Miki Dezaki, an American teacher of Japanese descent, is facing the wrath of the “netouyo”, an online army of hypernationalist Japanese web users who are overly judgemental of any article, video or person who they perceive are critical of Japan. This is because of a video he posted on YouTube and Reddit over racism in Japan.
Dezaki, who has gained a modest following over past videos he’s posted like “Hitchhiking Okinawa”, “What Americans Think of Japan”, and an in-depth look at what it’s like being gay in Japan, was simply trying to teach his students that racism existed not just in America but even in Japan. He uploaded a six-minute video summary of classes he had in July last year with a disclaimer at the beginning: “I know there’s a lot of racism in America and I’m not saying that America is better than Japan or anything like that,”. This disclaimer would prove to be insufficient once word about his video started to spread like wildfire on 2chan, the website/message board where the netouyo frequent. Not surprisingly, his YouTube video and Reddit’s Japan section where Dezaki posted the link to the video, was bombarded with attacks and accusations that he was anti-Japanese and that he was warping Japanese students with lies and misinformation.
But more than just angry internet comments, the “attack” spilled over to his real life. Some of the outraged netizens found out his real name and other personal details and encouraged their fellow netouyo to take the fight to the real world. The superiors at the school in Japan where he taught received numerous complaints and so they had to request him to take it down, even though they praised it when he first gave the lecture and posted the video. He was even contacted by a member of Okinawa’s board of education warning that this issue might be brought up at the National Diet. But Dezaki decided to keep the video online and even added an announcement, in Japanese and English, that he was refusing to take it down. He explained, “I fell in love with Japan, I love Japan. And I want to see Japan become a better place. Because I do see these potential problems with racism and discrimination.” Well, unfortunately it seems not everyone is ready for this particular lesson.