Japanese athletes and spectators brace against booing in Beijing. Are they over-reacting?
From their past experiences in sports engagements with China, the Japanese are worried. How are they preparing themselves for possible slights and confrontations with the Chinese?
Do you think the spirit of hospitality in the Chinese governments’ adivce on the 8 questions Chinese shuold not ask foreigners during the Olympics will help put our Japanese visitors at ease?
This article is from the Sankei website (original in Japanese). 北京五輪で日本人の気骨を, by 平和・安全保障研究所理事長, 西原正, Fujisankei Communications Group, Opinion Magazine, July 29, 2008.
A cursory look at the site tells one that this Japanese news organization leans toward the right. But this particular author sounds representative of the Japanese attitude. So I translated a big chunk of it.
“Japanese Fortitude during the Beijing Olympics
by Masashi Nishihara, President, Research Institute for Peace and Security
Getting ready for an Extraordinary Atmosphere
The Olympic Games will commence on August 8th. The upcoming Olympics have two major differences from previous games. As an international meeting that occurs every four years in different locations, its international nature should be emphasized. However, this time China uses the event to promote the Chinese Nation.
From March to May, the Olympic torch relay in various places around the globe encountered numerous disruptions. The Chinese students (in fact their identities are unknown) who came to protect the torch waved the Chinese national flag, instead of the Olympic flag.
A second point is that one needs to anticipate that in those competitions that China is good at, Chinese spectators may be carried away by their excitement and abuse (ののしり) the side they are playing against with insulting words and actions. When the Chinese team is losing a game, there is a possibility that Chinese spectators will display threatening hostility toward the referees and the other team. (We) must also be on the watch out for (Chinese) players’ violation of good manners during competition.
One would be better served to remember ugly (ひどい) competitions such as Chinese players’ rough play during the game, Chinese spectators’ violent outburst after the game, and the damage done to the official vehicle of the Japanese Ambassador in August 2004, during the Asian Cups Soccer Games in Beijing when the Japanese team defeated the Chinese 3 to 1. Unpredictable and out-of-control events such as spectators turning violent and surrounding Japanese supporters may occur.
It is said that this time round the authorities have done a lot to improve the manner of the Chinese citizens in supporting their sports teams. While expecting great improvement, the Japanese players and spectators need to prepare themselves with the willpower to maintain calmness and refuse to be perturbed in the face of provoking situations.
A Fair and Resolute Attitude
(I) wish that the Japanese players will conduct fair and square competition, and Japanese spectators will maintain their dignity and good manner from the beginning to the end. Needless to say, there should not be Japanese players testing positive on doping or intentionally engaging in foul play during competition. In the case of losing games due to bad manner of the opponents’ supporters, or the inappropriate facilities, or air pollution, there is nothing that can be done about it. Criticism on this kind of unfairness should be entrusted to spectators from other countries and the competition committee, and possibly journalists. Japanese players should concentrate on playing fair games earnestly, and leave the supervision of the opponents’ foul play to the relevant authorities. The willpower to fight with fortitude under strenuous conditions will win over the spectators.
When Kimigayo (Japanese national anthem, translator’s note) is played and the Chinese refuse to stand up, or when the Chinese boo the Japanese team, it will be necessary to endure (such mistreatments) with strong patience. The patience of the Japanese will win the respect of Chinese spectators and those from other countries. Last September in Hangzhou during the women’s W cup soccer match between the Japanese and German teams, Chinese young people supported the German team and showered the Japanese team with booing. After the game was over, when the defeated Japanese team unfurled a banner with the words “Thank you, China” to the spectators, the spectators’ attitude transformed into expression of good will, giving the Japanese team a round of applause. A Chinese person later revealed that “although the Japanese team lost the game, they gained a lot of genuine respect. They won in the spirit.” (July 4th Asahi Shinbum)
Start with Courtesy and End with Courtesy
Japanese national sports such as Judo, Kendo and Sumo emphasize propriety. The core value of these sports is to start with courtesy and end with courtesy. Although the internationalization of Judo is a positive phenomenon, it is regrettable that its traditional meaning is ignored, allowing it to degenerate into an ordinary sport based on the determination of winning and losing. The small number of Judo athletes representing Japan in international arenas should preserve this tradition. When a Japanese athlete has won a game, assuming the celebrative winner pose (ガッツポーズ) goes against the traditional spirit. Instead, expressing gratitude and respect to the losing side is the appropriate behavior. ………”
Then the author gave a long list of detailed instructions to Japanese athletes and spectators about how to behave appropriately in various circumstances, when you are losing, or winging in various types of games, baseball, wrestling and soccer etc, removing your cap, standing in silence, etc. and etc.
Can the Chinese spectators give proper respect to the Japanese?
Can some Western athletes and spectators refrain from disruptive behaviors, such as climbing up to really high places to unfurl a freaking banner, taking of all your clothes in the streets, and drinking too much in San Li Tun? You can wear as many masks as you want to if you find the Beijing air unbreathable.
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