Perfect material for bullying

Regarding Kaori Shoji’s May 13 article, “It ain’t easy being a bilingual girl“: I agree that bilingual Japanese face obstacles today as they did 30 years ago.

We are constantly subjected to bullying in private as well as in the media. Look at all the television shows that persistently make fun of returnees, portraying them as some unidentified creature. We are considered stuck up because of our opinions, and our good pronunciation makes us perfect material for bullying.

We also face the crisis of not being able to construct a clear self-image of whether we are of the country where we spent time, or a Japanese. When I was in the U.S., I was seen as Japanese and was expected to know parts of Japanese culture that I couldn’t explain because I hadn’t lived in Japan long enough. In Japan we are often seen as someone outside the circle and told to leave the country.

Foreigners in Japan question why we have so much trouble liking Japan. They can’t see through the Japanese, who are kind to foreigners but show a different side when it comes to a Japanese with a foreign mind.

We try to be “Japanese” as much as possible so that we won’t be identified as returnees who are deconstructing their inner selves. Then the government and society have a mood swing toward diversity — after it’s too late for us to regain our foreigner’s side — and ask, “Why are you so Japanese?”

name withheld by request

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • 151E

    Nation states are useful ways to organize large societies but I don’t think it is necessary, or even particularly healthy, to rigidly align your identity to any one of these, ultimately, artificial constructs. Like a Venn diagram, you may identify with a wide range of disparate groups to various degrees. If others have problems with that, that’s their problem. Like Socrates said, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”