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The Hafu Project: Exploring the question of what it means to be Japanese

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By Jessica Ocheltree

Japan has long been regarded as a homogenous culture: to look Japanese and to speak the language was to be Japanese. However, with one in 30 babies here now being born to mixed-race couples, these concepts are starting to change. It’s an issue that’s particularly pertinent for the children of such couples, who have been dealing with questions of national identity for their whole lives, and now a group of young "hafu" are exploring what their experiences mean for the future of Japan.

The Hafu Project began back in 2008 as a collaboration between social researcher Marcia Lise, who was compiling interviews with groups of half-Japanese people, and German-Japanese photographer Natalie Willer, who was shooting portraits of them. The pair held an exhibition in London at the end of that year which enjoyed the support of the Japanese Embassy and other cultural organizations.

“The project itself is an inquiry into the half-Japanese experience,” says Lise. “As you can probably imagine, it’s really diverse. Some people have been raised in Japan, others outside. So we’re trying to get our stories out… We want people to know what it is to be half-Japanese—hafu—in Japan and outside of Japan.”

To date, the project has collected 130 portraits and 65 in-depth interviews, exploring everything from the subjects’ backgrounds and upbringing to their sexuality, religion and social experiences. In addition to showing their work in exhibitions, Lise and Willer are also compiling a book in Japanese and English.

“Personally, I want people in Japan to read it,” says Lise. “I think it’s really important that Japanese speakers are able to get to know the experience of half-Japanese people, and question their own identity too.”

Two of the interviewees, both Tokyo-based filmmakers, have joined forces and struck out on a related project of their own: a documentary, called simply Hafu, about five people dealing with issues common among biracial Japanese. Says Megumi Nishikura, one of the directors: “We all feel that Japan is changing and that we—as the people making the film, and the people who are in the film—all identify ourselves as kind of an emerging community of Japanese people. We want to start that dialogue: what does this change mean for Japan?”

One of their subjects is David Yano, a half Ghanaian who has lived in Japan since he was six. Like an increasing number of mixed-race Japanese, he has a successful career as a model and TV presenter, but the movie focuses on his efforts to raise money to build a school back in Ghana.

Meanwhile, the Oi family—a Japanese father, Mexican mother and their two children—show how the hafu community often has to balance different linguistic and cultural influences. “Most international couples with children have to consider at some point what education system they are going to put their children in,” says Nishikura. “So we were looking for someone who was going through that.”

The filmmakers are still choosing their other three subjects. One person will be debating the issue of whether to naturalize or not, and another will represent the most common demographic for hafu, an Asian mix, exploring what the issue of identity is like for someone who, on a superficial level at least, blends easily into Japanese society.

The final subject will be like co-director Lara Perez Takagi, who grew up overseas but returned to Japan to get in touch with her Japanese heritage. “We’re showing something that is happening every day, and that there are people with these experiences,” Takagi says.

Nishikura is aware of the contradictions in trying to define what it means to be Japanese: “Somehow the Japanese people have agreed that there is a definition, but no one has actually discussed what that definition is… One of my motivations for making this film is that I want to help expand that definition, whatever it may be, to include people like us.”

See www.hafujapanese.org and www.hafufilm.com for more information.

3331 Arts Chiyoda Hafu Project Exhibition. Photography, interviews. Until Aug 29, free. 6-11-14 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku. Open Tue-Thu & Sun noon-7 p.m., Fri-Sat noon-8 p.m., closed Mon. Nearest station: Suehirocho.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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"The Hafu Project: Exploring the question of what it means to be Japanese"

Amazing how a whole nation can get so wrapped up in this kind of racial drivel ! The term "hafu" is derogatory and divisional- it should be banned from all public forums much like the "N" word... I can see no positive reason or situation the term should be used- as an American I am never in a public situation where I have to explain my genetic make-up. Simply bad manners being disguised as some form of public education project- utter nonsense.

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.....I ve met a lot of japanese women who think haafu babies are just so damn kawaii..... kind of like thos yippy little dogs..... How can that be racism?

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There we try to teach mixed raced children that they are not "half", but double as they combine both roots, only to see this thoughtless public vilification happen.

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This hafu project is totally racial and so derogatory. To call someone hafu is like saying you are not one of us and since you are an outsider, we will not recognize you as being a part of our country. I feel for everyone that is of mixed blood in Japan because they are all treated with less respect as a pure blooded Japanese by the way they are looked upon in Japanese society.

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Has anyone every heard of a "hafu" Brit, Canadian or American? Do we call President Obama a "hafu" American?

My mother is from Vietnam and my father is an American. I don't recall ever being called a "hafu/half" American in America. I am an American - period. So why are people so wrapped up about "hafu" Japanese.

As the Amerasian school in Okinawa expresses, Japanese children are not halfs but should be considered doubles. Doubles such as having 2 cultures and languages that they maybe required to speak and learn.

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susano- lemme get this stright- if it's cute- its not racist ??? No attempt to offend- but does this sound OK to you ??? "Hey honey- look at them cute little porch monkeys over there... whaddya say we mosey on over and get us one to take back home- damn cute little things with them puffy lips, big ol bug eyes, and nappy head-a curls" !!! My buddys daughter is "hafu" and the number of insensitive buffoons that want to touch her hair, watch her walk, or ask about her "eating habits" is simply amazing ! Listen up people- she's a little girl- not a hafu to be poked, prodded, or examined like in a freak show. Fortunately here in the USA she's just... a cute little girl- no stigmas attached and certainly no-one asking about her genetic make-up. When will Japan ever get over this kind of "us versus them" mentality ?

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"Hafu" shouldn't be used in English the way it is here because the way it is used is simply wrong linguistically, but in Japanese it just means "Half-something, half-something else". There's nothing intrinsically racist. The problem arises when people use it to refer to people in situations where that person doesn't want it used, just like commenting on someone's weight or whatever, you would never do that with a stranger (although it's pretty common in Japan) What's interesting is that they have to be referred to as half or double or anything. If they are in Japan the are Japanese, not half-Japanese. If they are in Mexico they are Mexican, not half-Mexican. When I was in school in England if someone had a parent of a different nationality that was we said they were English and "So-an-so's dad is German" or "His mum is Japanese" as an afterthought. There was no racial purity movement happening.

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Sounds like an interesting project to me. Hope this doesn't turn into a nasty debate, because it doesn't need to be.

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Branded at 07:36 AM JST - 18th August

as an American I am never in a public situation where I have to >explain my genetic make-up. Simply bad manners being disguised as some >form of public education project- utter nonsense.

That's because the United States is a nation made up of immigrants. In contrast Japan is a small isolated mostly racially homogenous island country. To compare the US and Japan on the same terms is ridiculous.

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@Branded

susano- lemme get this straight- if it's cute- its not racist ??? No attempt to offend- but does this sound OK to you ???

I suspect you're not picking up on the sarcasm in susano's post ;)

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Is it racism or nationalism? Is a Chinese/Japanese baby hafu? Or is it just for ethnicities that are apparently not east-asian in feature?

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'..a group of young “hafu” are exploring what their experiences mean for the future of Japan...'(paragraph 1) So the 'hafus' according to the top posters are committing acts of racism and divisiveness against themselves ?????Did you actually read who the organizers are and what theyre trying to achieve ?? Theyre trying to educate and assimilate not isolate.

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kyushujoe- "I suspect you're not picking up on the sarcasm in susano's post ;)"

-"I ve met a lot of japanese women who think haafu babies are just so damn kawaii..."

Sarcasm or not- I too have met a lot of Japanese women who think "hafu" babies are cute. And like I described in my previous post- they want to prod, poke, examine, and go beyond civility when expressing their interest. It really is that giddy kid at the puppy farm... but these are not puppies !

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Branded at 07:54 AM JST - 18th August Fortunately here in the USA she's just... a cute little girl- no stigmas >attached and certainly no-one asking about her genetic make-up.

When my kids were little in New Jersey I had folks asking how I was able to to adopt two oriental children. I had to point out that they weren't adopted, their mother is Japanese. Begining to wonder just how "American " you are if you aren't even aware that on the whole we're just as biased and racist as anyone else.

When will Japan ever get over this kind of "us versus them" mentality ?

In time they probably will, but meantime I don't see Americans having the luxury of worrying about other countries' racial problems.

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OssanAmerica- "To compare the US and Japan on the same terms is ridiculous."

Then how about by international standards and terms ??? Even by those- Japan fares miserably. And in case you missed it- "one in 30 babies here now being born to mixed-race couples" ! Japan hasn't been homogenous for decades ! I won't even bother going into all the "hafu" korean/chinese/other asian children born and living in Japan for centuries ! Homogenous ? are you serious ? The Japanese are of a mixed race themselves... now there's a "project" worth exploring !

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Before I can pass judgement on "hafu", I'd really like to know what it refers to. Half Japanese? Well, doesn't it make sense that if you were born and raised in Japan, speak Japanese as your first language, spent your entire life there, and are a Japanese citizen, you are fully Japanese? You would think so, but I know people who qualify under these criteria and are referred to as "hafu" because one of their parents was not Japanese (I won't bother going into the possible Catch 22/Jim Crow aspects of that one). Would one of the Japanese people reading this post like to take some time to explain why that is? If they can, maybe we can get down to it and talk about what it really means to be Japanese. Sounds more like membership in a religious cult than a national identity.

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"Sounds more like membership in a religious cult than a national identity." .... japanese identity is based on member ship in a religious cult... its called Nihonjinron.

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This is why I like the term we use in Hawaii (and which has since spread to the West coast of the U.S. and other places) -- "hapa", which means of mixed race, but without any specific "half this/half that" implication. At this point, "hapa" kids are more the rule than the exception in Hawaii, and the term has kind of gone out of use there, but people are still proud of their various mixed heritages, often pointing them out in (not very scientific) fractions of an eighth or even sixteenth. Japan has a long, long way to go to get to that point, and perhaps never will--or even, necessarily, be expected to--and I think these kinds of discussions, and self-driven efforts to examine and understand that progress, or lack of it, are part of a healthy, positive process. Besides, something needs to be done to counteract the still-persistent attitude of google-eyed amazement, especially on TV, with which bi-racial or multi-racial individuals born and/or raised in Japan are treated on TV and elsewhere in the media, and it's the so-called "hafu" population that needs to lead that effort.

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Japanese is a NATIONALITY not a race! To call someone "half-Japanese" doesn't make sense. I hate to tell you this but you're the same as the Koreans and Chinese!

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As much as this report does seem to a tad raciest it also exposes the non-hafu population to the fact that a third of the new population is of mixed racial origin. It must be a bitter pill to swallow for many of the inactive right-wingers. There is a little bit of right-wing nut in the whole population. How many times have you heard, "Because this is Japan"?

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OssanAmerica wrote:

Begining to wonder just how "American " you are if you aren't even aware that on the whole we're just as biased and racist as anyone else.

And replied to:

When will Japan ever get over this kind of "us versus them" mentality ?

with:

In time they probably will, but meantime I don't see Americans having the luxury of worrying about other countries' racial problems.

OssanAmerica, can't we stay on topic? Why do you have to drag the Americans into this? From your post, you are stating that the Japanese are biased and racist, and you don't seem to think that will change any time soon. What does equivocation with the perceived/actual bias and/or racism of Americans have to do with anything?

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Good points Jamal2609. "Hafu" just sounds bad to foreign ears, especially those of us that feel somehow misrepresented in this culture. Honestly we have to come to term with living here and shrug off a lot of the petty disturbances that bog us down daily. Japanese people (for the most part) like to hear about the differences in our cultures and actually respect our attempts at explaining these differences. Now should we bombard them with all the politically correct jargon that has ruined honest communication in a lot of western cultures, preach about about how wrong it is for the to use such expressions, or tell them it's their fault for not googling it? Definitely not.

Life is short, and I can't spend my entire day telling everyone I meet all the things that make us different and the same. I don't want to push any of my values on anyone, nor make them feel like their idiots for asking the question "Are you hafu?".

Is being Japanese special? Sure. Just like being from anywhere is special. We can certainly explore this question with people in any country and I'm willing to do so.

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Mixed race? So 20th Century. There is one race and it is HUMAN. Get with the program, mixed ethnicity, sure. Race? Phf. JT* you'll be talking about 'pure blood' and superior races next. One race. The Human Race. Break down the imagined barriers. Embrace a wider sense of self.

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"Because this is Japan"?

I can agree on this totally, even my father-in-law keeps saying this.... :(

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Exploring this is very interesting- I'm hafu. I grew up in America. And since I was a child my genetic make up was always asked. When I lived in America Even children as young as 3 years old ask me why are you different ? Other mothers ask my mom what color, natural hair color, curly hair, or straight hair what color is he and so on !!!! Also American teachers asked if the can touch my hair.---

I moved back to Japan in the 1990's check how the other side lives. And to my astonishment it was totally different than my american culture and from my imagination.-- I recieved racism, discrimination and hafu-curious people interested in my " half-iness " in both countries !!!! I went through all of the emotions sadness, outrage,proud, confusion, bewilderment, why I couldn't be the same as everybody else when I was in my 10-13 years old.--

During highschool I was really happy for whom I am and accepted it. "Special" I'm different !!! Being different attracts attention !!!!! Being different, you can see both sides of the coin !!! Instead of looking inward your open to an outward world.--

People naturally like seperation, Examples religion, social class,blood type, body size,color and so on. It's natural for people to go/join to their accepted group. I've meet my fellow "hafu-iees" some love japan, some have no choice to leave, some have no option, some want to stay in Japan forever., Whatever their mindset is, I believe they are at peace from within. Some bi-racial people are not. Maybe some childhood psychological problem (obstacle)they had to deal with when they were a child. I just hope that all kids look at all the aspects of their bi racial culture. Explore everything and then find your own personal conclusion for whom you are.--

I have no rules for being Japanese If you were born in japan you have the right to be called Japanese. If you immigrated to this country legally your Japanese. If you want admire Japanese culture but don't want to change your status. Daijobu !!!!--

When I worked for the Public schools in Japan. The backpacks are really annoying everybody has the 35000 yen backpacks (scary). I've seen alot of problems for the mixed race kids and non-native children in Japan. I've watched children seperate into little groups. The kids were not knowingly seperating themseleves from others!!!! I hope we can teach the kids in jpn to except other races. In America, it's not that bad of deal than in japan.--

Wether i stay in Japan or get the freak out of jpn. It's my personal decision to stay. shoe box aprtmnts,key $,auto parking not free,trains,overcrowding transpo,armpit smell on the trains,grocery store ice cream is toooo small,BO smells, did I mention BO smell, and etc. I think I will not stay here. Indefinitely !!!

Japan and America is my home, my two homes are not perfect but they are my homes. In my 2 homes I wish i can fix the interior but that would make my life very boring and easy. Too easy !!! SO, i have to get used to the house and the interior personality of my home countries. Peace to all half people. Good Luck

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"Nishikura is aware of the contradictions in trying to define what it means to be Japanese: “Somehow the Japanese people have agreed that there is a definition, but no one has actually discussed what that definition is… One of my motivations for making this film is that I want to help expand that definition, whatever it may be, to include people like us.”

Defined as... "not one of them" !

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If you have have mixed race kids, don't dwell on the subject or engrave it in their minds. If they have a problem at school or whatever tell them the truth. The truth is they are different and special. Read them the book about the, "Ugly Duckling" or explain the concept in a different imaginatory way !!!! Don't tell your children or use the word " Hafu " everyday especially on Tuesdays !!! Don't put a stigma on the kid !!! If you ,you know who grandparents or some idiot in the family who thinks he/she is a regualr comedian have a timeout during origami time talk with the idiot savant and tell them it is wrong to say such a word. When the kid comes home and tells you a crappy story about you know who said she's/he's a ___. positvo ne jibun shite kudasai Encourage the kid at all costs !!!

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making issues out of nothing,,,the world goes round again!

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How can you be half Japanese?

I am English and my ex wife is Japanese, does this make our daughter Jinglish? or the horrible phrase HAFU...

I beg to differ.

She was born in Japan, she speaks Japanese as her first language, she goes to a Japanese school, she eats Japanese food, watches Japanese TV i.e she does everything you would expect a Japanese child to do.

Therefore she is Japanese without any shadow of a doubt. If someone calls her or refers to her as 'hafu' it really p*sses me off. It is like saying she is only half Japanese.

And what is being Japanese? It cannot be based on pure blood, because unless I mistaken 'Japanese' is a mixture of Chinese and Korean ancestry is it not?

I therefore believe someone is Japanese based on there culture and personality rather than their genetic fibre...

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Whoops (typo) their not there

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"half-japanese"

That's one of the most racist terms that japanese people use.

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@nuckinfutz

Japanese is a NATIONALITY not a race! To call someone "half-Japanese" doesn't make sense. I hate to tell you this but you're the same as the Koreans and Chinese!

Concur. Ask any learned scientist of genetics, and they'll tell you that classifying people by "race" (which really mean skin color, hair color, and eye shape and color) makes no sense whatsoever

If you take an average "Japanese" and throw a dart at the map of the world, and compare the "Japanese" person to THAT person, there will be much less genetic difference than between any two Japanese you pull off the street.

This is scientific fact.

Separating people into categories by skin color, hair color, and eye shape is pure nonsense.

The average Nihonjinron is more genetically similar to a tribesman in Africa than he is to his fellow salaryman next to him on the train.

hair color, skin color, eye shape, nose and lip shape only three of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of phenotypes.

It would make as much logical sense for Toys R Us to put all the blue toys on one aisle, the red toys on another, and so on.

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As I tell my kids, they aren't 'hafu' anything. They are 'daburu' (double), as they have Japanese and British cultural identities.

I'm surprised/disappointed that two foreigners had to use the same expression as Japanese use for a title to their research. Most Japanese don't see 'hafu' as a derogatory term, but most English speakers find it deeply offensive (it appears to derive from 'half-caste').

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"Hafu" is akin to the English term "half-breed". It is derogatory in every aspect. Being offensive to foreigners has become commonplace in Japan.

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They are 'daburu' (double)

Are they that fat?

If the term is not seen as bad by most japanese as you wrote, aren't you alienating your kids by teaching them so?

It's like telling them that they're special for being different, so now they are better than the rest? How is that better, you should be teaching them that we are all equal.

I wonder what kind of answers they got if they had a foreign/mixed looking interviewer asking japanese people how they feel about them?

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djuice: "Hafu" is akin to the English term "half-breed". It is derogatory in every aspect."

Thank you for that comparison, I once made that same comparison on a previous article in reference to how and what my grandmother was call back home for much of her life and I was chastised and attack by so many of the apologist and Japanophiles that seem to always have a reason or excuse not to mention the "I never had any problem with this" or "my children turned out just fine".

But Then most of those that defend the use of this word and all the discriminatory practices that go with it are for the most part white expats that are generally clueless to the double meaning of the word!

That is it is meant a "Kawaii" when the child is Caucasian/Japanese but it has no such connotation if the child is Black,Filipino, SEA,etc../Japanese.

I was not the one to make this observation it was my 2 children when they were in daycare who first told me.

They were and still are the only "Caucasian"/Japanese at their respective schools and many of their friends are ethnically mixed but unlike them they are the less "desirable" mixed children and they know it and are often reminded of it.

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Is 'half' really that bad? My husband is Japanese, I'm Australian, so err...my son is half-Japanese and half-Australian, no? My son is also a Japanese citizen and an Australian citizen. Not 100% Japanese at all.He doesn't have 100% Asian genes nor does he have 100% Caucasian genes. He's pretty much half-half. I don't mind when Japanese people ask if he is half because that is just the term they use and I have never felt anyone using it in an offensive way. If they started crapping on about how he is different in certain ways BECAUSE he is half, then I would be angry. Until now, all I have received is cooing and aahing because he IS %&#$* CUTE!!!! Not sure if I will get sick of that :D

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dejaboo: Read my post and I rest my case!

As said by the "Caucasian" : "Until now, all I have received is cooing and aahing because he IS %&#$* CUTE!!!! Not sure if I will get sick of that :D"

And one more thing @dejaboo does you son have half Japanese, half Australian citizenship?

I have been here 19 years my children have been in the daycare/school system for 15 of those years and the only Caucasian mixed children all this time.

Why do so many of the expats on this site and the Japanophiles think that this only has to do with Caucasian mixed children? They make up a very small portion of the mixed children and in my area it is primarily Filipino, Chinese, Thai, I chalange you all to come down to "shitamachi" Tokyo and have a chat with these mothers and these mixed children, then tell them "HAFU" is not derogatory!

