China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party (Includes Hong Kong SAR)

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

By Ai Weiwei [1] Published 17 October 2012

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

New Statesman
(PHOTO: Marcus Bleasdale VII)

In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.

Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.

Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?

Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.

What do you call the work you do now?

It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.

What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?

I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.

When and from where will you receive directives for work?

Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.

Can you describe your work in detail?

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many dif­ferent styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?

There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.

What is the guiding principle of your work?

The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.

Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?

For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.

What are the categories of information that you usually receive?

They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.

For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?

For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.

Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?

The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.

Can you go off the topic?

Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and

blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.

Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?

For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”

This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.

What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?

There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.

Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?

Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.

Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?

Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.

When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.

I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.

This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?

There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.

How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?

The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.

How is your compensation decided?

It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.

Do you like your work?

I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.

What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?

Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.

Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?

Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.

If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.

What do you mean by “superiors”?

Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.

Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?

No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.

You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?

With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.

If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?

Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.

How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?

I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.

In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?

Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.

Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?

I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.

Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?

Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.

How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?

Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.

Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.

I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.

Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?

Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.

Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?

I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.

What are some prominent Asian American issues?

If you’re referring to the political and social issues that Asian-Americans face today, these are a few that come to mind:

Combating the “model minority” stereotype

  • The myth that all Asian Americans are economically successful, and that other races should emulate them.
  • Due to this myth, many Asian Americans in need are denied access to public assistance programs.
  • It treats Asian Americans as a monolithic and homogeneous entity by aggregating statistics of several different groups.
  • The racism that Asian Americans face in society and their achievements in overcoming racism are often understated or ignored altogether.
  • It promotes divisiveness between Asian Americans and other racial minorities
  • It’s dehumanizing to base a people’s identity on little besides (often inaccurate) perceptions of high income level and education.
  • It promotes the notion that Asians are apathetic, apolitical, and okay with the status quo.
  • It creates even greater expectations of achievement out of Asian-American students, which can be psychologically harmful.

Breaking the bamboo ceiling

  • Asian Americans are often excluded from executive positions in the workplace or passed over for promotions because of negative stereotypes.
  • They are less likely to been seen as having leadership potential, charisma, or creativity.
  • They are assumed to be quiet and complacent, less likely to seek out raises and promotions (not “go-getters” or risk-takers, lacking in confidence).
  • They are often pigeonholed into certain roles based on stereotypes of being good at math or the “Asian nerd” portrayed in media.
  • Even American-born Asians are seen, for no reason based on fact, as having weaker English and communicative/interpersonal skills.
  • Those that try to break these stereotypes are often viewed negatively by the general American population for trying to deny their Asian-ness

Gaining political access and minority rights

  • As mentioned earlier, Asian Americans are often seen as politically apathetic due to the expectation that they be quiet and accepting, etc.
  • Likewise, there are fewer policies in place to protect the rights of Asian Americans than other minorities.
  • Because Asian Americans are relatively recent immigrants, they are less politically established with fewer role models in office.
  • Asian Americans are often treated as “perpetual foreigners” and unassimilable (“Where are you really from?”).
  • Many Asian Americans are not citizens, and never apply for citizenship.
  • Many Asian Americans don’t speak English well enough to feel comfortable exercising their right to vote, hence the push for more multilingual ballots and English language classes.
  • Asian Americans are far less represented in state and federal government than is proportionate to their population.
  • Some argue that the US still has racist immigration policies (I don’t know about the extent to which this is true).
  • Many Asian Americans feel helpless to change the system, and because the community is so diverse, it is hard to organize politically.

Addressing Media Stereotypes

  • Orientalism in Western art and literature.
  • The “Asian nerd” stereotype, social awkwardness (this is often the only role available to Asian American men; there are few AA men in television).
  • Asian Americans as misogynists or otherwise culturally “backward” (every plot with an Indian-American woman somehow involves an arranged marriage, for example).
  • “Geisha girl” and “China doll” stereotypes; exoticism of Asian women who somehow always fall madly in love with their white colonial oppressors.
  • Asian American women as submissive and obedient.
  • South Asians treated as “terrorists” (see baseless accusations against Huma Abedin, for example).
  • South Asians as call center workers or “job-stealers” due to outsourcing (still reflects negatively on Indian Americans).

