Two halves of a whole: Japan’s habitual ‘labeling’ of bicultural kids

TOKYO —

The term “hafu” (literally, half) is commonly used in Japan for anyone who has one Japanese parent and one from another cultural background or nationality. The term grates on many foreign parents because it implies that the non-Japanese side of their background somehow renders them “incomplete.”

I certainly disliked the term when I became a mom for the first time following the birth of my son. I spent a lot of time and energy earnestly asking people, friends and strangers alike, to refer to my child as “daburu” or “double.” I even wrote an article for a bilingual magazine, entitled “Please Don’t Call My Baby a ‘Half’” and advocating for the use of the term “double” instead.

Looking back at the article now, I cringe inwardly. By the time the second of my two daughters arrived to complete my trio of kids, I was beginning to tire of the “what to call bicultural children” conversation. I began to think, “Why do we need to label them at all? They are kids who just happen to have parents from two different backgrounds. Get over it already!” Older and wiser, I now know that it isn’t that simple.

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Savvy Tokyo

  • 18

    Yubaru

    As the parent of three bi-racial children I agree that the labeling gets tiring at best. Just like the word "gaijin" it's a label used by Japanese to explain away differences vs accepting diversity.

    To change it, the education system, from preschool through university, has to change how they accept people who can be Japanese (citizens) vs ethnicity.

    Oh and personally speaking if someone HAS to label my kids as being different, then I prefer "hybrid" the newest and best thing around!

  • 10

    FightingViking

    There's also the term "Eurasian" - which would effectively mean "double" - in a more "poetic" form !

  • 22

    harajuku_press

    I think the term is lame. When asked in Japan if my kids are "half", I say, "Yes, they are half human and half Japanese." That usually shuts them down ... hehehe. I tell my kids they are 100% of both cultures. It is a pointless battle, though, even my kids use the term "half" ... Such is life.

  • 14

    thepersoniamnow

    As a quad, yes it does get tiring, but understanding Japan and the people here is the best way to find your peace with it. I think the term "double" helps people from the west to deal with it, as thats kind of in their culture...to positively beef up someone that sounds negative to them -the term "half". I'm cool with the term personally because of my reality. Japanese simply do not see anyone who differs in blood in any way as a real Japanese. Even a Korean or Chinese who has lived here for generations, if they mention that they have a ancestor not from Japan, they will be labeled as something else, not Japanese. It also gets worse what kind of mix you are. I've gotten a good reaction because of my Caucasian mixes, but my friends who are Asian mixed, or black certainly are viewed differently. However when I was young people around me insisting that I was a double, or even quadruple was a bit ridiculous and got me unwanted attention. For me day to day, I judge things on a personal basis. For example, Couple months back I went to renew my passport and the lady behind the counter made a comment on my "real" ethnicity and I snatched it from her and stated quite loudly that I was as Japanese as her and that she was an office clerk, not one to make assumptions on clients ethnicity. Her boss and everyone in the room looked up and at her and she looked like she wanted a hole to crawl into. In my regular life if people identify with me as a mixed Japanese, it's usually positive and I have no problem with it.

  • 15

    Ricky Kaminski

    Its like half a person, but that cultural sensitivity train has yet to arrive. Wear it with pride anyway those with a bit of the outside world in ya!

  • 5

    Tsuchifumazu

    It was around but only started to really offend people about 15 years ago. It can be annoying but those that are really offended are prone to taking offense at every thing. Not being very resilient and living in a homogeneous counrtry with 99% of the people with the same ethnic background may be the reason. These days people seem to be overly emotionally vulurable to effectively cope with these kinds of things.

  • 7

    paulinusa

    Let's hope "hafu" will fade from Japanese terminology. As intermarriage inevitably increases, the term will probably lose it's stigma. It already has to a certain extent. Some kids nowadays think it's cool.

  • 7

    Mr. Noidall

    As someone who is biracial, I wish all the monoracial people would just shut the hell up with their opinions and analyses. Including parents of biracial kids. The one thing I'm sick of is society's pressure for a label or definition of what I am. I'll tell you what biracial people are. First, the two halves multiply exponentially intelligence, the power of the immune system, the ability to adapt and see things from other perspectives. Second, yes we're cute. We're good looking because we have a more diverse set of genes. Nature has engineered us to be better.

  • 5

    goldorak

    because it implies that the non-Japanese side of their background somehow renders them “incomplete.”

    Not necessarily. Hafu is just a word that may or may not be derogatory depending on who says it, to whom and how. Same with mixed race and all other alternatives including 'daburu'. Perso I think it's up to each individual to 'own' their identity and background and be a proud mixed race, dual citizen etc if one feels like it. Most J ppl I know use the word hafu with respect and in many cases, admiration. Only the speaker knows the real meaning and intent behind his words.

  • 8

    Andrew Lum

    In Hawaii they are called mixed plates. most people dont have a problem with it as they make up about 41% of the population

  • 7

    Laguna

    My son is at college in New York now and my daughter in California, and one thing they've both learned is that at least Japan is very simply binary - quite quaint, actually. Venture into the real, modern world and things become much more complex.

  • 9

    Spanki

    I'm the proud father of 2 gorgeous girls, it doesn't really bother me when people say they are half because they aren't being derogatory but I think the whole 'my kids are double' thing is actually pretty lame. Personally, I use the term mixed race.

  • 10

    papigiulio

    Hafu is just a word that may or may not be derogatory depending on who says it,

    I think this is the problem. Still, I'm trying to understand why many foreigners are so against the word haafu. I never saw it as a derogatory form. Im also half, so when I told people they usually respond in a WOW way than an EWW way. But again, not Japanese half, so perhaps its only something with Japanese half?

  • -13

    kibousha

    Those who are offended being called "hafu" also contribute to this meaningless brouhaha. Like "gaijin", the Japanese never intended it as a derogatory word, but hater-gaijins just take it as "offensive".

  • -1

    wanderlust

    And 'newhalf' is a totally different concept, the Japanese expression for ladyboy or shemale!

  • 5

    RealityofFake

    I don't think the word hafu is actually meant to be "oh they're only half a person". I think there's some over-sensitivity to the issue. Yes, the labelling of someone as hafu is done to show a difference between them and the general population, but Japanese people usually have a positive image of hafus. But that is of course if your other half is a desirable ethnicity, like of Caucasian decent.

  • 2

    Spanki

    I tend to agree with that Kibousha, those of us who live here know how much the locals like to shorten terms, sometimes pointlessly so and usually pretty annoyingly so.

