Hafu, the first documentary made about people of mixed Japanese descent opened over the weekend in Tokyo, and the filmmakers hope that their film will help those who are still struggling to assimilate themselves into the Japanese community. Megumi Nishikura and Laura Perez Takagi are both “hafus” themselves, so they understand the need to fit in in a society that still looks differently at those who look different from them.
Laura said that it is more than just about the half-Japanese experience but also the human need “to find acceptance from those around us, and ultimately within ourselves.” The film is narrated by the subjects themselves and their families as they navigate their way into the culture, the language, school, relationships and careers. One of the subjects is David, a Ghanian-born “hafu” who moved to Tokyo when he was six but had to spend years in an orphanage when his parents divorced. He said it is his dream to one day see a Japan that “embraces its diversity” and that can accept people from multicultural backgrounds. Another subject is Alex, a nine-year old Mexican-Japanese who had to move to an international school because he became too stressed at his former school because of the constant teasing from his classmates. Fusae may be the most “Japanese” looking of the subjects, but she also has the difficult life of being born to a Korean-Japanese father and Japanese mother. Her mother told her to prepare to be rejected because of her Korean ethnicity.
Statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare say that one out of thirty babies born in Japan today are part of a family where one parent is not of Japanese descent, where that’s around 20,000 multi-racial babies every year. The documentary was funded through donations and grants from groups like The Japan Foundation and the San Francisco-based Center for Asian American Media.