A new book by Takano Teruko entitled Jipushii ni yôkoso ! (”Welcome to Gypsy world!” ) was just published by Gentôsha in Tokyo.
Martin Kaneko, a tireless supporter of Roma, has commented on the shoddy scholarship of this book (written after just a two week visit to Romania by its author !!), his comments are below. He is supervising the Japanese language appearance of We Are the Romani People.
Impressions of Romanian “Gypsies” (original in Japanese)by Martin KanekoThe author Takano Teruko http://takanoteruko.com/ , stayed in Romania for two weeks from 22nd of December 2010 to 5th of January 2011 . Takano visited a few Roma in Romania, e.g. members of the world-famous band Taraf De Haïdouks. A few samples from her book:
Alright, in the hope it will become a forward-looking term, I’ll call them with their petname Gypsy. (p. 17).It would be nice, if the word Gypsy becomes a positive pet name, so that everybody can use the term “Gypsy” without hesitation freely! (S. 158)
Since the word „Gypsy“ is categorized as a discriminatory term, they appear to be an “illusionary people” in Japan. Maybe they will accept the mild term of “Gypsy-san = Mr. or Mrs. Gypsy.” (p. 297)
Similarities exist between hooligans and Gypsies. (p. 323)
Gypsies live only in the “present”, terms like past or future do not exist. (p. 345)To popularize the name „Roma“, it is necessary to use the term “Gypsy” as a medium, and I hope, the petname “Gypsy” will survive, in order to express their culture and spirit. Thus, I’ve used the word “Gypsy” throughout.” (p. 349)The last sentence is not correct. Apart from the term “Gypsy”, Takano also uses “Tsigan”. Takano stayed at the home of Kati, a 60 years old Romni, for several days, and calls Kati “Tsigan-Mama” (p. 341). About Kati she writes:
Although she was a Gypsy, everything in her home was spic and span and it seemed she could not really be a Gypsy. (p. 217)
Although Kati is a Gypsy, she is not a “stiff-necked” Gypsy. (p.269)
Even Kati, who is not gypsy-like, is temperamental and her feelings keep changing all the time. (p. 333)
Takano appears to have a preconceived negative image of what a “gypsy” ought to be and cannot liberate herself from this image.
Early in the morning (from AM 02:35 to 04:05) on May 14th 2011, the TV station Fuji transmitted the program “Loving Gypsies” (Jipushii ni koi shite). I did not see it, because I was asleep at that time. The narrator was the “essayist” Takano Teruko ( http://takanoteruko.com/gypsy/gypsy.html). The DVD “Loving Gypsies” is scheduled to be released on September 21st 2011 by Tôei Company.I am a member of the 1988 founded NGO International Movement Against all forms of Discrimination and Racism (http://www.imadr.org/) and the committee Japan of IMADR sent a letter of protest to the author Takano and the publishing house Gentôsha on the 21st of June.
Ever since December 1980, when I was invited by the Buraku Liberation League (http://www.bll.gr.jp/eng.html ) to report about an European minority group, I keep repeating that the correct name of “Gypsies” is Roma, but as can be seen, with little success. If you consider it worthwhile to put my information in the ML Roma_in_ Americas, please do so. I would appreciate it greatly, if Roma in the US and Canada would protest against Takanos book at the Japanese embassies or consulates. By the way, I sent the same information to the Sinto Romani Rose in Heidelberg and to the Rom Dragan Jevremovi of Romano Centro in Vienna.