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If I dared called someone of mixed ancestry only half or quarter Australian back home probably one of or all the following three things would happen. I would..

1) be verbally abused. 2) possibly be on some kind of discrimination charge (if I made comments like this in the work/study place. 3) have my lights punched out.

...end of study.

Note to Japan: It is 2010 soon it will be 2011.

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whiskeysour.... that post was awesome. You remind me of John Rain in the the Rain series. The guy was Japanese American (JPN father US mother) and he totally described his life like your post, the mentality. Good reading for Bourne or Bond lovers, but the character is based in Japan, Hong Kong, the US.... Personally I think you nailed it as the author Eisler did. As for me my lad is Japanese American and he looks more American. The little dude wears mini aviator sunglasses (this hides the slight asian feature in his eyes) and the staring and kawaii thing gets old but we can deal. Its all been positive and even geezers get a kick out of him. We embrace it, like the Japanese have embraced democracy.

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my2sense: "As for me my lad is Japanese American and he looks more American"

Can you tell me what you mean by "American"? Do you mean Caucasian? Or Native American?

I know I'm being sarcastic but this is precisely the comments I expected from the "White" people!

Clueless to the reality of most non racially pure Japanese here!

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It came to my attention quickly my kids would need to be in a school with other "hafu"... Much better for their self-image... Who wants to be singled out at such an early age?

There really are alot of mixed blood kids in Tokyo...

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Can you tell me what you mean by "American"? Do you mean Caucasian? Or Native American? I know I'm being sarcastic but this is precisely the comments I expected from the "White" people! Clueless to the reality of most non racially pure Japanese here!

relax... didn't expect that from you. I was referring to the nationality of his parents. He is CaucAsian... Even if I was black, yellow or green, I would simply refer him as Japanese American or American Japanese. Dont let your insecurities get the best of you- its only JT.

precisely the comments I expected from the "White" people!

-have a little class. No need to be nasty, JT has enough of them.

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Should I have children, the little blighters might be a "half" but they will grow up in full knowledge of the great ancestry and tradition surrounding their English roots.

Such knowledge, and the great swell of pride that derives from it that is familiar to all those lucky enough to be born in England, will allow them to overcome any such racism or hostility they might encounter with a contemptously disdainful sneer.

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Junnama:"It came to my attention quickly my kids would need to be in a school with other "hafu"... Much better for their self-image... Who wants to be singled out at such an early age?"

Can you explain how you achieved this?

Most of these children are not from your "expat Package" families and generally go to the local public school.

And the "pure" Japanese at those schools will single them out from the start!

My best example of this was in April when my son entered Junior high, the PTA had a special meeting to discus the fact that 10% of the first year students were "gaijin" or "gaijin mixed" and how will this be handled.

I went naively thinking it would address problems facing these children but it turned out to be about the "pure" Japanese worried about how the large percentage of "Hafu" will affect the academic level of the school!

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Well, I told our kids: You have a good looking Japanese mother and an intelligent German father. So you are not only kawaii, you also have a chance for a good start. I am trying to teach a little to our 5 year old son (German language, some engineering practice), now he is teaching his 3 year old sister. And she start teaching and explaining to our 1 year old boy.

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my2sense: I was not being nasty and am sorry if it seemed that way.

What I am trying to get people here to understand is that the "Caucasian" mixed children are the privileged ones that get special oohs and aahs not the majority of the mixed who are generally viewed are dirty blood!

My children are lucky because for some genetic quirk I am for all intensive purposes "Caucasian" in Japan, and when my daughter goes out with here friends whom 2 are "pure" Japanese 1 Filipino/Japanese, 1 Chinese/Japanese, 1 Korean/Japanese and one Cote D'ivore/Japanese, my daughter and the 2 "pure" Japanese notice a clear difference as to their treatment and that of the 4 others and especially the Cote D'Ivoire mix!

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Mixed race? Do many people still see us separated into races? So 20th Century. There is one race and it is HUMAN. Get with the program, mixed ethnicity, sure. Race? Phf. JT* you'll be talking about 'pure blood' and superior races next. One race. The Human Race. Break down the imagined barriers. Embrace a wider sense of self.

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In reply to 'daisan'

No...not fat I didn't say anything about them being better than anyone else. Do you honestly think that this is the only education my kids get from me?!!
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The word "hafu" itself is not bad but Westerners with limited Japanese would think otherwise. The problem is the self centered genetic identity that Japanese have about themselves and this movie seems to address that.

To Western ears, hafu sounds "incomplete". To Japanese language katakana ears, its another uniquely nuanced gairaigo. Words flow from language to language all the time. It's not incorrect usage because that is how languages evolve.

My kids are described as hafu in Japanese and we all are fine with it. Anything can be offensive depending on the context.

Being pre-judged based on appearance is not comfortable. For example, a random Japanese guy might assume my kids can't speak Japanese and speak English without hearing us first talk and I find that annoying. In that case, it doesn't matter what word they use to describe us because his action was the problem. Again, this movie would address some of that.

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Good points, porter. limboinjapan - I used Caucasian because that's what I am. I understand there are PLENTY of non-caucasian/Japanese children. I am just going by my experience. Also, I didn't mean to directly connect my son's "half-caucasianess(?" with his cuteness. He is cute, that's a fact but whether or not it is because he has Caucasian genes is another story, yeah? Sorry to offend if it came across like that.

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porter:

Again I will pose the question are your children Caucasian/Japanese?

I find it interesting how most here have completely avoided the issue of NON-Caucasian/Japanese mixes!

I would like to hear from a non-expat package non-Caucasian living in a more common shitamachi area to see how they feel!

I know what my childrens friends think and feel and what their parents feel, having talked directly with them but it would be nice if someone like that would post and tell the rest of those here what it is like!

Patrick Smash at 01:32 PM JST - 18th August:

Can you be anymore Japan apologist then this?

And even when these "HA-FU" as you put it chose to prove their loyalty to Japan and relinquish their other nationality and keep only their Japanese one they are STILL referred to as "hafu"! Just take a look at the mixed "Talento" their "hafu" status is constantly brought up even when some have never had any other nationality.

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To be honnest I could be more shocked by the term "caucasian" and "latino" used in the united states than the word "halfu". Don't you think a Spanish should feel weird when he has to tickle a box in the US?

To be fair, mixed kids will have trouble in kindergaten. but they will shine later while most of the "pure" kids will have trouble getting a job or just travel around the planet.

It's like the life as a Gaijin, sometime it has some advantages (and we don't complain) sometime it has inconveniences: c'est la vie.

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I used to rant about this all the time. I still dislike the term for what it seems to imply in English. I still say "so-called half" when I have to use the term. However, I've lived here long enough to know that for the Japanese it's just another katakana word and they don't know what it means or what it implies. Only after I point it out do they fully appreciate why it might offend others. To make a long story short, I've pretty much given up on getting people to stop using the term. I've gotten used to it. I applaud those involved in this project. Anything to shed light on the ever increasing "half" population and lead to better understanding.

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I'm not on an expat package. I have to pay for everything myself. Old fashioned I know, but I saved and invested and made sacrifices.... Even being in the 10% is better than being just one... No easy answers, I guess..,

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dejaboo:

I understood what you meant and I have been taking a hard line here to make people think!

This issue is not something that affects only the privileged expat and Caucasians it is more likely to affect the non-Caucasian mix then anyone.

I know my daughter got and still gets all the "Kawaii" "Hafu" remarks and in my eyes she is the most beautiful young lady but if I am honest her Cote D'Ivoire/Japanese mix friend is by most countries standards the word "Gorgeous" would be used but here in Japan I have heard directly from other parents, store owners and even one teacher they feel dirty when she is around.

As for my son he tries to hide the fact he is mixed because he practices a very traditional Japanese art and his Master says that people would not understand a "hafu" being able to do it so well and it is best not to make waves.

What many here have not picked up on is , it is not so much a word but a concept and belief that these children are only half as good as pure Japanese.

And all you need to do to see that is watch at how amazed the Japanese are when a non-pure Japanese excels at something traditional it is a mixture of amazement, shock, disbelief and revulsion all rolled into one!

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Can someone who knows please explain to me what the "Hafu" is half of?

I'm having a lot of trouble believing that people in Japan don't the meaning of the English word "half," so to suggest that it means anything other than half of something is disingenuous. How many years of compulsory English education by the time High School is finished? Sorry folks, I'm not buying it.

If I do a Google search on the words 'japanese' and 'hafu,' it quickly becomes clear that the term 'hafu' is commonly understood to mean half japanese ethnicity and half of something else.

The way I'm reading this forum, this is the concept that some people find offensive. So, what is the "half" that "hafu" is referring to?

I won't speak for the "hafu" in this forum because I'm not one, but it seems to me that just because Japanese people don't find the word "hafu" offensive doesn't mean that those to whom the term applies, or to those who are affected by it, don't. Words have meaning both to the speaker and the listener. One cannot simply disregard one or the other.

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"Such knowledge, and the great swell of pride that derives from it that is familiar to all those lucky enough to be born in England"

haha and also to learn that only you are right, right? funniest thing you wrote especially and sooooo untrue... but funny for being deluded.

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Wow, I didn't think the term "hafu" was that awful. I grew up in Toronto (which for a while was regarded the most multicultural city in the world), and when people would meet, they would always ask "What's your background?" and you would get replies like "I'm half Scottish and half Chinese" or "I'm half Irish, and a quarter Swedish and a quarter Filipino". It was like asking people their sign. I grew up using the terms "half" and "quarter" and I never thought it was racist at all.

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I would believe it means half Japanese. The other half would be unmentioned.

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When I used to teach primary/elementary in Japan we had about a dozen or so children of Japanese and non-Japanese parents. Sometimes they were derisively called "hafu" by their classmates. I always asked the classmates, "Hafu? Which hafu? Top or bottom? Right or left?" When asked to explain, obviously they couldn't. It died out real fast, and over the course of a few weeks it wasn't an issue anymore. What DID get their goat, though, was a 100% non-Japanese sensei who didn't take any crap from anyone. They soon learned that good behavior was expected from the "wholes" and the hafus" regardless. It should be that way among Japanese adults too.

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Don't see why this is suddenly important only because the "media" says so. It's not like Japanese haven't been marrying Korean, Filipino, Taiwanese, Chinese etc for a very long time. Japan is mostly Japanese, but its homogeneous caste is largely another perpetuated myth. But its important so that Japanese remain in their caste mindset.

There was a book about that called "The Japan We Never Knew:A Journey of Discovery(1997) with Keibo Oiwa" by David Suzuki

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OK to put to rest this myth that "Hafu" has some benign Katakana meaning and is somehow not actually related to the English meaning "half", I just asked my 2 children and 2 of their friends here right now what they think the meaning of "Hafu" is now this would be 2 Caucasian/Japanese, 1 Korean/Japanese and one "pure" Japanese.

The result is that they all agreed that it means "HANBUN" or "half" Japanese and they gave an interesting extra note they said to me " you know like half blood not pure just like in Harry Potter"

Ah yes no one is fooling them no innocent and mysterious hidden Japanese Katakana meaning "Hafu"="half" 12 and 15 year olds seem to know it, now if the adults were as wise!

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If I was a mixed race, I'll be pretty pissed off if I was called a hafu, wtf is that supposed to mean, half full glass or half empty glass? Hafu load of bricks? Hafu is degradatory and it conjures up words like half-caste, half-breed which are not good words in the English language. Dabaru sounds obese and full of cholesterol choking bad things that is bad for your heart and arteries. I suggest the name 'combi', 'kombi', or 'combo' for combination of 2 or more races. My 2 yen.

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David Suzuki is a good example, as he's of Japanese family but having been born in Vancouver and grown up being Canadian was even quoted in an interview as considering himself Canadian first and not Japanese.

Canadians mutually agree and he was voted in The Greatest Canadian national (silly media) contest in 5th, ahead of PM's (but not hockey legends of course).

As I look at the Japan Hafu-ness craze and considering my county's rich history, it isn't being made by labels, but in turning those labels on their heads and seeing the person inside. Biological traits of status are not of developed countries or citizens.

Thus we are symbols of our own intentions, not colours or races which creates a kind of freedom from it. Thus it's a family history only, and not connected to the resolve of someone's citizenship in today's world.

Each country does this differently, and Japan's emergence socially is a long time coming, but has been there underneath far longer than this recent fad.

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Thanks, Junnama.

So, does Japanese in this context refer to citizenship? Race? Ethnicity? Something else? I'd be willing to bet there are people in this forum that know someone who would meet the qualifications for citizenship, race, or ethnic origin, yet still they are not considered Japanese.

People in Japan seem to intuit what is or is not Japanese, but it is difficult if not impossible to relay the concept of "Japanese" objectively. Since people can be treated very differently depending on whether they are considered Japanese or not, the ambiguity is the source of the problem for some, methinks.

Far be it for me to suggest to the Japanese that they change 2600 years of conditioning and tradition, but it seems to me with the looming demographic crisis and the increasing number of "hafu" in Japan, it would be in their best interests to revisit what it means to be Japanese, just as this project seems to be attempting to do, before "Japanese" goes the way of the dodo bird.

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I see your point now limbo- no worries. LIBERTAS nice post. I would also mention... I think Obama 08 fever changed a lot of young Japanese mentality. A 46 yr old mixed race with mostly African features stepped into the White House. It shocked Japan, but they ate it up. But the issue here is the article and the word haffu...I find it similar to calling a dog a mutt.

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How can you be half Japanese?

I am English and my ex wife is Japanese, does this make our daughter Jinglish? or the horrible phrase HAFU...

I beg to differ.

She was born in Japan, she speaks Japanese as her first language, she goes to a Japanese school, she eats Japanese food, watches Japanese TV i.e she does everything you would expect a Japanese child to do.

Therefore she is Japanese without any shadow of a doubt. If someone calls her or refers to her as 'hafu' it really p*sses me off. It is like saying she is only half Japanese.

And what is being Japanese? It cannot be based on pure blood, because unless I mistaken 'Japanese' is a mixture of Chinese and Korean ancestry is it not?

I therefore believe someone is Japanese based on there culture and personality rather than their genetic fibre...

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So this article is about OLD-HAFUs and not NEW-HAFUs?

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@islandview:

Very funny. OLD-HAFUs.

Cheers

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it is not so much a word but a concept and belief that these children are only half as good as pure Japanese

On the contrary, most kids these days are jealous of them for the following reasons : they are often tall, slim, have a "small face," have long legs, can speak another language, have beautiful hair, etc ...

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...I don't think they should get too cosy being pure Japanese when they will never be accepted as that.

Why should they be 'accepted' as pure Japanese? By 'mixing the blood' they are not 'pure' in any racists narrow-minded view of the world

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Not the most socially advanced country in the world...

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Patrick Smash: My daughter was way ahead of us on that one at the age of 3 after a trip back home she came to me and said she will be moving there when she is older, I laughed but 12 years later she is even more adamant about leaving Japan as she views it the only way she will ever be accepted is if she is a "Talento" and that is not her, at 168 IQ and a computer geek just not her thing.

My son well he has his talent and at 13 is a veteran of a very traditional Japanese artform doesn't look mixed and goes by my ex-wife's name so he sees no reason to leave, but he does not advertise being "Hafu" .

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whiskeysour: don't usu. agree w/ your posts, but both of your posts here are rather good.

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bicultural:"On the contrary, most kids these days are jealous of them for the following reasons : they are often tall, slim, have a "small face," have long legs, can speak another language, have beautiful hair, etc ..."

Please read full text of what I wrote!

Are you honestly trying to tell us that some Japanese out there is jealous of a Filipino, black, Chinese/ Japanese mix!!!

Or are you purposefully ignoring the fact that I was and am trying to get people like you to understand the only the smallest portion of those referred to as "HAFU" are as you put it "tall, small faced, slim, etc.. Caucasian mixed!

I don't know of any of my children's friends that want to be "HAFU" other Asian and Japanese!

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oh its easy to see tall, small faced, slim, foreign language speakers nowadays, whether they're half (regardless of the 'mix'), Japanese, or other nationalities. As much as it is easy to see short/tall, broad faced, fat ignorant people anywhere in the world, regardless of their ethnic background/nationality.

Personally, the best perfumes come in small bottles ;)

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So many people live in the 20th century? Race? What? Pure blood? Phf. You HAVE to be joking, right? It's like the Hitler youth or 100 million hearts beating as one. There is ONE race and It's human. Welcome, enjoy the show!

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On the contrary, most kids these days are jealous of them for the following reasons : they are often tall, slim, have a "small face," have long legs, can speak another language, have beautiful hair, etc ...

You are clearly wrong on this issue as most of the "halfu" kids are Korean/Chinese/insert other Asian country here.

I don't know what is worse, the Japanese who make a deal about "Euroasia" kids being so cute or the foreigners who try and claim the Japanese are jealous because of so called features these kids are supposed to have.

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most of the "halfu" kids are Korean/Chinese/insert other Asian country here.

which most of the time one can't tell the difference, but the Chinese seem to be taller and speak Chinese. The same may go for Koreans. But what do I know?

The J's are jealous of anyone more beautiful/better/different than themselves. The women are paranoid about this in particular, it seems. But what do I know?

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As an American mother with a wonderful "double" daughter I recently dealt with this issue a bit....some of you may find it interesting to read about it here: http://www.insideoutsidejapan.com/ The particular one I am refering to is entitled: How to Bake a Bilingual Cake

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and limboinjapan when your daughter returns to her own country your confident she wont be subject to similar acts of outcasting ?...Tell me a country in the world where this absolutely doesnt happen.When you enter into marriage with someone of a different nationality and vastly different culture you need to do so fully understanding these things are probable,and when they do, suck it up unflappably.

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It really depends. It really depends on how it's used. I think mixed is a better term. I'm MIXED with Caucasian/Mexican. To say half sometimes sounds like someone is saying I'm almost Mexican, you're like half way there.

But Half can be used in the sense of what your nationality is. Technically..I am half.. My mom is white, and my dad is Mexican, I am tech half and half. Because if you take a cup and pour half of it with coke and half it with rum. It's a damn RUM and COKE no more no less. Now You can say half rum half coke and how is that offensive to anyone? However, when it comes to nationality, speaking about halves is something that can be taken wrong. From experience I know this.

I tend to find Puerto Ricans one of the most accepting nationalities on mixed races. If you have any PR blood, you're PR, no ifs ands or butts. I've seen them ask someone of mixed blood. "Hey you speak Spanish?" if they replied no, or not really. They seemed to have no problem with it whatsoever. Me? Growing up being Mixed with Mexican I didn't speak Spanish, I don't look Spanish so they were right away critics of my nationality. Being mixed to them, you are automatically 50% less Hispanic than they are right off the bat. But it doesn't stop there. God forbid you don't speak Spanish, eat or cook Spanish food the MEXICAN way. That is like penalty deductions. so if you can't do any of the above that I mentioned. You are almost knocked down to what....20% now? Mixed because that is what I am, no more no less.

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I'll tell you one thing nobody says anything about the cute little boy our yakuza neighbor had with his Russian wife.

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stormqueen:

Are you really going to pull that "find me a place where blah, blah blah.." that is so typical when you know your wrong so you need to divert others attention or change the subject!

Well just to humor you, no I doubt that there is a place where "outcasting" as you put it does not exist, but and its a BIG BUT!

Most other first world countries have rules if not laws preventing such discriminatory practices and with my family being made up of and I am not joking: Caucasians, Latin's, native Americans, Vietnamese and Japanese, I can assure you the treatment my Eurasian nieces and nephews get back home is night and day compared to here.

My grandmother was call a half breed for a good part of her life and my grandfather would put his fist down anyone's throat when they did but that stopped many years ago and no decent person let alone politician or TV commentator would ever use it and this for at least the last 30~40 years!

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The point of my 8:07 post is that is people are "scared" to use the word "hafu" around a Yakuza guy then they know it is offensive.

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I'm definitely not trying to divert attention limbo.All I'm saying is its not going to go away and will follow and pop up from time to time for the rest of their lives no matter where they are.To me this project is trying to weaken that by getting off their non-existent self-pitying butts and educating the Japanese public to 'issues common with bi-racial Japanese families'AND showing people with similar backgrounds how others are dealing with it.

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I have no issue with calling my daughter "hafu" in the context of Japan, just as I would not object to calling her "half-Japanese" while in the UK if anyone asks (it being pretty obvious that the other half is British). The Japanese term simply comes from the English and is not pejorative. Americans do something not disimilar: "Hi, I'm Chuck and I'm German-American" etc, effectively emphasising, with pride, their distinctiveness from mainstream "American".

