For many Japan is a country of mysterious beliefs, practices and inventions, but even with that in mind this may be a little on the extreme side.
Since the 1920s, explains The Daily Beast, many Japanese have held “a superstitious belief that there is a serious correlation between blood type and personality”.
Kind of like the zodiac? Sure.
Here’s what the different blood types suggest:
Type As, (like Jake Adelstein), are supposed to be considerate, hard-working, and pay great attention to details. Type Os are good baseball players, happy-go-lucky, easy-going, and amiable.
However, in recent years, according to a prominent critic of this pseudo-science, there is discrimination against certain blood-types – especially “the opinionated and extremely curious” Type Bs.
Masao Ohmura, personality psychologist at Nihon University, suggested…that because the Japanese are genetically quite a homogeneous people, grouping by blood was a way of achieving diversity—if only the illusion of diversity.
The article notes, “It was believed that the four blood groups corresponded to the classes of feudal Japan: type O (confident and strong-willed) for warriors; type A (mild-mannered and submissive) for farmers; type AB (intelligent and sensitive) for artisans; and type B (cheerful and outgoing) for tradesmen.”
The Japanese call it “blood harassment”, or “burahara”, and professor Shigeyuki Yamaoka, a social psychologist, has done extensive research debunking the myth:
There is no scientific basis for assessing character by blood type.
But even in a country like Japan where roughly 98 percent of the population is the same ethnicity, people still find a way to discriminate and group people into convenient molds.
It all began in 1927 when psychologist Takeji Furukawa published the paper “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type” which was – get this – influenced by “research in Europe that aimed to prove arguments for racial superiority”.
But it gets worse:
Although based on nothing more than observation of 11 of his relatives, Furukawa’s theory was used to deepen “understanding” of the strengths and weaknesses of army soldiers, resulting in the Imperial Army embarking on its own research into blood types. Not surprisingly, when put to practical tests, the theory fizzled out.
But despite the fact it was a fallacy, the notion that blood type was closely linked to personality gradually permeated into the psyche of Japanese society and as early as 1937 there were instances in which a part-time doctor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested that a group-O person would make a better diplomat.
Furukawa also suggested that in Japan’s colonized Taiwan, Japanese occupiers should increase their intermarriage with the Taiwanese to dilute “the rebellious blood type.”
The blood type trend continued well into the ’90s and was thought to have quieted down by 1999. Then: another comeback. In 2004, the theory was picked up on more than 70 television shows in one year, a trending fad that lead the Broadcasting & Ethics Programming Improvement Organization (BPO) to issue a warning to stay away from potentially dangerous content that promoted negative stereotypes.
These days, although Japan’s government is officially discouraging the practice, “books on the subject are still being published and blood-type-based fortune telling is a regular on morning TV shows”.
Here are some towels for specific blood types on sale:
Although blood type discrimination is a mere extension of the more blatant forms of racism practised against non-Japanese citizens, something that is not discouraged by the government:
If only there were more aggressive and courageous B-types or open-minded internationally inclined AB types in the government, perhaps we’d see some change for the better.
If you’re wondering which blood group you belong to, learn more about blood type test options and information here.
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