Hafus’ citizenship and their identities

by Ryota Ochiai

You might have looked at a situation that a lot of hafu are living in Japan, today. In this article, hafu mean the people who are half-Japanese and half-something else. They spend days while they are often bound by that stereotypes like being seen as “cool” or “cute”.

However they are faced an important choice seriously until being 22 years old. The thing is “choosing own citizenship between two countries”. Dual citizenship is not accepted in the current Japanese Nationality Act (JNA). Therefore, hafu who chose Japanese citizenship have to withdraw another citizenship. In fact, however, hafu should leave the foreign citizenship when they will be foreign public such as police and member of National Diet. If in this case, hafu may only lose Japanese citizenship. However, the foreign citizenship does not disappear only by having reported that hafu chose the Japanese citizenship. Moreover, in Japan, there are no penal regulations about not withdrawing the foreign citizenship. It is approved by the government if I declare that “I choose Japanese citizenship.” However this declaration also means “an acting as for the withdrawal of the foreign citizenship” because JNA is telling. It is not compulsory to withdraw own foreign citizenship. These mean that “dual citizenship” might be accepted legally.

Nevertheless, the problem of the citizenship of hafu is not solved easily because of relating one country and another country. The time when hafu were born and family-forms maybe include in these factor. Ms. Sandra said that “If there are 10 hafus, there are 10 different stories about citizenship.”

We just see that hafu could have dual citizenship in Japan legally. Well, how about their identity? A problem of the identity for hafu is not “a problem in adult”, but “a problem facing you since you were child”. I felt unconsciously, that the way of thinking of human relations in “my foreign blood” is different from that of Japanese. I did not understand identity when I was a child. However I can felt what’s called “sense of estrangement” somehow. What distinguishes a Japanese from a foreigner? I fell into such a problem deeply in a childhood. However, an answer for oneself was found now. The answer is “not to distinguish own”. Even if two or three kind of bloods is flowing my body, it does not matter. Recognizing the environments that imposed on myself and taking it balance is my answer. I would like to take Japanese citizenship but I don’t want to waste my experiences and environment which are bound myself. Therefore I want to help hafu who are troubled with identity and say to them “Take it easy!”

Thank you for reading my post. I’m waiting your comments or feedback.


http://half-sandra.com/ <Thinking of Hafus’ Problems (Hafu ni tsuite kangaeyou)> written by Sandra Heferin.

Hafu issue and Japan

by Kensuke Ikeda

There are a lot of hafu whose parents don’t have the same nationality all over the world and there are many Japanese hafu in Japan. I found though movie about hafu that hafu cannot accept adequately in Japan because some Japanese people regard hafu as foreigner and other Japanese people don’t have interest in them. Also, hafu tend not to have own identity because they have difficulties for finding their origin and nation. Hafu issue, I think, is based on the lack of identity. The lack of identity is related to some questions are “where am I from” and “who am I”. Now we (my classmate and I) have discussed the situation of hafu and some students recommend multicultural education and global political policy for improving the idea for Japanese hafu on Facebook.

Of course the multicultural thinking is important, but the thinking is not perfect because the multicultural education is taught only to younger people such as school students. Therefore I suggest another way that Japanese government should allow for hafu to get two nationalities and follow the wave of globalization.

First I explain first solutions. To begin with, you should recognize the cause of lack of identity for reconsidering the issue. The loss of identity has relationships to the citizenship of hafu. They have to choose their nationality and citizenship in some countries such as Japan and Korea compared to the USA. In other words, these governments force hafu as minority to abandon one side right of their nations without getting double nationality. In my opinion, Japanese government should make room for hafu to have double nationalities and identities.

Second I introduce another method for solving hafu issue. Japanese people still tend to keep from foreigners because Japan is said to be a racially homogeneous nation and Japanese people get used to treat foreigners. On the other hand, globalization is advancing by improving IT such as the Internet and SNS. If this globalization is increasing, naturally the number of hafu will increase and the kinds of hafu pattern are more various, and then the environment for hafu in Japan will be changing. In other words globalization makes Japan racially multination. Therefore, I suppose that Japan should be more global and Japanese people get more opportunities to treat hafu. If this solution can, hafu will not need their identity because they could have the sense of belonging. They are treated as just a “human”. They would not lose something they could rely on.

