Japanese female tennis player OSAKA Naomi, whose American father is of Haitian heritage and mother Japanese, won the US Open tennis championship in September. Since a win at this event is thought to be even more valuable than a gold medal at the Olympics, Naomi fever has swept Japan. Day after day the media was flooded with reports of this “first for a Japanese citizen” and “the pride of Japan.” Not only the racket she uses, but also her favorite food has sold in huge quantities, and it is said that her effect on the economy has exceed the hundred-billion-yen mark. On the other hand, some Japanese people feel uncomfortable calling her Japanese. The Japanese, who think of themselves as being racially homogenous, have unconsciously distinguished themselves from other races that might have a different mindset or outlook, lumping them all together in the category of “foreigner.” Because of this, children with a non-Japanese parent have generally been called “half.” The term “half” is regarded as being a somewhat discriminatory word, so recently some people say “double” or “mix” (mixed race) instead. So called “half” Japanese citizens accounted for about 2% of the population in 2017, and this number is expected to increase in the future. As the Japanese race becomes more diverse, it’s thought that the issue of whether citizens can have double nationality will have to be dealt with. In any case, Naomi fever has changed people’s preconceptions about Japanese identity.
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