Being Japanese (2021) Movie Script

Hello World!
A few years ago, I
started a journey asking
the question of what makes a
Japanese person Japanese?
Why would I, a Canadian, spend a couple
years delving into Japanese Identity?
Well, my wife is Japanese, which makes
our kids both Japanese and Canadian.
In Japanese they're known as hfu,
because one half of them is Japanese.
So that kind of implies that
they're not fully Japanese.
In Canada, they can call
themselves Japanese-Canadian,
half-Japanese / half-Canadian,
or simply Canadian.
Because as Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau so eloquently put it,
"A Canadian, is a
Canadian, is a Canadian
and the diversity of our country is
actually one of our greatest strengths."
Take me for example.
I've always called
myself Canadian,
but if you trace back my
ancestry, I'm also lots of things.
My father is of Chinese descent,
but his family moved to
Guyana over 100 years ago
when they came over
as indentured labourers.
They'd been there so long that
my father's sole language is English.
And can I pause on this
picture for a second and say
that I've never thought of
my father as a stylish guy,
but man, he's
looking pretty slick,
along with the rest of
my aunts and uncles.
But on to my mother, who is
mostly British, but was born in Belize.
I say mostly, because recently
she found out she has some
Indigenous Central American mixed in,
which means I do as well.
Anyways, she grew up all over
the West Indies with her family,
and after marrying
my father in Guyana,
promptly moved to Canada
and they became Canadians.
Despite their
varied backgrounds,
and having moved to Canada
in their twenties,
they could easily call
themselves Canadian.
I was born in Canada,
so that makes me a Canadian,
and no one has ever
questioned if I'm Canadian or not,
despite having such
an eclectic background.
My wife's story is much simpler.
She was born and
raised in Tokyo,
and her family
has lived in Japan
for as far back as
they can remember,
with some claims to
samurai lineage even.
And, like me in Canada,
no one in Japan has ever
questioned if she's Japanese or not.
But our kids, they are both
Japanese and Canadian.
So why is it in Canada,
if they call
themselves Canadian,
people won't question them.
Whereas in Japan, if they
call themselves Japanese,
it's not accepted so easily?
Perhaps it's because
there are people like
the former Prime Minister
of Japan, As Tar,
who have proclaimed
that Japan is
"One nation, one civilization,
one language, one culture,
and one race,
the like of which there
is no other on this earth."
So that got me thinking,
what makes a Japanese
person Japanese or not.
Is it the blood that
runs through their veins?
A parent they were born to?
The country they grew up in?
Is it how they look?
How they act?
How they speak?
To seek answers, I went
to the far north, Hokkaido,
to talk with the Ainu people
who have lived on the
land for thousands of years.
I went to the far
South, Okinawa,
who've had many influences,
from Chinese,
to American,
to Japanese.
I went all over Japan and
met with Zainichi-Koreans,
whose families came to Japan
from Korea generations ago.
Nikkei-Brazilians, who returned
to Japan after generations away.
Hfu, who have one Japanese parent
and a strong connection to one another.
Kikokushijo, who grew
up partly outside of Japan
and often feel like
outsiders upon returning.
Refugees, who may have
been born and raised in Japan
but can struggle
to attain citizenship.
And I met with
Naturalized Japanese,
who became
Japanese later in life.
I met with all
kinds of Japanese,
who are Japanese, but...
it's complicated.
So I went out
asking the question,
"What is being Japanese?"
When I am asked if I am
Japanese, I kind of feel weird.
I am Japanese and I'm also
Ainu, that's how I
feel about myself.
I want people to introduce
themselves naturally like,
I am Japanese but
my grandpa was Ainu.
So I like Ainu
language and culture.
And that's my roots.
My ideal society is that anyone can
freely express their roots with pride
and can be accepted naturally.
So Maya is Ainu, and they are the
indigenous people of northern Japan,
in the area now
known as Hokkaido.
I am from Biratori in
Nibutani, Hokkaido.
In Biratori, about 70-80% of
the population have Ainu roots.
So the Ainu culture
strongly remains in this area.
I was raised surrounded by all
the culture and traditional arts.
The Ainu were there
before the Yamato,
or as they were
also called, Wajin,
who settled the
mainland of Japan
and became the majority
of modern day Japanese.
The Ainu had a different
language, and a different way of life;
living in small villages,
hunting and gathering.
Ainu's community
is really small.
If you have 3 or 4 houses, you
can say it's a Kotan, a village.
So with that kind of characterization
with the number of rivers,
maybe the number of the Ainu
are not so different from today,
maybe 25,000 or so.
While they didn't officially
become Japanese before 1869,
they had been under the control
of the Japanese Matsumae
clan for three hundred years.
So when the Meiji era began,
the Ainu had already
lost their autonomy.
At the end of the Meiji era,
it's a kind of slavery system.
Men had to go to the seashore to
work for Japanese people every year.
So they had to do
like the Japanese did.
Ainu customs were
gradually forbidden.
Tattoos were banned and hunting
deer or fishing salmon were restricted.
Even though some Ainu
weren't farmers, they were forced
to farm anyways, and were given
poor quality land on top of that.
Ainu didnt lose their power when
Hokkaido became part of Japan.
By that time, they
had lost it already.
They had been
exploited for so long.
So not teaching the Ainu
language, not teaching Ainu culture,
is what parents did.
It seems that parents
often told their children
not to marry Ainu so that
the Ainu blood would be
I don't like this
expression, diluted.
In a history textbook you'll find
about two pages discussing Ainu.
Textbooks only have big
historical events and numbers.
Maybe it's the things they
don't write about that are culture.
I would like you to learn
what's not in the textbooks.
To find out what
wasn't in the textbooks,
I travelled to Hokkaido,
where Maya and her
relatives were undertaking
an annual
collection of tree bark
that'll be used to make
traditional Ainu cloth.
Today we all came to
peel off the tree bark.
And this work has to be
taught to the next generation,
but can only be
done once a year.
It won't tear.
So like this, Ainu people and
non-Ainu people are doing this together.
This is not a ritual
that only Ainu can do,
or only Ainu should do,
because Ainu sees
people as humans,
this should be the way it is,
so we gather here together,
enjoying, being merry, full of happiness.
While Maya proudly identifies
as Ainu and Japanese now,
it wasn't so easy for her to do
so back when she was young.
My parents are known and
actively involved in the Ainu culture,
also my grandma and uncles
are proud of being Ainu
and work as artisans.
They are known well
enough to be easily found
on the internet
or in many media.
So I was repeatedly
asked by my parents
if I was ok to be on media
when in elementary school.
Not only was her
family well known,
but her father was one of the only
remaining teachers of the Ainu language.
I've done Ainu speech
contests when I was small.
I got the best speech
award so I think people
may have thought I had
potential to carry on Ainu culture.
So people seem to expect
me to be better and I wanted
to respond to them but
I couldn't always do so.
Today I'd
like to sing while I'm sitting down
and talk about
ancestors' stories.

So please listen and enjoy.
I think I wanted to leave
everything to do with Ainu,
so I actually left Nibutani
to go to middle school
in a different area.
After leaving my town,
I realized how
important Ainu is to me.
And my parents learned
how much I love Ainu culture.
Now I look back and think it
was a great idea to leave my town.
When I was in middle
and high school, I was torn
whether to live as a
regular Japanese or an Ainu.
There was a time I
was thinking about that.
On the opposite side
of Hokkaido is Okinawa,
Japan's set of
semi-tropical islands.
Like Hokkaido, it wasn't
always a part of Japan.
It was the Ryukyu Kingdom,
and Ryukyuans, like the Ainu,
had their own languages,
culture, and even a king.
To this day, if you
visit the islands,
you can find remnants of
the kingdom's many castles,
including the seat of the
former king at Shuri Castle.
For a long period of time,
the Ryukyu Kingdom was
a tributary state of China.
If you're like me, and don't
know what a tributary state is,
in the Kingdom's case, they were
allowed to remain independent,
but had to acknowledge
China's superiority
and send a regular token
of submission: a tribute.
In return, they received
educational opportunities in China,
as well as granted
access to Chinese markets.
They had the right
to trade with China,
something Japan did not enjoy.
In 1609, the Japanese feudal
lords of the Satsuma domain
invaded the Ryukyu Kingdom
and made it into its vassal state.
Alright, so I know
you're asking,
What's the difference between a
vassal state and a tributary state.
A vassal state is
like a puppet state,
where the rulers are
allowed to stay in place,
but the real power controlling
the show is the puppet master,
in this case, the
Lord of Satsuma,
on behalf of the Shogun in Edo.
So as to avoid
conflict with China,
as well as continue the
ability to indirectly trade with it,
the Satsuma domain had the Ryukyu
Kingdom remain a tributary to China.
This is all a long
winded way of saying
that while Ryukyuans
were able to retain
their languages and
culture throughout this time,
they were also heavily
influenced by China
and controlled by Japan.
This changed in 1879,
when the king was forced
to abdicate his throne
and the kingdom officially annexed
as the prefecture of Okinawa.
Over time, Ryukyuans,
now called Okinawans,
were forced to learn Japanese
and adopt Japanese ways of life.
The Okinawa language
is called Uchinguchi.
Its called Uchinguchi and
is also called Shimakutuba.
That's the everyday language.
The Japanese
language came later.
And by the time the
war was about to start,
they were forced
to speak Japanese
in order to make them
feel they're Japanese.
"I spoke my dialect."
If you did that, you'd
have to wear a plaque.
The person standing
with the plaque is the one
wholl find the next
student and tell the teacher.
Because no one wants
to get punishment,
I asked what
they did to avoid it.
