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  • Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity. Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 9th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
    Hi Blog. I think we have an interesting opportunity to discuss issues of ethnicity vs. nationality in Japan, with the J media’s treatment of three recent Nobel Prizewinners.

    The J media claimed yesterday that “three Japanese just won a Nobel for Physics”, even though one emigrated to the United States, has lived there for 56 years, and has worked at the University of Chicago for 40. From an American and Japanese standpoint he’s ethnically Japanese, of course (he was born and lived his formative years in Japan).  But he’s certifiably American in terms of nationality (one assumes he gave up his Japanese citizenship, which would be required under normal circumstances as Japan does not allow dual nationality).   That didn’t stop Japan’s media from headlining that “3 Japanese won”. TV program Tokudane just claimed as such minutes ago this morning.  And as the Mainichi reported yesterday:

    =================================
    (Mainichi Japan) October 7, 2008
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20081007p2a00m0na019000c.html

    Japanese trio wins Nobel Prize for physics

    Photo shows from left to right: Toshihide Maskawa, Makoto Kobayashi and Yoichiro Nambu.           

    Photo shows from left to right: Toshihide Maskawa, Makoto Kobayashi and Yoichiro Nambu.

    Three Japanese scientists have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering theory on elementary particles.

    The three are Toshihide Maskawa, 68, professor at Kyoto Sangyo University; Makoto Kobayashi, 64, professor emeritus at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization; and, Yoichiro Nambu, 87, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.

    It is the first time in six years that Japanese have won the Nobel Prize. In 2002, Masatoshi Koshiba and Koichi Tanaka won their prizes in physics and chemistry, respectively. The latest awards have brought the total number of Japanese Nobel laureates to 15, with seven of them winning the accolade in physics.

    Nambu won the prize for his discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, while Kobayashi and Maskawa were commended for their discovery of the origin of CP violation — the breaking of the symmetrical law of physics. The three researchers contributed significantly to the development of theoretical physics as we know it today, leading to the first co-winning of the Nobel Prize by three Japanese.

    Nambu introduced his idea on spontaneous broken symmetry into elementary particles theory in the 1960s, providing the basis for the standard theory of particle physics.

    Kobayashi and Maskawa predicted the existence in nature of at least three families of quarks, in defiance to the then common knowledge of theoretical physics. Subsequently, their theory was proven right.

    Nambu, who moved to the United States after the end of the war, joins an illustrious club of second-generation Japanese researchers in elementary particle theory, following the first-generation researchers in the field — the late Nobel laureates Hideki Yukawa and Shinichiro Tomonaga.

    Both Maskawa and Kobayashi studied at Nagoya University under the instruction of the late Shoichi Sakata, who also helped Yukawa with his research.

    The award ceremony will be held in Stockholm on Dec. 10. Half of the 10 million kronor (approximately 140 million yen) prize will go to Nambu, while the other half will be shared by Kobayashi and Maskawa.
    ENDS
    ===============================

       

    ノーベル物理学賞:益川教授ら日本人3氏に授与

    http://mainichi.jp/kansai/news/20081008k0000m040062000c.html

    ノーベル物理学賞の受賞が決まった(左から)京都産業大理学部の益川敏英教授、高エネルギー加速器研究機構(高エネ研)の小林誠名誉教授、南部陽一郎・米シカゴ大名誉教授 毎日新聞 2008年10月7日 19時29分(最終更新 10月8日 0時11分)          

    ノーベル物理学賞の受賞が決まった(左から)京都産業大理学部の益川敏英教授、高エネルギー加速器研究機構(高エネ研)の小林誠名誉教授、南部陽一郎・米シカゴ大名誉教授

     スウェーデン王立科学アカデミーは7日、08年のノーベル物理学賞を、米シカゴ大の南部陽一郎名誉教授(87)=米国籍▽高エネルギー加速器研究機構(高エネ研)の小林誠名誉教授(64)▽京都産業大理学部の益川敏英教授(68)の日本人3人に授与すると発表した。素粒子の理論で先駆的な役割を果たしたことが評価された。日本人のノーベル賞受賞は、02年の小柴昌俊・東京大特別栄誉教授(物理学賞)、田中耕一・島津製作所フェロー(化学賞)以来6年ぶりで、3氏を含め受賞者は計15人。物理学賞に限ると小柴氏に続き計7人となった。

     南部氏の受賞理由は、物質の最小単位である素粒子の「自発的対称性の破れの発見」。小林、益川両氏は「CP対称性の破れの起源発見」。素粒子の世界に存在する「破れ」と呼ばれる非対称性の理論化に取り組んだ3氏の業績は、理論物理学の発展に大きく貢献、初めての日本人3人同時受賞につながった。