How can people become Japanese?

by Tatsuya Haishi

Through the discussion in our class, I realized that there are many ways to become Japanese; however, it is a very difficult attempt to succeed. If I must choose one way to become Japanese, I would mention Japanese language. We cannot judge people’s nationality by their appearance like skin, hair and eyes in the age of globalization. We feel comfortable when we can communicate well with other people, yet if we feel that we cannot communicate well with them, maybe we begin thinking about a disparity between us and them. The most effective way to communicate well is the language. When I hit it off with a foreigner who really wants to be a Japanese citizen, it is difficult for me to recognize him as Japanese although I would like to.  He would be one of my foreign friends. However, if he can speak Japanese and communicate with me in Japanese, I will regard him as Japanese with no doubts. Accordingly, I think hafu people who grew up in Japan and can speak Japanese well are perfect Japanese.

I think that to be Japanese is still harder than to be other country’s citizen. Although I have no idea about the exact reason of that, in my experience, many Japanese people have the feeling that our society is a homogeneous community. Of course we learn and know Japan is not a racially homogeneous nation, but we have such sense unconsciously. I think that’s because we have few opportunities to meet foreigners in Japan. I also had never talked with foreigners until I entered the university.

Now, for most of Japanese people, to be Japanese means to be “Japanese-Japanese”, not “Korean-Japanese” or “British-Japanese”, but this situation may change in the near future. Japan is an aging society with a declining birthrate and is facing a decrease of the work force. It will be necessary to accept immigrants from other countries to hire them. When they adapt themselves to Japanese society and have their kids, some of them come to feel that they are Japanese. I take it for granted that there are many kinds of races living together in London. Today, it is a quite natural scene that various different ethnic people are living together in the U.K. On the contrary, I would feel strange if there is a TV drama or a movie that a foreigner acts as Japanese. However, Japan may be a multiethnic nation like U.K. in future. If it becomes real, it will be easy to become Japanese.

Japan and Hafu Nationality

by Reina Doi

Imagine that your parents have an international marriage (one of your parents is Japanese), and you are living as hafu in Japan. In your house, two type of cultures are mixed, and you belong to two countries through your experiences. However, if you were 22, you would have to choose one country as a nationality. You used to have two nationalities that your parent’s home country, but you can choose only one nationality, so you automatically have to abandon one nationality, though you have two countries’ identity.

Do you think that situation is unreasonable? I think many people think “I want to keep both nationalities like before!”. However, this is real story that hafu people face. In Japan, dual citizenship is not admitted, and as I say before, hafu are forced to choose one nationality by age 22. Many countries such as America, France and UK allow dual citizenship, and hafu get guarantee from country.  Why Japan does not admit like other countries? I think the reason relates to dual citizenship demerits. In America, there are many immigrants from all over the world, and America give citizenship for them. It seems good, but American government does not officially support dual citizenship, because if person has two nationalities, it would be trouble when person committed one country’s law. Besides, it is annoying to some Americans that some people might come to America for giving birth, and the children get American nationality, and then go back to their home country.

Thus, dual citizenship has some negative aspects. However, I think Japan should allow dual citizenship. Globalization is coming to Japan too, and we cannot stop this stream. Some people believes that Japan is homogeneous country, but that is not true. Many foreigners are lived as a worker and international marriage is getting more and more. Therefore Japan should prepare that follow globalization. Japan does not have enough care and guarantee for foreigner, and even hafu. Hafu is also increasing (one out of thirty baby is hafu) recently, so Japan have to think whether continuing present nationality’s system or not. I think giving up one nationality means forcing to lose one own identity from government, so Japan should give right to choose that hafu choose one or keep two nationalities.

To join global society, Japan should quit old system, and accept new style. More people should come, and Japan’s lived foreigners and hafu will increase. Therefore I think it is time that Japan prepare and take action for hafu to live better in Japan.