Everyone tried not to speak.
When someone denies
your own language,
I bet you it must feel so awful.
Like Japanese is correct,
Shimakutuba is wrong...
It must have been
really, really awful.
This island where I was born
Kind-hearted Okinawa
Bright like the sun
Cheerful people
Arigatou (thank you), on the
main island of Okinawa, its
Nifedebiru, that's thank you.
On the island of
Miyakojima, it's Tandigatandi.
On Ishigaki, it's Mifaiyu.
Haha, it's all the same arigatou,
but the word is totally different.
In Okinawa,
the government makes commercials
encouraging people to speak Shimakutuba.
Obaa-chan, are you ok?
I have back pain.
I want to walk but I can't.
What happened? Are you
OK? (spoken in Shimakutuba)
When you know the
language you can be kinder.
But it's not really catching on.
So Uchinguchi
So do you.... understand it,
do you know it, do you speak it?
Like, what's
Ah... haha, I don't understand.
Not really.
Just a bit, phrases
here and there.
I don't understand.
I don't really hear it.
They don't talk to me much.
Look at the blinking
lights, look. Do you see it?
My obaa-chan's generation,
they use the language.
But, when they talk with their
grandkids, they use Japanese.
Interestingly, I met Luna
completely by chance.
While meeting with a
local professor at a cafe,
she happened to drop by
and share a meal with us.
I thought she was one
of the professor's students
who knew about my documentary
and so I asked if she would
help find locals to interview.
Unbeknownst to me, she was
only at the cafe looking for a job,
but nonetheless, she kindly
helped me both interview people
and find interviewees,
like her Grandma.
I guess that explains her
favourite Okinawan phrase.
Ichariba chode.
Anybody who you meet once
becomes your brother or sister.
I always have it in my heart.
Anyways, her
grandma was incredible,
and when asked
to introduce herself,
went on a direct-to-camera
five minute monologue.
My name is Kazuko Oshiro
I'm 85 years old.
I'm from the northern
part of Okinawa.
The northern part of
Okinawa, the very north.
I was a teacher for 35 years.
The work was really rewarding.
So if I die now, I can
say with confidence
that I had an
extremely great life.
But when I was 10, I
experienced the war.
Through the mountains,
the very dark mountains,
my newly born sister on my back,
I was frantically running away.
Running through the
mountains of Yambaru.
Then, my sister, when
she was turning 3,
died of starvation.
My grandpa got malaria and died.
That's why I'm really
sensitive about war.
Because I'm sensitive about war,
when I was working as a teacher,
I always had classes
about war and peace.
During ethics class,
I always strongly
emphasized war and peace.
Telling students we
must have peace.
This is very important
for all teachers in Okinawa
to pass on and ensure
we never stop teaching.
No war, only peace.
Because the bases
are connected to war,
we hate them,
we don't like them.
During World War II, Okinawa was
the only inhabited Japanese territory
that the U.S. made landfall on.
It's estimated that a third of
the civilian population of Okinawa
died during the war.
For 27 years after the
end of the war in 1945,
Okinawa was
administered by the U.S.
During that time, Okinawans needed
a special travel permit to enter Japan,
as they were considered neither
U.S. citizens nor Japanese citizens.
Yukihiro told me about his
first experience traveling outside
of what was then called the
Ryukyu Islands to visit Japan.
When I was a
kindergartener, by boat,
my mother took me to
Tokyo for the first time.
The currency was
still U.S. dollars,
so in Okinawa we
exchanged it to Japanese yen.
At the port in Kagoshima, we went
to a cafeteria, and ate curry rice.
It was like 300 yen, 300 yen.
And my mother,
because she didn't know yen,
she took her purse and
emptied all her
money on the table.
She said, "Because I don't know
the currency, take the money."
As I was a little kid, my mom
said, "I don't know,
take the money."
And the Kagoshima
oba-chan's surprised face...
I'll never forget.
On May 15, 1972, Okinawa
was reverted to Japan.
The currency changed
from dollar to yen,
cars switched from driving
on the right to the left,
yet the biggest change that
Okinawans were hoping for,
the removal of military
bases, never occurred.
Currently, U.S. military bases
occupy 18% of Okinawa's total land.
There are some good
American soldiers.
We Okinawans are
not against Americans,
rather, we're against
the military itself.
It's called 'Champuru' culture,
those many cultures
are mixed together.
And we took the best parts.
And live happily
together, that's what we do.
Of course I have the
sense that I'm Japanese,
though I deeply feel
more like I'm Okinawan.
That's naturally from
the bottom of my heart,
as I was born and raised on
the island. So I'm Okinawan.
At heart I'm Okinawan.
I'm OK being Japanese, but...
Even though I have
a Japanese passport,
if there's an Okinawan
passport I will choose (it).
In 1910, Korea was
annexed by Japan.
Under Japanese rule, many Koreans
relocated to the main islands of Japan.
They had Japanese nationality
and children were compelled
to receive Japanese education.
At the end of World War II,
Korea's territories were reverted
and over a million Koreans
were repatriated to Korea,
but over half a million
remained in Japan.
When the Allied occupation
of Japan ended in 1952,
Koreans formally lost
their Japanese nationality.
In Japan, these people are
called Zainichi-Kankoku-jin
or Zainichi-Korean.
So before I could
finish filming and editing
this section on
a strange thing happened.
One by one, three different
people involved pulled out.
One was helping
but two of them were
people I was interviewing.
Out of the over fifty
interviewees I talked with,
it's only Zainichi-Koreans,
who were initially on
board with the project,
that decided it was best to not
have their name or face attached.
Why is that?
I remember one
day filming in Tokyo,
near a busy train station,
when I heard a little van
with a loud speaker that said,
"We Japanese citizens
and this country Japan
will be gone one day."
Ultra right wing groups in Japan
are going all out with hate speech
rallys targeting ethinic Koreans
Insults against Koreans fly across the
streets of the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Lets get rid of
cockroach-like Koreans!
So there's this small,
vocal, number of Japanese
that will speak out
against Zainichi-Koreans.
But perhaps more scary,
is the anonymous people online
who attack Zainichi-Koreans.
I think it's this loud minority that
my interviewees are hiding from.
Instead of cutting out their
experiences completely,
and in order to keep
their identities hidden,
I had someone voice
what they had said.
To be clear, while the man I
interviewed is indeed the real person,
the woman you hear is
simply retelling the experiences
of Zainichi-Koreans
I interviewed.
I am third generation
So my grandparents came
to Japan during the war.
Because during that time, Japan and
Korea were one country and they could come.
My grandparents came to
Japan for work, and had kids here.
But when the war ended,
my father's side went back
and found out that the living
conditions were even worse in Korea.
It was a really poor country.
So they decided to
come back to Japan.
But because it was already two
separate countries by that time,
they had to secretly
come by boat.
But the boat was really crappy.
And then they found out the boat
had a hole and it started sinking.
And everyone was like, "Come
on!" and scooping the water out.
My aunt saw this old man who
was just sitting still, not helping.
And she said, "You too!
Help us!
What are you doing?"
But he just sat still.
The boat continued to sink,
but then a Japanese
fishing boat came by.
And everyone was
saying, "Help us! Help us!"
But the Japanese fisherman
saw that and must have thought,
"A bunch of Koreans!
But then the old man
suddenly stood up
and pulled out a big bundle
of money out of his pocket.
And the fisherman said,
"OK, everyone get on."
And that was how I was born, my
father was born, everyone survived.
My name is Motonori Kan,
that's my Japanese name
and I also have a Korean
name, Wonduk Han.
I'm a third generation
When a lot of Koreans
migrated to Japan,
we had to come up
with a Japanese name
to live like Japanese.
And so we came
up with Nishihara.
Nishi is west, hara is a field.
You can say that the
name represents Korea.
Korea is geographically on
the Western part of Japan.
For early Zainichi-Koreans,
assimilating into Japan
was often a necessity
in order to avoid discrimination
and to be able to access jobs.
This would entail taking
on Japanese names,
speaking Japanese,
and acting Japanese.
This would mean, that at
some point in their lives,
their children would find
out that they're not Japanese,
at least nationality-wise.
The first time my parents
told me I wasn't Japanese,
I was Korean,
was when my mother and I
were taking a bath together.
My mother said,
"If you go to kindergarten,
you'll meet a lot of Japanese kids.
You are not Japanese."
And I remember thinking,
"What is Japanese?"
"I'm not them?
We're not the same?"
She said, "No."
She said, "They're Japanese.
You're not.
You're Korean."
I didn't understand,
because what's the
difference between us.
We looked exactly the same.
I put up my finger like this
and said, "Not this much?
Maybe this much I'm the same?"
And she said,
"No, no you're not."
My father and my mother
know very little Korean.
My grandparents decided
to not teach them Korean.
Their intent was so that they
can localize faster into the society.
Being Korean back sixty, seventy years
ago was a tough time for them in Japan.
So they probably
didn't want my parents
to experience the
same kind of situation.
The first time I met so many
Zainichi-Koreans like me
was when I was seventeen.
For summer vacation, my
father sent me to this program
for Zainichi-Korean kids
to visit Seoul for 10 days.
At the end of the trip one of
the girls came up to me and said,
"Do you tell your friends
that you're Korean?
And I'm like, "Yeah
sure! I never hide.
I say it all the time."
And she's like, "Really?
And what do they say?"
She was really worried.
"I never tell anyone
that I'm Korean,
and I'm so worried everyday
that someone might find out.
So I want to change my
nationality to Japanese,
but my parents won't let me.
So I'm waiting until I'm 20."
