Sunday, February 01, 2009

Blood-type Harassment

Did you know that in Japan "Tell me your blood type and I'll tell you who you are." is more than just a cheesy pick-up line?

TOKYO – In Japan, "What's your type?" is much more than small talk; it can be a paramount question in everything from matchmaking to getting a job.

By type, the Japanese mean blood type, and no amount of scientific debunking can kill a widely held notion that blood tells all.


Matchmaking agencies provide blood-type compatibility tests, and some companies make decisions about assignments based on employees' blood types.

Children at some kindergartens are divided up by blood type, and the women's softball team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics used the theory to customize each player's training.

Not all see the craze as harmless fun, and the Japanese now have a term, "bura-hara," meaning blood-type harassment.

And, despite repeated warnings, many employers continue to ask blood types at job interviews, said Junichi Wadayama, an official at the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry.

"It's so widespread that most people, even company officials, are not aware that asking blood types could lead to discrimination," Wadayama said.

Blood types, determined by the proteins in the blood, have nothing to do with personality, said Satoru Kikuchi, associate professor of psychology at Shinshu University.

"It's simply sham science," he said. "The idea encourages people to judge others by the blood types, without trying to understand them as human beings. It's like racism."

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