10.24.2011

'Katanga's Forgotten People'

When I write serious essays for work, I like to seek, find and follow mind-numbing entertainment. I find it helps me concentrate and reduces my stress levels. This week while researching and writing on economic and political relations shared by Malaysia and the countries of Southern Africa through the Langkawi International Dialogue, I found myself checking out gossip blogs, somethings that I usually wouldn't bother with on a normal day. Anyway, in this manner I came across this video (description below the cut)




The video shows a short segment on 'Katanga's Forgotten People' by France 24
"Like many mixed-race children in [Democratic Republic of Congo], they were born of a Japanese father who came to work in the mines of Katanga in south-east of the country. Today, they accuse their fathers of wanting to kill them so as not to leave behind any traces when they returned to Japan. FRANCE 24 met these men and women seeking the recognition that has always been denied them."
It turns out most of these children were killed as babies by Japanese doctors (actually a nurse and a doctor) because the men did not want to return home with their Blasian babies as apparently it is against the Japanese constitution to have biracial children.

Katanga is a province located in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is very rich in minerals such as copper and cobalt. In the 1970s, several Japanese men (possibly more than a thousand) lived in this region working at the mines. As a man interviewed in the segment says 'these men were men like us and found beautiful partners among the local women' or something similar. So and so happens, the women get pregnant and when they give birth their babies with Japanese men end up dead. The women, and others, believe that Japanese doctors, with the consent of the miners, were responsible for killing these half-Japanese babies because they did not want return to Japan with them. They did not want to leave them alive with their mothers either.

The Blasian children who were interviewed do not have any birth certificates. This is because they were not given birth to in the hospitals but in the 'bush' because their grandparents feared they'd end up dead as well. These surviving children, now grown up have formed a organisation and are seeking closure. Apparently there are 50 children who survived but there are no details on the number of children that died.

Some may be sceptical but I'm inclined to believe the women, horrible things happen daily in this world. A lot of the reactions to the video I read were along the lies of how we African women enjoy spreading our legs for any foreigner and how this is proof we should have any sort of relations with foreign men, especially Asians. Interestingly, I am now beginning to notice a pattern here when Western media reports on any kind of Blasian relationship on the African continent. I recall that article on Tanzanian women bleaching their skins to get Chinese 'husbands' (who would never marry them either way). The general message seems to be that African women are desperate for any man that is not African or does not have brown skin. Or that African women (and really all Africans by extension) are foolish for pursuing any sort of relations with Asian men (or Asian governments or companies) because they will never respect or treat us right.

I didn't get why the segment thought to link this with recent Chinese interest in Katanga at first. But now that I have a theory with regards to the pattern I mentioned above, I will be keeping an eye out for similar news from Western media sources. I am guessing the new influx of Chinese miners was mentioned with regards to the Japanese miners of the '70s as some kind of warning for any woman in Katanga who may be interested in pursuing any sort of relations with the newly settled Chinese miners. Maybe they are saying 'remember those Japanese miners who killed their own children'.

*Sigh*. I don't know much about the Japanese constitution but I really cannot believe that it forbids mixed race children. Discuss?

25 comments:

  1. I don't know anything about the Japanese constitution either, but history is full of men denying their children born to women of other classes/colours out of a messed-up sense of shame. That shame didn't stop them from getting their bump 'n grind on, but I digress.

    And with so many foreigners marrying Japanese people and living IN Japan with their mixed children in the late 20th/current century, I'd say there would be a lot of people behind bars if it was against the constitution - unless it said something else before 1980. We need an expert.

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  2. We need an expert.

    That we do. Now would be a great time for Hateya to swoop in and point us in the right direction.

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  3. "And with so many foreigners marrying Japanese people and living IN Japan with their mixed children in the late 20th/current century, I'd say there would be a lot of people behind bars if it was against the constitution - unless it said something else before 1980. We need an expert."

    Well I although I hate to admit this. I could be possible that they did kill the babies. Maybe not a constitutional thing but more like something going on with the corporations at the time. Mind you, after WW2 the Japanese was kinda funny with the black people and treated the white people at the time with great respect. So I think that they didn't want an African baby to begin with or that the doctors from the company threaten them.

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  4. @ Javan Nelums - Oh, I have no doubt in my mind that those babies were not all (if any) still-births. None whatsoever. It's just the constitution excuse that I need to be clarified. I'd rather hear the answer from a real person and not Wikipedia, that's all. :)

    Either way, how gutless do you have to be to kill a newborn?

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  5. Sorry if everyone gets offended, but I cannot resist the urge to say "Japanese people strike again."

    From what I have experienced with Japanese people ( and I know this is a generalisation but all generalisations are by their nature true to some significant extent), Japanese men don't have any problem if the woman is white. Nooo, they always worship the white women and they can do no wrong, but if you have the audacity to be black or god forbid African then you must be hidden in the deepest darkest closet and never acknowledged and all traces of their relationship with you must be scrubbed away lest the other Japanese find out.

    So no, I am NOT surprised in the least.