Because if you're 20, you can
change your nationality by yourself.
But if you're under 20, you
need your parents permission."
So she said, "When I'm
20, I'll become Japanese."
And I'm like, "Why?"
Because I never
experienced any discrimination
in my life up until that point.
So I really didn't
understand why
you have to keep it a secret.
I don't know how but word
gets around and people find out.
My school friends find out that I'm
actually not Japanese, I'm Korean.
And there was a
stereotype bullying phrase
and name calling
back then to Koreans,
that we smelled
like kimchi and garlic.
When I was a
child, that did hurt.
But then again, I had
lots of good friends as well
so it kept my spirits up.
In 1908, the first Japanese
started emigrating to Brazil.
There was a shortage of
labour on coffee plantations
and so Japanese farmers
moved to work there,
many to the state
of So (Saon) Paulo.
Currently, Brazil is the
country with the largest
community of
Japanese descendants,
who number 1.4 million.
Starting in the 1980's, during the
peak of Japan's Bubble economy,
reverse migration occurred.
Brazilians of Japanese
descent, Nikkei-Brazilians,
started returning to Japan.
To find out more
about Nikkei-Brazilians,
I visited with Professor Oka,
who teaches at the
Tokyo Gakugei University.
He was about to take his
students on a trip to a Japanese city
where many Nikkei-
Brazilians work and live.
Japanese-Brazilians get priority
because they are the descendants
of Japanese immigrants and get
Teijyusha (Long-term Resident) visas.
Some work in car factories
or electronics factories.
Oizumi town in Ota city, Gunma
where we are going to visit next
is where a lot of Brazilians live
because there are electronics companies.
are here for Dekasegi.
They are here for some years to
work and save and go back to Brazil.
Working in a factory, they
live close to each other.
They don't really
speak Japanese there.
They don't need to speak it in
the community. So they work there.
I worked from 2016
until last year (2017).
I worked at a factory for
like twelve hours a day.
But the work itself is
not the hardest part.
It's like you're in
a different culture.
Because even though I grew
up with a Japanese father,
I grew up in a
different environment.
So, you kind of think you're
Japanese, until you get there.
Because, it's really strange.
Here in Brazil people used to call
me, "Oh look, it's that Japanese guy."
And then in Japan
we have this problem
because we Brazilians refer
to the Japanese as Japanese.
Then who we are?
It's really strange.
Hello, my name is Erica
and I'm from Brazil.
My mom is Japanese, she
doesn't have a Brazilian citizenship.
She was in Brazil since
she was eight years old,
and also my father,
hes Japanese.
They don't have Brazilian citizenships
so they both have Japanese passports.
So Erica came to Japan to work,
but unlike Tetsuo,
who found factory work through
a temporary employment agency,
she has a white collar job
and transferred
within her company.
I interviewed her via video a
month before she arrived in Japan.
Why is it you're going to Japan?
Actually, my husband received a
job offer to work there as an engineer.
So we thought it would
be good for his career
and actually, he
really likes Japan.
You are nisei right?
Oh right, nisei means
second generation.
So issei would
be first generation,
nisei second generation,
sansei third generation,
and yonsei, you guessed
it, fourth generation.
Ok, and so how is your Japanese?
because my parents came to
Brazil when they were children.
But my mom just learned
Portugese when she was an adult,
when she was twenty four.
So she actually
makes some mistakes.
I think my father
was afraid that we
might learn something
incorrectly in Portugese.
I don't know, mix up letters?
So he said that she
shouldn't talk in Japanese.
So thats why we didn't learn.
When I was a teenager, I told my
father, "So now I think it's time to learn.
I am not really keen on
Japanese, but I think I should."
And he said, "No, just
study more English,
because Japanese is useless,
and it's too difficult
and etcetera."
He said it's just
a waste of time.
But it happened, that
now I need Japanese.
Like I'm very nervous because
everything will be new, like I
don't have any friends there,
and I don't speak Japanese and
my friend in Tokyo,
she said just come here
and say that you're a foreigner,
don't say that you're learning.
Don't say that...
Like it's not important for them
that your parents are Japanese,
because then you
should speak Japanese.
So they will get confused,
like you do a lot of odd things.
So that's my main concern,
like being accepted,
because like it's very different.
It's very different.
In my first month in Japan,
I tried to find community
Japanese language classes,
where Japanese volunteers, mostly
seniors, would teach us Japanese.
And they were really
kind towards me,
every time they
would bring snacks,
Most of the time, Japanese
were really kind towards me
and accepted me.
I don't know how
they perceived me.
If I was like someone who
can grow as a Japanese.
Or maybe just a Brazilian
who's really working hard
to adapt to their culture.
If people came to me and spoke
like, "You're not Japanese."
I would say, "Yeah, I'm a
half Brazilian, half Japanese,
I have both cultures so...
deal with it.
It often seems that being
Japanese is a yes or no thing.
You're Japanese, or you're not.
However, there's a term for those
that have one Japanese parent.
Hfu, as in half-Japanese.
Some hfu don't like this term,
as it can make them feel
like they're half a person,
so there are those that would
rather be called daburu, as in double.
But of course, some
don't like that term either,
since it can be taken as they're
twice as good as someone else.
More practically, many Japanese
don't know the term daburu,
so the term hfu is
what most use by default.
They marked it wrong.
So, I was born in the
U.S. and raised there
so all my banking information
at the time was U.S. bank.
So I remember having a
little bit of embarrassment
when I would go to, like an
ATM for example at 7-Eleven,
put my bank card in.
You have to select
the English option.
The voice over is
like, "WELCOME!"
And everyone in the
area, I was afraid like,
oh they can hear this and they'll
know that I'm not actually Japanese.
It's so silly to
think about it now,
but I wanted to just be Japanese
or what my mind thought a
regular Japanese person was, so
I didn't like the fact that
everyone could hear that.
It's so silly when I think
about it now because
I do speak Japanese
and I do speak English.
I am from America, I don't really have
to be embarrassed about any of this.
So I don't really worry about
it now because I am both.
My name is...
My name is...
My name is...
I'm Naomi Iwazawa. I'm
half Japanese and Czech.
I help people understand
and appreciate diversity.
My name is Naomi,
I'm Japanese.
My mom is from Czech
Republic and I grew up in Japan,
Germany, and Hungary.
I'm here in Japan working
on embracing diversity.
I want to eat sushi.
I realized I was Japanese
when I first went to Hungary
when I was like 6 or 7.
I was living in Japan like
any other Japanese child,
I was never told
I was different.
So I'd never thought
differences existed.
When I went to an
international school in Hungary,
everyone said where
they came from.
So everyone shared their own
culture with each other there.
I said I was Japanese, but
wait, my mother is Czech, so
I am also Czech.
That's how I started
to think about myself.
After I came back to Japan,
my classmates said,
"You are not Japanese
so go back to your country."
I thought I was Japanese,
but I found mud
in my shoe locker.
I also found my gym
clothes in a garbage bin,
some pulled my hair saying,
"You shouldn't have brown
hair (it's against the rules)."
Some pulled my earrings.
I told them the reason why I
had earrings and brown hair.
I don't know if they
thought it's unfair,
they were jealous, or hostile;
but that's what I experienced.
My junior high was in Germany,
so I felt so much better
getting out of that society.
I was in an international school,
so it was a different atmosphere,
where I could say
my identity freely.
But something happened when Naomi
returned back to Japan for high school.
She reunited with friends and
teachers from elementary school
and was surprised to learn
that many of the students were
interested in studying abroad
or learning about overseas.
You see, back in
elementary school,
her parents had offered workshops
about cultures around the world.
And of course Naomi
talked about herself as well.
She felt that the exposure to
different cultures at a young age
helped shape the views of her
fellow students in a positive way.
She then started an
organization called Culmony,
combining the words
culture and harmony,
wishing to build a society where many
cultures harmonize with each other.
She went on to tell me
about one of her experiences,
inviting international
guest students,
to give a workshop in a school.
There were guest students
from Haiti, Israel, and Korea.
We all went to this
elementary school
to learn about
different cultures.
It must have been something like
they have never
interacted with black people.
There was one child that ran away
crying or some other things happened.
So we did a quiz game.
We never imagined this
would have happened.
"Is that true that chopsticks are
only used in Japan, yes or no? "
The children went to the person
who had a board with 'Yes'.
We realised the board for 'No'
was being held by the black student.
It seemed like the children were
scared to go near the student.
Some students who
thought the answer was no,
stayed in the 'No' area where
it's almost in the 'Yes' area.
I was very curious about this.
We all knew the children
didn't intend to dislike
or even discriminate
against the black student.
Then that student was
very good with kids.
So after an hour and a half,
the kids already became
good friends with him
and some even
climbed up on his back.
Some said your hair
is nice and super curly
and enjoyed playing with him.
So this kind of experience,
if there are young children
like grade 1, 2, or 3,
they can get over it soon even
though they initially cried or ran away.
It can be accepted because
they are still young children.
The more you have those
experiences when young,
the less you feel fear of
differences or different cultures.
I really learned
from that event.
Mei, where is Japan?
And Kota, where is Canada?
I know!
My name is Tetsuro Miyazaki.
I am a Belgian-Japanese
Internet connection here sucks.
I'm Meri.
- Hello!
- Hello!
I'm Tetsuro.
I'm Meri.
- Nice to meet you!
- Nice to meet you!
I'm the photographer of a
photo project called Hfu2Hfu,
which is about mixed race
Japanese identity worldwide.
And as a matter of coincidence,
Naomi was pictured as
part of Tetsuro's project.
He's taken 120 photos from Hfu
from almost 100 different
countries combined with Japan.
