about how they’re there and even staffed with more people, that’s about the “space” where this kind of thing goes. I assume a few of the Eikaiwa teachers who couldn’t get a ticket or have no home to flee to, and have decided to become martyrs of convenience would fit in there, too.

7 thoughts on “The Independent’s Simon Cotterill reports on a new Japanese loan word: Flyjin 

  1. > Gaijin itself is short for gaikokujin

    That is not correct. It depends on which meaning of ‘gaijin’ you are referring to. They both have different etymologies which merged into one word.

    The word ‘gaijin’ can be found it literature since the 10th century. It was used in reference to other Japanese who were “outsiders”.
    The word ‘gaikokujin’ is from the middle of the 19th century and only refers to non-Japanese. Since then, it has been abbreviated to ‘gaijin’, which is synonymous with the above.

    1. You just contradicted yourself when you wrote “Since then, it has been abbreviated to ‘gaijin.” Just because you know the etymology of the words, doesn’t mean that just about everyone in Japan doesn’t use the word ‘gaijin’ as a short word for ‘gaikokujin.’ Write a real response next time, one that’s related to the article.

      1. Jack, thanks for the assist. I am pretty liberal with comments, but that point was one that I was trying to figure out. If I wasn’t correct in the beginning, then how come at the end of the comment, it sounds like I was correct all along for the point that I was making.

  2. Better brush up on the Jgo dude.

    Middle aged white men are truly the most victimized ethnic group in the world.

    1. Brush up on my Japanese (Jgo)?

      You’re going to have to let me think about that last proposition. If you mean it in terms of the Politically Correct Era of the ’80’s and early ’90’s, or otherwise . . .

  3. Must every situation have it’s outcome measured and analyzed like a football game? Who are you to guess peoples’ motivations for leaving or staying? I really can’t understand your barrage of comments, and wonder how you think this makes life in Japan better. I guess if you had “scored more points” when it counted, then maybe you could’ve had a chance to survive “the big one.” Not everyone is keeping score.

    1. Dan, I am not getting you 100%. You are saying that you don’t like a blog post discussing who the Flyjin would be? Well, guess what: someone’s got a website out there now dedicated to the Flyjin phenomenon!

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