Other issues: hate-based violence, these days often targeting Sikhs and others mistaken for Muslims post-9/11; in the past, there has been a long history of anti-Asian violence, extending from the murder of Vincent Chin to the LA riots, etc. Anti-Asian bullying in the military (and possibly schools) has also gotten more attention lately.



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We Are Wapanese if You Don’t Please


I didn’t know there was a name for these people until fairly recently. I’ve been encountering them for quite some time. College was practically a minefield of Wapanese. Their existence personally offends me.

Their offensiveness comes from the fact that they feel they have a special right to Japanese culture. I’m half-Japanese myself. I’ve lived in Japan and attended school there once. I have a complicated relationship with Japan, but I don’t feel I have a special right or claim to Japanese culture, and I don’t call myself Japanese. If I were to move to Japan, speak Japanese and commit myself to contributing to that culture, no matter what the obstacles, then I would claim that right. But that’s not my decision, so I don’t claim it.

I do feel a very strong sense of identity as part of the Japanese diaspora. I am a Japanese-American and one of the nikkeijin. I have a kinship to Japanese-Hawaiians, Japanese-Brazilians, Japanese-Peruvians. We have a tragic and powerful history.

Wapanese don’t care about any of that. They look at any Asian person and want to know 1) Will they discuss obscure anime with me so that I can brag about my privileged access to my Wapanese friends? 2) Will they have sex with me?

Here’s a typical conversation.

  • Where are you from?
  • Florida.
  • No where are you REALLY from. Are you Japanese?
  • Not really. My father’s Japanese.
  • Do you speak Japanese?
  • No.
  • What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you care about your culture. I can speak Japanese (insert mangled Japanese words). Have you heard of (insert obscure anime title)?

Here’s a typical conversation with other kinds of Asian-Americans. We’ll skip ahead to after the “where are you REALLY from” part.

  • Are you Japanese?
  • No, I’m Chinese-American.
  • Oh. Too bad.

Unlike people with a healthy interest in Japanese culture, Wapanese are arrogant, insecure fetishists. To them, Japan represents a way of propping up their ego by claiming a kind of elite insider status. They are very dangerous for Asian-Americans who have a weak sense of identity due to internalized racism. This kind of Asian-American finds social acceptance among Wapanese, but at the price of being their pet monkey. They are still extremely irritating to other Asian-Americans who are required to be around them due to work or school, and also when they have to go out of their way to avoid contact with Wapanese.

Wapanese are overwhelmingly white. It’s quite possible for them to be people of color, but only if they’re especially arrogant and ignorant individuals. For example, the average African-American with a strong interest in Japanese culture will tend to be more pragmatic and much less prone to cultural appropriation. After all, they don’t necessarily like it when white people do it to them.

Wapanese are often hated by other whites. The most popular definition of “Wapanese” on is very nasty and homophobic but it gives you a good idea of how they are often viewed:


�Wapanese� are decidedly caucasian individuals who, by means of thoroughly warped postmodern acculturation processes, have come to the decision that it is in their best interest to act as if they were denizens of the nation of Japan. The term �wapanese� can be accurately though of as an analog to wigger. A whitey can be classified as a �Wapanese� if they are in possession of two or more of the following defining traits:

1. Has an unhealthy obsession with shallow, saccharine and intellectually insulting animation shows (also refered to as anime by the nerd elite) originally tailored for young Japanese children
2. Operates under the erroneous belief that every aspect of American culture is vastly inferior to that of Japan�s � even though 99.9% of Wapanese have never had firsthand experience of any sort with their preferred culture (in other words, they�ve never set so much as one foot upon the island(s) of Japan)
3. Halfheartedly studies Japanese language and/or is a part-time practitioner of martial arts
4. Has a sword (samurai swords only, of course) collection
5. Is a Virgin
6. May be afflicted with a terminal case of yellow fever; however, they constantly fail in their quest for Japanese pootytang
7. Extreme cases may traipse around whilst wearing a �costume� that makes them resemble their favorite anime characters (this practice is reffered to as cosplay; cross-dressing and raging homosexuality is not an uncommon component of cosplay.

Interestingly, Wapanese are generally though of as �failures� and rejects within their own culture. Social scientists such as myself speculate that it was their failure to gain acceptance within their own culture than has lead many a white geek to seek out Japan�s culture as a surrogate; however, they�d be shattered to know that the insular and somewhat racist Japanese society would be even less accepting of them than the people of their true and native culture.

