Japan Features Its Handful Of Blacks In Olympic Opening Ceremonies
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Earlier, by Steve Sailer: Culture Cracking Japan: "Naomi Osaka’s Breakthrough Game"

From the New York Times news/sports section:

Japan’s Diverse Olympic Stars Reflect a Country That’s Changing (Slowly)

Multiracial athletes like Naomi Osaka and Rui Hachimura are helping to redefine what it means to be Japanese. But they are often still seen as outsiders.

By Hannah Beech and Hikari Hida
July 24, 2021, 3:17 a.m. ET

TOKYO — When the Japanese Olympic team marched at the opening ceremony in Tokyo on Friday, towering over the rest of the delegation was the flag-bearer Rui Hachimura, a rising N.B.A. star who was born and raised in Japan.…

At least 35 members of the 583-strong Japanese Olympic team are multiracial. They are considered medal contenders in tennis and judo and will compete in boxing, sailing, sprinting, rugby and fencing, among other sports.

Their ranks include two of the highest-wattage athletes on Team Japan: Mr. Hachimura and Naomi Osaka, the tennis champion whose father is Haitian American and whose mother is Japanese. On Friday, Ms. Osaka, 23, climbed a flight of stairs etched into a pyramid shaped like Mount Fuji and lit the Olympic cauldron perched on top.

The Japanese should have gotten the 100% Japanese baseball pitcher/slugger Shohei Ohtani, who is currently flabbergasting the North American MLB with his Babe Ruth-like combo of pitching and home run hitting, to light the torch.

That two of the opening ceremony’s star roles went to multiracial athletes underscores how eager Japan is to present a diverse face to the world. Ms. Osaka’s and Mr. Hachimura’s popularity in Japan had already been confirmed when Nissin, the instant noodle manufacturer, affixed their faces to Cup Noodle packaging, an advertising honor akin to appearing on a cereal box.

But even as Japan celebrates the accomplishments of its “hafu” athletes — “half,” as in half-Japanese and half-something else — it must still contend with xenophobia in a society whose ideas of nationhood are tied to race.

Japan’s growing roster of multiracial Olympians reflects how the country, with its fast-aging population, has had to crack open its doors to immigration, despite a powerful tradition of isolation. Today, about one in 50 children born in Japan has a foreign-born parent, according to the nation’s health ministry.

… An unspoken hierarchy in Japan prizes paler skin over darker shades. Darker-skinned Japanese endure racist barbs. (Japanese with one parent from other East Asian countries can face bullying, too.)

Mr. Okazawa, the boxer, grew up in a snowbound city in northern Japan, reciting Buddhist sutras with his grandmother. He has never been to Ghana and does not speak English. Still, he said, he was recruited to his high school boxing team because a classmate thought he looked the part.

Which turned out to be accurate.

The country’s sporting establishment has hailed the successes of mixed-race athletes. But their accomplishments are often characterized in the discredited language of eugenics: fast-twitch muscles, explosive reflexes, inherent physical power.

The discredited language of eugenics is discredited, otherwise it would appear to explain a lot about, say, why the anchor man on 2016 Japanese silver medal team in the 4x100m relay team was half-black.

…“If you are hafu, people will always compare high performance with some sort of genetic triumph,” Mr. Sumoto said. In the nation’s popular culture, Black Japanese are often slotted into limited career categories: athlete, rapper, beauty queen.

Just like all over the world

One motto of the Tokyo Games is “unity in diversity,” a point made with a fleet of drones that hovered over the Olympic Stadium on Friday and formed a giant, shimmering globe, shortly before Ms. Osaka lit the cauldron. …

But Tokyo itself remains remarkably monochromatic. Only about 4 percent of residents were born outside Japan, according to the city government — about twice the national figure. (By contrast, more than 35 percent of London and New York residents were born abroad.)

[Comment at Unz.com]

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