How can Japanese people accept hafu? Hafu people struggle with Japanese society

by Kazuki Ando

In Japan, there are a lot of hafu people. In fact, there are many types of hafu. For example, some hafu  have a white parent and a Japanese parent. Other hafu have an Asian parent and a Japanese one. According to the article, a member of hafu project has struggles with prejudice against hafu in Japan. On their experience, most members had bad memory. While people in other country accept these people, people in Japan tend not to accept them. It is really controversial problem now in Japan. How should Japan change this situation?

First, I learned that hafu have some troubles. For example, a hafu man who is French and Japanese worked in Japan, and then he had a French name and a Japanese name. He tried to use his Japanese name, however his boss suggested him that he should use his French name. I think it’s a kind of discrimination against him. His boss wanted the customer to overlook him because he is a foreigner. Next, I have some hafu friends, and I saw some discrimination against them when I was elementary school student.  However, I don’t see such discriminations right now in university life. What’s the difference? In my opinion, while young people have curious about the difference between them, university student can understand the difference of looks and culture. These processes through elementary school student to university student are significant to accept these people.

Second, we are not familiar with hafu people unlike people in other country. That’s why we have a good image of hafu. For instance, hafu can speak more than two languages and their looking is so cool or cute. We have such good images, so we can’t understand their feelings. For me, to know their feelings about being hafu is first time. Besides we can’t distinguish hafu people from foreigners because they look absolutely foreign, not Japanese. Hafu regarded these prejudice against them as serious problem, so I pointed out that these problems comes the difference between hafu and Japanese in terms of looking.  As my professor mentioned, most hafu people in Japan came from some Asian countries, so they have no difference with us. I agree with his opinion, and they can easily assimilate themselves into Japanese society, compared to hafu people from Europe. That’s why white hafu need to assimilate to Japanese society easily, too.  It is necessary for Japanese to understand both advantages and disadvantages.

In conclusion, Japanese culture is said to be homogeneous, so we have the image of a typical Japanese. In addition, Japanese are also stereotypes, so Japanese don’t tend to accept people who have difference between Japanese and hafu. It’s difficult to remove the way Japanese think soon from now on. As a result, I think Japanese need the education about culture of heterogeneous in order to understand the way of thinking, and should learn that hafu has a lot of distresses. In fact, hafu people looks different, compared to us. However it doesn’t matter now. I hope that it is possible for both Japanese and hafu to make harmony with each other.

What I learned about hafu

by Fujisaka Shunsuke

I learned about hafu in this class and I learned the situation of hafu. My opinion was changing gradually. After I read a first reading, I leaned how hafu people think. Then I saw the opinions from classmates and I thought hafu people faced more difficult situation than I thought. I will write what I learned in this writing.

First I learned hafu people do not think good to be hafu. They have something bad. For example they are bullied because they look different. In Japan people tend to do same thing as other people do and people tend to exclude different people. There is a saying “those who stand out are likely to arouse opposition”. Moreover I was surprised at the man who is a half-Japanese half-French said that he uses French name at the business. He explained that it is because if he uses his French name it is good for business. It will be forgiven if he is foreigner when he made mistake. I thought it is stereotype but it is true. It is true that there is a public tendency that foreigner tend to be forgiven because they are thought that they cannot speak Japanese. However I felt it is strange. I thought that this public tendency must be changed.

Second I knew that the hafu people do not like to be asked same question again and again. If there is a person who look different, people like to ask “where are you from?”. If the answer is not wanted answer, people will be disappointed. For example if hafu person answered that they are from Japan, people will be disappointed because they are expected hafu person is from foreign country. Moreover many Japanese believe that every hafu person have middle name. In addition many people misunderstand that hafu people or foreigners speak English. Before I learned about this I also misunderstood same thing. Even I cannot know hafu people or foreigners are from English speaking country, I thought they can speak English. I think many Japanese misunderstood because there is also public tendency that hafu person or foreigners speak English. That is why I realized that to leave public tendency and stereotype is important.

