Nearly two thirds of foreigners living in Japan say they have experienced derogatory remarks because of the way they write their ‘so’s (ソ) and ‘n’s (ン), while about 40 per cent say they have had their ‘so’s and ‘n’s rewritten for them.
Japan’s justice ministry sent questions to thousands of foreign residents to gain an unprecedented glimpse into the underlying prejudice.
The surveys revealed the constant ‘so’ and ‘n’ katakana harassment being faced by gaijin living in Japan.
Respondents gave an insight into the common forms of verbal abuse they had encountered on a daily basis:
“They all look the same.”
“I can’t distinguish between them.”
“Hey, look at these two, they look absolutely identical!”
“No matter how hard I try, writing the first stroke of the ‘n’ sideways and then the second stroke from the bottom up, and then the strokes of the ‘so’ from the top down, they always come out looking the same,” said 41-year-old gaijin Ben Hanson.
The government responded to the results by pledging to increase education for Japanese explaining that ‘so’ and ‘n’ actually look almost identical when they write them as well.