     左右対称の図形は、左右を入れ替えても形が同じ。物理法則でも、一つの状態をほかの状態に変えても不変であるとされる。しかし、超電導現象などでは、対称性が失われることがある。

     南部氏は60年代にこの「対称性の破れ」を初めて素粒子の世界に導入した。これにより、物質の質量の存在が合理的に説明できるようになり、素粒子の基本理論となっている「標準理論」の基礎となった。

     一方、粒子と反粒子(質量が粒子と同じで電荷が反対)の数が全く同じだと、この世界は光だけになる。このため、小林、益川両氏は粒子と反粒子の性質にあるわずかな違いを示す「CP対称性の破れ」を理論的に説明するため、当時3種類しか存在が確認されていなかった素粒子クォークが3世代6種類以上あることが必要だとする「6元クォーク模型」を考案。両氏の名字をアルファベット順に並べて「小林・益川理論」と呼ばれた。

     小林・益川理論は当時の理論物理学の常識を覆す理論だったが、その予言通り、77年までに4、5番目のクォークの存在が実証され、95年には6番目のトップクォークの存在が確定、理論の正しさが証明された。

     南部さんは戦後まもなく渡米した頭脳流出組で、ノーベル物理学賞を受賞した湯川秀樹、朝永振一郎の両氏(いずれも故人)に続く日本の素粒子論研究者の第2世代。益川、小林両氏は名古屋大理学部の先輩、後輩で、湯川博士の協力研究者だった故坂田昌一博士門下で素粒子論を学んだ。

     授賞式は12月10日、ストックホルムで開かれ、賞金1000万スウェーデン・クローナ(約1億4000万円)は南部氏に半分、残りの半分を小林、益川両氏に贈る。

    ENDS
    ===============================
    As did the Yomiuri this morning in print on the newsstands.  But they later published English headlines and stories to reflect 2 J and 1 A recipients.
    ===============================

    Japanese win Nobel Prize / 2 particle scientists share 2008 prize with Japan-born American

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/science/20081008TDY01303.htm


     

    From left, Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Masukawa, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday

    Two Japanese particle physicists were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature. It is the first time Japanese scientists have shared the same prize.

    Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Masukawa shared the prize with Yoichiro Nambu, an American who discovered the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics…. (snip)

    ===============================

    ノーベル物理学賞 日本人3氏

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/stream/m_news/vn081008_1.htm - 2008/10/08 12:00 

    賞の重みじわり実感…受賞決まった3人が会見

    史上初めて日本人3人が受賞を独占した今年のノーベル物理学賞の発表から一夜明けた8日朝、日本学術振興会理事の小林誠さん(64)と京都産業大学教授の益川敏英さん(68)はそれぞれ東京と京都で記者会見に臨んだ。米…

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/science/news/20081008-OYT1T00379.htm - 2008/10/08 12:26

    ===============================
    Anyway, the Japan Times took Associated Press reports splitting the nationalities:
    ===============================

    Japan Times Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081008a1.html

    Japanese duo, American win Nobel in physics

    Theoretical work in fundamental particles honored

    STOCKHOLM (AP) Two Japanese and an American have won the 2008Nobel Prize for discoveries in the world of subatomic physics, theRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Tuesday.
    News photo News photo News photo Toshihide Masukawa Makoto Kobayashi Yoichiro Nambu     

    Japan-born American Yoichiro Nambu of the University of Chicago won half of the prize for discovering the mechanism called spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.

    Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Masukawa of Japan shared the other half of the prize for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.

    In its citation, the academy said this “year’s Nobel laureates in physics have presented theoretical insights that give us a deeper understanding of what happens far inside the tiniest building blocks of matter.”

    Turning to Nambu, the academy said his work has been “extremely useful.” It said in its citation that “Nambu’s theories permeate the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. The model unifies the smallest building blocks of all matter and three of nature’s four forces in a single theory.”

    The so-called Standard Model is the theory that governs physics at the microscopic scale. It accounts for the behavior of three out of nature’s four fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force.

    Gravity, the fourth force, has not yet been incorporated into the model.

    The prize is “recognizing one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of existence,” said Phil Schewe, a physicist and spokesman for the American Institute of Physics in Maryland. “Nature works in strange ways, and these three physicists helped to explain that strangeness in an ingenious way.”

    Nambu moved to the United States in 1952 and is a professor at the University of Chicago, where he has worked for 40 years. He became a U.S. citizen in 1970.

