Monday, September 24, 2007

Tokugawas Still Xenophobic

Japan's Tokugawa (徳川) family is descended from Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), the victor of the Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原の戦い) in the year 1600 that finally unified Japan. As such they are one of Japan's most noble families. Aside from Ieyasu's success in finally unifying the country afterthe previous efforts of Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉), the Tokugawa family is most famous for closing Japan to outside elements for almost three hundred years, until the appearance of Comodore Matthew Perry's 'Black Fleet' in Tokyo Bay in 1852. It appears that almost 150 years of foreign relations has not beeen able to enlighten the family as to the value of others' cultures, as they are opposing their oldest son's marriage to a Vietnamese woman.

According to the Shukan Shincho (週刊新潮),
"He met the Vietnamese woman about 10 years ago," a close pal of Tokugawa's tells Shukan Shincho. "He was working at the FAO's Vietnam office at the time and met her through his work. She comes from a good family. She's petite and pretty. She's a complete contrast to Iehiro, who is only 174 centimeters tall but weighs 105 kilograms. She's 11 years younger than him, too. And she looks even younger still. Iehiro said he fell in love with her charms." Iehiro apparently set his mind on marriage not long after he started dating, and he soon let his parents know of his intentions.
"Iehiro knows that he is a member of the Tokugawa clan and fully realizes exactly what that status entails. He told his parents he spent three years in elementary school in the United States and that he has very liberal ideas about marriage. On top of that, she is the woman he chose," the buddy says. "But Tsunenari, important as head of the clan, and his mother were bitterly opposed. They said they didn't mind if their son dated a foreigner, but there was no way they were going to let him marry one."

So I gather it is OK to toy with foreigners' affections, but never ever think of making a permanent relationship, as they simply aren't good enough for a Japanese family? This is so ridiculous, I hardly know where to begin. Firstly, it is amazing that any family should be so arrogant as to discount the feelings of the objects of their scions affections. And I would say that if this is what they believe, then I would hope that their daughters and sons would suffer heartbreak at the hands of their romantic playthings. After all, all is fair in love or wwar, and this family is due for a fall.

However, the main point seems to me that some families simply cannot accept that foreign families might be as good (or in many cases better) than native. This is true no matter what race or culture one is discussing. However, it is true that many cultures and/or races do tend to prefer their own. And no one culture or race is automatically better than another. One can always find areas to criticise, and it is apparent that some cultures seem to be better at certain things than other cultures. But when one is dealing with individuals, one must learn that any single individual can be as good or as bad as one wishes.

One's nationality, race or color should be secondary to the personality and talents of the individual in question. This is especially true in cases of romantic involvement. Most mature races have learned that lesson. It is a pity that the Tokugawas, for all their historic achievements, apparently have not progressed to that point.


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