The word hafu/haafu (ハーフ hāfu ) is used in Japanese to refer to somebody who is biracial, i.e., ethnically half Japanese. The label emerged in the 1970s in Japan and is now the most commonly used label and preferred term of self-definition. The word hafu/haafu comes from the English word "half" indicating half foreign-ness.
Fashionable images of the half-Japanese people have become prominent especially with the increased appearance of hafu/haafu in the Japanese media. Hafu/Haafu models are now seen on television or fill the pages of fashion magazines such as Non-no, Can Can and Vivi as often as newsreaders or celebrities. To name a few, AKB48 member Sayaka Akimoto (Filipino/Japanese), newscaster Christel Takigawa (French/Japanese), and models Kaela Kimura (British/Japanese), Anna Umemiya (American/Japanese) and Jessica Michibata (Argentine/Japanese), and in sports Indian national football team footballer Arata Izumi (Indian/Japanese) and The appearance of hafu/haafu in the media has provided the basis for such a vivid representation of them in the culture.
One of the earliest terms referring to half Japanese was ainoko, meaning a child born of a relationship between two difference races. It is still used in Latin America, most prominently Brazil (where spellings such as ainoco, ainoca (f.) and ainocô may be found), to refer to mestizo (broader Spanish sense of mixed-race in general) or mestiço people of some Japanese ancestry. Nevertheless, it evolved for an umbrella term for Eurasian or mixed Asian/mestizo, Asian/black, Asian/Arab and Asian/Indigenous heritage in general, at the same time it is possible for people with too little amounts of Japanese or other Asian ancestry to be perceivable just by their phenotype to identify mostly as black, white or mestizo/pardo instead of ainoko, while people with about a quarter or less of non-Asian ancestry may identify just as Asian.
Ainoko however inferred social problems such as poverty, impurity and discrimination due to the negative treatment of hafu/haafu back then in the 1940s in Japan. The word was then gradually replaced from the late 1950s by the label konketsuji (混血児) which literally means a child of mixed blood.
However, soon this too became a taboo term due to its derogatory connotations such as illegitimacy and discrimination. What were central to these labels were the emphasis on "blood impurity" and the obvious separation of the half-Japanese from the majority of Japanese. Some English-speaking parents of children of mixed ethnicity use the word "double". Amerasian is another term for children of mixed ancestry, especially those born to US military fathers and Japanese mothers.
List of notable Hāfus
- Ryō Kurusu, Imperial Japanese Army Officer
- Renhō, Member of the Japanese House of Councillors
- Rola, Model and Tarento
- Becky, Model and Tarento
- Sayaka Akimoto, Member of AKB48
- Yu Darvish, Pitcher for the Nippon-Ham Fighters and the Texas Rangers (baseball)
- Sadaharu Oh, Slugger (and later Manager) for the Yomiuri Giants
- Ai, Musician
- Sean Lennon, Son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono
- Masa Nakayama, Minister of Health and Welfare
- Nana Smith, International Top-20 Doubles Tennis Player
- Harry B. Harris Jr., Admiral and Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet
- Krieger, Daniel (29 November 2010). "The whole story on being 'hafu'". CNN. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Navidi, Nooshin (22 June 2010). "Hafu draws viewers into world of Japanese identity". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Yamada, Mio (28 February 2009). "Hafu focuses on whole individual". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Fujioka, Brett (14 January 2011). "The Other Hafu of Japan". Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- "Growing Up Different but Never Alienated". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
- Japan and Global Migration: Foreign Workers and the Advent of a ... - Mike Douglass, Glenda Susan Roberts - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity - Naomi Zack - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Kosaka, Kristy (2009-01-27). "Half, bi or double? One family's trouble". Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "Documentary shows hardships of mixed-race individuals in Japan - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun". Ajw.asahi.com. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- Shoji, Kaori. "Double the trouble, twice the joy for Japan's hafu". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- Hafu Film
- The Hafu Project - By artist Natalie Maya Willer and researcher Marcia Yumi Lise
- Hapa Japan
- "“This Is Who I Am”: Jero, Young, Gifted, Polycultural" -(Fellezs 2012)
- Die Kreuzungsstelle - A voices of half Japanese, mixed race/multiracial or multiethnic persons.