Six Filipino-Japanese to press for Japanese citizenship


Six descendants of Japanese who live in the Philippines will leave for Tokyo on Tuesday to appeal for official recognition as Japanese citizens, an organization helping them said Monday.

The Philippine Nikkei-Jin Legal Support Center said another Filipino-Japanese descendant whose similar petition was approved last March plans to join the trip so he can meet some of his relatives in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The center’s Yuka Kanamaru identified the six petitioners as Hideo Miyake, 71, from Pampanga province; Felixberto Kajiwara, 78, from Davao Oriental; brothers Ramon and Henry Sato, 78 and 76, from Maguindanao; and Victoria Takeshige Tutor, 70, and Josefina (Elizabeth) Yagi Vicencio, 70, from Davao City.

All but Miyake, whose province is in the main island Luzon, are from provinces on the southern island of Mindanao.

The man who plans to visit his relatives in Kagoshima is Bienvenido Shin, 70, from Bukindon province, also on Mindanao.

Kanamaru said the six petitioners will meet with lawyers before interviews with the Tokyo Family Court on Wednesday and Thursday.

“I want my children to work there in Japan because my father is Japanese. And I want to join them there also because I might miss them (if I stay in the Philippines),” said Kajiwara, whose Japanese father was Hachiro Kajiwara, a native of Fukuoka who went to Davao Oriental and engaged in fishing and abaca farming.

Miyake, the son of Isame Miyake of Hiroshima, who was a fisherman in Pampanga before World War II, expressed the same desire in relation to his petition.

“If we get lucky, my children will not be a problem of Japan because they are all educated. In fact, they might be of help to Japan. My children finished college here, so they might be able to contribute to Japan through their professions,” said the father of two business management degree holders, one high school teacher, and one pharmacy student.

“Since I did not meet my father, I really want to go to his homeland. I also want to try living there, if the Japanese government permits. I am not worried because I really want to experience the culture of my father,” Miyake said.

According to Kanamaru, the petitioners will stay in Japan until next Monday.

With the support of the Nippon Foundation, the Philippine Nikkei-Jin Legal Support Center has been assisting Filipino-Japanese descendants, especially the second generation, recover their Japanese nationality, believing that “every person has a right to know their place of origin, which is one of the fundamental human rights.”

The nonprofit organization said the Japanese descendants in the Philippines need legal and social support because of the hardships they went through during and after the war, one of the consequences of which is the neglect, purposely or unintentionally, of their citizenship.

So far, the center has helped more than 100 Filipino-Japanese prove their Japanese nationality.

The center estimates that there were around 3,000 second-generation Filipino-Japanese descendants in the Philippines, of whom nearly 900 were not officially registered with the Japanese government because of unfavorable conditions after the war.

Most of the fathers of the second-generation descendants arrived in the Philippines before World War II.

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