Here
and
Now

opinions

Half and haafu

217 Comments
By Corey Gaskins

I am Japanese. In fact, I had been Japanese for 21 years before coming to Tokyo to live for the first time in 2006. You might not consider that very Japanese, but I think I’ve passed all the tests.

For instance, when I was 10 and living in Portugal, I endured hordes of people shouting “Hey Chinese boy! What are you doing?” I’ve been stopped from entering bars in various countries because of a “dress code,” while other underdressed Caucasian kids were let in. I’ve had people tell me, “Japanese people are weird. Have you seen that show 'Takeshi's Castle?'” They are referring to a TV program that was popular in the ’80s, despite the fact that we have well entered the 2000s.

Because of all this, I expected that when I moved to Tokyo, I would finally be able to blend into Japanese society. How naïve I was! I didn’t realize that I would have job interviewers sniggering at me because I spoke perfect Japanese, or neighborhood women in a store praising the shop clerk for “his bravery to talk to the foreigner.” Or having the dreaded question “Are you haafu?” being asked over and over again, even by strangers.

If I reply “Yes,” I am presented with a stream of other questions and comments — nothing is too personal for them to ask: “Is it your mom or dad that is the foreigner?” “Where did they meet?” “So, do you speak Spanish? No? Why not? But you’re fluent in English.” “Well, you do look Latino. Look at your body hair.”

If I say “No,” I am met with “Whaaat? Really?!? Oh my god! That is like the seventh wonder of the world!”

Some people, namely celebrities, do capitalize on their biracial origins, wearing the “We’re different” sash proudly. But that’s not me. I don’t get paid for how I look or how much I stick out in a crowd. When I moved to Japan, I was simply a recent college graduate struggling to fit in.

Everyone goes through an identity crisis at some point. But most of us haafu are constantly forced to confront the fact that we are “the outsider.” I’ve always accepted being the only Asian among my friends, and being stared at when we went out. Sometimes people would come up and ask me why I am not dating or hanging out with “people of my own race,” but they were quickly shot down by my friends for being racist. Just once in a while, I wished I knew somebody else who could understand how great it is to drink warm green tea after eating the undulated sweetness of azuki-filled mochi.

After the 1,000th time I was asked “Are you haafu?” and after repeating the same set of answers three or four times a day, I'd had enough. Not only that, I started feeling pangs of indignation when the locals seemed eager to point out how much I didn’t belong here — the very country I'd identified as my homeland since birth! I wondered how other haafu coped.

Well, ask Google and you shall receive. I found a local group of half-Japanese people on the web. Having never met anyone else like me, I seized the opportunity and decided to get together with a group of strangers.

Two years down the road, I am still hanging out with the people I met at that first haafu gathering. They were the first true friends I made, the first people I met in Japan besides my relatives who didn’t approach me to satisfy their curiosity and view me as “an interesting being.” I found people who I could go with to my first Japanese matsuri. People who I could rant to and who would understand my frustrations. Whether I was hanging out with half-Chinese, -Peruvians, -Greeks or -Palestinians, my race never became an issue — none of my new friends made a fuss when I was able to belt out a popular B’z song at karaoke. By befriending other haafu, I was able to be who I truly was, and not what my race was.

As I’m about to leave Japan, I would like to say thank you to all my friends who have kept me straight from the beginning. Friends who made me feel confident that, even if I ended up in a jungle, it would be OK if I was the only one enjoying green tea and wagashi.

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

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


217 Comments
Login to comment

Now you know what it's like to be Black/African American Don't worry about it if you ever come to Texas you are welcome at my place, no racial or color hangups here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you have a Japanese passport then you are Japanese. The passport doesn't say "Half-Japanese" and you don't have half a vote, therefore you are not a "half".

Instead of answering intrusive questions, maybe you could ask these ignorant people when their family moved over from Korea. Or just ignore them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Leave it to Google to bring people together. I'm also mixed (though zero Japanese) and met with very similar personal questions during my time in America (though Americans usually polite enough to inquire beforehand if their questions are crossing the line); however, in Japan I'm just lumped into the foreigner demographic.

From my experiences in Japan, it's the older generation (over 50) and country dwellers that typically alienate and they make up the vast majority of the population (exceptions exist, of course). I've had old men follow me around the train station spouting unhealthy things at me before. I've had teenage hicks call me a gorilla to my face, perhaps expecting me to not understand.

Like the author, it's the friends you make here and the numerous new experiences that cushion the blow. For every alienating encounter and ignorant question there's 3 other legitimately interested people or others seeking true friendship in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Scrote, you have a very good idea. Perhaps half-Japanese should only get half a vote. I think this would help protect Japan against the sort of phenomenon that is destroying other nations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But most of us haafu are constantly forced to confront the fact that we are “the outsider.”

I think the operative word here is constantly. But I don't think anyone really truly "feels" like an insider no matter how "pure" they are. I know I never have. From what I see, feeling like an insider is just an illusion created by excluding others. There is no euphoria for being on the inside except the initial joy of finally being included. Then you quickly feel like an outsider again because there is always something you won't be a part of. At least, that is my experience.

On the positive side, you always have something to talk about, no matter how tired of talking about it you may be. It beats the heck out of having nothing to talk about (look around, there are a lot of people like that). And I bet as many Japanese women are as intrigued by biracial (particularly part Japanese) as they are by whites or blacks. Why, just Saturday I was listening to women gush about how they would like to have a haafu baby, and it was because I had entered the room. You might not think that applies, but I think they would be just as hot to talk with the actual haafu baby (and do more than just talk).

Sometimes people would come up and ask me why I am not dating or hanging out with “people of my own race,” but they were quickly shot down by my friends for being racist.

Too bad, because you should have told them that since you are biracial, you get to date with both races. That would blown their mind for a bit. I say trump the sucker rather slap his hand.

Anytime I am confronted with such silliness, I always try to turn the table around. I immediately confront them with the question of whether they would like to date outside their race. I suggest I might be able to introduce them to someone. Usually shuts them down pretty quick. Its a gut reaction of any male to do anything to ruin your chances of dating while increasing his own chances (viewed as being the same things). It takes some coaxing to make them realize that the race excuse harms his own chances by excluding a lot of women for him too. And its a rare bird that does not want to date outside their race. In my experience, racists probably want to do so more, but have been sold on the illusion that its bad for whatever reason. Its fun to make them realize how silly they are being and make them admit how much they would actually like to date outside their race!

I did that to a Japanese guy once who was whining about how Japanese girls all like white guys and got started on a "separation of the races" tirade. I changed the subject to him dating a white girl. He was keen. The jealous smokescreen dissipated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh Gawd, I don't know which is worse, the article or the comments.

Just once in a while, I wished I knew somebody else who could understand how great it is to drink warm green tea after eating the undulated sweetness of azuki-filled mochi.

And I bet Corey can eat natto and use chopsticks, too. You have to be haaf to 'understand how great it is to drink warm green tea after eating the undulated sweetness of azuki-filled mochi'??? (The what sweetness?) Gimme a break. We don't need this on a Monday morning.

As for the comments, Scrote is the only one with any sense.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cory, Naive indeed! Did your parents educate you as to what you were in for when you returned to Japan? Before I married, I made sure my wife understood completely what we were in for when we had children; racism at every turn.

As to being tired of the questions, Scrote is on the right track. When I am asked if my wife is Japanese and my children "hafu", I shoot back; "Hafu? Which half? Right half? Left half? Top, bottom half?" Usually leaves them puzzling and silent.

What you have experienced is the result of Japan's vaulted education system and it's efforts to "internationalize" the country. The truth is there is no education or internationalization happening, only training to become more "Japanese".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gosh, my kids are are half Mexican and half Japanese, does this mean a bunch of idiots here in Japan and many countries will ask them idiotic questions? I hope not, but to me my kids are not half they are DOUBLE, little cute hybrids who will not just speak Japanese, Spanish and English, but hopefully help make this world a better place. Half san ganbattene!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Take the victim mentality and go back to the States.

Guess what, Corey, just about every perceived slight you encountered is something every foreigner in this country has run into. If you are a secure, happy person there is no reason any of it should matter to you.

99% of Japanese people are just being friendly when they ask about being haafu and all the other mundane questions. Your judgment of them as racist or ignorant is what keeps you from forming meaningful relationships.

Pretty much everyone in the world needs to grow a thicker skin, period.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Right on elbudamexicano!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the best way to defend yourself is by attacking. When a person asks you if you are half you then have to ask him/her the same. Maybe tell her that she doesn't look Japanese, ask her where her parents were born and, if she gets too anoying, "accuse" her of being North Korean.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best way to defend yourself is attacking? Incredible.

It comes down to what you want out of life, I suppose.

If you want to be offended all the time, create a victim identity, and have an excuse to b**ch and moan about how poorly you are treated, an entire life of just that is yours in Japan.

If you want to relate to people, form friendships, and even make money, the fact that you are a little different from most people in Japan is an incredible advantage.

I wish people who elect to attack would just admit that they are unhappy due to their own actions, not those of the average Japanese person.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

but to me my kids are not half they are DOUBLE

Might I suggest the term "dual"? "Double" could be a little troublesome if there is some unexpected weight gain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I started feeling pangs of indignation when the locals seemed eager to point out how much I didn’t belong here

That tends to happen when you expect THEM to change, while you yourself have decided you cannot/will not.

likeitis: very very interesting information!

shugotokumaru: "99% of Japanese people are just being friendly when they ask about being haafu and all the other mundane questions." Exactly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My new-born child is a DOUBLE, not a half. That's what I tell to every person calling him a half.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really good comment scrote. As is well known outside Japan, inside every Japanese there is a Korean who is struggling to get out (lol).

On a more serious note, I remember seeing an old NHK newsreel many years ago about the plight of children born between US servicemen and Japanese women just after World War 2. In those days, even the politically correct NHK used to use the term, Konketsu (mixed blood). Don't know if "haafu" is a change for the better or not, but things have changed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The very term is obnoxious in my opinion. As it instantly creates borders, separating 'them' from 'us' as obviously foreign blood is somehow different. The locals here can't get over the fact that being Japanese is not about where your parents were born but were you were born and raised. Nurture, not nature. That is how it should be, but I accept that it will never change, at least not in our lifetimes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ebisen - You should tell everyone your new-born is human.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The interesting thing is that it's only ever the parents who care about the term haafu. The kids themselves never seem to care.

I made sure my wife understood completely what we were in for when we had >children; racism at every turn.

As to being tired of the questions, Scrote is on the right track. When I >am asked if my wife is Japanese and my children "hafu", I shoot back; >"Hafu? Which half? Right half? Left half? Top, bottom half?" Usually >leaves them puzzling and silent.

What you have experienced is the result of Japan's vaulted education >system and it's efforts to "internationalize" the country. The truth is >there is no education or internationalization happening, only training to >become more "Japanese".

I'm sure you are bundle of fun to be around. Persecution complex anyone?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A person's identity is very complex and it can be a very slippery concept to deal with. But I really wonder if Corey knows what Persecution Complex is?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is a great place to "haafu!" To all of the hard-boiled foreigners I'd say at least be cognizant that Corey grew up in a Japanese household and is still young and maybe a bit too idealistic.

Having heard or been on the receiving (and giving) end myself in both America and Japan - it does push you to be exceptional or better and the smarter of us realize an ability to navigate both sides in ways that neither side truly can - there are so many doors that open up here.

My advice for haafu for whatever it's worth is: take full advantage of your unique position and have the strength to make the rules because being haafu, double or whatever - you're really both and neither and so dare to be the one to set the terms or for that matter reality. Or in the case of dealing with some of the unique aspects of life here be the one to decide whether you are Japanese (you are) and should partake in or receive the advantages of being Japanese in this country and realize you have a free pass out of some of the more difficult aspects - otherwise you might find yourself with a boss or "***hole" that places you in the exact opposite situation.

Ganbatte!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The interesting thing is that it's only ever the parents who care about the term haafu. The kids themselves never seem to care."