    Kobayashi and Masukawa “explained broken symmetry within the framework of the Standard Model but required that the model be extended to three families of quarks.”

    “The spontaneous broken symmetries that Nambu studied differ from the broken symmetries described by Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Masukawa,” the academy said. “These spontaneous occurrences seem to have existed in nature since the very beginning of the universe and came as a complete surprise when they first appeared in particle experiments in 1964.”

    =========================

    So here’s the topic for discussion:  Can you claim somebody as “ours”, as in “our countryman”, even if he no longer has your country’s nationality (or has clearly emigrated and taken on another nationality)?  Or was it meant as “our ethnicity”?  (which you can obviously never lose — but then I see both America and Poland cheering in the unlikely event that I ever get a Nobel.)  Obviously the J media has made two different claims in J and E.  What do readers think?  What’s appropriate? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO’S TAKE IN HIS NEWSLETTER YESTERDAY:  
    日本人三人がノーベル賞受賞と日本のマスコミは報道している。

    が、たとえばニューヨークタイムズではアメリカ人と二人の日本人が
    ノーベル物理学賞を受賞と報道している。

    ノーベル賞委員会の公式ホームページでも、二人の日本人とアメリカ
    人になっている。
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2008/

    南部陽一郎シカゴ大名誉教授は、日本生まれの方だが、アメリカ国籍
    を取得されている。

    国籍法上、自分の意思で外国籍をとれば、日本国籍は自動喪失する。
    だから国籍で言えば、今回のノーベル物理学賞は、日本人二人とアメ
    リカ人一人が受賞したことになる。

    問題は、南部さんのことを離れて、一般論で議論すると、もともと日
    本国籍を持っていた人が、ノーベル賞を受賞して、その際、ノーベル
    賞の公式ホームページでも明確に外国籍であることが明記されていた
    り、もともと日本国籍を持っていた人が、オリンピックに外国の代表
    として出場し、金メダルを取り、外国の国旗を揚げたりした場合、日
    本政府はどうするのか、ということだ。

    国籍法上は、自分の意思で外国籍をとった場合は日本国籍は自動的に
    喪失するわけだから、ほぼ間違いなくそれに該当するような場合、日
    本政府はそのご本人に確認をとるのだろうか。

    国籍法の手続きによれば、中央官庁が職務上、ある人が国籍を喪失し
    ていることを知れば、その本籍地に通告することになる。

    が、オリンピックに外国代表で出場をしていたり、ノーベル賞を受賞
    して、その公式ホームページに外国籍であることが明記されていたと
    しても、つまり、公に報道され、日本国民誰もが知り得る情報になっ
    ていたとしても、政府の各省庁は、それは職務上知り得た情報とはい
    えないので、通告しないのだそうだ。

    つまり、国籍法上、自分の意思で外国籍を取得すると日本国籍を自動
    喪失することになっているが、現実的には、そうならない。法的には
    喪失しているのだろうが、戸籍が残っている以上、たとえばパスポー
    トを申請すると交付されるのだ。

    父母が国際結婚した場合のように、子供が二重国籍になり、本来二十
    二歳で国籍を選択しなければならないにもかかわらず、現実には国籍
    選択する人がほとんどいないと同じように、外国籍を自分の意思で取
    得してもあたかも日本国籍を失っていないかのように振る舞えること
    になる。

    国籍法は、国籍に関するルールを決めているにもかかわらず、現実に
    は正直者が馬鹿を見ることになっている。
    自己の意思で外国籍を取得したら日本国籍は自動喪失するという規定
    も形骸化している。
    きちんと法を運用するか、あるいは二重国籍を認めるように国籍法を
    改正するか、政治として結論を出す必要がある。
    ENDS

     

     

     

    31 Responses to “Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity. Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner”

    1. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY

      I think we have some ammunition for an interesting
      debate on nationality versus ethnicity. People
      probably know that the Nobel prize in physics went to
      three people of Japanese ancestry. In fact, when I
      opened the Asahi this morning it said “three Japanese
      win…” I didn’t think much of it, but was sort of
      surprised when I looked at the news in English on my
      computer and say the headline, “two Japanese and one
      American win…” Actually, the Japan Times site has
      this same article, taken from AP.

