Non-Japanese and Hafu in Japan

by Maho Machida

Nowadays, in Japan, many “hafu” can be seen in variety shows and fashion magazine. So, many Japanese people associate cool or cute people who are white and Japanese with “hafu”, I think. And I have never pay attention to how “hafu” form their identity in Japan before I learned it in class. I think many “hafu” who live in Japan experience some hardships which we Japanese don’t notice.

Referring to these people as “hafu” seems to be controversial. In my opinion, this term doesn’t include negative meanings. However, by calling so, we unconsciously distinguish non-Japanese from us. So, some feel uncomfortable with this labeling, if they have their identity as Japanese as they are brought up in Japan. In addition, there is a possibility that the term “hafu” imply incomplete Japanese. Therefore, these days, it becomes better to use “double” instead of it. But I think that both “hafu” and “double” could prevent them from participating in Japanese group. Both are sort another category different from “Japanese”. Therefore, it would be the best way to call them as their name, like Japanese people. The more the globalization proceeds, the more Japanese society gets diversified. So, I hope a flexible and generous society where there is no need to use “hafu” and “double”.

Japanese idea of citizenship is ethnic and exclusive, I think. There are some limits on jobs and the right to vote for non-Japanese. Historically, we have shaped our own identity and made a system in relatively homogeneous country. Japan seems to be not able to keep up with dramatically changing members of Japan. More and more people have got married to non-Japanese. Moreover, more and more people have come to Japan as immigrants and worker. Nevertheless, the number of signboards and menu cards written in both Japanese and English in Japan seems to be small, I think. And, some Japanese still have a prejudice against “gaijin”. For example, they think Japan becomes unsafe as the number of “gaijin” increases. However, in fact, the number of crimes committed by foreigners in Japan is not very large. Because of its rarity, it is focused on too much.

Thanks to the development of the Internet, we get connect more easily with the world. By using SNS, we communicate more easily with people from all over the word. In that point, our generation is more open to non-Japanese people than the past. So, I hope that Japan become comfortable to live in for non-Japanese people.

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