My daughter is obviously not the same as other Japanese, in terms of appearance or life/cultural experience. It would be surprising if a fairly homogenous culture/race did not create a term for it. We are hardly talking about some multi-cultural melting pot, even in Tokyo.

Yep, my girl is half English and half Japanese and that makes a whole in my book. It does not make her "double" anything, so please stop using the term - it makes me cringe with embarrassment.

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I don't actually care for the term, but as the brothers have done with "N", I have decided to do with both hafu and gaijin. Make them our own and define the meanings ourselves..... fight the power (lol)

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Really....alot of you guys need to get over yourselves and your half kids. I have many friends who have half children here in Japan. It all depends on how you raise and nurture your children. If you tell them are special REGARDLESS of what race or color they may be. They will be fine.

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I don't think 'hafu' is offensive at all.

Problems usually arise when foreigners - incorrectly - apply the meaning of the English word 'half' to 'hafu', which is essentially a Japanese term meaning 'mixed.'

'Hafu', liike 'gaijin', is only a problem if the listener wants to make it a problem.

I personally prefer to save my energies for bigger issues than what is essentially..... a word.

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PS: I'm half and my daughter is half (technically 'mixed' but who's counting?)

'doburu' - yes, it's a nice PC term and makes a parent feel proud of their 'double' child. Personally, I would not use the term for my daughter until she had spent a good deal of time living in both countries.

She was born here and has lived here all her short life except for 2 short trips back to my country - 4 weeks in all.

Four weeks does not make her 'double' in my book. I think 'double' basically means 'bicultural', which means the person must be not just bilingual, but actually have a substantial level of understanding - from personal experience - about both cultures.

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I personally find the term "Hafu" offensive, (just MHO) being mixed myself, I prefer mixed or biracial myself. I'm a Heinz 57 practically. I have a daughter, she is THE most beautiful thing. She models and I am happy to see, even if it is to a small extent that Japan is slowly being more receptive towards biracial or people of color in general.

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bass4funk - what's a Heinz 57 ?

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The J's are jealous of anyone more beautiful/better/different than themselves. The women are paranoid about this in particular, it seems.

In my more cynical moments I've come to see this as something of a pose, and it seems to me the need among many Japanese to feel different from everyone else is paramount. Ideally they would like to feel they are superior to the rest of the world, but the next best thing is to be inferior. The one truly unbearable, practically unthinkable thing would be to admit they are mostly the same.

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I'm Metis (part white, part Cree), I've never had a problem with being called Metis, even though to most in means the same thing as Hafu. Having blue eyes and fair skin, when I tell people I'm not Caucasian or at least not entirely, it doesn't seem to register with them both in Japan and North America. In fact when out with wife recently, we ran into a skinhead, who began to berate me from his 4th floor balcony for being a race trader, I yelled back at him, I'm not even pure white so stfu, he yelled, yeah right and proceeded to give me the Hitler salute.

That being said, one the reason the wife and I moved back to Canada was so when we have children they didn't have to go to school with close minded Japanese kids and overly sensitive ex-pat/mixed kids and their like minded parents.

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Observers can only refer to the 'other half' if they know what it is.

ie: They can only say Yuko-chan is 'half German' if they know she is half German.

We may know she is half German, but I don't see the point in getting offended if it is obvious as daylight that the speaker doesn't.

Hafu - to me - is a pretty convenient term that is used when the speaker does NOT know what the 'other half' is.

I've seen some of my NJ mates almost get incensed about this word.....pretty interesting......but the way I see it is: some people are offended by the term - others don't give a toss.

The anger - or the blase-ness - comes from each person themselves.

As I said above, I personally prefer to save my energies for bigger issues than what is essentially..... a word.

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Wow, I didn't think the term "hafu" was that awful. I grew up in Toronto

(which for a while was regarded the most multicultural city in the world), and when people would meet, they would always ask "What's your background?" and you would get replies like "I'm half Scottish and half Chinese" or "I'm half Irish, and a quarter Swedish and a quarter Filipino". It was like asking people their sign. I grew up using the terms "half" and "quarter" and I never thought it was racist at all.

This gets to what bothers me about the term "hafu". I rarely hear Japanese people say, "half Japanese and half Irish," or, "half Japanese and half Nigerian", or "half Japanese and half Chinese" like one might hear in Canada or the US. It's just "hafu". In other words, half Japanese, and the other half doesn't matter. It comes across as not about their multi-cultural background, but about how "Japanese" they are. And as someone else has pointed out, if someone has a Japanese parent and, say, a Chinese or Korean parent, they are far less likely to be called "hafu" because the judgement is made based on appearance.

I've never made a stink about the term, but it does irk me.

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Oops... first line in that last post should have been part of the quote from a prior post...

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Bizarro - "I rarely hear Japanese people say, "half Japanese and half Irish," or, "half Japanese and half Nigerian", or "half Japanese and half Chinese" like one might hear in Canada or the US. It's just "hafu". In other words, half Japanese, and the other half doesn't matter."

Some of my friends say the same thing.

But if you read my post above, Japanese simply cannot state the 'other half' if they don't know what it is.

There should be nothing offensive about that at all.

Think about it - if you saw - for example - someone across the street who you have never seen before and who is clearly mixed.

How can you label their ethnic makeup if you don't know what it is?

You can't.

Ditto for Japanese in the same sitution.

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'Bizarro at 11:25 PM JST - 18th August'

yeah, so whats your point? hint: mine was just following the lines of a previous poster at the time who mentioned the traits of mixed children.

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which btw can or cannot be attractive. it depends. but it shouldn't matter in an ideal world :)

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one more thing, Bizarro, you're too conservative. It shows on your posts, even though they may be from 'different' posters. And quit on the stalking, will you, your word-parroting is not interesting. At all.

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Branded at 08:11 AM JST - 18th August OssanAmerica- "To compare the US and Japan on the same terms is >ridiculous." Then how about by international standards and terms ??? Even by those- >Japan fares miserably. And in case you missed it- "one in 30 babies here >now being born to mixed-race couples" ! Japan hasn't been homogenous for >decades !

In comparison to a country made up of immigrants like the US or a country that had a big flow of immigrants from it's former colonies like the UK, yes, it's TOTALLY RIDICULOUS to compare Japan on the same level. Additionally, if you compared the two Koreas or even China, excluding Hong Kong, you'll find even less immigrants and mixed race babies than Japan. Japan has been and continues to be far more homogenous than most western nations. It's not an abspolute term, it's a comparative term.

I won't even bother going into all the "hafu" korean/chinese/other asian >children born and living in Japan for centuries ! Homogenous ? are you >serious ? The Japanese are of a mixed race themselves... now there's >a "project" worth exploring !

Yes they are "mixed" but nowhere near the extent as the United States or other western nations.

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jamal2609 at 08:56 AM JST - 18th August OssanAmerica, can't we stay on topic? Why do you have to drag the >Americans into this?

jamal- please read the entire exchange with Branded. It is Branded who brought up being American, in he very forst post on thios thread, not me.

From your post, you are stating that the Japanese are biased and racist, >and you don't seem to think that will change any time soon. What does >equivocation with the perceived/actual bias and/or racism of Americans >have to do with anything?

Ask Branded who started with;

Branded at 07:36 AM JST - 18th August "..as an American I am never in a public situation where I have to explain my genetic make-up. Simply bad manners being disguised as some form of public education project- utter nonsense"

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diveit at 07:53 AM JST - 18th August My mother is from Vietnam and my father is an American. I don't recall >ever being called a "hafu/half" American in America. I am an American - >period. So why are people so wrapped up about "hafu" Japanese.

Did you grow up in the U.S? Didn't you get called Asian? My kids did.

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"Didn't you get called Asian? My kids did."

And that is akin to being called "hafu" ???

Begs the question- why would anyone of any mixed race be offended by being called a "half-breed" ? As far as I know being termed Asian, Hispanic, Latino, Black, Caucasian etc- is used for identifiable purposes- as in census taking. Hafu ??? Derogatory name calling associated with being a member of a lower class.

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**

most of the "halfu" kids are Korean/Chinese/insert other Asian country here.

which most of the time one can't tell the difference, but the Chinese seem to be taller and speak Chinese. The same may go for Koreans. But what do I know?

The J's are jealous of anyone more beautiful/better/different than themselves. The women are paranoid about this in particular, it seems. But what do I know?**

My point exactly - most people CAN'T tell the difference so your comments on halfu being taller, smaller faced... is wrong. How on earth would they know they are halfu just by looking at them? Chinese and Japanese are pretty much the same in terms of height, leg length, face size...

As for the jealous comment, rather common for all races of people is it not? Many dark skinned people want to be lighter, many lighter people want to be darker, short people want to be tall, tall people want to be short... To make a comment about it usually being Japanese people and women is just so in accurate and comes across as petty and spiteful.

There are some amazing looking halfu kids out there and there are some god awful ugly ones. Pretty much like every other "mix" of race I have seen.

With regards to the word, I can see how it is offensive but at the same time, we also make comments about our backgrounds. I think it is the word "half" that bothers people, not the actual notion of being biracial. If anything, I have found those who are biracial much more in touch with their backgrounds in Japan than those plain, boring full kids! ;)

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Most Japanese take the meaning differently from the people of foreign nationals, since "Hafu" is an imported word from English "half"-- which eventually turned into Japanese with "katakana." But, it's not just the way they coin the term to describe some people who look different from native Japanese. It won't make much difference whether you use such English word like "half," "mixed," or whatever in describing bi- racial/cultural individuals. Whether you're in Japan, Asia, the US, or Europe, being "half" or mix-raced, or hyphenated often puts some folks in an awkward position.

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Bizarro:

excellent observation on the lack of respect of the other half or other ethnicity

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I'm guessing that culturally anthropologically speaking, it would appear Japan has skipped the last 60 years while the rest of the world dealing with hyphenation and mixed symbolism has also affected social policy and integration by and large in a positive way in those countries.

This today is rendered as a non issue which is why this Hafu is so quaint in its through-back to Japanese society's demand to label people.

Nowadays we hardly bat an eye in a multicultural city and just assume everyone is a person. The conversation is moot if everyone has a history onto themselves anyway and it ends up being too limited a conversation that reflects poorly on the speaker depending on how long that line of questioning goes on.

Thus being judged by the content of your character is more likely today than ever before, as people move beyond the limitations of pigmentation and concern themselves with geography instead. I can't see the desire for anyone to go back to half-breed, mutt, or Race-Race labeling systems.

This might finally, eventually, inevitably, bring up the issue of having Japanese citizenship without looking Japanese or of having mixed heritage or of not even being born in Japan but being a citizen, nay, being a person who wants to be Japanese.

That's next up in this molasses social change adventure.

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Branded at 01:38 AM JST - 19th August "Didn't you get called Asian? My kids did." And that is akin to being called "hafu" ???

Sure is, considering your long tirade about how the Japanese are racists as if no one else in the world is. Why were my Amnerican born half-Japanese kids called "Asian"? Why are Japanese kids with one non-Japanese parent, many born and raised in Japan called ha-fu?

Begs the question- why would anyone of any mixed race be offended by >being called a "half-breed" ? As far as I know being termed Asian, >Hispanic, Latino, Black, Caucasian etc- is used for identifiable >purposes- as in census taking. Hafu ??? Derogatory name calling >associated with being a member of a lower class.

Ha-fu may be construed as derogatory by some but it has nothing to do with class. At least nothing like terms such as halfbreed or mulatto suggested historically in the U.S. As I've said before, anyone who isn't "ha-fu" themselves, or have family who are, aren't really qualified to be shooting their two cents off about this subject.

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Sorry but "halfu" and "Asian" are two VERY different words and concepts.

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SushiSake3 wrote (apologies - the "quote" function seems not to be working at the moment...)

"Think about it - if you saw - for example - someone across the street who you have never seen before and who is clearly mixed.

How can you label their ethnic makeup if you don't know what it is?"

Thanks for the comment and I understand, but why the need to label it at all, especially on first sight of someone?

Also I know from experience that "hafu" is frequently used even when the national/ethnic background of both parents is well known. This is what I was trying to refer to.

Cheers,

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Just want to say I have appreciated and learned from all the different opinions and points of view posted here - including yours, XXXXX. Especially hearing from different backgrounds has been illuminating.

I am not interested in "stalking" or attacking anyone, just exchanging and commenting on ideas.

Peace.

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"Sorry but "halfu" and "Asian" are two VERY different words and concepts."

Tmarie- I agree !

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@SushiSake3

Heinz 57= A whole lot of everything mixed in.

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Branded, I think you are gettimg confused because you are using the English meaning of the word. That's not a good idea. I've met people who think 'hafu' means half human. Just staggerring. And Branded, 'hafu' has no connotation of class either.

Bizarro, thanks for your comment. Re: labels. I think we DO need labels, whether or not we verbalise them. Every noun you use is a label. Your name is a label. What you ate for breakfast had a label. Your job has a label. I'm not sure, Japanese, perhaps, have a slightly greater 'need' to label due to the naka/soto thing. Each person can make of it what they must. For me, to get upset over a word is emotionally irresponsible and something I choose not to do. Roll with it.

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being termed Asian, Hispanic, Latino, Black, Caucasian etc- is used for identifiable purposes- as in census taking.

In other words, meaningless 'labelling'. The Japanese national census doesn't have any boxes to tick for 'race', only nationality and (if I remember correctly) place of birth. In official terms, Japan is much more colour-blind than many other countries, like those that expect people to mark their 'race' on census forms.

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OK,OK,OK I should have written this before but for all those claiming that "Hafu" is nothing more then a "word" and has no negative connotations, I pose you a challenge!

Here it is: next time you are introduced to a Japanese that you know is not "Hafu" play dumb and ask them if they are "HAFU" and use that word! Then come back and comment.

I can tell you now their reaction will be one of rapid denial and assertion that they are pure Japanese and you will notice they are quite insulted!

I know because my GF and her sister look mixed even though they are not and when asked if they are "Hafu" or worse if the are actually Japanese they both get quite upset!

SO if it is such an INNOCENT WORD why do PURE Japanese get so uptight if called it?!

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"The Japanese national census doesn't have any boxes to tick for 'race', only nationality- Japan is much more colour-blind than many other countries"

Hmmm- don't ask don't tell... don't wanna know ? The census in Japan is a joke anyway- I mean how could they miss all them centenerians out there ? Besides the Japanese learn what they want when the police come to your door with their annual Koban visits... asking who, how many, of what make etc. !

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sushisake3 "Branded, 'hafu' has no connotation of class"

All derogatory terms and "labels have social class ramifications- don't kid yerself... you can throw the term "gaijin" into the pot also. Both are terms used to isolate one from the group. You mentioned the idea of "uchi/soto"... or those "within versus those outside" the group. Being a hafu or gaijin is fine for those that do not want to assimialtae into the society. It might explain this comment:

"For me, to get upset over a word is emotionally irresponsible and something I choose not to do. Roll with it."

In other words, you have pretty much given up trying to fit in. Best of luck.

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it would seem we're all dancing around the definition of a caste system

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I know because my GF and her sister look mixed even though they are not and when asked if they are "Hafu" or worse if the are actually Japanese they both get quite upset!

They are either insecure or racist themselves.

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USA is the only country together with Israel and former South Africa where people have to actually state what race they are on their IDs. And these same people get offended by the term ハーフ is an interesting observation. Hafu is not a derogatory term. Neither is calling someone white. I myself a hafu Japanese, Lebanese ethnicity ( very good looking to boot) who have spent many years in Japan both as adult and child cannot off of my head recall someone using the term hafu to me in a derogatory way.

On my ID in Japan, it states that I am Japanese. Thats all what matters in most cases. I get the you speak Japanese so well or you don't speak Japanese so well to be a Japanese from time to time but that's something I can deal with as I do not think there are many that can speak both Japanese, Arabic, English at my level so.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. The subject is the Hafu Project.

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tmarie: the comments before mine in this thread were generalizing, so I did the same. It's from personal experience though, the bit about J-women, not all of them but quite a few. But let's not focus on the negative, I agree w/your posts here.

Bizarro: I am sorry, I thought you were someone else.

About the word: I think it is unpleasant and innacurate to be called a word that implies that one is incomplete, b/c it is untrue since both my parents from their own backgrounds are not incomplete either. So there... sometimes I look more like one, sometimes more like the other, many times both-I'm both. That's it.

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Hmmm- don't ask don't tell... don't wanna know ? The census in Japan is a joke anyway- I mean how could they miss all them centenerians out there ?

Because the 4.4% didn't respond to the survey. Now, should I embarass you with the response rate of the U.S. Census?

Anyway, the whole argument about whether "hafu" is derogatory is stupid considering the fact that Hafu project in of itself was established by "Hafu".

What those Hafu's are saying.

"However this word (double) has been rarely used by the Hafus themselves due to its overemphasis of positive self-assertion, and many feel that Hafu is acceptable"

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limboinjapan, re: your comment about your GF getting upset when being asked if she is half of even Japanese at all - try calling an Englishman a Scot or a Kiwi an Aussie and you'll likely get the same reaction - from being misidentified - nothing whatsover to do with specifically Japanese.

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nigelboy; You should take off your Japanophile rose coloured glasses.

I don't have any idea why anything or any experience others have that do not agree with you utopian view of Japan are always made up in your mind.

Please let me know what part of what I wrote is made up?

That I have 2 children that are mixed?

That Back home I have 3 siblings all married to different ethnic groups?

Or that my GF is often mistaken for Thai or Thai/Japanese?

BTW on the weekend we were in Akihabara and I got stopped by the police for a "check" and asked for my "gaijin card" then they asked her for her's! She was not to please about the whole situation!

But the I guess in your own little insular world these thing just don't happen in Japan

But then instead of addressing my challenge you just make accusation thus diverting from the fact that this your is not acceptable!

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cleo; wrong completely. Countries like Britain have ethnic origin which you can refuse to mark if you wish. These are to help see where poverty and discrimination may be present, so it can be sorted out.

You are correct the Japanese authorities are colour blind, because there are no laws against racial discrimination whic is a disgrace.

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SushiSake3; I never said it had anything to do with being Japanese what I said was that if being or using the word "hafu" was not viewed as negative or as some put it a different "cast" then why would it upset people if called it by mistake!

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Branded, 'hafu' has no connotation of class. And 'hafu' and 'gaijin' do not isolate groups; they identify groups. And your assertion that my being comfortable with these terms is somehow a sign that I have given up trying to fit in to J society is simply bizarre. It's actually a sign that I'm fitting in quite well, thanks. It's actually your angst at theseterms that shows YOU are failing to fit in. Pretty ironic, no?

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limboinjapan; i think it may be best for reasonable people to start ignoring extremist views and derogatry remarks againt no Japanese which i feel may be made to fuel his/her`s ego.

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I don't have any idea why anything or any experience others have that do not agree with you utopian view of Japan are always made up in your mind.

Gee I don't know. Perhaps that you claim that the taxi's didn't stop for 20 minutes in Aoyama Dori in which an other poster questioned the absurd nature of your story. Perhaps that you claim that you're fluent in five language including Japanese and yet you couldn't find the simplest info in Japanese. An Italian friend of yours here on business being detained by police simply for asking question even though he had a passport with a stamp that specifically had the date of entry on.. I could go on and on.

Look limbo. I'm taking the quote from the actual people who made themselves public on this article who developed this project who are hafu themselves. You're just an anonymous guy on the internet. Who's more credible?

Moderator: Readers, please keep the discussion civil and do not get personal.

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One thing I don't understand is how many of you can send you kids to a Japanese school? If you wife is Japanese, as mine, and school is Japanese then where will English come in? Please don't say school because that is a pipe dream. Of course, Intl. schools are expensive for non expats(Me) but it seems to be worth every penny to be able to talk to my son in English.

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Oh, I forgot to mention that I "Hafu" does not bother me at all. And, if this bothers my son, he will have to stick up for himself and punish some poor Japanese bully who will get his butt kicked.

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limboinjapan, they are upset because they were misidentified (is that even a word? :-)

Much like your GF - do you think she is racist for getting upset? What did she say about it? Talking about your GF, I think instances like the one you described in Akihabara will happen more and more (obviously). My 2 y.o. girl looks clearly Caucasian, but is a Japanese national just like all the black-haired, brown-eyed locals.

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: I have no idea how long you have been in Japan but I have been here for quite some time.

Believe me or not that is fine and your right but accusing me of making this up is not your right when you are not the one who has experienced or lived my life!

I am raising 2 mixed children here in Japan on my own and I have reasons why I cannot leave (If I could I would) my children cringe at the word "hafu" because they know the actual connotation it brings with it.