“The gypsies have no concepts of past or future”. This is the assertion made in a book published recently (Takano Teruko, Jipushii ni yôkoso! Gentôsha, Tokyo, 2011, 1,470). Could that be true? Moreover, “what may the gypsies be (Shimada Shinsuke = comedian, in the TV program “Loving Gypsies” on the 14th of May 2011) “An ethnic group originating in Northwest India, now found in wide distribution. Their language is Romani.” Kôjien = Japanese dictionary) Let’s look it up at Amazon… Ah, there it is! English-Romani Dictionary by Ronald Lee (Magoria Books, Toronto, 2011, 4,088). Would there be a word for past and how about future? The past seems to be called araki, the future is avutno. Of course, the concepts of past and future do exist. The author might do well to reflect on ignorance, because the reproduction of half-baked knowledge may cause propagation of prejudice. Even without this, the whole world sees the “Gypsies” with prejudiced eyes. “Gypsy” is a name they are called by specific other peoples and this term is used fairly indiscriminately. It has become a synonym for evil. Just like the former discriminatory term “special settlement” (tokushu buraku) for discriminated buraku (hisabetsu buraku) in Japan.The “Gypsies” call themselves Roma. This was determined by the World Romani Congress of 1971 as Takano admits. “Gypsy has become a discriminatory term.” This being understood by her, why continue using derogatory terms like “Gypsy” or “Tsigan”? “Why not leave it as a petname” is Takano’s ridiculous suggestion. “It might be possible to gain acceptance in the mild form of Gypsy-san (Mr. or Mrs. Gypsy)”, so a hopeful Takano . Once more, be it clearly understood: “Gypsy” is a derogatory term. The Japanese people are also called different names. Would “Mr. or Mrs. Jap” find acceptance in Japan? What about “Mr. or Mrs.Choppari”? (“Choppari” is a Korean discriminatory term for Japanese.) I, for one, do not approve of gaijin-san. (“Gaijin” is a discriminatory term for foreigners.)Takano visited Romania, the “last unexplored country of Europe” for 2 weeks. Romania joined the European Union (EU) in 2007. The country is not only economically challenged, but also in respect to human rights. The Roma who amount to about 10% of the overall population are the most oppressed population in Eastern Europe. They therefore, seek to find refuge in the West, where they are not welcomed. In the summer of last year, for instance, France deported several thousand Roma fugitives to Romania from where they had escaped. (Kaihô shinbun, No 2496 = newspaper of the Buraku Liberation League). This is not mentioned by Takano. Did she not know? Because the term Roma sounds similar to the name of Romania, it was feared this might diminish the image of the country. The government therefore, started a campaign to reintroduce the term “Tsigani”. Since 21 Roma organizations and other democratic forces in Romania did not agree, the Romanian parliament had to finally abandon the bill. This happened in December last year, the month Takano visited Romania.The Roma in Romania, most of whom are not given the opportunity of a primary school education, have no overt means of objecting to whatever they might be called. Secretly their stomachs may turn, but as also noted by Takano, “until the formal abolition of slavery in 1864 they had been slaves for 500 years.” As a result of 500 years of forced labor and continued discrimination most of them have understood that the only way to protect themselves is nonresistance. To call the kind old Romni who sheltered her “Tsigan Mama” is a breathtaking affront. One also wonders about the worldview of the publisher who published this book.In recent years when the United Nations and the EU have changed “Gypsy” to Roma and even the major Japanese media are doing so some headstrong people in Europe and America insist on the use of terms like “Gypsy”, “Zigeuner” or “Tsigan”. When will they learn? This kind of individuals who do not grasp or value the concept of human rights are often found among conservatives or the ultraright. The Japanese have no need to imitate them.A group of about “50 gypsies” landed in September 1901 in Nagasaki as reported by a newspaper. The newspaper calls them “western eta”. (Eta means literally “full of filth” and was the labeling of the lowest stratum of society during the Tokugawa era.) One year before these 50 Roma arrived in Japan, a man with half Roma ancestry came to Japan. His father was an Irishman and the mother a Romni from Greece. It is the well-known author and Japanese by choice, Lefcadio Hearn, aka. Koizumi Yakumo (Ian Hancock We are the Romani people, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2002, 1,520). But anyway, at present no Roma groups live in Japan. Even so, I suggest to the Japanese to use the word Roma, not the almost obsolete and discriminatory term “Gypsy”. Have a look at the web site Patrin and you will find the anguished scream “Call us Roma, Not Gypsies”.
New Book in Japanese “Welcome to Gypsy world!”
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