So the children of international couples don't face any type of discrimination here in Japan? And if they did, they wouldn't care?

I love a good argument, but it is tough to have one with someone who states opinions without any supporting facts.

You could start by explaining what a "persecution complex" is and how my comment exhibits it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why is the word "haafu" or question "Are you haffu?" even used to determine a persons ethnicity? Such stupidity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The word "half" or "haafu" as pronounced in Japanese, is racial and demeaning. It's English equivalent is the term "half-breed". It is endemic of the Japanese narcissistic society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hmm... I understand very well that when they make the questions they only want to be friendly, but they just have no idea of how rude it feel to some people of a diferent culture. Be an homogeneus country have some problems when we deal with the others.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why can't we all just get along?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Victim mentality. If you look for discrimination, you´ll always find it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I really think people are just trying to be friendly when they ask these sorts of questions. Not everything is discrimination!

People ask me all sorts of personal questions wherever I travel in the world, not just home in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would still have it easier than a black person regardless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They still show Takeshis castle on the Virgin channel in England, i like it. Most British think the Japanese are still like that. I know a bi racial kid here , who put up with a lot of bullying and beatings. He lives near me in the sticks, where different looking people are blatantly stared at and often abused.

It is hard for some of these peoepl, while people like Cleo ridicule them, because these things haven't happened to them ot theri family, it doesn't mean these problems should be swept under the carpet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sharky1: The word "half" or "haafu" as pronounced in Japanese, is racial and demeaning. It's English equivalent is the term "half-breed". It is endemic of the Japanese narcissistic society.

I would argue that the word is a simple shorthand of "half-Japanese half other". The middle ground shorthand being "half-Japanese" and often used by us. Then just further shortened to "half". Nothing sinister in the roots of the word. That is/was added later or imagined.

You might take exception to the "half-Japanese" part being singled out, but, no matter where they go, that is the part people usually want to know. The other half is assumed to be of the nation they are in. Or "half-Japanese" is said when being Japanese is relevant to the conversation. But note that the focus for us is nationality, not race. But in Japan, where geographical ignorance seems to be a matter of DNA sometimes, the focus seems to be on race, and the Japanese like to think they are special. So if you say "half-Portuguese" it does not say anything to Japanese people. They want to know your racial make-up, especially if any of it is Japanese. But Japanese being a nationality, and also, to the Japanese anyway, a race, makes things complicated.

I agree they should change that, because some people get carried away with the racism and make stupid ideas in their own head. But, like I say, I do not think the origins had anything sinister. The simple minded and the actually sinister will eventually pervert any words you choose anyway.

Further, being haafu is quite in vogue right now, so usually its not meant to be demeaning. The Japanese have their flaws, but I think they may have noticed, as I have, that neither they nor I have seen an ugly haafu yet. They all seem to be pretty good looking, ....so far....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've heard the word "double" suggested as a better term, the idea being that the person has at least two cultures to draw from. It's not so much a racial term as a cultural one.

Anyway, we all get this kind of crap just about anywhere. I had a older guy back home tell me "You're even starting to look like a chink".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

shugotokumaru: 99% of Japanese people are just being friendly when they ask about being haafu and all the other mundane questions.

Agree with Hannari that this is really good comment. And I will add that its a whole lot more fun to take such a moment to regale them with stories and truth and entertain them than to get all bitter about it.

Maybe explaining is not enough? Maybe you can never really understand until you have seen a black kid come and win the hearts of all the rednecks at a huge camping event? I had the pleasure of witnessing that. How did he do it? Well, aside from just being plain smooth, friendly and good-looking, he blasted us with black jokes until we could not stop laughing. He knew more of them than anyone there. Even the dumbest rednecks there quickly figured out that only a few of the jokes had any truth, and what ones did, only a small amount. And anybody who had any negative preconceptions of black people was, from that moment on, forever changed. Most will never have a simplistic view of black people again.

Use his example. Take those situations and make them yours. Make them light, and you too will smile.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good point - being "haafu" is definitely in vogue. Especially outliers like Anna Tsuchiya, Becky and Kimura Kaera.

To the tough-talking gaijins - I wonder how many can speak Japanese or are accepted at a level where they're privy to the comments "haafu" are trusted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tigertty: Haafu is not in vogue at all. There are token half as there are token foreigners in the media. Look at things objectively and with insight , rather than just seeing what is on tv or in a magazine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

or are accepted at a level where they're privy to the comments "haafu" are trusted.

So you're assuming that 'gaijins' aren't 'accepted' to the level that 'haafus' are? Just proves the OP's point about non-acceptance of outsiders.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tigertty

Actually, as I ruminate more on your post, it seems you're suggesting a sort of pecking order. You think as a 'haafu' you're more acceptable to the Japanese than a mere 'gaijin' (who, since they're just gaijin, obviously can't speak a word of Japanese can they?) I'm glad for you that you're happy in this grand, racial scheme of things, and that you have somebody (ie gaijins) to look down upon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When people ask about my kids being haafu or make comments on them I never get a feeling that they are being prejudiced. If anything, I feel interest and even envy from them. In fact, when most Japanese ask me why I married a Japanese, they ask in such as way that they are almost putting themselves down! (why??? would you maary a Japanese guy??!)

They are really interested in what languages they speak, how we live, etc etc. I agree with the comment that if you look for prejudice you will find it - I always feel more judged and stared at when I am having a bad day anyway!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about simple math to explain the meaning of 1/2?

1/2 is only 50% of the whole and can never equal the whole, therefore always less valuable.

The true meaning of the word surpasses any innocence(ignorance) behind it's use by Japanese in describing those who do not have 2 Japanese parents.

Every person of mixed parentage or friend there of should make efforts to stop it's usage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront: Haafu is not in vogue at all.

My experience says it is, both on TV and in real life. That is not to say that EVERBODY loves a haafu, but that is not what it means to be "in vogue". A lot of people are curious about, envious of, or desirous of the company of haafu right now. But of course, if haafu, duals, doubles or whatever you want to call them bitterly walk away or let the tiniest misconception get them all disgruntled, they won't benefit, and it will seem more like a curse than a vogue.

But let me assure you, haafu are in vogue right now in the minds of a great many Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Definitely in the fashion and entertainment industry - the look has almost always been "in."

Yes - if we are going to be honest - haafus have a better chance of making the jump to becoming a member of the "tribe" and there may be more times I think when we are asked (if not occasional pressure) to show why we are more Japanese or explain why Japan is better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Taiko

I think we are all individuals and should be judged on our merits. but are you telling me that some people don't look down on people (whether deserved or not) that are different which I'd add is universal and cuts both ways.

Part of it is just the reality of Japan. I once asked my Religious Studies professor if she considered Shinto a bonafide religion on the level of Buddhism and she replied, "Yes, if you're Japanese." I thought that summed it up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

many haafus have made it in sports and entertainment.they are the envy of many Japanese.Just waiting to see when they enter politics and i will pop a champagne.I know my son will take this unique opportunity to achieve greater heights.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I am Japanese" case closed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Some people, namely celebrities, do capitalize on their biracial origins, wearing the “We’re different” sash proudly. But that’s not me. I don’t get paid for how I look or how much I stick out in a crowd."

it sounds like envy. you could have reconsidered getting paid for looking different on these parts, but your thinking is Japanese and you said yourself that you are. Case closed

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have to side more with Tigertty rather than the J-Haters at this juncture. Japan like any country will always have some problems, but if you are going to put on persecution-colored glasses, you will see persecution and racism everywhere.

My daughter is 2 years old, and yes, my wife gets the "Haafu" question all the time. But its always accompanied by if not preceded by "Oh how cute!" Its a conversation starter, not a spitting epitaph. The term refers at least 90% of the time to being half-Japanese, half-other country person (usually white or black because half Japanese/half korean or Chinese don't get noticed as much).

As Tigertty said, take the term and the freedom from obligation and run with it. My co-worker is Chinese-American. He is constantly plagued by women who want to date him. They said he is handsome, and has better manners than the Japanese men they have to deal with. And he is NOT in the entertainment industry.

Its true to an extent that there will always be an outsider-ness to having mixed-racial background, but it isn't limited to Japan, or even Asia. I spent some time in Germany during my college days, they were contemptuous of those coming from Austria, and need we mention the hatred between France and Germany? EU aside, don't bring a German home to a French Family, or vice versus. And they all have the same skin color. When I was in H.S. in the states, I had to deal with bullies, too. We had the same skin color, etc. But I wasn't on the football team or a jock, he was. He used that to push his way around with everyone. My "pure-Japanese" wife had to deal with bullies too. Girl-bullies who criticized her for not being stylish or not being as tall, as long-legged, as fashion-oriented, etc. as they were.

So, if you worry about being different, you always will be, regardless of skin color, height, nose shape, face shape, body shape, ability in class or sports, or any number of reasons. Bullies will bully for any reason at all, skin color is only one point.

So grow some thick skin, put on a smile and start a conversation, you might make a friend. "Haafu," kids have more experiences, and more abilities than those around them. Be proud of it, not ashamed of it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What USAKuma said. (Still haven't worked out if he's a bear or a devil. Haafu-bear, haaf-devil?)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The glass must be either half-full or half-empty -it can never be both (as anyone can see -this is a pure logic play) =Prove your half-ness, I don't believe it.

I believe you are half-empty when you should be half-full. (Japanese feel sorry for myself (I have suffered!!) effect) -Therefore I understand your half-full arguement very well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For sake of better arguement: Are you haafu? -Yes, I am the better half. -You can trust me on that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So many here pathetically saying ignore any prejudice. See if it hurts your family and causes a child to enter a psychiatric hospital. Thinks it doesn'T happen, think aagain. It is xswept under the carpet. If you are influenecd by Japanese media and tv, that is no education for REAL life.

JUst because some are not victims , a hugh amount are, but it is not discussed in the media, because as anyone will tell you "we Japanese are not racist", that is why they have no discrimination laws.

If you don't fit the part you are never truely accepted by the majority, just tolerated like foreigners are. Always some will like "haafu" and always some will like foreigners, but most don't.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

while people like Cleo ridicule them, because these things haven't happened to them ot theri family

I think oftentimes the point is that someone who's in Japan for a couple of months has everything all figured out, Japan is a pit of either perversion or racism, and those who are here 25, 30 years are told they have no idea what they're talking about. JT is full of such people, and it gets tiring after a while. You see a helluva lot more than your own family in 30 years, who lives in a bubble, as such comments imply?

My son is 'haafu' and although there was teasing in elementary school, I remember being teased in school as well, an American in an American elementary school. Son is doing fine, just graduated university and is starting a job in April, has a lovely girlfriend of four years and is going for another dan in kendo soon. None of the Japan-mockers would ever believe it though...he must just be secretly miserable (rolls eyes).

As for Mr. Gaskin, I fail to see how his experiences were so much worse just because they occurred in Japan. It seems to me that although many people asked him questions which he tired of, it seems that by his own admittance his experiences elsewhere were worse--

"For instance, when I was 10 and living in Portugal, I endured hordes of people shouting “Hey Chinese boy! What are you doing?” I’ve been stopped from entering bars in various countries because of a “dress code,” while other underdressed Caucasian kids were let in."

He didn't expect Japan, a country he'd never visited, to feel like a foreign country. A little amai, I think. 'Blend in' with a completely foreign name (if that indeed is his real name)? Looks Japanese but has a foreign name, well, yuh people will ask you questions. Might not have if he were named Taro or something.

"I was able to be who I truly was, and not what my race was."

But the whole point of the article was that he came to Japan to be what his race was, and nobody would let him, hence the angst.....

Go figure.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

1/2 is only 50% of the whole and can never equal the whole, therefore always less valuable.

It is exactly this sort of inaccurate "over-thinking" about the many meanings of a word rather than its intended meaning that this debate does not need. The term DID NOT come about as some underhanded way of stating a person was less valuable. You are just reading that into it either because you want to or you saw someone else do it.

