Seeking opportunities
Japanese in Hong Kong
adapt to new environment

By Wong Yuen Kwan

In recent years, the number of Japanese in Hong Kong has increased enough to put the Japanese population among the top 10 foreign populations in the Territory.

According to the Immigration Department, 24,400 Japanese were living in Hong Kong at the end of May 1996. The population increased sharply from 7,500 in 1986 to 21,500 in 1995.

Mr. Mike Mizoguchi, the president of T and M Company Limited, has been living in Hong Kong for 30 years. As he thinks that living in Hong Kong and Japan are quite similar, he naturally regards Hong Kong as his home.

He said, “I believe I am part of the Hong Kong community.”

Facing the 1997 issue, Mr. Mizoguchi is not worried.

“I just believe everything can go well and remain the same,” he said.

However, a female Japanese employee at Mr. Mizoguchi’s company , holds a different view.

“Hong Kong is a place where I work. Japan is my home,” she said. “I like Hong Kong, but I don’t think I am going to stay here forever. I will go back to Japan eventually.”

She said that there are some differences between Japanese attitudes and those of the Hong Kong people.

She said, “For example, men in Hong Kong treat women gently, whereas Japanese men only see the importance of their work.’

Japanese children in Hong Kong also receive considerable care. The Hong Kong Japanese School, which was established 30 years ago, is educating students based on the Japanese education model.

Mr. Katsuyuki Katagaki, the director for community relations of the Hong Kong Japanese School, said, “We organise celebrations for Japanese festivals and teach them about Japanese traditions.

“Besides, moral teaching is added to the syllabus. Although students in our school are affected by the local culture, we want them to remember their own identities and traditional morality,” he added.

Miss Misao Kitazawa, an exchange student at the Chinese University from Japan, said that it was the similar culture and the same modern- ization level that attracted her to Hong Kong.

She said, “Most important of all, both of us (Japanese and Chinese) are of Asian origin.”

Miss Misao revealed that she would like to develop a career in Hong Kong if there is a chance.

“Hong Kong has little sexual discrimination when compared to Japan,” she said. “In Japan, few female graduates can find a job. Women are supposed to get married as soon as possible and quit their jobs.”

Apart from work and study, some Japanese come to Hong Kong to gain personal experience.

Miss Hifumi Arai, a journalist coming to witness the 1997 handover, is now writing for more than five newspapers.

After staying in Hong Kong for two and a half years, she commented, “People are rushing to here to gain advantages. I think they are really exhausted and still very uncertain about their future.

“Hong Kong is a realistic world. People care only about your ability,” she added. She feels that working in Hong Kong is stressful, but exciting.

Said she: “It seems that you are ‘married’ to a Japanese company when you started working there, as you are naturally admitted to certain obligations and commitments. You are expected to practise lifetime employment. However working in companies in Hong Kong is like dating with a boyfriend. You can leave any time you need to.”

Regarding Japanese life in Hong Kong, Miss Arai said, “Hong Kong allows different languages, culture and races, which I find very adorable. It is easy for Japanese to be accommodated.”

November 1996

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