The “Fly-jin” hype, or: 「フライジン」に該当するページが見つかりませんでした

In English-language news media, everyone is talking about this new word “Fly-jin”, a play on “Gaijin,” i.e. foreigners who have fled Japan in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear holocaust [/sarcasm]. Take this article in the Wall Street Journal that everyone is talking about:

The flight of the foreigners—known as gaijin in Japanese—has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.

The first part of that excerpt is true — foreigners really have fled, and lots of Japanese companies are really pissed about it. I just heard a story of a person fired from a (rather domestic, small-minded) Japanese company for fleeing the country and missing 8 days of work. (I think the biggest problem in this sitaution wast the backward employer and the failure of communication by the fleeing foreign employee.)

But has anyone heard the word “Furai-jin” in actual Japanese conversation? A search of the Japanese version of brought in zero results for “フライジン” and no relevant searches for “フライ人”. A google search for the later brought up lots of pages regarding people who are in love with fly fishing. A targeted google search brought up one thread on a 2ch Japanese chat threat — which is a translation of the Wall Street Journal article! In fact, I find myself in full agreement with a commenter on that 2ch thread:

>”flyjin”(fly + gaijin)

Translation: “‘Flyjin’… I bet the guy who wrote this article came up with that.”

So a challenge to Mariko Sanchanta, author of the above WSJ article: can you show us the word “furai-jin” was used before you put it in your article?

78 thoughts on “The “Fly-jin” hype, or: 「フライジン」に該当するページが見つかりませんでした”

  1. Also agree with these other comments on that 2ch thread:







    >出国する外国人を表す”flyjin”(fly + gaijin)なる言葉まで登場した。


  2. I think it’s a joke invented by gaijins tweeting/blogging about Japan these days.
    No surprise most japanese haven’t heard about it.

    I’ve also heard “shinkan-jin”, for those who went south by Shinkansen.

  3. If you look at her intentional phrasing, she says nothing about who coined the term. I think she probably heard it from an English speaker in casual conversation and thought it was clever. It is a stupid gimmick like that cringe-inducing term “taikonaut” that Western media loved so much.

  4. I just heard a story of a person fired from a (rather domestic, small-minded) Japanese company for fleeing the country and missing 8 days of work. (I think the biggest problem in this sitaution wast the backward employer and the failure of communication by the fleeing foreign employee.)

    Small-minded? Backward? What company do you work for where an employee can just skive out and still expect to have a job? I work as a mid-level manager at an export company run by an American, when one of my subordinates wanted indefinite leave without pay to run off to another part of Japan with his family we both made it very clear to him that we were not going to hold his seat open for him. He decided to stay, but if he had left we would have had no choice but to find a replacement. We have a business to run – as did the employer in your story. Hell, there are companies in the disaster zone that are already back at work cleaning up.

    Someone wants to cut and run, that’s their call – but I don’t care where you pull that, unexcused absence is almost always grounds for dismissal. Tell your boss you want to take off because of fearmongering, fictional “news reports” and let us know how that works out for you.

  5. This is very easy to check – just use Google’s real time search.

    The very first mention of the term I can find is this tweet from Mar 20, 2011 11:04:59 PM.!/jasonscottjones/status/49471500834705408

    “Learned new term tonight: “Fly-Jin.” Foreigners who fled Japan. Thanks @martyn_williams”

    Martyn Williams is: “Multimedia Ed & Tokyo bureau chief at IDG News Service. Cover Japan for PC World, Macworld etc. Producer of Akibatteru. Fmr FCCJ pres. DPRK IT watcher. VOA News”

    I actually cannot find his original tweet, but in response to some mention he says:!/JapanBeerTimes/status/49648438924689408

    “@01001101A The term, which I first heard on Sunday, appears to have been invented by the foreigners that have stayed. Not the Japanese”

    Sunday is the 20th, and appears to be the first day that word appeared anywhere. It seems as Williams overheard an individual use it, was the first person to put it online, and it quickly spread after that.