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  6. *hugs Sugabelly* Man, that asshat really did a number on you. :( He needs a visit from the Narrative Drop Squad.

    Still....murder the babies?! Damn it, son, most men who disavow fathering children usually skip off and cut all ties for life! >_<

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  7. @ Sugabelly

    How long ago did you two break up?

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  8. @Ankhesien Mie: In March this year. I know, I should be over it by now, but I loved him more than I can say and I would have done anything for him. Sucks for me.

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  9. @Sugabelly, you're not bitter. Honestly, after being the girlfriend of a Native American boy who broke up with me because I, "Got too angry", while he was strung around like a dog by a white female friend (who hated me). I understand the feeling all too well. We're not bitter, we're disappointed.

    And honestly, WTF Japan? No really, I like your pop culture and your animation, but let's get real, WTF is your problem? First, it's Junko Furuta, and now, this shit? I just, I can't right now. I hope I don't sound racist or insulting (especially, since this is my first post, here), but Japan and the things it's done in the past and the fact that they have refused to acknowledge or apologize for anything bad in the past, is just smh material, for real. :/

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  10. And I just realized something, today (as of an hour ago) was supposed to be our anniversary. Happy anniversary to me...

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  11. @leoprincess

    That shame didn't stop them from getting their bump 'n grind on, but I digress.

    Isn't that right? You're right we need an expert. TBH, I believe they just mentioned the Japanese constitution in order to justify their actions, it may turn out to be bogus.

    @Javan Nelums

    If they didn't want the babies, couldn't they have abandoned them though? When I think about it, I guess they did not want a situation with their half-Congolese babies showing up at their doorsteps years later demanding answers.

    @Sugabelly

    *hugs*

    Seriously though on one hand I don't like to believe that this sort of preferential treatment to white women is an actual thing, however this week I've come across some telling stuff.

    @spaceinvadah

    Sorry to hear about your ex, weak boys can be such jerks. I am still trying to see what is so special about white women.

    Omg, I shouldn't have googled Junko Furuta.

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  12. I remembered seeing this clip on Blacknet website. I wanted to bring this up,but felt that I did that I would be spoiling the Blasian love.

    I believe everything that these women are saying. I could be wrong but in countries like Japan, to have an outside child, especially one that isn't full blooded is taboo.I was looking at a letter from one Blasian website where this Black woman got pregnant by a Japanese man and he said to her that having a mixed race child in his culture wasn't acceptable.

    Here is my thing: You knew what color of the woman you slept with so why act like forgot about her race? Man, I don't know about any of your guys,but why I do not buy that constitutional jazz at all. I just see it as another excuse for some of them not being man enough to tell you that they want to call it quits. It's the same old song" what about my culture..my people...? well, if I were to come across a Japanese or any other non-Black man talking that junk, I would simply to tell them don't want to hear it no if's ands or buts and would stop them from talking that garbage before they say" but..'. If they can find excuses to over look White women, then it should be the same for us.So not accepting of the lies.

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  13. @ Spaceinvadah

    * Almost speechless* about Junko Furuta. How can them boys live with themselves doing something like that? If those guys would have been tried in the U.S. I would have tried them as adults. I'm not a proponent of the death penalty( especially after what happened to Troy Davis),but if they were eligible for it, they should have got it. That was beyond one the sickest acts that I've read about in modern times.

    Far as the ex seems that he went from the pan to the fire. I think far as you and Sugarbelly, consider yourselves as fortunate. With guys like that I don't think that they'll ever find what they want out of a woman because they are S.O.S( stuck on stupid). As long as they use race as an excuse not to be with with you , they can pretty expect to find women who they desire ..and who will be like the very people that will disappoint them(As you said about your ex's supposed "civilized" friend)

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  14. Obviously, the doctor and the nurse who murdered these children need to be hunted down and killed. Seeing as there is not and has never been any provision in the Japanese constitution banning the birth of bi-racial children, it's plain as day that these two people were serial murderers. More than likely, they were running medical experiments that left these poor Congolese women with dead babies. Furthermore, since the fathers were miners, they were also at the bottom of the social scale in this rank and file class-based society. They would neither have the voice nor the power to stop someone who carries the title of "doctor." It is possible doctors told the miners the constitution banned their children and that the children had to die and the miners BELIEVED this story because poor people in Japan generally tend to be as undereducated as poor people in other countries.

    In fact, in Japan, children belong to the mother in Japan. An unmarried man needs to LEGALLY claim his children either before birth or soon after and then they will belong to HIM. In other words, in the legal sense, no man has to be father unless HE wants to be one. Even the former prime minister didn't recognize the child born to the woman who divorced him. Since HE had already claimed her other children, she was forced to leave them behind and when her youngest son was born, he was illegitimate even though he was conceived while the couple was legally married.

    When I presented this video to various Japanese people, they were as shocked and appalled by this doctor and his nurse as we were. They couldn't think of any logical reason why anyone would want to murder innocent babies regardless of their heritage. Since Africans and people of African decent have been in Japan since at least the 13th or 14th century, this shit doesn't make a damn bit of sense.

    TBC...

