I once posted an article on the web in which I referred collectively to people from China, Japan, and the Koreas as "Oriental". I got an email from someone who informed me that this is an offensive term and that I should call such people by the specific country of origin -- "Chinese" or whatever -- or collectively as "Asians". She claimed that "Oriental" refers to an object, like "an Oriental vase", and is insulting when applied to a person.
I consider "Asian" inappropriate as it would include Siberians, Afghans, Pakistanis, etc. And of course "Chinese" is unacceptable if you want to include Japanese, Koreans, and related cultures.
So my question is: Do people from this part of the world really find the word "Oriental" offensive? If so, what term do they prefer for themselves? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from someone who actually is of Japanese, Chinese, etc., background, rather than an American or European saying what he thinks someone else thinks.
(Frankly I thought the argument about "Oriental" applying to an object was a little curious. I call myself an "American". I don't find it at all offensive that the same word used to describe me as a human being is also used to describe objects, like "American cars", "American food", etc. Both people and objects can be from the same physical place, so I don't see any problem with using the same adjective to describe both. But maybe there are different connotations to the word "Oriental". )