Here are some Wapanese in their own words. This sad image is from a livejournal community called “Fandom secret”. Based on the Post Secret model, the community puts up anonymous “postcard” confessions.

Unfortunately, Wapanese infest online forums and make it hard for Asian-Americans to talk to each other about serious issues. Here’s a post on responding to the question, “Are you Wapanese?”

well, after viewing that, i’m still kinda saying yes. but i so totally understand the wigger comparison. but i don’t try to be Japanese. i understand that i am white (french, british, and lebanese, to be exact). i am just a big fan of the japanese culture. and kids at my school who are Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, or any other Asian ethnicity, they dont’ really embrace their culture. and i’ve never understood that. ever since i can remember, since i was like 4, i’ve been obsessed with Japanese culture. but i guess they’re just like me…only opposite.

Ah, the offensiveness. She believes Asian-Americans can’t really be “American”, they can only ape white culture. They should stick to just being Asians… but hey, white people can be even better Asians than Asians are.

I consider myself 100% American. In fact, I have ancestors who were here 400 years ago, which gives me a claim just as good as any non-Native American. But if they were only here 40 years ago, I would still be 100% American.

The Wapanese model of ethnic identity places white American people at the center of the universe (of course). All culture is theirs to sample. The Japanese culture is an especially tasty morsel.

I’ve successfully avoided most contact with Wapanese, but I had to pay a price for that. In college, I stayed away from any kind of Asian student union or Japanese club. If I was a stronger person I could have done it, but I felt like I just couldn’t stand to be insulted by the people I would inevitably run into there.

When I learned Spanish and became a student of Mexican culture, my experiences with Wapanese made me overly cautious about falling into a pattern of acting like an appropriator. In the U.S., I never speak Spanish in front of a Latino just in case I make them feel bad if I happen to know more Spanish than they do. They have to totally initiate it first, or else I’m just too nervous.

And even now, I occasionally run into Wapanese who think my interest in Mexican culture is bizarre and deeply inauthentic to my truest, noblest Japanese-ness, which they want to inspire me to recover. Argh!

(p.s. luckyfatima’s comment earlier today touched on some of these issues)

The Cove: Disturbing and Embarassing look at Japanese Dolphin Slaughter

I just finished watching the documentary “The Cove” about the Oceanic Preservation Society’s attempt to secretly document dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan while evading local authorities and their fisherman’s union. I had known about the documentary since this summer but I never got around to watching it until I saw the South Park episode “Whale Whores” which poked fun at Japan’s obsession with whaling and the environmentalists’ feeble attempts at curbing whaling. Although, references to “The Cove” were vague in that episode, much of the issues explored in both “South Park” and “The Cove” do raise concerns about Japanese whaling policies and how they handle the issues surrounding it.

The team assembled by the filmmakers is impressive given they and the film were funded by a billionaire environmentalist. Nonetheless, the footage caught by the filmmakers is a gruesome look at how dolphins are savagely slaughtered by local fisherman in the name of local tradition and to sell whale meat to a niche market. In addition to criticising the brutal slaughter of dolphins, the film makes a point that much of the dolphin and whale meat available in the Japanese market is heavily tainted with mercury, which makes it unsafe for consumption and increases the risk of neurological damage. What was more surprising was that the Japanese interviewed in the film seem to be either apathetic or disgusted at the idea of even eating dolphin meat, which seems to weaken the cultural justification for dolphin slaughter.

As a result of “The Cove”, the Japanese town of Taiji has received much unwanted attention from environmentalists and foreigners to the point where they have made changes to their traditional dolphin slaughters. The fishermen now are reported to cut the bottlenose dolphin culling, while continue their process of killing less appealing dolphins and whales. Many japanophiles and Japanese right-wing male virgins have condemned “The Cove” as a racist movie for only focusing on Japanese whaling while dolphins and whales are regularly hunted by Iceland and Norway. Although this is a valid point, Japanese whaling has come under greater scrutiny because while Norway and Iceland regularly slaughter dolphins and whales, they are not accused of exceeding international whaling limits, making baseless justifications that whaling is a form of oceanic pest control, hiding their slaughtering techniques from the public and buying support from current or new member-states in the International Whaling Commission.

