lifestyle

One single black mother's story of raising a half-Japanese child against all odds

19 Comments
By Mikko Obscura

Even before my son was born, I knew raising him in Japan was going to be the hardest thing I would ever do. His father, who is Japanese, was never in the picture. He always had an excuse why he couldn’t be bothered to give our son a bath, change his diaper, or even just be present.

He would abandon us for days, sometimes weeks, without money for food or baby supplies. On the rare occasion he was actually around and I mentioned finding work for myself, he would shame and isolate me.

I was abused in every way possible—psychologically, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially—but I tried my best to keep it together for my son’s sake.

A whirlwind of abuse and trying to escape

Struggling to stay strong for my son, a mother’s worst nightmare happened. My husband started showing signs of aggression and jealousy towards our baby.

Being pushed while holding a premature infant in my hands was terrifying. From that moment, I knew we needed out. I would not stick around to find out if he would strike our son the way he struck me many times before. My son would not grow up thinking the behavior displayed by his father was normal.

I decided to become a single mother. I had already been living a single parent lifestyle more or less, so I knew I had what it took.

Started-to-read-about-divorce-and-separation-the-day-after-verbal-assaults-to-my-son-by-his-father-were-made.jpg
After my husband made verbal threats to my son, I knew I had to get a divorce.

By that time I was already working a part-time job at my son’s daycare. My paycheck was merely peanuts—barely enough for me to save anything. There was no way I could afford rent on my paycheck, but I tried my best anyway. I worked tirelessly for months, saving every cent I earned that wasn’t spent feeding my son until I had just enough to rent a small apartment. It didn’t matter that I was broke, we were finally away from my abusive husband.

Reality hit hard after a month as my money dwindled rapidly and my repeated requests for extra work hours or a full-time position were denied. As independent and strong-willed as I am, I knew there was no way I could financially manage. So, I applied for welfare where I was met with the disheartening reality of being a single mom in Japan.

The-first-day-of-our-new-lives-Mikko-.jpg
The first day of our new lives away from my husband Photo: Mikko Obscura

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19 Comments
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Media Law 101: always anonymise authors (and children) in stories where potentially defamatory claims of physical abuse are being made. It costs you nothing but could save you millions. Even if you haven't explicitly named the father, all he needs to show is that someone out there could have connected the dots back to him.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am not sure what the citizenship status of Mikko Obscura is. If she is a US citizen(She claims African American and Native American ancestry), then she is better off returning to the US and raise her son there. Don't waste your precious time in Japan.

Japan is no land for hafus and children of single moms.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Japan is no land for hafus and children of single moms

why not?

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

samit:

I have to agree. It's going to be tough.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

I moved with my family to Tokyo about 10 years ago from Osaka. I have to give credit where due, I never heard of any discrimination or bullying of them at school. Also half blacks seem rather common perhaps due to several large military bases nearby. I personally suggest the Yokohama area.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Right, because America is so incredibly tolerant of mixed race kids.

Japanese society may not be tolerant of mixed race individuals everywhere, but to then claim that such mixed race individuals would be living in a color blind utopia anywhere in the U.S. by comparison is ludicrous.

https://womensenews.org/2015/10/multiracial-girls-open-up-about-getting-bullied/

Among the 160,000 children who are bullied everyday, 31 percent are multiracial, according to Clemson University’s “Status of Bullying in School” 2013 report.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Right, because America is so incredibly tolerant of mixed race kids.

Japanese society may not be tolerant of mixed race individuals everywhere, but to then claim that such mixed race individuals would be living in a color blind utopia anywhere in the U.S. by comparison is ludicrous.

The poster didn’t claim that. The poster claimed better.

In terms of accepting minorities, it’s hard to argue Japan is better than the US on this score.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I thought that this was going to be a story about how the author was the victim of racial discrimination, being refused support because of minor reasons that kept changing each time, or how the system has idiotic requirements (e.g. consent from the former partner).

In reality, the story effectively amounts to "it was hard to apply for child support because I had to attend a lot of meetings in places where there was no free daycare".

That's unfortunate, but it's not discrimination. It's a lack of resources for the welfare offices, and I can see how providing free childcare for parents who need to use their services isn't going to be at the top of their priority list if they've got other problems to deal with.

I don't know where the author was brought up, but in the UK government offices do not routinely have childcare for people who attend. They're expected to juggle children in the same way the author was.

I also disagree with the author that Naomi Osaka is a good sign of discrimination against ethnic minorities. She's been hugely accepted by Japanese tennis fans, despite her poor spoken Japanese and the fact that visually it's extremely obvious that she's mixed race, and if anything is now a sign of better attitudes towards mixed-race Japanese.

Japan is no land for hafus and children of single moms

I'm not sure I can think of a single country where life is cushy for single parents. (Oh, and you think single mothers have it bad? Try being a single father anywhere.)

As for half-Japanese children, there's discrimination but I think there's no reason they can't be happy in the long-term.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Might help to remove obvious tats and remove the piercings. Both, especially the latter, are pretty offensive in Japan. Your choice, of course.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan is no land for hafus

This will come as some surprise to my own "hafus", born and raised in Japan and now grown.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That was an extremely moving story - I can never be in your shoes, but even this brief insight gives a a good picture of your struggles.

I tend to agree that if you are in Japan and starting in the back foot, lose the piercings and cover the tattoos.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In terms of accepting minorities, it’s hard to argue Japan is better than the US on this score.

I doubt it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

In terms of accepting minorities, it’s hard to argue Japan is better than the US on this score.

I doubt it.

So you doubt that the US is better than Japan in terms of accepting minorities?

Really?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

No matter half or not, a kid with a single mother is statistically at a disadvantage, then add in the tats, etc. Good luck.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It's way beyond time Japan updated its joint custody and child support laws. Too many fathers just disappear with no responsibility to their kids. And, on the other hand, too many fathers are completely cut off from their kids with no visitation, but are expected to pay whatever amount of child support requested by the mother. This is not specific to just foreigners. It is Japan's lack of joint custody and chid support laws that create situations like this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@oldman_13

Thanks for the reference.

https://womensenews.org/2015/10/multiracial-girls-open-up-about-getting-bullied/ 

Gotta luv it when strictly factual posts, especially posts that show Japan is not uniquely evil, get down voted.

There is actually quite a bit of writing in English about the hassles you face growing up haafu in the US or the UK.

I see haafu black kids in my neighborhood. They are always mixed in a group of Japanese kids, laughing and chattering just like the other kids.

My two haafu sons have gone through generic Tokyo schools but report no hassles.

People seem to have forgotten the vitriolic racism directed at Barack Obama, a haafu in Japanese terms.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Gotta luv it when strictly factual posts, especially posts that show Japan is not uniquely evil, get down voted.

Yawn. Where does anyone, either in the story or in the comments, claim that Japan is "uniquely evil".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Is the author/mother also Black and Japanese?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thought that this was going to be a story about how the author was the victim of racial discrimination

I guess it is because the title of the article was removed only the under-title was left :

The Harsh Reality of Getting a Divorce as a Mom in Japan

One single Black mother's story of raising a half Japanese child against all odds.

So the article is about the difficulty for mom to deal with the aftermath of a divorce. Then it is included specific she is facing as a black mother with a haifu child.

Is the author/mother also Black and Japanese?

As I understood, she does seems to be :

My son is half Japanese and mixed with Filipino, African-American, and Native American.

Hope everything work out well for your family.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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