Regarding the July 14 front-page article “Rola altering DNA of pop culture“: Japanese pop culture talents like “Rola,” “Becky” and Jun Hasegawa are Japanese citizens despite being ethnically “half.” The Nationality Law does not recognize half citizens. A person is either a citizen or not.

Since 1984, daughters and sons of biracial couples have been permitted to hold dual citizenship. Contrary to the popular misunderstanding, one citizenship does not diminish or discredit the other. But that is an impossible lesson to communicate, I think. These hafu talents are completely Japanese. Yet, a considerable amount of their publicity seems predicated on a fascination with how Japanese they sound and behave. They are Japanese, so how should they behave? My own two Japanese children are often praised for how good their Japanese speech is. Maybe they should become media talents.

Citizenship, nationality and race are separate things. But in Japan, the confusion of nationality and race is firm and metastatic. I expect educated, urbane people to be mentally nimble and subtle enough to know better. So I am disappointed that sociologist Takashi Miyajima (quoted in the article) makes exactly this error by appearing to call Rola a “foreign entertainer.” I want to grab the Japanese nation by the lapels and scream “Wake up! These people are not foreigners!”

Rola is right when she is quoted saying “Nationality isn’t important.” But I can’t be sure if her motive for saying so is the same as mine. For me, nationality is mostly a matter of administrative convenience, documentation and bureaucratic procedure. My nationality says nothing about my loyalties, convictions, preferences or behavior. I don’t represent any country, but for employment purposes, I usually pretend I do.

grant piper

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.

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