Most of my friends who have mixed children will tell you that their children feel the same as they are mostly SEA/Japanese mix.

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nigelboy: post at 12:13 is a reply for you, something got messed up

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SushiSake3: Actually she gets upset at my being stopped and asked for ID or to just see my Drivers license.

On the weekend she made the remark that she had never been stopped by the police just to see ID while driving before she started dating me and cannot think of any time it has happened to her siblings or mother, but since she has been with me it happens on a regular basis

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I am in a complete agreement with Nigelboy and others who does not seem overly depressed being stuck in a country they wish to escape from. I am a hafu myself with Japanese citizenship. Believe me, I do not get any discrimination due to my ethnicity. Could be because I live in Tokyo and work in an international environment. When I switch on the TV at home in the evening time, I see many hafus on TV who seem to be completely accepted as Japanese. When I watch TV, I see Yu Darvish who is the most popular baseball player in Japan who also happen to be hafu. Non Japanese people, please do not vent your frustration at the term hafu when hafu themselves use it and see nothing wrong with this term. Take it from a hafu who does not get discriminated in Japan due to my ethnicity.

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as a hafu myself, the term has never botherd me. i know for english speakers, the term might sound disturbing, but to japanese speakers, it doesn't. my american friend who is married to japanese husband also uses the term hafu -- when we first met, she asked me if i was hafu.. and yes, she used the term hafu, and i said yes.

no matter what term people use to discribe anything, if there's any evil thought, it sounds bad, but hafu doesn't sound bad because people in japan don't use the term in any negative way most of the times.

my son goes to japanese school (he is mixed as well) and he has had no problems. he hangs out with friends from school and brings them home, too, and i am friends with their parents as well. they know my son is mixed and they use the term hafu, but they don't treat him in any different way.

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dano2002-

One thing I don't understand is how many of you can send you kids to a Japanese school? If you wife is Japanese, as mine, and school is Japanese then where will English come in?

my kids go to japanese elementary school and hoikuen, and they get plenty of japanese while at home we talk and teach them english. not just talking but we read english books before bedtime and we also do activities at home to teach spelling and etc, too. sure it is a lot of work but it's worth it.

i speak japanese and there's no problem if we only spoke in japanese at home, and it'd be easier for kids, but if parents don't try and teach, the kids will not be bilingual.

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"I am a hafu myself with Japanese citizenship. Believe me, I do not get any discrimination due to my ethnicity"

I used to work with one of Japans largest and most succesful language schools. They used to hire large numbers of Japanese Americans, Japanese Canadians, etc. back in the late 80's. Unfortunately by the time the 90's rolled around- these "hafu's" started to become a dying breed. It seems the vast majority of their clients- Japanese companys and school districts- refused to accept "hafus". In short neogreenjapan- you really have no idea if you have been discriminated against or not !

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dano2002:With the exception of my own children and a few clients and acquaintances, most of the mixed children I know of are classmates of my children and their non-Japanese parent is usually not from a "western" country not to mention many are single mothers, those that are still married their Japanese spouse usually works a standard job, the cost of an international school is just not worth it especially when only one is recognized as a school in Japan thus meaning that the children graduating from international schools in Japan cannot go to Japanese University unless it is as a Foreign student, but if you spend a little time on your children's English then when they graduate Japanese High school they have the choice of Japanese or foreign University.

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One thing I don't understand is how many of you can send you kids to a Japanese school? If you wife is Japanese, as mine, and school is Japanese then where will English come in?

From the English-speaking parent. Granted a mother may have more opportunity to speak her own language to her children, but that just means the father needs to make a conscious effort to spend quality time with his kids - which surely isn't a bad thing. What I don't understand is people who send their kids to international school and then complain that they don't fit in to the local community. If you intend to settle in Japan, or be here mid- to long-term, why wouldn't you send your kids to the local schools?

I've only ever spoken English to the kids, the dogs and more recently, the cat. And they're all bilingual.

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Countries like Britain have ethnic origin which you can refuse to mark if you wish. These are to help see where poverty and discrimination may be present, so it can be sorted out.

If you want to sort out poverty, surely you ask about income and assets, not skin colour or ethnicity. Sorry, I don't buy it. The only reason to ask about race on a national census is so that We can keep tabs on Them.

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"Was that the one that went bankrupt and tanked?? Nope ! BTW- I said I used to work "with" them- not "for" them. They're easy enough to find though- just look for the one with no "hafus" working for them ! But then again... there are hundreds of those out there !

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People please! The term 'hafu' is totally Japanese. NOT English! It originated as a word by which Japanese people could tell that you are HALF Japanese, and (presumably) half something else. The point is that to most Japanese people, the 'something else' half is not important, thus not mentioned.

I see it as a social place marker. You are half, so you should have more say then a 100% foreigner, but still less than a 100% Japanese (blood) person. It also has a racist element. Anyone who thinks that it is not racist, do some research, and tell me how many "hafu" are in the Japanese government: police, fire, military (er, 'self-defense forces), ambulance, elected/appointed positions. The answer, last time I checked, was ZERO!!! Reason? Here goes: Japanese people like to have very specific words to describe everything, and people are no exception. In calling people 'hafu', we are seeing what is important to Japanese people. If you are mixed race in Japan, most likely your job prospects are limited.

As for the term, it will take time to change the usage/meaning of the word. When I lived in Japan in the early 1990's, 'okama' meant all gay people. Now, okama is a type of gay, but there are several specific words to describe varieties of gay people. I imagine the word 'hafu' will be reduced or replaced as a more accurate word becomes mroe familiar to Japanese speakers. It will take time.

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"the children graduating from international schools in Japan cannot go to Japanese University unless it is as a Foreign student"

See what I mean about that discrimination thing. Born and raised in Japan- but you can't attend a J uni unless its with conditions attached. Why not just accept the students on the basis of their test scores ?

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how many "hafu" are in the Japanese government: police

You might want to take a stab at this one Cleo.

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"how many "hafu" are in the Japanese government, police, fire, military"

I'll bite- I'd say nothing near their actual population numbers nationwide ! But first you'd have to get an accurate reading of the numbers of Hafus in Japan... and as Cleo has argued... no-one seems to ever ask ! In any case I'd say much less than 1% of the total hafu population holds a position of authority or importance. I've met thousands of business people from all walks of life in Japan- I've encountered a mere handful of hafus- and you always knew who they were as they were paraded about like an exotic animal... how embarrasing.

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Branded:

Japan is far from the only place that does this, if you take Canada for example only private schools that follow the governments curriculum are recognized as schools and their students can participate in the normal entrance system.

Those that refuse to follow the government curriculum do not get certification and therefore the students graduating these school cannot go to University unless the first take a High school equivalency exam first. This is just one example but there are many other countries with similar rules

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You are half, so you should have more say then a 100% foreigner, but still less than a 100% Japanese (blood) person.

Rubbish. If you have Japanese nationality you have just as much say as any other Japanese.

tell me how many "hafu" are in the Japanese government: police, fire, military (er, 'self-defense forces), ambulance, elected/appointed positions. The answer, last time I checked, was ZERO!!!

Check again. You are WAY out of line.

See what I mean about that discrimination thing. Born and raised in Japan- but you can't attend a J uni unless its with conditions attached.

Discrimination against people who don't meet the conditions needed to enter university. And those conditions have nothing to do with skin colour, ethnicity or even nationality. You want to go to a Japanese university, you play by the rules and jump through all the hoops the Japanese have to jump through. Or are you claiming it's discrimination if folk aren't allowed to make up their own rules as they go along? The international schools are not recognised because they don't meet the standards. All you have to do is send your child to a school that meets the national standards. Or get your favourite international school to do what it takes to get themselves recognised.

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limbo states

"the cost of an international school is just not worth it especially when only one is recognized as a school in Japan thus meaning that the children graduating from international schools in Japan cannot go to Japanese University unless it is as a Foreign student"

Please remember that limbo claims himself to be fluent in Five language including Japanse. And as usual Branded follows. Blind leading the blind.

http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/shingi/chukyo/chukyo1/gijiroku/03101601/012.htm

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I'd say much less than 1% of the total hafu population holds a position of authority or importance. I've met thousands of business people from all walks of life in Japan- I've encountered a mere handful of hafus- and you always knew who they were as they were paraded about like an exotic animal

Or maybe you just didn't notice or recognise all those who were just getting on with their jobs, instead of being 'paraded around like an exotic animal', and so you assume they just aren't there?

How embarrassing.

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Sorry limboinjapan:

"Japan is far from the only place that does this, if you take Canada for example"

Cherry pick all you want around the globe- but the topic at hand is Japan... lets try to stay on topic.

Cleo:

"Rubbish" you say ? "Check again. You are WAY out of line."

Have any data to back them words ? I know they are not "zero"... but they are no where near an adequate representation of the total number of hafus out there.

"The international schools are not recognised because they don't meet the standards."

All universitys have entrance exams Cleo ! Here in the USA anyone can challenge any one of those exams for immediate admittance ! Please don't tell me that Japan has no such format in place... I know better !

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Cleo: "Or maybe you just didn't notice or recognise all those who were just getting on with their jobs"

Yeh, Maybe ! But wouldn't it be nice to have some numbers, data, facts, or figures to remove the "maybe" from the discourse ?

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Have any data to back them words ? I know they are not "zero"... but they are no where near an adequate representation of the total number of hafus out there.

Do you have some numbers, date, facts or figures?<---your quotes!!!

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Nigelboy: "Do you have some numbers, date, facts or figures?"

Do try to keep up with the conversation !

Moderator: Branded and nigelboy, please stop sniping at each other. Focus your comments on what is in the story, not at each other.

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cleo, no you are wrong again. My wife lived in Britain without a big brother id card and was entitled to all the rights of a citizen except voting within 6 months of residence. I am hetting sick of Japanophiles and apologists making excuses and telling lies about this racist country that has no laws to protect anyone different than so called 100% pure Japanese.

Calling anyone different because of their ethbic background is sick and also it is asked in other countries to ensure employers etc are not discriminating against minorities, get with the 21st century.

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nigelboy:

Please read what you posted and then check back!

The fact that these school are recognized as "international" schools is not the point they are not recognized as Japanese schools and thus as I stated correctly students graduating from these school must enroll in Japanese Uni. as foreign students. unless I missed it they are (WASC, ACSI, ECIS) accredited but I don't see any Japanese accreditation!

Now my kids are older and already set for school but the last time I checked the only international school that had JAPANESE accreditation was Makuhari and unless they are giving false information on their website http://mis.ed.jp/

"Having been actively supported by Chiba Government we are the first and only International School in Japan to be granted special 'Article One' status. This allows our students special benefits and, should they wish, the opportunity to pass more easily into the Japanese education system."

Now I don't know about Korean schools but I have been told that some are Japanese accredited.

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im finding it very hard to understand the argument that people using the word hafu dont mean it in a nasty way so its ok..

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Being 'hafu' should be celebrated.

It's sad some individuals would rather look at every possible negative aspect of the term, real AND imagined.

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@Patrick_Smash I think that the idea is that in many countries anybody can apply to university exams (of course, graduate from local education is really increasing the chance of success) while in Japan there is a separate track for local and foreign students.

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neogreenjapan & fishy : Thank you for your comments. I think you two sum it up the best. I asked my hafu friend if he had a problem with the term. His answer : "Why would I? It's who I am."

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"I asked my hafu friend if he had a problem with the term. His answer : "Why would I? It's who I am."

I see this same discussion being played out here in the states over the usage of the "N" word for blacks. Put simply- the vast majority of people find it offensive, but many within the black community find it "who I am". Maybe that's a good rule to follow- if you are "hafu" you are free to declare yourself so... outsiders, best stick to "mixed race, biracial, Japanese (insert nationality), etc.

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"the cost of an international school is just not worth it especially when only one is recognized as a school in Japan thus meaning that the children graduating from international schools in Japan cannot go to Japanese University unless it is as a Foreign student"

http://www.mext.go.jp/english/news/2004/05/04052401/007.pdf

Page 6

In September of 2003, MEXT amended the Enforcement REgulations for the School Education Law and amended the related notifications. Specifically, anyone aged 18 years of age or above who meets the following conditions will now be granted the university entrance qualification.

Those having grauded from foreign school (12-year course) approved by an international evaluation organization (WASC ACSI and ECIIS)

Those having graduated from an educational institution positioned in the school education system of a foreign country with a course of study equivalent to the foreign schools (12-year school course) that are equivalent to the level of an upper secondary school in Japan.

etc.

List of schools.

http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shikaku/07111314/006.htm http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shikaku/07111314/003.htm

Now my kids are older and already set for school but the last time I checked the only international school that had JAPANESE accreditation was Makuhari and unless they are giving false information on their website http://mis.ed.jp/

Article One status means 一条校

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I used to work with one of Japans largest and most succesful language schools.

Could be because it's a language school, at the best of times their not exactly know for their ethical business practices or stellar hiring policies. While working for a big 4 accounting firm in Japan, I never noticed any discrimination against or foreigners(including Japanese-Americans, Japanese-Canadians, )or Japanese born hafu's, but then again most were highly educated, well paid and very good at their jobs. This of course is purely anecdotal, people in different situations well have different outlooks on how they see Japan and Japanese,changing someones opinion, especially JT probably won't happen.

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tmarie at 07:38 AM JST - 19th August Sorry but "halfu" and "Asian" are two VERY different words and concepts.

You have a point. To be called HA-FU in Japan suggests you're only HALF one of us. To be called ASIAN in the United States suggests you're not one of us at all. Both terms in their use suggest being different from "us" the majority group.

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Haha. It's about time Japan faced this fact of growing up ;) . Most of the rest of the 'civilized' world is hafu. o.0 y'kno? Mexicans and European-americans, Anglo saxons and Celts, anglos and israelis, angols and chinese, chinese and japanese, chinese and thai, celtic and japanese, celtic and black, .. whatever. Get used to it :) Embrace the cultures of the world. Tho that'll be hard for Japan since for all of eternity they've been living without interference from outside cultures other than China and Korea until mid 1800s. I myself, am proud to be Celt/Gaelic, Norse, a smidge of Saxon and Native American Indian. I'm a mut :( Is there a japanese term for not being hafu but a mix of many other things? >D haha. Darn those Viking Invaders!

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PatrickSmash is on the ball with his 3rd choice principle.

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onoes! some ppl in japan are starting to have different cultural identities other than japanese! Japanese need to learn that from America and Europe. Just because there are those in your midst that are Japanese that have diff. cultural identities as well that intermix doens't make them less of a japanese citizen. I agree I'd never call a white boy Japanese in the sense of race, but there is a difference of Japanese Race and Japanese Culture. Ireland's sortta going through the same thing right now with black-skinned Irish citizens. I could never accept a black person as a Celt, but as a citizen adopting the culture and loving it, sure! America is full of the same thing.. none of us are really 'north american'. We're all Mexican, Spanish-american, Irish american, Scottish american, iranian american, german american, itallian american, french cajun american. That is how people identify themselves in america, just as people will inevitably begin to do in japan. soon we'll find Irish-japanese citizens and the like. or African japanese etc. weird concept, emo.

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nigelboy:

You write that I am pathetic with my stories you claim are made up but then you obsess on such little things especially when other ignore you.

Well if you wish to believe that international school are accepted at par with Japanese that is fine live your life.

Plus I never said that students form these school are not accepted! What I said was they are not accepted in the same way as Japanese who graduated Japanese approved schools.

Now Why don't you pick up a phone and call one of the international school like I did when my daughter was looking for a high school earlier this year and ask!

They will tell you that when the child graduates they will not only need to take the entrance exam but prior to that they will need to take at least a Japanese proficiency test and perhaps depending on the school and department they are trying for a few other test.

But again I guess you will say I and making all this up along with my imaginary daughter.

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**

tmarie at 07:38 AM JST - 19th August Sorry but "halfu" and "Asian" are two VERY different words and concepts.

You have a point. To be called HA-FU in Japan suggests you're only HALF one of us. To be called ASIAN in the United States suggests you're not one of us at all. Both terms in their use suggest being different from "us" the majority group.** Nope. You might be thinking of the word gaijin for your example and being called "asian" has nothign to do to with being "one of us". It is a discussion about your heritage which is something that many Americans take pride in.

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"To be called ASIAN in the United States suggests you're"

One of many ! Be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese etc. Is then up to you to distinguish yourself should you feel the need- most don't ! As an "American" I am rarely put in a situation where I must explain my genetic background. Being described as hafu on a daily basis by relatives, neighbours, co-workers etc- surely gets old and is highly unnecessary.

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limbo -

Are you saying that Japanese children of mixed heritage (=hafu) who attend unaccredited international schools in Japan are asked to take tests that "100%" Japanese children who attend the same unaccredited schools do not have to take?

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"Japanese children of mixed heritage..."

Odd- I thought you had no qualms about the term "hafu" ! Proof is always in the pudding people.

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Odd- I thought you had no qualms about the term "hafu" !

I don't, but I was addressing limbo, who apparently does.

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cleo; No anyone who graduates un-accredited international schools in Japan has to that would be "everyone" !

And here is another bit of info I am sure a certain person here will obsess about.

Previously children of "mixed" marriages were given leeway if they were enrolled in a "recognized international school" (but not and accredited Japanese) but with the decline in the population and thus a decline in enrollment in public schools in some areas, certain wards (at least in Tokyo) have started trying to enforce the 9 year mandatory education rule and have sent out notices to the parents of these mixed children informing then that they are in violation of the law because these children are Japanese. ( I know of 3 families that have received such notices and one who was being pressured to the point that they move their son to Makuhari to settle the problem.)

Which brings me back to the word "hafu" the government does not have a classification "hafu" so why should people use it!

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limboinjapan: Your example of Canada bears one striking difference: Canadian schools offer a different route to enter THE SAME COLLEGE!!! Contrast that to Japan, where you are just out of luck.

cleo: 1) Renho, the half-Taiwanese, half-Japanese politician, is often accused of not being a 'real' Japanese, and thus, not loyal and not trustworthy.... same rights? MAYBE legally, but socially, there sure seem to be differences in treatment.

2) The Koreans in Japan who go to a school to learn Korean have NO access to the same Universities. See my comment to limboinjapan above. If anyone can pass a standardized entrance exam, then the process is fair. If certain groups are not given the chance to even take the exam, then the process is not fair.

3) Number of 'halfs' - I said the only number I have is zero. I said PROVE ME WRONG. Don't just say "you're wrong" and be done. PROVE IT. Also, most ASIAN mixes between Japanese and Chinese, Korean, etc. can pass as Japanese. What I meant was visible halfs - the kind that make Japanese people notice them.

Patrick Smash: I believe the biggest difference is that once on a non-Japan DOE accredited track, there is almost no chance to attend a Japanese Uni. If everyone entering Uni took the same test, then it would not be Japan as we know it today.

***** The underlying problem is not just the 'integration' of higher (& lower) education. The problem is, that even now, in 2010, Japan still has old mechanisms in place to 'manage' its minorities and 'undesirables'. The people I am referring to are Ainu, Burakumin, ethnic Chinese and Koreans and Yakuza, among others. For a very long time now, Japan has had a 'fit in or get out' attitude, and in its own way, it has worked. A few examples; a) Don't want a Yakuza buying a condo in your building? Japan has a way of making sure that does not happen! Don't let just anyone with money buy in your building! Have a vague 'application' based on nothing. North Americans and Europeans find this process discriminatory, but it has worked so far. b) Don't want a (North) Korean student in your Uni? Tell them they have to get a Japanese education, and do not offer an equivalency exam. At the same time, a (zainichi) Japanese citizen of Korean descent, who attends Japanese schools, will have a much better chance at J-Uni. c) As we all know, foreigners cannot establish a household registry (koseki). So if you want to block foreigners from participation in anything, just require a copy of their koseki.... because they don't have one, and can't get one.

***** Discussion of racism in Japan often leads to the topic 'cultural differences'... a few links: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Eriko-ARITA/2137 http://gsti.miis.edu/CEAS-PUB/200206Mervio.pdf page 5, page 20. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a713999881~frm=abslink " This article focuses mainly on some 630,000 Japan-born Koreans who have been permanent alien residents in Japan. In-depth information on the historical and socio-political background of discrimination against Japan-born Koreans in the sport scene is introduced. Total exclusion and the formal quota system have been common discriminatory practices in the Japanese sport world. Total exclusion based on citizenship and school affiliation was employed to prohibit Japan-born Koreans in ethnic schools from participating in official inter-high school and inter-collegiate competitions until 1990s. Formal quota system on the basis of citizenship has been common against foreign nationals in most Japanese sports leagues.

