Hafu in Japan

by Maki Yoshikawa

In Japan, there are a lot of hafu increasing the number year by year. This is because an increasing number of international marriages.

Probably we imagine people with white or black skin and big eyes. This means we unconsciously imagine non- Asian people. This is the symbol of how we are not get used to see other races in our daily life.

I have been thinking about hafus are little different from foreigners in terms of their identity. Japanese in Japan has no difficulties to define them. Foreigners are aften treated as foreigner, however, in their hometown in other countries, they are never treated as foreigner. What about hafu in Japan?

My friend‘s father is American and she looks completely American. However she speaks fluent Japanese and she uses only Japanese in daily life. She said that when she enters staff room in university, they are suddenly in a hurry and start looking for a parson who can speak English. She feels strange and always says “I can speak Japanese” in Japanese fluently. We treat people with the first appearance. My friend thinks this is little disadvantage because she feels like treated as a foreigner even if her identity is Japanese at least living in Japan since she were born. In addition, Japanese people think she can speak English fluently.

She said in the US, she is often treated very friendly at first sight as American because of the appearance. What I found interesting and strange is that once he/she knows about that she is hafu Japanese, some people do not regard her as a complete American.

I was astonished because I have thought since the US is multiracial nation, the hafu is not big problem.

What I would like to insist is that like my friend, hafu can face the unconsciousness about their identity. I regard her as Japanese but I do not know if she thinks herself as a Japanese or American. Even if she thinks herself as an American, it does not matter because nothing changes between us just because of citizenship.

I think that because of this unconsciousness of identity, hafu feel more friendly with hafu. When hafu people feel alienated, in their mind there are three kind of people which is Japanese, Foreigner and Hafu.

I was so worried how to remove their uneasiness or difficulties in Japan because I have many hafu friends and this was my first time to think about their identity and how they feel about themselves.

In my opinion, we do not have to treat them as a special. Their identity is theirs and we do not have right to decide it. What is different is just an appearance for me.

There will be more and more international marriage and more and more hafu in Japan and in the future, my child can be hafu and his/her friend can be hafu as well.

We can cope with this problem easier following times. I have no clear way to solve their difficulties but I would like to do something since this is very familiar problem for me.

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One thought on “Hafu in Japan

  1. Pingback: Mixed Race Studies » Scholarly Perspectives on Mixed-Race » Hafu in Japan

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