In conclusion to leave public tendency and stereotype is important. As I mentioned there are many public tendency and stereotype and these are actually wrong and old. Hafu people of course can speak Japanese fluently because they live in Japan. Moreover not all hafu people are from English speaking country. They might come from Europe or South America. Therefore to know truth is important because my thinking for hafu people was changed by knowing truth. That is why to know truth is important for leaving public tendency and stereotype in Japan. Finally to know these things I think education is important. I hope that the lecture like I had in this class will be increased.

Identity of Hafu and Japanese

by Kanami Hirokawa

One in 30 children is born as a hafu today in Japan. Hafu have parents who have different nationality and looks. Therefore, hafu tend to have different looks with Japanese and they may catch people’s eye easily. In such a situation in Japan, how do hafu people build their own identity? Do they have only one identity or hybrid identity? Why do many Japanese think hafu is cool and beautiful?

First of all, it is necessary to think about identity of hafu. When I watched a video about hafu in class, many of hafu said that they have a hybrid identity, but they said that they can not become complete and true Japanese. Many of hafu in this video grow up in Japan and know the Japanese culture. Moreover, some of them can speak Japanese fluently. However, why can’t they become ‘true’ Japanese? In order to have the consciousness of belonging, to have same value and culture is needed. For example, if they live in Japan, they try to speak Japanese. In addition to this, it is also important that hafu are appropriated by Japanese, regarded as a member of Japan and they can join Japanese society.

Next, Japanese often regard hafu as a ‘stranger’ even if they know Japanese culture and can speak Japanese. Hafu often attract people’s eye and they are regarded not as Japanese but as a special people. Today, in Japan hafu and foreigners are minority and many Japanese still have the fixed idea that Japan is a homogeneous nation. This is why hafu and foreigners are regarded as a ‘stranger’ in Japan. Such a fixed idea should be broken because Japan has been a multicultural country since the old days. For example, Ainu people lived in Hokkaido as native people and in the 20th century many foreigners like Koreans and Brazilians came to Japan. I suggest that Japanese must change their fixed idea and appropriate hafu.

Japanese tend to ask hafu questions like “where are you from?” even if they grow up in Japan and have Japanese values and Japanese culture. Japanese must know that people who have different looks with Japanese live in Japan as Japanese. Moreover, Japanese should accept hafu as a member of Japan and should not make borders between Japanese and hafu because they grow up in Japan and have same identity with Japanese. In order that hafu become Japanese completely, not only Japanese accept hafu as a member of Japanese in Japanese society but also Japanese government should begin the approach to make Japan a ‘true’ multicultural country. Japan is based on the idea of jus sanguinis and conservative to foreigners. Today, in the world, globalization is developing now and Japan should review their principle.

In conclusion, hafu are often regarded as special people in today’s Japanese society. In order that hafu become true Japanese, Japanese should break their fixed ideas and Japanese government should change their policy. Furthermore, in the future Japan may have to accept more foreigners because of the declining birth rate and the lack of workers. If such a situation comes, foreigners will come to work in Japan and have more opportunities to get on with foreigners. The number of hafu will be increasing from now on. Therefore, Japanese need to appropriate hafu and foreigners.


Hafuwokangaeyou [Let’s think about hafu].(2010). Sandra, H. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://half-sandra.com/qa/

Natalie, M. W, and Marcia, Y. L. (2010). The Hafu Project. The Hafu Project.

Seichisyugi [Jus Sanguinis]. (n.d.). Murato Lawyer Office. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.japan-immigration.com/article/14579964.html

Hafu in Okinawan Society

by Mei Satoi

My Japanese friends told me “I want hafu kids! Hafu child is very cute!” Hafu’s images are cool, cute, bilingual, and frequently speak English or other language. Nowadays, a lot of Japanese have positive images of “Hafu”. The reason why is that a lot hafus are active as famous person in TV or fashion magazines. However it images are almost stereotype. In fact, hafu have a dilemma as hafu. In the last class, I reminded my hafu classmate of high school in my hometown Okinawa. Therefore I try to think hafu case in Okinawa.