      How strange. But the reason is pretty clear. One of
      the winners (Yoichiro Nambu), was born Japanese but
      took American citizenship in 1970. So according to the
      Asahi Shimbun (and NHK news, I notice), he is
      “Japanese” despite not having a passport (presumably).
      Looks like Debito needs to get on TV and say “I ain’t
      American, and he ain’t Japanese!”
      ENDS

    2. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY FROM A NATURALIZED JAPANESE, MIKI KAORU (http://www.restall.org)

      Just to add my own two yen, I think it would have to depend on the exact
      wording they used. “日本人” as a term has no actual basis in law, so applying
      it to somebody that grew up and was socialised here isn’t necessarily
      incorrect (though given the amount of time he’d spent as an American Citizen
      it could be construed as misleading).

      People that do know better quite often refer to me as “British” or “a Brit”
      and as long as they’re not being facetious, and they’re referring to my
      being a product of a particular social background, then it honestly doesn’t
      bother me. If they called me a “British Citizen” on the other hand (or meant
      “British” in that sense) I’d generally correct them, but that rarely if ever
      happens.

      Miki Kaoru

    3. Alexander Says:

      Debito, an article in the Asahi Shimbun this morning addresses this very point.

      http://www.asahi.com/science/update/1008/TKY200810080230.html

      The writer even ponders whether a foreigner who came to Japan and won the nobel prize would be treated in the same way. At the end of the article one Japanese professor interviewed talks about the need to be more hospitable to foreign researchers by doing this like allowing dual citizenship.

      Not only this, one of the new personalities on Asahi’s “Hodo Station” mentioned this last night. He said something like “it would be nice to have a foreigner come to Japan and win a nobel prize for Japan as this Japanese person has won one for America.” The host of the show Ichiro Furutachi didn’t know quite what to say and just ignored the comment.

      ============================

      南部さんは日本人?米国人? 人材流動化で意見百出

      朝日新聞2008年10月8日23時57分

       ノーベル物理学賞に決まった南部陽一郎さん、さらに化学賞の下村さん。いずれも米国在住の研究者だ。特に、若くして米国の研究所に移った南部さんは「頭脳流出」の代表例。よりよい研究環境を求めて国境を越える研究者の流れはその後、強まる一方だ。

       7日の物理学賞発表について、海外メディアの多くは受賞者を「2人の日本人と1人の米国人」と報じた。生まれ育ちは日本だが米国生活が長く、70年に米国籍を取得した南部さんの扱いが異なるためだ。

       「南部さんを日本人とカウントしないわけにはいかないが……」。素粒子物理学などの基礎研究を支援する文部科学省は、内部資料としてノーベル賞の受賞者数を国別に毎年集計している。これまでは受賞者の国籍で数えてきた。

       南部さんは注釈付きで日本の受賞者にする方向だが、関係者からは「そもそも国別に数える意味があるのか」という声も聞かれる。「外国人が日本の研究拠点での業績でノーベル賞を受けたら、日本の受賞にカウントするのだろうか」ともらす関係者もいる。

       下村さんは日本国籍のままだが、60年に渡米。そこでの研究が、今回の受賞につながった。

       政府は最近、魅力的な研究環境を整え、逆に世界から日本に人材を集める「頭脳循環」へと持ち込む姿勢を強める。塩谷文科相は8日、「大いに世界に出ていくと同時に、世界の頭脳が日本に集まる環境作りをぜひやりたい。4人もの受賞は、世界の拠点のひとつになりうる証明と思う」と話した。

       文科省は昨年、外国人比率を高める「世界トップレベル研究拠点」を全国に5カ所選出し、事務部門も含めて英語を公用語にした。そのひとつの東京大数物連携宇宙研究機構は、米カリフォルニア大教授だった素粒子論の世界的リーダー、村山斉さん(44)を機構長に引き抜いた。

       「同じ研究環境があれば欧米にこだわる必要はない。米国からは、日本の素粒子物理学が非常に華々しく見えた。かつてとは違う」と話す。

       米国に研究拠点を移して73年にノーベル物理学賞を受けた江崎玲於奈さんは「今の日本は、当時より飛躍的に研究基盤が発達している割に、外国人研究者が根付いていない。二重国籍を許すなど差別のない住みやすい日本を作るため、国内のみんながしっかり取り組まなくてはだめだ」と話した。

      (安田朋起)

    4. Al Says:

      I’m Irish and I have no intention of ever changing my citizenship but if I did I don’t think I would ever think of myself as being Japanese, American, Kiwi or whatever country I emigrated to. And to be honest, I don’t think that people those counties would ever really think of me as anything but Irish either.

