Regarding tennis star Naomi Osaka, when will Japan begin to see all of its citizens as truly Japanese? The expression “hāfu” means one is only half Japanese with all the subtle layers of negative or racist connotations attached.
If someone is considered a hafu in Japan’s insular society, that person is not considered fully Japanese, cannot share in the “unique spirit of the Yamato, who are all racially and spiritually pure.” Based on this racist outlook, the racially pure yakuza boss is more Japanese than someone like Ariana Miyamoto or Naomi Osaka, both wonderful human beings who are far better human beings than any criminal gangster.
Racism is so deeply embedded in Japanese culture that it almost seems “natural” or the norm, and that is frightening — an attitude very common in the 1930s.
And yes, why is it that hafu only truly find acceptance when they accomplish a great feat like winning a major sporting event or a beauty contest? What of the ordinary hafu? We are all mostly ordinary.
Miyamoto entered a beauty contest to honor the memory of a hafu friend who killed himself because he was so badly bullied day after day. He was Caucasian-Japanese and didn’t speak English, feared to leave Japan but could no longer endure the pain of social ostracism and hateful prejudice.
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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