Last updated 12 May 1999

HOME

Ties Talk Index

JA Vocabulary Directory

JA*Net

NAJC

JA*Net Ties Talk
JA Vocabulary

Subject: JA Vocabulary

What is the definition of "Japanese" as used in your messages?

Hate to be nit-picker, but I get a bit confused when some people use the term "Japanese" in their messages. Is this referring to Japan-Japanese things or citizens, Japanese descent, Japanese-American or Nikkei, Japanese culture, Japanese-American or Nikkei culture or what?????

I think that I've misunderstood some of the messages, thinking the term "Japanese" referred only to Japan-Japanese related things, people, culture, etc.


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary

The current spate of terms used in the community lacks clear definition.

I think, and maybe for this list only, that we should at least develop a "jargon" so that it is clear what we mean. Also because this list seems to have some globalness. The only problem with Japanese language terms that it is quicker and shorter to use an American English language equivalent.

Japanese - the most imprecise word in our context.

Nihongo - the Japanese word for the language of Japan.

Nihonjin - the people of Japan - the ones living in Japan, who don't consider themselves anything but Japanese.

Nikkei - Things that have a 'Japanese' origin ... as in Nikkei culture. It does not mean Americans of Japanese origin. We could use this term to talk about common heritage ... as in a commonality among all descendants of Japanese immigrants in countries all over the world.

Nikkeijin - Nihongo for the people of Japanese descent, as in Japanese Americans, Japanese Canadians, Japanese Brazilians, Japanese Mexicans, Japanese Peruvians, Japanese Australians, Japanese New Zealanders -- all are Nikkeijin. By the way, here in Japan, "Nikkei-jin" refers to people BOTH overseas and living in Japan who are of Japanese ancestry, but not Japanese, i.e. Japanese citizens.

JA - Japanese American, as in the people. It is also used as an adjective, as in JA culture. The only problem with this is that sometimes, culturally, JA may have little differences than JC (Japanese Canadian). Although one can argue the differences in "culture" between Canada and the U.S., we share more things in common aside from the WWII period of our common history.

PAN - for Pan-American Nikkei. Pan-Am games are still going on...but most people forget that in North American history, Pan-America, was a term to include all countries on the Americas continents. Pan is a Greek word meaning "all" with the same idea as in the Kanji ZEN. There is still an association of Pan-American Nikkei (PANA).

Norteamericanos - the Mexicans use this term for the people of the U.S. and Canada. Sometimes it is not used in a pleasant manner, but it is a valid term to discuss about the Americans north of their border, as opposed to the Americans south of the U.S. border.

How is this for starters?


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary

Re: JA/JC - I know most of Japan and most of the world views Canada and the US as being the same, but we JCs like to think we are different, so JA to us means US Nikkei-jin (ask Kiwis about being lumped in with Aussies, they will tell a similar story).

I might add that although "Nikkei-jin" is the correct term for people of Japanese heritage living outside Japan, "Nikkei" is frequently used as verbal or written shorthand.

Other terms I have seen:

Hapa - the Hawai'ian term for people of mixed race, perhaps can be generalized to apply to mainlanders?

Blackanese - people with parents of African and Japanese descent.


Subject: Re: JA vocabulary

Hapa - Hawaiian pidgin for "half" and similar to the Japanese romanized "hafu".

Double - another Japanese reference to people of mixed races, indicating that instead of leading half lives, their cultural heritage is doubled...


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary

Issei - "first generation", the first immigrants who arrived between the 1890s and 1920s.

Nisei - "second generation", the children of the first immigrants; however, it is generally applied to those born between 1910s and 1930s.

Sansei - "third generation", the grandchildren of the first immigrants; but typically assigned to the baby boomer generation, those born between 1945 and 1964

Yonsei - "fourth generation", the grandchildren of the Nisei.

Shin-Issei - Nihonjin immigrants who have come to the U.S. since World War II.

War Brides - Japanese women who married American GIs during World War II and the Occupation. Just after the War, an exception was made to allow them to come to the U.S. with their husbands. Japanese immigration to the U.S. was otherwise forbidden until the early 1960s.

Kibei-nisei (or just Kibei) - Nisei who had their primary education in Japan and therefore know Japanese like native speakers.