      An similar example of this situation is the British and Irish press’ treatment of Daniel Day Lewis. British media usually refer to him as a British actor and Irish media as an Irish actor. He was born and grew up in London but his parents were Irish. He has since changed his citizenship to Irish. So he has Irish blood and an Irish passport now so surely he is seen as Irish but does swapping a document really mean so much. Personally I don’t think so.

      I think this whole thing is a non-issue really and people like you focus on it too much when we should spend our time more productively rather than manufacturing issues.

      –Comment on the issue please, not on me. And if this issue is in your view a waste of time, then why waste your time commenting at all?

    5. jjobseeker Says:

      Well, my take on it is this: I agree with most of the comments here that not matter what citizenship one may hold, you will always be of your original ethnicity. Being Filipino-American doesn’t cancel out the “Filipino” part. I do think that what we are seeing here is a double-standard of sorts where Japan and its media seem quite content with embracing Japanese ethnicity when something of this nature happens, but at the same time repels that very notion if someone is not born on these shores. Brazilian-Japanese makes you Brazilian. Japanese-American makes you American. In other words, if your family record doesn’t exist here, neither do you. And this is the heart of the problem for most if not all NJ. However, like the commentator on Hodo Station, I hope this will be spark some debate as to the nature of current policies regarding Permanent Residency, dual Citizenship, etc. I was encouraged when a commentator on NTV’s morning program “Zoom In” pointed out the fact that one of the recipients is of American citizenship, and the fourth recipient (as revealed late yesterday) is an American resident. Perhaps we will hear more comments like this as the days go by. We can only hope.

    6. Joe Jones Says:

      The law is not nearly as important as identity. Mr. Nambu is both Japanese and American, so neither set of reporting is incorrect. I think the fairest thing would be to ask him how he defines himself.

      I do think it would be unfair to apply a rule that you *have* to be referred to by your present nationality. Debito wants to be called Japanese, but there are probably other naturalized citizens who don’t see themselves that way (I wonder how Anthony Bianchi would answer the question, for instance).

      Personally, if I ever naturalize, I don’t want the press calling me Japanese. It would be a correct description of my nationality, but not of my upbringing, my ethnic background or the culture with which I identify. All of these are more important, in my view, than which passport one carries: nationality is often a matter of convenience.

      –Points taken. Problem is, is your identity really left up to you? If it were, there would be little truck from people like me. Usually, however, it is not — and part of the issue under discussion is whether or not a birth status (in this case ethnicity) automatically trumps the legal status (nationality). In the J media’s case in Japanese, it did trump. In the J media’s case in English, it did not. Meaning it was probably not left up to the individual to decide.

      I wish it were up to the individual to determine, as you do too. In potentially overlapping cases such as these, this is something we should promote.

    7. Chris B Says:

      I notice Google news (AFP) refer to Yoichiro Nambu, as an Japanese-born American (JBA) which is obviously correct.

      I do think if the Japanese press referred to Debito as American, this would be poor and depending on the context potentially racist. However if the Japanese press referred to this scientist as Japanese they were probably doing it from a position of pride and so I think it is fairly harmless, the British press tend to either get this kind of thing right or will refer to someone as British when they have naturalised to another country (of course British passport holders can maintain dual nationality).

      In summary, I think this argument would get greater public sympathy and therefore traction if it was made where the Japanese media had mistakenly or carelessly referred to a naturalised citizen as something other than Japanese or America-born Japanese etc…

      No harm in pointing it out the inaccuracy though!

      PS I bet he never officially renounced his Japanese citizenship, I don’t know any Japanese who has taken another nationality that has (apparently Japanese immigration turn a blind eye – possibly an example of double standards).

    8. Mumei Says:

      > one assumes he gave up his Japanese citizenship

      I was watching the news (either Zoom In or whatever comes after that) this morning and they specifically mentioned that Nambu has US citizenship. At which point I too thought that it was a little odd to claim that three Japanese won the Nobel prize.

      However, I can certainly understand the claim: from the Japanese perspective, being Japanese is not a matter of citizenship.

      It’s been a while and surely someone else can correct me, but if I recall correctly, the original version of 国籍法 (around 1899 or so?) defined 日本人, but the revised version replaces that with 日本国民. That leaves 日本人 legally undefined and rather vague.

    9. Bill Says:

      Debito,

      As your final column in your gaijin series suggests, native Japanese cling to a decidedly narrow view of themselves. This view is rooted not in the fact of our common humanity, but in myths, especially about race and ethnicity. Japan’s self-imposed isolation from reality and the world isn’t unique, just exquisitely nurtured.

