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.


About sergeant gordon

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61 Responses to Identity

  1. Ex14 says:

    D= i’m sure most of us would gladly have welcimed him with open arms! XDD If possible send him my best regards too ^^

  2. Hexlord says:

    Hmm, are you talking about Ryuju Ogawa? He is my friend’s bf incidentally so that is how I know of him. He’s a friendly chap, down to earth and all.

    Hope he gets his stuff settled soon and positively as well.

  3. Stifler says:

    Now that’s something to think about. Most young Singaporeans usually blast the PAP, but once you think about it, they aren’t that bad when compared to the alternatives.

    All the best, Ryuju. I hope things work out all right for you. Quoting from a certain movie, “Aal izz well”.

  4. YuKi-To says:

    I myself have lived here in Singapore for more than 15 years… But I love both Indonesia and Singapore and regard both places as my home, that is why I never gave up my Indonesian citizenship. even though I lived probably 70% of my lifetime in Singapore, I’m officially still a foreigner here. I’m probably very fortunate to be able to call 2 places my home and not care about the official stuff

    It’s probably not easy to fight for citizenship in Singapore, but yes do not give up comrade Ryuju!

    On a side note, Ryuju sounds like an interesting guy, I would like to meet and talk to him someday ^^

  5. az_jedi7 says:

    Hey Sandy, your clone TK from 501st here. My few cents worth is always, when it comes to relationship & marriges, stick to your kind; be it race or religion or nationality. As it will affect your children. It can be overcome but one has to work very hard. As if life is not hard enough nowadays! Though some people may like that mixed children looked better, but its with a price. The question is, can you afford the price?

    I really feel for Ryuju. I seen the prejudice in schools, at workplaces and now this is another example. May he get his wishes fullfilled.

  6. Reltair says:

    Aww, best wishes and the best of luck to him!

  7. Q says:

    Sorry to hear about him. Sometimes things happen. Reminds me of my friends in the UK who are struggling to renew their passports as the UK is now restricting the number of immigrants for various reasons.

    From what I have heard mixed parents including a Japanese tend to have a lot of problems afterwards, at least this is what I have observed in Hong Kong, where there were a number of family fallouts, some even got on news with a subarticle saying such families tend to have harder time to cope. There is a mixed Chinese-Japanese blogger I know in Hong Kong who has some family-related problems too. Mixed Western-Eastern children may get off better, but it’s still not exactly an easy thing to live on.

    Well, things may look a bit grim, especially for a guy who has lived for more than a decade and served for National Service, only to know that he is about to lose the citizenship that he felt he should have deserved. What happens, I wish him luck.

  8. Neutrinos says:

    Well 1st off, hats off to him for staying to complete his NS. I’ve seen lots who escape when they’re 16 just to avoid that. I’ll more than welcome him as my fellow Singaporean.

    Where’s the original article btw?

  9. welsper84 says:

    This is the kind of “FT” that we should welcome! It’s hard to find ppl from other nations who consider themself Singaporean and willing to serve NS, especially considering the influx the government is bringing in.

    He can come to AMK to look for PM Lee for the Meet the People sessions on Thurs.

  10. Ogawa Ryuju says:

    Thank you very much for your support, Everyone of you.
    (I don’t know what else i can say but thank you, I am really grateful.)

    I just came back from Meet The People session at Whampoa Drive to see Mr Heng Chee How. He said he would write a letter to Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong regarding this matter and that he read my blog about my life. (Which made me smile)

    And to Gordon,
    I want thank you so much for your help and support.
    I will not give up and I will make my stand in Singapore as a Singaporean.

    • That’s the spirits! ^^

    • Hi Ryuju,

      I understand what it’s like to not feel belonged to any country, cos I came from the same background as you (mixed parentage). I was also rejected and bullied back in school for being different from the rest, even though I tried my best to be accepted by studying very hard and getting very good grades. However, even after I became the top student in class and got myself perfect grades in all subjects (including art), everyone still hated me, and the form teacher even questioned me if I was really the one who sat for the exams! I had it the worst here in Singapore, in the schools here.

      However, I am glad that things have become better now and my best years were when I was in design school (people were more creative and not as ‘narrow-minded’). Recently, I also managed to get my new Singapore IC! I pray that things will become better for you!

