Is “Gaijin” a derogatory term? In my opinion, it’s not.


Category : Culture, Language

“Gaijin” as a derogatory term and as an abbreviation

Some foreign people living or having stayed in Japan seem to be negative about a word “Gaijin”. They may consider it as a derogatory term.

There are two interpretations of the word.

  1. “Gaijin” is an abbreviation of “gaikokujin” (“外国人” in Kanji.) “外国” (gaikoku) means “foreign countries” and “人”(jin) means “people”.
  2. “外人” (gaijin) is “outsider”. “外” means “outside” and “人” means “people”.

I guess the majority of Japanese people use the word as the former one. When they use the word, probably they have no intention of discriminating.

When I was taking an Irish teacher’s lesson at the university, I think he said that “foreign nationals” is encouraged to be used in Ireland, instead of “foreigners”. This might be a bit similar to “gaijin” and “gaikokujin”.

As a child, I learnt that “gaijin” is not a proper word , so I haven’t used it. However, the word has become too common now, so I don’t think Japanese people will stop using the word.

Sometimes I see “JAP” being used, but I feel many of those who use “JAP” don’t know that it is a derogatory term. When I was in another country, someone shouted at me, “JAP”. I guess he said that as a derogatory term. But honestly, I didn’t feel anything. The sound of “JAP” was nothing, but an abbreviation of “Japan” to me.

These days, racism is a word that I often hear. As for me, I don’t much care about racism, since I stay at home usually.

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