Monday, October 9, 2017

"A mission to capture the full range of half-Japanese experience — in 192 photos"

Photo and text borrowed from The Japan Times, 10/8/17.

The son of a Japanese father and Belgian mother, photographer Tetsuro Miyazaki grew up in a multilingual and multicultural environment.

“My younger sister and I were raised in Dutch-French-bilingual Brussels, where our dad would speak Japanese to us, our mom would speak Dutch, and they would communicate in French between themselves,” says Miyazaki, now 39. Annual summer vacations spent in Japan and Saturday school helped him connect further with his father’s culture.

Reflection on his own cultural heritage was a catalyst for the “Hafu2Hafu” project, a collection of portraits of other bicultural Japanese people.

“As a half-Japanese photographer, living in Amsterdam at that time, I wanted to take on a personal project that would force me to pick up my camera and meet people,” Miyazaki says.

He began by speaking with Dutch hāfu.


After interest in his initial sessions with Dutch hāfu led to invitations to present his work at symposiums overseas, Miyazaki came up with an ambitious plan to photograph a hāfu person with one parent from every other nation in the world.

“Since there are 193 sovereign countries, there are 192 possible different combinations. The idea behind this is that I want to show how diverse being half-Japanese can be and I want to understand the different aspects of it. What influences the way we experience the ‘half-Japanese’ side of our identity?”

Miyazaki says he has been humbled by the willingness of his subjects to open up and talk about their personal feelings. While each one has a unique story, some common themes have emerged.

“One topic that always comes up is about the sense of belonging,” he notes. “What also struck me is that most hāfu people find themselves to be quite empathic. While I can’t say for sure, I believe it has a lot to do with having to interpret two different languages, the corresponding nonverbal communication, cultural backgrounds and, sometimes, religious differences.”

Miyazaki’s interviews with participants who grew up in Japan reveal the sometimes ambivalent attitudes that bicultural people may encounter in this traditionally homogenic society.

“Both those raised abroad and those raised in Japan want to ‘belong’ to Japan more than most of them do. But this is more ‘painful’ when one is living in Japan. Even if you understand the Japanese language or the customs very well, you may not be considered Japanese and often do not get treated as such,” Miyazaki points out.

“Another difference is what ‘the other half’ is. There are Western hāfu, hāfu with African heritage or a Latin parent and then Asian hāfu. They all have very different experiences, both in Japan and abroad,” he says.

Some foreign parents of bicultural Japanese kids dislike the connotation of the label “half” and advocate for such people to be called “double.” Based on his interviews so far, however, Miyazaki says that most bicultural adults do not share this view.

“Although some dislike the label half/hāfu, most of them embrace it. It has also struck me that the dislike comes from the parents, who do not want to refer to their child as ‘half.'”

Read the whole article:

Hafu2Hafu web page:

Hafu2Hafu Presentation and Workshop
Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
at Sophia University, Tokyo
More information:

Monday, September 18, 2017

The solutions to all of your modern First World problems...

Some fun globalization stuff... No product endorsement intended. First the problem:

Then the problem solvers:

And then see the product in action!

Choku Fish web page:

Monday, September 11, 2017

South Korean Film 「반짝이는 박수 소리 」("Glittering Hands") Barrier-Free Release in Osaka

"Glittering Hands" (Japanese title:「きらめく拍手の音」), a 2015 film by South Korean filmmaker Lee-Kil Bora, has been released for its Japanese roadshow.

Brief English description (from Korean Film Biz Zone): Sang-guk and Kyung-hee cannot hear a thing, yet they are a happy couple. Bo-ra, their daughter, gazes at the world of her parents through the viewfinder. What we witness is not only a world of silence, but also a world of beauty where bodily gestures and facial expressions come to life. This film shows us that humanity exists with the imperfection of the body.

The filmmaker is a CODA (child of deaf adult) and portrays the life and history of her parents and family. I really like the karaoke scene in the trailer as I have experienced karaoke with my Deaf friends in Japan many times. The short film has won several awards including the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (2015) - New Asian Currents, Seoul International Youth Film Festival (2015) - Special Program 2, Busan International Kids&Youth Film Festival (2015) and Persons with Disabilities Film Festival (2014) - Grand Prize.

The Japanese release is emphasizing the barrier-free showings, that is open captions in Japanese (the film itself is in Korean and Korean Sign Language).