Some pro-Japan supporters even complain that the movie was unjust because Korea regularly slaughters dog for food and no one complained when China was having issues with their baiji dolphins. This is really a weak point because there are regular complains that Koreans slaughter dogs for food along with countless documentaries on the process, while the issue with baiji dolphins was more of an environmental concern dealing with the destruction of towns, historical sites, ecosystems and the fact that Chinese don’t slaughter their dolphins for food. In any event, I strongly recommend viewing “The Cove” if it is available in stores or online.

Japanophiles Ruin Wikipedia

Has anyone else noticed that many Japan related sites on wikipedia are littered with anime references when such references aren’t at all appropriate?

I remember when I used to edit wikipedia a lot, i stumbled on this page called Kawaii. The subject of the article was about all the cutesy things there are in Japan, from sanrio stuff, to cute depictions of smiling dogshit on signs telling people not to leave the dogshit when walking their dog.

The article was called Kawaii. There were references to things being Kawaii, and that they had varying degrees of kawaii-ness. The word kawaii was littered throughout the article, and after a huge edit war, the page was placed with a new title called cuteness in Japanese culture. All references to the word Kawaii were then placed in a seperate article, and every time they had used kawaii to describe something in the article, I had it changed to cute.

The edit war was about how the word was becoming popular in American culture now and almost everyone knew its meaning. The otakus ruin everything. The status of the page now is that kawaii redirects there and the word kawaii is still defined and explained on a page that is supposed to be about cutesy things in Japan, not the word kawaii.

Another article that I found the Otakus overrrunning was the one on Ramen. After all the important information about what ramen is and how to make it and different types, there was a list of over 100 items in which ramen appeared in various manga, video-games, and anime.

Literally this meant stuff like:
“#22: In Ranma 1/2 episode 37, Shampoo and Genma went around the corner for a bowl of ramen. The hot soup forced Genma to revert to human form but this was spoiled when he inadvertently spilled cold water on himself during an earthquake” (that was entirely made up… but it is the gist of items on the article.)

The last and most heinous of Wapanese intrusions on wikipedia was the article for the Korean city of Busan in which they felt it necessary to state that in Japanese the name of the city was Fusan and can alternatively be called kamayama. Furthermore, calling it Busan would confuse Japanese speakers because they wouldn’t be able to diferentiate the name of the city, and the local name for Winnie the Pooh (known as Pooh-san to the Japanese).

They are everywhere on wikipedia, they haunt the article for Asian Fetish claiming that it doesn’t exist. They demand that all characters of Japanese origin have katakana pronunciations listed. They want to list every time anything shows up in manga or anime.

I’m so tired of these people!

Examples of the Superior Knowledge of Japanophiles

Japanophiles may claim to be learned in all things Japan, but the sad truth is many Japanophiles hardly know anything beyond the superficial aspects of their beloved country and culture, much less about any other country.

Japanophile — They believe that everything in Japan is good and everything anywhere else is bad. They don’t see the truths before their eyes and refuse to see them.

Those who cosplay, dress in Japanese fashion, watch anime, etc. aren’t considered Japanophiles until the unhealthy obsession is present.” –

My favorites are the occasional ones who refuse to admit they don’t know everything about anything Japanese-related, even when directly refuted by, I dunno, a Japanese major who lived there. It’s kind of amusing.

I find it funny how Japanophiles would only hang around in sticker booth shops, and get blown away at sushi instead of immersing themselves on every aspect of Japan from the good, the bad and the ugly.

Learning about feudal history but avoiding 20th century Japanese history or just focusing on manga, outdated Japanese pop music or sushi is really not the way to go. There are even Japanese majors who act in this manner.

Below are several examples of how Japanophiles apply their superior knowledge of Japan when dealing with regular people:


Example 1: “Abe Shinzo is an asshole for making those remarks about comfort women.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist! JUST MOVE ON!”

Example 2: “Japanese girls are people. They are overrated.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist! You’re just delusional and saying groundless things!”

