Edited to change the tone.
“Do the Japanese like Black people” is one of the questions I dislike the most. Though I’ve lived in the Land of the Rising Sun for many years, I cannot speak for its 127 million Japanese-identifying inhabitants any more than I can speak for the 54 million people of Black African descent who reside in the United States. At best, I can only hope/pray/wish that neither group has a pathological hatred for the other. There is one very important thing everyone needs to realize. A majority of Japanese people have not ever laid eyes on a Black person before. As such, they've never spoken to us or learned to judge us as individuals. In terms of history, Africans fare much better than African-Americans. For the most part, a majority of information about us comes from the news, music videos, international sports events or Hollywood movies, which generally feature Will Smith and family and Denzel Washington. The most negative movies about us are usually not shown here. I consider this a plus though our first introduction to Japan might have sealed the fate of our entire ethnicity/race.
Since my last major post here, I've learned that what is theoretically simple for native Japanese and long-time foreign residents to understand is ridiculously complicated to explain to others. The cultural background needed to discuss almost any aspect of this society is a tremendous undertaking. As explaining the Japanese is a daunting task, I will attempt to only focus on how the Japanese view themselves and others, including us (people of Black African descent). I apologize in advance for any forks in the road I might take.
The Japanese frequently claim they have “racial” and cultural homogeneity. Poll after poll, study after study, indicates that mainstream Japanese believe that the Ainu, the indigenous/aboriginal people of this land to be fully assimilated and culturally extinct. Thank the gods, they are mistaken. Despite their best efforts, the Japanese are not Borg. They cannot assimilate the soul of a people. In addition to the Ainu, Burakumin (eta, hinin, kawata, chasen or simply the untouchables – caste system?), Chinese, Koreans, Nikkeijin (descendants of Japanese who emigrated abroad – Brazil and Peru – between 1868 and 1973), and Okinawan (formerly the Ryukyu kingdom) minority groups also exist though it’s damned tough to get anyone in an official capacity to admit the status of these people.
The Japanese world is divided into two groups: uchi and soto, meaning inside and outside. Uchi defines the boundary of an inside group or space; that is membership or belonging (i.e. colleagues, classmates, team mates, club members, and so forth). In everyday life, people who are not part of your uchi are soto and hardly worth considering. In fact, if a visitor pays attention, you'll eventually begin to notice a blatant disregard for people beyond one's social grouping. Much of it borders on extreme rudeness.
As expected though, there are times when the entire nation of Japan embodies uchi; that is, making all foreigners (gaijin – outside people) soto.
Soto, too, conforms to the sociological categories of race, conforming to the Black, white and yellow continuum. Whites are usually referred to as true or pure gaijin; blacks are either gaikokujin (outside person - normally a respectful term) or kokujin (black people); and Asians are usually Ajiajin. Sometimes, they are called are referred to by the country of their origin such as Chugokujin for Chinese or Kankokujin for Koreans. Soto, can also be broken down into soto Others (foreigners) and uchi Others (Japanese minorities). Foreigners then can be definitively categorized as “not us” while the minorities are “not quite us.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Uchi/soto + caste system = extreme complications for people of Black African ancestry. Please note that this does not necessarily mean that the Japanese prefer whites or that they hate or have a disdain for Blacks. This also does not answer the question about whether or not the Japanese like Black people. Let's explore further before reaching a conclusion.
Primary SOURCE: Japan's Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity edited by Michael Weiner
Next up: Color Symbolism in Japan (Black, yellow and white)