Ethics Policy

Introduction

Tales from Tabata is a place to have fun. I do not want this blog to cause violence to anyone. I have therefore codified an Ethics Policy as a guide for my writing, and my readers (if any).

Please email me with comments about this Ethics Policy at hello@talesfromtabata.net.

Table of Contents


What Tales from Tabata is not

Tales from Tabata (the “Blog”) is a piece of opinion commentary. It is not journalism, not a primary source of fact, and therefore readers should not treat the Blog as such.

Although I do spend time researching the things I wrote, I write the Blog by myself, and I don’t have the resources to hire a fact checker. If you come across a statement of fact you’re interested in, verify it. As I’ve written in the Blog’s Disclaimer, readers use the facts I write on the Blog at their own risk.

Facts I publish on the Blog will become outdated over time.

The Blog automatically time stamps all my posts, and, where possible, I make best efforts to date all the photographs I publish.

Sponsorship

I receive no sponsorship or compensation in any form for, and, unless otherwise stated, I do not have a direct or indirect financial interest in, any of the products, services, or brands (“Recommendations”) that I mention on the Blog.

Any Recommendations that I mention on the Blog are for readers’ information and entertainment. Nothing on the Blog constitutes a representation or warranty as to the quality of any of the products, services, or brands so mentioned.

Funding

I am fully responsible for providing the funds to register and maintain the Blog’s domain, and to host the Blog on WordPress.

I am in the privileged position of being able to fund my own trips to Japan (mainly Tokyo), from which I draw the majority of my personal experience and research from.

Avoiding contemporary orientalism

There’s a story on The Rising Wasabi that goes like this:

Huge shockwaves have been sent throughout the foreigner blogging community in Japan after a newbie gaijin launched the 18,541st unique blog today about Japan.

“My blog looks at Japan, Japanese culture and living in Japan from a fresh perspective,” says 4-months-a-gaijin Jill Howard.

“I think I’ll do my first blog post on the chicken they sell at Japanese convenience stores.”

It’s satire, of course, but the attitudes behind the satire are very real. Andreas Neuenkirchen, a novelist writing for The Japan Times, calls it “New Orientalism”:

The young people who marvel at the cityscapes of “Ghost in the Shell,” go crazy about ramen and stack their bookshelves with manga genuinely think that anything Japanese is much cooler than anything from their own culture. That, of course, is an attitude that will need a reality check at some point.

Without defending English and Chinese-language media that simplifies and idealizes Japan, I do think that it’s easy to see people who write and study about Japan as doing just that. It’s easy to think that this Blog is just a cesspool of text on kawaii culture in Harajuku and on filling up your seven suitcases with sake-flavored Kit Kats and other Don Quiote junk.

I love reading about Japan, and learning Japanese, but I was also deeply frustrated when I lived there as a student. My hope for this Blog is to draw from my personal experiences and give people who are interested in Japan that “reality check” Neuenkirchen wrote about.

I also hope readers give me a “reality check” on whether the Blog is sliding into contemporary orientalism territory.

Mansplaining

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mansplaining as “when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”

I am my own spokesperson on the Blog. All the stories I share are from my memories and my lived experiences, and come embedded with my privilege as a cis-gendered, upper middle class male. Most importantly, I don’t live in Japan, and I don’t identify as a nihonjin.

Because I can’t speak for anyone else, do not take the Blog as an authoritative source of information for your lived experience in Japan. I use the Blog to draw readers’ attention to social issues I care about (e.g. laborer immigrants, the difficulties working women face), but my Blog cannot and should not replace what they have to say.

Sources of fact

Where I write about something I do not have firsthand knowledge of, I will link to the source from which I drew on to write that statement of fact on my Blog.

I try to be aware of where I find sources of fact.

  • Foreign correspondents who publish from Japan in English are a reliable source of hearsay, so I tend to quote heavily from places that publish with bylines like The Japan Times, Financial Times, and the New York Times.
  • I also use published books or academic journals where available.
  • Where third-party sources are in Japanese (e.g. a Twitter post), I try to verify the truth of what the source says before publishing it.

Ultimately, all sources of news are what we call “hearsay” in the common law. Hearsay is using what someone else saw and heard to prove the truth of a statement of fact. Courts are historically suspicious of hearsay, and so should you.