      Zacquine Miken

  11. YISHU says:

    BRO! goodluck for getting your citizenship!

    at least Singapore is the place you call home with all ur friends and your bros.


  12. ken says:

    Don’t give up ryuju, you don’t serve the NS for fun. You serve because you want to be part of Singapore and protect Singapore. I’m sure that’s a way, they will follow up to your case.

  13. Andy says:

    I think Ryuju should look for ministers instead of MPs. This would be much more effective.

    The Singapore government also owe him an apology for making his life difficult. If Singapore government doesn’t recognize him as Singaporean, then why made him serve NS? Frankly, WTF is this? The government should try asking an american or briton staying here to serve NS!

    Renouncing citizenship after presenting Ryuju a pink IC? Now, WTF is this again? What is the government trying to show or prove? Trying to tell everyone that they are fickle-minded or taking matters like child’s play?

    The government should ask themselves how many of their so-called “foreign talents” take Singapore as their home and willing to serve NS.

  14. Koji says:

    Come on give him a break , he already served NS in singapore , and now they want to take away his IC ? This is bullshit , it’s like the feeling when you serve the country you take as your home and it just throws you away like garbage . This is an outrage , EVERYONE SUPPORT HIM PLEASE , WE CANNOT LET THEM DO THIS . GAMBATTE NEH ! RYUJU-SAN

  15. Guoliang says:

    Bro dont give up. You have my support !!

    The sun will shine on u one day and everything will be fine .

  16. 2SG Seng says:


    though i use to tease and disturb you by name during our NS days, but i have always been there to help you anytime when you meet with a problem.

    Even now when you face this problem, if you need me, i am always a call away.

    My friend, Andy, and myself will help you all the way.

  17. Abby says:

    This is very unfair. How can he serve ns but cannot be a full fledged singaporean?! He sounds like someone who treats Singapore as his homeland, and now he has no identity of his nationality? I really hope and wish that he can be a PR and have his IC. If this happened to you, how would you feel? Dont you think its very unfair? I really hope that you would put yourselves in his shoe. Thanks. And hope for all the best for him!!!

  18. Zen Ng says:

    I believe that there’s always loopholes and mistakes in human and at work. We’re not perfect, and that would go to the govt too. Seriously hope that the govt would rectify this error and give my friend here back what he rightfully have. Jiayou bro!

  19. qwerty says:

    To ryuju,I hope that everything will go smoothly for you. There is always a way out and things will be smoothly in the end. After all you have went through NS. That proves that you want to be a part singapore and not serve NS cause you need to serve it. So i wish you all the best. ^^Y

  20. Zann says:

    Dun giv up & juz rem tat u’ll always hav our support..
    Hope tat tis prob of urs could b solved real soon & in d way tat u wans it to be.. 🙂

  21. Belinda Ng says:

    yes, i fully agree. it’s not fair for the govt to consider him as a Singaporean.
    Being a japanese, yet, he chose to go thru NS hardship. I believe he truely loves this place. Its exactly the word – betrayed.
    Despite going thru NS & making this place as his home, this shouldnt be the outcome.

    I hope the authorities will do something about it.

    Do not give up Ryuju!

  22. hazeL says:

    gambateh !

  23. Jastinee Chan says:

    Hey Ryuju, I’m sorry to hear that this is happening to you. Hope that good luck will follow you soon and be strong ya! All the best! =]

  24. reeve says:

    good luck ryuju, my bmt company mate!

  25. connie says:

    ogawa! i never knew u faced all these hardships knowing u for years. i hope it works out! no one should be left without a home! let me know if there’s anything we can do to help alright! Singapore loves u! hope u get to stay 🙂

  26. Ryuju's pri sch friend says:

    Words don’t seem to suffice as comfort for what he’d been through. As his primary school friend, I’m ashamed to say I never knew about that part of his life. All I remembered from our shared past were happy memories; carefree days filled with laughter. I sincerely hope his situation gets better.