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  15. @M

    I initially thought like you until I decided that this was a topic we could discuss here. Wow, I can't believe the nerve of the guy who wrote that letter. It is just another level of cowardice when a 'man' comes up with flimsy excuses to escape responsibilities.

    @Hateya

    Thanks for bringing your perspective to this, I never considered the possibility of experiments and the dimension of class. You're right it doesn't make sense at all.

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  16. @EccentricYoruba

    That doctor was pure unadulterated evil. He murdered babies and will never ever gain my understanding for this atrocity. The miners are a different story. While I understand the need to share the horrors the women endured, I also noticed that the alleged journalists didn't even bother to question the women about their relationships with their men. Did some of the women believe the men loved them? Were they married? Were some of the men even loving and caring fathers? Were any of these men shocked and appalled that their children were murdered? Were they free workers or were they actually prisoners of the mining company? Did any of the men stand up for their women? Did anyone fight for these poor women and their babies? Did the alleged journalist edit out the women who spoke favorably of their mates? Did any man even attempt to take his wife and child back to Japan, providing he was free to do so? Did the Japanese government unleash hundreds of monsters upon these unsuspecting women? What in the hell was the Congolese government doing while these babies were being slaughtered?

    I'm furious about this, EccentricYoruba and I guess I'm grasping at straws because I can't make any sense of it. For every man to sit back and allow his child to be murdered goes against human nature!

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  17. @ Hateya

    These are all excellent questions (once again, glad you're back, always need you on posts like this to bring that extra perspective).

    We can post stories like these for examination, not just of culture and history, but for the exact reasons Hateya raised. We always have to be weary of journalists who willingly portray a people - not individual persons, but a "people" - in such a callous light. Africans and Asians are given a lot of negative information about each other, and without careful examination, an unnecessary divide forms.

    We also have to be wary of "coincidences". Material like this surfacing at the same time that Sino-African relations are growing should always be viewed with at least one eyebrow raised. Such timing is suspect.

    But back to the issue itself; when you add in the class variable, I find it even harder to believe these men would willingly sit back and just allow their own innocent, defenseless babies to be murdered. I doubt the Japanese and Congolese governments even knew this sort of thing was happening at the time, otherwise you can trust and believe a hefty lawsuit would've ensued.

    Furthermore, Blasian kids in Japan aren't a "new" thing; if there was an anti-mixed kids section of the constitution in Japan, all those post-war babies would've been offed a long time ago. After all, why would the Japanese hesitate to apply Japanese law in Japan, but push to uphold it in the Congo? So I agree that it goes back to the doctor and nurse who killed those children. They're basically serial killers, and they preyed on a very vulnerable group of people: the poor and uneducated.

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  18. You never hear anything from the men themselves and how they feel about the situation or lack there of. Just like Hateya and Ankh said the doctor and nurse are murderers and should be sentenced to death for their crimes. I lived in Japan for only a short while but I can say that having mixed children is not against the law. I have friends who were the children of a Blasian couple and one who has a Hispanic mother. Also like Hateya said it's nothing new so for those doctors to not only kill the babies but to also lie about it proves that they are soulless.

    I also want to know whether or not the father's helped the mother's of few mixed children escape the ordeal. And if so why didn't they stay? A tragedy has happened to these women and so many questions seem to be left unanswered.

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  19. @Hateya

    The last three paragraphs of the post were dedicated to voicing my concern with the journalist's coverage of the story (I may not have done this well). But these kinds of stories are the type that keep coming out now that there are increased relations between China and Africa. I don't know if I should call it another form of 'yellow peril' dedicated to Africans.

    It is pretty obvious that a lot of people do not care about the Congolese women. First of all the journalists who reported the story the way they did, ignoring some of the questions you mentioned. Then there are the people who uploaded and spread this video labelling it 'Japanese killing African babies' in an attempt to 'prove' that African women are stupid and that Asians in general are evil. While writing this post, I really hoped that we could discuss the media and journalist's role in this coverage so I'm glad we're getting there.

    @Kyo

    We never really heard from the women either, in terms of their personal experiences that may not have fit into the journalist's viewpoint. I saw several Blasian kids when I was in Japan, more than I was expecting actually and I was only there for a couple of weeks.

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  20. this is very interesting, many thanks for bring this to my attention. I think this will be the subject of my first documentary. Im a jamaican living in japan since 2001. Actually I am the author of the book, Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: A Memoir of Exile and Excess in Japan. Im on a book tour in the US right now, but as soon as I return home to Japan, I going to start working on this project.

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  21. @blackpassenger

    Ohh~ thanks for leaving this comment!

    I'm really excited about how you'll work on the documentary and what kind of information you'll find! Please keep us updated.

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  22. @Blackpassenger

    Wow! How intriguing because I purchased your book two weeks ago. I plan to read it during the long winter break. Where do you live in Japan? Some place warm, I hope. Good luck with your documentary.

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  23. Hey my friend am one of the Japanese mixed race from drc Congo I was born there

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  24. Hey my friends am one of them I was born there in drc Congo ask me any question wish to know I will answer you and thanks for your concern

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