  6. This is kind of an interesting development. The WSJ reporter joined in the conversation on Twitter where someone introduced the term, then used it in her report as a term that “was coined.” But then since she used it in the report, people who never saw the original tweets started using it as if it were a thing (ie, non-flyjin at my office).

    When I saw it I thought it was pretty funny and even retweeted it, so maybe I was part of catapulting it into the limelight. It might not be a word in “real” Japanese but it’s still kind of clever.

    I wonder if some foreigners here will try and use it in conversation with Japanese people thinking they’ll get it.

  7. My commute takes me through Nippori, which is a major boarding point for trains to Narita Airport, and Tokyo, which is both a big destination and connection for foreign visitors. Using my watchful eyes, I have noticed that the number of obvious new arrivals (tourists, visiting businessmen) has fallen dramatically, but on my way home, every day there have been a few Westerners with lots of luggage waiting for the Skyliner. I often saw people headed for the airport before the quake, but these seem to look sadder.

    Also, I have heard secondhand that all the local German workers at BMW were ordered to leave and could bring their families, presumably at company expense.

  8. I agree with LB.

    It’s the freaking end of the fiscal year. I am having to deal the with repercussions of someone Fµcking off to Europe. It has caused a change of plans that will effect us for all of next fiscal year.

    Of course what LB and I are talking about is nothing compared to what people who lost everything and more in Tohoku are dealing with.

  9. I wonder if most Japanese in Tokyo actually give a rat’s arse about what foreigners are doing in relation to this crisis. The only foreigners NHK seemed to cover throughout its week-long live session were the USAR workers, a couple of Pakistani volunteers who cooked curry at a shelter and the foreign-manned USS Ronald Reagan as it steered out of the radiation zone. Sanchata’s reporting confirms that modus operandi of the foreign media: find a fringe story (girlfriend pillows, vending machine disguises) particularly something of interest to the ex-pat community (Charisma man, unpleasant individuals from Tennessee going through abductive custody battles) and present it as if it is an “All Japan” story.

    Furai-jin? Sounds like someone who works at McDonalds.

  10. Of course, I’ve seen estimates that the number who die from pollution related causes in China is as high as 500,000 a year – or higher than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki death toll….

  11. @M-Bone – as someone who lived there for a year during university, I don’t doubt it. For those who haven’t been there, that persistent haze you see on TV shows filmed in China does not do it justice. You almost need to chew the air before swallowing. I know someone with a Chinese lady-friend, and he told me she was sending her teenaged daughter home to Shanghai because she was worried about radiation in the air in Tokyo. I laughed so hard I choked. Perhaps that makes sense in a “thought process with Chinese characteristics” or something, or maybe she just wanted to have her daughter be able to see, feel and taste the pollution, I dunno.

  12. Yeah, I think it’s stupid for foreigners mock other foreigners with the term flyjin or whatnot, as if THEY wont be called the same at one point in their life.

    I think the Japanese would view that as an act of disloyalty. I would view the same.

    NO Japanese people would ever say such thing to their own people if they are in, I don’t know, Sumatra, when the tsunami hits, and trying to go back home.

    I think now these foreigners are creating a rift between the already divided society of locals and gaijins.

    I already heard in many message boards that the foreigners who left during the earthquake period for whatever reasons are calling the Japanese: Bitjin (Bitter Nihonjin).

    Sigh. This is not the time to deal with high-school name calling.

    Can we stop with the whole flyjin vs bitjin name calling??

    I even saw the term for staying foreigners who called their own people flyjin as diejin …

  13. So is it too early to start using this at job interviews? 🙂

    Interviewer: So what can you bring to us at JD & Associates?
    Me: I’m not a flyjin.
    Interviewer: You’re hired!

  14. I do want to give that WSJ article some credit for this line though, however buried it is.

    “Some Japanese, of course, also left Tokyo, though mainly women and children going home to their families in other parts of Japan, while their husbands stay in behind to work. ”

    I’m not sure I have seen this very obvious fact mentioned in any other English media outlet. I don’t have any stats, but I expect that the number of Japanese leaving Kanto or Tohoku for Kansai is far, far greater then the number of foreigners leaving Japan.