Film's Japanese web page:

Osaka's Nanagei Theater web page with film info and screening times:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Mizuko Yamaoka takes a different approach in documentary about people with disabilities"

Excerpts from article in The Japan Times, 9/7/17.

Disability presents different challenges for everyone but wheelchair users share a common dilemma: Their mode of locomotion stands out, while they often struggle with social isolation... “The Lost Coin,” [is] a 2016 short by Mizuko Yamaoka, a filmmaker who has been using a wheelchair since a 2002 bicycle accident in Brooklyn left her paralyzed from the waist down.

In contrast to Japanese documentaries that try to win viewer sympathy by portraying people with disabilities as lovable victims — if not candidates for sainthood — this 30-minute film begins with extended point-of-view sequences of the director wheeling through the night streets of Barcelona and attending a party.

Her night out isn’t different from that of anyone else’s except for one crucial difference: She experiences it sitting down. People treat her with courtesy, but she can’t jump into conversations as easily as the other guests because she can’t stand. This, she shows us clearly, if minus the usual explanations, is what life for her is like — including a semi-invisibility those who don’t use wheelchairs may find hard to imagine.

The remainder of the film is devoted to a revealing one-on-one interview with Jelena, a French woman who began using a wheelchair after a fall during a hike with her then-boyfriend. Under Yamaoka’s gentle but pointed questioning she opens up about her break-up with her lover, her sex life and her decision to leave Paris for relatively barrier-free Barcelona.

“The Lost Coin” will begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Couzt Cafe and Shop (2-1-11 Yanaka, Taito Ward, doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Mizuko Yamaoka will be on hand to discuss the film with University of Tokyo assistant professor Daisuke Son. Admission with a drink is ¥1,300. For more details about the screening and talk event, visit “The Lost Coin” Facebook page at

Read the whole article:

You can find a trailer here:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A WHALE OF A TALE, lecture and screening by documentary filmmaker Megumi Sasaki

Image borrowed from

Announcement from SSJ Forum:


The issue of commercial whaling in Japan remains a contentious issue, as animal rights activists engage cultural traditionalists on the historical roots of this practice and its contemporary relevance. For this event the documentary filmmaker Megumi Sasaki will screen excerpts from her film “A Whale of a Tale,” and discuss the controversies surrounding this topic.

About the film “A Whale of a Tale”:

Can a small town with a proud 400-year-old whaling tradition survive a tsunami of modern environmental activism? The camera delves into the lives of local whalers, global activists and an American journalist in the “whale and dolphin killing town” of Taiji, Japan, revealing not everything is as black and white as it seems.

In 2010, Taiji, a sleepy fishing town in southern Japan, suddenly wakes up in the global spotlight. A documentary film called The Cove, which denounces the town’s longstanding whale and dolphin hunting practices, has just won an Academy Award. Almost overnight, the town of Taiji has morphed into a battleground as the go-to destination for international activists.

Jay Alabaster, a Tokyo-based Associated Press journalist and twenty-year Japan resident, is sent to Taiji to cover the controversy. He is warned by his boss to “be careful in the dangerous town”, which triggers the sense that something is not quite right with media reports surrounding Taiji.

As the fall hunting season begins, anti-whale and dolphin hunting activists arrive from abroad with binoculars and cameras in hand. Their mission: To expose the “atrocities” committed in Taiji via the web.

Every time dolphins are captured in the hunt, tension in the cove grows. Activists yell and thrust cameras in whalers’ faces. Local police and the Coast Guard stand by. Camera crews arrive in droves. A Japanese nationalist van harasses activists over a loudspeaker.

For the local whalers, hunting is their livelihood, pride and identity. Catching whales and dolphins – as they do other fish - has allowed them to feed their families and support the town’s economy.

The activists fight back, saying the whales and dolphins are not fish, but intelligent mammals deserving special protection on a global scale. Hunting and eating them is barbaric, and selling them to aquariums is comparable to a slave trade.

Will Taiji survive under global pressure? Following the town’s fate for six years, A WHALE OF A TALE tells a story not yet heard in the global controversy of whale and dolphin hunting. Through the point-of-view of an American journalist, the film unearths a deep divide in eastern and western thought about nature and wildlife, raising questions about cultural sensitivity in the face of global activism.