  27. chun says:

    wow, what a story… really hope Ryuju can get everything sorted out, this is just unfair 😦

  28. Kimberly says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard of something like that happening, what more, to a friend I know. Things do happen, Ryuju, and it is really very unfortunate that it should happen to you, of all people. Especially after what you’ve gone through since your childhood days. Nevertheless, just as it was mentioned, “Never Say Die”. I wish you all the best and hopefully all turns out well for you. Singapore should be proud to have someone like you and eventually welcome you with open arms as a Singapore citizen officially. I’ll pray for the best for you. Good luck! 🙂

  29. Sai Kazeshini says:

    This is truly heartbreaking… A person’s life being temporarily ruined just because of some government rank and file’s incompetence… This should be taken care of, asap… To contribute for your cause, I refuse to go back to SG, and all mails from the tourism board is going straight to my trash bin unopened… good luck, Ryuju, I hope they settle this soon….

  30. anna says:

    good luck ryuju~

  31. Wow dude, Great story indeed! how i wish it’s just one of your masterpiece compositions – sadly its not. Just be tough yo, things will turn out well in the end. So whats happening on the 31st Dec, will we storm the ICA, get them to issue u a Citizenship!?

  32. Dylan says:

    Ryuju! I’m here to support u again, though i don know what i can say anymore, you’ll have my support! 🙂 I’ll be there at 31 dec with ya. Meanwhile take care and goodluck! 🙂

  33. FiZzy says:

    I can only give you my support from behind~

    Wish you all the Best~


  34. Miah says:


  35. polty says:

    i was quite amazed after reading the first paragraph, what a coincedence; but i was even more amazed (in a shocked way) after reading the entire article.

    a feeling of belonging is important; and i can relate a little; my parents moved me around a lot when i was a kid, and so i was never able to establish a solid group of friends anywhere, the feeling kind of sucks, no where to really call ‘home’.

    this is unjust, i do very hope his issue gets resolved soon.

  36. Jia Yi says:

    you’ve got my back bro. keep that smile on, you’re truly part of singapore! (:

  37. Uncle says:

    Ryuju, I sympathise with you. DO not give up. You have support from so many people. I am sure this episode will end up in your favour. Stay cool and compose. Wait for the outcome of the appeal by your MP before deciding your next course of action. You have my support..Hang in there.

  38. Edwin says:

    Ryuju! Gambatte! I pray hard that you’ll get your appeal! You have all of our support!

  39. Darren (STRONGLY SUPPORT HIM) says:

    After reading the story, i totally can’t believe that Government are so unfair to him. if it were to happen to me, i dont even think i wanna live in Singapore.
    Singapore Government want us to serve Singapore National Service is because they want us to be proud of our own country and also protect our own country, our HOME. So now, are the Government trying to KICK Ryuju out of the country after he had done his 2 years National Service ? What kind of logic is that.
    Ryuju had already decide to stable down his life in Singapore and he already treat Singapore as his HOME, why they still wanna take his IC away or don’t let him renew his citizenship ? Are the government trying to say the hard work that he done so far is useless ?
    Hello ? If every human being are trying their best to have a HOME and yet government are being so unfair about it then why do they even wanna create SINGAPORE in the first place ?
    Ryuju, i feel so not worth for you. I really hope they will really do something about it. Jia you man !

  40. Jigglypuff says:

    Dear Ryuju,

    Through these years I’ve known you, I have seen the hard work and dedication you have devoted to the National Service and I have heard how you call Singapore your home cause it’s where you grew up and where your love ones are. No matter what, you are definitely one of us.

    May you have back your rightful citizenship. You have my support. :>

  41. Ogawa Ryuju says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind support !
    I will not give up hope and continue my daily life as a Singaporean with or without a citizenship . 🙂

  42. Ogawa Ryuju says:

    I am no longer a citizen of Singapore base on ICA’s data, But i still have to serve my reservice because in their(Army) data, I am still a citizen of Singapore.

  43. John says:

    Hi there ! Just read through your story with deep interest and with sympathy. From the information i gathered from yr story , u do not deserve the treatment from yr Government dept.have placed upon you. Yr case is an unfortunate one and i strongly urge u to approach
    yr contact with the MP’s to act on yr behalf.
    In my opinion, yr MPs have not carried out the right approach. They have merely passed on the message but not directly argue your case to the Head of ICA. You have all the credentials of a Singaporean except u have not complied with the Oath Taking and at the appopriate time.

