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The Time I Was Labeled "Illegal" in My Own Country・自国で「違法」とレッテルを貼られた時・我在自己国家被贴上“非法”标签的那段时间

Updated: May 18, 2023


It all began with a simple question.

But innocent questions are just as likely to be perilous tripwires.

While I was working a shift at my new part-time job, I got a message from the head office conveyed to me through a full-time employee.

The question was, “Just wanting to make sure, but do you have Japanese citizenship?”

My answer was an obvious, “Yes, I do.”

Then within the small talk with my co-workers, someone had asked if I had American citizenship.

I have always tended to deflect these types of questions and assert others of the fact of my Japanese citizenship.

However, there is a huge part of me that is so sick and tired of hiding behind my identity because of the confusion around the topic. Why do I have to keep it a secret? I'm not ashamed about it and should not have to feel ashamed because ignorant people push their assumptions upon me.

I have even had multiple people whom I told of my dual citizenship tell me that having both Japanese and American citizenship is illegal.

But I never imagined this small talk information would also make it through the channel of my manager and then finally, to the head office.

Then the horror started – the head office called my store branch and started telling the full-time employees that I was “illegal”.

They began not only questioning whether I was legally allowed to work but whether I was Japanese or not – aka. legally allowed to live in Japan.

As one might expect, I understand they were confused and became panic-stricken. However, no one should have the right to question someone's legal status without any proof and then spread their assumptions through inappropriate channels.

To make the situation worse, the head office staff were not even willing to talk to me. I was right there, within arm's reach of the phone and they refused to talk with me directly and preferred to communicate through my manager. I still believe that if they had given me the chance to talk with them directly, none of the below story would have even unfolded.

Forced to only make contact through my manager, I did my best to gather information about dual citizenship and asked my manager to share this information with the head office. I later found out that the head office did not even look through those links.

A few days later, the head office staff conveyed through my manager that I needed to provide a copy of the info page of my Japanese passport. They claimed they wanted to know what the expiration date was as if the expiration date signaled the length I was allowed to stay in Japan.

After I declined to provide them with a copy of my Japanese passport claiming an infringement on privacy and discrimination, they then began claiming they needed a copy of my Koseki (the Japanese family registry – technically the only document that legally proves you are Japanese).

The conversation with my manager that day ended with him saying he would pay for all the expenses for me to obtain a copy of my Koseki. I told him to tell the main office my answer was a no for the second time and to call my dad so that he could help explain my circumstance. But no one called.

Then almost three weeks later, they communicated to me through my manager that they still wanted a copy of my Koseki. This would include not only personal details about me but about my father and sister including marital status as well as details of birth. It is the most detailed personal information one can provide in Japan.

My response was the same: no, I will not provide my Koseki copy since it is discrimination and asked them again to call my father. I also said that if that doesn't work, I need an official company document with the details of their request.

My plan was to then take this document to a lawyer and do everything to legally stand up for myself. I had vowed that if they decided to keep demanding proof of my Japanese citizenship, I would hire a lawyer and fight for the right I am entitled to – being recognized as Japanese just like every other Japanese person in Japan.

So, six days later, I was a little relieved when I got the message through my manager that they had dropped their allegations. Out of curiosity, I asked why they dropped it and was told they realized that I was correct in my claim – that I am 100% legal to work in Japan because I'm 100% Japanese with Japanese citizenship, just like them.

There was no apology given, but the words, “It was exactly as you said, Katagiri-san”, will forever pave the path for the years to come and the discrimination I know I will continue to encounter.

Unfortunately, despite Japan being chosen to host the Olympics this year, it has a long-standing stance on racial purity and identity -- it has prided itself on being homogeneous. Despite an increase in foreign travelers as well as residents, the conservative country keeps a strong emphasis on pure-blood Japanese.