It is completely obvious that the origin of the term only had to do with describing one half of a dual nature.

Every person of mixed parentage or friend there of should make efforts to stop it's usage.

The easiest way to do that is to come up with a new term and make it popular. But if you are suggesting we just ditch the ideas of being multi-racial or made up of different nationalities, its just not going to happen. Everyone should take pride in all aspects of their origins, and never ditch one for the other or seek to cover one up. Other people won't let them do it anyway, so may as well make the most of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Himajin: Seems like you are referring to me. I have fresided in Japan for over a decade and have been withy my japanese wife for 20 years. Not quite 2 months eh.

I have seen the racilism towards people who are differnet including those born to foreign parents at fist hand.

Care to point the finger again at me and about my knowledege and experiences in Japan Himajin?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

japanese people shortern all their words... dont get offended so easily just like they shorten mcdonalds, starbucks, etc they shorten other other phrases like "half japanese" to half

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not half but I understand the struggle to fit in the japanese society...its so not fun sometimes...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think halves have better life in Japan than 100% foreigner. I am so sad...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Double" doesn't solve the problem. If half is denying half of your heritage, "double" is denying your heritage too. Why not "quadruple," to include your grandparents? Why not "octuple" to get your great-grandparents in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront, I used your comment as a spring-board for a point I was trying to make, I was not saying that you were here for only two months...again,

"I think oftentimes(any given day on JT, not even this particular thread even) the point is that someone(not necessarily you, TNF) who's in Japan for a couple of months has everything all figured out, Japan is a pit of either perversion or racism , and those who are here 25, 30 years are told they have no idea what they're talking about. JT is full of such people(plural, not you), and it gets tiring after a while"

I did not mean to give the impression I was singling you out. People who don't even live here spout off about how lousy Japan is. Which is why, I suppose some of us who are here a long time and have kids out of college, perhaps married, even with kids, get sick of hearing what a hugely racist Japan is and how it's just impossible to live here happily.Click on 'Recent' and read for about 30 minutes, you'll see perhaps what I'm talking about.

Again, sorry to not have worded it better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just quit with the intricate mathematics altogether, and get on with living your life. Go looking for discrimination and you'll find it everywhere.

Wherever you go, you'll find people who don't like your ethnic makeup, or gender, or religion, or political leanings, or your height, the distance between your eyes, your choice of dog, the length of your skirt or cut of your jacket. It's their problem, not yours.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Go looking for discrimination and you'll find it everywhere.

I think discrimination was the last thing Mr Gaskins was looking for.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo: This discussion regards Japan, not wherever you go.

If a group of kids batter a haafu kid in Japan and he is hospitialised, is taht the bullies problem. Maybe your life is flowers and rosies, but i and some i know have experienced hell because of discrimination, maybe because we live in a very isolated area, and the school don't stop it, and the police don't care!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and get on with living your life

That's fine if you're already lying in the bed you've made for yourself (and your family...) Wherever one ends up, one should make the best of it.

However Mrs Taiko and I want to explore this 'haafu' issue fully before we make our next important life-decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront -

If you live in a place where kids are regularly beaten up by bullies I would say it was a local problem and one that needed dealing with. Come on, if people are being hospitalised it's assault and battery, the police can't 'not care'.

It is not the norm in Japan for kids, haaf or otherwise, to be 'battered' at school. I also live in the sticks, and while there have been problems at school with bullying, it has never involved violence or haaf kids on account of their haafness.

The worst the writer of the article has had to 'endure' appears to be questions about his parentage - oh the horror! - and what languages he speaks. And no one to share his azuki-filled mochi with.

I got more teasing at school in the UK for being a chubby little specky-four-eyes than my kids ever got in Japan for being haaf.

That's not to say they haven't had their share of the kind of questions Corey complains of. I suppose they just had no problem telling people their Dad was Japanese and their Mum was British. It's never been any kind of problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fwiw, I find "double" sounds creepy. Double what? Double heads? Double legs? Why do people think that some politically correct newspeak like this would fix any problem that there is?

"Half" is simply a description. My father father half-Polish, which makes me 1/4 Polish.... and not "one and a quarter" or such nonsense. Sheesh!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

However Mrs Taiko and I want to explore this 'haafu' issue fully before we make our next important life-decision.

Please tell me that decision is already made, but you are just deciding whether to do it here or elsewhere. Please mix freely and curse anyone who has a bad thing to say about it outside of warning you of the stupidity of some people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have heard a couple calling my kid "Mix".I think it is better than calling them half.half of what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jbro888,

I think the point is not that they shorten the word, but the fact that they use such a term in the first place. It's similar to half caste, which is word that belong is the 20th century, and is frowned upon in my country, and would certainly never be heard on TV, but the use of haafu is acceptable here it seems. Then again, to the locals, this country is made up of only one race, so the very idea of ethnicity/racism is lost on most.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo: The police though pressurised refused to press charges. Each family was made to pay compensation of 20,000Yen. I don'T know if this practise is common in Japan, but as for being in the sticks, i am 30 mins from nearest staion by car and 20 for nearest supermarket. My experiences may not be common in Japan, but theer has been a lot of violent bullying of foreign kids here, with the authourities usually putting it down to horse play.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yeah, sadly the half-nationals are noticed, but for the worse. Mostly. Of course there are those brainless examples which the not-hear-not-sees love, such as the tarento Becky. However your next-door half does know hell when he goes to school, go shopping etc. That´s why I can not bring myself to be a father while here in Japan, never! I want my child to be happy, to grow up without having to deal with discrimination problems even at places like kindergartens. For those who love to be blind, we have to admit this problem and discuss it deeply. Have we forgotten that just last year, in 2008! a high-school! demanded that all foreigners had their hair dye black, because the light colors were ¨not natural to the Japanese¨?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

interesting lostinnagoya, where can i find this article??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am looking for it on the web. This article was in a national Brazilian newspaper and one of my students brought it to the classroom. He was spitting fire! I will paste the link here, as soon as I find it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And this reminds me of one very interesting point: there´s a whole lotta world outside the English-speaking community that most people just don´t have any idea about. Our world is shiny next to theirs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

actually some of my friends of mixed ancestry are very talented but kinda paranoid freaks because of the way they've been persecuted to conform. Same for "kikokushijo" -Japanese returning from extended stays abroad - but relatively speaking all seem to be doing good.

My kid plays baseball and is totally accepted by the other kids and has a coach that goes out of his way to make make sure he's keeping up. He also gets praised by the mothers and the gals for his sandy brown hair. But for my peace of mind, he's just been promoted to a brown belt in karate and has always been taught to be confident and comfortable in his own skin.

To be balanced I can see it grating on him when old adults try to speak cr*p English down to him or compliment his native Japanese and by my reckoning he should go to St. Mary's or other int'l school for junior HS.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Likeitis;

"It is exactly this sort of inaccurate "over-thinking" about the many meanings of a word rather than its intended meaning that this debate does not need."

Noone would ever accuse you of "over-thinking"!

"The term DID NOT come about as some underhanded way of stating a person was less valuable."

So where DOES the term originate from, Likeitis? Please explain its' origins and/or why it is used.

"You are just reading that into it either because you want to or you saw someone else do it."

So, first I was "over-thinking" but now I can't think for myself?

Got it.

"It is completely obvious that the origin of the term only had to do with describing one half of a dual nature."

In my best Nihon-go..."EH?"

One half of a dual nature, what is THAT supposed to mean..BTW..it is completely obvious who and what you are; have you listened to Rush today?

"The easiest way to do that is to come up with a new term and make it popular."

Well, several have been suggested on this thread, not that you would have noticed.

"But if you are suggesting we just ditch the ideas of being multi-racial or made up of different nationalities, its just not going to happen. Everyone should take pride in all aspects of their origins, and never ditch one for the other or seek to cover one up."

Again, "EH?"

Who suggested we shouldn't be proud of our origins or heritage? My children are completely bilingual and are completely aware of all their origins; their cross cultural names remind them of their multiple origins everyday.

Also, many here are suggesting that the discrimination and racism that is so prevalent in Japan needs to be addressed.

"Other people won't let them do it anyway, so may as well make the most of it."

That's right...make the of best being discriminated against....suck it up.

You are a real piece work my friend...don't hurt yourself coming up with a reply.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I find it funny that the writer of this commentary found it necessary to join a group that discriminates based on dna ethnicity while claiming there is something wrong with others treating him differently. Isnt participating in a group that uses racist criteria for joining in fact perpetuating the very racism that the writer complained about?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

lostbreed: Your post is false. If i were to join an English club, it does not mean we discriminate against non English, just that we share the same hobbies and like.

Think about it for a while and you might get it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Im saying that the writer cannot have his cake and eat it to. If the group requires a precondition of a particular race and he participates in the group then he cannot complain when others in the world outside the group treat him differently because of his race.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

stbreed: You still don't get it mate. Wish schools still had debating societies like when i attended school.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its actually quite clear really.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its a shame that kids are still being picked on for having genes that happen to make them look different from others. In my nieghborhood, a pretty significant number of the kids I see are mixed Japanese/some other nationalality. My daughter's class is make up of 20% mixed kids and they are all treated just like everyone else. I think some areas are just worse than others when it comes to discrimination. That is a darn shame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lostbreed raises a good point.

If by 'English club' Thenewfront means 'a club for people who speak English', then that is not dependent on race or nationality; if he means 'a club for people who are English' then that is dependent on race or nationality; there is no reason in the world why people of non-English nationality should not share the same hobbies and like. You don't have to be English to enjoy cricket or tiddlywinks or morris dancing, or to speak English. Any more than you need to be at least half Japanese to enjoy green tea and manju.

By looking for and joining a 'group of half Japanese people 'like me'', Corey is indulging in exactly the same kind of racially-based discriminatory practices he accuses others of.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo: You know as well as i do, that if someone set up anEnglish club for those who are English and have thingsin common, they would welcome anyone who is interested in their club. You know that full well. Many Japanese wouldn't allow foreigners into a Japanese club and that includes half, and Japanesze law allows thsi to happen.

BTW English do not unlike Japanese condiderthemselve a race. Maybe some here have been living in Japan for too long and have lost touch with changes to their own country , wheer the majority despise prejudice and demonstarte aggresively against it.

I do not see any demonstartions by Japanese proteseting ill treatment of foreigners or half, why? Because tehy either are totally ignorant or apathetic or are racist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe I like Takeshi's castle, maybe I don't like karaoke, maybe my cup is only 1/2 full.

Does any of this make a difference: No

And just maybe I tell 1/2 lies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Strangely enough, I am wondering why Debito hasn't joined this thread. He was the one who late last year posted on another J-News site his attempt to eradicate the word Gaijin from the Japanese language for much the same reason that people seem to have a problem with Haafu on this thread.

It doesn't matter what is being called. If Corey has a problem being half-Japanese, half-Portuguese, it's likely it started long before he touched down in Japan. He doesn't go into his parenting, but I am guessing that his parents didn't help figure out how to deal with racists. He seems to have put Japan on a high pedestal expecting to be welcomed as solely Japanese. When he didn't get the anonymity he sought, he turned sour.

That's a common theme I've seen over my 10 years. People come expecting some perfection, and when they don't get it, or when they listen too long to those who complain bitterly about Japan, they start seeing misery everywhere. If they teach that to their children, then their children will expect it as well.

