SUKAGAWA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Chinese women in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, have formed a group to teach Chinese to half-Japanese and half-Chinese children, while sharing information and promoting interaction on the basis of their experiences following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan.
Early in February, Ai Shirosaka, 42, was teaching the language to about 10 children, born to Chinese women and their Japanese husbands, using a moral education textbook written during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), at a local community hall in the city.
The study sessions take place three times a month, and mothers in the group are able to practice traditional Chinese dances while their children learn.
The crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant prompted Azusa Kojima, 47, and other Chinese women to establish the group. In the absence of understandable information concerning food safety, they came together to try and decide independently whether they should stay in or move out of the city.
In August 2011, they arranged a meeting to exchange information. About 30 Chinese women gathered and voiced concern about radioactive contamination as well as the need for education to enable their children to speak Chinese.
They formed the support Wings for Half Japanese and Half Chinese. It now has some 60 members.
“Children raised (in Japan) by mothers who don’t understand the Japanese language and culture feel they’re different from others and some of them deny their parents and themselves,” Kojima said. “If they recognize their roots and accept their mothers, family life improves.”