Nine mixed offspring arrive for interviews, to formally petition the government to let them stay

Japanese-Filipinos seek citizenship


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.

  • Titus Angeles

    ‘sana makuha nila yung Japanese Citizenship mga lolo nila Japanese nag married nang Filipina women’ (English translation: They deserve to get that Japanese Citizenship their Grand fathers are Japanese soldiers during the WWII; married Filipina women in the Philippines.
    I’m really touch on their story, hopefully they will get it.

  • It seems like a cynical grab for economic benefits, without having lived in Japan. I’d think ‘parentage’ is less significant than historical links in terms of language, cultural awareness. I’d be more impressed by more recent Filipino entrants into Japan. I know a person married to a Japanese person, they have a child, he speaks business-level Japanese, and he has a good job in Japan. This person doesn’t need citizenship to attend his father’s birthplace. At his age, he is not about to learn Japanese. I don’t begrudge anyone citizenship in a libertarian context, but in a context of nefarious subsidies and claims, I have little sympathy. Japan should be taking in immigrants who earned the right to apply (skilled migrants) or have strong ties than stray semen.

    • Elvin Miguel

      true… citizenship does not guarantee good life anyway…

    • Kenshi Ishikawa

      First and foremost, these people would have been in Japan a long time ago if they have not been abandoned by their parents. I hate claims and self-entitlements as much as you but you have to be aware that sometimes it is not just a matter of subsidies but of justice as well. I do believe that you are talking about people and not just “stray semen” as you have phrased. You have a distorted view of meritocracy, sir.

    • Alejandro S. Arashi

      I thought of 2 things upon reading this article and comment:

      1. I’m surprised no one raised the issue of Vietnamese Bui Doi, the “dust of life”, who had to scrape a living in post American War victory Vietnam, discriminated against because of their Western nose. Bui doi is a very close parallel to the Japino cases post WWII.

      Do Americans think Bui Doi deserve American citizenship to improve their economic situation and to, somehow, make up for all the discrimination they suffered growing up in a society which reminds them daily that they were the aggressors?

      Will we still have the gumption to call them “stray semen”?

      2. I believe fervently that Japan should take in skilled immigrants. But I do not think it should prevent Japan from taking in non-skilled immigrants for strategic reasons. The biggest strategic issue confronting Japan is an ageing society and small number of births. One of the ways these can be arrested is to let in nikkei and grant them citizenship for sentimental/justice reasons. Israel has such a program (Aaliyah).

      Of course the Aaliyah immigrants receive subsidies so that they can learn Hebrew, gain employable skills and be better integrated into society. These subsidies are a big issue issue in Israel and have been decreasing these past few years but Israelis still pony up because there is a certain minimum consensus that, aside from memories of the holocaust, Israel is still at war and they need population growth (especially since Palestinian population growth is higher).

      The real underlying issue is that Japan hasn’t really faced up to the fact that its number one issue is demographics. Once it does face up to this demographic time bomb, then they would realise, and accept that putting together an Aaliyah program for Nikkei the world over to immigrate into Japan would be one way of doing it.

      The main point to note is that is it not a choice between skilled-immigration versus nikkei immigration, both might need to be done to arrest severe demographic decline that could result in the halving of the population by 2050. I haven’t seen any projection that the yearly 4,000 skilled visa immigrants target (which only gets filled 1/3) only by itself, would significantly impact Japan’s demographic problems.

  • Oscar Gomez

    “try their luck”?? If their claim is legitimate, then there is nothing about luck on what they are doing.

  • Murasaki

    Sorry, not born in Japan, not lived here, not paid taxes, then you should not get citizenship. End of story.

    Only time a non-Japanese should get citizenship is once they meet all requirement for naturalisation and not before hand.

  • having just a grandfather who is a Japanese is very highly unlikely. If you had a father who is a Japanese national then maybe you could. Then again, even having one Japanese parent could not guarantee you citizenship especially when you are past 16 years of age.