  • 11

    serendipitous

    In actual fact, everyone is a so-called 'hafu'. Half of their mother and half of their father.

  • -1

    sf2k

    half stands for half-breed. No one in the 21st century should allow that to stand

  • 7

    lesenfant

    IF need to label them, "mixed" seems fine to me.

    "Half" is another example of subtle, sometimes unwilling, racism. Xenophobic.

  • 5

    klausdorth

    I always told my two older daughters and will tell my young one:

    Be proud for who and what you are!

    They never had any problems during the past 30 years they have lived over here in "inaka".

  • 13

    Dogdog

    kibousha

    Those who are offended being called "hafu" also contribute to this meaningless brouhaha. Like "gaijin", the Japanese never intended it as a derogatory word, but hater-gaijins just take it as "offensive".

    I've known a few Japanese who get offended when the term gaijin is used to label them, when they're outside Japan .

    I also love the chaos as the next batch of JTB tour group enter immigration at Shanghai airport and are totally confused at which line to take the Chinese line or the waiguo ren line (kanji is the same as gaijin).

  • 0

    Ishiwara

    I don't like the term "hafu" but plenty of hafu actually do. Or at least accept them. Ariana Miyamoto for example thought it gave them an identity, making it easier to explain to "normal" Japanese people. Having a word for it does make it easier for hafu to have their place in Japanese society.

    Of course, ideally we should not have to label people, but this is not an ideal world.

  • -3

    CH3CHO

    I spent a lot of time and energy earnestly asking people, friends and strangers alike, to refer to my child as “daburu” or “double.”

    OK. "Harry Potter and the Double-Blood Prince"

    lesenfantMAR. 17, 2017 - 10:04AM JST

    IF need to label them, "mixed" seems fine to me.

    OK. "Harry Potter and the Mixed-Blood Prince"

    Lets make J. K. Rowling admit "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" politically incorrect.

  • -1

    sir_bentley28

    I like the term "hybrid". Its a cool title which commands respect and transcendence from the derogatory term "hafu".

  • 1

    Dango bong

    it implies that the non-Japanese side of their background somehow renders them “incomplete.”

    no it does not, we even say in English "half Japanese" or "half British" It only implies this if you think it does.

  • 3

    dcog9065

    Rather than trying to interpret and change the label based on the literal meaning of "half" as opposed to something like "double", it would be better for halfies to own the term "half". I don't think I've met a single Japanese person who doesn't like halfies and isn't a bit jealous so the assertion that people are literally meaning half of a normal person is ludicrous.

    Besides, if you take it literally, the label "double" is also not a good term as it implies a 100% advantage over a standard "single".

  • 8

    zichi

    Seeing any other human beings less than a full and equal one to ourselves is the wrong way to live. All beings are part of the human race. These values should be reflected in the educating of the young. How many millions have been killed because of "race"?

    Hafu, mixed race, double or whatever labels people care to use are reflecting misguided views. This is not just in Japan but a global issue.

  • 6

    Dango bong

    Seeing any other human beings less than a full and equal one to ourselves is the wrong way to live.

    I am sick of this fake outrage. I ask my friend what his nationality is he himself says "I am half Irish." Nowhere do I get the impression he is half a human people. Stop the drama.

  • 0

    towingtheline

    "Hafu" is a (negative) derogatory term. It was coined and adopted long ago as a "you're not one of us" expression by the xenophobic, delusional elitist majority. Today it is used by ignorant people who do not think before they speak. Remember, being Japanese is a nationality not a race. How can you possibly be half of a nationality. You either are, or are not. Dual or Double is a better (positive) expression for children with mixed nationality parents. If anyone ever refers to my daughter as 'Hafu' I ask the person "which half of her is Japanese? and does that mean my daughter is somehow incomplete and inferior?" usually they look at me like with a clueless expression like a surprised cat...

  • 7

    zichi

    I am sick of this fake outrage.

    I have no fake outrage and its a view I've held for more than five decades. I'm also Irish, Welsh and Scottish so what half would I be? I'm a white British male so mostly I don't get labeled but certainly my black friends do, along with my Chinese and Korean friends and the children of my friends of international relationships also experienced some problems at their schools.

    There was time not so long ago, in Britain to be Irish or even stating "half-Irish" would have prevented the person from employment, renting accommodation or staying in lodgings with signs posted "no Irish". You friend is probably around to be half Irish but if it prevented him to live freely then he would hide his ancestry.

  • 6

    Dango bong

    "Hafu" is a (negative) derogatory term. It was coined and adopted long ago as a "you're not one of us"

    No it was not. It was borrowed from the English language ie "half-Irish." It means half your DNA is one parent. Jeeeez people please stop the victim mentality. They borrowed the damn term from us!!

  • 0

    inkochi

    lol

    OK. "Harry Potter and the Double-Blood Prince"

    lesenfantMAR. 17, 2017 - 10:04AM JST

    IF need to label them, "mixed" seems fine to me.

    OK. "Harry Potter and the Mixed-Blood Prince"

    Lets make J. K. Rowling admit "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" politically incorrect.

    Yeah, don't discriminate against Voldemort, but discrimination against all the others is going to happen anyway!

    I ran into this issue in Australia after 12 years in Japan - Japanese people there persisted with 'ha-fu' and 'gaijin'. Once I pointed out that they were in a different place form Japan and the reply was that they were referring to culture!.

    Also in Australia, by law the media are not allowed to refer to a suspect's ethnology in the case of reporting criminal news (though of course they do). Talking about this with some Americans once,and they said it is quite normal thereto refer to race in the news. Why? I asked. Because it is convenient, they answered.

    On that point about convenience, that is one reason why people have words for anything. Furthermore, words and so much other language tend to be culturally generated anyway. So, words like 'ha-fu' and so on here should probably be seen as a reflection on Japanese culture. As one post has it, in a way it is rather quaint, but not really something I can get into.

  • 0

    Mike L

    Yawn. Always a topic that will get a lot of comments retreading the same old arguments.

    I prefer the terms mulatto and quadroon.

  • 2

    thepersoniamnow

    One thing I am clear on... I'm really not interested in people who aren't of mixed nationalities coming here and then berating Japan calling us halfs as completely bad, racist, and offensive. It's much more complex than that, and if you haven't had to live this reality from when you were a one or two year old here, trying to figure out your place and how to adapt, it's quite ridiculous hearing a white guy declaring angrily (even if he's trying to stick up for me) that "half" is bad and that it should be double or triple... This is not Europe or America and you can't take your issues from there and try to copy paste them here and reach a conclusion that's based on western values and be happy with it.

