May’s cheat sheet for Japan-side expat internet silliness.

Where do I even start?

I was listening to one of these [2,000 hit?] V-loggers, last night, prattle on about either the Debito Arudou Microagressions piece in Japan Times, or something from the Adelstein-Johnson mini-feud. (That one is, itself, an offshoot of some dispute between Chris Johnson and David Schaufele of NHK, that goes back five years.)

Meanwhile, there appear to have been a few volleys thrown out there by one side of the Left Behind Parents, which will, no doubt lead to something hard back.

To round off, one of the Tepido Twelve sought to be “friended” by Arudou, and then, once in, proceeded to paste people’s conversations about US State Department developments on his personal website. [Update 5/16/2012: Per the comment below, Ken Y-N says that the particular Facebook post was set to “public”, and so it was a matter of the commenters not realizing that their remarks would be open. So I revise what I say here: One of the Tepido Twelve decided it would be worthwhile to cut-and-paste a discussion he sought out on Debito’s open feed, and make an issue about things said in it. It was an endeavor by one of the gang to shut down any dialog involving Arudou Debito and his internet presence, by targeting people who post at an Aldwinckle-provided forum. This is consistent with what the Tepido website had done since the summer of 2010.]

Not every actor in these exchanges is in Japan, but this is what passes for social activity for a sizeable number of foreigners in that country.

First the Vlogging. It was at a site that I have caught before, one of these where, like, six thousand people allegedly tune in, and I thought the topic was to enlighten me to some new angle about the things being discussed in the J-side expat gossip blogosphere. But what it turned out to be was a boring monologue, almost, about how these guys don’t like the fact that other people have complaints about Japan. Good God, give it a rest! I can’t believe they set up cameras and invited a woman to be a part of the “live” event, where she ends up maybe getting 30 seconds of comment out of 20 minutes. Myself, I would be really embarrassed if I invited someone to take part in some video session, and then made them sit there and listen to me. But that’s just me, maybe.

If I had to set up You Tube and try to convince you regularly that I have some expertise, having spent some time in Japan, that would be pretty pathetic. You catch two or three of the installments, and you start to see the pattern. You also realize, you’re never getting that time back. I’m making it a point to seek out the Japan-side Vloggers who get something along the lines of 45 or 50 hits on their videos after a week. I think they probably have more to say, and more interesting things.

Johnson-Adelstein this week revolved around whether TEPCO, the Japanese electric company that owns the Fukushima nuclear plants, was nationalized or not. Only one news source seemed to get it right, [more are], that TEPCO was effectively nationalized. Chris Johnson had made a comment, somewhere, in criticizing Adelstein, that TEPCO had not been nationalized in January (contrary to some interpretation of the Atlantic Wire piece), and so that small gang went at it as to whether Adelstein was vindicated by the “nationalization” (inflation of shares against the current owners, in favor of the government) that will be occurring as a result of this week’s decision in Tokyo.

What I took from all of that was that the Yakuza had no significant role in the fact that TEPCO is broke, and that the government of Japan has to come in, and recapitalize. (As I say, by having TEPCO issue a ton of shares back to the government in return for hard cash, and for backstopping liability claims for Fukushima.) Johnson had made an off-hand remark, that turned out to be wrong in a large sense (but technically right), and that was all the excuse certain people needed.

An offshoot of this month’s bullying of Johnson has to do with a family in Chiba who was raising money on the internet to move out of Chiba, allegedly because of all the radiation. The talk is that $7,500 had been raised online, when a website that dedicates itself to going at people who talk about Fukushima radiation decided that the whole endeavor was a fraud. I don’t know enough about the story, but am amazed by these people who, one day, are vociferously advocating freedom on the internet; then, the next thing you know, they are criticizing someone else’s use of the internet as that other person sees fit. It’s ha[r]d to make heads or tails, but it sounds like that group believes the internet exists to serve their freedoms, but not others’ . . .

Arudou Debito’s Microaggressions piece in the Japan Times was well received by many followers who don’t actively engage in his website. This apparently twisted the socks of the Tepido gang into knots, and so, I suppose, they decided to double-up on their denunciations of Arudou. Now, they claim to be “fact checkers” of whatever Arudou publishes, whenever, where-ever. Before, their purpose was allegedly to “save the newbies” who may be influenced by Debito. Someone probably finally realized that the “newbies” to Japan have internet access before they go there, and so are hip to the whole scene.

One of the posters associated with the Tepido group managed to trick Arudou into making him a Facebook friend, and proceeded to post private threads about recent Left Behind Parent developments at the U.S. State Department. The guy raising money on the internet to get his family out of Chiba is somehow a “fraud”; but a participant in the Tepido site who decides to make up a fictitious name to hack Debito’s Facebook account (where, incidentally, the better dialogue is nowadays) is not, somehow, a fraudster. Figure that one out. [Update 5/16/12: Again, here the situation out of the Tepido group was not fraud, but mischief.]

I go over this all, point by point, to show you, once again, that a lot of what foreigners do in Japan is make up their own rules about what is and is not acceptable, or legal, or socially desirable, in Japan. They seldom rely on what is actually legal, or what the Japanese would themselves like to have the foreign community do. I am almost certain that the Japanese community would not want to have these guys doing “Japan” any “favors” with their constant bickering and online skirmishes, and the full-of-themselves pontificating. What do you think?