  15. Just saw a report on TV about Thai woman who chose to stay while the embassy asked her to fly back home,so far that is the only one I’ve seen.It’s still marginal interest because there are still more than 10000 missing,but I have a feeling some weekly mag is going to pick up this story.Also Toshitaka Ito of Todai(faculty of economy)was writing a column called “Dissaster and international human intersection”and saying there are many foreign students and some prof and lecturer had fled and if they won’t come back by april,Ito thinks universities should
    consider not giving them grades,or fire them otherwise it would not be fair for those who had stayed.Can’t confirm this is true or not,but Ito’s seminar did have many foreign students as I knew back in few years.

    So yeah,the term “fly-jin”would probably be more familiar to the Japanese public by next months.

  16. On twitter:


    @sanchanta ねえねえ、「flyjin」とかそういう捏造は顔だけにしてくれる?「liejin」さん。

  17. It can get confusing classifying foreigners pejoratively as “flying” or “non-flying”. It appears that Star Flyer has had to announce the cancellation of over 100 flights in April between Kita Kyushu and Haneda. The airline has 13 foreign pilots out of a total of 29 and 7 of them have not returned to Japan following the first major quake so they can’t keep up the planned schedule of 22-24 flights a day.

    I would agree with Roy that the exodus of Japanese from Tokyo was perhaps even more conspicuous, although there were no easy shots of people queuing up at immigration centres. On that latter point, it did occur to me that not everyone rushing to Shinagawa was actually planning to flee Japan. Most individuals appeared to be applying for re-entry permits. Those who did then go on to leave Japan clearly hope to return otherwise they would surely not have worried about losing their visa status. Meanwhile, many applicants just wanted the comfort of knowing their paperwork was in order should they decide to leave at a future date.

    I think there is an unspoken class element at work in this discussion for both foreigners and Japanese. By and large, the people who left early and will likely stay away longest are those who can afford to do so. That’s mostly a question of money but it’s also a question of power and authority. I know a few examples where a foreign boss has decided to evacuate and instructed his local staff to make their own arrangements. Given the option and resources to do so, the Japanese have usually also gone. Some Japanese bosses have responded in the same way.

    On the other hand, I know of individuals who have unilaterally gone while their boss has stayed on. I think such people will have no option but to face any legal consequences of their absence. Ethically, though, I can’t see why they deserve to be condemned or reprimanded for what amounts to not being senior enough to decide their own fate but doing so anyway.

  18. Aren’t the Japanese often the first to flee at the first sign of some kind of “catastrophe”? I recall reading reports that when swine/bird-flu was on the rise (and what ever happened to that?), many a Japanese were making plans to return home. I guess the crucial difference however is that these individuals mostly worked for Japanese companies who were just protecting their own…

  19. I am currently teaching a law class at Temple’s Tokyo campus and we were basically forced to switch to take-home assignments for the second half of the spring semester. Most American students have fled, and even Japanese students (bilingual salary-people) are reluctant to come because their companies are telling them to avoid unnecessary outings in the city.

  20. As a parent with 2 very small children (4 yrs and 6 mths), I evacuated my wife and children overseas to my home country, post earthquakes, while I myself stayed here due to work obligation. My daughter was stressed out, crying on that fateful day, and has been jittery whenever aftershocks occurred. Early after the earthquakes, there were too many factors to justify leaving Tokyo, if you can afford to do so. From the blackouts, the explosions of Fukushima reactors and continuing temblors, any sane parents who have the options to do so, should do it.
    I speak and read Japanese, I remembered during the first 3 days following the earthquake, no one at Tepco really know what the hell was happening, it was all guessing game, with Q&A sessions that they could not really answer.
    At work, some of my colleagues called “losers” to those foreigners who fled in my company (paid for by company, btw). I think they are just bitter for not having that option 😛 The operating word here: Better Be Safe Than Sorry.

