Being gaijin in Japan
Today something strange happened: for the first time in more than 3 years I have been here in Japan I was treated not like a Gaijin that wants to rob, steal, or cheat, but like someone that might have serious intentions to remain here.
All of those foreigners who have lived in Japan, or at least all of those I know, have had very similar experiences. I just want to mention one, which makes clear what it means to be a Gaijin (Foreigner) in Japan.
I was here a few month, my contract at the university was (and is) Associate Professor. Due to a lot of travels abroad, conferences etc, I needed a credit card.
So I asked the representative of the Hokkoku Ginko (北國銀行) which normally is somewhere around JAIST to visit my office, and asked our secretary to translate. I explained my situation to the clerk, and without a second of hesitation I was told: “We don’t give credit cards to foreigners.”
Japanese bank clerk to Associate Professor at a state founded university: “We don’t give credit cards to foreigners”
My reaction to this was also quite quick, without much hesitation: “Then I don’t need your service anymore!”. At that point our secretary took over and calmed down the situation, and finally she found a different way for me to get a credit card from a different bank.
Anyway, this episode tells quite clearly how foreigners are treated in Japan with respect to money, or trust.
Now for the positive part: Today I went to sign a contract for a new flat, actually Maisonette, two floors etc. And I was surprised that after a background check of my work circumstances, the respective company accepted to get payments via bank transfer (instead of the usually required additional credit card I didn’t need), and even more surpisingly, didn’t need the income statement of guarantor (a backup person who guarantees to pay the fees in case I decide to stop paying, something absolutely necessary in Japan. I only ask myself how I will do that when I am 60 and still moving house?).
There is this small amount of happyness – but honestly, it is spoiled by one fact: Maybe all this happened only because now I am married to a Japanese, and in case I wouldn’t the same procedure and the same pain did wait for me.
Anyway, whatever the reason is, it made me a bit happy, and looking forward to our new living space!