U.S. Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka attends a contract signing ceremony at Nissan's global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
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Naomi Osaka's victory in the U.S. Open has added her to a growing list of athletes, Nobel Prize winners, and beauty pageant contestants who have raised the issue of what it means to be Japanese. The daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka was born in Japan but raised in the United States. Some children from mixed race families in Japan often get bullied and demeaned, called "hafu" – from the English word "half" – and are chided that they aren't fully Japanese.Japan has embraced the 20-year-old Osaka, and she – despite barely speaking Japanese – talks fondly of her affection for her adopted country. Thursday, Osaka was introduced in Japan as a "brand ambassador" for the Japanese car maker Nissan.Osaka was asked if she's a "new type of Japanese" – mixed race and representing three cultures.Osaka said people tell her that she acts "kind of Japanese".This came a year after Ariana Miyamoto won the Miss Universe Japan title. She was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and African-American father.
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