My advice (as has been already said by others as well) is stop with the persecution complexes. If you try to grow a thicker skin and start socializing, and more importantly stop looking for the racist boogieman, you'll likely have a better experience.

p.s. to cleo. I originally signed on has US Akuma (devil), but I remember when my daughter was born, you mentioned that I was now a papa bear ala USA kuma. I definitely fit that image, so I guess I am now a haafu akuma and haafu kuma.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront -

if someone set up anEnglish club for those who are English and have thingsin common, they would welcome anyone who is interested in their club

Fair enough. It would be a group for people who are interested in English things, right? Cricket and cream teas and morris dancing? And do you think the same can be said for Corey's 'local group of half-Japanese people'? What kind of things are 'half-Japanese people' interested in that brings them together and that others might be interested in?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How to explain... Well growing up I never really fit in myself. Being mixed meant that for the large part people of my community couldn't accept me vis a vis a cultural barrier to those who didn't look like "us". Friends come from shared experiences, and as such I need people around me who have experienced similar situations. People who are not half do not experience the same ambiguity of being and belonging that we experience. In very much the same way that a caucasian in the US cannot know what it's like to be discriminated against as a black person. BTW just because he was reaching out to this group to trade war stories if you will, doesn't mean that a Japanese person or non-half couldn't join thier group of friends. I don't recall him stating that this was an organization or anything, so I assume that all intelligent tolerant minds would have been welcome. All he's stating here is that people who can relate to you can be a healing force.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo- Maybe they'd be interested in hearing about the issues that concern their fellow human beings... Or maybe just wanting to expose themselves to different cultures.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BTW, I am sick and tired of all the passive stoics telling people to just lay down and take discrimination. "It's not your problem it's thiers." That's the lamest. When will it be your problem? When your kid comes home crying because some intolerant wastes of space beat him/her up, or bullied him/her? Or they kill themselves a result of the mental trauma? The level of danger associated with being a minority here is less than where I came from, but that doesn't mean it'll always be that way. Stand up when the ugly head of discrimination rears. Don't just lay down and take it like a good victim.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Try wrapping your head around this-- I'm half-Japanese, half American. My mother came to the US at 28 years old when she married my father. She still lives in the US and I speak and read Japanese. When we get into arguments, she screams at me, "At least I'm pure-blooded!" I can't even begin to deconstruct that...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ANOTSUAGAMI, If someone wanted to know what it felt like to be discriminated against, he just has to live in Japan for a year. What I also found interesting is that the Japanese don't feel that they discriminate. Eventhough, a Japanese student who studied outside of Japan would be considered tainted and not really Japanese anymore. Don't forget the saying to paraphase,"if a nail stands up, hammer it down".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"At least I'm pure-blooded"

OMG I can't believe it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He seems to have put Japan on a high pedestal expecting to be welcomed as solely Japanese.

i had the same impression.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is anyone else a little turned off that he doesn't consider his first friends, his "true friends"?

I wouldn't be so quick to say all biracial kids have bad experiences, I'm aware of it, but I got no flak or teasing for it here in the US at all.

If it helps, I identify myself first by my nationality. If my life started elsewhere, like say Kenya, I'd say I was Kenyan despite not looking at all like the nation's ethnic majority.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront "Because tehy either are totally ignorant or apathetic or are racist." Sounds a bit bigoted..

USAkuma "He doesn't go into his parenting, but I am guessing that his parents didn't help figure out how to deal with racists.....and more importantly stop looking for the racist boogieman, you'll likely have a better experience." Exactly. There are racists everywhere in the world. This is not a problem that is only in Japan and for someone to come here and expect Japan and Japanese to be any different to any other race in the world is ridiculously naive.

ANOTSUSAGAMI, "People who are not half do not experience the same ambiguity of being and belonging that we experience." I disagree, you are trying to say that cultural experience is dependent solely on DNA and unless you are half you cannot experience the same discrimination. So the racism and problems of assimilation in the un-international cultural belt of Japan a 1/4 Japanese person experiences growing up is different than a halfbreed? What about how about a full Japanese person adopted by white Americans but raised in Japan? I could go on and on, the point is that the racism and hardships we all face growing up is the same no matter where international families are started and raised and to say that you have to be half something to experience this special racism is silly. Racism is racism no matter who you are .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry to hear this gentleman gave in to the status quo of mainstream Japan. Although I am not Asian, when I speak Japanese in this country to the regular folks, I get a stare of awe that often blurs their hearing senses and must repeat myself to get their attention again. Yes, it is 2009, but you would never know it here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Being mixed race is hard anywhere. I was a grey eyed, sandy haired kid with caucasian skin color and part African American roots. My home town was split racially between White, African American and Hispanic communities. I was soundly rejected by kids of all three and grew up feeling outside.

So when I came to Japan it didn't bother me so much. I became generic gaijin and being outside was status quo for me and made adjusting here a bit easier.

The frustration remains though. What part of my heritage am I expected to favor? What part to reject? If mixed race people are to feel a sense of identity, then we are often forced to abandon some aspect of who we are to identify with something others can wrap their heads around. Which we cannot do without suppressing a part of who we are.

The fact is that mixed race people are a growing population world wide. Our lives underscore to foolish racist stupidity of trying to fit everyone into neat little racial boxes. And it demonstrates that racism is far more present than we like to admit.

Just look at the chatter about President Obama and where he fits racially. "The first Black president." Yes. and No. He is also a White president. And most importantly also a Mixed Race president.

We need to grow up as human beings to see race as nothing more than family history. And not as definitions of who we are or where we belong. We don't choose our heritage. But we have a right to respect all of it. And we have a right to take our place among others in society with equal rights and respect.

Sadly Japan is far away from this enlightened understanding. Let us hope for better days when race is not the issue, but simply character.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I often think 'haafu', like 'gaijin', is just social laziness. People who know full well where I'm from will still call me a gaijin; people who don't know and ask, still call me a gaijin afterwards. If I had a kid whose father was Japanese, I would explain that the child is Anglo-Japanese, or a Japanese-Pole (depending on how I was feeling at the time) and thereafter I would absolutely reject 'haafu' (a word I really dislike). Anyone who continued to call nmy kid a 'haafu' is just plain rude.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tkoind- Right on. 100% agree. --"If someone wanted to know what it felt like to be discriminated against, he just has to live in Japan for a year." -- This is true. Caveat: The discrimination experienced here is not as violent as elsewhere. One only need to look at the US to see a marked difference in the type and intensity of discrimination experienced by minorities there and minorities here. In recent years in the south of the US, there were lynchings of minorities and church burnings. To my knowledge none of that happens here to minorities here. Sure you get your pugnacious drunken salaryman bouts, but nothing that really ammounts to that same level of terror.

"What I also found interesting is that the Japanese don't feel that they discriminate."-- Most racists don't. They think they are following natural law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lostbreed-- You're right. I guess I should ammend my statement to say those who look like they are of mixed parentage will experience the same kind of discrimination in the US that I experienced. How's that? That even covers 1/4s and 1/8s. How's that for inclusive? The fact of the matter is, my asian features meant that the black kids couldn't accept me, and my dark skin couldn't be accepted by the asian kids. As a result, I got it from both ends. You are also right in saying that culture isn't based on DNA. However, in a culture where blood and how you look is used to determine your worth, seeing as DNA determines how you look, it falls to DNA to determine how you are treated, and how you experience said culture. BTW, your 100% Japanese raised by a white couple here doesn't fly. as 100% Japanese they would experience no racial discrimination until someone found out about the parents. They wouldn't have incidents at the conbini or at the koban on thier bike.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

vettegirl: "At least I'm pure-blooded!"

Yes, I suppose that truly is the least one can do.

You should tell mom that pure-bloods, of any species, are more prone to defects, such as mental instability, having a more narrow gene pool to choose from. The mixed bloods, having a wider gene pool to choose from, tend to be genetically superior. Another common fault of pure-bloods is the rather pathetic tendency to make unfounded statements of superiority in order to cover their inferiority complexes.

It might be a work of fiction, but the portrayal of the Malfoy and the Black families in the Harry Potter books come to mind. Rowlings was clearly aware of the truth in the above when she wrote those.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tkoind2: And most importantly also a Mixed Race president.

I am glad to see someone else saying that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stand up when the ugly head of discrimination rears. Don't just lay down and take it like a good victim.

I'd agree with that. But I'd add that it isn't constructive to go painting 'the ugly head of discrimination' on every instance of someone asking you politely about your parentage, wondering what languages you speak, complimenting you on your karaoke skills or not sharing your love of tea and manju - these are the 'discriminations' Corey is complaining of. He's not talking about being beaten up in Japan on account of his race, being refused service in shops or being sent to the back of the bus.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Likeitis is exactly like it is not. Been here more than 20 years and know the difference.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Been here more than 20 years and know the difference.

20 years, huh? Well maybe with 20 years under your belt you could be a little more specific?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Its English equivalent is the term "half-breed."

Captain Kirk once called Mr. Spock a half-breed, which, along with a couple of smacks to the face, got Mr. Spock so angry he snapped out of the trance he was in!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with Sarge hahahaha.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

samsark:

" I have heard a couple calling my kid "Mix".I think it is better than calling them half.half of what? "

Half-Japanese, of course. Which is what they are. It is simply a descriptive term. Just like Joe Flaherty is half Canadian. Where is the beef??? There is no mythical conspiracy here, just a simple description.

That said, I have no problem with "mix" or "combi". Get a life, folks, and dump some of that political correctness in the gomi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sarge... Ur funniest comment to date... as for the haffu thing... its old news since Barrack, so now its cool. My kid has had no problems..yet. To me the hottest chicks in the world are half Asian as you get the best features from all over the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some people just love the drama. "Oh poor me I am different, what am I? where do I belong to?"

I don't see why a mixed race person would have to favor one of his origins over the other, you want to know what you are, what's your identity?, you are mixed race person that's what you are, nothing more nothing less. Your passport just states where you were born. Sure if we are talking about a mixed person living in Japan, the japanese side would have a very strong influence but that's what parents are for, to educate you and help you build your personality by giving you support and confidence not by putting fears on you.

I am mixed race and if hafu is an stupid term double is 4 times stupid, but as any label if a lot of people use them they become the norm whether you like it or not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

completely agree. Just saying 'haafu' implies that the other, non-Japanese 'half' is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that the person in question is only 'haafu' Japanese, deficient in Japaneseness. I'd be surprised if any other developed country referred to its mixed-race citizens in a such a derogatory way as simply 'half'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WiliB: As an American you're referring to Flaherty as half-Canadian. You're acknowledging his Canadian heritage. Would you ever refer to him as simply 'half-American'? You'd sound incredibly rude and condescending.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Would you ever refer to him as simply 'half-American'? You'd sound incredibly rude and condescending.

It completely depends on the context. For example, if someone is in Japan, saying he is half-American is par for the course. You assume the other half is Japanese. If he is standing in America, then it becomes pretty pointless to say "half-American" only, with the exception of the point of being a jerk.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only thing that matters is that the person in question is only 'haafu' Japanese, deficient in Japaneseness.

A haaf is Japanese plus something else, not deficient in anything. There's more, not less. Granted, the Japanese propensity to chop words short can stump some linguistic purists; maybe the people who object to 'haaf' also object to 'pasokon', 'hayaben' and 'burappi'. Maybe their purism overflows into English too, and they steadfastly refuse to call a compact disc a CD, a television a TV or acquired immunity deficiency syndrome AIDS.

When I was a kid there was a kid in school who was half-German: no different from anyone else, except her Mum had a funny accent. There was a romantic story about her Dad saving her Mum from the smoking ruins of some bombed-out German town in the war, bringing her back to England and marrying her. We were envious of her having an 'extra' exotic bit, and went asking our parents for our own extra bits. Best I could manage was one-sixteenth Scottish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Best I could manage was one-sixteenth Scottish.

Nobody's perfect. ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nobody's perfect. ;)

But haafu Scottish by blood would be closer! I am only a quarter! ;(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Taiko666:

" WiliB: As an American you're referring to Flaherty as half-Canadian. You're acknowledging his Canadian heritage. Would you ever refer to him as simply 'half-American'? You'd sound incredibly rude and condescending. "

Come again? What is "rude and condescending" there? Of course, he is is half-Canadian and half-American. The Japanese "haafu" simply implies the "Japanese", that is all.

Inasfar as people could use the word in a condescending way, the same people would do the same with "double", or any other PC term you can concoct.

By the way, I am not American.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo:

half-German

Exactly! You said she was half German, not just 'half' or 'half English. You're acknowledging her 'exotic other half'.