  • 8

    Spanki

    If anyone ever refers to my daughter as 'Hafu' I ask the person "which half of her is Japanese? and does that mean my daughter is somehow incomplete and inferior?" usually they look at me like with a clueless expression like a surprised cat...

    That's just stupid

  • -4

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    @Spanki

    I tend to agree with that Kibousha, those of us who live here know how much the locals like to shorten terms, sometimes pointlessly so and usually pretty annoyingly so. I agree mate, but what if the term were half breed?

  • 5

    zichi

    Tens of millions of people murdered and killed because of their race. Millions of others enslaved for being the wrong one. Today there are still countries who have untouchables. None of this history past and present is fake news or outrage nor part of any so called political correctness.Its what happens.

    Democides and genocides have killed millions.

    Hafu means half, half Japanese, half another race or nation but means the hafu isn't fully Japanese even if born here and holding a Japanese passport. It indicates the person is half foreignness. Dates from the time of the 1970's so quite a recent term. Being foreignness does not always mean race because a person born from Japanese and Indian parents, both Asian by race, would still be a hafu.

    One of the earliest terms referring to half Japanese people was “ainoko”, meaning a child born of a relationship between two difference races.

    that was replaced in 1950's by

    “konketsuji” which literally means a child of mixed blood.

    Then came hafu followed from the 1990's by “daburu,” deriving from the word double.

    There are "hafu" who have no problem with the term but there are others you do. The term is used by Japanese and not the hafu themselves.

  • -8

    Tony Alderman

    It's not fair on the kid to have a half-kid in Japan.

  • 3

    M3M3M3

    If we change to 'double' and it is widely used by the same people who currently use 'half' in a derogatory manner, I think we end up with the same problem. We would constantly need to invent new terms once as quickly as the old ones are deemed to be offensive.

    A striking example of this linguistic arms race is the group that I'm actually reluctant to name because I have no idea what to call them anymore. Within just the past 100 years they have been called (and I genuinely don't wish to offend anyone): morons, dumb, slow, re-tarded, mentally re-tarded, mentally handicapped, learning disabled, mentally challenged, intellectually challenged, special needs, and so on. All of these terms were considered entirely neutral at one point but most fell out of favour when they were abused and then deemed offensive (most within my own lifetime, and probably yours too).

    In my opinion the problem is not language, it's the people who use the language that we should focus on changing

  • -1

    Yubaru

    It was around but only started to really offend people about 15 years ago. It can be annoying but those that are really offended are prone to taking offense at every thing

    Really? Tell that to my friends who were born in the 1950's. Their fathers ran back to the states, and their mothers had to raise the children alone, and let me tell you the stories they shared about being bullied.

    Oh and the term came about in the 1970's, folks only started being aware of the problem these children faced when the internet came around. Otherwise they were ignored as non-entities.

  • 2

    Dango bong

    my kid is called half all the time in Japan and they admire him for it treat him like a celebrity. btw he is called half back home in America too, there is no faux outrage

  • 7

    cleo

    The term is used by Japanese and not the hafu themselves.

    The haafu themselves are Japanese.

    My kids have no problems with the expression, and never have. It's never been used in a derogatory way.

    It's just a word, who cares. A rose by any other name, and all that.

    Tell that to my friends who were born in the 1950's. Their fathers ran back to the states, and their mothers had to raise the children alone, and let me tell you the stories they shared about being bullied.

    The bigger problem there was illegitimacy in the aftermath of war, in an age when 'single mother' meant either 'naive fool' or 'whore'. The fact that the illegitimate children were visually different from their peers simply added to the problem by making it easier for them to be singled out.

  • 4

    zichi

    You can have a Japanese parent, have Japanese nationality, speak Japanese, have a Japanese name, be born and raised in Japan – yet not be treated as Japanese due to features you adopt from your non-Japanese parent.

    The story of Ariana Miyamoto who won the Miss Universe Japan contest for 2015, but being half African-American, received internet abuse for being unfit to represent Japan.

    Do the children of a white and Japanese parents get the same reactions as a black and Japanese parents? Being white hafu fairs better than black hafu which I have noticed more of recently.

    Assimilation

  • 1

    Dango bong

    Thank you Cleo. Finally someone who gets it. You complainers do not even realize that most of the time when they call your kids half they are doing out of envy. Remember the pic on JT yesterday of all Japanese in black suits? That is where they are coming from. They envy you.

    Whats more, the actual word half is used because they borrowed it from English. You know, half Australian, a quarter Italian? We say it every day you dolts.

    Stop complaining already...

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    I don't have any particular qualms with the word, but it is exclusionary, same as "gaijin" (which I also don't have a problem with, depending on how it's used). It's the need for Japan to always add a "non-Japanese" label of some sort that is tiring, particularly they can't think up any suitable alternatives. And for those that argue it is not used as an offensive term (for the most part... Moritomo would use it to keep people out, I'm sure), I agree, but again there have been more offensive terms in the past ("banjin", etc) that were not considered offensive then but were 'updated' somewhat. I think it's due time "half" stopped being used, especially when the people in question are 100% Japanese nationality.

  • 1

    thepersoniamnow

    @Kobewhitbarowner

    If the term were half-breed we would have another issue wouldn't we. But the term isn't that. So why are you inventing it?

  • 3

    therougou

    I don't like the word, but as mentioned, it's just a word. It's not worth fighting it, and you come out sounding more arrogant if you try to get people to call you or your kids "double".

  • 1

    pacint

    I just say my kid is 100% japanese and 100% the other bit.

    Usually gets a chuckle.

  • 4

    marcelito

    When someone lables someone else "haafu" when i,m around I always slip in " yeah...haafu,,ii naa...haafu kids are so lucky ". As said above haafu should be something to be proud of , not ashamed of.

  • 4

    PerformingMonkey

    Cleo, once again the voice of reason.

    As for me, I am not big on cultural identity, and neither is my wife. So our half-Japanese son will continue to be raised as a citizen of the world, with passports from two random countries.

  • 8

    Dango bong

    In my 23 years here I leaned a long time ago that if you try to BE one of them or try to CHANGE them you will have a miserable existence here...

  • 6

    zichi

    As for me, I am not big on cultural identity, and neither is my wife. So our half-Japanese son will continue to be raised as a citizen of the world, with passports from two random countries.

    Your son according to Japanese law will have to decide which nationality he wants to be, Japanese or other by the age of 20 years, I think?

    An important question should be not the label of hafu but do those people suffer because of it.

    Are they refused jobs, refused accommodation from landlords and so on. Japan like other countries is not free of racism or discrimination, including discriminations against children from Fukushima who have been refused hospital treatment or places at schools.