However, I wouldn’t particularly say that a homogeneous culture is completely bad, since, despite this abovementioned unpleasant encounter in Japan, I have actually experienced much more racism in America. Despite being a rather heterogeneous (compared to Japan) culture, some Americans can be very judgmental based simply on one’s looks and don’t often think before they speak. But these are stories for a different time.

In the future, my ardent hope is for a Japan that will embrace its multiracial citizens by doing away with the unclear laws and officially approve dual citizenship.

I hope for change; of hearts and minds open to new definitions of what a Japanese person is and can be.

I hope for a day that being different is not looked at as bad but embraced -- that the antiquated ideas will slowly fade away.

I hope for a racially progressive Japan.

I hope for people who can see past the preconceived stereotypes that a Japanese person can only be one thing.

I hope when mistakes are made, apologies are said to those who deserve it. Because it is never ever okay to make anyone feel any less than what they deserve to be treated like.

I hope my future kids will have 100% confidence to stand up for themselves in the future spurred on by my experiences I can share with them.

Simply praying for a Japan that will not discriminate against me or my future children is not enough; it’s time to share our experiences in order to help others learn from them to create a different and better tomorrow.

As the next generation of Japanese, I am a proud halfie who is both fully Japanese as well as fully American. I am citizens of both countries by birthright, not just one.

Calling yourself a "halfie" or "hafu" should never mean you are half of anything -- it means you got the best of both worlds.

You can be of any race and receive hate and discrimination for being different. So why don’t we learn to love and accept each other rather than trying to make them fit in?

I earnestly hope for a new law in Japan that explicitly forbids discrimination based on nationality or race…and I hope for a day where people like me are “not assumed to be less (or even sometimes arbitrarily or incorrectly more) competent than our fully (read: visually) Japanese counterparts.”

I strongly believe the persisting idea of Japan as a homogeneous nation-state obscures the presence of mixed-race Japanese and hinders discussions of racial discrimination in Japan.

For me, the purpose of writing this blog post is in hopes that more people will see how racism happens everywhere and not just against one race. Furthermore, it is so very important to recognize that even in 2021, there are still ongoing challenges that halfies like me (mixed-race Japanese) may face while “establishing their identities as well as maintaining their rights as citizens of Japan”.

I still question on a case-by-case basis when I should emphasize one part of my identity and when to focus on another, without denying either. Perhaps what I can offer through this ramble is “a vision of a Japanese identity that is more flexible, more inclusive, and fits better in a globalized society”.

You can help by educating yourself before you judge others because each and every halfie is different based on the countries they represent as well as how they came about to have multiple citizenships to begin with. I believe educating yourself before judging is a must in our world, so please feel free to read the stories and facts shared in the following articles that are very much worth reading.

I believe, in life, if no one stands up to the monsters who stand in their way, nothing will ever change. Change is paved through standing up to your impossible monsters because you believe in a better and brighter future where equality means more than the way you look or the passport you hold.

To my future children, I pray you never let anyone’s definition of who you are, define any possibility of who you actually are on the inside.

I look forward to a future where halfies don’t have to continue living in the grey zone and can proudly without any hesitation, call themselves Japanese.


The stipulation in the Nationality Act that bans multiple citizenship has not been revised since it first went into force under the Meiji Constitution, Japan's prewar and wartime supreme law. Teruo Naka, a lawyer of the plaintiffs' legal team says the law "does not correspond to the flow of the times.

“For some, nationality is the final stronghold of the Japanese identity. The very notion of dual nationality challenges that and creates fear for those who are unfamiliar with the concept.”












