Group’s Vulnerability and Individual’s Dignity: The Case of Japanese Filipino Children in Japan

Group’s Vulnerability and
Individual’s Dignity:
The Case of Japanese Filipino
Children in Japan
Taichi Uchio
PhD. candidate, Human Security Program,
Department of Cultural Anthropology
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,
The University of Tokyo, Japan
E-mail: [email protected]
Outline of Presentation
Micro-politics of JFC: Their self-representation and
the use of the Western colonial heritages
Introduction: Diversification of the members of
Japanese society and Multicultural Co-existence.
Japanese Filipino Children (JFC): The scholars and
advocacy groups major argument.
Group’s Vulnerability and Individual’s Dignity:
questioning the passive and static images of JFC
illustrated by former human rights activities.
Conclusion: for discussions on Human Security.
Diversification of the members of Japanese society.
1.1 Social Background of Japan
• The falling birthrate (1.37 in 2008)
• The aging population (over 65; 20.7% in 2008)
• Shrinking the labor force
❈ The increasing Importance of foreign workers
+ International flow of migrants in the global era.
➠ Diversification of the members of Japanese society
1.2 Diversification of the members of society
• the number of international marriages in Japan: 5,546 in 1970
⇒ 36,263 couples in 2000 ( about 6.5 times).
• Higher birthrate in international marriage: While the overall
Japanese birthrate is about 1.3, the birthrate in IM reached a
record high of about 2.9 in 2000 (Curtin 2002).
❈ Those children born in IM are the individuals with both
Japanese citizenship and multiple cultural backgrounds.
➠ Japanese Filipino Children as one of the examples in this
The scholars and advocacy groups major argument.
2.1 What’s JFC?
• The children born between Japanese and Filipino.
• About 200,000 in Japan and the Philippines [International
Organization for Migration 2008]
➠ The birth of JFC is an outcome of international migration
between Japan and the Philippines.
2.2 Background of JFC
• Sex tourism by Japanese male to the Philippines in 1970’s.
• Massive wave of Filipino female immigrants on entertainer
visa (Oversea Performing Artists) started from 1980’s.
Working in snack bars
・ Harsh working condition: harassments, overworking, forced
sexual services (Ballescas 1992).
➠ negative images of the Philippines.
・ A meeting place: love and marriage with Japanese men.
➠ leads to the birth of Japanese Filipino Children.
2.3 Argument surrounding JFC
• Former nominal designation: Japino
・“The children of Filipino entertainers who are generally called prostitutes”
・“Their parents remain unmarried”
・“They are abandoned by their Japanese father” (Batis Center, 1998)
• NGO and Supporting vulnerable JFC (Matsui 1999)
・ In the Philippines: orphan, stateless, poverty, finding their
Japanese fathers and acquiring Japanese nationality.
・ In Japan: cultural and linguistic assimilations in places for
employment and education, and complex family environment (e.g.
DV, parents’ divorce, economic hardship).
2.4 Revision of Japanese Nationality Law
• June 4 2008 decision of the Japan Supreme Court will reverse
the old law which only grants nationality to Japanese-Filipino
children whose parents were married legally.
• The new ruling is expected to open applications for Japanese
citizenship among tens of thousands of Japanese Filipino
children abandoned by their fathers.
A new trend of migration is occurring
between Japan and the Philippines
2.5 The Case of Aiko Kamimura (2010)
• In Gumma prefecture, Japan in 2010, a 12-year-old
Japanese Filipino girl hanged herself to escape from
bullying at her elementary school.
• And the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun posted an
interview of her bereaved father on the newspaper’s
❈ “the father of the Japanese Filipino girl said that his
daughter's suicide may have been triggered by his
wife's Filipino nationality that may have been one
reason for bullying” (Mainichi Shimbun 2010).
Their self-representation and the use of the
Western colonial heritages.
3.1 Self-Recognition as “Firipin tono haafu (half-Filipino)”
This study describes JFC’s internalized conflict over their stereotypes
and the relationship to the Japanese ethnic majority.
• Experiences of teased or bullied: “Go home to your country”, “Gaijin
(foreigner)”, “Philippine pub”, “Binbou (poor)”
“White people are higher in Japanese favor, right? When they say the ‘haafu’
things to me, it was more as if they mocked me.”
(23-years-old Japanese Filipino male)
“I had been thinking I wish I were an ‘Amerika tono haafu (half-American)’ too”
(22-years-old Japanese Filipino male)
➠ the feelings of inferiority and superiority based on race, ethnicity
or nationality.
3.2 Social value system on race, ethnicity and
nationality in Japan
• International power relation: US (the West) > Japan > the Philippines.
・Japan as the second America [Ventura 1992]
・Sophisticated images of the United States; “power, wealth,
cleanliness, beauty, glamour, and enjoyment” [Faier 2005]
• A statistic of international marriage in Japan (2005)
American ♂ and Japanese ♀ 1,551
Filipino ♂ and Japanese ♀ 187
Japanese ♂ and American ♀ 177
Japanese ♂ and Filipino ♀10,242
This macro-structure influences on JFC’s micro-politics in Japanese society.