Anyone with half-Japanese kids read these articles! http://www.discriminations.us/2010/02/reverse_discrimination_against.html http://special.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/news/cityregion/24464605-41/rogers-department-jury-damages-professor.csp

Good discussion people! Japanese views toward half-Japanese, and ethnic minorities are not unrelated.

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KevininHawaii: I know there are more backdoors in Canada and I in NO WAY would compare or even begin to think that the Japanese educational system is even remotely as open as the west.

I was just pointing out that in Canada at least, if the school is not provincially accredited the student would have to obtain some other form of accreditation (usually sitting for a High school equivalency exam) and yes such exams do exist in Japan but as a young Japanese lady friend of mine who dropped out of High school and later did her equivalency found out very few Uni's will accept such students.

You should not be taking things up with me as I am not the one saying that the treatment is fair here I am the one pointing out what is not available like other developed nations.

You should maybe look at Nigelboy he seems to think all if just great here and has made it clear that people like you and myself are fabricating all this because it can't be found on WIKI.

Further more the Koseki tohon is a major problem for mixed children and divorced ( or worse mixed children or divorced families), I am divorced and I have custody of my children but the Koseki is that of my ex-wife, her parents tried desperately to get us to NOT divorce but to stay married on paper because " The children will never get into a good school being "hafu" and from a divorced family" their words not mine but then again some one here will say I made that one up also!

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cleo: 1) Renho, the half-Taiwanese, half-Japanese politician, is often accused of not being a 'real' Japanese, and thus, not loyal and not trustworthy.... same rights? MAYBE legally, but socially, there sure seem to be differences in treatment.

Tsn't that like President Obana is often being called not real American??' Politicians would use ANYTHING to attack other party, so the example of Renho isn't good.

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The children will never get into a good school being "hafu" and from a divorced family

i dont know about the divorced family part, but there are tons of hafu students at sofia university, ICU, tokyo university of foreign studies, etc etc... those are some top-rank schools.

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Fishy; You think to western!

Walk up to any Japanese on the street and ask them to name a "Good University" by Japanese view and corporate standards and not one of the schools you mentioned would even come close to being on the list.

Though I agree they are good schools in my book.

To the Japanese and to often in the corporate and especially in the government it would be more like " Todai, Waseda, Meiji, Osaka,etc.."

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To be called HA-FU in Japan suggests you're only HALF one of us.

um.. no. in japanese, we often say like "america to nihon no hafu desu".. meaning someone is half american and half japanese, and people dont know the other country, then they'd say just hafu. doesn't mean ONLY HALF, it really means Half-and-Half, and when japanese people use the word hafu, it actually mean "mix".

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@limboinjapan thanx!many people when talking about foreigners forget that they r also africans here. i also want to point out that the "half"black-japanese that i met r mostly into dance n hip hop stuff. i guess its what the people around them expect from them.black = dance.here we go with the stereotypes!

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Honestly, I get home from work at 8 PM. So, i can only spend limited time with my kids during the week. So, you are saying that I can teach my son English only on the weekends enough for him to be as good as japanese? never!

In my company all Japanese must speak very good English. These are the higer paying jobs in Japan. So, in my opinion, spend the money now on English so that your son/daughter don't end up living with me until 30 or later).

Plus, I would never send my kids to a Japanese university. All they have to do is cram once/twice a year and the rest is party time right?

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dano2002: I don't know your situation so I am not in any position to criticize.

I only know that I was raised with 3 languages and that I am a single father here in Japan and that my time is very limited for just about everything and my children are now 15 and 13 and the eldest speaks/write fluent Japanese and English as well as speak fair French, the younger one is fluent in reading and writing Japanese, fluent spoken English, fair written English and well poor French!

They go to Japanese public school seeing I don't believe they could ever be fluent in Japanese (to a Japanese native) otherwise, English and French are not so complicated, a little study and practice is often enough, BUT KANJI is a whole other ball game and as many here have pointed out even with a Japanese high school diploma they can go to any overseas University anyway but without Fluent Kanji they will not have the option to attend Japanese University if they wish.

That is Just my opinion and does not mean that this is right for all, that is up to each parent and their children to decide.

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Dano2002- If you're busy during the week and don't have the time to teach your kids English, what about your wife? she might not be a native English speaker but can she try? I'm not a native English speaker, my husband is, but I speak to our kids in English and I read and do activities to teach them English at home. If you can spend money to send them to learn English somewhere else, go right ahead, but I seriously believe home is the best learning environment, and even if your wife's English isn't perfect, it's still worth the effort, and I agree about what you say about Japanese universities, and that is why we are preparing for the day our kids go to school (universities) in the states where their father is from.

And if you have weekends off, then spend as much time as possible talking to them in English.. it's better than nothing and also during holidays, shower them with English.

Our kids go to Japanese schools and get showered with Japanese language, and when they get home, I shower them with English even though I'm not a native speaker.. and at night and weekends, my husband shower them with English. Both of our kids are bilingual now.

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limbo-

They go to Japanese public school seeing I don't believe they could ever be fluent in Japanese (to a Japanese native) otherwise, English and French are not so complicated, a little study and practice is often enough, BUT KANJI is a whole other ball game and as many here have pointed out even with a Japanese high school diploma they can go to any overseas University anyway but without Fluent Kanji they will not have the option to attend Japanese University if they wish.

completely agree!

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Add to that, we are staying in japan and sending kids to Japanese schools because we want them to learn to read and write kanji... we can teach English at home (spelling, writing and etc) but kanji is just too much to teach at home. I'm a native Japanese/French speaker but we are focusing on English at home right now.

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Renho, the half-Taiwanese, half-Japanese politician, is often accused of not being a 'real' Japanese, and thus, not loyal and not trustworthy.... same rights? MAYBE legally, but socially, there sure seem to be differences in treatment.

Strange, she still gets getting elected.....and what fishy said.

I said the only number I have is zero. I said PROVE ME WRONG. Don't just say "you're wrong" and be done. PROVE IT. Also, most ASIAN mixes between Japanese and Chinese, Korean, etc. can pass as Japanese. What I meant was visible halfs - the kind that make Japanese people notice them.

My daughter is a police officer. She is a very visible hafu - the kind that makes all the men in a room (not only the Japanese) notice her when she walks in. She puts the 'talento' hafus on the telly to shame. She informs me that the prefectural force of which she is a member has other hafus, too. So your ZERO can be thrown out of the window, it's wrong.

As we all know, foreigners cannot establish a household registry (koseki). So if you want to block foreigners from participation in anything, just require a copy of their koseki.... because they don't have one, and can't get one.

In lots of instances where the koseki is necessary (eg buying a house), all you have to do is point out that you don't have one since you're not Japanese. Every time, I've been told it's OK, just provide an equivalent document - in most cases a passport will do. I have never been stopped from doing anything for want of a koseki. Remember, the koseki is evidence of Japanese nationality. Complaining that non-Japanese cannot have a koseki is as silly as complaining that we can't have a Japanese passport. It also has nothing to do with whether a person is hafu - hafus with Japanese nationality are right there on the family koseki.

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: I agree and disagree on the koseki thohon being just proof of Japanese citizenship.

It is often used to classify people based on where they are from and who are their parent and in the case of mixed children and divorced it makes it that much easier to single them out, and do remember that though your name included on it as a foreigner you are not actually there but only mentioned as spouse parent!

It is for these reasons that China and Korea have both eliminated them, it made it to easy for for the closed minded to single out those they felt are inferior.

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limbo, I agree with you that the koseki is an outdated system that should be done away with, for the reasons you mention. Who a person's parents are should not reflect in any way on the individual.

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said the only number I have is zero. I said PROVE ME WRONG. Don't just say "you're wrong" and be done. PROVE IT. Also, most ASIAN mixes between Japanese and Chinese, Korean, etc. can pass as Japanese. What I meant was visible halfs - the kind that make Japanese people notice them.

i know a couple of Japanese/Brazilian hafu men in the Japanese air self defense force. there is also a hafu teacher at my son's elementary school..

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"So your ZERO can be thrown out of the window, it's wrong."

But my comment on how disproportionately low their representation numbers are, in relation to the population, for high profile positions as previously mentioned... holds true to the core ! Cmon Cleo- a "token" female or hafu here and there is hardly a position Japan can be proud of. And as your duaghter has correctly insinuated- those hafu talentos on the tube like "Becky" are an embarrasment to the whole gaijin community ! But as long as they're gettin' theirs- why not just give up that seat and move to the back of the bus ! Still no Rosa Parks anywhere to be found I see... too bad ! This thred currently has 200 comments on it- many of them heated... don't tell me being a foreigner or one of mixed race in Japan is nothing but a daily challenge for respect.

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You want respect?Then stop cowering around with your tail between your legs telling everybody it's all just too hard and get a backbone .This is what this 'Hafu Project ' is all about ..courage...anything and everything else is irrelevant.If you dont want to join in stay in your room and mope

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my comment on how disproportionately low their representation numbers are, in relation to the population, for high profile positions as previously mentioned... holds true to the core !

When you admit yourself that you only recognise the ones allowing themselves to be treated like 'performing animals', while the ones just getting on with it don't register on your radar? Unless you spend all your time checking out the genetics of total strangers, how would you know?

those hafu talentos on the tube like "Becky" are an embarrasment to the whole gaijin community !

No, if they're an embarrassment, they're an embarrassment to themselves, and no one else. What some stranger who happens to have a few genes that maybe are somewhat similar to a few genes that I happen to have gets up to, does not reflect in the least on me, any more than your views are any indication of my views. I would say that to suggest that they do, is racist.

don't tell me being a foreigner or one of mixed race in Japan is nothing but a daily challenge for respect

Respect is for the person/individual, not the race or genetic makeup. I do not agree that life in Japan for 'a foreigner or one of mixed race' is 'a daily challenge for respect' - unless you expect 'respect' on account of your race, as opposed to respect for you as a person.

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"Unless you spend all your time checking out the genetics of total strangers, how would you know?"

Well... sometimes I know like this:

"She is a very visible hafu- the kind that makes all the men in a room (not only the Japanese) notice her when she walks in."

And like I said before, other times I know when checking meishi. But most of the time I find out during introductions or the small talk that follows... it is usually one of the first things mentioned. Again Cleo- you are a self proclaimed stay at home translator- you know very little of the business world I engage in- from Senior and Junior officials in multi-nationals to temp workers on the assembly line ! I've met thousands of the nations inhabitants !

"What some stranger who happens to have a few genes that maybe are somewhat similar to a few genes that I happen to have gets up to, does not reflect in the least on me"

Now you are living in denial ! Get real Cleo- all gaijin are the same- first, they are all Americans- go ahead ask any small child out there that doesn't know you- where you are from- 99.9% will say you are American !!! The rest is textbook !

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a very visible hafu.....other times I know when checking meishi....it is usually one of the first things mentioned

So you catch the visibly obvious hafus, the ones with obviously non-Japanese surnames and those who feel their parentage is important enough to be one of the first bits of information they need to pass on to a business acquaintance at the first meeting. You still aren't catching all those who take more after the Japanese parent, or who have a Japanese name (From my kids' meishi alone, you would have no idea they were hafu) or are happy enough in their skins not to need to walk around with their family tree on their shoulder. So all you see is what you see - what you've told yourself you're going to see.

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I am with cleo.

My sons name is all Kanji and japanese, he looks japanese even so much that he was mistaken for the son of a japanese friend with me.

Some of his school-friends when 1st meeting me said "How is this foreigner related to you". After they found out that I am his dad and prepare a lot of nice food, etc they all said "Ii, nee".

Not all "hafu" are mistreated I would reckon most are treated like everybody else.

But if a hafu wants to make an issue of being one it will show in the reception of the japanese.

Just my view.

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Oh No- more Cleo... "So all you see is what you see"

And hear what I hear, and read what I read, and listen to what I listen to, and experience what I experience ! Give it a rest already- you are never going to concede the fact that Japan simply does not allow the vast majority of hafus to rise to any position of authority whatsoever. Why the denial Cleo ? We see the same numbers with women in authority there- Japan continuously ranks near the bottom in terms of equality between the sexes in every major poll delivered ! Hafus are no different- they are considered pretty much second rate citizens... now whether that is fair or not is beside the point. I'm willing to bet there is no written material in Japan listing the nations most succesful "hafus" ! Now we have such lists here in the US - Most succesful Hispanic Americans, Most succesful Women, African American of the Year !!! For better or for worse- these lists exist... how about Japan ? Care to provide the details of such a list ? I'd love to see one- but you won't find one will you. No siree- we have "best jeans wearer", "best make-up", "longest legs" "nicest hair" "best smelling"... but nothing about the "hafu" community. Maybe the hafu project can do a sequel... "The hafu of the century" !

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Zenny11: "Not all "hafu" are mistreated I would reckon most are treated like everybody else."

So what do you think Zenny- when he's an adult he'll probably be completely bilingual. And if he's working in a Japanese firm he just might come into contact with some foreign business types who introduce themselves. Is your son going to feign ignorance of the English language or will he blurt out "Hello- nice to meet you, my name is..."

See how that works Cleo ! Really no mystery at all.

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Branded.

I think he will behave like a PROFESSIONAL.

And why would he feign ignorance of the english language in the 1st place.

Not sure what you are trying to say.

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As we all know, foreigners cannot establish a household registry (koseki). So if you want to block foreigners from participation in anything, just require a copy of their koseki.... because they don't have one, and can't get one.

Untrue. Your gaikokujin tourokuzumishou has the same weight as a koseki.

No one likes to hear from Cleo because she bursts your preconceived notions, pure and simple.

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Is your son going to feign ignorance of the English language or will he blurt out "Hello- nice to meet you, my name is..."

See how that works Cleo ! Really no mystery at all.

Your point, however, is a mystery...

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Well, one thing's gotta go is hafu thinking they look better than the Japanese.

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Why does Branded want folk to feign ignorance of the English language?

he just might come into contact with some foreign business types who introduce themselves.

Of course, he might blurt out a greeting in English, Russian or German - depending on what flavour of foreign the business types are. You see, hafus are so put down in Japan that he was sent abroad on government money to study.

nothing about the "hafu" community.

There is no hafu community. It seems some foreign types find it hard to understand that Japan isn't as obsessed about race as their own country is. If they started counting how many hafus, what flavour of hafus, making lists of successful hafus - then I'd start to worry.

Maybe not worry. Think it was all rather silly. Like the Most Successful Something-American is silly.

No one likes to hear from Cleo

No one??

X(

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'No one likes hearing from Cleo' is the coward's way out, Cleo. Can't just up and say 'I disagree with you', can he?

I like to hear from you!

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Little info on how the word "half" become widespread in Japan : in the 70s there was an idol group of 4 girls (5 at first) named "Golden Half." The members were all bi-racial. This is believed to have lead to the spread of the word "half" in Japanese. It is "wasei-eigo." These people used to be called konketsuji or ainoko.

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Can't just up and say 'I disagree with you', can he?

But he does!

He's usually wrong, of course....

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BTW, very good posts Cleo. I agree with you all the way ... on this topic anyway!

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limbo, branded: Thank you for educating me. I stand corrected.

Some of you missed my point.

If you don't want your (mixed race) child to have an equal future in Japan, well, more power to you! If however, your child wants a future in Japan, like attending the best schools, or working for the company of their choice (and not just serving tea...), then many of the obstacles that zainichi face are the same as those that 'half' must deal with.

As for the comment about halfs who blend in have no problem - sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes if the person looks more foreign, they get treated like a foreigner - in their own language, in their own country. And it does not matter how hard they try to fit in.

Did anyone check the last link on my previous post? It is a real eye opener.

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**If they started counting how many hafus, what flavour of hafus, making lists of successful hafus - then I'd start to worry

MANY of the schools I have worked at do just that - they keep tabs on how many, what type of halfu and when a new teacher comes in, will point them out, tell them their background, how well they do... They don't do it with the "full" kids. Seen it private, public from ele to Uni. Perhaps the government doesn't have a background survey like many countries but some people sure seem to be keeping tabs on the numbers. I mean, if no one was, how would we know that 1 in 30 born recently are... halfu??

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they keep tabs on how many, what type of halfu and when a new teacher comes in, will point them out, tell them their background, how well they do

Keeping tabs on kids who may have problems with language etc., is surely a good thing. Schools also have to be aware of things like, when Mum comes in for the nisha mendan, an interpreter will be needed if any useful discussion is to take place. But I don't see that as the same as Branded's idea of a list of Most Successful of some Limited Group of People.

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Wow! David Yano is on this project! Cool! If you do not know who he is, then you must ask Cleo??

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There is a hafu community. Hapa Japan organize parties for people who are hafu/mixed Japanese. It's a great place to meet up with other hafus/hapas/mixed Japanese. It's like a meat market. Great if you are single, gives you headaches if you are married or in a relationship. There seem to be many Japanese-French and Japanese-German in Tokyo. In Sweden most of the Japanese-Swedish have Japanese fathers and Swedish mothers. I am happy to be haaaaafu. Can't understand what all this fuss is about?

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Zenny11:

"I think he will behave like a PROFESSIONAL."

And how would you define that ? Again, my question is simple-yet you are dodging it... for fear of proving I am correct ? Will he bow, mumble his Japanese and let it go at that ? Or will he do his "hajimemashites" followed with a "nice to meet you" ?

Sorry Himajin the- this is really not difficult to follow. Cleo feels that it is nearly impossible to detect "hafus" out there in the Japanese community- I disagree ! I have pointed out a variety of ways that I have personally experienced- in typical Cleo form- she refuses to accept the experiences of others in favor of her own "opinions" and attempts to lead the discussion elsewhere.

For example, Cleo writes...

"Why does Branded want folk to feign ignorance of the English language?"

Odd- I never said anything of the sort. I asked Zenny11 if his "hafu" son would greet a foreign visitor with Japanese only- or would he acknowledge a high degree of english ability- even though Zenny says he looks "very" japanese. My "experience" has been that without a doubt- after a bow a brief Japanese intro- here comes the English !

So there really is no "checking of genetic codes" like Cleo wants you to think. Simply look, read, listen- if there is a "hafu" in the company- you'll find them... or they'll find you !

As for this- I find it kind of sad:

"There is no hafu community."

Gets to the core of the uchi/soto issue that the "hafu project" seems to want to address. Cleo says there is no "hafu community"- now in Japan we have the Chinese community, the Korean community, the eikaiwa community, the gay community, the cosplay community, and a bare smidgin of an Arab community- most got run out after the Nagano Olympic construction was finished... however Cleo states we don't have a "hafu community" !

"Says Megumi Nishikura, one of the directors:

"the people who are in the film—all identify ourselves as kind of an emerging community of Japanese people."

Whazzat ??? An emerging community of "hafus" ???

Now Cleo- what were you saying... "Japan isn't as obsessed about race as their own country is. If they started counting how many hafus, what flavour of hafus, making lists of successful hafus - then I'd start to worry."

Guess you best start worrying ! "Your" Japan is slowly moving away from your stereotypical land of Geishas, Sushi, and Kimonos !

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tmarie at 04:02 AM JST - 20th August tmarie at 07:38 AM JST - 19th August Sorry but "halfu" and "Asian" are >two VERY different words and concepts. You have a point. To be called HA-FU in Japan suggests you're only HALF >one of us. To be called ASIAN in the United States suggests you're not >one of us at all. Both terms in their use suggest being different >from "us" the majority group.** Nope. You might be thinking of the word >gaijin for your example and being called "asian" has nothign to do to >with being "one of us". It is a discussion about your heritage which is >something that many Americans take pride in.

Not among children. I assure you. Considering that the school they went to was 99% caucasian your lovely interpretation doesn't apply.

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Branded at 03:33 PM JST - 20th August Now you are living in denial ! Get real Cleo- all gaijin are the same- >first, they are all Americans- go ahead ask any small child out there >that doesn't know you- where you are from- 99.9% will say you are >American !!! The rest is textbook !

LOL. Like every person even remotely asian looking isn't assumed to be "Chinese" in America.

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"Like every person even remotely asian looking isn't assumed to be "Chinese" in America."

Not at all- Americans don't bother... Asian is Asian.... uhhh, now that "Oriental" is no longer in vogue !

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Keeping tabs on kids who may have problems with language etc., is surely a good thing. Schools also have to be aware of things like, when Mum comes in for the nisha mendan, an interpreter will be needed if any useful discussion is to take place. But I don't see that as the same as Branded's idea of a list of Most Successful of some Limited Group of People.

Cleo, give it a rest will you? It has NOTHING to do with language and everything to do with the background. I noticed you didn't comment on the hospital thing. If the government isn't keeping tabs on such things why on earth do they know that 1 out of 30 births is a halfu?