A haaf is Japanese plus something else,

And the 'something else' is so important that it's not even mentioned, let alone specified?

But you may be right; maybe the 'haafu' does refer an exotic other half, rather than simply half Japanese. In which case many of the posters here who are defending the term 'haafu' are mistaken. But also, the term is not as derogatory as I thought, although if the Japanese would actually acknowledge where this 'exotic other half' comes from, as is the norm in other cultures, I think everyone would be happy, and the 'haafu' debate would simply go away.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

By the way, I am not American

Then I apologise :-)

But had you been American, referring to Flaherty as 'half American' would sound condescending. I doubt if any well-meaning American would refer to him as such. Normal, courteous behaviour would be to call him Canadian-American or half-Canadian. I think it's just as a rude for a Japanese to refer to somebody as haafu-(Japanese).

Although I hope Cleo's explanation is correct.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tales like this make me thank God I am 100 percent American.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Albert:

" Think about it and that, we all had a mum and dad, and we all live on the same planet. Leave it at that and stop the blooming name calling. "

It is not blooming name-calling! Half your DNA comes from your mother, half from your father. Is saying that now blooming name-calling? Do you want to call in the inquisition?

Sheesh!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many people have mixed origins and proceed thru life with no problems. Interracial complicates slightly. And in Japan any non-pure Japanese (and that includes us "gaijins in a bubble") are anyway seen as inferior (for the life of me I don't know why - not like the locals are that special or lead a fab life).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I totally agree with you Daisan.

I am half Japanese born and raised in japan, and I was always considered the Gaijin in the neighborhood, especially when i was the only non full japanese near my station. I never cared to be full Japanese or full white. Actually I am so glad i was born a half, especially in Japan.

See, I was always treated like a celebrity in Japan. SUGOOOI, KAKKOII, GAIJINDAA--. Some people might take the word gaijin offensive, but not me. I just didnt give a rats ass what they called me. Same questions, same comments, same interests. I even got bullied at times for being half white, but not for long after i showed them my american strength. :)

The thing is, if you are self conscious about your race, people around you will feel that and will treat you very differently.

I made many Japanese friends since I was a kid, and I just acted myself, was myself, and didnt have to try to change my nationality. Anyone in the world will accept you for who you are if you have a good character in you.

For example, my friend is half Black half Japanese, and very depressed. He was born in Japan, and he believes he should be treated Japanese. I told him to look in the mirror, and tell me if he sees a japanese. No, he has black skin with chinky eyes. So I told him to always take advantage of the situation. That is what I did. When i mess up, I told them Im american and this is what americans do. Or if im in the states and i mess up somehow, i tell them im japanese and this is what Japanese do. Always take advantage of the situation. If you are offended each time, there is no ending to it.

I mean, halfs are always, I mean ALWAYS going to get the same comments and questions from most Japanese. If a half minds these questions and comments and will feel offensive, or be it any foreigner in japan, do not go to japan.

Just be yourself and accept who you are. That is the only way to progress socially in Japan.

Also want to throw something in here. I went to a half club at UCLA and I introduced my self, said hi, and got along. After a while, they started talking about nationality. WHO ARE WE? WHERE DO WE BELONG? I thought to myself, who the hell cares who you are and where you belong. Man i swear some people have issues. Well that was the first and last time i went to the hapa club.

Not to contradict myself here, but I DO love hanging out with hapas in japan. Its so easy to make new friends and go drinking!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cheeba: I think you need some therapy and an ego reduction course may also be needed. Thde term is offensive. If i was given half a glass of wine instead of full in a bar i would complain. If someone is caleed half they are being called half a person, half a true blooded really. It's pathetic, how about anti racial discrimination laws Japan?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

BTW, your 100% Japanese raised by a white couple here doesn't fly. as 100% Japanese they would experience no racial discrimination until someone found out about the parents. They wouldn't have incidents at the conbini or at the koban on thier bike.

Well, here's another perspective to add to the complexity... I'm Japanese-Canadian. I tend to disappoint people when I tell them - sorry, no, I'm not 'half'. I was born and raised in Canada, to a mom that immigrated 35 years ago, and a dad that is 3rd generation. Dad speaks only a few words of Japanese, mom barely speaks English. I speak/read/write both, but both are also far from perfect. I've been in Japan for almost 10 years but depending on what language I was focusing on in the last couple of days, my word order gets scrambled... among a whole bunch of other inconsistencies... Police, station staff, convenience store ppl... everyone has looked at me veerry uneasily at one point or another.

I had dual nationality until university, when I wanted to come to Japan to study. Because the Japan doesn't recognize dual citizenship, to receive a Japanese govn't funded scholarship, I had to become 'un-Japanese', and pure 'gaikokujin'. ie., become just Canadian.

I am Canadian, yes, but no simple words (kikokushijo, gaikokujin, half, double, mixed, yon-sei, ni-sei) exist to simplify the explaining... or excusing - when stared at like I was being weighed (is her brain half there? or half missing). Identity crisis is a life-long theme for me.

Seriously, acknowledging categories that describe you nicely is not always a bad thing. You just have to prove to the person in front of you, that that category doesn't mean something bad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The comments by Daisan and Cheeba were excellent... very interesting and they seem like great people.

who the hell cares who you are and where you belong.

Fully agree. It's always useful to put nationality in its place.

What does it amount to? The piece of earth where you were born? How is that different to any other piece of the earth?

Is it the silly little piece of colored cloth that some strangers have shoved in your hands and told you to wave?

It it the people around you? Aren't they just spending their days doing what everybody else around the world is doing... eating, talking, playing,etc

As the man himself said... "Imagine there's no countries..."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's pathetic, how about anti racial discrimination laws Japan?

Sorry, but I think it's your argument that is pathetic. So some people get asked where they come from and if they can eat with chopsticks/speak Japanese, because they look 'different'. Well boo-hoo. When Japan has lynchings, burning crosses and all the other paraphernalia of real discrimination - or even the shadow of that - you can tell us about the laws other countries had to put in place to contain the problem.

I'm not saying Japan has no problems. But they're nowhere near as dire as some precious little blossoms on this thread would have us believe. Haafu doesn't mean 'half a person' or anything so ludicrous. It's just another word for mixed blood; usually, but not necessarily, Japanese plus alpha. Yes it will be a better world when we're all so mixed and integrated that the term becomes meaningless. In the meantime things like non-black hair, round eyes, certain facial features are noticeable in Japan and will be noted and commented on. Get over it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I told him to look in the mirror, and tell me if he sees a japanese.

The mirror can't possibly tell, unless he's holding up his passport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i think the problem is that whilst other nations with significant ethnic populations have at least attempted in some ways to negotiate people's natural tendency towards "tribal" thinking (ie. positive discrimination, attempts are fair representation in the media/education) japan is basically still teaching its people that they are part of a pure and exclusive club. within the japan club everyone is the same and completely unique and different to those outside it, ie. those without pure japanese "blood", who are also all the same but polar opposite to the japan club

a further caveat of this is that your membership for the club is constantly up for renewal. don't play the game and you can consider yourself out in the cold

so-called "halfs" completely screw with this dichotomy and at best expose it as flawed and simplistic, at worst a total lie and a dated thought system long overdue being put down. herein lyeth the problem

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just give the sensitive half-Japanese folk out there the chance to refer to themselves as "doubles", and that should make everyone happy. As for me, I don't take offense when my son is called "haafu", because that is what he is - half Japanese.

How he will react to it when he is old enough to go to school, I don't know, but so far every comment I have heard from Japanese people has been of admiration and jealousy, and other mothers saying they want a half-child as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo your post is very heartless . "boo hoo" you say. How about aying it to my half relative who was severly beaten for not being a "real Japanese". It's not alynching but it happened and where i live it happens frequently , especially to and from school. As i have said to you before, because your life is fine do not presume everyone else 's is. Japan is a large country, where i live is very isolated foreigners stick out like a sore thumb, are not the norm and many are intolerant.

Finally any decent country would have anti racism laws. I hope you or your kids donb't get brutality because of how you look. Jaspan is not a paradise for all you know.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If i was given half a glass of wine instead of full in a bar i would complain.

im sorry but im half japanese half white. not half japanese half nothing nor half white half nothing. i wouldnt complain if i get half suntory whiskey and half coke.

so for any of you out there who drink whiskey and coke and you prefer the whiskey to be suntory, tell the bartender " Give me half a cup of Suntory produced in Japan and half a cup of Coca Cola produced in america.

Wait... isnt it easier to say whiskey and coke (half) and if the bartender asks what kind of whiskey say suntory? (japanese).

Translation: what are you? I am half. what half are you? Japanese and white.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What I don't want to do is put my children in that position

As I've mentioned before, I think my kids would be totally flummoxed by some of the posts on this thread and the dire warnings of discrimination against haafus. Both of them look decidedly non-Japanese; daughter is a police officer, dishing it out to 'pure' Japanese, with never a suggestion that she shouldn't be in such a position; while my son has been awarded scholarships that according to the precious ones he could never even be considered for on account of his failure to be 'pure' Japanese. Their haafuness, while sometimes giving them an advantage, has never been a hindrance to them.

I never considered the need to protect my kids from discrimination on account of their parentage; I never taught them that they were 'different' in any way (though I did teach them that they were both very special individuals). Maybe it's because they never went looking for discrimination that it never found them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo your post is very heartless . "boo hoo" you say.

Yes, to those crying about being asked certainly irritating but decidedly trivial and harmless questions. If someone is 'frequently' being beaten on the way to and from school for any reason, the parents need to do something about it. As you say, Japan is a big place, and I can assure you that what you describe is not the norm.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo: Depends where you livde. I have experienced minor racism , which i have shrugged off, but half kids around here are being beaten and the police and schools do nothing. Think of others not just your family please.

Without laws to prevent this discrimination it continues and the attackers cannot be convicted nor the schools who should be acting as guardians.

I don't say this happens everywhere in Japan, but as i have ststed many times where i live is very very isolated. It is a shame posters like Cleo expect their experiences to be the norm, in such a large country, with many different types of communities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

half kids around here are being beaten and the police and schools do nothing.

where the hell do you live? I lived in Chiba, and so did my sister, and neither of us were ever beaten. Except for my Japanese teacher slapped me across my face but that was my fault and I deserved it. Ive heard no accounts of any of my half friends being beaten up either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cheeba: In the stick in Hyogo prefecture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If kids are being beaten up on their way to and from school it is simple bullying and the bullies need to be dealt with. Being 'isolated' or a 'different type of community' has nothing to do with it. And you don't need laws on discrimination to deal with physical attacks on schoolchildren.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo: A law to make victimising anyone due to their ethnicity is needed now in this multi cultural world. The attacks on children here are taken with a pinch of salt. One half kid was made to say sorry to his teacher after his father caused a stir by coming to school and berating the teacher for not stopping his son being bullied. THe kid eneded up leaving school at 13 and in a mental home.

Beleiev me life in teh sticks, where everyone knos each other in little cliques etc is weird. If you are different or do not act "normal" they feel it is ok to mete out punishment. Sounds ridiculous but true, and i can back it up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish this was printed in a Japanese newspaper in Japanese for Japanese people to read or even a TV drama... Japan doesn't realize how they treat non Japanese, what they consider normal is racist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many half kids suffer terribly, without school support and their parents working long hours unaware of the severity of the problem.

Those who say brush it off or my kids were fine etc, do not know the mental scars that can occur if the discrimination is prolonged and gets out of hand. Laws must be made to protect all half and non Japanese from racism, as is done in decent civilised nations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

his father caused a stir by coming to school and berating the teacher

Ouch. Not the most sensible or subtle way to go about it. It sounds like the poor kid had more problems to deal with than just the bullying. I'm sorry things got so bad for him, but I can only assure you that that is not the norm, not even in the sticks. I live in the sticks, have done for pushing on 20 years, and I know all about the little cliques. As the only visible (ie non-Asian) foreigner in town, I get to get along with everyone regardless of which clique they're in; I just have to remember not to invite members of clique A to a coffee morning with members of clique B (though neither would mind sharing cakes with members of clique C). After all this time residents of the 'new' estate (99.99% of them 'pure' Japanese) are still 'newcomers' and eyed with suspicion by the locals. But there's none of the trouble you describe.