    Due to the fact that there is a technical fault in the matter, your case should be given an exception in view of the facts that :-
    a/ your mum is a Singaporean
    b/ yr stay in Singapore for more than 15 years
    c/ yr participation in the National service
    d/ yr 1st and 2nd pledge
    e/ that u received yr Pink card
    f/ and that u have renounced or in the process of renouncing yr

    Japanese citizenship.
    Above all , the Honorable MP Mr Heng Chee How should assist and argue your case or else he has to investigate the matter of how you were awarded the Pink IC. from him .

    If Sigapore can award citizenship to refugees, foreign spouses of Singaporeans, business migrants…YOU definitely stands above the rests . The Honorable MPs should then strongly contest the ICA decision and make ammends immediately.

    If the Honorable Mps should read my comments , they should spare some time to support you for YOU have proven to them that you are as eligible as them to be a true Son of SINGAPORE.

    IF common sense does not prevail here, then let the citizens of Singapore knows how the ICA have robotic staffs instead of Humans in their Department. There is always exception to the rules . I believe your Honorable MPs are Humans too….May God guide and direct you to the right people to solve this dillemma which should not have happened in the first place.

    Last but not least, SINGAPORE ..listen to the voice of your ‘son’ ..a son
    who embraces the soul of the Island is a true son ..whoever he is.

    By the way Ogawa, life is not meant to b easy…u do the best there is to show. Yr mum undying suport have made u stronger everyday and i thank yr mum for bringing u up to b such a wonderful person. My prayers will always b with you and i believed u will make her proud. Warmest regards and may this silly issue u r facing will blow away as fast as it comes.. Chai chen……

  44. Tay Wen Bin says:

    Hey, hope you get a favorable reply!

  45. hui qi says:

    all the best yo! ;D

  46. aprilius20 says:

    I’m of mixed parentage too (albeit not with parents of diff. nationalities), but I never really had problems mixing around. I guess I’m just lucky in that I got to know a bunch of great friends.

    I thought the Sing. Parl. mentioned the possibility of not renewing PR’s PR status if they were to be offered citizenship? Try and use that against them^_^

  47. NSSingaporean says:

    I am very confident you will get your citizenship. As you have already done your NS (National Sacrifice), denying you the citizenship will make the government look very stupid. I think it is just some rigid civil servant who is causing you problem. Most, if not all, Singaporeans will think you deserve the citizenship.

    You are more deserving than all the free-riding new citizens who did not do NS but still want to clamor for the same privileges as native Singaporeans who served NS. If the free-riders can get citizenship, why can’t you of all people? I will definitely support you!!

  48. Pingback: Ogawa Ryuju after serving NS, you are not a Singaporean.

  49. yunfeng says:

    i am a Singaporean and i welcome u. I am borned here but I often have thoughts leaving this country. The PAP should wake up and take a good look at this sincere young man who actually wants to stay. There is also the issue of denial with ICA, those officers should get out of their armchairs and start looking at the REAL WORLD.

  50. rau says:

    I hope something can be done to help our fellow citizen here.

  51. Billie says:

    continue trying! =) if so many others 100% non local can get their citizenship, i dont see why you are eligible!

  52. virtual says:

    if this can be published on the newspaper, it might help.

  53. TP says:

    I must be the only other native Singaporean who feels hard up enough to actually leave his own home of 24 years.

    My apologies to Ogawa Ryuju-san on his predicament. My country has done shame on you, so please accept my apologies since we put them onto power in the first place.

    In regards to recent developments, I have been told that many nations are beginning to impose more restrictions on immigration & citizenship. Many 1st-born immigrants (& unfortunately, you are considered a 1st-born immigrant) will have to sacrifice a lot more than previously thought in order to be accepted into a country. Considering the rising perceived xenophobia that prompted the Government to restrict the benefits of PRs recently, your situation might get bit more difficult. I hope whoever is in power right now manages to secure you a pink IC, God willing.

    I hope this episode serves as a wake-up call, for our young people reading this blog, to take action & make your voices heard. During the Odex saga, some otaku decided to protest by using figurines

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