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Japanese-Filipino Children Joint Statement
National Conference, Saitama, Japan
We, the united delegation of Japanese Filipino Children (JFC), who have been given the honor to represent the estimated 300,000 other JFC, thank you all today for your presence.
An issue does not gain ground if it is kept in the dark. We welcome this opportunity to discuss our stories and experiences in order to start a dialogue and help form public opinion about our plight. For so long, the society has mispronounced our situation and it is now time for us to have our voices heard.
The issue of JFC has been lingering for over two decades now and the road to any form of resolution is still forthcoming. The lack of information has led to prejudice and misconception which waylaid any effort to help secure our birthright: to learn firsthand the ways of our fathers.
It is a given that most Japanese Filipino Children hail from failed inter-racial unions. The lack of job opportunities in the Philippines have instigated forced migration of thousands of Filipinas to find work abroad in the 1980s. The emergence of a generation of JFC is a result of the labor export policy continuously implemented in the country from then until now.
The Japanese and Filipino cultures are as far away as the sun is from the moon, This reality had broken up marriages and resulted in the abandonment of offspring. Most Japanese Filipino Children grow up in the culture of their mothers, never knowing the other face of their heritage.
Despite the misfortune dealt to them early in their lives, Japanese Filipinos bravely pursue their dreams and aspirations. Each JFC grew up hearing stories about the promise of the land of their fathers and think glowing thoughts of Japan. They dream of finding their family, aspire to contribute to the wealth of this country through sheer hard work exemplified by the pure Japanese, and most of all, they want to find themselves.
JFC get here through various means. Those who have their names registered in the Kosekitohon, if informed of their options for migration, go to Japan. The less lucky ones get exploited by unscrupulous organizations. A few find contentment in never settling the Japanese identity question at all and look forward to living out their lives in the Philippines.
Though the modern age gives easy access to information, nothing quite matches witnessing first hand the wonders of Japanese culture. The major hindrance for the full realization of a JFC’s identity is the issue of Nationality.
As mentioned earlier, discussion on this particular topic has been raging on for decades. Advancement on the nationality question has just gotten its first victory last year in the Supreme Court decision of June 4, 2008. Presently the right of the child to their father’s nationality regardless of the marital status of the parents is recognized.
Though the struggle does not end here for there is still more to address. There are still JFC who are already beyond the cut-off period of 20 years old when the decision came out. The reasoning given why this is so sits only on the assumption that they have already decided on which nationality they chose.
Migration to Japan, if it is an option that is taken or exercised by some JFC, needs preparation. No single person can learn the lessons from a country with a history, thousand of years old, overnight. Our mothers have walked the same path and we would not want to come here just to leave a trail of tears. Surely, the sorrows of one generation should not be inherited by the next.
The choice to go to Japan is not a light one. Those who have come here not knowing the sublimities of Japanese life and not knowing Nihongo, the Kanas, and the Kanji end up being misunderstood and ultimately alienated from the race they thought they belong to by virtue of their father’s blood.
Alienation cuts one off from the society and can breed distrust and worst of all, deviance. This results to cycle of violence and mistrust which can now be seen in the pages of your newspapers, wearing the faces of Japanese Filipinos.
Despite the reality of this image of JFC being bannered by the media, there are still a lot of Japanese Filipinos who choose to live their lives decently, however this side is not often portrayed which has led to stereotyping and discrimination.
During the sharing sessions prior to this conference, Japanese Filipinos gave stories of how in the workplace, race has become a reason to oversee the qualifications of JFC. Some end up having less income than their Nihonjin colleagues, unhealthy working hours and are sadly relegated to dirty, dangerous, and demeaning jobs.
We appeal for the recognition of our rights as human beings as well as the resolution for our particular needs as children of Japanese and Filipino parents. They say it takes a village to raise a child. We say that it would take an entire nation to help them realize their full potential as humans.
In this regards, we leave this challenge to our two societies, the media, and the governments of the Philippines and Japan on these issues and concerns. Certainly, we would want to involve everyone to support us in our steps towards the realization of our goals. To do this there are a lot of tasks needed to be undertaken by us. Incidentally we have already created committees in order to start a solidarity council comprised of JFC from the Philippines and Japan.
Even if we are denied, we view the Japanese as our parents and we would like to learn from them. We want to care for them in our own way and help them in the day to day demands of this busy nation.
As Japanese Filipino Children we are fortunate to be blessed with two cultures. Because of our experiences, we have been blessed by understanding. After all that’s happened, we harbor no ill feelings and grudges but through this conference, we hope that we have enlightened you about our situation.
We are Japanese Filipinos and we are about transcendence, the transcendence of anger and sadness, the transcendence of race and identity.