Halfu is this country either get a) KAWAIIIIIIIIIII! Halfu!!!! Talento (which you already made the snide comment that your daughter is better than them with her long legs and whatnot) or b) BAKA!!!! They can't speak Japanese properly so the teacher should comment on it - going by your last post.

Honestly I do have to wonder which Japan you are living in at times because it certainly is differently than the one I am in.

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Branded.

Not sure where you are trying to go with the discussion.

I answered it plain and clearly "He will behave in a professional manner" which means he will react to the situation and act accordingly.

Stop trying so hard to provoke a fight to win a non-existing argument, Ditto for Tmarie.

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Branded.

Not sure where you are trying to go with the discussion.

I answered it plain and clearly "He will behave in a professional manner" which means he will react to the situation and act accordingly. Guess same as I did when I met overseas clients and suppliers for my japanese company.

Stop trying so hard to provoke a fight to win a non-existing argument, Ditto for Tmarie.

Branded , btw, reread what you posted when you asked about how my son would introduce himself. You talked about him "feigning ignorance of english".

Nuff said.

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Lordy Zenny11- stop straddling the fence already:

"I answered it plain and clearly "He will behave in a professional manner" which means he will react to the situation and act accordingly."

And how exactly do you define "act accordingly" ??? Go ahead- humour me- as dense as I am, I need a step by step breakdown of how your hafu son, who looks very Japanese, will introduce himself to foreign visitors of various degrees... better yet Zenny11, tell him to grab a handle and he can answer for himself ! As for this:

"btw, reread what you posted when you asked about how my son would introduce himself. You talked about him "feigning ignorance of english"."

No zenny11 I didn't "talk about" him feigning ignorance... I "asked" would he ! Again Zenny- I'm a bit on the dim side... I ask my questions and make my points pretty clearly. Now if you may...

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Branded.

Come here again and ask him once he entered the work-force in 14 or so years.

Done here. I DON'T humour posters like you.

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Cleo feels that it is nearly impossible to detect "hafus" out there in the Japanese community

Not at all. Simply that you're going to miss quite a few if your criteria for 'spotting' them is looks, English ability, a foreign name and a burning desire to discuss their family tree with strangers.

My "experience" has been that without a doubt- after a bow a brief Japanese intro- here comes the English !

Well if they're talking to you, they would speak English, wouldn't they? Your Japanese apparently being rudimentary. And you know, English ability doesn't come as part and parcel of the hafuness. It isn't in the blood.

If the government isn't keeping tabs on such things why on earth do they know that 1 out of 30 births is a halfu?

When the birth is registered, the nationalities of the parents are included in the data. There's nothing sinister about that, it's there in the records. But it's still a far cry from Branded's list of Most Successful Hafu.

Talento (which you already made the snide comment that your daughter is better than them with her long legs and whatnot)

Mmm, I never mentioned her legs, and I certainly wouldn't discuss her whatnot on an Internet message board. All I meant was that her looks mark her out as a hafu much more than the 'talentos' on TV, and that considering the success she has had in her career so far, the claim that obvious hafus are all treated like second-class citizens is demonstrably untrue.

That isn't to say there isn't any discrimination. People who don't speak reasonably fluent Japanese may well be seen as a problem - but that applies to returning Japanese who have spent their early years abroad, as well as hafus and people from other backgrounds. And I won't deny that there is a definite difference in the attitude to causasian hafus and other hafus. But it appears to be a difference in class as much as (more than) a difference in appearance; the children of nisei factory workers and the children of limbo's single mothers have to deal with the problems of poverty as well as language. And then the children whose parents effectively cut them off from Japanese society by sending them to international school and telling them they are 'special' have their own set of problems to overcome.

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Branded at 04:27 AM JST - 21st August

"Like every person even remotely asian looking isn't assumed to be "Chinese" in America."

Not at all- Americans don't bother... Asian is Asian.... uhhh, now >that "Oriental" is no longer in vogue !

Yup Americans generally don't bother to distinguish between the many Asian ethnicities. They're all "Chinese". Same as the Japanese who assume all "gaijin" are Americans. Maybe the same in SKorea and most of China too.

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I'm a bit on the dim side...

At last Branded writes something we can all agree on!

Seriously B, you've descended into talking rubbish. Why should there be any difference at all in the way a hafu handles himself in a business setting, and the way anyone else does? If the situation requires English and the person has English ability, there is no reason why he would 'feign ignorance'. You're just being silly and trading in hackneyed stereotypes.

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Lots of kids get a lot of trouble feom the locals because they are nit "pure" Japanese. I libe in the sticks and see this stuff. I Have even had 2 neighbours being really rude to my wife for having a foreign husband. Luckily they moved and we now have locals who donb`t give a hoot about all that. But, it goes to show that racism of those different happens and schools, and employers should ensure equality and the same treatment for those with foreign backgrounds or whatever.

The main problem is the fact that there are no laws to protect against discrimination. I don`t care if some here think Japan is a hunky dorey place where all can get on. I have seen the bad apples in operation and the sad thing is that they are not breaking the law.

I certainly wouldn`t wish for any memeber of my family being in the police or gove/local gov position until anti racism laws are implemented.

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I certainly wouldn`t wish for any memeber of my family being in the police or gove/local gov position until anti racism laws are implemented.

during the 21st or 22nd century?

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4Cleo:

"Well if they're talking to you, they would speak English, wouldn't they"

Why would they ? My Japanese introductory skills are fluent... at least according to my latest JSST score and the immediate response by my Japanese clients.

"Why should there be any difference at all in the way a hafu handles himself in a business setting, and the way anyone else does?"

Good question ! But as a self proclaimed stay at home worker I find your input to be meaningless on the subject. And you accuse me of "talking rubbish" !

"If the situation requires English and the person has English ability, there is no reason why he would 'feign ignorance"

However... if the situation "doesn't" require English... why are the vast majority of Hafus I run into obligated to burst out in English ??? Quite the conundrum isn't it ? My point is... as soon as this occurs, well the cats outta the bag... say hello to little miss "Hafu". Which once again answers Cleo's question as to how I know the genetic make-up of the hafus I've run into out there in the business community. If there's a hafu with-in shouting distance.... I'll know about it ! Unfortunately they are few and far between.

"You're just being silly and trading in hackneyed stereotypes."

What exactly is the "stereotype" I am being accused of trading Cleo ???

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My "experience" has been that without a doubt- after a bow a brief Japanese intro- here comes the English !

What is your point? That only hafus will speak English in a business setting? Untrue. Again, what is your point about a hafu businessman greeting someone in English? Is there a problem with him speaking English? Why should he 'mumble his Japanese and leave it at that'?

Side notes: tmarie, it's 'hafu' not 'halfu'. Sorry, pet peeve.

Also, 'geisha' and 'kimono' don't need an 's' to be plural.

Back on topic--

if the situation "doesn't" require English

It doesn't? When greeting a foreign guest? It's considered a courtesy to greet someone in their own language, you seem to think it's some irrepressible urge only on the part of hafu. Odd point of view. I've worked in university hospital settings and your average oyaji type salaryman also bursts into English with foreign guests, again, what is your point about a hafu businessman following up Japanese aisatsu with English?

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However... if the situation "doesn't" require English... why are the vast majority of Hafus I run into obligated to burst out in English ???

People react differently to different people, I worked for a big 4 accounting firm, within the firm and those that we audited, rarely did hafus ever just burst out into English(plently of Japanese workers tried though), I think for one a lot of them spoke Chinese/Japanese more comfortably and/or they spoke Japanese so that everyone around was included in the conversation. Outside the workplace was different though, if they could speak English, then our conversation would be in English.

Generally I always just found it easier to speak Japanese in a professional environment and most of the Hafus I had the pleasure of meeting seemed to operate in the manor.

So I don't why your slagging Cleo for being a "home worker", I found my professional dealings with Hafus to be as she discribed.

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As for my son he tries to hide the fact he is mixed because he practices a very traditional Japanese art and his Master says that people would not understand a "hafu" being able to do it so well and it is best not to make waves.

Then his Master has a problem.

If your daughter has a 168 IQ she should be able to do anything, who says she'll only be accepted if she's a talento? 3 years old and she wanted out of the country? You don't think that anything you had to say on a daily basis influenced her at all?

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Being a stay at home worker doesn't mean you never get outside, Branded, geez...I doubt Cleo's locked in a closet somewhere.

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Himajin wants to know-

"what is your point about a hafu businessman greeting someone in English? Is there a problem with him speaking English? Why should he 'mumble his Japanese and leave it at that'?"

Well, lemme see... Zenny11 was saying that his hafu son would respond in a "professional" manner. Personally I don't believe that foreign visitors to a Japanese company- who speak fluent Japanese- should be accosted with English of any kind. I learned this lesson years ago when I approached a German businessman at Mitsubishi Motors factory. His Japanese was impecible- his English atrocious. He kept steering the conversation to Japanese till "I got it" ! The lesson is simplistic- "when in rome- do as the romans do" or... "go ni ireba- go ni shtigaieh"

Funny- I couldn't help but notice this:

"tmarie, it's 'hafu' not 'halfu'. Sorry, pet peeve. Also, 'geisha' and 'kimono' don't need an 's' to be plural."

Hmph, you can spot an Eikaiwa Karl a mile away ! No worries tmarie- I've found the vast majority of folks here that can't debate the issues usually result to petty attacks at grammar or spelling.... you just keep firing away and let me take care of "himejin" !

"When greeting a foreign guest? It's considered a courtesy to greet someone in their own language"

Really ? Care to show me the "International School of Etiquette" that is promoting such nonsense ?

"Odd point of view. I've worked in university hospital"

Good lord- a Brit ! "worked in university hospital" ??? Try this on fer size... "worked in "a" university hospital" ! Ah yes the letter "A"- the third most common used letter in English, and the second most common in Spanish and French... but for some reason our British friends avoid it like the plague !

"what is your point about a hafu businessman following up Japanese aisatsu with English?"

That as soon as they follow up their Japanese "greeting" with English... I get a detailed synopsis of their "hafu" history... which- once again folks- helps me easily find who the hafus are in any given company I may visit. Enough already folks- if you can't follow the thread... move along !

Moderator: Readers, please stop going around in circles. Focus your comments on the Hafu Project referred to in the story.

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Good Jorb:

Thank you for this...

"I worked for a big 4 accounting firm, within the firm and those that we audited, rarely did hafus ever just burst out into English(plently of Japanese workers tried though), I think for one a lot of them spoke Chinese/Japanese more comfortably and/or they spoke Japanese so that everyone around was included in the conversation. Outside the workplace was different though, if they could speak English, then our conversation would be in English."

But... you knew they were "hafus" !!! And that is my point ! That when you deal with the business community, and there is a hafu in the office- you will know who they are- some way or another. I rest my case !!!

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Branded, you're just making a fool of yourself. Himajin is not a Brit. Her sentence about 'university hospital settings' does not require the indefinite article even in American English, unless you guys have suddenly started using it with plural nouns.

I learned this lesson years ago when I approached a German businessman at Mitsubishi Motors factory. His Japanese was impecible- his English atrocious. He kept steering the conversation to Japanese till "I got it" !

Now I get it. Your own 'business manner' leaves much to be desired. One German businessman who doesn't speak English means that native English speakers should not be addressed in their own language, right?. ......Nope, doesn't compute.

"go ni ireba- go ni shtigaieh"

lol

What exactly is the "stereotype" I am being accused of trading Cleo ???

Try the 'all hafus speak English, it's in the genes' one, for a start.

And yes, us home workers never, ever get to leave the closet to meet people, discuss work, negotiate contracts, etc. lol

Moderator: Readers, no further discussion along these lines please. From here on, posts that do not refer to the Hafu Project will be removed.

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Exploring the question of what it means to be Japanese ? I believe some stories will be sad, some will be happy.

In truth, they will face discrimination in Japan and the other country of someway. Hopefully they can be positive and move on.

About the tmarie comment, I will back her up on her comments. Some (good)teachers have good intentions in notifying who's hafu, who has a language problem, learning difficulties or ADD. Some (bad) teachers use it as a joke or whatnot !!!! In a whole teachers like classifying kids and forecast their future for example kids who are smart in the class are more likely to succeed and kids who are more likey to fail. It's stupid teacher gossip. I help all kids !!!

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Why is everyone worried about what othes think of them? I promise, whether at work or elsewhere, I never noticed these differences. Am I the only one who thinks people come in all different, shapes, sizes and colors? And ofcourse with different skills? If you think that he/she is being discriminated, then the problem is with that person and not others who are being accused of discrimination. Seriously, I've never had the time to take those things seriously. There are much more interesting things that you could do than sit and analyse how someone looked at you funnily or made a silly comment.

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My hafu friend is in a position of importance at a consulting firm because he is bilingual and has lived (and worked) in 2 countries, therefore giving him an understanding of Japanese and Western business culture. He doesn't get 'paraded out.' He meets people because the vast majority of staff in his office can't speak English.

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I think many including myself have drifted way off the subject and the SUBJECT is "Exploring the question of what it means to be Japanese" for "HAFU"

Well this may or may not be part of what these people are exploring and if someone out there thinks that this is made up well that is their right but I can assure you my 13 year old can tell you this is true!

I cannot come out and say exactly what Traditional Japanese performing art my son has been apprenticing for nearly 7 years now because he has been in the news and is one of or the youngest to reach his level in this art and it would be easy to single him out and after what I am going to right it could hurt him.

As I wrote he has been apprenticing/performing in this art for nearly 7 year BUT even though he has been requested to joint one of the most popular "houses" in Japan, the Master and others have made it clear that it is preferable that he not mention being "Hafu" as this being "traditional" many of the patrons may not understand.

If being "Hafu" is no big deal or viewed negatively. Then why the request not to mention it or let it be known?

Cleo: There are many time I agree with you and find your comments very logical and throught out but on some things like this you tend to look only at one side! It is OK to sometimes admit that some thing is dirty when it is dirty!

@tmarie gave you and example of how mixed children are singled out in the schools she has worked in and I over time including this thread have given similar example.

Making excuses for this sort of classifying, marking, singling out, call it whatever is not what I would expect from you.

Most of the so called "Hafu" are raised almost exclusively in Japanese and have been in the Japanese school system since the start (as were my children) so why the need to single them out or know how many and what they are?

Unless what you are saying is like many Japanese I have met that the ability to properly learn Japanese is genetic and non-pure Japanese cannot learn it perfectly!

BTW: The 3 top students in both my son and daughters schools are "HAFU" and we know that because the schools actually had to said that in school papers and meetings, like it was some sort of event or mishap.

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Myself not sure why Japanese are so obsessed about "Hafu" and their "Identity".

Being European it is pretty common for us have parents from different countries and backgrounds.

If think a lot of the identity issues about being "hafu" actually come from their parents emphasizing the different cultures, etc.

I see similar issues with a lot of chinese that grew up from early teens in the States.

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Does anyone have data/statistics on the total number of mixed race kids in Japan?

I have read that many farmers/fishermen in the countryside marry south or s.e. asians. Their children are half, but as neither parent comes from an English speaking country, I wonder how they will be treated, vs. the city dwelling halfs. I really am asking about how they are treated, accepted or not accepted. Any ideas?

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Personally I don't believe that foreign visitors to a Japanese company- who speak fluent Japanese- should be accosted with English of any kind.

That's YOUR issue. Your example is of you speaking to a German in English...oi...

Hmph, you can spot an Eikaiwa Karl a mile away !

BZZZZZT! Wrong answer. And I surely hope you're not one, seeing as you don't care if words are spelled correctly. How can you learn a foreign language if you don't give a sh*t about your own??

Good lord- a Brit !

BZZZZT! Wrong again...I said 'University hospital settings', what about that do you not understand, grammatically?

helps me easily find who the hafus are in any given company I may visit.

And so burdened with this knowledge that........well? Why does it bother you so badly that you can find hafu?

Mods, this is my last answer to Branded.

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I think the term 'hafu' or 'half-Japanese' is a problem. I mean if you are born and raised in Japan, wouldn't you consider yourself to be Japanese no matter where your parents came from? (correct me if I'm wrong) The fact that Japan has terms like this says something about the culture. It says you will only be considered 'fully' Japanese if both of your parents are Japanese. The fact that people even discuss this topic suggests that 'hafu' are not viewed as equal to other Japanese. I think it will take at few more generations before people stop obsessing about 'what it means to be Japanese'. 

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Doplhingirl.

Generally I would agree with you. Knowing a few hafu myself many of them are forced to study and even live 2 cultures, etc. i.e. one culture outside the home and another one at home(extreme example Muslim hafu friend of my son).

Same with kids being send to international schools but playing with local neighbourhood kids on off-days, etc.

So a lot of the hafu's identity problems for me are the environment they grow up in.

And of course japanese see that the kid is different, acts different from others around hence the rise of the hafu distinction. i.e. not 100% Japanese but split/caught between cultures/languages, etc.

Just my view.

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of course japanese see that the kid is different, acts different from others around

None of the hafu kids I have seen act any different from the kids around them.

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The Okinawans elected a hafu person to the Japanese diet. Denny Tamaki, currently serving.. another hafu person in Okinawa actually teaches Okinawan youth the almost extinct "uchina guchi"..

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half person? haha halflings?

terms like "hafu" and "gaijin" are so inappropriate. gee, i hope my (mixed) kids don't grow up to learn about the negativity of being themselves. it's bad enough they have an 'alien' as a mother. :-p

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**If the government isn't keeping tabs on such things why on earth do they know that 1 out of 30 births is a halfu?

When the birth is registered, the nationalities of the parents are included in the data. There's nothing sinister about that, it's there in the records. But it's still a far cry from Branded's list of Most Successful Hafu.** Cleo, you commented on them not really keeping tabs on "hafu" but yet now you are have clearly outlined that they do. If they don't, why the need to register the nationalities if the child is Japanese - and they would be by being born to ONE Japanese parent. If they want to record the foreign nationality births that I can understand but there is no need to record the nationality of the parents when one parent is Japanese - and would have the birth recorded (usually) on the family register, not to mention use the national health care services.

While I am at it, I might as well tell you that I had the Korean and Chinese kids pointed out to me as well - 2nd and 3rd generation who grew up with parents who speak Japanese so again, no need to have it pointed out as there would be no issues with communication with the parents.

You also made a comment about needing to point out the language in case the "mother" has issues with the language, in most of the cases, the mothers were Japanese so again, no need to have anything pointed out to me. There is a lot of discrimination with half. I am glad that you and your family had a much better go of it than many of the students I have seen - but I think the difference is that you are British (and I assume white) whereas most of the kids I taught were hafu with parents (again, usually fathers) from an Asian country.

I will not be surprised when Japan starts asking nationality questions for school and whatnot. I don't really think asking such a question is a bad thing to say the least - it could be positive to know what communities live where - but as this is Japan, with very little in terms of discrimination laws and whatnot, I highly doubt the info would be used for anything positive. From my experience hafu get treated very badly in terms of teacher expectations which I think is very unfair. I also assume that goes into the working environment but... I have never worked with an open half let alone a 2nd/3rd generation Korean or Chinese national.

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No, if they're an embarrassment, they're an embarrassment to themselves, and no one else.

That is only true cleo if you are considered part of the majority of society and by that I'm talking about race. If you are a minority race in the society then what they do if it is an embarrassment would indeed be an embarrassment to everyone in that community he or she belongs to. That is how stereotypes of minorities in all societies around the world are formed and that is how the double standard comes into play where if someone of a minority community does something wrong it is real bad but if someone from the majority community does something wrong it is not as bad as the minority person doing it.

What you say is idealistic but not realistic. Hafu's are a minority just like how mixed race people in the US are a minority.

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None of the hafu kids I have seen act any different from the kids around them.

Cleo -- I agree.. Well, actually, I do not know if NONE of the hafu kids acts differently, but my kids who are mixed definitely act just like any other Japanese children you see out there. My son kids were born in the U.S, they are mixed (Japanese, American and French), but they've been living in Japan and their first language is Japanese, 99% of their friends are Japanese and they consider themself as Japanese (and yes, my son is very well aware that he is mixed, but he says he is Japanese, and he is ALSO American and French -- my daughter is a bit too young to say anything like that, but she's always with Japanese friends and speak Japanese to them, none of their parents have ever said anything that'd sound offensive..).

So, other than their round eyes and brown hair, they are just like any J-kids you see anywhere out there.