    Hate speech against resident Koreans.

    The single use of words like hafu or gaijin may not be such a big issue in themselves but are part of a bigger picture.

    All racism and discriminations needs to be removed mostly via education.

  • 1

    Ms. Alexander

    Being called ハーフ has never bothered me. Like someone else said, it's just a word. My kids are half too and it doesn't bother them at all either.

    What bothers me is when people ask, "なに人?ハーフ?" (Nani jin? Half?) Since when is ハーフ a race?! SMH

  • 2

    MsDelicious

    @zichi

    Your son according to Japanese law will have to decide which nationality he wants to be, Japanese or other by the age of 20 years, I think?

    Not true. Passport people when renewing a Japanese passport look the other way.

  • 1

    itsonlyrocknroll

    As Hafu, English - Japan/Japan - English, proud to be half each of each half, so what came first, the Japanese half or the English half, and at what point did the two become whole? When Mother and Father met for the first time, like to think so. Life is two short to worry, by half.

  • 2

    zichi

    @MsDelicious

    Not true. Passport people when renewing a Japanese passport look the other way.

    I only stated what is law/legal and not what may be possible.

    The designation "half" was first used in a novel "International Daughter of the City" announced in 1930 by Kita Hiramaka, a writer, born and raised in Yokohama .

  • 5

    massiou81

    So I my kid, being born to my beautiful Hafu wife, is a quarter, should it mean that people will argue that he/she would better be called a quadruple ?

    Words are not important, it is the meaning that you stick to them that is.

  • 1

    bass4funk

    Your son according to Japanese law will have to decide which nationality he wants to be, Japanese or other by the age of 20 years, I think?

    Not necessarily. I have a friend who is a very famous singer in Japan, huge and she's 1/4 but her mother is from the States, father is Japanese, she kept both citizenships, no one asked or pushed her, she's over 30 and when she travels, she's takes both passports. This is one of those exceptions and fine line arguments, but I think as long as you don't make too much wind about it, they probably won't say anything, my kids are both biracial, as I am as well. When the time comes, I will tell them the pros and cons of each country and then let them decide for themselves.

    Being called ハーフ has never bothered me. Like someone else said, it's just a word. My kids are half too and it doesn't bother them at all either.

    I agree, my kids could care less, it's more important how they are treated overall.

    What bothers me is when people ask, "なに人?ハーフ?" (Nani jin? Half?) Since when is ハーフ a race?! SMH

    Exactly!

  • 7

    zichi

    bass4funk

    Like I've commented the Nationality Law requires children to choose one or the other. But people can still obtain both passports.

    http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/tcon-01.html

    Don't ask don't tell. The Justice Ministry estimated in 2012 that 90 percent of dual citizens fail to do so and hang on to both their Japanese and foreign passports.

    Certainly one of the benefits coming from an international parents.

  • 1

    pacint

    My son will have to chose as my home-country don't allow dual-citizenship.

  • 1

    thepersoniamnow

    Opinions are a dime a dozen. But long termer's like Zichi and Yubaru know what's up from experience. Django bong also has a very good point about what's good for you in the long run.

  • 0

    pacint

    IIRC, didn't Sweden also reinstate conscription recently.

    Yeah, tough decision to be made pros and cons either way.

  • 8

    thepersoniamnow

    Disillusioned

    I wouldn't tell my kidz they were better looking, stronger, and better than another race because of their own blood. Wouldn't you be doing exactly what people here are complaining the Japanese do? Racially profiling! Lol

  • 3

    kohakuebisu

    Interesting to read the comments, especially those from people who are hafu themselves. Thanks everyone.

    The documentary Hafu can be watched on Amazon Video, for free if you have Amazon Prime. It follows five hafu who have very different backgrounds but enough of a shared experience to give the film coherence. I watched it with my eldest, a fifth grader, and I hope it will help her with situations she may encounter.

  • 7

    Speed

    When asked if I'm "half" I just reply "I'm both." Which is exactly what I am.

  • 1

    Zed Phillips

    Who cares? Really? Are Japanese really putting a negative label on kids by calling them halfs or is it just the insecurity of Western snowflakes that have such low tolerance to anything that offends their liberal, all inclusive, diversity rules ok - B/S.

  • 5

    djv124

    As the parent of a gorgeous 2 year old Haafu girl, I have zero problem with the term and I will teach my daughter to not have a problem with it either. The reason? It's simple: The intent of this word being used has never once been derogatory in the hundreds of conversations I've had with Japanese folk who meet my daughter and use that term while they are smiling and waving and petting the top of my daughter's head. It's just an old expression that never has been traded in for something more P.C. If anything, it's said with such adoration and praise always that I've always looked at it as a point of pride and even use the term myself with Japanese people I meet in explaining both my daughter and the mixed race children of others. Nobody ever bats an eye or blinks at this term within my social circle of Japanese friends and family. There are so many haafus who are famous in Japan and beloved that I see no overall problem either with Japan as a whole somehow... advocating prejudice towards anyone who isn't pure Japanese blood. I mean, sure, there are some old, old laws still around to remind foreigners they are foreigners if they are living in Japan (me not being allowed to be buried in my wife's family plot because I don't share her Japanese last name is a personal favorite, lol), but mostly I'm treated very well by Japanese people. I guess to each their own, yeah?

  • 3

    Pidestroika

    A: (asks in English) Where are you from?

    B:(answers in Japanese) I'm Japanese

    A: (in English) eeeh.....Where you born?

    B: (answers in Japanese) In Ehime on the island of Shikoku

    A:(in Japanese) OH! You are good at Japanese!

    (dialogue continues in Japanese)

    B: I'm Japanese so it's only natural.

    A: (hits fist on open palm) Oh, I got it! You are half!

    B: No I'm 100% Japanese

    A: Your parents...?

    B: What about my parents?

    A: Where were they born?

    B: My mother was born in Hokaido, my father in Shikoku

    A: But why...?

    B: Why what?

    A: Why is your skin black?

    B: Because my grandfather was from Brazil

    A: Oh so you are half!!!

    B: No I'm 100% Japanese damn it!

    A: But all Japanese are yellow! There are no black Japanese.

    B: So, you judge people from the color of their skin? Isn't this racist?

    A: I'M NOT RACIST!!! I love the Beatles and the Carpenters!....

  • -1

    thepersoniamnow

    Djv124

    That's wonderful and I totally agree with you. You have to see the good in things and know where to draw the line. I mean it sucks that she won't be recognized as a citizen, but it's great that we also don't have to play by Japanese society's rules. Halfs get away with a lot that a Japanese would never be able to.