Why on earth do you live there? Are you on a farm and unable to leave?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As for problems at school. If the system watched the kids I would be happy. They don't so there are bullies. They bully everyone. Japanese or not. I just do not want my kid to be a fighter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like you found a nice spot cleo. Being neighborly always helps.

Moderator: Stay on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo: I reside with my wife to care for my almost bedridden mother in law who wishes to die where she grew up, and we have promised to care for her until that time. Shame the area is full of racists, my wife came first and neighbours spoke to her, but when i came they even told their kids to go indoors. I am not half BTW but for some reason i was too sacry for local kids.

Half kids of which there are only 5 or 6 in this area get hell, nobody gives a damn. It is a terrible shame for these poor kids. I can look after myself, noone bothers me, well about once a year a sill remark or stare, but nothing too bad. Some of us have to make the best out of a bad situation out of our control. Asi have said before, life for some isn'T always so simple, and it isn't peoples fault for being stuck in a horrible situation where ones race is important to locals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ouch. Not the most sensible or subtle way to go about it.

I would reserve judgement until the full facts were known. And Japanese do this. I know from experiences of my friend who's wife is a japanese teacher.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting story and well told. Being a whitey here, even I cringe when I hear Japanese use the word "half" to describe someone of part-Japanese origin. It conjures up images of the "half-caste", it is offensive and people who use it should be embarrassed in front of others.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if what would happen if this were a disscussion board in the US or Canada or UK where bi-racial black people were sharing their experiences of racism such as friends getting beaten up on their ways to schools, getting stared at, and receiving racial slurs, and the other posters said to stop whining because 1)Racism is everywhere, deal with it. 2) Most people around you aren't racists, so it's no big deal. 3)There are no lynchings and burning crosses so don't complain. 4) If your peckerwood, inbred town is racist, you should move.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I enjoyed reading posts like Daisan's, Cheeba's and Hannari's. The term half, for 'half' folks, can be anything you choose to believe in, just pass it on. There's no need to be attached to it negatively.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

vettegirl: You obviously don't live in Japan. As a foreigner you get it daily, whether it be stares, looks or even attitudes of the Japanese. The Japanese don't know they are being racist it's their nature to be (their own words)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

gogogo--I lived in Japan for five years. My mother is Japanese and when I was young I spent every summer there. I moved back to the US six months ago. I read and speak Japanese fluently. My point is that the posters on this board have different standards for judging racism in Japan and racism in their home countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If so many is discriminated aginst why don't the parents sue the schools or the bullies. Then you could stop the bother and get atidy packet in compensation.

Who'd believe this sort of thing goes on in this day and age. I reckon schools and parents should educate their kids that we is all equal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am half-Chinese by appearance, but since I was born in the USA I am more like 1/8 Indonesian by culture (thanks to Mom). I can certainly identify with some of the things the author is saying, but my experience as I got older was different. I wrote about it during college and my professor liked it enough to post it to the college newspaper (1998/1999).

For anyone who is interested: http://www.goshen.edu/recordarchive/1998-99/5-6/stories/lena.html

Since the article, I have visited Japan (in fact, the only Asian country I have visited) and though I was quite the outsider to the culture, not knowing any Japanese language besides "excuse me", it helped me understand a lot more about my heritage. I saw little girls with the same haircut I had as a kid! I saw people with noses like mine! How exciting! I still felt unique, but in a way I also felt at home.

Now that I am older, most people seem interested and admire the fact that I am half. I wouldn't want it any other way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

vettegirl -

If your hypothetical bi-racial black people were demanding laws to deal with simple curiosity, and at the same time claiming that only other bi-racial black people can share their enjoyment of some sweetmeat from the culture of one side of their bi-racialism, I hope they'd get the same short shrift as Corey has gotten here.

Yes, it's annoying, it's irritating, the person asking is asking for the first time while the person answering is answering for the umpteenth time. It grates. But it isn't lynching and there are no burning crosses, and it's over the top for people coming from a culture where laws had to be enacted to stop that and force people to be civil to each other, to come here and shout about how backward Japan is because they don't have the same laws.

The kids getting beaten up on their way to school is a completely different matter, and if you read through the thread again I don't think you'll find anyone telling the kids and their parents that it's 'no big deal' so 'don't complain'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"When I moved to Japan, I was simply a recent college graduate struggling to fit in."

Jumping into the midst of "backward" and "uncivilized" society is much easier if you remember to SMILE like there's no tomorrow, and make it a point to say good morning, and other greetings, and persist for however long it takes - until you make sure they understand you're harmless.

These are all things that the Japanese require of fellow Japanese. Simple courtesy, and respect for those that have been there longer. You can call them 'racists' or 'backward' or whatever, but just remember that in many Japanese ppls' eyes, any outsider - regardless of race - is an 'uncivilized barbarian' until you show that you can understand & will try to follow the local rules.

Its easy to struggle, and give up and stick to a small group of ppl that have similar backgrounds as you... but that's exactly what the Japanese are doing when they are being 'racist'.

If you find yourself in a country with a culture and values completely different from your own, that is NOT your 'homecountry', and you need to acknowledge that there may be a system in place that you need to explore. Liking tea and azuki does NOT mean you are a cultural insider.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

that's exactly what the Japanese are doing when they are being 'racist'.

A very good point, but one that not many will be able to acknowledge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

in many Japanese ppls' eyes, any outsider - regardless of race - is an 'uncivilized barbarian' until you show that you can understand & will try to follow the local rules.

i think you're right, but isn't this a rather medieval mindset? japan is a major exporter, as well as an importer, and should the rest of the world suddenly ignite into flames japan would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle. also, following the local rules is all very well but as an outsider one is unlikely to be graced with the long-term benefits of assimilation (social acceptance, increase in social status). these are factors that are going to need to be addressed in the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

should the rest of the world suddenly ignite into flames japan would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle

Read the news lately? This is happening now, isn't it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Take it on the chin and move on with your life. My wife, Japanese native, and son would get more hassle in the UK than they do here. A supposed multi-cultural society. If you really care what everybody thinks or says at/about you you wouldn't get anywhere in life. For those who wish to discriminate, let 'em. It will make them real up-tight when fail to acknowledge it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really now, I've traveled to dozens of countries all over the world. Only Japan frets over stuff like this. Ther rest of the planet could care less about their own individual genetic make up. Japanese need to get over themselves and focus more on ways to reduce racism and discrimination.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the world would find a way to recognize that the main stream English language cultures and ways of thinking is not the only 'truth', then maybe some cultures would not have to feel the need to be so defensive... and would reduce racism and discrimination on the whole.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Try being white, marrying a Japanese women and having children that are so called half, and having early on gray hair, I always get asked how are my half grand children doing in Japan. Can they use chop sticks? Can they eat natto, shio kara, shirako? At least if you are silent you can get away with things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japan has no laws to protect half or any other foreigner who has been discriminated against. The reason Japan does not have these laws is not because they don't need them, even though the UN has condemned the widespread discrimination here, but because they don't care.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japan has no laws to protect half or any other foreigner who has been discriminated against. The reason Japan does not have these laws is not because they don't need them, even though the UN has condemned the widespread discrimination here, but because they don't care.

Or maybe, they just can't think of ways to prevent discrimination that make any sense. How has any law ever prevented discrimination? How do you prove someone was racially discriminated against, or just did not get the job because the boss did not like their attitude, or if the kid was beaten up because he was haafu, or just because the town bully will beat anyone up for any made-up reason but is actually just trying to collect milk money?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

likeitis: Better to ignore it huh? There are many successfull prosecutions for racially motivated crimes in Britain each year. Society has to be mature enough to decide the differnece between bullying and racial discrimination.

Seems like some here don'T like equality for all, what sad people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes a few years back the UN came to Japan to make a report, the outcome was one of the racist and discriminatory modern countries in the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Society has to be mature enough to decide the differnece between bullying and racial discrimination.

Mature? I was thinking presumptive.

Better to ignore it huh?

No. But its foolish to criminalize thought. There are ways to combat discrimination. Trying to legislate it away won't work, not directly anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

likeitis: It works in my home country fine. Racists know they will not be tolerated and could face prison. It does work directly. The poor half and foreign kids here need protection by the law and if the offenders know they face a criminal conviction teh deterrenec is in place to stop them and protect those abused.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But its foolish to criminalize

You mean like every other developed country in the world?

I saw a sign a coffee shop window a couple of years ago: "staff wanted: must be Japanese woman under 40"

This breaks 3 separate discimination laws in most developed countries.

And I wonder, why does one have to submit a photo with a job application in Japan? (a requirement that is illegal in most developed countries.) How does one's facial features affect one's ability to do a job?

Moderator: All readers back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with taiko666. Discrimination of all kinds must be made illegal for half Japanese and aged, disabled, women etc. If it is not illegal it can continue unabated and innocents will suffer.

Let us remeber innocents are victims unprotected by law, that should not happen in a civiliesed nation!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo-- If you had actually read through this thread with a unbiased mind and not a pollyanna, defend Japan at all costs mindset while cherrypicking people's posts and then attacking them in red herrings, you will note that this IS a board where all of what I described has happened. Posters HAVE complained about those various things, and various responders have posted repilies in the vein I listed. I generalized a few samples of thoughts and replies posted. You peremptorily assumed I had not read this thread which meant I MUST have been talking about the most recent subject at hand (school beatings). You, like gogogo, are quick to make assumpions and draw incorrect conclusuions about people's experiences.

My point was that the posters on this thread use different standards to judge racism in Japan than in their home countries. If the "hypothetical" biracial people were posting about the same type experiences in Western countries, many of the same posters here would respond with outrage and demand zero-tolerance for racism. In Japan, these same posters say, "Get used to it." I have my own experiences growing up half in Japan and the US, and many of the posters here have had different experiences of racism or discrimination and I will not discount their experiences because there are no more burning crosses or lynchings or because it's a different type of "low-key" racism in Japan or because "Japan is different."

I will not discount them because I think minorities everywhere are often told by the majority or even Uncle Toms to ignore their treatment and because things are better than they used to be. I will not discount them because it's their right to fight to make things better. I will not discount them because their experiences have been different from mine or my relatives'. People in the majority tend to look at race in an optimistic way, looking at race relations from the perspective of "Look how far race relations have progressed."

Minorities view racism pessimisstically, focusing "how far there is left to go." And please, people, stop talking about how it's (racism) worse or has been worse elsewhere. Tell that to the Ainu. Hey, Japan had no anti-discrimination laws because they just DENIED that there were minorities until recently. (Congratulations Ainu; you exist!) Or the ABHORRENT treatment of Koreans. Of course there are no anti-discrimination laws in Japan, the Japanese laws are discriminatory! Ask zainichi Koreans who have to become naturalized even if they have been here for generations. And good luck telling the foreigners on this site that there's no need for anti-discrimination laws in housing. There's a battle you'll lose.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

vettegirl: Greta post , bring up some excellent points. I'm fear that the resident Japanophiles will not understand it, or pick bits out and twist the facts etc, as usual.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You, like gogogo, are quick to make assumpions and draw incorrect conclusuions about people's experiences.

You berate for making assumptions and drawing incorrect conclusions but then in the next few sentences you say;

If the "hypothetical" biracial people were posting about the same type experiences in Western countries, many of the same posters here would respond with outrage and demand zero-tolerance for racism.

You are yourself making an assumption about what the other posters thinking. Is it not possible that the posters hold both the same moral imperatives about racism in Japan, as they do in for Western countries.

In Japan, these same posters say, "Get used to it."

How do you know these posters wouldn't say that if they weren't in Japan.

