Few days ago I received an e-mail from a Japanese who shared with me stories of his life and the difficulties he encountered living in Singapore and Japan. Apparently he found out about me from a blog article I blogged about few years back regarding a Japanese serving his National Service in Singapore. That someone is none other than himself. I am deeply touched and honoured he finds me the person to share his worries.
With his consent, I shall pass on his story and share my thoughts as well.
His name is Ryuju, a young man in his 20s currently living here with his Singaporean single mother. Ryuju was born in Japan and lived his first 2 years in Japan whereby her mother was the owner of a Singapore pub. Ryuju’s mum remarried another Japanese and his childhood was mainly spent in Singapore but relocated back to Japan as was wanted by his step grandparents. As a step grandson, Ryuju finds it uneasy living with his step father’s family and was often bullied in school for being “un-Japanese”.
Sensing Ryuju’s difficulties in adjusting to life in Japan, despite it being the very country he was born, his mum left his step dad and flew back to Singapore. By then Ryuju was already 10 and with no written knowledge of English. He was enrolled in Primary 2 in a local school and was older than all the other students. With his mixed paternal heritage, the teasing and bullying continues here as well.
Despite the hardship, Ryuju and his mum preserved. Eventually the time came and Ryuju was due for National Service, a 2 years conscription, applicable to all able bodied Singaporean males. Ryuju stood up to the calling and was even featured in the papers. It was one of the proudest moment in his life.
Ryuju always considered himself more Singaporean than Japanese. Afterall he did live more than 15 years of his life here. So after completing his National Service, he renounced his Japanese citizenship and became a full pledge Singapore citizen.
It was recently that a big bomb dropped on Ryuju. He went to the Immigration Authority to renew his passport and was told the shocking news that he could no longer renew his Singapore citizenship due to some complication, though not anything illegal, I will not discuss here. The feeling of lost, unjustified and even betrayal overwhelms him. Who wouldn’t for someone who have lived here most of his life, served his National Service and chooses to call Singapore his home? He was ready to take over his mother’s small business but now it seems everything was taken away from him.
Faced with the dire issue of having no nationality, Ryuju sought the help from local politicians, we call them Members of Parliament. Through their help, an appeal was made to the Immigration Authority but was unfortunately rejected. Ryuju is currently seeking help from another Member of Parliament and is now waiting for a favourable outcome.
After reading Ryuju’s story, I can’t help feeling sorry for him. I hope everything turns out well eventually. You have my prayers. At the same time this is also something we can all look into and reflect on.
Firstly the double sided mirror of being one with mixed parental heritage. Like in Ryuju’s case, a half Japanese/Singapore. In Japan, he was seen as un-Japanese, while in Singapore he was seen as un-Singaporean. I would reckon this must be tough for a child, especially in school where most children, lacking sensitiveness, tend to outcast one who is different from them. The feeling of isolation and been alienated is not easy for a young child to go through I would imagine. But I am glad Ryuju came out OK, since he is willing to share with us his story.
Secondly Ryuju was born a Japanese but chooses to call Singapore his home. This is something I feel very strongly about. As an otaku (if I dare call myself one), most of my friends share the same hobbies as me and love Japanese pop culture. Some even dream of living in Japan.
Additionally most Singaporean youths today have no sense of belonging, no I am not asking for 100% patriotism, but most young people do not feel proud as a citizen. While I do not agree with some of the policies set by the country’s ruling party, I still call Singapore my home as this is where I grew up and most probably where I am going to spend my whole life as well.
So is the grass really greener on the other side? I don’t know. I just hope people do not take things for granted if they already have. The things one bitches about might just be something highly sought after by others. People do not treasure what they have until they lost them. So put yourself in other people’s shoes and learn to see things from another preservative. Take pride with what you already have. Do not compare yourself with the rich and famous and powerful, compare yourself to the less fortunate.
To sums up this kinda long winded post, I hope Ryuju you do not give up hope and try all whatever possible means there is to fight for your citizenship. Never say die, like what a Singapore would say. All the best and good luck.