Earning the title of “Japanese”

About a month ago, one big sports news hit the front page of the newspapers. The news was about Yu Darvish who is one of the greatest baseball players in Japan, and probably in the world too. The news said he would go and challenge his ability in Major League Baseball in the States. In those news, most media mentioned him as “Nihon no e-su (Japanese Ace)” meaning that he is a young talented pitcher who represents Japanese pro-baseball league. But I felt somewhat awkward with the use of “Japanese.” As everyone knows, he is half-Japanese half-Iranian. How could people call him “Japanese” without any questions?

What I mean here is not that I want to differentiate him from other Japanese because of his ethnic background. The question is that why he is Japanese when other hafu people are often said they are not. What let him deserve that title which many hafu people have to live without?

I think the answer is very simple: we want anything favorable to us. Darvish is a distinguished pitcher who received offers from several famous Major League teams. His ability is good enough for giving him the status as a member of Japanese society. As long as the person shares any Japanese blood (even if not “fully” Japanese) AND has a special ability that we Japanese are proud of, then he deserves the title of “Japanese.” Because, everyone wants heroes from their own community.

But, think about it for a second. Was he Japanese before he became famous? In his mind, yes – but not by people around him. He had a hard time being called “different.” Hafu are often not given the title of “Japanese.” They have to make an all-out effort to earn the title which full-Japanese people are born with, even if they were born and have grown up in Japan.

Isn’t it ridiculous? Whether hafu or fully-Japanese, we share the country we were born and have grown up in. Why do only fully-Japanese have a right to push the other out, based on their blood? Are we entitled to any authority to decide to let not-fully-Japanese people in, as soon as s/he becomes a hero? The answer is, of course, “No.” None of us has such thing. We, fully-Japanese, have to realize the fact that we are so selfish and have misunderstood that it is us who determine whether to let the person with unique blood (in addition to Japanese) in or out. We now should open up that heavy door to enter the Japanese society to anyone who is willing to come in. Difference is nothing to be afraid of, rather, is a spice to add excitement and fun in life.

by Shiomi Maeda

Reference: http://www.news-postseven.com/archives/20111231_78286.html


One thought on “Earning the title of “Japanese”

  1. I think your opinion is right on target. As we saw Hafu video, now in Japan there are a lot of Hafu and some of them looks totally different when we apply old images of Japanese but in today’s globalization, it is impossible to keep applying those images. People go abroad and get married to foreigners. Therefore, we cannot just choose Japanese because they are hero. As you wrote on the blog post, it is selfish. Japanese(not Hafu) need to recognize the existence of Hafu and they are Japanese. Someday I think in Japan people gradually will recognize.

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