3.3 JFC’s micro-politics of representation
“When I introduce myself as a ‘Firipin tono haafu’, I always add on “my
mom is an English teacher.” (22-year-old Japanese Filipino female)
“I used to introduce myself as ‘European quarter’ because my gramma
was Spanish.”
(23-years-old Japanese Filipino male)
➠ They seek to build relations with the Japanese ethnic majority by
taking up western features that can be found in the Philippines as
their attributes.
• JFC’s micro-politics of representation: to protect
themselves from the existing prejudice and to create a
different and favorable impression.
3.4 The use of the Western colonial heritages
• Their or their mother’s “European (Spanish) origin” and
“English-language ability” stem from heritages of the
colonial period by Spanish Empire and the United States.
• Spanish hybridity: the long rule of Spain’s colonial
empire for more than 300 years until the end of the 19th
• Command of English: the expansion of public education
during American colonial period in the first half of the
20th century.
3.5 The mechanism of JFC’s self-representation
in Japanese society
“colonial heritages”: functions as intangible cultural resources
4. Group’s Vulnerability and
Individual’s Dignity
Questioning the passive and static images of JFC
illustrated by former human rights activities.
4.1 Group’s Vulnerability
JFC had to be socially constructed as a subordinate group
(e.g. victims of asymmetric bilateral relations between
Japan and the Philippines) to define their problems.
Since the category of JFC has been highlighted as a
human rights issue in Japan, scholars and advocacy
groups have regarded them as rather objects to be
rescued or a symbol of human rights promotion than
equal members of the multicultural society.
4.2 Individual’s Dignity
• Although their vulnerability has been mentioned, what seems to be
lacking is an attention to their individualized subjective behavior.
• dignity (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)
1. a calm and serious manner that deserves respect
2. the fact of being given honour and respect by people
3. a sense of your own importance and value
JFC’s Self-Representation (proximity to the West): This kind of selfesteem (dignity 3.) from each interview has been view as less
important in human rights context.
4.3 A dilemma between vulnerability and dignity
• The static and passive images of JFC is easy to evoke public
empathy and effective in human rights promotion.
• This inevitably results in a disagreement over selective
representations between JFC individuals and its supporters.
• FYI, the informants in this study do not use the term JFC and
have the sense of belonging to the vulnerable category neither.
For discussions on Human Security.
5.1”Dignity” in Human Security
• Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1999, Diplomatic Bluebook:
its concept of human security.
“comprehensively covers all the measures that threaten human
survival, daily life, and dignity” (chap. 2, sec. 3)
• Annan K, 2005, In Larger Freedom: In addition to freedom from
want and fear, “freedom to live in dignity” is clearly stipulated.
“No security agenda and no drive for development will be successful
unless they are based on the sure foundation of respect for human
dignity” (128.)
However, the contents of “dignity” have not been fully
discussed in Human Security Studies.
5.2 To Rethink Success (Conclusions from the
Case of JFC in Japan)
①A nature of Human Rights promotion
・Representing one ethnic group with their vulnerable aspects
➠This can possibly prevent their social integration because the
category itself is functioning as an obstacle at some stage.
②Human Security in developed countries contexts
・There is a sensitive tension between “vulnerability” and “dignity”.
・Human Security as “Emancipation from oppressive power
structures” (Thomas 1999)
➠Achievement of independence from human rights promotion
associated with categorization as a vulnerable group.
・Annan, Kofi, (2005) In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All,
United Nations.
・Ballescas, Ma. Rosario P., (1992) Filipino Entertainers in Japan: An Introduction,Quezon City: The
Foundation for Nationalist Studies, Inc.
・Batis Center, (1998) “Firipin no Dekasegi Roudousha to JFC (Filipino migrant workers and JFC),”
in Japan International Center for the Rights of Child, ed., Nippi Kokusaiji no Jinken to Nippon: Mirai
ha Kaerareru (the Rights of Japanese Filipino Children and Japan: Change the Future), Tokyo:
Akashi Shoten.
・Curtin, Sean S., (2002) “On International Marriage in Japan,” GLOCOM Platform Database,
・International Organization for Migration (2008) Nihon to Imin (Japan and Migration)
・Faier, Lieba, (2003) On being Oyomesan: Filipina Migrants and Their Japanese Families in Central
Kiso, Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Cruz.
・Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (1999) Diplomatic Bluebook, 1999, chap. 2, sec. 3.
・Mainichi Shimbun (2010) Father of schoolgirl suicide victim says daughter was teased about mom's
nationality, .
・Matsui, Yayori, (1999) Women in the new Asia: from pain to power, London: Zed Books Ltd.
・Thomas, Caroline (1999) “Introduction” in Caroline Thomas and Peter Wilkin eds., Globalization,
Human Security, and the African Experience, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., pp.1-20.
・Ventura, Rey, (1992) Underground in Japan, London: Jonathan Cape.