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Hafu's are a minority just like how mixed race people in the US are a minority.

that's probably true that hafy are minority in japan, however, most of hafu (including me) don't see it as a negative thing.. if my parents taught me that the term hafu is bad and said negative things, I might have had a different view towards myself and towards other hafu people, but in my 30+ years of life in japan, i have never ever felt negative about being hafu and the term hafu.

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Having said that, some people have said that the hafu of Japanese and south east Asians, blacks are viewed differently ... and to some extent, I actually agree with that, but I still think it doesn't have anything to do with the term hafu... even if people use the word mix or double, that wouldn't change anything. The issue is not the term hafu. Those from south east asia are definitely viewed differently from the ones from western countries, and though it isn't just a problem in japan (the same exact problem arise elsewhere), it is a serious issue, and I do not deny it.

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tmarie -

there is no need to record the nationality of the parents when one parent is Japanese - and would have the birth recorded (usually) on the family register

I agree that there is no need to record the nationalities of the parents when one parent is Japanese (but how do you know that one parent is Japanese if you don't record the nationality of the parents?...) And the family register, which is a throw-back to another age when everyone in Japan was Japanese and the aim was to identify which family from where in Japan a person belonged to, isn't really meant to cope with furriners, that's why we end up as untidy footnotes on our spouse's koseki. Maybe the whole system will be brought up to date at some point in the future, but I'm not going to hold my breath while I wait. Inertia and the 'but we've always done things like this' factor is pretty rock-like. The koseki/birth registration system was not put in place to 'keep tabs' on mixed-race children.

If you're in a school where they make a point of pointing out the 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese and Korean children who are to all intents and purposes Japanese, with no potential language problems, then I can only surmise that you're at a school full of rednecks.... As for 'most of the mothers' being Japanese with foreign husbands, again it seems you're in an unusual setting. In Japan there are far more mixed marriages of a foreign woman with a Japanese man than there are of a Japanese woman with a foreign man.

From my experience hafu get treated very badly in terms of teacher expectations which I think is very unfair.

If that's true then yes it is unfair. Kids tend to live up (or down) to what is expected of them, so low teacher expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophesy that further cement the teacher's views. To balance that parents need to bolster their kids' self-confidence and nurture a healthy self-image (for which the parents themselves need to have self-confidence and a healthy self-image). This applies to all children, not just those with the 'wrong' skin colour, 'wrong' first language, 'wrong' address or parents with the 'wrong' occupation or 'wrong' marital status.

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that's probably true that hafy are minority in japan, however, most of hafu (including me) don't see it as a negative thing.. if my parents taught me that the term hafu is bad and said negative things, I might have had a different view towards myself and towards other hafu people, but in my 30+ years of life in japan, i have never ever felt negative about being hafu and the term hafu.

It's good that you don't see it as a negative thing, I don't see it as a negative thing whatsoever. All I was doing was pointing out that in cleo's post that when it comes to sociology and psychology that what she said isn't exactly true when it comes to society at large if you are in a minority.

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blacks are viewed differently ... and to some extent, I actually agree with that, but I still think it doesn't have anything to do with the term hafu...

hafu term has nothing to do with that view and you are correct about that, the issue though is how that view is expressed verbally and they use the term "hafu" to express that view.

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cleo: "If you're in a school where they make a point of pointing out the 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese and Korean children who are to all intents and purposes Japanese, with no potential language problems, then I can only surmise that you're at a school full of rednecks"

Sorry @cleo I really have no idea where you live but I think you may have either lived in a very insular area or you choose not to see things.

I am not a teacher I own my own business but in hard time over the past 19 years I have worked as an ALT as well as I have had many contracts working in non teaching position in mostly public schools from daycare/kindergarten to Universities.

And in just about every case all the "Hafu" and "gaijin" students have been pointed out and this from Kiyushu to Hokkaido but mostly I worked in Tokyo schools in rich areas as well as Shitamachi (where I live).

My children have been in Japanese Daycare and schools all their lives and for the most part have had only a few problems but from daycare, elementary, junior high to high school every single "hafu" or "gaijin" has been pointed out from day one in PTA meetings, now I have no idea where they get that list but they have it every year.

Your previous comment about pointing them out because maybe they need extra help or their parents are not fluent in Japanese may be a sign that you have been here to long and are starting to pick up the same bad habits of the Japanese and that is that only pure Japanese can learn Japanese properly.

My example that best point this out is that, my daughter for some strange reason loves classic Japanese and has thaught herself (with the help of her grandfather) how to read and write very old Japanese, every year since Junior high and now high school the Classical Japanese teacher have made the same remark " It is surprising at her knowledge and ability in Classical Japanese, especially seeing she's not fully Japanese"

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Noliving: "the issue though is how that view is expressed verbally and they use the term "hafu" to express that view."

Actually the I think this has become the problem the issues here is not the term of use on "hafu" but the treatment of them and what is means to be or what is the definition of "Japanese"

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limbo -

Sometimes I think I must live in a different Japan, too...:-)

My own kids have been in 'the system' from kindergarten all the way up to graduate school, both public and private, with me doing the necessaries at PTA, and I can honestly say I have never witnessed or experienced the kind of finger-pointing you and tmarie talk about. Of course there was never any need for my kids to be pointed out as hafu - if people didn't twig from the kids' looks, it was bloomin' obvious as soon as Mum showed up with blonde hair and blue eyes. But there were other kids with whom it wasn't so obvious, and in some cases it was years before I would have occasion to talk to the mother of a child and realise that the mother wasn't Japanese. (There are quite a few Filippina and Chinese ladies in my town) No one ever pointed out anything about the child.

The one time I did see a child singled out was a returnee ('pure') Japanese boy in elementary school - there was a notice on the school notice-board with a photo 'warning' staff and children that this little boy didn't speak much Japanese, and asking them to help him if they saw him in difficulties. The intention was obviously good, but I didn't think it was the right way to go about helping the lad. (I certainly do not believe that only 'pure' Japanese can learn Japanese properly! In my job I often find myself having to correct grammatical Japanese nonsense written by 'pure' Japanese...)

Your daughter's Classical Japanese teacher is a twerp, if you'll pardon my French. My son does beautiful calligraphy, winning prizes at the Prefectural level in junior high. He also won the school's annual Hyakunin Isshu taikai twice in a row. No one ever suggested there was anything strange about an obviously hafu boy doing well in traditional Japanese pursuits. People just acknowledge that he's a good all-rounder. In the Prefectural English Speech contest he was entered in the 'returnee' section, even though at that point he hadn't spent more than a few weeks outside Japan. Maybe that was hafu stereotyping, but he did win a prize nonetheless.

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what is the definition of "Japanese"

limbo - sorry to interrupt, but I just thought this was a WONDERFUL thing to question -- what makes someone "Japanese"... I used to wonder what makes you "american" and asked some of my American friends what the definition of American is, because America is made up with lots of cultures, races and etc.. not all Americans even speak English, so the debate was very interesting.

As I've said in my earlier post, I don't see any difference between my kids with round eyes & brown hair and other Japanese kids, but the way I see is because they are all kids before they are Japanese or hafu, or any other nationalities/race..

I'm very curious to see how and what Japanese children in elementary/ middle and high school students would say when asked what makes you japanese.. I might actually suggest to my son's teacher so that she can bring that up in the Doutoku class. There are several other hafu/mixed kids in my son's elementary school (chinese, korean, philipino, american, brazilian -- by the way, i know this not because school said anything about hafu kids but i personally wanted to meet with non-japanese parents) and i think this is a very interesting topic to discuss for kids :)

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Can someone more knowledgeable than me please clarify the part in the article that states:

Nishikura is aware of the contradictions in trying to define what it means to be Japanese: “Somehow the Japanese people have agreed that there is a definition, but no one has actually discussed what that definition is… One of my motivations for making this film is that I want to help expand that definition, whatever it may be, to include people like us.”

I'm not hafu, so I'm not sure if I really understand what's going on here. Maybe someone can enlighten me? Nishikura speaks of the Japanese as having a definition of being Japanese that needs to be expanded to include "people like us." By this I'm assuming he means "hafu," right? So the argument is, "hafu" are not really Japanese yet, but should be?

If the premise is that "hafu" are treated no differently than the people who consider themselves "pure," why bother trying to expand the definition at all? Why do these "hafu" feel like they are not totally Japanese? If the "hafu" really felt as if they were the same as everyone else in the country, what's the point? Is this just a case of a small, vocal group of "hafu" troublemakers?

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Your daughter's Classical Japanese teacher is a twerp, if you'll pardon my >French. My son does beautiful calligraphy, winning prizes at the >Prefectural level in junior high. He also won the school's annual Hyakunin >Isshu taikai twice in a row. No one ever suggested there was anything >strange about an obviously hafu boy doing well in traditional Japanese >pursuits. People just acknowledge that he's a good all-rounder. In the >Prefectural English Speech contest he was entered in the 'returnee' >section, even though at that point he hadn't spent more than a few weeks >outside Japan. Maybe that was hafu stereotyping, but he did win a prize >nonetheless.

I agree. My son's first grade teacher was like that. She expected him to make mistakes in Japanese, not be able to read etc. She was the only humdinger we had, though. There are some real jerks out there, but thankfully I've found them in the minority.My son is 3rd dan in kendo (so far) and it's never been thought strange because he's hafu that he can master something like that. He graduated top of his class in Uni and got certificates, a cash award and other things, and no one said 'Gee how did that hafu do that!'.

When we lived in ye old inaka there were a few ignorant remarks and questions deftly handled and left at that. Those who don't know anything about different cultures, well, they don't know and what are you going to do about the fact that said person's had his/her head up their butt their whole life? Their lack of education certainly isn't anything for me to remedy. Anyone vulgar enough to keep harping on it simply wasn't associated with. I chalked it up to ignorance or envy. With children, a clear 'You pull that again and you never come through my front door again' was enough 98% of the time.

Pointing out all the Chinese and Korean kids is a bit of a mystery, perhaps something that's done just between teachers. In 7 years of PTA I never saw it. Why it's done is something I'd like to know, is any reason given? Or is it just told to you and that's that? What are you expected to do, as a teacher, with the information?

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cleo and himanji: I am not a Caucasian expat nor am I one of those "white guys" I often meet here that the "Wife" takes care of the kids and school "I'm the man and that's women's work" garbage. ( I'm sure we can all find which here a those guys)

So I have been involved with every little bit of my children's schooling from the start and on my own for more then 8 years now, I am also the only non-Japanese male parent to show up for PTA or other school things ( most of the western foreign father don't even show up for the sports festivals) but I have found one thing when I am at the meeting the conversations are not the same as once I leave.

I live in an area with a lot of single mothers and I have made many female friends that include, Korean, Filipino, Thai, Russian and Japanese.

Not have a woman around and when raising a teenage daughter is to say the least a bit aukward and for many of these women not having a man to have a talk with a son who may be having problems of to go with them as support when there is a problem at school or at the ward office is also difficult.

So several of us have made are own little support group and when school meeting and PTA meeting happen and the "gaijin" leave we have our Japanese members who find out what is really going on.

That is how we found out about the PTA announcement that over 10% of the first year students in my sons Junior high were "Gaijin" and that they would have to keep an eye on things to make sure the academic level didn't go down!

The best part of that is ONLY ONE CHILD IS "GAIJIN" a Nepalese born in Japan all the rest are like my son MIXED.

jamal2609: Thank you for bringing that up again like you said if they (hafu) are included then why the need to figure out how they can be included?!

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they would have to keep an eye on things to make sure the academic level didn't go down

Sounds like pre-emptive CMA by poor teachers. Experiences in coping with double language, culture etc., from birth (OMG am I stereotyping??) makes hafus more likely to raise the academic standard, not lower it. I know my kids did, and my neighbour's boy, whose mother is from the Philippines, is also consistently in the top ten percent in his year. In the case of your single mother friends, poverty would likely have more of an effect on academic standards than genetics. Maybe the teachers can't tell the difference between poor kids and hafu kids, or don't care to.

But why did only the foreign parents leave the PTA meetings early?

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Going to agree with Limbo on this one Cleo. I worked in both public and private (as mentioned) in the 2nd largest city in Japan. I worked in areas with money and areas without and ALL schools behaved the same - pointing out the kids. In some cases there was a comment made about them being bilingual and whatnot but at the end of the day, the kids were pointed out.

As for nationality at birth, that info is there - be it from pension, health care... YOU said that the government isn't keeping tabs. I have said they must be because of the 1 in 30 comment and recording the nationalities. All I am pointing out. The government certainly IS keeping tabs and perhaps they don't need to hand out the surveys like other countries because they can go on births and immigration unlike out home countries where we don;t have a koseki system - which I do agree with you that it is outdated, needs to go but will take forever to get rid of.

These teachers DO shape these kids' future with their attitudes towards them. Some teachers were great and asked about their parent's country and whatnot. I did lessons on their parent's countries so they would take some pride in it. Sadly though, this isn't the run of the mill in terms of pointing out who is hafu. There are HUGE issues with this and the hafu I have spoken to who have become adults are all looking to get out of Japan OR (those I known born abroad) have said how hard it is to get a decent job here.

I also know a couple whose kids are Japanese by blood but American by birth. The amount of crap this family went through was shocking - mom and dad are Japanese, Japanese - and they dealt with some shocking teachers who assumed their kids didn't speak Japanese even though they grew up with Japanese as their first language. Japan has issues with discrimination but much like to koseki thing, I fear it will take ages to deal with it.

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Actually the I think this has become the problem the issues here is not the term of use on "hafu" but the treatment of them and what is means to be or what is the definition of "Japanese"

Ask xenophobic and sick towards Chinese and Koreans Ishihara, Mayor of Tokyo.

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cleo: "But why did only the foreign parents leave the PTA meetings early?"

A few reasons the main one in most of our cases would be work! Unlike the stay home moms most have to get to their jobs that are often not sympathetic to their family need. (that's a whole other problem why are all meeting held only during the day no evenings or weekends) Another reason is that over the years we realized that if we (foreigners) staid and they the "Japanese" had anything they wanted to say behind our backs (as typically Japanese mothers do on many things) they would just have an unofficial meeting in some restaurant or coffee shop and conveniently forget to tell certain people!So we leave early and leave our spy.

Cleo for someone who has been here a long time I am surprised that you don't know how things work even for the Japanese.

The mothers groups will rip people apart behind their backs and the only way you will ever know about it is if one of the mothers has a beef with the others then she will tell you what is going on pointing the finger at her rival in the group (even though she did just as much behind your back).

This does not just apply to foreigners it applies to everyone but it is for all intensive purposes not a group that non-Japanese are let in, so that just amplifies things for us.

If you do not know this then I don't know were you live because it is the dreaded "Koen Mama" syndrome times 2.

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Should ask people who are hafus themselves how they feel? I can tell you that I went to a Japanese school and never got any abuse as a child nor as an adult due to my ethnicity.

The point is. Many hafus like to be called hafus. Hafus are Japanese yet hafus at the same time. If some Japanese grew up outside of Japan then the school has every right to be concerned about their Japnese. Most 2 seis and kikokushijyous Japanese is not equivlent to a Japanese native. Despite having Japanese parents.

Leave this thread to people who actually got first hand experience due to being multi Japanese ethnic.

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Have to agree with neogreenjapan, looks like most of the people that are against the term "hafu" or "Hapa"(also used in Japan) don't appear to be of that group themselves.

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Amen to that, neogreen.

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neogreenjapan; What are you babbling on about?

And this situation does not just affect "Hafu" but their entire families because when problems arise it is us the parents that have to deal with it.

Also see "jamal2609 at 12:40 PM JST - 23rd August" he pointed out that in the article it is "hafu" who are looking to be included as Japanese! Interesting how all those in a rush to defend Japan and protect it from the big bad Gaijin have completely ignored this fact.

It is not I nor anyone else that has said they want to be included in the definition of Japanese, it is those who started this project and are the subject of this article.

So for all those who say they never felt there was a problem for them or there children, well please read the article again it seems that these people find that they and other so called "hafu" are not viewed as fully included in the definition of what it is to be "JAPANESE"

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Zenny11;"Have to agree with neogreenjapan, looks like most of the people that are against the term "hafu" or "Hapa"(also used in Japan) don't appear to be of that group themselves."

And I will say this again this article/project is not about the use of the term "Hafu" but about the treatment and acceptance of this particular group as actual Japanese.

Has anyone actually read the article?

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Yes I did and posted twice why I think "Hafu" have identity probs(covered in said article and ignored by posters) which were promptly ignored by everybody.

So get of that horse, IMO.

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im surprised there wasnt anything about having to be fed gohan written in there. Christ, I know foreigners born and raised in japan, speaking no english or other western language, being more japanese than some of the children i see being raised today. Its never about your looks, its who you are. when will people figure this out?

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@Limbo in Japan

Has anyone actually read the article?

Judging from the comments on here it looks like a lot of people tend to read the headline, skip to the last paragraph, then cherry pick the "middle bit" to suit their opinions.

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tmarie and limbo - I'm not for one moment suggesting that you haven't witnessed or experienced what you describe, I'm simply saying that it's outside my own personal experience. When one person has experience A, and another person has experience B which is the exact opposite of experience A, it's nonsense for either to say 'Everything is A, with no exceptions' or 'Everything is B with no exceptions'. Obviously we've had vastly different experiences, but I don't think that one has to negate or invalidate the other.

the hafu I have spoken to who have become adults are all looking to get out of Japan OR (those I known born abroad) have said how hard it is to get a decent job here.

I could introduce you to a number of adult hafus who are not 'looking to get out of Japan' - and a number of 'pure' Japanese who are. So maybe wanting to get out of Japan isn't necessarily linked to the hafu experience. My own son has a degree in international politics and is looking forward to spending some time working overseas at some point; but I'm sure he would not describe that as 'looking to get out of Japan' so much as 'looking to see the world'. (It's only people like Branded who want us to believe that the only reason folk ever want to go on foreign holidays is that they're desperate to escape their own awful country.) And I can introduce you to any number of 'pure' Japanese doing the shukatsu circuit right now who will tell you how hard it is to get any kind of job in the present climate, never mind a decent one.

As for the teachers who assumed kids didn't speak Japanese - what the teachers 'assume' is their own problem. If talking to the child, reading some of his written work, etc., doesn't correct the initial misconception then I imagine the whole class would have problems with that teacher, not just the returnees.

Unlike the stay home moms most have to get to their jobs

So the deciding factor was work/finances, not race, right? As you say, I have been here a long time and I have seen the same thing happening when every other mother in the class (except me) was 'pure' Japanese. I do know how things work. I've been to the unofficial meetings in coffee shops, and noticed who was there and who wasn't. People like to say that everyone in Japan is middle class, but it isn't necessarily the same middle class.

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cleo; I have always respected your opinion and observations since I started reading and joining JT commentary section because of your experience and life in Japan, you do not come off as a diehard "Japan can do no wrong" and I have never seen you attack anyone no mater how silly they may be.

But when it come to this subject I feel that you need to defend to much in a manor not like your other posting.

I may come off as some sort of Japan hatter but I actually have great respect for this country and many of its people after all it is the country of my children.

But I am not so blinded by the good that I cannot or will not see the bad.

I am glad you and your children had and still have and easy time when it comes to the issue of what it is to be Japanese, I also must say thank you for being civil in all you comments (unlike certain Japanophile and Japan bashers that resort to insults when they can't get their way).

I do wish all of us and all the mixed children around me as well as the mixed adults that are part of this project can one day find the same comfort and feeling of acceptance you and yours have.

For now I must deal with a situation that has one child feeling he must hide is identity in order to stay in Japan and possibly pursue a career in an artform he loves and is good at and another child that sees no future for her here as a non-pure Japanese and worse a female and has seen what is available to her mixed cousins back in my country of birth.

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limbo -

I'm not trying to defend anything, simply to describe my own experiences, just as you have described yours. When people post stuff like 'No hafu can be successful in Japan' or 'Hafus are not accepted in Japanese society', 'Hafus are a lower class', 'Hafus can never attain positions of authority' etc etc, they're not giving a true picture. Granted, not all hafus are successful - but neither are all 'pure' Japanese. Not all hafus are accepted in every part of Japanese society - but ask the 'pure' Japanese burakumin if they think that's a problem only mixed-race kids face. There is more at work than just genetics. (That doesn't make it OK, of course.) I don't believe that Japan is a non-discriminatory country at all, far from it. But as soon as people start talking in absolutes - using words like all, every, always, never, zero, etc - the pedant in me wants to stand up and say No, that isn't right. But I don't think that means I am blind to the problems; the negative of all isn't none, it's some; the negative of never isn't always, it's sometimes.