      What’s needed in this society is some consciousness raising on a massive scale. But I don’t believe most natives have the capacity or incentive to hoist themselves up to see beyond the wall of exclusiveness that they’ve constructed. The cultural indoctrination and peer pressure runs too deep. Until the presence of a large numbers of immigrants to Japan by their sheer inescapable presence actually force natives to deal with the identity issue, I have little confidence that the lot of we few non-Japanese (or Japan’s ability to contribute to the world, the two Nobel winners notwithstanding) is likely to change fundamentally anytime soon. Beyond economics, I don’t know what could trigger this “foreign invasion” and the resulting necessary climate of crisis. However, until then, it seems we are just chipping away at the edges of Mt. Everest.

    10. TJJ Says:

      Alexander, interesting find, thank you.

      Foreign researchers in Japan just need to be treated as equals with the other staff. That’s all. They (most) don’t want dual citizenship or any type of special treatment. They especially don’t want to be told “You are not a doctor in Japan” by their department head or other such comments. They don’t want to be relegated to copy proofing other researchers papers, or teaching post-grads English.

      All these things happen though, so there’s no mystery as to why researchers don’t stay in Japan.

    11. Fuchikoma Says:

      The Japanese media …. Three Japanese
      The rest of the world … An American and two Japanese
      I think this is quite natural.

      If Debito wins the Nobel prize,
      The Japanese media …. A Japanese
      The rest of the world … An American

      Is there a problem? Who’s hurting who?

      –Continuing in the vein of self-determinism. For the record:
      If it were me, I would say (and that includes to the rest of the world) that I won it as a Japanese. If they said I was a former American citizen, that’s fine too. But I would disavow being called an American. I’m not one. To me it’s an existential fact. But I can’t conceive why I’d ever get a Nobel, anyway..
      . :)

    12. Matt Says:

      Another point is that Nambu earned his prize as a Japanese citizen. He completed the work in the 1960s, but only naturalized in 1970.

    13. carl Says:

      It would be interesting to hear how these fellows view themselves. Without a doubt, self-identification and what culture you feel most influences your life are the most important aspects when considering questions of national identity. Look up Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory for a more scientific explanation.

    14. Joe Jones Says:

      Re Mumei’s comment: Yes, the 1897 Nationality Act did use the term “nihonjin” rather than “nihon kokumin.” For example:

      第一條 子ハ出生ノ時其父カ日本人ナルトキハ之ヲ日本人トス其出生前ニ死亡シタル父カ死亡ノ時日本人ナリシトキ亦同シ

      Interestingly it uses the term “nihon no kokuseki” when referring to naturalized foreigners. It doesn’t say they “become nihonjin.”

      第五條 外國人ハ左ノ場合ニ於テ日本ノ國籍ヲ取得ス

      Text: http://ja.wikisource.org/wiki/%E5%9C%8B%E7%B1%8D%E6%B3%95%EF%BC%88%E6%98%8E%E6%B2%BB%E4%B8%89%E5%8D%81%E4%BA%8C%E5%B9%B4%E6%B3%95%E5%BE%8B%E7%AC%AC%E5%85%AD%E5%8D%81%E5%85%AD%E5%8F%B7%EF%BC%89

      (Aside: It’s interesting to see how naturalization worked back then. See Article 5 — much more lax, albeit at a time when few foreigners were interested in becoming Japanese nationals.)

    15. Steve Dufour Says:

      I agree with much of what you say about Japanese society. I spent a few months there in the 1970s. However in this case, to call a person born in Japan “Japanese” seems like a normal expression. For instance the town of Martinez California is proud of Joe DiMaggio, even though he never played professional baseball there.

    16. E.P. Lowe Says:

      Chris B

      “British press tend to either get this kind of thing right or will refer to someone as British when they have naturalised to another country (of course British passport holders can maintain dual nationality).”

      True, but ‘British’ isn’t an ethnicity. If you get British citizenship then you’re British, and as British as anyone else in the eyes of the law, and in a lot of society.

      Would that that sentiment extend to Japan…

    17. Tony D Says:

      I wonder what would’ve been said if they had’ve done something else, say blown up a building. Would the Japanese press be so eager to claim him as one of their own…?

      This reminds me of an amusing ‘issue’ in Australia- a not-insubstantial amount of successful ‘Australians’ are originally from other countries (especially New Zealand), like Russell Crowe. We’re happy to take the credit when they do great, but when they don’t…!

