When Japanese use the term “foreigners” they usually imagine Westerners. Japanese hold exotic feelings towards those who have different appearances. To Japanese, Westerners are truly “foreigners.”
Japanese people’s deeply rooted ardor for Westerners, who obviously have different genes, is coming from the fact that Japanese have clone-like genes. For Japanese, this feeling may be similar to that when they see Hollywood stars. Against this background, Japan has a history of modeling Western countries to help modernize Japan, and has subsequently gained respect for them. In particular, Japanese people feel close to Americans, who played a significant role in Japan’s post-war democracy.
On the other hand, Japanese do not feel the same exotic feeling towards other Asians, in particular Chinese and Koreans, who they have a similar appearance to. Therefore, Japanese usually refer to Chinese and Koreans separately. They are foreigners who are not called “foreigners.” It is often said that Japanese are cold towards other Asians, but this perception was based on historical distortions and has since faded away.
Japanese people’s awareness towards Asians, especially among the younger generation of Japanese, is changing greatly. You may notice the change if you see the Korean boom in Japan. Now, Japanese eyes are turning to Asia.