  • 1

    Pidestroika

    djv124: "anyone who isn't pure Japanese blood" - loved that part! Tells a lot. Please come back and let us know if your daughters have any problem finding a job because they are not "100% Japanese" or renting a house the owner labels "Japanese only" or been constantly stopped in the street by police to be asked for their "Torko" etc etc or if they will still be patted in the head when they reach their 30s-40s.

  • 4

    spahnmatthew

    My Eurasian daughters are beautiful, inside and out. They are a product of the best of my wife and me.

  • 0

    Patricia Yarrow

    hafu is not going far enough. I am American/USA. Like many Americans, we have a plethora of genetic backgrounds. So, the fascination in Japan on 1/2 has always seemed to be slightly pathetically simplistic. What do I mean by that? Well, from my own genetic background, here is my multiple 1/2ness 50% Norwegian. After that: Native American Indian (Dakota Sioux), French, English, Scot, black Ethiopian, Irish. A lot more complex than basic 50/50.

  • 1

    pacint

    Patricia.

    The same counts for european, etc.

  • -5

    IloveCoffee

    People need to accept the fact that social progress does not happen over night, and different countries are at different stage of their social development. Japan is like America 100 years ago, you cannot expect them to have the same understanding or views. It will take about 100 years or so for the Japanese society to catch up.

  • 4

    TwinJin

    I'm a half black and Japanese teen myself, I never really found the term "hafu" offensive. I just see it as a being a word to describe being two races. Though I do see why others would not like the word.

  • -5

    Tony Alderman

    A: (asks in English) Where are you from?

    B:(answers in Japanese) I'm Japanese

    A: (in English) eeeh.....Where you born?

    B: (answers in Japanese) In Ehime on the island of Shikoku

    A:(in Japanese) OH! You are good at Japanese!

    (dialogue continues in Japanese)

    B: I'm Japanese so it's only natural.

    A: (hits fist on open palm) Oh, I got it! You are half!

    B: No I'm 100% Japanese

    A: Your parents...?

    B: What about my parents?

    A: Where were they born?

    B: My mother was born in Hokaido, my father in Shikoku

    A: But why...?

    B: Why what?

    A: Why is your skin black?

    B: Because my grandfather was from Brazil

    A: Oh so you are half!!!

    B: No I'm 100% Japanese damn it!

    A: But all Japanese are yellow! There are no black Japanese.

    B: So, you judge people from the color of their skin? Isn't this racist?

    A: I'M NOT RACIST!!! I love the Beatles and the Carpenters!....

    Idiot.

  • -2

    Leila26

    Hafus can blame their naive parents if they have problems. It is not the FAULT of the Japanese if they are curious or if they ask questions. People are curious all over the planet. Curiosity does not equate to HATE. I learned that as a small child. Curiosity is CURIOSITY and often the gateway to a new friendship. Only the parents who try to remain blameless are the backward folks. It is THEIR FAULT, ultimately, that this child was born. Hafus have two parts of the world to be safe in - people who are of only one race in one country only have one safe place in the world.
    There are many benefits to being a hafu.

  • 2

    notagain

    If you have to label these children why not use the more positive term 'bi-cultural' or even 'multi-cultural' Much more inclusive and a great deal less pejorative.

  • 0

    ukguyjp

    Personally I find the term 'hafu' offensive, for the simple reason it seems to imply that someone is half a person and not as fully Japanese as someone with two Japanese parents.

  • 3

    OssanAmerica

    My kids are "half" Japanese. Sorry but I think getting bent out of shape over the term isn't worth the time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMhlORsBk2k

  • -2

    Leila26

    When I was little I was taught to show my hands - I guess I was taught. I showed the browner side and the whiter side - "half and half" simplified in terms of hand color.
    My parents tried to have a sense of humor about us being half.
    That is what parents can help with. How THEY take the remarks can make a difference. Do they make a joke or have a funny comeback? Do they try to help their child make a new friend or assist the child in getting angry?
    My mother would simply say that we should "look down" if we were blue (about anything). And when we "looked down" and saw all those who were worse off, we would then begin to feel a whole lot more positive. It worked. Who does not ignore the disabled, the elderly.....those worse off when they are feeling down?
    I knew that most little kids did not have evil intentions. They are only curious.

  • 4

    gokai_wo_maneku

    In high school, there were a couple of "half" students who very proudly embraced the terms, and they were very popular kids. Well, that was the mid 90s. And Shinjuku. I guess things have changed.

  • 0

    clamenza

    @Tony Aldeman - I'm assuming that conversation actually happened? No backstory? You didn't just make that up, right?

  • 0

    thepersoniamnow

    Ramwag

    I think your "shortcut" made you miss out on a lot of life's details. All your opening statements are completely wrong.

  • 0

    Thomas Gowing

    In my opinion this is really not a derogatory or otherwise miserable term. It seems to me that its hip to be half for lack of a better term. These kids have the best of both worlds and certainly they can use this to their advantage even if in some circles their maybe negative connotations. By the way for any parents interested please join my Facebook goup HALF TIME JPN we have a lot of great meet pus and anyone is welcome - Hope to hold a hanami event soon very soon !

  • 4

    Stewie

    The greater percentage of "hafu" children are genuinely bi-lingual. Surely this should be seen as a great asset to Japan. The fact that they are also usually very good looking is just an added bonus.

  • 1

    Leila26

    No, having grown up in the US, I am fine with "hafu" when I visit Japan. I have not shared in the culture of Japan as others, so I am not in their tribe, just as Native Americans reject me because I am only 1/6th Native American.
    I think those who keep watch over their culture are good people. One day we will have no cultural identity. It will be a boring, plastic world.
    I am fascinated with Japanese arts. The whole world has been for centuries.
    Hafus can also be very proud of their "other" cultures. My European cultural heritage I also admire!

  • 2

    gokai_wo_maneku

    I remember when I was in high school during the mid 90s that several talents had being "half" as one of their big selling points (but mainly females as I remember).