    18. Alex Says:

      Carl>

      I disagree. In comparison with a lot of people here I haven`t been in Japan long at all.
      However, As long as I don`t bring attention to the matter pretty much all people I meet assume I am either half-Japanese or born and raised here. I am white.

      when I tell them how long I have been here they usually freak out (which is a reason I don`t like to talk about how long I have been here) so I just tell people either I was raised here or that I don`t really talk about myself. I am extremely bad at accepting homekotoba.

      Like Debito says your identity is determined by how the other perceives you. However, you do have a say in their perception as I have outlined above.

      It`s not that they KNOW who you are or are not. It is that they THINK they KNOW who you are or aren`t. That is the problem here I would argue. Debito is Japanese. I could not argue any other way. If an ethnic Japanese (or American) has a problem with that there is a problem with their perception. I am white, with Canadian citizenship. Others will look at me and among those people there will be one of the following reactions:`American` `Gaijin` `Gaikokujin` `Half` or `hakujin`

      kimetukeru. That is the problem.

      There is no such thing as a `real` Japanese or `real` American because it is all about perceptions. If you associate with Japan then tell people you are Japanese or whatever.

      People who won`t accept you as you who say you are, are usually not worth dealing with anyway.

      Luckily we have the capacity as human beings to changed our own perceptions and have a substantial impact on the perceptions others harbour.

    19. Frodis Says:

      The NHK news reported last night on this and showed an interview with Nambu (I believe) who commented about having received a congratulatory phone call from P.M.Aso. He stated that he didn’t really follow Japanese politics and that he didn’t know who Aso was. He said that he will probably take more care in future to know more about Japan and what goes on here. This doesn’t address the issue of Ethnicity or Nationality but I think it gives one a pretty good idea as to how Nambu views himself — either that or he is a doddering old absent-minded professor.

    20. E.P. Lowe Says:

      Alex,

      “Like Debito says your identity is determined by how the other perceives you. However, you do have a say in their perception as I have outlined above.”

      Well, your identity in society may be – but your actual identity is determined by yourself.

    21. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Congratulations to all the Nobel Prize winners, regardless of nationality, ethnicity and whatever the media wants to label them as.
      Without wanting to rain on their parade too much, I was just curious how the Japanese media would react if a person like Nambu was arrested for a criminal act – what would they refer to him as in that situation? Would he be Japanese? American? “Nihon umare Amerika-jin”? I am curious.

      –I have the feeling it would be like any parent when their kid gets in trouble. Husband to wife: “Well, he’s YOUR kid…” :)

    22. Drew Says:

      I was just curious how the Japanese media would react if a person like Nambu was arrested for a criminal act

      Hell, even just hearing Yoko Ono sing was enough to make the Japanese media start writing her name in Katakana and given name first…

    23. Alex Says:

      Carl

      Japanese identity. American Identity. These things were created and forged into the shape they take today. These things did not always exist as that do now. If you can`t understand that you are the mixed up individual (Although I am not exactly sure what you mean`t by that). Don`t think that epistemological concepts such as identity have existed as they do now since time immemorial. We created this world and we mold and change it.

      To think that people here will never be able to change their perceptions or prejudice is just foolish and in a way stinks of a superiority complex. After all in the US and Canada Asian`s faced very similar barrier.

      My friend`s grandmother emigrated to Canada around the 1930`s and although she spoke pretty much perfect english (because she went to a British acedemy in Hong Kong) there were tons of white people around to pretend all they could hear was `ching chong chong` coming from her mouth.

      Lastly, why do you need *all* Japanese to accept you? Once you gain citizenship it is up to you to decide you are Japanese. If somone doesn`t accept that then just leave it at that.

      If you identify with Japan then do like debito does and just say you are Japanese.

      Hell, I don`t even have citizenship and I say I am Japanese all the time and because I have very dark eye colour and Jet black hair I get away with it all the times. If I use a Japanese name on the phone the person on the other line never has a clue that I am a `gaijin`.

      Some people accept it some people don`t. A lot of the time I don`t have time to explain my life story so if somone asks if I am Japanese or Half or Umaresodachi or whatever I just say I am and leave it at that.

      Just be who you wan`t to be, If somone has a problem with that that is their own loss. So long as it doesn`t involve legal matters, it shouldn`t depress you that there are some people who won`t accept you.

      I am not sure if the point got across but I hope it did. I have barely spoken a word of english nor written very many sentences since I arrived here so it is pretty difficult to write…

      I may not have been here for very long but I have kanken 2kyuu, nihongo nouryoku siken 1kyuu and a good enough kansai accent that as long as I use a Japanese name the person on the other line hasn`t a clue that I am actually a `gaijin` so I doubt that time is a matter at all in this situation.

