‘Hafu’ tells story of Japan’s mixed-race minority and changing attitudes in society

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-11-15 02:07Z by Steven

‘Hafu’ tells story of Japan’s mixed-race minority and changing attitudes in society

Japan Today

Philip Kendall

TOKYO—For such a small word, “half” carries an awful lot of weight here in Japan. Adapted to fit the syllabary, the word is pronounced “hafu” in Japanese, and describes a person who has one Japanese – and of course one non-Japanese – parent. More often than not, the word carries certain connotations, and many Japanese have preconceived, often erroneous, notions that hafu have natural English ability, have spent time abroad, and possess many of the physical characteristics Japanese associate with Westerners. At the same time, the word is immediately indicative of something very un-Japanese, and many hafu – even those who have never set foot outside of Japan and speak no other language – are never truly accepted by society as a result.

The Hafu Project was begun in 2009 as an initiative aiming to promote awareness of racial diversity in Japan and the issues facing those of mixed heritage. It was after becoming involved with the project that two filmmakers, Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi, began a collaborative work that would eventually become a full-length feature film titled, simply, “Hafu.”

Three years in the making, “Hafu” was completed in April this year, and has been screened at independent cinemas everywhere from Madrid to Tokyo. After checking out the film for ourselves when it came to Shibuya recently, RocketNews24 talked with Megumi and Lara to learn a little more about the making of the film and how in their opinion attitudes in Japan are evolving.

“Hafu” documents the daily lives and experiences of five hafu who have either lived most of their lives in Japan or are visiting for the first time in an effort to learn more about their Japanese heritage. Shot in the documentary style with the featured hafu providing the voiceover throughout, the film has a quiet poignancy to it that at times brought us close to tears, yet ultimately left us feeling both upbeat and confident that attitudes toward hafu in Japan are changing for the better.

Hugely impressed by this profoundly moving and inspiring film, RocketNews24 got in touch with Megumi and Lara, who kindly answered our questions about themselves, the making of the film, and how they see life for hafu in Japan changing as the number of children born to mixed-race parents increases each year…

Read the entire interview here.

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