There are a lot of hafus who have American father and Japanese mother in Okinawa. Actually hafu of this parent pattern exist large number in Okinawa because of existing military bases. This type hafu are called “AmerAsian”. There is AmerAsian school in Okinawa. This school respect American and Japanese culture as equal. In this school, hafu children are educated by using English and Japanese. This school’s curriculum makes children have pride as “double”. However in normal school like my high school could not take enough care of hafu students. My hafu classmate was considered as special. He was not normal friend in our class society. We thought he is American, he can speak English without studying. However I noticed that maybe he also did him best studying and distressed his position.

In my experience, “Okinawan” is the most superiority in Okinawa. Japanese society is said to be a racially homogeneous nation. Japanese seek similarity as Japanese. In Okinawa, many Okinawan people feel that we are minority and discriminated by Japanese from their experience of base and Okinawan war in 1945. However Okinawan also discriminate against hafu, minority people in the society. Hafu is considered as foreigner. People think that hafu can speak English frequently and they have ability as foreigner. Many people have stereotype. Following that they judge hafu before they communicate with them. It is unfair for hafu to arrive in Okinawan community. They have little opportunity to reveal real voice as themselves. In this situation, hafu would be distressed about their identity which countries they belong. It is dilemma of hafu.

In conclusion, we should build society which is able to consider hafu as one human. Actually hafu has two identities but they are only human like Okinawan or Japanese. Before judge person by surface or race, we have to try to get sympathy through communication. I believe we will be able to have respect hafu through good relationship with them.

The notion of citizenship in Japan

by Kentaro Sakamoto

Citizenship is a proof to show a person’s belonging to a certain community. Usually the community is a nation, or at least some sort of political community formed in a certain location. Dictonary.com (n.d.) defines citizenship as “the character of an individual viewed as a member of society; behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen” (“Citizenship”). This definition makes us believe that one is accepted as a member of the society as long as he/she holds a citizenship of that community. However, the reality is different in many countries including Japan. Even if you have a Japanese citizenship, people often regard you as a foreigner as long as your appearance is different from an ‘average’ Japanese person or if you do not follow an ‘average’ Japanese cultural lifestyle. This is making harder for those who look ‘non-Japanese’ to incorporate into the society even when they have the citizenship of Japan. To know why this happens, understanding the modern history of Japan is important.

Since the Meiji Restoration, when Japan tore down the Samurai regime and started modernizing the society under a strong central government, the government worked hard to create an ethnic-based nation state by spreading the myth of ‘Japan as a mono-cultural, mono-ethnic society’ (Oguma, 1995). By giving people a common understanding of Japanese history and teaching them to speak the ‘common Japanese language’ which was created based on the Yamanote dialect, the central government succeeded to make the majority of Japanese people believe that Japan has been a homogenous country throughout the history (Ibid). The diversity represented by Ainu People and Okinawan people was denied, and they were force to assimilate into the Japanese society. Even when Japan started expanding its territory to overseas, it tried to assimilate people from its colonies in various ways. One example is claiming Japanese and Koreans have the same origin, implying Koreans to follow the Japanese way as ‘Japanese people’ (Kim, n.d.). After World War 2, this idea of homogenous Japanese society was even strengthened as Japan lost its territory overseas which resulted in having less diversity. Historically, having the citizenship of Japan did not merely meant having a legal contract with the Japanese government, but it also meant integrating to the Japanese society culturally.

However, Japan is becoming diverse. The number of international marriages is increasing which is making the so-called ‘hafu’ (a term described to use a person born between a Japanese parent and a foreign parent) people more and more visible to the society (Yamashita, 2013). Having Japanese citizenship does not automatically mean you look Japanese, speak Japanese, and follow Japanese lifestyle anymore. However, the myth of homogenous society is still dominating Japan so strongly that it seems like it will take more than decades for Japan to become a multicultural society where people do not automatically assume someone as a foreigner just because of the way he/she looks, or how he/she acts. While there are movements trying to create a multicultural society to accept hafus and other minorities, people from younger generations are tilting to the right influenced by the media, especially internet websites stirring up ill feelings against minority and foreign people. They often believe that Japan should be a nation only for Japanese, but their notion of ‘Japanese’ usually do not include those who do not look Japanese and do not follow the typical Japanese lifestyle, regardless of the possession of Japanese citizenship. What makes it harder for them to accept multiculturalism is news from European countries telling the ‘fail of multiculturalism’, represented by the 2011 England riots.