  • -3

    djv124

    @Pidestroika: ,br I think the moment you show a Japanese person you speak the language proficiently, understand the manners and customs of Japan, and you demonstrate that you know your place in the social structure of Japan, there will be no problems working for Japanese and living in places that are rented only to Japanese. I mean, I certainly have never had any issues, and I'm 100% white, but when I'm in Japan, I respect the Japanese and assimilate to their culture. And it doesn't hurt I can speak Japanese well enough to have anyone thinking about treating me in a racist way change their mind pretty quick about doing so. As such, I fully expect my haafu daughter, who already can speak both Japanese and English and understands both languages very well, to have zero problems getting by in Japan, should she choose at 18 to be a Japanese citizen, or should she choose to visit Japan as an American citizen. I'm hopeful, and sure, there are always going to be racist people in Japan who won't care that she can do all of the aforementioned and will only look at her as a mixed individual, but I personally feel those types of people are fast fading from Japan. Again, only speaking from personal experience, not from a set of facts sitting in front of me based on a poll or anything of the sort. Take it as you will.

  • 0

    Pidestroika

    djv124: thank you for sharing your personal experience regarding your daughters with us and I wish you all the best. Unfortunately the parents commenting on JT who claim their children have no problems with the word "hafu" and face no discrimination are usually "white". Before you (and I don't mean you only) say that "hafu" is and innocent word, please inquire if any children or adults with one "black" parent especially from an African country or from India, Bangladesh or from China or Korea who were born and raised in Japan, speak perrfect Japanese, know the culture and everything else you mention, like to be called "hafu".

  • 2

    Tamarama

    My kids are 50% Japanese, 22.5% Irish, 12.5 % Western European, 9% Great British, 6.5 % Scandinavian, 3% Eastern European, and a pepper shake of Iberian seasoning.

    So, yeah, they are half Japanese, but the dismissiveness of the term is what irks me. That's a pretty rich other 50% imo.

  • 1

    Frederick Stimson Harriman

    I learned a long time ago that there are no races, and everyone's a racist. This is a problem ALL humans have - like being able to see, yet reality is always different from what we can see. Japanese expect homogeneity. It's best to get used to that. "Half" is not a nice term, but there are worse used by non-Japanese with no sense of guilt. Work with the problem person to person, day by day.

  • 3

    qwertyjapan

    Too much contrived sensitivity.

    Ask someone in the west about their ancestry and they say things like, "I'm half Irish, 1/4 German..." etc.

    Just like the overreaction to the world gaijin. I've never met anyone using it who had the intent of being rude or insulting.

  • 0

    notagain

    Ask someone in the west about their ancestry and they say things like, "I'm half Irish, 1/4 German..." etc.

    No, not in Europe. Seems very common among those from North America.

  • -3

    Kittychosen

    Even worse is calling them 'kids'. They are human, not bovoidae.

  • -1

    Nordine Lafdal

    Well to be honest it’s the first time that I'm submitting a comment. It seems people are missing the point entirely. I myself am half, but i don't believe in the slightest that this gives me greater legitimacy in my beliefs on the subject, the use of our ethnicity to delegitimize or disregard other views makes us partly guilty of what the initial writer was saying.

    The issue at hand is one of creating an identity for both individuals and groups. This is done in two ways: inclusion and exclusion. A group reaffirms its identity as ‘us’ by social categorization, emphasizing and praising those traits that are shared within the group, be they cultural or ethnic. A group further reaffirms their identity by excluding those which do not fit the shared groups defining factors, by emphasizing and denigrating the differences you legitimize your own groups identity. To put it simply, we are us because we share our identity, they are other because they are different. Since one of the strongest determinants for Japanese identity is having Japanese ethnicity, it can be understood why there may exist some level of discrimination in the ue of the label hafu

    Someone mentioned the idea that being half-Irish doesn't have stigma so why should hafu bother us. There was a long period of time where it did have a stigma, half-Irish meant half ‘other’ thus being seen as a threat to the homogeneity of the identity of the majority. But now we live at a time where our ethnic lineage, especially in America has moved further away (for the most part) from a reason for exclusion but more for a reason of inclusion, as seeing the countless different ethnicities and groups as a unifying factor, thus strengthening the concept of ‘us’.

    Coming back round to the whole issue of Japan of Japan and hafu, is it discriminatory? Yes it is? Can we avoid it? Doubtful. Is it harmful? In the context of Japan i believe it is relatively benign. It is a term that cannot find a compromise between the homogeneity of ‘us’ and the external, would you want hafus to have to deny their external identity in the attempt to be included into the ‘us’? It is in essence a term denoting exclusion to disarm a threat to the internal identity of being Japanese, not until Japan becomes more ethnically diverse will there be any possible recourse. Through realizing that there is exclusion is the step towards weakening the separation of ‘us’ and ‘other’ but until that time, disregard it or use it as you see fit, because no matter what we are called we still exist.

    If you are interested in this topic i suggest you read Henri Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory.

  • 0

    lostrune2

    The term is not bad. Heck, sometimes I call Japanese "Asians" and they don't mind

  • 3

    Stephen Denney

    I agree with the writer. Whilst most Japanese are mortified when you explain the term "haafu" might be derogatory to the beholder, since it was never their intention, it is unessary labeling and limiting - something we all do but seems particularly popular in Japan. "Haafu? iii na". "Haafu are good looking", "haafu are popular", "haafu are born with a linguistic silver spoon in their mouths". (We are talking about Western "haafu"s of course, such is the fine art of categorizing and ranking in Japan.) These memes sound like compliments at first, but you soon realize it is a subconscious othering usually based on envy rather than praise. It also puts the stereotype above the individual - and if you buck the sterotyoe people have labeled you with in Japan, you are considered suspect. I work in an all Japanese company and some of the parents with kids the same age as mine really don't want to hear about what mine are doing - such as that relating to their English ability or perceived ideas about what they are able to do abroad since the come from an English speaking home. The assume life will be their fit my kids on a plate and completely fail to register the difficulties "haafu" kids have in their situation.

  • 0

    heikemo

    Part 1/2

    Very interesting topic! Here are my thoughts as a soon to be father of so called “hafu” and as a linguistics student. I would like to pick up on the main claims that people have made so far and offer my opinion:

    Claim: What you call something doesn’t really matter, it’s just a word

    Probably one of the most dangerous things written among the comments. Language is not a neutral set of symbols agreed upon by all the people of a group, let’s say a nation state. Language is not the linear product of individual’s opinions and feeling put into writing or articulated. Language itself shapes (but does not predetermine) how we see and rationalize our surroundings and our own actions.

    Language and the variations (like dialects) and word are contested, meaning that people and group will fight to make them mean whatever benefits their own group. Why do so many countries have standardized written/spoken languages (like Japan), that just happen to be the same as the language/dialect the powerful groups (political groups, the wealthy, aristocracy etc.) used or had access to when the standardization processes started?