I would like to thank you too for always staying civil when discussing a topic that is obviously very personal to you. I hope you can help your children embrace and rejoice in their identities, that your son can gain the confidence to practice his artform in the way that best suits him, and that your daughter, if she does leave Japan, will see the move as a broadening of her horizons rather than as an escape. And that she comes back often to see her Dad.

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I'm not trying to defend anything, simply to describe my own experiences, just as you have described yours.

Maybe, maybe not. I think what maybe is bothering limbo is that you have been if you will in your posts implying that hafu's on average are treated like any other Japanese person, limbo on the other hand is saying or implying that the average hafu is indeed not fully accepted as Japanese and that there is active discrimination against them. What you have been implying, which you may not have intended, has been coming off as a defense.

For example:

When people post stuff like 'No hafu can be successful in Japan' or 'Hafus are not accepted in Japanese society', 'Hafus are a lower class', 'Hafus can never attain positions of authority' etc etc, they're not giving a true picture. Granted, not all hafus are successful - but neither are all 'pure' Japanese.

The whole point is whether or not the average hafu has the same chance of being successful as a "pure" japanese person. You are in some ways implying that yes they do while limbo is saying no they don't. Now of course in the quote above your whole point is about absolutes, and I understand that point but I think when people use absolutes they are really talking about vast majorities not 100%. For example if I say M&M's are chocolate your response would most likely be is "no some of them have peanut butter in them." Basically is this your implying, maybe not on purpose, that the average hafu is not discriminated against, limbo is arguing the opposite that the average hafu is indeed but limbo and others have been using absolutes when in fact what they really mean is vast majorities.

So the real questions that needs to be answered here is this, what is the average hafu most likely to experience in life in Japan? Is the average hafu just as likely to be a success in Japan? Are they going to be treated on average like a fellow "pure" Japanese?

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noliving.

So the real questions that needs to be answered here is this, what is the average hafu most likely to experience in life in Japan?

There is no real answer to that. IME & IMO both limbo and Cleo are right, I have had good experiences here where others in the same situation had bad ones.

Some hafu will be successful others won't but how much of that is due to his/her personality, etc vs being a hafu?

As I said before I think a lot of hafu problems are due to their upbrining and the environemnt in which they grow up. This is not a slant on anyone.

My View.

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One thing to additionally point out cleo, is you yourself use absolutes when you in fact mean vast majority. Here is an example:

This idea of a 'community' bugs me. I'm a member of the community I live in, not a member of some non-existent gaijin/Brit community. Regardless of yesterday's news, no one I know expects me to go prancing naked and drunk in the middle of the road.....No one expected me to dive naked into the moat of the Imperial Palace after that Brit tourist did so, was it last year?

Not a single Japanese person in all of Japan did not expect you to dive naked into the moat of the imperial palace or at least get naked and or be drunk? How can you be so sure.

As for the idea of community, they are many communities within a community, some of the most basic are age, race and sex. Other communities are wealth/poverty and politicians. You are a member of the community you live in but that doesn't mean people in Japan don't accept you as a member of the Japanese community, you are a gaijin and that makes you a member of the gaijin community, this gaijin community does not need to be some type of an official organization, just like how you are a member of the female community, there is no official organization that represents the female community of the world but you are a member of it.

In end though if you are part of a minority community within a larger community it is much easier to stereotype them and as a result anything that negatively reflects upon that single individual of the minority community will reflect entirely on the minority community not just the individual. It's unfair and can be cruel but it is also a survival skill of humans.

Moderator: Sorry, but you are going off topic. There is not one reference to "hafus" in your post.

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There is no real answer to that. IME & IMO both limbo and Cleo are right, I have had good experiences here where others in the same situation had bad ones.

Exactly there is no real answer to that, but you can find/gather evidence to support one answer or the other. You can do polling and gather statistics to find out if race relations or sexism or agism problem are getting better or getting worse.

Some hafu will be successful others won't but how much of that is due to his/her personality, etc vs being a hafu?

Exactly, so what do you do? You do research, you do surveys/polling. You then evaluate those results and then form a policy around those results to try and help deal or solve the problem.

As I said before I think a lot of hafu problems are due to their upbrining and the environemnt in which they grow up. This is not a slant on anyone.

Agreed, and when we talk about environment and upbringing how much of societies stereotypes and expectations play a role in the environment and upbring that they live in? If it is seen to be quite a bit you can pass laws and then enforce those laws along with doing public information campaigns to try and dispel myths/stereotypes of people.

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One thing to additionally point out cleo, is you yourself use absolutes when you in fact mean vast majority. Here is an example:

This idea of a 'community' bugs me. I'm a member of the community I live in, not a member of some non-existent gaijin/Brit community. Regardless of yesterday's news, no one I know expects me to go prancing naked and drunk in the middle of the road.....No one expected me to dive naked into the moat of the Imperial Palace after that Brit tourist did so, was it last year?

Not a single Japanese person in all of Japan did not expect you to dive naked into the moat of the imperial palace or at least get naked and or be drunk? How can you be so sure.

As for the idea of community, they are many communities within a community, some of the most basic are age, race and sex. Other communities are wealth/poverty, politicians, hafus, military , etc. You are a member of the community you live in but that doesn't mean people in Japan don't accept you as a member of the Japanese community, you are a gaijin and that makes you a member of the gaijin community, this gaijin community does not need to be some type of an official organization, just like how you are a member of the female community, there is no official organization that represents the female community of the world but you are a member of it.

In end though if you are part of a minority community within a larger community it is much easier to stereotype them and as a result anything that negatively reflects upon that single individual of the minority community will reflect entirely on the minority community not just the individual. It's unfair and can be cruel but it is also a survival skill of humans.

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As for the teachers who assumed kids didn't speak Japanese - what the teachers 'assume' is their own problem.

No, it is the student's problem, their family's problem, the school system's problem and so on. I am happy you have such positive experiences with having successful child who were not on the wrong end of the stick with this issue but based on my years of experience in various schools and work environments, I can't honestly understand how you have never seen hafu being treated differently. It seems to me as if you are "KY" with the whole thing as it was clear as day to me from the get go that a) foreigners are treated differently and b) hafu are treated differently. Again, glad your children did well but you might like to think of all the kids out there that do have issues. Again, and I will go back to this as it IS important, the government is certainly keeping tabs in the numbers as they keep tabs on the births of hafu.

Good or bad, regardless, hafu get treated differently and judged because they are hafu. If they didn't there would be no need for a "project" like the one in this article. Surely, you can't disagree with that. If there were no issues, there would be no "project".

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Noliving - I understand what you're saying, but I don't agree that either limbo or I are talking about averages. I don't believe any such creature as the 'average hafu' exists. He's talking about his experiences in a community where most (all?) of the hafus he knows are from single-parent families, where the single mothers are more or less excluded from the larger school community. He believes that the reason for that is race, and while I do not deny that may be a factor I suspect a more significant reason may be poverty. Why? Well, in my experience I've seen exactly the same thing happening in school communities where race was not an issue, where 'pure' Japanese mothers pulled the same tricks against other 'pure' Japanese mothers who did not have the time or the financial resources to play a full and active part in things like PTA meetings, while reasonably affluent foreign mothers like me were happily accepted into the group.

Moderator: Readers, please stay on topic, which is the Hafu Project.

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In Hawaii and in USA, mixed race Asians are referred to as Hapas. Hapas also like to call themselves Hapas. So I think most angry stuck in Japan foreigners need to eat a chill pill.

I tend to find these heated discussions funny. I welcome the even the most extreme views such as Branded for the entertainment value. I think as others have pointed out. I am sure there are many examples. Both positive and negative experiences for Hafus in Japan. When France won the World Cup in 2002, French could not state enough how successful the French multiculturalism was, now in South Africa when they performed poorly the French were stating everything what was wrong with multiculturalism. My point is that if people are happy then being Hafu is no big deal if people are not people will find all kinds of excuses to bash Hafus or foreigners bashing Japanese for being close minded.

I to this day have not been openly discriminated for being half Japanese. The day I do, I will report here and tell the person who ever discriminates me to tell that person to stick their head up where the sun never shines, and I will do so in flawless polite Japanese.

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@neogreenjapan:

In Hawaii and in USA, mixed race Asians are referred to as Hapas.

I think this only really happens in Hawaii. Hapa is a Hawaiian language term. I've lived in the continental US and I've lived in Hawaii, and I've never heard this term used outside of the islands.

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just an example.. i'm hafu japanese/france and i'm called hafu in japan.. when i am in france, i'm called JAPANESE because i've lived in japan most of my life and my first language is japanese.. they (people in france) say i am a japanese with a french father.. so, in their (well, not everyone, though) book, i'm not french even though on the paper i am legally french as well as japanese.

i do not deny that there are discriminations in japan, but i have not experienced discrimination against me just because i am not 100% japanese.

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c'mon people! Japanese people SERIOUSLY think that your blood type determines your personality!!! Given this starting point, being mixed race in a supposedly homogeneous society is a BIG DEAL!!! There is also serious paranoia about being overrun by Chinese and Korean minorities, what do you think they will expect from hafu's?

jamal2609: excellent point. the answer, of course, is that in daily interaction, the majority of Japanese people feel it is important to lable others. So if someone is hafu, then they will mention this as an important detail in conversations. Most times, the just cannot let it slide.

Also, despite many positive examples, I think MOST hafu's get treated differently (not saying good or bad), in school, sports, work and socially.

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I understand what you're saying, but I don't agree that either limbo or I are talking about averages. I don't believe any such creature as the 'average hafu' exists.

Sigh...the fact that limbo is using absolutes would suggest he is talking about the average or typical experience of a hafu in Japan, maybe more specifically a non white/asian hafu. Of course there is no such thing as a average hafu, what I'm talking about when I say average hafu is what is a hafu most likely to experience in a given situation again and again. For example lets say we are talking about the average white person talking to a black person and lets say 7 out of 10 times the black person uses a racial slur against the white person, the "average" white person is going to experience a racial slur. So when I say "average hafu" what I'm saying is that a hafu is most likely to be treated this way in such and such situation.

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cleo, neogreenjapan and a few others;

Here are a few quotes from the article and those involved in the "Hafu Project":

1-) “We all feel that Japan is changing and that we—as the people making the film, and the people who are in the film—all identify ourselves as kind of an emerging community of Japanese people."

2-) " and another will represent the most common demographic for hafu, an Asian mix, exploring what the issue of identity is like for someone who, on a superficial level at least, blends easily into Japanese society."

3-) “Somehow the Japanese people have agreed that there is a definition, but no one has actually discussed what that definition is… One of my motivations for making this film is that I want to help expand that definition, whatever it may be, to include people like us.”

Now I don't know about the rest of you or perhaps my understanding of English is not as good a I think, BUT it sure looks and sounds like these people (neogreenjapan not " angry stuck in Japan foreigners" but actual "HAFU" doing these projects) feel that they are NOT YET accepted as fully part of Japanese society.

Now I am not saying that all "hafu" are treated badly or always discriminated against, what I am saying is they are not treated the same and not viewed the same as regular Japanese.

NOW the proof of this should be obvious if you read what the people doing this project say, BUT if you need more, then just look at everyday life in Japan.

If someone of mixed heritage becomes a leader or stands out for some achievement in Japan, the fact that he or she is "hafu" will be prominently pointed out by just about anyone in just about every conversation concerning them.

"Talento", business men and politicians that are "Hafu" will have that fact pointed out over and over again even after 10, 20, 30, 40 years in their respective positions .

Cleo; this is for you, I know your daughter is a police officer, NOW be honest in answering this question. Q: If you daughter was involved in a serious incident that became major news in Japan do you think that the fact she is mixed would or would not be mention more then just in passing?

NOW to Summarise it seems clear form this article and the quotes given by the people involved in this project that THEY as HAFU do NOT feel ACCEPTED yet as fully part of JAPANESE society.

And if you find their own word not convincing then I would suggest that you take a little day trip before August 29 th and check out the exhibit at least, perhaps you may even meet some of those involved.

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Again, if hafu are not treated differently, no need for this "project".

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tmarie.

Again how much of being treated differently is true and how much is perceived or self-imposed. Same for any other type of discrimination.

Don't get me wrong but I met many people that said they were discriminated and everybody round slapped their forehead and called them ....

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Self imposed?? Sounds like blaming the victim to me. If these people are born in Japan, to a Japanese parent they are JAPANESE. No need for the word half to ever be used instead of "Japanese" as that is what they are by birth and nationality. By my experience though they are not thought of as "Japanese but hafu Japanese as in not real Japanese. Right there that shows they are treated and thought of differently. That is certainly not self imposed. There is no need to even talk about what it "means" to be Japanese for people born in Japan and raised by one Japanese parent. Why people (Japanese mostly) can't see to understand that is beyond me. I would certainly not think that someone born by a parent who is not Canadian/American/Japanese is any less Canadian/American/Japanese based on their parent's blood line or nationality. Japan needs to get over the "Us" and "Them" mentality.

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Tmarie.

Like my son they are japanese by birth and also X by their other parent(ME). And not all hafu are born in japan or raised there. Article above mentions quiet a few hafu that were not raised in Japan.

So your argument being.

One thing my dear grandfather told me is "The only problems you will face in life are of your own making." and you know what he was/is 100% on the mark.

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Zenny11: "One thing my dear grandfather told me is "The only problems you will face in life are of your own making." and you know what he was/is 100% on the mark."

Well Zen; if that were so then I guess somehow Debito Arudou's daughter must have some sort of negative thing going on then.

Because if my memory serves me well in the Otaru Onsen incident, Debito had 2 daughters with him at the time and the Onsen said they would alow one daughter in but not the other or Debito because they "Looked to Gaijin"!

Now if that is of her own making then I guess the next time a child is beaten and killed by their parent we should all just say "well it was all the child's own making" so forget it!

Yes I know the comparison is extreme but I am getting tired of excuses from everyone and that all this have somehow become a "blame the whiny "Hafu" loozer"!

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Bottom line is, no matter what...you really never fit in Japan if you are anything but pure Japanese. Yes, you may have some friends or people who are friendly toward you but overall not 100% accepted. You can be a novelty of sorts, get laid and all that, but when it comes down to bedrock, you have to accept the facts.

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Like my son they are japanese by birth and also X by their other parent(ME). And not all hafu are born in japan or raised there. Article above mentions quiet a few hafu that were not raised in Japan.

If the kids are not born IN Japan, they are whatever nationality they were born and raised in. Not too hard to understand that if I kid is born in Canada to a Canadian parent and Japanese parents, grows up in Canada... they are, wait for it... Canadian. If born in Japan, raised in Japan they are... Japanese. Hafu talk can be chatted about in terms of make-up and parents but when it comes to nationality, you can be dual, not half. "I have a mom from England and a dad from Japan " makes this kid dual nationality. If they grew up in England they are English, if they grew up in Japan, they are Japanese. Why can't people get over this BS instead of having to label and discriminate?

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"If the kids are not born IN Japan, they are whatever nationality they were born and raised in. Not too hard to understand that if I kid is born in Canada to a Canadian parent and Japanese parents, grows up in Canada... they are, wait for it... Canadian. If born in Japan, raised in Japan they are... Japanese."

I agree ! "kids" born and raised in the US are American... as are their parents ! There-in lies the problem in Japan. The children stand-out because it is the parents that will never be accepted into the society and are the real focal point of racism and discrimination. Most bullying of hafu children is targeting "the parents"- the child simply becomes the defender of the family ! And most small children are ill equipped to understand or rationalize the decisions their parents have made... thus "hafu" children become easy targets !

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If the kids are not born IN Japan, they are whatever nationality they were born and raised in. Not too hard to understand that if I kid is born in Canada to a Canadian parent and Japanese parents, grows up in Canada... they are, wait for it... Canadian. If born in Japan, raised in Japan they are... Japanese

agree, and so I was raised as a Japanese because I was born and grew up here in Japan most of my life and my husband who is also 1/2 japanese but grew up in American is considered American. Our kids, both mixed with Japanese, American and French are considered Japanese and they think of themselves as Japanese.

Just as I said in my earlier post, when I am in France, people think I'm Japanese even though my father is French, they see me as Japanese woman with a french father.

And in Japan, I have never felt my identity as Japanese was denied, at least I never felt that way.. maybe I'm lucky and my kids are lucky, but people in Japan (or people around us) see us as Japanese with mixed blood.. they're curious and they want to know about our other cultures, but we never felt we were not accepted because of our heritage.

When I hear stories like what Limbo said, it really surprises me not because I don't believe what he said, I DO believe everything he's said, but I also believe everything cleo said, and my situation is probably a lot closer to cleo's daughter.

our experiences are so diverse and it is very difficult to say it's positive nor negative because even though we live in japan and interact with japanese, everyone's situation is different. and hafus like me think of ourselves as japanese but not pure-japanese, but we (or maybe i should say many of us) actually like the fact we are japanese AND also something else.. something to be proud of and something unique especially in a country like japan..

sooner or later, without a doubt, there will be LOTS more hafu and 1/4 japanese kids running around out there.. and situations and experiences of those who are mixed, family members of the mixed kids and "pure" japanese will change, and i look forward to our positive future :)

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My son and I were invited to a summer camp for hafu only as 'they need to be around kids like themselves'. I declined, I found it offensive. They don't have something wrong with them...

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My son and I were invited to a summer camp for hafu only as 'they need to be around kids like themselves'

himajin - who organized the summer camp???? i also know a group called "hafu no kai" (hafus association).. organized by hafus in japan and they gather on a regular basis in tokyo... those hafus want to meet and be friends with people "like them".. it doesn't bother me much but it tells me that those hafus themselves actually think they are different from those "pure" japanese?

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add to that.. no "pure" japanese are allowed in the group.. makes me wonder if often enough, some of hafus themselves are actually creating distance between "pure" japanese and hafus..

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"hafu no kai"...... those hafus themselves actually think they are different

You may as well have associations and camps for people with small feet, people with big noses, people who prefer tea to coffee.....a bit meaningless but harmless until it starts separating one 'group' from everyone else.

Himajin, I'm intrigued - did you ask what on earth they meant by 'kids like themselves'? I also would find it highly offensive.

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cleo -

a bit meaningless but harmless until it starts separating one 'group' from everyone else

right.. they only allow hafus in the group, they don't want the hafus to bring their "pure japanese" friends which makes me think that those people are the ones who is creating distance between hafus and pure japanese.

to me, being hafu gives me a unique "personality" and sometimes i feel like i can be a "liaison".. and i love being hafu.. and i do not like to create distance and don't want to separate myself (and other hafus/mix) from the rest of the japanese.

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fishy - I think it's being you that gives you your unique personality! :-)

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Himajin, I'm intrigued - did you ask what on earth they meant by 'kids like themselves'? I also would find it highly offensive.

This was someone I had other connections with, I really couldn't press the issue, I just was busy every time we were asked. Just got me in the gut, it didn't sit right. The other thing I've heard said (by es-pats) is that 'You'd better make sure you have some foreign friends in your old age'. My Japanese friends are what, pray tell? Sometimes those who say they are treated differently are the ones who are causing the problem...

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tmarie at 04:01 AM JST - 25th August

that should go without saying. then again, a good reminder.

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Sorry, but I am slightly confused. If "hafu" means half, then does that not mean that it would only apply to a 50/50 ethnic relationship? Hence Nisei? I consider myself to be a "hapa" a word from Hawai'i that means portionately, mixed, somewhat, diverse, and of course from the English "half".

Take myself for example. I am a "Nisei" Swiss, I was born in Switzerland. I have German, Scandinavian, and British ancestory -- uh... as well as (ah hem) JAPANESE! Now because I am not FIFTY/FIFTY, does that preclude me from being considere to be a "Hafu" (meaning HALF)? Or does the meaning also take into account such as the term from Hawai'i "hapa" and include those with ANY amount of Pacific Island or Asian descent along with non-Asian descent as well?

In this instance, I really don't know whether to consider myself to be a "hafu" or not. Could someone please tell me whether I would "qualify" to be considered to be a "hafu" that I do in fact have SOME Japanese descent thought not necessarily 50%?

Now, insofar as some of the comments above, I am quite proud of my German, Scandinavian, English, AND Japanese heritage! So if indeed "Hapa" or "hafu" does describe my ethnic identity as such, then indeed there would be no reason not to have any pride in such! I AM proud of both my European AND Japanese heritage! It is what makes one HUMAN, the DIVERSITY! Ne?

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And I can introduce you to any number of 'pure' Japanese doing the shukatsu circuit right now who will tell you how hard it is to get any kind of job in the present climate, never mind a decent one.

Is it still as bad as a few years back?

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