The culture of the country you grow up in forms you and your identity. My identity is firmly anchored in German culture as I grew up in Berlin the first 17 years of my life. Nevertheless, being the child of a Japanese father and a German mother, the issue of where I belong and as what I identify arises pretty quickly. I was never a a victim of harassment, but sneaky side comments in elementary school let me wonder how not only I but also others see me. As a matter of fact, the first twelve years of my life I looked into the mirror and did not see a difference.
I can honestly say that I am happy I was raised in Germany, where 50% of a class is mixed and I walk through streets listening to all kinds of languages. This is a very stereotypical description, but I want to highlight the difference to classes I experienced during my time I attended Japanese high school. Out of 1000 students, the Assistant Language Teacher, two or three mixed kids and me were the only foreigners at that school. Naturally, the understanding of people having a different cultural context or speaking a different language was just about zero and I met a lot of stereotypes such as “All foreigners speak perfect English”.
The treatment I experienced while living in Japan I recognized in the movie “Hafu – Japan is changing” by film maker Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi. It is about Japan, a homogenous country that is embracing new cultures and how society deals with the change of identity. Is only 100% Japanese the real Japanese? Or are there more aspects to “being Japanese”? It is also about the identity of half Japanese people, their struggles and their wishes for the Japanese society. I recommend this movie to all, who wonder how Japan treats people who are different, because this is not only applicable to half Japanese people, but to foreigners in general.
I want this to be a society, where I can exist as a Japanese person the way I look.
– Megumi Nishikura