    Claim: Most Japanese don’t mean anything bad by the word “hafu”, therefore it is not a problem

    It’s probably true that most Japanese people don’t mean anything bad by it. Or else you are basically saying that Japanese people are basically bad or evil people. But I think we can all agree that many of them are certainly some of the nicest people we have ever met!

    So what’s the problem with people using “hafu” then? First consider what any word to describe ethnicity or nationality is even needed for: To put into the focus the difference between another human and yourself/your own group. Why do that? Practical reasons maybe? Well, it’s also an extremely non-direct and effective way to remind people that “you are not one of us”, and at the same time reminding yourself of your own group affiliation. In a unique homogenous country like Japan being part of the 99% majority is a huge benefit, and through group categorization (“us and them”) the majority can control access to this powerful community, and also use the minorities (the others) as “proof” that there is something unique and (inherently valuable) about the majority group.

    So fighting for the definition of a word or rejecting it is not only necessary for change, but a legitimate strategy, and should never be dismissed by reasons like “Don’t be offended, we didn’t mean anything by it!”. But it is important to not openly attack and blame each individual Japanese person for using the term. It’s probably not even conscious as they were brought up in an extremely homogenous society and through educational institutions enforcing that. Getting angry every time you hear the word “hafu” (or “gaijin” for that matter) will probably only create unnecessary tension and raising barriers instead of breaking them down. Be polite and non-judgemental about it. Talk about how hearing the word makes you and others feel, and not focus on the other “being an ignorant racist” and so on.

    Regardless of the reasons above, if you see that some people take offense from being named something it is my personal opinion that you should be very wary of using it or accepting/defending that others do.

  • -1

    heikemo

    Part 2/2 Claim: “Hafu” now has a positive ring to it (“beautiful” etc.), and many Japanese are envious of them

    Well, that’s better than having a negative ring, but it’s still problematic. The essentialization of the “hafu” being something different from “Japanese” still prevails. And it is fair to say that this does only gives the so called “hafu” a temporary cultural capital which can not be promised to last. If you follow the Japanese entertainment industry like me you all know that stars and popular “types of stars” fall from grace on a monthly basis.

    Personal opinion: I also find it sickening that we assign inherent properties (beautiful) like that to groups of people. What if my children (with my Japanese wife) don’t end up looking like the super models the “hafu”-label and public opinion/media expect them to be. What does that do to their self esteem?! Parents, wake up. This is not only about your own beautiful children.

    Claim: Children with parents from different places should try to take back/own the word “Hafu”

    Resistance is a good thing, but I believe that there are good and bad ways of doing it. It is more effective to reject the word of the powerful group you are opposing, than to try and change it (you have both the numbers and the odds against you).

    Claim: “Hafu” is derived from English in words like “half Irish”, and we can’t blame Japanese people for using something we use as well

    Good point, but missing the target. Rather ask: Why was (and still is) “half XXX” in use in English? The answer is the same as above. It just means that there have been several groups in countries who have had the interest of labeling others as half XXX, and therefore not 100% British, Norwegian, French and so on. The USA is an interesting possible exception since it probably was used in a different way to talk about your heritage when everybody was an immigrant. It was still used to categorize “us and them”, but by multiple groups and in a more complex manner.

    So what word should we use then?

    Great question! Personally, I don’t know! But I believe having discussions and raising awareness is a great first step. But to be honest I think the question is wrong from the get go. It should rather be: How can we create a society/world where we don’t need labels for skin color or parents background? I believe that is the only way forward, but I still believe it is OK to have go through some other better alternative words before we reach that goal.

    How do we change this?

    The most important actors in controlling language definitions are the big institutions. In our modern secularized world this above all means the educational system (it used to be the church, at least in Europe). This humanistic view has to not only be taught in schools, but lived. I think it’s too late for us adults, but kids can really be brought up colorblind and unbigoted.

    My family moved back to Norway from Japan a few years ago, and we plan to continue the good fight here (we have similar problems here too), but I hope those of you who stay will fight to make a society where you are assessed for your values, and not for the color of your skin or heritage of your parents.

    **Good example about language and how it is not neutral: **

    The word “race” was used 21 times and “racial” 7 times in the comments section. Did you know that when Norwegians hear this word we automatically think of swastikas and soldiers marching in the streets?

    “Race” has so strong connections to the Nazi racial theory that it after the war no longer was used to referrer to groups of people. Now we use “race” to talk about the human race, as opposed to animals. But there is currently a big debate in Norway about what “ethnicity” means. Sigh… even though we really should be discussing why we even need the word…

    Interesting subject? Go to the library and pick up some works by Bourdieu, Foucault and Chris Weedon. You won’t regret it :)

  • 2

    Rann Levy

    It doesn't really matters what words we use, offensive to our ears or wrapped with sugar , as long as we internally differentiate people . Our aim should be to work and educate humanity towards the Oneness. We are different - and above that we are the same.

    Good luck to Us.

  • 1

    Himajin

    Let's hope "hafu" will fade from Japanese terminology

    Fat chance :-) The first time I was out with my granddaughter someone said " Quarter (kuo-ta-) desu ka?" I almost spit...wasn't expecting it. How far does it go? 1/8ths? 1/16ths? I had been naively thinking that ' at least they wouldn't have to put up with all the 'Hafuhafu na no?' BS....

  • 1

    fishy

    I have no problem being called "haafu" (I'm Japanese/French mix). But I do not like the term "Daburu (double) because I think that's simply too much. I just say I'm a mix of the two..

  • -1

    thepersoniamnow

    @Heikemo

    I think you may be putting a bit too much importance on what YOU would like the reality of your child's to be. Me personally, as a very mixed person I hope you are as focused on developing a strong bond with your kid and raising it right as you are in rebutting The Hague stigma. One thing is for sure, your kid will be called a hafu and a lot of the effort you put against it (from your western perspective) will be negative energy. The child also won't be considered Japanese regardless of its passport and will be treated as a foreigner. How much and to what extent? Well it depends on how half looking it comes out looking and what kind of mix it is.

    You may not like what I'm saying but it's my reality, and the reality of the 100s of halfs that I know.

  • 4

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    There is but one race, the human race.

  • 0

    Maureen Miyagi

    I have never liked that term but always told those who chose to use that, that my kids are the best of both cultures. I told them to refer them as bi cultural. They are not half of anything. I also remember being pointed at and the word gaijin da being shouted at me.. I reversed it on them and shouted, Nippon Jin da! They never said that to me again because I had asked them after I said it, how does if feel when I shout that at you? They said it sounded rude. I said to them, well now you know what it feels like and I hope you will not do it again! They apologized to me and that was that.

