Hafu in Japan

by Maika Kubo

Until I took this class, I have never thought about “hafu” so deeply. “Hafu” was just an admiration person for me. However, though this class, I learned their hardships as being “hafu” especially in Japan.

First, in Japan, “hafu” people are always seen as special, different people because of their appearance. Since they were born as “hafu”, they have no choice but be seen as special from others. For example, the “hafu” girl in the video we watched in class mentioned that they are always asked same question, “Where are you from?” Also, she mentioned “hafu” people are often given an odd look even if they do nothing. Because Japan is said to be a monoethnic, homogeneous country, this tendency is strong compared with other countries. In my opinion, Japanese people think there is a great difference between them and foreign people because Japan is an island country, and it has never been colonized. I think this fact is also connected to the problem that Japanese people can’t speak English.

Second problem is the meaning of the word “hafu”. I didn’t know that the word “hafu” is a Japanese coinage from English. Of course most Japanese people don’t use this word negatively, however, the meaning of the word “hafu” can be “incomplete person”. The word “hafu” can give impression of people who can’t belong to any countries or races. If I were “hafu”, I would think about this problem deeply, and might feel lonely. Japanese people tend to place a great value on harmony with others, so the group that they belong to is important issue compared with other country, for example, the U.S.

Third problem is that in Japan, the image of “hafu” is fixed. First, Japanese people’s image of “hafu” has wonderful appearance. They have long leg, big nose, and white skin. This image is permeated because of many “hafu” entertainers or fashion models on TV or magazines. However, in reality, each “hafu” people has different appearance. Second, the image of “hafu” can speak two different languages. However, in reality, if they don’t learn both languages (by parents or other), of course they can’t be bilingual. When I was in elementary school, my “hafu” friends were forced to learn their second language after school.

As I mentioned, through the class, I found three problems about “hafu” in Japan, and my way of looking them was changed a lot.

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