  21. A big Japanese company reports that its on-site engineers from India and China have gone back to their countries on order of their governments, while those from S. Korea and Vietnam have stayed on the job.

  22. No “order” from Temple, but they basically said that alternative arrangements would be provided for people who left the country. So everyone, predictably, left the country.

  23. @Neb – while I am not sure of the exact details of every single Japanese who fled back to Japan during swine flu/bird flu/SARS/etc. outbreaks, if their employer said “we’re pulling out” that would be one thing. If however the individual employees just bolted for the airport on their own, leaving their employer in a lurch, they would be every bit as deserving of of a pink slip.

  24. Here is another similar article, and the typical comments.

    It would have been easier if the decision simply pitted risk against personal safety, as it seemed to from thousands of miles away. Even as relatives watched cable news segments portraying all of Japan as a radioactive hellscape, Tokyo life was relatively normal: The lights were slightly dimmed and the trains less unfailingly punctual, but the karaoke bars and pachinko parlors remained open. With city radiation levels below what you’d receive on a long flight home, there were reasons to bet against catastrophe.

    Leaving meant abandoning that reality and accepting an apocalyptic narrative from abroad over a more optimistic view on the ground. For Tokyo expats, many who take pride in rejecting the conventions of their old lives, it also meant trading on outsider status — the reluctantly acknowledged, invisible privilege of “otherness” that is rarely discussed, let alone in front of Japanese friends.

    I think the claim that the “otherness” of foreigners in Japan is “rarely discussed, let alone in front of Japanese friends” is pretty obviously ridiculous on its face to everyone.

    I’m much more bemused by people fleeing the country than offended or scornful, but for almost everyone I have heard from the main impetus for leaving seems to be pressure from parents. Many foreign friends in Japan, even in Kyoto where things are completely safe, have told me that their parents are completely hysterical and begging them to come home, and several said that my blog and twitter was particularly helpful in persuading their parents to calm down because they could send the links and say “I know this guy, it isn’t just some random blog.”

    Deciding to fly home for a few days or week to keep your parents from having a heart attack doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me, at least as long as you aren’t, say, screwing over coworkers by doing so. One girl I met briefly the other day (friend of a friend who was passing through Kansai) went back home to Europe or something (she had an accent I couldn’t quite place) to calm her mom down. This girl said that her sister died in an accident a few years ago while living in Korea, leaving her an only child. Given those circumstance and imaging how panicked her parents in particular must be, I really can’t fault her at all for going home now.

    Then on the opposite end of the spectrum we have this bizarre story glowing with praise for a piece of shit Australian kid. Why am I so harsh? Read the bold part.

    AS radiation spread toward the home of Australian teacher Ren Gregoric near Fukushima last weekend, his local boss was demanding that he turn up for work on Monday.

    Instead, Mr Gregoric, 22, fled to Tokyo and arrived in Melbourne today.

    Mr Gregoric, 22, an English teacher at a local high school, said local authorities had failed to reveal the extent of the danger from radiation leaking from the crippled Dai-ichi power plant in northern Japan.

    As a result locals were largely oblivious to the deadly potential of the radiation and he had to plead with fellow expatriates to join him.

    “A lot of people wouldn’t leave because they were never told how bad things were,” Mr Gregoric said.

    “We actually got calls from our bosses on Sunday to tell us we were expected to come to work on Monday.

    “There was even one Australian guy who convinced some of the others that there was nothing wrong.”

    Another Australian teacher living in the area was so convinced he was safe that he refused to register his presence in the area with the Australian government.

    With the help of a steady flow of information from his brother-in-law in Australia, Mr Gregoric managed to convince five other teachers also living in Iwaki, 35km from the power station, to join him.

    Together they fled on Sunday in a car with half a tank of petrol and a couple of litres of water.

    Even then, it was only a timely contact with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that ensured the journey was made.

    Until then he thought he might have to resort to violence to persuade a Singaporean colleague who owned the car to leave Iwaki.

