My attention was drawn today to a Japanese manga image which had been described as “Racist”. I thought initially it was no more racist than something by the brilliant artist Joe Sacco, though the manga picture is based on a young girl who is clearly not smiling in the original photo. There is, though, a hint of a smirk in the manga. I assumed this was style or something.
The original image is at the bottom of this blog
Later, I saw an article about this which translated the Japanese text and I was appalled. So much so that I have re-drawn the image and added my own text here:
The image is based on a photograph of a girl called Judi, aged 6. I have tried to preserve some of the manga style. I hope what I have drawn is sympathetic to the original. This is a very young girl in a tent city. She is there because her family wanted to get her out of the war-zone. This is not her choice. She should command our sympathy, pity, and respect. She does not deserve the ridicule dished out by Ms Hasumi.
In Glasgow, the Scottish MP Humza Yousaf regularly talks about welcoming Refugees.
It seems to me that this is our moral duty and our responsibility as a civilized country. More than that, we must ensure that the Referendum on the EU does not get bogged down, as was the last election, by a debate on immigration. The refugee crisis is set to continue for many years whether we are in or out of Europe and we will miss the opportunity to effect major change and reform in Brussels, or indeed to quit the EU project and forge alliances across Europe independently. 1) We cannot allow racists and bigots to hijack the debate. 2) we need to lead the way in promoting a proper response to the victims of war. 3) our doors must always be open to people in need.
This is what the original advert said in Japanese apparently:
“I want to live a safe and clean life, eat gourmet food, go out, wear pretty things, and live a luxurious life… all at the expense of someone else,” reads the text on the illustration above. “I have an idea. I’ll become a refugee.”
The artist, Toshiko Hasumi removed the picture after a campaign by a Change.org. It is the text that really causes offence here, rather than the image. But once the text is clear, the image itself takes on a new identity- the girl is too aware, she smirks too much. It is deeply disrespectful.
“But I will not apologize no matter what,” she said. “Because unlike in Japan, you’re destined to lose in a court battle overseas once you’ve admitted to your fault.” She went on to say that the image was an attack on economic migrants who are “pursing a safer, more comfortable life in a foreign land under the guise of pitiable asylum seekers.”
The photographer said it was a “shameful misrepresentation of the plight of the Syrian people” and that he was “Shocked + deeply saddened anyone would choose to use an image of an innocent child to express such perverse prejudice,”
Japan will not accept Syrian refugees but has pledged $810 million to aid refugees from Syria and Iraq. Of 5000 asylum seekers who applied last year, Japan accepted 11. This is a start and I know many of my Japanese friends are keen to see more done to help in the crisis. Also, of course, Japan is right to support the countries most affected.
Toshiko Hasumi, however, has a record of questionable behaviour and has apparently written fairly negatively about Korean women who came to Japan especially during the 2nd World war.
Thank God there has been outrage about this in Japan!
I have been speaking to other people who have, like me, been inspired to draw their own tribute to the Syrian girl featured in the original photograph and to post a more uplifting message. Here is a drawing by Kumiko Higashi courtyesy of Takahiro Katsumi:
Here is the english translation:
Wanna let them live safely?
Wanna let them live clean?
Wanna let them dine with their family?
Wanna let them play in schools?
Wanna let them play with their friends?
Wanna let them sleep in places without gunfires?
Wanna let them live in peace without fear of death?
… ALL BY YOUR CONSCIENTIOUS CHOICE?
I GOT IT, HELP A REFUGEE!
This is a POSITIVE COUNTERACTION against the hateful campaign launched by the right-wing manga artist Hasumi Toshiko supporting the Abe Administratin that allow hateful expression go unbound. Why not spread good will instead of hate or animosity? Yes, why not?
Also, here is a version of my picture translated into Japanese: