Looking at Japan’s news courage surrounding president-elect Donald Trump, it has primarily consisted of the opinions and critique of educated professors, experts, and the occasional empty-headed “pop-star”. Therefore the country’s comprehension of Trump is mainly from an adult perspective. During election day, I had numerous teachers commenting on why American’s were voting for
“stupid” Trump. Yet at the same time, they recognised the flaws of Hilary Clinton as a candidate. But like how Britain’s youth has felt neglected by the older generations who largely voted for Brexit, I wanted to know how Japanese students (Junior High and High School) felt about Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Thus for an activity that used the English Language in relation to current affairs, I did a word association brainstorm. Each group of four students, had to write down one word that they felt related to each candidate. They could use a dictionary, but there couldn’t be any matching or similar words.
These were a few of the words associated with Hilary Clinton:
women e-mails blonde hair former First Lady experience old grandmother smart American kind scandal
Meanwhile here are a few about Trump:
man toupee crazy hair ego smart businessman ugly loud sexual harassment scandal bold money racist stupid
By a show of hands, the majority of students felt that Clinton was the better choice. But when asking “Why?” many shied away from giving an answer. Some claimed that she seemed more suited for the job due to her experience, while others commented on her recent scandals as a negative. When asked about Trump, many seemed bewildered as to whether he was a genuine or a joke candidate. Most ended up commented on his “weird” hair, which became the sole focus of the remaining discussion. Those few students that were seriously interested in current affairs seemed to suggest that it would be an unpredictable period for both Japan and the US. “I don’t really know what will happen with Trump” mumbled one student.
On a whole Japan’s youth isn’t necessarily concerned about the consequences of Trump being elected. I might sound naive, but from working within the Japanese education system its clear that young people are more concern about pop sensations, TV and baseball. What can I say? I wasn’t expecting students to have any significant opinions on Trump and the US election. There wasn’t any debate or whole-hearted discussion, it was more along the lines of “I think this because this….”, all in Japanese obviously. But what I really found while asking questions and prompting reaction was an underlying problem with junior high, high school and university students here; they simply don’t care about the state of politics in their own country as a result of their education, which is a systemic and concerning problem that I’ll talk about later.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump’s reign as US President will be one of uncertainty. While I don’t agree with his political ideology or his ideology in general, I don’t think he’ll run the world into the ground. The first couple of years will be a tough one to adjust to and comprehend both on a domestic scale for Americans and from an international point of view. But he won’t be heralded to the same stature as Barack Obama here in Japan. Only time will tell for the state of Japan’s relations with America in the future. And whether they too can accept him as the most powerful leader in the world.
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