SCMP: Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka not only hit the cash jackpot with her historic US Open victory – she struck a blow for racial equality, according to a former Miss Japan… Priyanka Yoshikawa, who two years ago was crowned Miss Japan, believes Osaka can also help break down cultural barriers in a country where multi-racial children make up just two per cent of those born annually.
“Japan should be proud of her – she can definitely break down walls, she will have a big impact.” Osaka, who has a Japanese mother, a Haitian father and was raised in the United States, is set to shine a light on what it means to be Japanese, predicts Yoshikawa. “The way she speaks, and her humbleness, are so Japanese,” said the 24-year-old… Unlike Yoshikawa and Miyamoto, Osaka speaks hardly any Japanese after moving to Florida with her family as a toddler. “It’s not about language,” insists the Tokyo-born Yoshikawa, who was bullied because of her skin colour as a child… “But she’s what she thinks she is. If you think you’re Japanese, you’re Japanese.”… “But it’s still going to take more time for people to think ‘haafu’ can be Japanese,” she warned. “We need more people like Naomi.”
COMMENT: Indeed. Japan needs more people like Naomi. And like Priyanka. And Ariana Miyamoto. And Murofushi. And Asuka Cambridge. And Bekki. And Jero. And Darvish. And Miyazawa Rie. And Umemiya Anna. And Hiroko Grace. And Kinugasa “Iron Man” Sachio. And any number of other “haafu” celebrities in Japan who have made history over generations, but barely made a dent in diversifying Japan’s racialized self-concept of “Japaneseness” being predominantly pure-blooded. I’m not sure what’s different this time. Again, Debito.org is very happy to cheer on Ms. Osaka as she navigates her way through Japan’s adult society and through the trappings and pitfalls of sports fame. But it’s far too soon to be this optimistic that any real change has happened or will happen. As we’ve seen from the world-class people above, it takes a lot more than one tennis star to undo this degree of “Embedded Racism”. Where’s the “tipping point”?