So I meet people,
we have a one hour discussion,
its a very open talk about
who we are, where we come
from, what issues we face.
What we have in
common is what we discuss
and what separates us, what
makes us different from each other.
At the end of this conversation,
we try to distill, if you want,
one single question,
that kind of summarizes
the whole conversation
or the main topic
of the conversation.
What do you think
a hfu looks like?
And that's what
I put in the book.
Most commonly, when
we talk about hfu in Japan,
we talk about white, Japanese,
bicultural people,
who speak two languages,
maybe three or four.
That's the common image we have.
Some people who are
half black and half Japanese
do not identify as hfu,
because the rest of the world
does not see them like that.
I want to redefine the image
that we have of what is
a half Japanese person and
what does he or she look like.
Hi, I'm Monique, I was
born and raised in Japan.
My dad's African-American
from Tennessee,
and my mom is
from Tochigi in Japan.
So my high school
is right over there
and then that area, that
building there is the food court
everybody can eat there.
That tower over there
is the nanaban tower,
I was there until, I
was like, maybe, ten?
I was born off-base
here in Yokosuka
and I was able to get my American
citizenship through my father,
since he was already American,
and then my Japanese
citizenship through my mom.
You know looking back
I guess it was a very
unique sort of experience,
I didn't know because it
was all I knew during the time.
Constant, like, literal transition
from one community to the other,
one language, one
culture to the other.
Generally, needing
to be ready to bridge
connections between people or
whether it be incidents,
or just kind of opportunities,
that was kind of my role.
So I always found
myself being the translator
like even for field
trips in third grade.
The Yokosuka community is very
used to having the military around.
It's been around
since World War II,
so when they see someone who
looks like me speaking Japanese,
they assume it's because
my moms probably Japanese.
You know being here was
kind of like being in a bubble,
people are used
to people like me.
And I imagined when
I moved to New York,
that perhaps I would
just get to be myself,
whatever that meant,
but it turned out that wasn't
necessarily so, it became a
little bit more complicated I guess.
And when I first moved to
New York when I was eighteen,
my hair was stick
straight, and at that time,
I was very attached to that.
and I felt like, if I
didn't have that hair,
people wouldn't imagine
that I was Japanese,
like they wouldn't
think that I was
and that was very
important to me at the time.
People though I was Polynesian,
people thought I was Indian,
and then some people who
were also half Asian and half black
would find me on the street
and we would look at each other.
We would be like, "Oh, are
you half black and half Asian?
we would get really excited.
Monique had so many interesting
stories about her interactions in the U.S.,
but this one with a
visiting Japanese student
at an education conference,
was surprising to hear.
When I started speaking
to him in Japanese,
he was honestly creeped out.
And he literally used
the word gurotesuku.
Yeah, poor choice of words
but that was really, like woah.
But watching Japanese
television, I could see how
I'm Atsugiri Jason!
I came to Japan from
the U.S. 4 years ago.
Japanese people
might be led to sort of
imagine people who
don't look Japanese,
who speak Japanese
to be curious creatures.
Or just kind of like
something fun
to look at, sort of.
Why Japanese people?
Are you doing this on purpose?
Kanji are so hard!
So I really hope that
more Japanese people
can become familiar
with, you know,
Japanese speakers
can look very different,
whether or not they have
Japanese blood in them or not.
My name is Joe Oliver.
My father is American.
He was in the military and
my mother was Japanese.
I was raised in
Japan for 37 years.
If I had to categorize myself,
I would be an earthling.
In Japan, no one
thinks I am Japanese.
Other people, especially
Western people,
think I'm Japanese.
So others determine who I am,
so I can only say
I am an earthling.
So you go ahead
and decide who I am.
I say I am an earthling.
Joe was incredibly
fascinating to speak with,
as he grew up in Yokosuka,
the same area as Monique,
although she lived on
base while he lived off.
Their experiences,
while only separated by a few
years and a number of blocks,
were drastically different.
By the time I was born,
they were separated.
So I was raised by my
mother since I was young.
I was happy until I went
to elementary school.
I went to a Japanese daycare
where there was no discrimination.
So happiness until 6 years old.
Hell started from
age 7 until grade 12.
That very long 12 years.
From grade 1 to grade 3,
I was intermittently abused quite
badly by some random adults.
They punched me,
even peed on me.
I had a very rough time then.
Not only me but my
mother was hurt by others.
She was almost
physically abused.
They told her, "You
like black penis?"
or something much
worse than that.
Even elementary school kids
said, "Your mom likes black guys."
When I was in grade 2, grade
6 kids attacked me in public.
Someone put his arms around me
and held my back while
a few people punched me.
They peed on me,
spilt milk on me.
Some coloured me with
chalk all over my body.
I wonder if the teachers
really understood
mixed raced kids
like me back then.
I kind of doubt they did.
I actually went to talk to
the police with my mother.
Then what they told us was that,
you are a child of an
American guy, so live with it.
You gave birth to a
child of an American guy.
We were only helped
by American soldiers.
Only them.
When I was being
punched by adults
and those soldiers
happened to be passing by,
they were just there by
chance but they rescued me.
They were sometimes
caucasian or black soldiers.
Some caucasian
soldiers cried for me.
It was only soldiers
who helped me.
If I was living in Tokyo where
there were lots of foreigners,
I may not have experienced
the racism I did in Yokosuka.
I think I would have
had a different life here.
The reason why I think that, is I
have been working here since I was 17.
I have never experienced
any racism at all in Tokyo.
I have told my story to
people from other prefectures.
Everyone said they
couldn't believe it.
I was relieved when I heard it.
What I have been through
was very rare I'd say.
Every Japanese who
heard it said its crazy.
So I was extremely unlucky.
So for model shots,
do you always
have to be serious?
Or do you like...
I don't think so.
Haha, okay.
Right, so at the age of 17,
Joe became a model.
He started working in Tokyo,
found a more
international scene,
and his life changed
for the better.
The next group of Japanese
I'll introduce is Kikokushijo,
or in English, returnees.
These are Japanese that spent part
of their childhood outside of Japan.
In many ways they
have a lot of similarities
to the hfu I interviewed,
as they too are living
between cultures.
While they have two Japanese
parents and look typically Japanese,
they often have difficulty
feeling completely Japanese.
I'm Minoru Kiuchi.
I'm a Japanese Diet Member,
and currently the Deputy Chairperson
of the Diet Affairs Committee.
I'm fifty four years old.
I lived in West Germany
from 1971 to 1975.
So when I came back to
Japan at the age of ten,
I had trouble with Japanese
writing at elementary school,
and I also had trouble
fitting in because
five years in Germany
made me more assertive than
my classmates.
I felt I am half Japanese
and half German.
But now I am 88% Japanese
and 12% German.
So I think naturalized
Japanese citizens
are really Japanese
just like me.
I'm fairly sure that
the 88% Japanese
12% German bit was a joke
about the precision of both
Germans and Japanese,
but who knows?
This record was
made in the 1930s.
In Japan.
Before World War II.
Did you know that at that time
many Japanese people loved
American movies and jazz.
Western style.
This is my friend
who's a jazz pianist.
Hi everyone, my
name is Kiyoto Tsuji.
I am currently a third
term Diet member
of the Japanese House
of Representatives.
Tsuji-san, was of
particular interest to me,
as he grew up for most of
his childhood in Vancouver,
where my family
and I used to live.
We're actually
both the same age,
and his English name
in Canada, Andrew,
is in fact my middle name.
At the age of four
our family emigrated to
Canada because my father,
who was a Japanese Canadian,
wanted the kids to grow
up elsewhere, not Japan.
From junior high, a lot
of my friends became
non-native Canadians who immigrated
from Hong Kong and elsewhere
to Canada to study and
eventually go on to good universities.
And these kids taught me
that I was Asian and Japanese.
They're good friends but
these colleagues, students,
would expose me to
Japanese comic books,
Japanese movies
that I didn't know.
And they would say,
"Hey, you're Japanese!"
"Why do you act Canadian?"
"You're Asian."
We're Chinese and we know
your culture better than you and
you should be ashamed of yourself.
So that's when I
entered a very, very big
identity crisis, a dilemma.
Some of these Asian kids
would call me 'banana'.
In case you never
heard it before,
'banana' is a term used to describe
someone who's yellow on the outside,
but white on the inside...
like a banana.
I started thinking to myself,
"Hey, how about Japan?"
Maybe that's an option
that I never thought of.
And I consulted my mother,
and she never thought I
would ever return to Japan.
So she said,
"You probably won't make it
because they'll
probably alienate you,
because you look Japanese
but you're not Japanese.
If you look different, maybe
they would treat you better but
I don't want you
to go through hell."
That was literally what
my mother told me.
And I told her, hey
you'll see what I can do
because I never wanted
to give up on something.
I didn't even initially think
of climbing that mountain but
if they told me I cannot do it
then I was like, hey I'll do it.
So Tsuji-san returned
to Japan for college
and said it was his first
exposure to Japanese culture.
His main difficulty was that:
Other Japanese people
didn't realize my differences.
I was like a
English book with
a Japanese cover.
So many people judged
the book by its cover.
And initially they would
say, "Oh, he's interesting!" but
after a few weeks they realized
this person doesn't... has not
read the same things,
has not spent the childhood
that these people can relate to.
So gradually, your
phone stops ringing.
No one would bully me.
No one would treat me in that
way but they would just, you know,
Every time I smile, they smile
that's it, I couldn't
relate deeper.
It was very modest,
but you see, you
feel that difference.
In a way, it's very racist.
Very racist.
And every culture has
its own racism, I feel.
