OPINION: A Lack of Language Fluency Cannot Become a Basis of Identity

The News Lens
Date: 2019/04/24
By: Xiaochen Su

Credit: Reuters / TPG

The controversy surrounding Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has parallels to opposition to Taiwan’s plans to become a bilingual nation by 2030.

The woman looked absolutely perplexed when I asked her for direction in English.

Assuming that she is a foreigner based on her dark skin tone, I stopped her in the streets to inquire the whereabouts of a local park in an unfamiliar neighborhood of Tokyo. But clearly, the lady did not comprehend the words that were coming out of my mouth.

Embarrassed that I had inadvertently stepped into the landmine that is the definition of who is a Japanese person, I quickly switched into Japanese to apologize. The woman was good-natured about the incident, apparently quite used to people mistaking her for a foreigner. But her explanation of her Japanese identity was a rather odd one. Remarking that her father is Jamaican and her mother Japanese, she nonchalantly said, “I am fully Japanese because I cannot speak any other language other than Japanese.”    [FULL  STORY]

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