• Kyodo

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Nine people whose fathers are Japanese who married Filipino women before and during World War II arrived Wednesday in Tokyo to try their luck at acquiring Japanese citizenship.

Their five-day visit includes appearances at the Tokyo Family Court for interviews by judges on their formal petition, said Yuka Kanamaru, officer in charge of the Philippine Nikkei-Jin Legal Support Center, a nonprofit organization that has been helping Filipino-Japanese get Japanese citizenship since 2006.

The center identified the nine as Saide Takihara, 72, Francisca Tapales, 81, Oligario Nagata, 67, all from Davao in Mindanao; Antonio Takara, 68, from Baguio City; Jovani Kiyama, 67, from Iloilo; Jovita Santos, 67, from Manila; Inia Blah, 79, from Sarangani; Hibico Ancheta, 68, from Ilocos province; and Rogelio Kimura, 69, from Nueva Ecija province.

“I have a strong feeling that my petition to become a Japanese citizen will be granted now. I have prepared for this during the last 29 years,” Kimura, who filed his petition in 2010, said while showing photos of his father.

Kimura identified his father as Kiichiro Kimura of Hiroshima, who arrived in the Philippines in 1936. The elder Kimura was repatriated to Japan after World War II, leaving his family behind.

“I am very excited about this trip because after 29 years of searching for my father, the time has come for me to finally see his birthplace. And I would have been much happier if I’d see him. But I have been told he died in 1995. Nevertheless, I look forward to meeting my four half-siblings there,” Kimura said.

Ancheta, whose father, Hikichi Suzuki, was believed to be a captain in the Imperial Japanese Army, said Japanese citizenship would not only complete her identity, it would also help her improve her family’s living conditions, a change that would be shared by her eight companions.

“I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to work in Japan because life here in the Philippines is very difficult. Some of my grandchildren have graduated from college, but they remain jobless,” she said.

Kanamaru said most of the petitioners have lived difficult lives because they were deprived of a good education when their Japanese fathers left and they were discriminated against after the war.

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