As I stated in from this Ethics Policy’s outset, the Blog is not a journalism outlet, so I do not conduct original reporting for my posts. All the “Deep Takes” essays are based on memories, reflections, notes, and other recollections from the time.

Writing in the English language

Despite the Blog’s subject matter, I choose to write in English because English is the most comfortable language I choose to communicate in.

I embed pictures, messages, or videos that are in languages other than English to illustrate a point or to supplement the information I write on the Blog. Where I do so, I hope to draw my readers’ attention to Japanese or Chinese-language media, and do not intend to be exclusionary.

Translations

When I embed Japanese text on the Blog, I offer an English translation of what the Japanese text says. When I do so, I do not purport that my interpretation of the text is the correct interpretation. I intend the translations as an aid to my readers who do not read or understand Japanese. If you read or understand Japanese, you may interpret the text differently from me, or spot errors. If you spot an error, please let me know. I’ll be glad to make a correction.

My translations are usually unilateral, and in the strict intellectual property law sense, made without actual authority. Readers can be the final arbiter of whether my lack of authority to translate in unethical or illegal. I find this discussion by Nick Green a useful starting point.

My choice of words

I prefer the use the following language on my Blog:

  • Gaikokujin (外国人)” (without translation) to describe individuals who do not identify as Japanese citizens. I am unable to provide an English translation for this term.
  • Nihonjin (日本人)” (without translation) to describe individuals who do identify as Japanese citizens. I am unable to provide an English translation for this term.
  • “Japanese” only in the generalized sense on people coming or traveling from Japan, in essays where I do not discuss, inter alia, immigration, citizenship, labor, education, or other related topics.
  • “Multiracial” to describe individuals who identify as coming from two or more races.

The list will grow as I continue to write on the blog.

I make a good faith effort to respect an individual’s preferred pronouns. Where I do not know a person’s preferred pronouns, I default to “they / theirs / them”.

I make a good faith effort to follow the guidelines in “Ableist Words and Terms to Avoid” by Lydia X.Z. Brown, a Georgetown University alumna, attorney, and activist.

Quoting hate speech

From time to time, the Blog may, for the purpose of discussion, include third-party quotes that some readers may consider to be hate speech.

Following Deutsche Welle’s guidelines on reporting hate speech, I do not intend for the Blog to be a platform to broadcast any hate speech I discuss to a broader audience.

Where I find it necessary to report on hate speech, I make a good effort to discuss it with a critical angle, verify the facts within, and provide context to try to interpret the person’s intention to make such comments.

Content warnings

Where the Blog mentions topics that readers may consider sensitive, I make a good faith effort to provide a content note for readers to understand what they are about to read.

Topics on which I will place content warnings include, but are not limited to:

  • Mentions of sexual assault and / or gender-based violence
  • Hate speech
  • Mentions of suicide and / or self-harm

Gender representation

I hope the Blog is a space where readers who identify as womxn and / or women feel comfortable.

I am conscious of the fact that from time to time, I discuss issues that pertain to womxn and / or women as a cis-gendered man. The purpose of these discussions is to raise awareness of these issues to readers as a starting point, and not to act as spokesperson. Readers are encouraged to conduct further research on their own the issues I mention on the Blog.

I am conscious of the fact that where I use third-party sources, those sources may be disproportionately created by individuals pertaining to a certain gender more than others.

Queer and trans representation

I hope the Blog is a space where readers who identify as queer, trans*, and / or asexual feel comfortable.

Where I discuss queer issues on the Blog, I do so as a starting point. Unfortunately, I do not intend the Blog to be a queer / trans* / asexual resource center for readers, nor do I have the knowledge and resources to make the Blog as such. Readers are encouraged to conduct further research on their own the issues I mention on the Blog.

Geographical representation

Readers may find the Blog’s subject matter to be Tokyo-centric, contributing to the phenomenon that Japan as a whole is centralizing too much around Tokyo.

However, an attempt to write about regions where I have not had personal experiences goes against my policy on mansplaining on the Blog. There are plenty of media, books, and other resources in print and online about areas outside of Tokyo.

Ableist limitations to Tales from Tabata

Due to my personal financial and resource constraints, I am unable to provide accessible options, such as large text size or high contrast options, full image descriptions, or spoken word versions of my blog posts on the Blog at this time.


Changes to the Ethics Policy

Changes to this Ethics Policy are summarized below.

  • March 12, 2020: First published.