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Comment Re:Ammo for Racism (Score 1) 309

You could ask the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, when he said the following:

In due course, the perpetrators were captured, and, just as had been suspected, the crime was one of revenge among Chinese criminals. There is fear–and not without cause–that it will not be long before the entire nature of Japanese society itself will be altered by the spread of this type of crime that is indicative of the ethnic DNA [of the Chinese].

And this guy has been re-elected twice.

Comment Re:Ammo for Racism (Score 1) 309

No, of course we can study and discuss potential (and real) differences between arbitrary groups of people. And of course there's no need for secrecy or disclaimers.

The problem comes when Japanese see this work and say "Aha! Foreigners can't eat sushi! Therefore it's OK for me to ban foreigners from my sushi restaurant since they can't eat it anyway." And if that logic sounds ridiculous or impossible, you've obviously never lived in Japan.

My point is that people should be conscious of how their research will be used. In this case, it would have been better for the authors to do a more in-depth study with more subjects, particularly Koreans (who eat large amounts of seaweed) or other areas with heavily fish based cuisine.

Comment Re:Ammo for Racism (Score 1) 309

From my experience in Japan, the 'natives' love it when I try and speak Japanese when communicating. I've never sensed an ounce of condescending tones when I struggle.

Certainly they like it when you struggle speaking Japanese, it reinforces the idea that foreigners can't speak the language. When you reach native fluency they're much less friendly (speaking from years of experience here).

Comment Ammo for Racism (Score 5, Interesting) 309

Just what we need, more "Japanese are unique" idiocy to justify racism and discrimination in Japan. So far we've heard that "Japanese intestines are longer, so Japanese can't eat foreign beef", "Japanese brains are unique, so only Japanese people can speak the Japanese language." and so on, all of which are supported by pseudo-scientific studies such as this one.

This sort of incomplete research just feeds the view of racial uniqueness (and superiority) among Japanese and justifies their racism and discrimination against others.

Comment Re:A pile of neurons does not a brain make... (Score 1) 428

This raises an interesting point. Maybe in the brain there's no way to reduce things to meaningful equations. Evolution didn't really have a set goal in mind, so what you get is a cobbled together mess of pieces that works. The reason it works is because the system can reform and grow itself in response to new input, not because it has a lot of pieces.

These large scale simulations are interesting from a neurobiological point of view. But if you want to build a "thinking computer brain", you might be better off understanding how the human brain grows and changes in response to stimuli, rather than trying to make a static copy at the cellular level. I have a feeling these supercomputer simulations are not going to be the path to conscious computers, nor even to mind uploading.

Disclaimer: I am not a neuroscientist.

Comment Re:can we get that here, please? (Score 5, Informative) 91

I'm guessing you don't live in Japan, because if you did you'd probably think otherwise. Unless you like hearing endless parades of megaphone blasting vans, with high pitched voice women screaming nothing but "Please vote for Tanaka! Thank you! Please vote for Tanaka! Thank you!".

And if you want to talk about judging politicians by their hair, former Prime Minister Koizumi was known as "Lionheart" because of his hairstyle. Most Japanese I've spoken to identify him merely by his hair, and can't name a single policy he enacted. In almost all respects, I'd say the Japanese system is a good example of what to avoid rather than emulate.

Comment Re:Japan is insane, but so are gaijin. (Score 1) 385

I speak Japanese fluently. I have lived in Japan for about 6 years, currently enrolled at one of the "Top 3" public universities. I can read a newspaper in Japanese. I have given lectures in Japanese on theoretical computer science. I pay my taxes, I renew my visa on time. I don't do any of the other illegal or questionable things on your list.
Having said that, the grandparent is completely correct - Japan and Japanese are extremely racist, xenophobic and nationalistic. That's part of the reason why I'm leaving as soon as I finish my degree. You might think (as I did) if you learn the language and culture you'll be accepted - you're wrong. In Japan you will always be judged and discriminated against because you are not Japanese. It doesn't matter if it's in the city vs. countryside, company vs. university, public vs. private.
If you can tolerate being treated as a second class citizen, being denied housing/employment/services because of your skin color, being treated as an idiot incapable of understanding even basic Japanese, then feel free to come to Japan. If not, then avoid it.

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