I don't want my kids to
experience what I did,
you know, it's just too tough.
No pain, no gain,
kind of, you know.
Hi! My name is Honomi Ijima,
I'm Japanese.
I was born in
Kanagawa Prefecture
and I basically grew
up in the same area,
until I was thirteen.
So, I have to cut in and
say that I filmed Honomi
next to a busy train
line, and it was noisy.
So I'll tell part of her story.
Like happened to many
Japanese kikokushijo,
her father got transferred
out of country for work,
and her family ended up
in the bay area of California.
She attended local schools,
and said she got the
complete American experience.
Part of that, was having
to introduce herself,
to which she always said,
"I'm so and so and
I'm from Japan."
It drilled into her that, yeah,
she was a Japanese person.
So it's in America
where she realized
that being Japanese
was part of her identity.
After 3 years at the age of 16,
she returned to Japan, and
went to a regular high school.
And in a way, that was a
bigger culture shock for me.
Because, here I was,
coming back to Japan,
feeling more like a
Japanese person.
Like more aware of that kind
of cultural and ethnic identity.
And then here I
was back in the usual
old stomping grounds
and then feeling so...
like isolated in a way and
feeling so disconnected.
And it's like what
is this feeling?
Like I feel like I'm
here, I'm back "home",
but I don't feel
like I'm back home.
And that's when I
started to think about
what does it mean to
be a Japanese person?
Like what makes me Japanese?
Is it because I'm born here and I
grew up here for a certain time?
Is it because my
parents are Japanese?
But then how do I
feel so out of place?
Like Honomi, I think everyone I
interviewed asked that same question,
"Who am I? What
is being Japanese?"
My first real memory
of not knowing
who I am came with football.
The World Cup, when
I was a kid, football.
They asked me,
"Who are you for?"
Belgium, right?
He said, "Nah, yeah, but, you
know, you're Japanese, no?"
Yeah, but, you know, Japan
doesn't even participate back then.
Japan was not a football nation.
So I'm like, "No, I'm
Belgium, of course not!"
And then the kid said,
"No, you cannot be Belgium.
You have to be Japan.
And then with other people,
the next person asked me,
"Who are you
for?" I said, "Japan."
Because I thought
that's the right answer.
And they said, "No,
but aren't you Belgian?"
So whatever answer I
gave to that question,
it was always questioned
again, and again, and again.
So I always had to argue.
And I realized that
this type of question
is a question that people from
mixed origin get all the time.
And it's because we
get these questions
that we doubt
where we come from.
It's not because deeply
rooted in me there's
there's a soul search,
or a search for identity.
It's because the rest of the world
wants to know who I cheer for,
what kind of food I want to eat,
that I doubt what
the correct answer is.
And throughout the
years, I learned to answer.
And that answer's a mix between
how I feel,
and what I think people
want to know from me
What do people expect
to be the correct answer.
Hi, I am Yamato
Saito. Call me Bobby.
I was born in Japan, raised in
the U.S., and am living in Japan.
I think
in terms of Japanese identity
people want a yes or no,
black and white answer.
I remember back
when I was a, you know,
God, like a snot nosed
brat and thinking like,
really judging other
because they couldn't
speak Japanese.
But they would still call
themselves Japanese
and I would be like, "You're not
Japanese. You don't even speak Japanese."
And I really cringe
at my past self because
that kind of mentality is
really dangerous, and I think
when you get to
that level, you're like,
"Well, my family is
from samurai lineage.
And like, you know, "my
family is," you know, ladidadida.
And it's like,
that doesn't matter.
This question is...
super simple.
What is being Japanese?
That is a very difficult
question to answer,
although Japan
is an island nation,
it has always had
a lot of interaction
with the Asian
mainland and beyond.
As a result, Japanese people
have a lot of
different ancestries.
And Japanese
people from Hokkaido
are different from that
from Honshu or Okinawa.
But they are all Japanese.
If I wanted to give a definition
it would be something like this.
People who live in Japan,
speak Japanese to some extent,
and think of Japan
as their home,
are Japanese.
It's easy to determine
what's not Japanese,
but it's harder to
determine what's really...
what is Japanese,
so what's left?
And the more I talk about this,
and the more I think
about this question...
the simpler my answer gets.
And that is...
it's what's on your passport.
And it could be
as simple as that.
Do you have a Japanese passport?
Then you're Japanese.
You can compete in
the Olympics for Japan,
you can play tennis for Japan,
then you're Japanese.
After talking with so
many Japanese people,
they started to suggest
a lot of similar ways
to determine one's Japaneseness.
Are your parents Japanese?
Do you have
Japanese nationality?
Can you speak Japanese?
Where did you grow up?
And then I came
across an academic
framework that listed it out:
It proposed seven
aspects of Japaneseness:
Nationality or citizenship
'Pure Japanese genes'
Language competence
Place of birth
Current residence
Level of cultural literacy
Subjective identity
In this framework, my wife
would fall under 'most Japanese',
because she ticks
off all the boxes.
On the other hand, my kids,
who are half Canadian,
differ in a couple ways.
They don't have
pure Japanese genes,
sorry about that.
They also weren't born in Japan.
But otherwise, they'd be able to
claim all other aspects of Japaneseness.
In Japan, people who don't fit
the framework for being Japanese,
even though you've
been living as Japanese,
can be a target
of discrimination.
Second generation Japanese
can be considered weird Japanese.
Returnees can also be a target.
So, people who
aren't in the framework,
as well as people who are
in but have something else,
can be targeted in Japan.
People say,
"They're a bit weird!"
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
There is often this hate speech
like there are no more pure Ainu.
I am extremely
tired of hearing it.
There are no such
things as pure people.
So at which point
were they 100% pure?
Are there any pure Wajin?
Can you prove it?
As it so happens,
some people have
started taking DNA tests
to see how much
Japanese they have in them,
like Max Capo,
who recorded his real-time reaction
to his test results on YouTube.
Woah! Hehe.
I'm 48%! I'm actually less
half Japanese than I thought.
I'm 48% Northern Japan.
What is Northern
Japan, it's circled.
Uh! Oh! Ah!
I'm a little bit surprised
because my mom
is Japanese but she
actually has been told
she looks a lot more
like an Inca-Indian,
which is like South
American I think.
That's more related to the
Ainu people in Northern Japan.
So the fact that...
I'm 48%...
does that mean my mom is Ainu?
If you go back to that
academic framework,
you'll see that Pure Japanese
genes is in quotation marks.
Even though it was
published before
DNA ancestry tests were
available to the public,
it's been clear for a while
that using genetics to determine
whether you belong or not is,
problematic to say the least.
Other criteria can
also be dicey to judge.
Take cultural literacy.
Is the naturalized Japanese who
visits a Shinto shrine every day
more culturally literate than
the born and raised Japanese
who visits once a
year for hatsumde?
Does practicing
bud, martial arts,
like karate make
you more Japanese?
The Pew Research
Center did a global study,
and of the 14
countries they polled,
they concluded that language was
the cornerstone
of national identity.
Interestingly enough,
both the U.S. and Japan
had 70% of its
citizens answering that
"Being able to speak
our national language
is very important for being
truly American
or truly Japanese."
If you throw in the additional
22% in both countries
that I think it's
somewhat important,
it's clearly seen as
the most important trait
for belonging to each
respective country.
For Japan, If you
go back in time,
in the mid-19th century
before the Meiji Restoration,
people of different feudal domains
could communicate with each other
only by writing in
Chinese characters.
Even nowadays, language
competency can vary so greatly,
from local dialects
to the ability to speak
the formal style of
Japanese called keigo.
Nice to meet you, Im Eimy.
I'm from Mexico.
My full name is Eimy
Sofia Castaeda Kato.
Yes, I have both,
in Mexico we use
the dad's last name
and the mom's last name.
She was in born in Mexico
and attended a bi-cultural
Japanese-Mexican school there,
but she recently moved
to Japan for university.
Did you learn Japanese
growing up or in school?
Yes, my mom taught me a
little bit when I was a little kid.
But it was really basic stuff.
In school I had Japanese
classes for one hour everyday.
And Japanese was more
like a class, kind of like maths.
You know it's a class you have
to take and you have to pass.
So you end up
not liking that class.
They're divided into levels
so very basic and
number five, level five,
which was the highest one,
and I was always
in the highest one.
But coming here to Japan I
realized it was not enough.
I love living in Japan,
I love their culture,
I love being here.
I love being Japanese.
But I don't like the language.
I don't like the language,
I hate studying it, I
don't like talking with it.
I don't like using Japanese.
Hello, my name is Eido Inoue.
I am an American
born Japanese citizen.
What is the one thing
that Japanese in Japan
have in common, that is common
to like 99.9% of the population?
I would argue that it's probably
speaking the Japanese
language morning to night.
Like it or not,
Japanese is not
my first language
so I speak it with an accent,
and I say things that are
grammatically incorrect.
I've passed JLPT 1.
For those of you
that don't know,
JLPT stands for Japanese
Language Proficiency Test,
and JLPT N1 is the highest
level you can achieve.
In English, the equivalent
test might be TOEIC,
or Test of English for
International Communication.
To achieve JLPT N1 status,
online estimates vary from 2,000
to 5,000 hours of study required.
But anybody that has passed
will tell you that once
you've passed it, they'll say
"Congratulations, you've
hit the starting point."
And that's where it begins,
it doesn't mean you're fluent,
it doesn't mean you're native.
It's far, far, far,
far from that.
I realize that the
Japanese language,
because I can't
speak it perfectly,
is a career handicap
and it's something that I
will always have to overcome.