    “I really thought we might have to knock him out and steal the car,” he said.

    “The trouble was that accurate information had become just as scarce as petrol and water.”

    While Mr Gregoric had certain difficulties with his expatriate friends, he said the local Japanese community were embarrassingly kind at a time when their lives were being torn apart.

    “On the day after the earthquake we were out trying to get water and whatever we could and Japanese people were giving us food, making us take it even though they hardly had any themselves,” he said.

    He also told of another Australian teacher whose Japanese friends drove her to Tokyo’s Narita airport even though they didn’t have enough petrol to return to their home in Fukushima.

    Mr Gregoric set off on Sunday with the Singaporean, two New Zealanders and two Americans for a drive to Tokyo that normally takes three hours.

    Nine hours later they arrived in the Japanese capital after meeting up with two New Zealand reporters who had arranged to rendezvous with them on the highway with some extra petrol.

    “We also had a great piece of luck when we spotted a small petrol station that had no queue and got a bit more gas,” he said.

    Mr Gregoric also praised DFAT for its efforts to contact him and keep in touch with his family in Melbourne.

    “It was awesome that these people who didn’t even know me were trying to help,” he said.

    Tonight, DFAT reported that 94 Australians remained unaccounted for in the disaster area around Sendai and Fukushima.


    The number of foreign arrivals at Narita International Airport near Tokyo plunged about 60 percent from a year earlier to some 67,000 between March 11, the date of the massive earthquake, and March 22, officials with the Immigration Bureau said Thursday.

    In contrast, non-Japanese who left Japan through the country’s biggest international gateway during the same period jumped about 20,000 to roughly 190,000, they said.

    Foreigners’ departures peaked at some 40,000 on March 13, a day after the Japanese authorities expanded the evacuation zone to areas within a 20-kilometer radius from the troubled nuclear power station in Fukushima Prefecture.

    Many appear to have left temporarily because some 6,000 applied for permits for reentry into Japan between March 11 and March 22, the officials said.

    Both departures by Japanese from Narita and Japanese arrivals at the international airport sank 100,000 from a year earlier to about 200,000 each way.

    ”Many might have canceled their trips because of the quake although schools let out this time of year,” a bureau official said.

  26. “Aren’t the Japanese often the first to flee at the first sign of some kind of “catastrophe”?”

    Can’t really recall any in my memory,especially when these catastrophe is so far more of the creation of foreign medias.

    On Japanese fleeing from Tokyo,Since this is spring break season,normally there would be more people moving out of ths city or country for vacation.But so far I can’t really see any exodus(we are actually trying to make it into a story,but stopped because couldn’t find dramatic case).

  27. I’ve only heard the term being used by other gaijins – a google search doesn’t turn up anything yet.

    That said, I’ve already seen plenty of antagonism, both ways, between foreigners who left Tokyo and those who stayed. As someone still in Tokyo and working, Japanese won’t use finger pointing names like this, but it is true and I can absolutely confirm that businesses and people leaving have undermined the trust they have with Japanese customers, businesses and employers they have left behind, and the exodus will reinforce the view many Japanese already have of foreign residents of Japan as “fair weather tourists here for a quick buck”.

    I don’t plan to be a part of this myself, but I’m sure that “fly-jin” is going to become another taunt mostly used between foreigners in Tokyo, the same way many already put down English teachers, “apologists”, and pampered bankers.

  28. Aceface, I personally know several Japanese people who came back to Kyoto after the quake, and have heard about a lot more that sent their kids to stay with grandparents in Kansai for the time being. I think someone should do a story about it eventually.

  29. Well,that’s not exactly an exodus,is it?We have about half a million fleeing from tsunami hit area without place to stay and actually dying there.I think all these radiation scare is some kind of luxury of those who live in the safety zone.
    Ofcourse they have their right to believe what they like and go where ever they want.

  30. Just for the record,I have my family living in Nagoya and will bring my kid up in Kanto next week for the preparation to have him entering school in Saitama.

