When people join the library there is an optional section on the form they fill out where people can tell us what ethnicity they are (apparently Canadians don't like/are offended by this section).
This is the what the choices look like:
British / Irish / Other White
African / Caribbean / [...] / Other Black
Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi / Other Asian
Chinese / Other Ethnicity
The [...] indicate the choices I can't remember.
Today this Japanese girl came in and put herself down as "Other Ethnicity". I can totally understand why she chose "Other Ethnicity" because "Other Asian" seemed to imply "Other Middle Eastern country". So I asked a colleague about what it *really* meant.
Me "If you're Japanese, would you be 'Other Asian' or 'Other Ethnicity'?"
Colleague "Other ethnicity."
M "But Japan is in Asia."
C "It'd be under "Other Ethnicity" next to China. That's why China is separate."
M "I thought China was separate because it has a really large population."
C "But Asian is for India and Pakistan and that sort of country."
M "So 'Other Asian' is just for the Middle East."
C "No. Just India and those sorts of countries."
M "What about Iran and Iraq and Saudi Arabia?"
C "They're not in Asia."
M "...I think they are..."
C "Well what it says is 'ethnic group'. Your race, not where you come from."
M "So people from Asia aren't of Asian ethnicity unless they're from India and Bangladesh and Pakistan?"
C "See it's not about nationality. It's about ethnicity."
So basically, if you live in the east/southeast Asia, you're not of Asian ethnicity, just Asian nationality. But if you're from the Middle East you could probably get away with calling yourself 'Other Asian'.
NB In Britain, only people from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh and other countries of that area are referred to as "Asian". For example, no Chinese/Japanese/SE Asian person would be called "Asian". My friends would not refer to me as their "Asian friend" as I am Chinese. This is because a lot of the Asian people in Britain come from those countries, and fewer from far/south east Asia (though that still doesn't really justify the fail). And before you start thinking that this is just one of these English quirks, the colleague was a middle-aged Italian woman.