    24. JB Jones Says:

      The Japanese have so little to be proud of internationally in the way of scientific awards,
      that it seems natural the press would emphasize his birth in Japan. But after living in
      the US for forty years and adopting American citizenship (read identity), he is no longer
      Japanese except in an atavistic sense. It’s kind of sad the press should stress he is a
      Japanese, as if he shares the culture and values of a country he has not lived in for forty
      years. I have lived in Japan 31 and feel more Japanese in my behavior and thinking
      than I do as an American.

    25. Deo Says:

      The award is award and we should appreciate their work instead of debating where they belongs to? If they received a award for the work which was initiated in Japan then I would say Japan should be proud of it. Even work is done outside Japan but as they are born and grown in Japan, Japan should be proud of it. So by any means Japanese should be proud!!! You call it Japanese born or Japanese it depend.
      But if the person did not like himself called as Japanese then he can definitely take legal action against media.
      Apart from that, it is fact that even after changing nationality, original identity, values and appearance does not change and in society you will be always identified with your origin. Due that you get lot of good and bad attention at every stage of life and some people achieve many milestone because they get advantage of not being same as others. And I am sure all there award winner must have received lot of attention due they are Japanese origin.
      Same with me, I have to fight/argue for my rights even I am Japanese by nationality and Indian origin. At there same time I also have an advantage on being non-Japanese origin….
      So bottom line is let the things be as they are… let people have some freedom to express.. including media until concerned people are fine!!

    26. Fuchikoma Says:

      JB Jones Says:

      >It’s kind of sad the press should stress he is a Japanese, as if he shares the culture and values of a country he has not lived in for forty years. <

      Well, he still lives in Japan as well as in the U.S. (he has a house in Japan) and affiliated with Osaka City University.

    27. mkill Says:

      It’s the same everywhere:

      Ask a German, and Mozart is German and Hitler an Austrian.

      Ask an Austrian, and Mozart is Austrian and Hitler a German.

    28. Mumei Says:

      It’s now official: Nambu’s Nobel award is being counted as a win for America, not Japan.

      References:

      「南部さんは「米国の受賞者」文科省が公式文書での扱い決定」
      http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/science/news/20081015-OYT1T00656.htm

      「ノーベル賞の南部さん、文科省の集計では「米国人」」
      http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1015/TKY200810150304.html

      As an aside, one interesting quote:
      「これまで受賞時の国籍(二重国籍者は出生国)で数えており、ルールを変えると混乱すると判断した。日本は二重国籍を認めていない。 」
      If Japan were to have allowed multiple citizenship, then Nambu would not have needed to give up his Japanese citizenship and his win could have been counted for Japan. Time for a change, Japan?

      – Yes, wouldn’t this be a wonderful opportunity for this debate!

    29. Farao51 Says:

      “If the relativity theory proves accurate, the Germans will call me German, the Swiss will call me a citizen of Switzerland and the French will call me a great scientist.
      If the relativity theory proves inaccurate, the French will call me Swiss, the Swiss will call me German and the German will call me a Jew”
      - Albert Einstein

    30. Mika Says:

      I think my view was best summed up in number 20.

      If I calculated correctly, Nambu spent the first 31 years of his life in Japan. I think it is fair to say that things that took place during this time must have helped set the foundation that brought him to where he is now. Japan taking pride in a even a former Japanese national is something I think is positive. Technically he is still Japanese, but Japanese-American. I would also venture to call him American or Japanese-born American. Perhaps this will actually convince some Japanese students to live abroad, change nationalities, while still making their country proud.

      In Hawaii, people take great pride in pointing out that Akebono is “one of them.” Born and raised in Hawaii. I think they would refer to him as Hawaii/American-born or Naturalized Japanese. I don’t think we’d ever refer to him as simply Japanese. Sorry about that. On the Positive side, even though he is no longer an American citizen and lives in Japan, Hawaii still takes an interest in what he accomplishes.

      I am a JET in Japan and I accidentally stumbled upon this entry while doing a search for American ethnicity. An seemingly innocuous comment on Facebook has spurned a deep discussion about how my Brit JET friends view American mainly as an ethnicity, and the Americans only see it as a nationality. A discussion just as interesting and tenuous, but not related to Japan.

      – Thanks for writing. Send us the link to the discussion!

    31. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      I saw on a news flash yesterday that a 16 year old figure staker with both Japanese and American nationality will be representing the USA in the winter Olympics. I wonder how much the Japanese media will be claiming her as one of theirs if she wins. (And, alternately, how much they will be denying if she loses big)

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