  31. I have a friend who sent his wife and two kids (4 month and 2 years old) back to his wife parent’s home in Hiroshima. He personally doesn’t believes that Tokyo will be seriously affected whatever the outcome of Fukushima Daiichi will be, but he said that he feared his wife who is currently staying at home caring over the baby whole day, will face a mental breakdown when continuously exposed every day about all the bad news from the Tohoku region, especially with all the news and update about the state of Fukushima Daiichi plant and the radiation.

    I completely think that his fear and his measure to send his wife and kids temporarily to her parent’s home a rational one. I heard also many cases in which elder persons who are staying home and are showered with the news are showing signs of depression. And I think that there are potentially lot of Japanese who are thinking about the option to temporally sent their families to another places, not because Tokyo is becoming physically dangerous, but because mental condition of their family members.

  32. Anyone who has seen those 保安院 and TEPCO press conferences can’t think its safe to be anywhere. Bunch of stupid geezers

  33. My wife left for western Japan last week with our two kids. Rather than being afraid of meltdowns and radiation, it was more due to that the prospect of having to deal with daily black-outs during the three weeks when 幼稚園 is closed didn’t seem that appealing. She did say that there were a lot of mothers and children at Haneda when they left though. I know of other japanese families where the wife and kids left to, but let’s remember that now is a typical season for 里帰り time every year.

  34. I know of four Japanese families in my Tokyo suburb neighbourhood (mothers and children mainly) who have moved to Western Japan to stay with relatives for the time being. One family didn’t even wait for the kindergarten graduation ceremony, the other two did. The remaining family doesn’t have kids.

    I know of at least two more families that were waiting until today to leave because it was the last day of elementary school.

    All the families told me they would have been willing to stay but they couldn’t resist the pressure from the grandparents.

  35. Mr Gregoric has been used in several Australian media outlets as a primary – and sole – source for the disaster, and if he had tried to get violent on me to take my car, I’d have given him a lot more to worry about than a spot of radiation. Those Australian media articles were some of the worst I have seen. And Roy is right on the money by calling him a piece of shit.

    There was another early report about an Australian wife of a Japanese who was pregnant and immediately drove down to Tottori to avoidn any hint of radiation. Granted, she was closer than Tokyo, but I couldn’t help thinking she put her unborn baby at far higher risk by driving 13 hours straight or whatever than she would have by staying put….

  36. I believe that credit goes to Simon Cotterill, foreign based correspondent at the Independent, for originally reporting about “Flyjin”, per my blog post yesterday:

    I’m not sure that a foreign loan word immediately appears on 2ch. It may be that the Wall Street Journal reporter reads Cotterill. It’s highly unlikely that Cotterill just made the word up.

  37. Hoofin, if you look at my comment at the top I think it may have been an earlier usage. What do you think?

  38. The whole thing is ridiculous. I’m tempted to carry a large sign saying “I’m just leaving for a conference, honest!” when I fly out in a few days.

  39. Roy, I thought about that one a bit. What you are saying is along a different line than what I was thinking.

    First, of course, there had to be some Japanese using “Flyjin”.

    Then, one of the reporters overheard or learned about it.

    Then, the reporter either blogged or filed a story about it.

    The Times was giving the credit to Cotterill. There was, of course, also the WSJ story. I am assuming that Cotterrill, wrting informally, would have credited the WSJ. It’s not clear to me if the WSJ writer would have credited reading about the word on somebody else’s blog (but should have, since blogs are, in a sense, printed material, too, and someone else had been on the story first.)

    It could be that both reporters relied on the same original text, and that it was a “mere” gaijin mouthing off cleverly about the Flyjin.

  40. Why do you assume Japanese started the word when the record indicates it was invented by English speakers?

  41. Never heard any Japanese to use this word. Not on Japanese blogs, not on Japanese twitter.

    I have only seen it in English language media and blogs.

  42. Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I suspect that 90%+ of Japanese leaving Kanto are people from Kansai or other westerly areas or who have family there, and furthermore that it is mostly children and mothers or grandparents. Of course there are also many homeless refugees from Tohoku coming to Kansai-for example Osaka Pref. is providing thousands of public housing units-but this is an entirely different matter from fleeing Kanto.

