Voices | COMMUNITY CHEST

What does the future hold for Naomi Osaka and Japanese dual nationals?: Readers' views

Some readers’ letters in response to the Community articles “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career” by Debito Arudou (Just Be Cause) and “What does Japan’s Nationality Act really mean for its dual citizens?” by Cory Baird and Sakura Murakami, both published in the Sept. 20 edition:

Naomi will be just fine

Methinks we are being a tad overly anxious about all this when we project Naomi might retire early or commit suicide if not able to live up to the pressures of Japan and its media.

Many of the examples cited were Japanese Olympic athletes who were in the spotlight only once every four years and thus faced greater pressure to perform. Kei Nishikori seems to be doing just fine with his career and earnings, even though he has not won a Grand Slam or attained a No. 1 ranking.

Naomi and Kei are professional tennis players on the pro tour, the same as hundreds of other players from various countries around the world. What will shorten their career is injuries or the wealth of other top players, not the Japanese media.

Naomi will win some matches and lose some matches and life will go on because she doesn’t live here. Not sure she will be checking the Japanese websites and newspapers when she has a bad loss someday in Berlin or Cincinnati.

Yes, that week (shortly after winning the U.S. Open) there was some pressure to perform and lots of media attention, but she was out of the country again by Monday.

It’s hard to predict which tennis players will have a long or short career as it depends on health, injuries, burnout and other factors. At age 20, Naomi is already set for life financially from recent endorsements and tournament winnings. But right now it’s hard to imagine her “retiring” at age 23 or 24 just because she claimed Japanese citizenship.

JOHN READE
Professional tennis coach
Tokyo

Dual nationals’ vital role

Many thanks to Debito Arudou for sharing his insights into the social pressures and challenges that face dual nationals, kikoku—shijo (returnees) and athletes of diverse backgrounds in Japan.

Also, thanks to Cory Baird and Sakura Murakami for shedding light on legal issues faced by dual citizens.

As an educator, parent of a dual national and supporter of the Association for Multicultural Families, I believe dual nationals and kikoku-shijo have made and will continue to make vitally important contributions to intercultural communication and cooperation in the global 21st century.

All governments should make it easier for young people of diverse backgrounds to openly acknowledge their birthright and live where they choose with equal opportunities and rights.

REBECCA JENNISON
Professor
Department of Humanities
Kyoto Seika University

Osaka is her own person

Mr. Arudou, I’d just like to comment on your article “warning” Naomi Osaka about representing Japan. Initially, I thought you were way off-base, but you gave very good examples of current and ex-athletes to make your point.

However, you’re forgetting one thing — Naomi has her “trump” card: She can decide to play for the U.S. The “in if you win” contention shouldn’t be a problem either, because what you see in young Osaka is what everyone saw in young Serena Williams. Naomi has managed to emulate the characteristics of Serena’s game while maintaining an identity of her own, with a personality and charm that make her a class act and put the petulant Williams to shame on the world stage.

It is, therefore, a moot point to discuss whether Osaka’s diversity is a pro or con in Japan, the U.S., Haiti or wherever, because she is her own person, a winner on and off the court who will endure no matter what.

D. BLYDENBURGH
Parsippany, New Jersey