Just because someone doesn't agree with you, doesn't mean their views are baised, irrational or pollyanna and it certianly does make them a Japanophile(Thenewfront).

Personally I have come to conclusion that racism is something that exists in all countries and that those who are racist have a right to their opinions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good Jorb--

Yes, I did make those assumptions about posters in a hypothertical situation, but the point was that both gogogo and cleo made assumptions about me which are factually incorrect. gogogo assumed I "obviously" don't live in Japan--which, he is technically correct because I left Japan six months ago. But I did live there for five years. That is provable. Cleo accused me of not having read the thread, which is untrue. I can't prove I read it, but she deduced incorrect conclusions from an incorrect assumption. In a hypothetical, you assume a situation and try to draw conclusions from it. I did not start out my arguement with a untrue assumption. "Hypothesis is never to be stated as a question, but always as a statement with an explanation following it. It is not to be a question because it states what he/she thinks or believes will occur." (Wikipedia) You are correct that I haven't proven that these same posters would react as I predicted, but there is no logical breach in my argument, unlike cleo's and gogogo's basing their arguments on untruths. (Though I think gogogo wasn't assailing what I had to say, he/she just made a mistake.)

And I am neither a Japanophile or phobe. I'd like to think of myself as a realist. There are good and bad aspects to Japan, just as there are to the country of my citizenship, the US. But Japan has some serious xenophobia and race problems itself, though because it is a different country, the racism manifests itself in completely different forms than elsewhere. I think that most non 100% Yamato people on this thread will agree that racism (in whatever manifestation)is a fairly prevelant problem in Japan, and that people who assert that it's not rampant in Japan are pollyanna in their outlooks. To gloss over and make excuses for some very real experiences of posters on this thread implies an almost brain-washed cult-like jihadist belief in the "wonderfulness of Japan." And yes, disagree with me if you wish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry, I meant that I think most non 100% Yamato people on this thread will agree racism ia a prevelant problem AND I think that people who assert that it's not rampant are pollyanna. NOT that most people on this thread think they would be pollyanna. Unclear. My bad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In a hypothetical, you assume a situation and try to draw conclusions from it...but the point was that both gogogo and cleo made assumptions about me which are factually incorrect...unlike cleo's and gogogo's basing their arguments on untruths.

Just the same as you are making possibly factually incorrect assumptions about other posters here, I don't understand why you are berating them for something you are doing. Just because you believe that is how other posters would act is a truth, it doesn't make it truth. I would hypothetical sitituation is valid but your conclusion could be wrong. Some posters may have double standards but it is just as likely that some posters have the same standards no matter where they are.

Moderator: Readers, please stay on topic and do not snipe at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese people need to take a stand against racism towards half and others who are differnet, because the govt will not take notice of us ever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese people need to take a stand against racism towards half and others who are differnet, because the govt will not take notice of us ever.

they, quite understandable, will never do this as it does not benefit them to do so. also, the government will not do anything as giving real political rights to minorities dilutes their power base.

therefore it is up to those discriminated against to make a stand from the ground up, and this is always the approach that has had to be taken

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo accused me of not having read the thread

Not at all. I suggested you go and read it again, specifically with regard to the kids being beaten up on their way to school and people stating that it's 'no big deal'. No one is saying that. There is a world of difference between people encountering physical violence on account of their ethnicity, and people being asked gauche questions on account of their obviously looking (and more importantly perhaps, sounding) different from 99.999% of the people around them. That's not to say that there's nothing wrong with the silly questions, but lumping them together with physical violence and screaming 'It's all racial discrimination' is self-defeating, I think.

Insisting on laws to deal with people being beaten up on account of their ethnicity is surely unnecessary; what's wrong with laws to deal with people being beaten up for any reason? Or are people saying it's OK to beat someone up to take their milk money or because they looked at the bully cross-eyed or whatever?

My point was that the posters on this thread use different standards to judge racism in Japan than in their home countries.

How do you know what standards people use and how they would react? In my home country, it grieves me to say that there are far too many instances of people being not just beaten up, but knifed and left for dead on account of their ethnicity. Judging both countries by the same standard, personally I find the gauche questions and curious stares a lot easier to cope with.

As Good Jorb points out, you complain about others making assumptions and generalising, and then go on to tell us how 'people in the majority' look at things, how 'minorities' look at things, and even how 'non-100% Yamato people' think about things - tacitly asserting you know how '100% Yamato people' think. What difference do you think there is between your categorising of people by race (which is what you do when you talk about (majorities', 'minorities' and '100% Anything people'), and the typical Japanese tendency to treat haafs and foreigners as an unknown quality?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have to agree with cleo:

Yes, Japan has a xenophobia problem: I've been called a gorilla to my face by cackling teens and followed around by old men in public spouting indecent language...that's a problem of ignorance, which you can find anywhere, and not just Japan. Anyone could turn this and easily pull the racism card.

After the 1,000th time I was asked “Are you haafu?” and after repeating the same set of answers three or four times a day, I’d had enough. Not only that, I started feeling pangs of indignation when the locals seemed eager to point out how much I didn’t belong here

Herein lies the problem. A hyperbole no doubt. It's a simple question, new to the asker, hum-drum to the answerer. Is it racism to be curious? Perhaps in very poor taste to ask, but they're not saying anything offensive. If "Haafu" really bothers you, say "You mean mixed? Yes, I'm mixed" or whatever word you deem non-offensive. 1,000 people want to know more about you, and the defensive reaction of the author, fleeing to a clique, certainly prevented any potential for meaningful friendships or education of what's politically correct.

They could certainly say/ask/do much worse.

Certainly not all 1,000 locals made it a point to explain the the author didn't belong. Did they specifically say "He doesn't belong!" or something, or did they say something the author interpreted as you didn't belong? Not specified in this article.

Ignorance abounds in Japan (particulary in politics), but this article is just whiny and people here are clinging to that, screaming "everyone's racist!" and searching for reasons to be a victim. The sheer number of posts reflect this.

Japanese bully and discriminate themselves just as much and just as foolishly (by gender, beauty, family, and bloodtype anyone?).

I wished I knew somebody else who could understand how great it is to drink warm green tea after eating the undulated sweetness of azuki-filled mochi.

Because no one else on the planet can do this right? This statement alone removes credibility from the author.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Education not legislation! The new generation of children seems more intelligent and tolerant. Educate them that racism is wrong and ugly and will eventually hurt everyone. Don't let government legislate personal rights, that's an easy way for a quick solution, which may in fact backfire.

My twin sister and I, endured racism while growing up in Tokyo and Hawaii, but I guess we were lucky because we had each other to cushion the blows. It really never affected us, or we choose not to let it. A franciscan priest told my sister once that he admired halfs because they received the best of two worlds from their parents, the majority he said also tend to be more understanding, tolerant, and intelligent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shall we ignore the esatblishments that ban foreicn or foreign looking people and those that refuse to rent to foreigners

No. Laws that forbid the refusal of services on account of race, age, gender etc., are a good thing, and it will be good when Japan finally gets some. Perhaps it will take some bona-fide furrin-looking, mixed-race, vote-wielding Japanese citizens with the experiences you tell of to make it happen.

You're one of the few posters on this thread talking about real racial discrimination, rather than the precious 'I'm so different, only other haafus can understand me' whining of the article. All this 'people look at me', 'they expect me to speak English/not to speak Japanese', 'I can't find anyone to eat manju with' rubbish is petty, and trivialises the real problem(s), which you have consistently addressed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My experience is that if you can speak the language and you demonstrate that you do know the customs, you can do anything anyone else does. If me, a white guy can do that, surely, so can a haafu.

Moderator: All readers, stay on topic please. The subject is how "haafus" are treated in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every haafu is different, and so, every haafu is treated differently. A haafu who grew up outside of Japan and speaks no Japanese will be treated differently than one who grew up in Japan, knows the customs, and speaks Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My 'haafu' kids love being so - we live in the UK but spend the summer in Japan, and they're still young enough to be treated like minor celebrities - and have incredibly cultured palates!

My view is that things are going to change in in Japan, the way they have in the UK, over time. The world is getting smaller, people are mixing all over the place, and soon the Japanese will be just as cool with it as the majority of people are here. Every year I can't believe how much more international Tokyo is than it used to be, so I guess it won't be long before 'haafu' really aren't all that unusual.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

a few points: why is it so important to fit in anyway? dare to be different, stand out from the crowd. take the ball and run with it. Of course Japan IS really into conformity, and is fearful of change and anything out of the ordinary, but we don't have to be. why try to force your roundness into a square hole? sounds uncomfortable. Sometimes you just have to smile and laugh inside at these poor sods, they can"t help it if they ar estuck in the past. You are the future, hybrid beauty, which just maybe even makes the questioner feel somewhat an inadequate and outdated model.

also, it has to be acknowledged that it is not as easy for everyone to deal with a situation as well someone else may be. not everyone is as strong, or has been raised to bounce back. It isnt quite as easy as even my first statement makes it out to be. every person and experience is differnt.

next, i am of mixed race, but to add to that, my mother is from Australia and my father is from NewZealand. I dont care, it means nothing, but to Japanese, they hear that andsay, oh so your haafu then? so it doesnt only apply to half Japanese. It seems like another bastardised english usage, where the full meaning and connotation has been lost in translation. not the first time. except in this case it is being used in a question to people who often understand the english meaning clearly, by someone without any idea of how it could be taken. It is also representative of a peculiar habit of Japanese where they ask rather personal questions to someone they do not percieve as Japanese, while they would never dream of being so forward with a fellow countryman/woman. So perhaps at the very least, it does show a measure of ignorance, insensitivity, double standards, and an unhealthy facsination with the ethnic background of someone they hardly know, instead of the person themselves. Why not start with some more apprpriate questions like what do you do for fun, how is your day ..I dont know, anything other than diving into a persons genetic history.

When growing up in NZ I was always taken as Half or part something, other than white, and the result was often immediate inclusion in either group, while at other times it was the exact opposite. I loved it, hated, got used to it, got over it.

the mentality is different here though. back home, a lecturure told a story once: A maori elder noticed she was still single etec, andasked why diesnt she marry a nice maori man and have kids, because they need more Maori children. not halfs. if they were maori, in any %, they were still maori in his eyes. I liked the thinking at the time. I would however, prefer that there were no racial distinctions at all personally, as I was raised to think that way.

But Japans attitude to ethnicity does need an overhaul, for the sake of haafu's and fulls, and for others alike. To say that its ok to distinguish humans by any category is unacceptable to me. idealistic or not, the human race is the only one we have or need, Im just waiting on the rest of the population in Japan and elswhere to figure it out.

Someone started it before: Imagine theres no countries, no religeons too...

Please forgive my typos, I dont want to check as there will be too many due to my current injury , and I thought typing was hard before >.<

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We all know there is discrimination in Japan if we have lived here for a while, experienced life and view media. Many of these half kids are suffering through the lack of laws to protect them.

Anyone who doesn't want these children to have equality and protection in society is wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyone who doesn't want these children to have equality and protection in society is wrong.

Of course! Its only the ideas of legislating it that you present that anyone here has a problem with!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it does show a measure of ignorance, insensitivity, double standards, and an unhealthy facsination with the ethnic background of someone they hardly know, instead of the person themselves. Why not start with some more apprpriate questions like what do you do for fun, how is your day ..I dont know, anything other than diving into a persons genetic history.

I don't think its a double standard. In a Japanese conversation, I think it would be perfectly acceptable to ask a person where their parents are from, or blood type or whatever, versus a question asking something less factual or genetic, like "what are your parents like? (__ no oya tte donna hito?)" - which could imply that you think the way the person's parent brought them up was inappropriate.

Foolish or not, it's just a different set of rules from in English, and one that is dreadfully difficult to pick up on subtleties when learning. I imagine somewhere in the world - in some culture somewhere - asking someone you don't know very well how their day was, is taboo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hannari: Well done, showing Jaan in its true light. There isnT racism against these half kids or the ones i knew who were beaten, it's just a different set of rules due to culture.