    Also don’t forget that there are hundreds or even thousands of foreigners hit by the disaster area, although most are Asian or S American factory workers so they will probably be entirely overlooked by all the hysterical western expats whining about how hard life is when there is a 5% chance of losing power for a couple of hours once in a while.

  43. Also don’t forget that entire working teams, and even entire companies, have been relocated from eastern Japan to western Japan due to blackout risks and other operational issues. It isn’t just wives, children and cowardly expats going west.

    One of my co-workers moved his wife and children to Kyoto because they were attending the French school in Tokyo, which closed for the remainder of the year after France issued its evacuation order. He was less concerned about the radiation than he was about his kids missing so much school.

  44. An article up on Bloomberg right now, “Kan Told to Decentralize Tokyo,” is an example of what will surely be increasing moves to disperse the governmental and commercial functions of Japan more broadly. You and I may not flee Tokyo, but many companies will. I understand rents in Hong Kong are already rising in anticipation of more foreign firms relocating their Asian operations there from Tokyo. On the other hand, don’t forget that Sendai was long seen as a good place to move the national government. The options really are fairly limited, since other urban centers have their own limitations or risks.

  45. First, of course, there had to be some Japanese using “Flyjin”.

    Except, of course, that there aren’t any Japanese using “Flyjin”, it is not a Japanese word. It is a made-up “word” created by English-speaking foreigners in Japan. The only Japanese who seem to even know about the word are those who – wait for it – learned about it from a “Stayjin”.

    And no, “stayjin” is not Japanese either!

  46. All words are “made-up” so if this one takes off it is as real as any other. But it is not exactly a Japanese word, more of an English word mostly based on Japanese. An inversion of 和製英語, if you will.

    Wataru, fully agreed. Also look at what Osaka gov. Hashimoto has been saying. He is using this chance to push his agenda hard.

  47. BTW, Curzon’s post here was my first encounter with the word “flyjin”.

  48. Simple test. Google Flyjin in English. Many hits, including this blog testify to its currency in English. Google furaijin in Japanese. Some hits, but it refers to fried food, boxing or fishing, even at this stage when the word has had the chance to circulate.

    I’m not sure many Japanese would associate the katakana eigo word “furai” with “escape.”

  49. I buzzed around websites in Japanese searching Flyjin + 地震 and all I am seeing is people talking about how they heard eikaiwa teachers using it or referring to blog discussions in English (the flyjin blog is being retweeted around in Japanese). It might catch on but it looks like it is spreading slowly from the English web to Japanese and is still only being used in a “look what those gaijin came up with” way by a tiny minority of web nerds.

  50. I don’t care if i am called names “sticks and stones”…he he . After all this crazy time in Tokyo,constant shakes ,water scares,radiation scares ,vegetables from Ibaraki I am taking my daughter ,leaving my Japanese husband in Tokyo and going to Kyushu to have a rest : ) I need this now to be able to start again my ” Japanese wife” routine when my daughter goes back to school in April.

  51. I have to give you Japan hands credit. While I think some of you are having too much of a field day trashing the non-Japanese, English-language media for their coverage of the March 2011 disaster (who coined the term flyjin? who cares), the years you spent railing bitterly against the writings of Messrs. Kristof, Onishi, French, Fackler, etc. now appear to be justified. I’m not thrilled to see Onishi back on the Japan beat for the NY Times.

    I doubt mainstream media coverage of Japan in the West will ever improve to the point where one-country specialists like yourselves are satisfied (and you’re not alone; ask any China hand what he/she thinks of Western coverage of the PRC), but perhaps things will get at least a little better.

  52. LMAO. I cldn’t help thinking that only in Japan wld there be a debate about it!!!! Anywhere else it’s pretty clear cut, if the place is about to blow, u get the feck out. If you stay, u are a hero & will be duly treated so; But if you went, you had your reasons & are free & entitled to have made that once-in-a-lifetime-do-or-die decision – regardless of scaremongering, it is YOUR decision.
    Sometimes Gaijin are more Japanese than the Japanese!!