Then, what is the solution? How can Japan become a more open society? How can it change the notion of citizenship? It is very difficult to find the answer, but one way is to wipe away the negative images towards multiculturalism. What is not introduced about multiculturalism in Japan is how it has contributed to the economy of countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Canada, the United States, and Australia. By giving immigrants citizenship, the government can collect more taxes which can become a solution for the collapsing national pension system due to the rapid growth of the population of old people. It can solve depopulation in rural areas. It can increase workers in farming and fishing industries which are facing serious problems because of the lack of young labors. Many of these difficult issues that appear to be insoluble can be solve by giving immigrants Japanese citizenships, changing the notion of citizenship to a thing that is given to everyone who helps forming the community in Japan, and creating a diverse society accepting different people.


Citizenship. (n.d.). In Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved May 09, 2013, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/citizenship

Kim, M. S. (n.d.). Koukoku shikan to kouminka seisaku [Emperor-centered historiography and Japanization]. Retrieved May 09, 2013, from http://www.han.org/a/koukoku.html

Oguma, E. (1995). Tannitsu minzoku shinwa no kigen: Nihonjin no jigazou no keihu [The origin of mono-ethnic myth in Japan: The history of a Japanese self-portrait]. Tokyo: Shinyosha

Yamashita, M. (2013, April 11). 30 nin ni hitori ga hafu no jidai: Tachihadakaru bunka no kabe wo dou norikoeruka [An age that one in 30 children are hafu: How to overcome cultural barriers]. Wedge Infinity. Retrieved May 09, 2013, from http://wedge.ismedia.jp/articles/-/2702

Reconsidering about hafu

by Kim Jina

How much do you know about hafu in Japan? Hafu means that they have a Japanese parent and a foreign parent. Actually, I have never thought about hafu, because there were no hafu around me and there are not many mixed blood people in Korea (I am a Korean). However, through my English class, I have learned a lot regarding hafu and how Japanese society treats hafu. I read some articles stories about how hafu are treated in Japan, how do they feel and so on.

There are bunch of hafu who are suffering from the way they are treated in Japan and even in some other countries. Even if hafu have Japanese nationality and fluency in the Japanese language, Japanese people divide them into non-Japanese because of their non-Japanese look. Although many hafu have Japanese nationality by law, they have difficulty to fit in Japanese society and to be admitted by other Japanese as Japanese. Then, is the law not an important thing? Why are they treated differently in Japan?

On occasion, a fixed idea plays a more powerful role in treating people. Japan is so-called a homogeneous society and that is why Japanese people feel uncomfortable with others and fine it hard to understand others. Many of hafu said that they feel they belong in Japan and try to fit in Japanese society. However, somehow Japanese people do not recognize them as Japanese. Therefore, the most important thing to change the situation facing hafu is conversion of the way people think about hafu.

To change over the way people think about hafu, people should reconsider that all of us have a unique gene which is make us different from others and at the same time we all have something in common. To put it simply, people should stop othering hafu and dividing them into non-Japanese due to the foreign look so that the situation facing hafu will be improved. Letting people know regarding hafu might be a very useful work to make new progress and improvement for hafu such as The Hafu Project.

In addition, making more interchange programs with hafu in school educations helps students to understand hafu and expand their point of views. Without any information about hafu, it is hard to understand them. Even if the situation facing hafu in Japan seems difficult to be solved, globalization is widely spread in Japan and many of Japanese young people have an open-minded and flexible attitude, hence, the situation could be improved in Japan.

With the efforts of hafu, change of times, and conversion of a fixed idea, hafu could be provided better environment to live in Japanese society without being othered or classified.