Example 3: “Japan’s not all anime and jpop. It’s also perverts and pachinko.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”

Example 4: “Japan’s police is worse than the LAPD. Look at what happened to Lucie Blackman and Lindsay Hawker.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”

Example 5: “Ya know American animation in general has much more variety and originality between series than Anime. I just prefer it.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”

Example 6: Japan doesn’t need to abolish Article 9 when their neighbours are still uneasy and Japan’s military is a lot stronger than you think because they get much of their weapons and technology from the USA since the Cold War.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Japan is a weak country that needs protection from those evil North Koreans!

Example 7: Harajuku girls? More like whore-ajuku girls.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! They’re not whores! They’re cool!

Example 8: you know, japan produces and approves more pornographic films than the united states, and i certainly must question their moral integrity for doing that.
Japanophile: you’re a racist!

Example 9: The Japanese are still a very gender biased society. Look at their divorce laws which prevent women from remarrying 6 months after the divorce yet men have no similar ruling.
Japanophile: You’re a baka racist!!

Example 10: it was fair that the Americans obeyed the Geneva accords and placed incendiary bombs on major cities in order to deplete resources and make japan surrender.
Japanophile: you’re a freaking racist!

Example 11: Japan actually has its share of human rights violations over their treatment of Ainu, Zainichi Koreans/Chinese, and illegal immigrants. Not to mention their reluctance to grant citizenship to multi-generational Zainichis who are fully Japanised in all but the right to naturalisation.
Japanophile: SHUT UP! You’re a racist! Japan is the freest country in all of Asia!

Example 12: We like to make fun of weeaboos because they are so annoying to Asians, Japanese, and real scholars of Asian culture.
Japanophile: You’re all racists! Stop the hateful fascism against us people with feelings!!!!!

Example 13: Here are some pictures showing vending machines that serve fresh vegetables and another serving fresh porn without parental controls. Isn’t this interesting?
Japanophile: You’re a racist!

Example 14: It is awful how the Japanese government is now denying their Army ever forced their Okinawan citizens to kill themselves to prevent capture by the Americans
Japanophile: You don’t know anything about Japan! You’re wrong!!! See some Okinawans say it never happened!!! You RACIST!!!

Example 15: Isn’t the cost of living high in Kyoto?
Japanophile: All places have high costs of living! You’re anti-Japanese!

Example 16: I think L’Arc en Ciel is overrated. X Japan was much better in their heyday even in their glam rock phase.
Japanophile: You’re a racist!!! L’Arc en Ciel is the greatest! Did you hear their latest song from Gundam 00?

Example 17: This is awful. Some Japanese guy killed his family and then himself and got only 1 minute coverage on the Japanese news while an American raping a girl got a whole day’s news.
Japanophile: YOU’RE A RACIST!

Example 18: The Pillows haven’t been popular in Japan since the 90s ended.

Example 19: you know, it’s rather commonplace that Japanese politicians use brute force via the yakuza to handle any existing impediment. yakuza are also used to handle financial situations or sweeping things under the rug. how do you like them Japanese apples?
Japanophile: screw you! you’re just another one of those Japanese culture haters! i hate them! they tried to ruin our anime club meeting today! i hate them! i hate you!

Example 20: It’s clear that those who are simply not familiar with the issues will simple side with Japan or anything remotely related to Japan due to their abnormal affinities towards Japan. We call these people Japanophiles or Wapanese if we wanted to insult them.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Anata wa baka desu! You are anti-Japanese! Japan is much better than China with their pollution, rapes, and diseases

Example 21: Did you hear that an English teacher was killed not that long ago, and buried in a bathtub full of sand?
Japanophile: she probably deserved it.

Example 22: Did you hear how the Japanese police are a complete joke? They still haven’t caught Lindsay Hawker’s killer a month after he killed her and left them with an orgy of evidence. Even all the UK expats are doing their own detective work now.
Japanophile: You’re a racist and she should have been more careful. Just MOVE ON! Everyone else did.

Example 23: Do you realize they drive around with big black vans preaching how foreigners should leave the country?
Japanophile: They don’t hate white people. Just Venezuelans and they don’t hate Koreans (just the dirty Zainichis) and they don’t hate Chinese people… They just don’t like any Chinese that is not from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Example 24: People that spend thousands on imported manga/anime/electronics for the sake of owning them with no practical uses are clearly Japanophiles on crack. These kids don’t buy any Japanese materials other than this pop culture crap.
Japanophile: I take offence to those remarks! Surely purchasing large quantities of anime and manga without studying the language, local culture, the entire history, and businesses are not Wapanese! You’re a racist!

