Steve McClure finds a divergence in tone in two blogs that target truth, justice and the Japanese way

IT’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN BLOGGING and bloviating. One person who often crosses the line into the latter category is Arudou Debito, aka David Aldwinkle. A high profile advocate of foreigners’ rights in Japan, Arudou wages a relentless one man war against discrimination, xenophobia and racism on his www. blog.

Many non Japanese (or “NJ” Arudou’s preferred term for foreign residents of Japan) find him something of an embarrassment, because of what they consider his shrill, paranoid tone. Here’s one example, from his blog of Aug. 5, 2012: “. . . once the Japanese police get your hands on you as a NJ, you don’t stand a Chinaman’s Chance, be it in Japan’s criminal investigations, incarceration systems, jurisprudence and standards of evidence, criminal court, or civil court afterwards.”

Odd that a self proclaimed opponent of discrimination should use a vaguely racist term like “Chinaman’s Chance” but we will let that pass.

Arudou’s in your face approach is the polar opposite of the more measured style favored by Philip Brasor, another leading Japan based blogger/columnist. Here’s Brasor on capital punishment in the May 28, 2012, online edition of The Asia Pacific Journal: “However one feels about the death penalty, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that its application in Japan is arbitrary.”

Brasor again, on Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara in the “Media Mix” column he writes for the The Japan Times: “People who admire Ishihara for his honesty mistake his lack of calculation for forthrightness. . . . He doesn't so much hold positions as succumb to whims.” Arudou’s take on Ishihara is somewhat less nuanced: “A hate mongering racist bigot” (from Arudou’s controversial and widely read “Just Be Cause” column in the Nov. 6 edition of the JT).

Brasor’s “Media Mix” column appears in the JT on Sundays and is also available online. It’s a must read for anyone who wants to get the real story behind what the mainstream Japanese media report. The JT also publishes the highly practical and informative “Yen for Living” blog about daily life in Japan that Brasor writes with Masako Tsubuku. “Media Mix” and “Yen for Living” both benefit from Brasor’s unflashy but articulate style and keen attention to detail.

Arudo and Brasor are the yin and yang of foreign bloggers on Japan their approaches complement each other. Arudou, who seems to be permanently perched atop his soapbox, goes for the full frontal assault on injustice. Brasor employs guerilla tactics by letting the facts speak for themselves, and uses his finely honed logical skills to deconstruct the absurdities put forth by the powers that be.

What Arudou and Brasor share is an admirable attention to detail and a commitment to ferreting out the truth. They play a vital role in the Greater East Asia blogosphere.

Steve McClure has lived in Tokyo since 1985. Formerly Billboard magazine’s Asia Bureau Chief, he now publishes the online music-industry newsletter