  • -1

    Strangerland

    The child also won't be considered Japanese regardless of its passport and will be treated as a foreigner.

    Can you explain this to me? I haven't seen it happen with my kids at all, but maybe I'm just ignorant to how exactly they aren't being considered Japanese. If I had something quantitative that I could compare against, I may agree that they are treated as foreigners and not considered as Japanese. But a vague statement along the lines of 'they won't be considered Japanese' isn't enough for me to have anything to consider that statement to be accurate or not.

  • 0

    heikemo

    @thepersoniamnow

    Thank you for your comment!

    I hope you are as focused on developing a strong bond with your kid and raising it right as you are in rebutting The Hague stigma

    I certainly am! As I wrote, that should be the nr. 1 priority; to raise and educate our children grow up without the prejudice and bigotry so many of us suffer from. I believe in resistance in our time, but to some extent I believe it is too late for many of us adults to change.

    The child also won't be considered Japanese regardless of its passport and will be treated as a foreigner. How much and to what extent? Well it depends on how half looking it comes out looking and what kind of mix it is

    Should we not try to fight for a world where "how half looking it comes out" is not part of any equation? As you can see from my initial comment I don't believe in the "militant" way of screaming at everybody who calls you a "gaijin" or my children "hafu". I do however believe we should do our best to improve educational institutions (and the media for that part) for the better, as well as making people aware (one by one) about how certain words can make you people feel.

    (from your western perspective)

    This is interesting! Can you explain a little about what you mean here?

  • -1

    talaraedokko

    Everyone loved my kids when young. Half? I'd say to myself that SOMEONE had to improve the race here. They're on their way out now. They're going back to their 'other' country to then come back with an open, international mind. Let's unpoison their closed minds.

  • -1

    FernGully

    I don't like the term "half," but more than that, I don't like discrimination based on one's race or races. Judge people on their character. Didn't Abraham Lincoln say something like that?

  • 0

    Mr. Noidall

    I don't like the term "half," but more than that, I don't like discrimination based on one's race or races. Judge people on their character. Didn't Abraham Lincoln say something like that?

    Actually, this is what Lincoln said in Charleston, Illinois during his 1858 campaign:

    I will say... that I'm not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I'm not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people... And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

    That came from the mouth of whom many deem one of the greatest ever presidents of the United States.

  • -1

    loggediin

    Two Anglophones meet for the first time: Are you half? says one to the other: Are you mentally deficient? is the reply. Yes I'm half- asleep or half- dressed or half-sick of you... The term does imply otherlyness, so you are half- native and half-other. I believe this is a fair reflection of the cultural meaning within the term. We in Canada don't ask someone: are you half- Asian? We ask: are you Asian ( because it may not be entirely obvious ). Yes, and we expect an answer like: my father is from Laos. And the real point is at this precise point we still don't know the origins of that person's mother. You see? I walk with my daughter, I believe people make the fair assumption that she is half- Japanese. When my wife is with her, people WILL ask the half question. (and don't presume that people think I may be thick and can't speak). Some envious mothers may be trying to say: your girl is so adorable, but she is only half-Japanese and therefore only half-relevant... Perhaps the Japanese being a pure race (at least theoretically so) perhaps have a right to see us as outsiders, or our children as half-outsider...( I love getting thumbed down. They are the only comments worth reading in my book, so go ahead and make my day)

  • 1

    thepersoniamnow

    @heikemo

    I think you obviously feel like you can educate the Japanese people on how they "should" be.

    Perhaps where you and I differ is that you don't accept the status quo, and you see things that are wrong and you want to make positive changes. Changes in a society like Japan's, will take time and will probably occur over a generation or two.

    -from your western perspective...

    Yes I will explain. The typical western attitude that west is best and modern, and that the right way for other or all people's is to follow in the advancements of their mentality. My African and Asian friends don't usually get outraged and demand that Japan change for them, it's the people who have that entitlement plaque on their shoulder. Their whole lives they've been told their way is best and they truly believe it.

  • 0

    Patrick Kimura-Macke

    My sons' grandparents were born in four different countries.

  • -2

    Open Minded

    I've read most of the arguments and I have only one conclusion: "Hafu" is nothing else than a discriminatory statement (like gaijin to some extent) that should be punished by law. Period!

    None is superior to any other!

  • 2

    Aylan Henderson

    With a Japanese father and British mother I would be considered as "Hafu" by the Japanese people. Although, to be honest I have no problem with this because it perfectly describes my background. I am a mixture of both my parents' nationalities and would consider myself to be half my father and half my mother.

    It is only a problem if people see it that way. I do not feel "incomplete" or without an identity, I am simply just a mix of two different backgrounds and that is not a bad thing.

  • -2

    Mr. Noidall

    Yes I will explain. The typical western attitude that west is best and modern, and that the right way for other or all people's is to follow in the advancements of their mentality. My African and Asian friends don't usually get outraged and demand that Japan change for them, it's the people who have that entitlement plaque on their shoulder. Their whole lives they've been told their way is best and they truly believe it.

    I thought your original post was brilliant. But then you go and ruin it with a trite stereotype. Not wanting to accept the status quo has nothing to do with a sense of entitlement, unless it means the right to change your conditions and environment for the better. Yes, because of civil wars, revolutions, and the enlightenment, western people know that change doesn't happen by simply sticking your head in the ground for a couple generations; but you're right in that western people shouldn't force this perspective on other peoples. Just as much as others have unique aspects to their culture, the ability to change our own circumstances through debate, dialog, protest, civil disobedience, challenging authority, are unique aspects of our western cultures. It has absolutely nothing to do with a sense of entitlement. I think where the confusion is is that western ideology is that humans are born alone, as individuals first, property of the nation state a distant second. Where as it seems to go in reverse in other cultures. And so we see others as sacrificing their only-once-given, very short lives for a machine, and we feel pity. But we need to realize that no one wants to be pitied, and that when we do pity others we come across as arrogant and as having a sense of entitlement.

  • 0

    thepersoniamnow

    Mr Noidal

    I agree I use negative stereotypes, but they are a reality as well. You are correct in a perfect world, but to simplify it to being simply right or wrong, stereotype or truth...I'm not convinced it's nearly that simple.

  • 1

    goreme

    Irony of this entire debate is that the very people who complain most about being labeled Gaijin/Hafu, and the implications that it's discriminatory, likely come from countries that often referred to non-whites(including Japanese, Asians) in far more derogatory/damaging terms and continue to this day.

  • -1

    thepersoniamnow

    Goreme

    That's quite true in one way. I get called out for who I am much more in the USA than here. But it's also because people there speak to each other.

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