Shosha-nin - immigration from Japan trickled down to almost nothing in the 1970s, and now most Nihonjin who come to live in the U.S. are transient Japanese businessmen, usually with a five-year residency. Most return to Japan, however, many so enjoy their time here that they make their homes in their adopted country. (I am not sure if there is a term for people who do this).


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary: Shosha-nin

> Shosha-nin - immigration from Japan trickled down
> to almost nothing in the 1970s, and now most Nihonjin who
> come to live in the U.S. are transient Japanese businessmen,
> usually with a five-year residency.

In the States, I hear the term "Shosha-nin" generally applied to any Japanese businessman transferred overseas and/or their family, however the term "shosha-nin" actually only refers to businessman working for trading companies such as Mitsui Trading, Mitsubishi Shoji.


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary: Ijuusha

> Shin-Issei - Nihonjin immigrants who have come to the U.S. since World War II.

I hear that 'ijuusha' is the preferred term, at least in Canada. Is that true in the USA as well?


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary: Ryugakusei

Ryugakusei - students studying (usually English) abroad, the other large group of Japanese coming to North Amberica for extended periods these days. Can range from high school kids to university students to former OLs. The word is not specific to Japanese students -- it can also apply to foreigners studying in Japan.


Subject: JA Vocabulary: Hojin

Hojin - overseas Japanese citizens; this term is used most often when reporting the death of or injury to Japanese citizens in overseas disasters.


Subject: Ties-Talk vocabulary: Dekasegi

Dekasegi ("working temporarily away from home", migrant or seasonal worker; "Dekasegui" in Portugese) - To help meet the labor needs of the bubble economy, Japanese Brazilians were allowed to come to Japan in search of work, starting in the mid-1980s and peaking in the mid-1990s. As of December 1997, there were approximately 250,000 Brazilian dekasegi working in Japan. Particularly after 1993, when the Japanese economy entered a recessionary period, social problems among this group have grown more serious as many dekasegi workers lost their jobs.


Subject: Ties-Talk vocabulary: Zanryukoji

Zanryukoji ("orphans remaining abroad") - Japanese children left behind in China by the retreating Imperial Army at the end of World War Two. Raised as Chinese and now adults, some have come to Japan recently in search of citizenship and relatives.


Subject: Re: Ties-Talk vocabulary: Yobi-yosei

Yobi-yosei - an infrequently used term which refers, I believe, to an Issei who came to join their Issei parents here in America. My grandfather came to Calfornia from Japan around 1910 and my father joined him in 1920; someone referred to my father as a yobi-yosei. My grandfather returned to Japan in the 1920's, never to return to the US, but my father stayed.


Subject: JA Vocabulary

The one definition of "Nikkei" I have seen:

Persons of Japanese descent, and descendants, who have immigrated abroad and created unique communities and life styles within the context of the societies in which they live. Nikkei include those who have returned to Japan where they constitute separate identities from the Japanese population.

Prof. Harumi Befu's definition of "Nikkei" is the most inclusive one I have seen: he considers as Nikkei all people of Japanese descent abroad, "hojin" such as overseas Japanese businessmen, and shin-ijyuusha to any part of the world. Will this kind of broad definition be popular in the future?


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary

> Prof. Harumi Befu considers as Nikkei all people of
> Japanese descent abroad, "hojin" such as overseas
> Japanese businessmen and shinijyusha to any part
> of the world. Do you think this broader definition
> will be popular in the future?

In reading various Japanese language publications and speeches by people both in the Japanese Gov't and in the private sector, I have noted that a very clear distinction is made between the Nikkei community and the overseas Japanese community by specifically stating "Nikkei shakai" and "Nihonjin shakai".


Subject: Re: JA Vocabulary

> Prof. Harumi Befu considers as Nikkei all people of
> Japanese descent abroad, "hojin" such as overseas
> Japanese businessmen and shinijyusha to any part
> of the world. Do you think this broader definition
> will be popular in the future?

The utility of a definition depends on what you are trying to describe. I am usually a "lumper" not a "splitter", but it seems to me that for many of the topics discussed on this list, a broad definition like Prof. Befu's is generic to the point of being nearly useless.

[Back to TOP]


[HOME] [NAJC] [JA*Net] [Ties Talk Index]