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A group of 10 Japanese-Filipinos representing Japanese left behind in the Philippines after World War II submitted a petition to the government Tuesday urging it to speed up its efforts to recognize them as Japanese citizens.

Second generation Japanese-Filipina Emma Tanaka cried during a press conference while she explained how she was unable to receive financial assistance to purchase a prosthetic leg because the Japanese government failed to recognize her citizenship.

Tanaka was working as a field nurse for the Japanese army in the Philippines during World War II. She suffered a shrapnel wound that required that her leg be amputated in January 1945.

Like many other so-called war orphans, Tanaka lost her parents during the war, and was stranded in the Philippines without citizenship. She asked Filipino and American veterans’ organizations for help, but was turned away. “They told me, ‘Go to the Japanese Embassy, because you are Japanese,'” she said. But at the embassy, no one was able to help her.

Now 77, Tanaka said, “I’ve waited for too long. Do we have to wait another 50 years before the Japanese government recognizes us?”

The group submitted a petition bearing 6,300 signatures of people claiming to be war-displaced Japanese-Filipinos to the Foreign Ministry and other authorities, urging them to investigate their identities in a process similar to the one conducted for war-displaced Japanese in China.

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