People that can't speak
Japanese very well,
they look at me and say, "Oh,
but you speak it so fluently!"
and "you speak it perfectly!"
and I say, "Well if your Japanese
was better you would know that it's not."
When they complimented my
Japanese, I really appreciated it at first.
But when I understood
the reason behind it.
Like it's not necessarily
because they like or respect me.
It's more like "For a half,
your Japanese is good.
For a foreigner, your
Japanese is good."
Even for those born
and raised in Japan,
the Japanese you speak
may not be standard Japanese,
which is the kind of Japanese
that you would hear
tv announcers speak.
For example, while this announcer is
originally from Kumamoto in the south,
he doesn't use
his local dialect.
"After studying for
one year in Hiroshima,
students prayed at the
atomic bomb memorial
in the Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Park."
So if you didn't grow
up in the Tokyo area,
you may appear uneducated
or unsophisticated.
Hi, my name is Anne Kuninaka,
I'm from Okinawa, Japan.
I consider myself
Okinawan and Japanese.
When I talk to
people from Okinawa,
I talk like them like
Okinawan namari (accent).
But in Tokyo, I talk
to a lot of people
who are not from Okinawa.
So, I try to speak like
the "normal" people
not from Okinawa, you
know what I'm saying?
So yeah that's...
kind of hard to like
change, like time to time.
There are moments where I
have struggled a lot with
what I need to do to
be Japanese enough.
Before I moved to the States,
I wanted to gear up and
take all the exams I could,
so that I could prove paper
how proficient I was in Japanese,
because I felt like
I would be challenged.
Because of how I looked,
how much Japanese I was
able to speak, or read or write.
And so there are moments
in time where I get frustrated
because I've been in
the States for so long
where I lose my Japanese
touch and I might do something
that I might not have
otherwise if I had been here
the whole time, you know?
One last point I'd like
to make on language,
is that many of the interviewees
chose to be interviewed in
English rather than Japanese,
even though their
Japanese was stronger.
The reason I was given by some
is that they felt they could
speak more freely in English.
Now a group of people who often
struggle with the Japanese language
are the Nikkei, which is the term for
Japanese who emigrated from Japan
to live in a different country.
If you go to the Japanese
Overseas Migration Museum,
it's fascinating to see where the
majority of Nikkei originated from.
I actually went there
with a couple members
of a group called
Nikkei in Japan.
Hi everyone, I'm Elena.
So my story is, I'm half fourth
generation Japanese-American.
Originally, it was started
to make people like me,
who are of Japanese descent,
like give them a home in Japan.
Because a lot of us, we
come here and we feel
like people don't
really understand us.
'Cause we look kind
of Japanese but...
kind of not
and we don't really
speak Japanese often.
But as this group has evolved
it's kind of become more
just anyone who is
of Japanese descent
but doesn't really
necessarily feel that
they are full Japanese
Like they fit in with the
homogenous kind of culture here.
Hi, my name is Nina.
I was born in Japan
and lived here until I was eight
and then I moved to the U.S.
My mom's Japanese
and my dad's American.
Coming back here
to work as an adult has been
a lot more of a
challenge with my identity.
Because I speak Japanese and
I know all the customs,
or most of the customs,
and the way to get around,
and speak keigo and everything.
Yes, keigo.
I mentioned this earlier,
but keigo is the formal
version of Japanese,
and you can find it used
in Japanese workplaces.
Carrying on...
But no matter how hard I try
to fit in situations where
I should be Japanese,
people don't look
at me as Japanese.
And I get very
frustrated with how
people get really surprised
by how I speak Japanese
or the fact that I can
use keigo, and be like,
"Oh it's so embarrassing, I'm
Japanese and I can't use keigo like you."
It's like, "Well I'm
Japanese too but..."
It's never Japanese enough.
When you want to
be Japanese, I think
others consider it to be very, very
important that you actually speak it...
I find that a lot of non-native,
often try to catch up
and learn Japanese
because they think that
then, they will fit in better.
But it doesn't...
it doesn't help enough.
It's not enough to
speak Japanese
to be considered,
to be as Japanese
as you'd want to be.
I tried to join
our Nikkei student
union as well at UCLA
and there was a large group
of people who spoke Japanese.
And I got asked the question,
"Oh, so you're Japanese,
right?" and I'm like, "Yeah!"
And then they're, "So
you speak Japanese?"
And I'm like, "Umm. No."
And then they're like, "Oh,
so you're not really Japanese."
So that was like the epitome
of my college existence, I think.
My family only knows English.
I think it's because
of our unique
experiences as Japanese-Americans
going through World War II
and just having that
traumatic past.
My mom taught me about my
history as a JA because I'm fourth gen.
So that means my family
went through internment,
my grandparents went
through internment,
that was really,
really painful for them.
Especially my grandfather,
he lost friends, people...
during the war he
lost his best friend.
Wouldn't talk to him anymore just
because he had a Japanese face.
They had things
stolen from them,
they had bricks thrown at them.
You know, just really,
really bad things and
my mom was always like,
"You need to remember that."
All persons of Japanese
descent were required to register.
The army provided fleets of vans
to transport household belongings.
And buses to move the
people to assembly centers.
Behind them they
left shops and homes
they had occupied
for many years.
We're setting a standard
for the rest of the world
in the treatment of
people who may have
loyalties to an enemy nation.
We are protecting ourselves
without violating the
principles of Christian decency.
So that first video
was made in 1942,
soon after relocation
orders were put in place.
In their follow-up video,
just two years later in 1944,
you can tell the change in tone.
More than a hundred thousand
men, women, and children,
all of Japanese ancestry,
removed from their homes
in the Pacific coast states,
to wartime communities
established in out
of the way places.
Two thirds of the evacuees are
American citizens by right of birth.
The rest are their Japanese
born parents and grandparents.
These people are
not under suspicion,
they are not prisoners,
they are not internees.
They're merely
dislocated people.
The unwounded casualties of war.
While they have many things in common
with ordinary American communities,
in the really important things,
relocation centers
are not normal
and probably never can be.
Homelife is disrupted,
eating, living, and working
conditions are abnormal,
training of
children is difficult.
taught in the schools and
churches and on the playgrounds,
loses much of its meaning in
the confines of a relocation center.
Yeah, when I was
like 6 years old,
my mom told me like,
"You're Japanese-American.
You can't, you have
to act a certain way.
You can't act out in public.
Because your family went
through so much, you know?"
At the risk of over-explaining,
Nikkei in America and Canada,
who were forcibly
detained during World War II
and taught how to be good
Americans and Canadians at the camps,
naturally wanted
to fit into society
and prove their worth
when they got out.
This meant abandoning their
native language and culture.
For their children, and the
generations that followed,
many stopped being able to speak
the language and understand the culture.
This created a group of people
who didn't quite fit into the
country they were born in
or the country their
ancestors were from.
I don't really see
myself as Japanese.
People, when I came here, they try
to make me, "Oh, you're an American."
But I don't really see
myself as just American.
I see like there's Japanese
and all these different identities...
But I know,
I know I'm Japanese-American.
It hurts so much to not be
seen for who you see yourself...
to be.
It's easy to see how looks can be
so strongly tied to being Japanese,
as the vast, vast majority
of Japanese look similar.
Where I'm from, Canada,
there is no way in the world
that you can look at
someone on the street
and figure out if
they're Canadian or not;
there's simply
too much diversity.
But in Japan,
if you see someone who's
visually different from the rest,
then there's a very good
chance that they're not Japanese.
However, even when
a Japanese person
learns that a person
is indeed Japanese,
their appearance can
still colour their judgement.
On the other hand,
those that do look
typically Japanese,
but don't have the same
cultural or language proficiency,
can really stand out,
both in and outside of Japan.
I can't just say I'm
Japanese because I don't look
typical Japanese.
Like I have to explain.
I can't just say,
I'm Japanese.
because most
people would be like,
"You don't look
Japanese though?"
Is what people usually tell me.
Actually, my dad is American,
my mom is Japanese,
so I'm hfu.
I always need to say that
kind of self-introduction.
When people
say mixed babies are
cute, that really bothers me.
Like babies are cute.
Babies are cute. Maybe
some babies are not as cute
as other babies but
it really bothers me
when people say that.
Because I feel like it "others"
people of mixed roots in
a way that's unnecessary.
And it makes it
about how they look.
Ethnically, we're very diverse
even as Asians.
We have Chinese,
Korean, different roots,
to me Japanese ethnically,
it's difficult to define that.
You can look different,
you can be non-Asian
and be Japanese.
Like the outside looks Japanese,
but I don't have a
lot of connections...
like inside, it's really weird.
Because if you don't
have the language,
if you don't do Japanese things,
but you look
Japanese, like what...
what is, how, I don't know?
It's a lot of questions.
Max, had a funny story
about his Japanese
mother's family
that he would visit regularly.
Basically every time
I would go visit them
my own oji-chan, my mom's
brother, would always be like,
"Oh Max, you're good
at using chopsticks!"
"Oh, you like natto? Wow,
you're like a Japanese!"
You do know I am the son
of your sister?
I never could say it to him,
but I always thought
it was hilarious.
How he treated me so much like
not Japanese.
Even though it's like,
it's your own sister's son.
It's a loaded question
if I say I'm
Japanese to, like, a
an Asian American because,
from my experience,
that will always
provoke an argument.
I remember meeting
this bus driver,
who saw me and
said, "You Asian?"
and I was like, "Yes."
He was like, "Are you black?"
and I was like, "Yes."
He was like, "Oh, that's cool."
And then proceeded to
tell me he was going to
find an 'Oriental' woman.