Example 25: I think Japanese cartoons are pretty cool.
Japanophile: “Ok A. It’s anime. and B. Cool doesn’t even begin to describe how sugoi it is!”

Example 26: J-rock reminds me of rock music from the 80s.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Are you implying something about J-Rock? I don’t know the issues, but whatever music was made, the Japanese perfected just like they did with Chinese culture and Taiwanese people.

Example 27: It’s funny how Japanese subway has a drink machine not behind the counter, yet you have to pay to get refills. It’s cause Japanese want to Americanize their society.
Japanophile: You’re a baka idiot! Japanese has a rich culture that they’re very proud of. I know cause I watch Inuyasha.

Example 28: An anime on kamikaze isn’t cool.
Japanophile: You’re so racist and bigoted you don’t understand what the kamikaze went through.

Example 29: I am learning Japanese to improve my opportunities in life.
Japanophile: Your obsession with Japan is out of hand and invalid. You do not truly understand Japan and you are being narrow-minded by not pursuing the standard interests. You are, to say plainly, a poseur.

Example 30: Have you been to Japan?
Japanophile: No! But it’s so sugoi desune!

Example 31: Ever been to Japan or lived in Japan?
Japanophile: Why should I live in it, when I watch anime…they are accurate…

Example 32: I hate it when Japanophiles always think it’s the other side’s fault when there is some dispute with Japanese or Japan in general
Japanophile: You’re a racist!

Example 33: You know, cost of living in Japan is really high.
Japanophile: But manga costs $5 dollars there, and it’s $10 here!

Example 34: Many aspects of Japanese culture are derived from the Chinese during the Tang dynasty.
Japanophile: No they’re not.

Example 35: Even though I can’t totally agree with Korea’s claim on Dokdo, Japan’s claim on Dokdo is even worse, as it is first claimed by Japan in an era in which Korea was controlled by Japan and had no means of protest.
Japanophile: Fuck you, you Korean nationalist! You’re racist against Japanese!

Example 36: The history between Korea and Japan is so strong, that it is entirely possible that the Jomon people are the ancestors of the Ainu, and the Yayoi people had origins mostly from the Korean peninsula and were the ancestors of modern Koreans and Japanese.
Japanophile: Fuck you, you Korean nationalist! Everyone knows that Koreans came from Japan, not the other way around!

Example 37:
Japanophile: I like Japanese/Asian girls
Japanophile: Because they are more submissive, exotic, and they like it when a gaijin like me speaks their language. Besides, guys like you and me would never be able to get hot women like this back in the states!
Me: Speak for yourself man…

Example 38:
[Situation… at a teacher meeting for all JETs in Saitama prefecture, the Saitama board of education opened the floor up for concerns that JETs might be having]
Japanophile: I don’t know how you people expect me or anyone else to teach all these classes, especially when most of us haven’t even had any kind of formal teacher training.
Me: You fucking applied to be a fucking teacher, asshole, stop complaining!

Example 39: Why is it that you guys took the trouble to come to Japan for a year or more, yet all of your friends are white expats?
Japanophile: Shut up you racist! Why are you so elitist?

Example 40: Kabuki is boring
Japanophile: You are racist!

Example 41: Dude, why are you taking so many pictures of that Japanese mailbox?
Japanophile: It’s so zen, the way that this mailbox is set up. The distance from the curb, the opening facing the east where the sun rises, the feng shui of this mailbox is perfect! The Japanese are brilliant in everything they do!
Me: I think they just wanted the opening to face away from the street
Japanophile: Exactly! They planned it that way from the very beginning!
Me: Well what about the other mailbox on the other side of the street then?
Japanophile: Well, that one’s just a mailbox, but the 7-11 in front of which it stands is also a fine specimen of Japanese aesthetics!

Example 42:
Japanophile: Damn Americans! Why can’t they spell Japanese things they way they should be spelled! It’s Supaa Mario Burazaasu! It’s Seiraa Muun! It’s Poketto Monsutaazu!
Me: You’re a fucking idiot

Example 43:
Japanophile: Damn Koreans, why do they constantly re-edit the wikipedia page about the Tekken character Hwoarang? The character is Japanese in origin so his name should only be pronounced Faran, since that’s how it’s rendered in katakana. Why do they keep adding hangul to the page?
Me: Hwoarang is Korean.
Japanophile: Shut up with your Korean fantasy lies! You’re anti-Japanese!

