In case you aren’t an every-post reader, I want to report that the man who came up with the term “Flyjin”, as it’s been reported around the around, left a nice comment on a previous blog post.
He explains his thinking around the time that he sent out the Twitter. It turns out, it was also innocuous, and mostly focused on what Japan-side expats see as as certain extreme reporting by Western media.
Here’s his own words:
For the record, I wasn’t really looking to demean the flee-ers (although that is exactly what I say in my post), at least not in any official or long-term capacity. At the time, the panic was reaching a fever pitch and the television was showing hordes of foreigners queueing at Narita Immigration to get out of Dodge. People I knew in Kanto were getting all worked up by foreign news sources about how desperate the situation was becoming, and how suspicious it was that this conflicted with what was being said in the news in Japan. One friend had heard that some sort of cloud of radiation was already in Saitama and was due to be at his house within the hour. He taped up his windows and doors with blue tarps. Anyway, it’s thanks to the wonderfully forthcoming Western media that I still get messages daily from friends and family looking for calming assurances that I’m not underground, underwater, or exciting geiger counters.
In a silly fit of frustration, another ex-pat friend and I bounced ideas back and forth for a term with which to label these panicky foreigners. Eventually I came up with “flyjin.” To me at that moment, I was using the word “fly” in the Japanese sense of “flying” meaning to jump the gun. As in, people were leaving without assessing the information. It seemed to fit the image of people waiting in an airport to flee as well. My friend and I got a chuckle out of it, and a day or two I shared the joke with @Quindra during some tweeting on the topic.
This is so cool. The mainstream media reported Flyjin as a term being used by Japanese to refer to foreigners who left Japan last month. Now, the internet community has figured out that it’s the creativity of an expat—just making a casual observation!—who’s coined a word that probably will be getting used for months and months around Japan and those connected to the expat scene there.
Myself, I am curious to know just how many Flyjin there really are. You know, it’s going to be some number like 100 or 250. Not much more.
You obviously can’t count foreigners in Tohoku whose places of employment were wiped out. You can’t count anybody whose businesses were wiped out by the earthquake and tsunami. You can’t count people who were heading out well before anything happened, like Lance Henderstein (“Lost in Lancelation”— get it?) (H/T to you guessed it–Flyjin.com.) You can’t count anybody, really, who would have been moving around anyway. Or people who had hardly been in Japan a certain number of months.
As I blogged a day or two ago, the recruiters around Tokyo are still “dead” (figuratively). Companies are not seeking out replacements; and so, where are the open Flyjin jobs? Is Gaijinpot humming with new job openings? (No.) ACCJ? (No.)
Flyjin, as a phenomenon, is bullshit. Creative people though, and ones who really like to follow sociology, like myself, are having a field day with it, tragedy aside.