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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Group seeks neglected Japanese descendants via poll

by Trisha Marcelo

QUEZON CITY–Some rely on just their surnames to carry them to Japan and, hopefully, a better life. A group here wants to help.Since August, the Federation of Nikkei-Jin Kai Philippines Inc. is undertaking a poll of Shin-Nikkei-jin (Japanese descendant) in the Philippines who were abandoned by their Japanese fathers.
The federation of 16 groups spread throughout the archipelago perceives these people to number in the thousands but government statistics remain unavailable or inaccurate.
The Philippine government and Japan have no record of the number of neglected Japanese descendants in the country because their birth certificates show their citizenship as Filipino.
Worse, some Japanese fathers refuse to recognize these children as from their blood despite the Filipino mother declaring otherwise.Like the mother of 17-year-old Shilla-Mei Murakami who brought her to the office of federation-member Manila-Central Luzon NIPPI (Japan-Philippines) Association Inc. for inclusion into the group’s census.
“I want to meet my father and work in Japan,” said Murakami, a single mother to a seven-month old baby.The five-foot Murakami stopped going to school after getting pregnant during her senior year. She works as a waitress in a coffee shop in Quezon City while living with her mother, who has since retired from working as an entertainer in Japan.Beside her is 13-year-old Toshiyuki Ito Jr., who is more fortunate: he was able to meet his father.
Since Ito’s Japanese father was an entertainment promoter in Japan, he would make it a point to visit the young Ito when he was in Manila despite separating from the mother in 1996. The young Ito was just three years old that time.He said they went to the federation’s office to seek help since his father has stopped seeing him since December 2000.Murakami and Ito were among the 16 Shin-Nikkei-jins who registered with the MCLNAI the day that the group began its intensive search for an estimated 100,000 Japanese descendants in the country.The federation expects to confirm that number when they reveal partial results by November this year.
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