A Korean/Japanese high school boy, Mimatsu, has won an English speech contest in Osaka this evening. The topic of his speech was his biculturalism. He referred to his Korean name and his Japanese names, and how it feels to be both. He closed his speech with a short sentence in Korean, which he translated into English as “I love both Korea and Japan.” Cut to dewy-eyed highschool girls clapping loudly. This was mentioned on primetime national news programs this evening. I don’t begrudge him his win – he spoke well and with a clear delivery – but I wonder why this is such “big” news. Is it because NHK think will help improve relations between the two countries, and between the Japanese and Japan-born Koreans who make up a not insignificant minority here.
I remember there was a Japan-born Korean student at my university about 10 years ago. She had been registered as a student under her Japanese name, but she decided to “come out” and insisted the administration use her Korean name for her registration. Needless to say, the administration complained, but did her bidding. It would not have been good PR to refuse, now would it, boys and girls.