Want to create a multicultural community younger generations can learn from each other!

I moved to Tochigi prefecture with my mother from China in 1991 when I was six years old. My father had come to Japan three years earlier and was working part-time while going to university. At that time, our family had almost no money and our monthly living expenses were 20,000 to 30,000 yen. My mother was working part-time at a factory all day, and my father worked at a construction site during the day-time. We rented a janitor’s room in an abandoned company housing and picked and repaired furniture, bicycles, and other items from the garbage.

My parents went home very late, so I always had dinner alone and memorized Japanese sentences in the textbook. I still clearly remember the scary with the darkness of the house at night. When I was in the eighth grade (14 years old), my father was laid off and my home was evicted. If my father lost his visa, our family needed to go back to China. Despair enveloped the family, and we quarreled with each other at many times. My father could find a job however, we had many concerns for discrimination and losing visa. Therefore we decided to acquire Japanese nationality.

When I came to Japan, I had a sense of inferiority and alienation because of the poverty and disrespect. In order to make up for it, I tried to make myself look big and had high hopes. However, despite this, there was a period that I could not continue to do something and therefore achieve something neither. This was because I couldn’t accept my fate in a positive way, and I didn’t feel confident or satisfied with what I was doing. Sometimes I was feeling painful and could not be positive and do my best.

From these experiences, there are two things I would like to share with younger generation who are in the same or similar situation.

Firstly, please make an effort to become more confident in yourself. In above situation, it is important to do small efforts and gain a sense of accomplishment. I was told that “The first generation tills the soil, the second generation sows the seeds, and the third generation makes the flowers bloom”. Sometimes it might be necessary to prepare to do something big at such a long time frame.

Secondly, please built a relationship with friends who will support you. Find seniors and friends who treat you eaqually and give you warm support. They will help you when you have distress or hardship. It is important for you to be humble and learn everything from others, and look to yourself as the cause of failure.

Recently, the activity of supporting for children and teennager of immigrants has been gradually expanding, which makes me happy and envious. On the other hand, there still is something we can make it better.

It would be for example building a multicultural community by creating a third place where younger immigrants can come and learn from each other. What my generation experienced and learned in the Japanese society of the 1990’s when nobody knows “multicultural” would be worth to learn for them. Also how we found our uniqueness and how we built carrer path in Japan or overseas would also be valuable. Eventually, I hope to propose something new values to the Japan society from this multicultural community.

This is not an easy task to achieve, but we would like to make an effort on it.

Hiroshi Kageyama

Born in China, came to Japan at the age of six, and grew up in Tochigi Prefecture. Graduated from Tokyo Institute of Technology, and is the vice president of NPO glolab. Working post-acquisition integration projects in the UK.