Japanese Citizenship and How I Feel It Unnecessary

Few hours ago, I wrote in twitter, the following in Japanese.

I heard about the story that someone’s collecting petition that would recognize dual-citizenship status to people who have naturalized to other country, but I personally feel that’s necessary. Sense of disconnect and awkwardness perhaps showing that I am no longer Japanese. I get enough experience by just visiting there.

Most recent visit was actually quite eye-opening to me. Not that I was being deliberately harassed by people actually people were quite nice. But I just couldn’t help notice quite a bit of identity crisis there. In a sense, I’m foreigner in Japanese shell.
There is something called “kuuki” (空気) which literally translates to the word “air”, but talks about different fact of Japanese sociological norm. Kuuki is not a rule set in a stone, and it is highly volatile in nature, yet dominates all the participants in the society at any given time. In Japanese society, you are required to be able to “read” this “Kuuki” to determine appropriate action of your own. It is often compared with the context of groupthink in sociology.
The concept of Kuuki is not unique to Japanese; perhaps this exists in many other cultures, even in Western world. While a lot of cultures, especially Western ones expect these social norms more openly; albeit with certain ambiguity, Japanese culture tend to be not verbal about it and puts heavy emphasis on non-verbal set of rules that only can be derived by thinking how other people in the party think. Member of party who cannot derive such rules experience severe ostracism from other member of society. (They are often referred as “KY” which means “Kuuki Yomenai” (Cannot Read the Kuuki)) Inevitably, Kuuki needs to be concert with the concept of the way of how Japanese think.
Big problem of me, is that having lived in the States for more than 15 years now, which comprised of most of my childhood after elementary school, I just don’t have this “kuuki” implemented in my mind set. When I am Japan, I tend to be very frustrated, as I would be expected to act as if I’m Japanese, because they can’t tell if I’m from other country or not. And the fact I recognize existence of “Kuuki” yet I am unable to live up to their expectation creates very awkward moments. (In addition to it, even if I’d know how to live up to this expectation, there is additional struggle as my mindset may not be comfortable to “act like Japanese” in some cases.) This would have been much easier if I don’t appear like Japanese, as in that case, I wouldn’t be subject to such expectation.
So to me, I don’t think dual-citizenship is so important. I wouldn’t possibly live in Japan anymore. There is nothing I can expect from Japanese government. I have no regret of having US citizenship.
However, Japan is nice country to visit. If you haven’t visited Japan, you should.
Just my random thought.

By Hideki Saito

In the video game industry for for more than 15 years. Currently working for Nintendo of America Inc. as a Localization Engineer, developing the translation solutions.