Naomi Osaka: a new role model for the biracial citizens of Japan

<pre><pre>Naomi Osaka: a new role model for the biracial citizens of Japan

The surprise victory of Naomi Osaka in the US Open final has sparked celebrations throughout Japan, especially among her mixed-race minority.

By becoming the first Grand Slam singles champion in her country, Osaka, the daughter of a Haitian father and Japanese mother, is helping to break new ground in Japan as her biracial identity challenges the country's self-image as a racially homogeneous society .

In Japan, biracial citizens are rare, known as "haafu".

For its part, Osaka is not thinking too much about how its identity is perceived.

Naomi Osaka after her victory.

Getty

"For me, it's just me," Osaka said Thursday, when asked if it represented a "new Japan".

"I know the way they raised me, people tell me I'm Japanese, so I guess so.

"But if you were talking about my tennis, I think my tennis is not very Japanese."

The Japanese television celebrity Jun Soejima, who is partly African-American, is among those who now welcome a new role model.

"She's a wonderful person, I was bullied at school and I became a bit cynical, but she does not seem like that at all."

Japanese part-time model Joe Oliver, also an African-American in part, said he has experienced prejudice in Japan

"Wherever I went, even on a bus, I would say it was like being in a museum, people were looking at me from head to toe, for example, nobody was sitting next to me on trains, I felt like I was an unusual childhood person. "

Jun Soejima said that her self-esteem was affected when she grew up.

"I really hated being different from other people in school." I kept wondering why I had a different color from other people and I hoped to become the same as everyone else.

"But now, being different in Japan, having a different colored skin, has become an advantage for me and there is a time when you grow up when you realize this."

Celebrity of Japanese television Jun Soejima.

Celebrity of Japanese television Jun Soejima.

SBS does not work

Although it is increasing slowly, there are less than 2.5 million legal foreign residents in Japan, around 1.9% of the population.

One of the world's largest economies and the fourth largest donor to UNHCR, Japan hosted only 20 refugees last year.

But, at least publicly, Japan is changing.

In 2015, Ariana Miyamoto became the first biracial woman to be crowned Miss Japan.

Then, Priyanka Yoshikawa, who has an Indian heritage, won Miss World Japan in 2016.

While it is likely that the victory on the Osaka court is one of the many to come, Japanese amateur tennis player Miki Kobayashi believes that it could also help to change attitudes on the sidelines.

"I think Naomi Osaka embodies how people, regardless of their nationality or if they are" haafu "can do so through sports and the media inspire others and transcend both nationality and race."

2015: Ariana Miyamoto's father is American and his mother is Japanese.

2015: Ariana Miyamoto's father is American and his mother is Japanese.

AAP

– Additional reports: AAP