I am Japanese. I think I am Japanese. Since I was born in Japan, my mother tongue is Japanese, and I love natto. However, I have another myself in mind who still wonders if I am Japanese.
It was when I was 17. I was watching TV with my mom. TV showed a documentary or something about a Korean lady who married to an American guy and had a difficult life with her son in the States, which was happy ending because the son became a famous football player or someone. The program was okay. I thought it was an heartwarming story worth watching after having dinner with your family. I didn’t expect my mom to reveal her/our secret fact after that.
The fact was that my grandmother was Korean and neither she nor I was 100% Japanese. The fact was that she — or they, all of my family who knew it — kept it a secret until then, when I was 17.
What the heck! I had never doubted myself being a Japanese. But the fact was that I was a quarter Korean. And they needed to hide it until I become old enough to know it, old enough to understand why they had to lie to their daughter.
Yes, I tried to understand why. It was all for me, for protecting me from the society. Since they had lived hard life being Korean or half Korean, they wanted to end it from my generation.
It was successful, I should say. Luckily I look like Japanese. I grew up as an ordinary Japanese girl in ordinary Japanese schools. My friends were nice to me. I have only good memories with them. By knowing my family’s effort, I don’t take it for granted. If I spent my childhood as quarter Korean, I might have had bad memories because of it.
So I don’t blame my family, at all. Now I grew up and learn to blame society. Well, not to blame, but I can’t turn a blind eye to the problem our society have. Parents can’t tell their kids about their family history or about who they are. It is weird, not good. The society shouldn’t make them being like that. It needs to change. However, I am scared to point out the issue in today’s Japan.
There are still discrimination exists in Japanese society. I haven’t been able to come out to all of my friends and colleagues that I am a quarter Korean. Well, there’s no need to disclose it every time I introduce myself, but even when it’s natural to do, I can’t. I want to make sure beforehand if they don’t hate Korean. I want to make sure they don’t hate me when they know my secret. I want to make sure they like me whether I am mixed-race or not.
And this is actually why I am writing my story here on medium. I want to point out the issue and discuss with people on the internet where I can express my opinion freely. Though I feel the discrimination or hatred is stronger on the internet, especially on Japanese spoken internet world. I feel I’m not armed enough with knowledge to stand against hatred. Now I am trying to learn about this issue. Please let me practice discussing with people and expressing my opinion here in English.
Now, I’m engaged to a Finnish man. The thing might be more complicated for our future kids if we continue living in Japan. I don’t want my future kids to face the same problem or question the same things as I do now. I want to find out the way people can all live as ourselves in this world.
I will continue reading and writing about this issue and related topics on medium. If you are interested, please follow me. And your ♥ helps me moving forward! Thank you.