Hafu in Japan

by Ryoma Kagawa

What do Japanese people think about hafu? In the video about hafu in class, the Japanese interviewed responded to this question that hafu are pretty and cool, have good command of some languages, and behave socially, and some of the interviewees envied hafu and even wanted to be hafu for their image. Japanese people tend to have positive image about hafu in this way, but it seems that they do not really understand hafu because, in spite of such images, there are some problems with which hafu encounter in Japanese society.

The first problem is that hafu are often treated as if they were foreigners when they look like Westerner. For example, when they are hunting for a job, they are asked if they speak English very well or they go to attend church on Sundays. This is because Japanese people have the wrong view that Westerners, or Western-looking people, are English speakers and Catholics (Haefelin, 2013). However, hafu were raised in Japanese society and are familiar with Japanese culture, and some hafu are not so good at commanding English. Furthermore, the second problem is that hafu are often discriminated against especially in rural areas, no matter that they look like Western or Asian. I found a person who has a Japanese parent and a Chinese one on the Web and he once has had negative feelings for Japan due to discrimination which he experienced; yet he was sure that he would not be accepted in China as well because he had no command of Chinese language and was hardly close to Chinese culture (Yamashita, 2013). I think that hafu share Japanese culture, customs, and language with Japanese people who have Japanese parents, so they are not foreigners but Japanese.

In order for hafu to join in Japanese society, I believe that the Japanese should change their view on them, and there are some means for the conversion of the view. One of them is to teach children other cultures at elementary schools. While adults belong for a long time to Japanese society which avoids hafu, children have flexible thoughts. Consequently, it is thought that education of multiculturalism at an early age is efficient for forming a society which better includes hafu. Such a society cannot be achieved soon, but now that one in thirty babies in Japan is hafu, I think that they will come to be accepted in society gradually.

Some Japanese people regard hafu as special, and admire them, but it is true that they have difficulty belonging to Japanese society. For a society open to them, I think that to appeal to flexible mind of the young is of great significance. In the stream of globalization, I believe that this will be realized although it requires a long time.

References

Haefelin, S. (2013, February 18). Haahu to shushokukatsudou [Hafu and job hunting]. Haahu wo kangaeyou [Let’s think about hafu]. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://half-sandra.com/column/2013/02/18/1423.php

Yamashita, M. (2013, April 11). 30 nin ni 1 ri ga haahu no jidai tachihadakaru bunka no kabe wo dou norikoeruno ka? [The era that 1 in 30 is hafu – how do they overcome the cultural barrier in front of them?]. WEDGE Infinity. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://wedge.ismedia.jp/articles/-/2702

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