He was going to quit
his job in New York
and find an Oriental woman,
and he was going to
make children like me.
Wow! That's new.
I didn't even know what to say.
When I was a
high school student,
I worked at a sushi restaurant.
But I wasnt asked to
make sushi rolls there.
Apparently, the reason was my
appearance wasn't appropriate
for a sushi maker as the
customers could see it.
A customer said, Did you come
to study in Japan? Thats good.
You must like Japanese culture as
youre working in a sushi restaurant.
Because of how I look, they
tend to make up stories like that.
People like me who do something
to do with Japanese things,
they tend to think, "Oh,
this person loves Japan
and came all the way from
home just to learn our culture!"
That's how I felt they
were thinking about me.
Okay then, If something
happens, just call 110.
Okay, we will. Thank you.
I always get stopped
like this when filming!
I don't know the reason why.
I'm often stopped by the police.
But I never get
physically abused.
I've probably been stopped more
than 300 times in my life so far.
But when I'm wearing a
suit I don't get stopped.
I never, ever, get stopped!
When I'm in a sweatshirt, or wearing
a hoodie, then of course I get stopped.
A growing group of people
that don't get much attention
in Japan are refugees.
while the number of refugees
coming to Japan
was quite low a
couple decades ago,
easier access to travel visas
has caused a surge
in recent years.
Im Shankai.
I'm a born-in-Japan
Burmese that lives in Japan.
But I don't have
citizenship of any country.
When I was in elementary school,
I never thought of
myself as a foreigner.
I wrote my name in katakana for
the 6 years of my elementary school.
When other classmates wrote
theirs in Chinese characters.
I felt it a bit funny
but no big deal.
I never thought I was
Burmese back then.
When I went to middle
school, I was bullied.
I came to understand
that I wasn't Japanese
when I was being bullied.
I also thought I couldn't
ever become Japanese then.
So I thought I should be positive
about it and accept that I'm Burmese.
When I applied for university,
studying abroad was a must
at the faculty I wanted to enter.
I also wanted to go
see foreign countries.
When I had to write
the entrance application,
my parents told me
how I was stateless.
I had no passport and it's
actually risky to leave the country.
Then I realized I'm neither Burmese
nor Japanese when I was about 17.
At this point, you
might be wondering
how Shankai can be
a citizen of no country
even though he was 17 years old.
In Japan, citizenship is
passed through jus sanguinis
or right of blood.
Which is unlike
much of the Americas,
which is jus soli,
or birthright citizenship.
So despite being born in Japan,
Shankai didn't automatically
get Japanese citizenship.
Right now, honestly,
if I continue
without citizenship,
I won't be able to
go abroad easily,
or I won't even be
able to get married.
There are many
problems about this issue.
I can naturalize.
But then my problem
is, do I want to
obtain a Burmese citizenship,
or a Japanese citizenship?
I'm still torn over this.
Japanese citizenship
has a wider range of
benefits and is more useful,
so at this moment I am thinking to
apply for the Japanese citizenship.
In Japanese, those who have
naturalized are known as kikasha.
In comparison to
other G7 countries,
the amount of
people naturalizing
and becoming
Japanese is quite low.
This leads many to think that
naturalizing is
not easily possible.
However, the success
rate of applicants
is incredibly high.
I have the impression
that a lot of foreign countries
see Japan as closed
and unwelcoming.
This is really not true
and I would like to encourage
people to come
and see for themselves.
If you really like Japan and
want to live here,
that is good too.
You can become Japanese.
So Eido, who we met before,
not only naturalized,
but has a website
where he teaches the
ins and outs of naturalizing,
as well as shares
the stories of others
who have become Japanese.
I'd say the top
question I get asked is,
"Was it hard?"
And I'd say,
"Well, it's actually...
it's not easy, but...
it's not as hard or as
impossible as you might think.
There are six conditions
for naturalizing,
which I'll briefly summarize:
1 - You need to live
in Japan for 5 years.
2 - Be over twenty years old.
3 - Not be a criminal.
4 - Be able to support
yourself financially.
Which generally means you speak
elementary school level
Japanese and have a job
or you have a family
member supporting you
or just have lots of money.
5 - That you'll give up any
citizenship in any other countries,
although there are
some exceptions.
And 6 -
you've never tried to overthrow
the constitution of Japan.
Another common
question Eido gets
is why he chose to
become Japanese.
Having permanent residency,
that gives you
to live and work here.
And the optimist would say,
"Oh, they would never, ever,
ever take that away from me."
But the person that looks at it
from a life insurance point of view,
says, "Well, I'd rather have
the right to live here,
and work here, unconditionally."
You know, they can
fine you,
they can jail you,
they can even execute you,
but they can't deport you.
And in 2020, a
permanent resident's ability
to leave and re-enter Japan
was temporarily paused,
as the government tried to
control the spread of coronavirus.
On the other hand,
Japanese citizens did
continue to retain their right
to re-enter the country.
I'm David Chart, I'm Japanese,
but I was born in the U.K.
I came to Japan
fifteen years ago,
when I was thirty-one and
naturalized two years ago.
It's part of the
reason why I feel
culturally Japanese
in a lot of ways
because I do practice
Shinto and that is
really Japanese.
I passed the exam that they set
for lay people who want to
take an exam about Shinto.
I passed at the highest level.
None of the people I
have encountered in Shinto,
have had any problem
with the fact that I
was not born in Japan.
The question I asked all
people who naturalized,
was if it was hard to do so
and why they chose to.
At the point I
actually naturalized,
I was just switching
between two jobs.
And so, my most recent income
was actually under
three million yen.
That wasn't a problem.
So you don't have to be earning
a high amount of money, you just
have to show that you are earning
and that you can
probably continue earning.
I do know of people who are
Southeast Asian
who work in factories
and who have naturalized.
When I'd made the decision,
I'd been in Japan for 13 years.
By that time, Japan
felt like my country.
You get...
some Youtubers saying they
would never naturalize in Japan
because they always
wanted to be absolutely sure
they could always go
back to their own country.
That's why I naturalized.
I wanted to be sure I could
always come back here.
So it's kind of funny that when David
was returning to his former country,
the U.K., he
encountered some issues.
I had to line up
in the Non-U.K.,
non-EU passport lane,
which had a much longer queue.
Got to the front, handed
over my passport,
and the immigration official
looked at it,
looked at me,
"I didn't know they
handed these out!"
First time I went to the U.S.,
because that's
where my father lives,
the guy looks at my
passport and says,
"Hmm... Japanese passport. Why
do you have a British accent then?"
My accent.
My only theory is that
he's had sensitivity training
and has been told
you do not tell people
they do not look
like their passport.
But hadn't been told
not to tell them they don't
sound like their passport.
Another visit to the U.K.,
the guy told me,
"Well, you don't exactly look like a
typical Japanese businessman, do you?"
Er... no, no.
"Have you been
to the U.K. before?"
Yes! Yes, a bit.
"Wow, never seen this before.
Someone not of Japanese
descent with a Japanese passport."
And the guy who was
actually studying me says,
"Yes, but is this OK?"
Hang on a minute, you're
actually thinking about
not allowing me to enter
the U.K. because I'm
white on a Japanese passport,
that's interesting.
Japan has alway been
no reaction at all.
Just thank you sir.
Even when I had a someone
who had kenshusei trainee
on her badge, so,
it's a virtual certainty that
I was the first white person
with a Japanese
passport shed seen,
because there
aren't that many of us.
No. Not even a flicker.
Even though he doesn't get any
reactions at Japanese customs,
that's not necessarily the
case in his everyday life.
I stand out visually
among the typical
Japanese population.
Japanese doesn't really have
a word
Japanese people who don't
look like most Japanese people.
Foreigner is just wrong.
Legally, I am not a foreigner
I am a Japanese
citizen, this is my country.
I get to vote, I can
run for Prime Minister.
You want a way to talk about
who have naturalized.
They're Japanese.
They were born in Japan,
they were raised in Japan
their native
language is Japanese,
their parents were born in Japan
thei grandparents were
usually born in Japan these days.
How do you describe them?
They're not
Zainichi-Koreans anymore.
Alright, they're now Japanese.
doesn't yet have language
for this.
How do you pronounce
your name again
when you introduce
yourself in Japanese?
Gurizudeiru Bari Jyoshua
It's always difficult to say. Whenever
I get called everyone's always
"Guri, guri, guri, gurizu..."
So I always say, "Hai!"
I specifically asked Josh
the question about his name,
because using Western
names in Japan can have issues.
First, there's the length,
since Japanese
only have two names,
a first and a last,
while other countries
can have three, four or five.
The second issue is converting
the name into katakana,
which will almost never
sound like the original name
and makes the already
long name even longer,
due to the way katakana
is written vs. kanji.
Now if you look at David
Chart's name in Japanese,
you'll notice that the
last name is in katakana,
and the first name is in kanji.
I asked him why that was?
I did suggest that we could
go for a kanji surname as well,
but my daughter
strongly opposed that.
And because she is a half
and so she should
have a name that is
half katakana and half kanji.
I wasn't allowed to change
the surname from what
my wife had chosen
when we got married.
And I wanted kanji in the name
and so I found
some kanji for David.
My name is Barry Joshua
Grisdale, I'm originally from Canada,
but I became a
Japanese citizen in 2016.
So in my mind I expected
becoming a Japanese citizen
would be a very
grueling procedure
and very difficult
with maybe pushback
from the people at the ministry
but in fact everybody
was very welcoming.
They were very encouraging
and they provided all the information
I needed to take the first steps.
I also had a home visit.
So the person from the
ministry came to my house.