それから恐れていた事が起こったのです ーー 本社は私が働く支店に電話をかけ、私が「違法」であると正社員に話し始めました。

彼らは私が合法的に働くことを許可されているかどうかだけでなく、私が日本人であるかどうかを疑問視し始めました。 別名 ーー 法的に日本に住むことを許可されているかどうか。





私がプライバシーの侵害と差別だと主張し返し、日本のパスポートのコピーを彼らに提出することを拒否した後、彼らは私の戸籍(日本の家族登録 ーー 厳密に言うと日本人であることを法的に証明する唯一の文書)の写しが必要であると主張し始めました。




私の計画は、この書類を持って弁護士のところに行き、法的に自分の立場を守るためにできる事を全てすることでした。もし、日本国籍の証明を要求され続けたら、弁護士を雇い、日本にいる他の日本人と同じくく ーー 日本人として認められるという ーー 私に与えられた権利を求めて戦うと誓っていたのです。

ですから、6日後、上司から本社が申し立てを取り下げたとの連絡を受け、私は少し安心しました。好奇心からその理由を尋ねると、私の主張が正しいことに気付いたのだと言われました ―― つまり、私は彼らと同じように100%日本人であり、日本国籍を持っているので、日本で働くことは100%合法だということです。


残念ながら、日本は今年のオリンピックの開催地として選ばれたにもかかわらず、人種の純血性やアイデンティティに対する長年の姿勢をとっており ーー 均質であることに誇りを持っています。外国人旅行者や居住者が増えているにもかかわらず、保守的なこの国は純血の日本人に重点を置いています。




私は、他人と何かが違う事が悪いことではなく、受け入れられる日が来ることを ―― そして、時代遅れの考え方が徐々に消えていくことを願っています。







自分を「Halfie」または「ハーフ」と呼んでも、決して自分が何かの半分であることを意味するものではありません ーー 両方の長所のいいとこ取りをしているのです。






















然后恐怖开始了–– 总部打电话给我的分店,开始告诉全职员工们我是“非法的”。

他们不仅开始质疑我是否被合法允许工作,而且还质疑我是否是日本人。 也就是 –– 是否合法允许在日本居住。



迫于无奈,我通过我的经理与总部联系,尽力收集有关双重国籍的信息,并请我的经理与总公司分享这些信息。 我后来发现,总部甚至懒得去看这些链接。


在我以侵犯隐私和歧视为由拒绝向他们提供我的日本护照复印件后,他们开始声称他们需要我的户口(日本户籍 –– 严格来说唯一能在法律上证明你是日本人的文件)的复印件。




我的计划是把这份文件交给律师,并尽一切努力在法律上为自己辩护。我曾发誓,如果他们决定继续要求我提供我是日本人的证明,我将聘请律师,为我应得的权利而战 –– 像其他在日本的日本人一样被承认为日本人。

因此,六天后,当我通过我的经理得知他们已放弃指控时,我稍微松了一口气。因为好奇,我问他们为什么放弃,并被告知他们意识到我说的一直是正确的 –– 我在日本工作是百分之百合法,因为我百分之百是有日本国籍的日本人,就像他们一样。

虽然没有道歉,但:“片桐女士,听说你所说的都对,一切事情好了。” 这句话,将永远为未来的岁月铺平道路,为如何处理我将继续面对的歧视提供了参考。

不幸的是,尽管日本被选为今年的奥运会主办国,但在种族纯洁和身份认同方面的立场由来已久 –– 它以种族同质为荣。尽管外国旅行者以及居民增多,但这个保守的国家仍然非常重视纯血统的日本人。




我希望有一天,与众不同不是被看成坏事,而是被接纳 –– 而过时的想法会慢慢消失。







称自己为“halfie”或“hafu”绝不意味着你是任何一方的一半 — 这意味着你得到了双方最好的东西,各取其長。 


我真诚地希望日本有一部新的法律,明确禁止基于国籍或种族的歧视……我希望有一天,像我这样的人 "不会被认为我们比全血统的同等职位的日本人能力差(甚至有时是武断的或不正确的认为混血能力更强)。”


对我来说,写这个博客投稿的目的是希望更多的人能够看到种族主义是在任何地方会发生的,而不仅仅是针对一个种族。此外,非常重要的是要认识到,即使在 2021 年,像我这样的Halfie(日本混血儿)在 "确立他们的身份以及维护他们作为日本公民的权利 "时可能面临的挑战仍然存在。