From reading “‘hafu’ in Japan”

by Misa Takahashi

I would like to talk about hafu in Japan. There is Japanese idea which hafu lead to a feeling of privilege and to heightened self-esteem (Kamada, 2008), many people maybe this is true, but I don’t think every ‘hafu people’ feels a sense of superiority in the term of ‘hafu’.

I read a story when I was in an elementary school, this story is engraved in my memory-the boy said to his mother, “ Mom, am I 1/2 (hafu) ? Am I different from my friends?” Mother answer, “you are not 1/2 (hafu). You are ‘double’.” He became to feel that he is ‘double’ rather than ‘hafu’, he gained a self-confidence.

In this story, I think that there are 2 problems. First one, almost of all people have a fixed idea which term of ‘hafu’ only means superiority. The dictionary means of ‘hafu’ is 1/2 (半分). Person is 1/2? This is real superiority term? I don’t think so. However, no matter how I call mixed-ethnic person ‘double’, I can’t fully convey the term because people think that mixed-ethnic person is ‘hafu’. They don’t recognize that calling ‘hafu’ has means (but, in these days I believe ‘double’ is good term, so I can’t criticize them.). Second one is problem of how to call ‘quarter’. In fact, there is the oppositional term to ‘hafu’, ‘double’, though this is not usual and truly good, but there is no oppositional term to ‘quarter’. ‘hafu’ problem is tend to only selected, but there are variety mixed-ethnic people and many variety problems. For example, one of my friends, she has a Brazilian grandmother, when she was called ‘quarter’ by friend, she was not glad that (the friend didn’t mean any harm, rather than it means superiority). If she is ‘hafu’, we can call her ’double’, but she is not also ‘hafu’.

In modern century, traffic technique has been developing, and the number of immigrants from foreign countries has been increasing rapidly in Japan. Many race, groups, and variety sense of values are maybe intermingled in the future. In conclusion, I think that calling ‘hafu’ should be stopped, so we have to realize that calling ‘hafu’ is hurt his or her feelings, after all, we should recognize that the existence of terms of ‘hafu’, ‘double’ and ‘quarter’ hurt mixed-ethnic people’s feeling because we separate ‘we’ and ‘others’, ‘we’ and ‘different’ unconsciously by calling these terms.

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