It was only about five minutes,
they sort of just checked
and did a quick look around.
Checked my closet and
then that was it kind of thing.
There's always these stories
that they check your refrigerator
to see if you're eating
natto and stuff like that.
Unfortunately, I had put all
that natto in there for nothing.
In Japan,
you get a case worker who goes
through all of your documents with you,
tells you what you need,
makes sure you
got the right things.
Tells you if you haven't
got the right things
and what you
need to do to fix it.
sticks with you for as long as it
takes to get your application fixed.
And that's free.
Now, the reason for that is not
necessarily because
Japan loves immigrants.
It's because Japanese law says
that central government bodies
have to provide full help
to enable you to
fill in applications
What I've experienced
as a pleasant shock was
that when I naturalized
to Japanese citizenship
about eight years ago
the Foreign Ministry (Ministry of
Justice) personnel was very friendly,
they gave me a lot of hope.
I was alway a little
hesitant and concerned
that my disability would
affect my application process.
I've heard horror stories on
the news from other countries.
Stories of people who
want to immigrate from
the U.K. to Canada even,
that they have a family
member who's disabled,
and being rejected,
because their family member
would be a strain on
the welfare system.
So I was trying to be
as proactive as possible
to say, you know,
that yes I'm...
I do have a disability but
here's my
contribution back to society,
the things I'm doing.
Well, I was called by
the government of Tottori
actually to come and check out
the accessibility features
of their tourist attractions.
So it's great that they even
just in the public area
have an accessible toilet.
It's well kept and quite nice.
Are you not nervous about this?
It's only been a few hours
since I've arrived in Tottori,
but I've been super impressed.
Everyone's really
kind-hearted and
also they explained the
"i-support" system to me...
That was the biggest
thing that surprised me
is that it didn't
have any effect.
They were mostly concerned about
my stability as a Japanese citizen.
Whether I had employment,
how long I've been here,
how many times I've left the
country, whether I was actually
being part of Japanese
society was more
of an issue to the people
in the ministry than
whether I had a
disability or not,
or whether I'd have some sort of
an effect on the welfare system.
Then I first saw that I
became a Japanese citizen
in Kanp, which is the
government gazette.
So everyday in the morning
I'd constantly be
refreshing the website
and checking all the names.
So it was a stressful
couple of months for me but
when I saw my name
in there, I got so ecstatic.
I actually have it printed
out, it's on my wall at work
with my name highlighted on it.
I became a citizen on
August 29th in 2016
so I consider it my
Japanese birthday.
So I'm four years old in Japan.
How does it feel to be Japanese?
I still wake up sometimes
and smile to myself,
"Hey, I'm Japanese."
- If you slipped here, it would be really bad!
- Definitely!
Remember how the nationality law
basically doesn't allow
for dual citizenship?
While it's true in general,
there are exceptions to this,
and thus there are Japanese
with dual nationality,
like the children who
have one Japanese parent
and one non-Japanese parent,
like my children.
A more famous example was
the tennis star, Naomi Osaka.
I say was, because before
she turned twenty two,
she decided to keep only
her Japanese nationality.
But for those who
aren't in the limelight,
the majority have
actually never chosen,
and thus still possess
dual nationality.
revised their nationality
laws in 1985 to say that
the big big big
change back then was
you could inherit
Japanese nationality
by birth, not just
from your father
but from your mother as well.
They created the
Choice of Nationality Law
which says, once
you become an adult
you then have two years
to make up your mind
and formally declare that you
choose Japanese nationality.
Now, it's on the books
but it's never been enforced.
But just because it's on the
books and never been enforced
doesn't mean they can't
decide to enforce it in the future.
I only have a Belgian passport.
I gave up my
Japanese nationality
when I was about eighteen or so
because I was told I had to
choose at twenty-two so I thought,
why wait until I'm twenty-two.
I might as well choose now
because I live in Belgium.
Living in Belgium
or the Netherlands,
where I live now within the EU,
is much easier on
a European passport
than on a Japanese one.
So for me, the choice was
not only because I identify
as Belgian much more
but also it's just easier.
When you have both an
American and a Japanese family,
and you're asked
to choose one family,
no one can choose.
Because you love both...
It's not an easy choice.
It's choosing sometimes
between your parents,
so which one do you love most,
which country do you love more.
It can be
a practical choice,
Japanese passport
is really strong.
But often it's also a
choice of the heart.
It's how you feel you like most
and a lot of
half Japanese people
would prefer to have
dual nationality
dual citizenship, allowed.
One main thing
against dual nationality
in my perspective
is military service.
What if there's war?
What do you do?
Who do you choose for?
One unique story I came across
was that of Jason's,
a fellow Canadian.
He always thought
he was only Canadian,
but when he applied
for a student visa
to study Japanese in Japan,
he found out otherwise.
Actually when I
applied for my visa
when I got the news
back they rejected it.
And I didn't know why
and they told me that,
they had, my name was
on the family registry.
Something my dad never
bothered to tell me about.
And so they made me go
through this whole stressful
process of getting my family
registry from Japan and everything.
By the time it was over and
when they handed me
a Japanese passport
it was kind of...
a weird feeling in a sense.
In that like I know that
I'm not Japanese like,
like everyone else
who holds this passport
because I grew up in Canada.
But in some ways
it kind of felt like
I was validated in a sense
when I was handed it.
The embassy or consulate
was very persistent on me
getting the passport actually.
They were saying even though
you're above twenty-two
because you were born in Canada
they said that because you
got your Canadian
passport when you were born
through birthright,
that the Japanese government
cannot take that away, technically,
and so you
are okay with keeping both.
Which does not agree
with any of the laws
which are written
on paper, I will admit.
Upon applying for
passport renewal,
many dual citizens will
be handed a pamphlet
saying that,
"You must make a
choice of nationality!"
So the fact that Jason was
told to get a Japanese passport
and not make a choice of
nationality was surprising.
Yeah, in terms of Japan's laws
on passports and stuff
and dual nationality,
I don't know, I think
they are outdated.
Because Japan's a country,
where from the beginning,
people from various countries
and cultures have mixed,
let different people
live in Japan.
And if they succeed,
they could save Japan's future.
A question that came up
over and over throughout
all the interviews,
was how does someone
actually be Japanese.
What does one have to do,
have to be,
to be considered fully Japanese?
Talking with Japanese-Americans,
I learned the terms
jun japa and jun sui,
which translate into
pure Japanese and pure.
Another common
term is Nihonjinron
which is the theory
of Japaneseness.
More broadly, it's the idea
that Japanese are unique.
Believing in these
kinds of ideas,
consequently means
that there are only
certain individuals
that can be Japanese.
I always felt like it was an
insider outsider type deal.
So it's like, either you're
Japanese or you're not Japanese.
And it wasn't
all that relevant what
exactly you were,
besides the fact that
you were not Japanese.
The best way
to come to terms
with who you are
is just to accept
that you will
maybe never be
considered to be fully Japanese.
Which for me is easy
because I wasn't
born and raised here
and I don't have
the ambition to live in
Japan for the rest of my life.
But if that's the case,
then there might
not be an answer that
you know, you'd be happy with.
Saying, ah you know,
you'll never be Japanese.
Be fine with it.
So it's something that
needs to be discussed
and what is Japanese is
something that needs to be
rethought over and over.
I think my identity is
for sure, yes.
That is
where it originated and
and I think it's going to
remain that way, firmly.
But you're also Nihonjin
(Japanese) as well, are you not?
Well, by nationality.
But I don't think I'm Japanese.
I would like to
to be
close to the Japanese
society as much as possible.
But I probably will
never be pure Japanese.
I can never be, I don't think.
I struggled with that for a long
time, what it is to be Japanese.
Actually, when I say it now,
I don't necessarily say I'm
Japanese, I say I'm a Japanese citizen.
Because I don't have Japanese
pass... Japanese citizenship
but I grew up in Japan.
Yeah, you know...
for Western people
I'm Japanese.
I know what they mean but...
But for Japanese people,
I'm not Japanese.
People choose my
identity without asking me.
What should I say...
I think if the person
thinks they're Japanese,
then they're Japanese.
Trying so hard to be
accepted in Japan,
to be accepted as
Japanese has not
become an issue to me anymore.
It was in the past but
I'm so many things.
That's something I
hope other people who
maybe feel like
they have an identity struggle
is to realize they are not just
their own ethnic background.
your identity is who
you make it out to be.
And, you know,
not everyone is going to accept
maybe the fact that
I'm Japanese.
Or maybe I'm not as Japanese
as somebody who is
born and raised here.
But to me that's just
it matters a lot
less now because
I know who I am and I know
where I came from and I
know my background so
I'm completely fine with
that as it is.
It is what it is.
That by the way,
was reference to Naomi Osaka's
one-time Twitter status,
where I'm guessing
she was getting tired
of the same questions.
In fact, she even made an
ad with Nike where she, ah,
"answered" the constant
questions she gets.
It's very unfortunate that
some people still
do not feel comfortable
saying you are Japanese.
You know,
from the bottom of their hearts.
Because there's kind of like a
a small needle
stuck somewhere in your stomach.
Saying, "Uh, maybe you're not...
Are you sure you're Japanese?"
I don't mean to be kind
of Socrates or anything
but Japanese...
being Japanese is
just being Japanese.
Either you
have it or you don't, you know.
If you think you're
Japanese, you're Japanese.
I think.
You can go on about
being legally Japanese,
being blood Japanese,
being half Japanese,
being quarter Japanese but...
Japan is
a nation state.
And it's a nationality.
It's a culture
if you're comfortable
with being Japanese,
you're Japanese.