Why didn't i realise that in the fast place, aren't i a card?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure how many non-Japanese Asians posters there are here, but the Caucasian posters here tend to ignore or forget the fact that many Japanese see the world in a racial-hierarchy-tinted glasses, with whites above their own race and "other-races" below them.

I'm planning to get married to a Japanese woman, but we've agreed that we don't want our children to be raised and educated in Japan. Primarily because we think that the education here does not encourage critical-thinking or ambition, but also because as someone whose worked as an ALT in the JET programme Japanese primary and high schools for 4 years, I know that half-Japanese and half-Filipino children will probably be discriminated against and/or bullied. I have taught around a dozen in the 40 or schools I've been to, and they clearly stick out; some like sore-thumbs. If there was a strong Filipino community to support them, the child could even become stronger through the hardship like I did, going to a 95% Anglo-Saxon school (no-joke) growing up in Australia.

Unfortunately, due to the Japanese government's immigration policies, Filipinos working in Japan tend to lean towards the "entertainment industry" and Japan has a history of human-trafficking involving Filipino women. With many many half-Japanese/Filipino children being born from that background, the community therefore is not strong in the way of good role models or parenting. Couple that with the education system that leans towards churning out "Japanese people" instead of educating students, and you end up with a lot of half-Japanese/Filipinos children with an insecure cultural identity, a chronic consumer mentality, a sex-is-something-I-can-do-at-14-with-anyone-as-long-as-I-get-rewarded morality, and a lack of ambition. They are therefore ready to work as bartenders and hostesses for the next generation of Japanese salarymen.

I could do what people suggest and "take it in the chin" and ignore it, or I could just take my children back to Australia, where there is also a lot of racism, but at least racism is discussed by the general public and see it as something that the government and the majority as something for all citizens to think about, discuss, strive against. Yes, Japan needs children, but why I would want my "half-breed" children to spend their lives ignorant and STILL unhappy in a failing economy with a society that is doing very little to work towards seeing them as equals is beyond me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why didn't i realise that in the fast place, aren't i a card?

Because you're equating people asking inane questions about where their parents are from, or blood type or whatever with kids being beaten up. Can you really not tell the difference, or are you just deliberately being a ....... card?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Isn't haafu a better breed, in terms of genetic?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

drink green tea and eat azuki-filled mochi.

maybe he was only trying to experience his Japanese ancestry more, nothing wrong with that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cleo: I am deliberatly being a card, because teh Japan lovers/Japanophiles refuse to see anyone leses reasoning however truthfull, an dthis apathy ledads to continuation of the racism problem.

Foreign and half kids should be treated exactly the same as Japanese, granted bullying happens, but when it turns to victimisation and racisl abuse, there should be effective laws as a deterrent. Those that do not agree with me, seem not to want to protect these kids, mainly because they are not directly affected. That is not a way to improve a country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

dexterthiam: Humans are not dogs, they are not breeds, they are people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront -

Foreign and half kids should be treated exactly the same as Japanese

I couldn't agree with you more. Yet there are many posters on this thread, it seems, who object to their kids or themselves being asked exactly the same kind of questions that Japanese ask each other.

when it turns to victimisation and racisl abuse, there should be effective laws as a deterrent

There are laws. It's against the law to beat people up, for any reason. There is no reason for beating up Kid A to be covered by a different law, and involve different penalties, than beating up Kid B. They're both kids. I'll grant you that the law isn't always as effective as it should be, but it should be a law against beating someone(anyone) up, not a law against beating someone up because of their race/ethnic makeup/parentage. As you say, kids should all be treated exactly the same under the law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo: There should be a law for abusing someone because of their racial make up as is done with great effect in the UK.

The education should teach everyone in the world is the same and should be treated equally, i know kids are educated that way in Britain, mixed children are more common there though.

Laws are needed to protect the weak and minorities. Society cannot protect itself.Half, disabled., women, elderly all need laws to protect them from physical, mental abuse and not having full access to society, ie: bars, hotels, renting etc. I regret people here do not want half kids protected, i have witnessed the bullying culture here , especially when directed ata half i knew , merely for looking different. Things must change, the governemnt must protect half kids and all minority groups.

The UN report reprted Japan as a country rife with discrimination, i tend to believe them , more than certain posters on this board.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

dexterthiam: Humans are not dogs, they are not breeds, they are people.

Dogs are dogs. And they have breeds.

People are people. And they have races, which are akin to breeds, just not as pure.

With both dogs and humans, the mixes have more genetic diversity, and this is a good thing. For example, it is impossible for such a haafu to have sickle cell anemia. And a mix of daschund and other probably wont live out a life pain from a bad back quite as early as a pure daschund.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thenewfront:

Master Judo and teach all the half children the art. Therein lies your solution. Judo is all about taking in the flow of things and turning it around. Understand the workings of that, and maybe you'll get somewhere in saving those around you.

Apathy is what Corey resorted to. Many posters here are trying to tell you that your gungho action may be the bane of your life in Japan, as well as those being bullied around you.

I do not post this to hurt you or Corey, it is because I hope life will change for the better for the half children around you. It is NOT apathy. I hope you understand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As you say, kids should all be treated exactly the same under the law.

He can't quite seem to make up his mind on that, eh cleo?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I regret people here do not want half kids protected

I want all kids protected.

i have witnessed the bullying culture here .... merely for looking different

When I was a kid I 'looked different' - I was chubby and wore glasses. Are you saying that bullying kids who 'look different' one way should be treated more severely than bullying kids who 'look different' another way? I still prefer to have all kids treated the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lets protect everyone in society, it makes the place better and safer for us all, not just the halfs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

why are so many people apologizing for Japans outdated mentality towards ethnicity? Why deny there is a problem, when obviously there is, why else are half kids saying so? Why nitpick each others posts instead of getting the big picture, that we would all like all humans to be treated equally. I doubt law can change that to the extent that education can. Attitudes need to change and you cannot enforce that with an iron fist, but with wise words and actions you sure can. Maybe its not as bad as some make it out to be, maybe its worse than others refuse to believe, but there is an issue, undeniably. The fact that people dwell on ones ancestry rather than the individual themself is sad.

What do you see when you look at someone? A person first? or thier ethnicity? If its the latter, then you also perhaps need to look at your attitude to race etc, as does Japan. Being of mixed race, race has become a non-issue to me in how I deal with people, untill they bring it up.Therein lies the problem. Other people making a deal about your ethnicity, when you would prefer to just be. When you live the life as a mixed race person, you can either try to cling to one or another identity, or settle into your own, as an individual. I guess that is hard In Japanese society, but an individual can do it.

Hanami tried to shoot down one piece of my post above by talking about how Japan has a hierarchy of races? Well, yo missed the point and focused on something I didnt say as well as I should. The point is there is no hierarchy of race except that created within society. In this case Japanese society. It is wrong, and we should not excuse it. That mindset is what fuelled Nazis, fascists, and he Japanese Imperial army, surely no one considers it still acceptable. Shed that racist hangover Japan, even if you have improved, you got a long way to go, and it isnt going to disapear by sweeping this or any other race issue in Japan under the carpet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

notimpressed - good post. whether or not japan is xenophobic is a matter of opinion but i think it's basically undeniable that this is an intensely ethnocentric society

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jonnyboy: I'm curious as to what "this" in "i think it's basically undeniable that THIS is an intensely ethnocentric society" points to ... the global society, or the Japanese society?

I would agree more strongly to the former interpretation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japan. you have to remember that other societies define themselves more by a cultural genus rather than race, the uk & usa being good examples. that's not to say that people aren't ethnocentric to a certain extent and at times downright rascist but the degree is a great deal less. after all, you have to bear in mind that different hair colours is evidence of different racial origins. is this ever an issue? basically not. skin colour? yes, sometimes but considerably less than in japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah, I was thinking of 'ethnocentric' = "based on the ideas and beliefs of one particular culture and using these to judge other cultures" as was the definition in the dictionary I was looking at.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

perhaps i'm using the wrong term. what i'm thinking about is having race/ethnicity as a very active part of how one deals with others, whether positively or negatively. as such i think it's fair term to apply to most japanese; the intent may be positive, and it may be negative, but there's no denying the japanese are intensely conscious of race & ethnicity, at least in comparison to other cultures

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hannari? Do you care about the issue at all, or just the dictionary definitions and trying to enjoy a debate? Forest for the trees, c'mon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry if that's the impression I'm giving... I was just trying to get the point across that a lot of people seem to just not get it.... Corey included. Ethnocentrism (wiki has a good explanation) is a crime that people the world over are guilty of. It is less about race, and ethnicity, and more about culture, although the borders are extremely grey. I find that at the root of Japanese thinking is a hate for ethnocentrism. I wont say they aren't guilty of it themselves either. Its just that if some people can get away from crying "racism!!", or saying "japan is medieval", because that is what it looks like from the western definition, we might get just a bit closer to resolving the actual problem of foreign nationals and mixed race people having a hard time communicating with the Japanese people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you have to bear in mind that different hair colours is evidence of different racial origins. is this ever an issue? basically not. skin colour? yes, sometimes but considerably less than in japan.

Different hair colour used to be evidence of different racial origins, but I couldn't tell you how many different colours my hair has been, while my racial origins remain unchanged (and, like most Brits, indeed most Europeans, somewhat murky).

The reason it isn't an issue is in part due to history; by the time the Celts, the Romans, the Picts, the Vikings, the Saxons, the Normans, the Goths, the Huns, the Franks and the rest of them had finished raping, pillaging and marrying up and down the land you had families in which every member could well have different-coloured hair (and eyes) and no one had the inclination or stamina to try and sort it all out, or saw any point in trying to since they were all family anyway.

Skin colour in the West is a slightly different problem. Because a dark skin was an obvious sign of either a slave or a subject from the colonies, prejudice against dark skin should not, in historical terms, come as any kind of surprise. We've managed to overcome a lot of the old prejudice, but hundreds of years later still have a way to go. In that sense it's only recently that Japan has had to deal with large influxes of 'obviously different' people. In time they'll get fed up of asking stupid questions, especially as more and more families find themselves becoming mixed..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amen, Cleo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People are generally curious and asking questions like, "Are you haafu?" seem natural to many in Japan. Just like in other countries where people might ask a person with an Asian background, "Are you Chinese?" or "Are you Korean?" or "Are you Japanese?" or even, "Where are you from?"

Like it or not, people who grow up in similar circumstances naturally stick together and Corey above is sticking with people who "understand" him. Is it any different that he could relate to his newly-found "haafu" friends than if an Indian relates to another Indian or an Israeli relates to an Israeli or a gay person relates to another gay person or a Muslim relates to another Muslim and so on?

But it is the next step that is important. Crossing all those barriers of upbringing, culture, religion, colour and so on. Those Caucasians who do have parties at home or go out with people from other cultures and vice versa. Learning about one another and our differences and similarities. It's just a bit sad because we don't have enough time in our lifetimes to learn as much as me may hope.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm supposedly "half" but I don't buy none of that. We are not Japanese, because we are different, in a good way. We are better. I use the katakana term be-ta when I describe myself to people. No, I'm not half Japanese and half English, I'm better. I'm better than you, I'm smarter than you, I'm richer than you. Own up, or watch how we come do.

We are better.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes We Can

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fact that people dwell on ones ancestry rather than the individual themself is sad.

in japanese culture you are never an individual, you always represent part of some form of group.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He should come to Sydney where we have thousands of Asian Australians and Eurasian folk. No-one even looks twice and people would never even think to ask such rude confronting questions. Our daughter has dozens of Eurasian and Asian friends too, and has done since she was in kindergarten. I feel so sorry for this poor guy, would love to tell him that I ADORE green tea washing down azuki bean mochi YUM ! And I am a SCOTTISH Australian! Imagine Haggis with mochi beans and sticky rice washed down with green tea and Glenfiddich Whiskey...Now thats a thought!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites