Experiences of Hafu in Japan

by Suguru Kobachi

Last class, we talked about hafu in Japan. First of all, is the word, hafu, okay to use as a way to call them. The word hafu comes from the English word half, and some people might consider themselves as not a complete person if they get called this way. Some other words that we came up in class that we could use to call them were mixed, hybrid, and etc. If we were to change the way we call them, I thought the best one would be hybrid even though it sounds a little weird when it’s used for calling a person instead of machines. Mixed sounds more discriminating because we use mix for dogs and other animals and I think that it’s not the right word to describe a person.

Before I listened to what we talked about in class last week, I’ve never thought this much about what hafu meant and what it means to the people being called hafu. But what I was thinking while we were having this discussion in class was that, “Is being called a hafu, such a bad thing?” If this word was being used in a discriminative way, it’s definitely not good, but in Japan, the majority of the people assume hafu as a good characteristic. Everyone is jealous because hafus are pretty and handsome. In my opinion, if I was a hafu, I think that I would be proud of the fact that I am hafu.

But I wanted to hear other people’s opinions about this topic too so I had a small discussion with my family members. An opinion that I agreed with them within the discussion was the fact that we, as in the Japanese people calling these people hafu doesn’t sound bad at all from our point of view. But if you look at it from the hafu people’s point of view, they might have a different way of taking the meaning of the word. If I was a hafu, then I might have had a different opinion about this topic. As a result, I think that even though if that person is a hafu, if they are living in Japan and are acting like a Japanese person, we should consider them as a Japanese person and treat them the same way as any other Japanese person would be treated.

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