Date: Thursday, September 14, 2017
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Venue: Temple University Japan Campus, Azabu Hall 1F Parliament
Admission: Free. Open to the public.
Language: English

See the YouTube clip:

Film web page:

More: Japan Times article, 9/6/17:

Documentarian Megumi Sasaki hopes to bring balance to the story of Taiji in ‘A Whale of a Tale’


See the previous and extensive coverage of The Cove and related issues at VAOJ. Click here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How can such awful discrimination and abuse against deaf people happen in 2017?

Two recent articles that can only be characterized as unbelievable and unforgivable:

Nun from Japan arrested for allegedly abusing deaf children in Argentina

A Roman Catholic nun from Japan has been arrested and charged on suspicion of helping priests sexually abuse children at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in Argentina, authorities said.

Kumiko Kosaka was also charged with physically abusing the students at the Antonio Provolo Institute for children with hearing impairment in northwestern Mendoza province.

Local media showed the 42-year-old nun in handcuffs and wearing her habit and a bulletproof vest as she was escorted by police to a court hearing. Kosaka, who was born in Japan but has Argentine citizenship, denied any wrongdoing during the eight-hour hearing late Thursday.

Authorities say that Kosaka lived at the Provolo Institute from 2004-2012. She had been on the run for about a month before she turned herself in last week.

The case against the nun was launched after a former student accused her of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was allegedly raped by priest Horacio Corbacho.

Corbacho, fellow priest Nicola Corradi and three other men were arrested last year after they were charged with sexually abusing at least two dozen students at the Provolo Institute. They are being held at a jail in Mendoza and have not spoken publicly since the arrest. If found guilty, the accused face 10 to 50 years in prison.

Corradi had earlier been accused in Italy of abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers.

Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have expressed anger that Corradi wasn’t sanctioned by the Vatican and allegedly went on to abuse children in Pope Francis’ native Argentina.

Victims and prosecutors say the anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex allegedly committed by the priests took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden and a basement at the school in Lujan de Cuyo, a city about 1,000 km (620 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires.

A Vatican investigative commission recently visited Mendoza to learn more about the case against the priests.

Source: The Japan Times, 5/6/17.

Deaf Japanese tourist denied interpreter at Honolulu airport: ACLU

A deaf Japanese tourist was illegally denied a sign-language interpreter while detained and interrogated after landing at the Honolulu International Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said in a discrimination complaint.

The ACLU said Thursday it filed the complaint last month with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Her name is redacted from a copy of the complaint the ACLU provided. She fears retaliation by immigration officials, the ACLU said.

She arrived in Honolulu on the morning of Jan. 31 to visit her boyfriend. Customs and Border Protection officials took her into an office to question her about her past as an international student in the United States, according to the complaint.

She requested an American Sign Language interpreter, but during hours of questioning she was forced to communicate by lip-reading and writing in English, the complaint said. In the late afternoon, she was handcuffed and taken to the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, where she was put into a cell overnight. “She was handcuffed behind her back, so there was no way for her to use her hands,” the complaint said. “When detaining deaf individuals, it is appropriate to modify handcuffing practices to allow such individuals to use their hands to communicate with signs or in writing.”

That’s equivalent to silencing her, said Mateo Caballero, legal director for ACLU of Hawaii. “She was treated like a criminal,” he said.

Customs and Border Protection received the complaint and will address the accusations after an investigation, agency spokesman Jaime Ruiz said in a statement, adding that accusations of mistreating travelers with a disability are taken seriously. Officers “receive extensive training in disability awareness and treat all travelers with disabilities with dignity, respect and professionalism,” the statement said.

At the airport, customs officials took away her cellphone, so she wasn’t able to alert her boyfriend, who waited 12 hours for her at a cafe near the airport, the complaint said.

At the detention center, which is near the airport, she again asked for an American Sign Language interpreter, but didn’t receive one, the complaint said. Instead, staff members tried to ask her questions by using a Japanese translator on the phone, but the woman can’t hear people talking on the phone, the complaint said.

“She felt humiliated,” the complaint said.

The Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the detention center, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The next day, she was taken to the airport for a flight back to Japan and her cell phone was returned. That’s when she was finally able to let her family in Japan and her boyfriend know where she was, the complaint said.

Source: The Japan Times, 5/12/17.