  53. Big difference is you do have freedom of speech in Japan,but not in China.

    “but perhaps things will get at least a little better.!

    Actually,I think it’s completly the other way around.

  54. I think it’s just restating the obvious to say that someone (probably foreign) coined the term and it got picked up by the foreign community in Japan. So, no, it’s not part of Japanese, but it IS part of the jargon of a certain subset of English speakers. And that’s okay. Really.

    Our whole language is comprised of new words (neologisms) that people “just made up”. Some got picked up and are now in common use, some stayed within the community that created them and some outlived their usefulness and died. They are all real words as they are all used within real conversations.

  55. I remember stories in the media about many Japanese in NYC leaving for home right after 9/11, and I know for a fact, that many of my wife’s friends left at the time.

    Seemed like a prudent thing to do at the time and I don’t think anyone held it against them.

  56. I too, first heard it on the 21st am, on Facebook, from someone quoting someone’s twitfeed that quoted Martyn Williams.

    That being said, who cares at this point? There are tons of opportunities now, whether you want to volunteer, or invest, or innovate… i.e., there are much bigger fish to “furai”.

  57. @Aceface, you’ve got some issues with non-Japanese.

    You have a hate-on for ‘flyjin’ and gaijin panic, yet you want to deny that these phenomena exist among the Japanese. I’m a 6′ white guy in Tokyo still, and I know both Japanese and gaijin who have fled, in a pretty equal proportion: maybe 30% of the gaijin I know, and 30% of the Japanese I know. Other commentators have stated similar. Sure, fewer ‘flyjin’ will return than ‘fly-honjin’, because the former have fewer attachments to Japan: they’re not Japanese, they have little property in Japan, their careers and familiar are not centred on Japan, and… they will never be allowed to be Japanese, legally or socially. If the same event happens in LA or Vancouver, I bet the people who take off or stay will not be primarily determined by ethnicity but by wealth, because they all have reason to invest their futures in that country.

  58. I posted it Facebook on the 19th March after seeing it on the feed of my friend, a friend of Paul Yamagata-Madlon. I’m told Paul coined it.

    I have a lot of journalist friends, so probably share some of the credit/blame. Personally, I am suprised that so many people left, but who are we to judge individuals?

    I hope the term has become ironic by now.

  59. Check out the stream of tweets from this guy, starting a few hours ago with:

    “Don’t expect me to be forgiving of foreigners who left Japan out of fear, because their family told them to, or because ‘they could.'”

  60. Mr.S

    “You have a hate-on for ‘flyjin’ and gaijin panic, yet you want to deny that these phenomena exist among the Japanese”
    ” I know both Japanese and gaijin who have fled, in a pretty equal proportion”

    Well,last time I checked the number of Japanese residing in this country was something like One hundered and twenty million.What counts here is percentage.
    But then,I must admit fly-jin won’t earn any of my respect and you shouldn’t be surprise about that.

  61. Aceface, Japanese haven’t fled Japan but many have fled Kanto – especially pregnant women and children with very few working people leaving. Is the % lower than foreigners? Of course. But I still suspect that the absolute number of Japanese who went to Kansai is many times that of foreigners leaving the country. But it still hasn’t been reported on much if at all.

  62. OK,somehow my previous post that I’ve sent is now missing.It has link with Asahi article that many Kantoites had moved to Kansai temporary and hotels are booked on the three days holidays.Anyway,there has been a report on TV and you just missed them,Roy.

    “Is the % lower than foreigners? Of course. But I still suspect that the absolute number of Japanese who went to Kansai is many times that of foreigners leaving the country”

    No argument about that,and they don’t earn my respect that much either.But then,they can’t leave from their office that long.Soon or later they have to come back or lose thier jobs.which is different from some fly-jin executives who can re-start their business off-shore from Hong Kong.

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