Example 44:
Japanophile in Korea: Why doesn’t anyone understand me when I speak Japanese here?
Me: Because you’re in Korea.
Japanophile: They were once part of Japan. Why do they hate being Japanese?

Example 45:
Japanophile: How come if I am born in Japan or marry a Japanese woman I don’t automatically become Japanese? It’s an unfair double-standard!
Me: Because that’s how the Japanese nationality law works.
Japanophile: You lie!

Example 46: Wow, Hamasaki Ayumi certainly had a lot of plastic surgery
Japanophile: Not anymore than the average Korean woman, you racist!

Example 47: Utada Hikaru’s English album sucked, especially the single from it, “Easy Breezy” I especially detest the lyric “You’re easy breezy and I’m Japanesey” In the video as well she appears to have this unhealthy envy of the white girls who are currently with her white ex boyfriend.
Japanophile: You don’t understand the brilliance of the lyric! Japanese people live in such a rigid society that they can’t wait to be rescued by marrying a white guy!

Example 48:
[situation: A white British expat that I have met for the first time has revealed that his Japanese wife is pregnant, and I’m 1/2 Korean.]
Japanophile: I’m conducting a biological experiment.
Me: I’m not an experiment you asshole. I certainly hope you never let your child know that you refered to him like that before he was born.
Japanophile: No, what I meant was that it’d be interesting to see what Japanese features he’ll have and what normal one’s he’ll get from me.

Example 49: Many prominent Japanese in showbiz are infact Zainichi.
Japanophile: You racist Korean nationalist, stop trying to steal Japanese brilliance.

Example 50: Pac-Man was quite a fun game in its day
Japanophile: It’s Puck-Man you idiot! You’ll believe anything Midway tells you!

Example 51: I like Spider-Man but that Japanese series from the 70s where he had a Spider-Mech was terrible.
Japanophile: It was brilliant and much better than any American Spider-Man story you racist!

Example 52: Gee (Astro Boy, Voltron, Speed Racer, Robotech) looked like a pretty good cartoon back in the day.
Japanophile: You idiot it’s (ATOMU, Go-Lion/DairuggaXV, Maha GO GO, Macross/Southern Cross/Invid)! And it’s no mere cartoon! It’s ANIME! Don’t you know anything?

Example 53: Isn’t it strange that in the Dragon Ball movie that all the main characters are White?
Japanophile: No they aren’t. Piccolo is Green!

Example 54: Ichiro is a great hitter as a leadoff guy given his speed. It’s a shame that much of his career the Mariners had no viable cleanup hitter to drive him in once he got on base.
Japanophile: Yes, the Mariners should have signed the entire roster of the Orix Blue Wave. (Except the Korean ones).

Example 55:
[Situation: Cibo Matto was formed by 2 Japanese women when they lived in NY and their music was mostly in English for an American audience and they have no real following in Japan. In essence they are an American act. At a Cibo Matto concert in 1999 in DC, after every song they finish….. ]
Japanophile in hello kitty shirt: Miho Kawaiiiiiiiiiii!
Me: You idiot, she speaks English!
Miho Hattori in a later interview (not quoted exactly): It bothered me that these people only liked us because we were Japanese, not because they liked our music. They group us in the same vein as Pizzicato 5 and Shonen Knife, even though our musical styles are nothing alike.

Example 56: My you Japanophiles seem to have a very stereotypical view of Japan and of Japanese people, yet you are all so quick to accuse other people of racism.
Japanophile: It’s not stereotypical and I can’t be racist, because I have Japanese friends!


I know this can be hilarious yet this is how they respond to people in real life. They love to use the word “racist” as if there was no tomorrow with the assumption it makes their responses undeniably credible.

One would expect that studying Japanese as a major or interest would entail some cultural learnings for make benefit glorious nation of wherever, but maybe that’s just me being optimistic. And people wonder why I view Japanophiles with such disdain…

Its interesting to see some Japanese majors not take jobs in Japanese companies such as Dentsu, Nomura Group or Mitsubishi, but rather spend a few years in JET or a reject program (should they not qualify for JET) before returning to grad school for similar studies.