"It’s not Japan’s fault that they don’t have a lot of African, Indian, or Russian people hanging about to model characters after."
I get that Mike Fahey is just trying to be cute here when explaining away Capcom’s usage of stereotypes to create Street Fighter characters, but this is a patently false statement. Major Japanese cities like Osaka and Tokyo have plenty of Africans, Indians, and Russians hanging around. Likewise, the follow-up “The only reference they had back then was imported American television and movies” doesn’t make much sense because America has always had thousands of immigrants and that didn’t (doesn’t, even) stop our entertainment industry from treating minorities and foreign cultures like shit.
Why do major companies deal in racial stereotypes? Laziness, mostly, but there’s also a casual disdain for people outside of what they perceive as their core demographic. Hence why, in 2011, we still see television series, movies and video games overwhelming cast with straight white males (or in Japan’s case, straight Japanese men).
Diversity takes work. You have to make an effort to include people from walks of life other than your own, and since most entertainment we consume is produced by a single, narrow demographic and then marketed to that exact same demographic, few companies bother with exploring any new ideas.
So let’s make an effort as a group to stop pretending that Japan doesn’t have a racism problem (not hate-racism, really, more like indifferent-racism). Yes, there are non-Japanese residents of Japan. No, Japanese companies don’t have an excuse for being racist. Let’s do the same the next time Hollywood ignores source material/real life and casts a film with all white people.