Japan’s forgotten people~Scars of war run deep as struggle for citizenship continues in Philippines

TV Asahi -- Sep 26

Before the war, large numbers of Japanese people immigrated to the Philippines and worked in the cultivation of hemp and other crops. Many of them married local Filipino women and started families.

At its peak, the Japanese community in the Philippines numbered 30,000 people. However, when Japan and the United States went to war, those people were compelled to cooperate with the Japanese military.

Children who lost their Japanese fathers in the war (who either lived with their Filipino mothers or were left orphaned) continued to face hardships even after the war. Amidst the anti-Japanese sentiment growing in the Philippines, they not only had to live in hiding but were also designated as “stateless”. This was because at the time in the Philippines, nationality was based on the father’s citizenship.

This was a harsh reality that remained unknown for a long time. Yet as the second-generation individuals grew older, they began to raise their voices to seek the “restoration of their Japanese nationality”. Still, they faced challenges gathering the necessary “evidence” to prove their parentage since many of the documents were lost during the war.

When asked, “Why do you want to become Japanese?” they all unanimously respond, “Because my father is Japanese. Japanese blood runs in me”.

Many Japanese people believe that Japan’s involvement in the war was an event from the distant past. However, their fellow countrymen continue wandering through the never-ending post-war era, waiting for help in a foreign land.