An American professor is turning Japanese

29 Apr

Columbia University professor of Japanese Studies Donald Keene has been teaching and translating the Japanese language since 1955.

He just retired at the age of 88.

Professor Keene's recent press conference with the Japanese media.

Professor Keene made the news in Japan a couple of days ago when he announced that now that he’s retired, he plans to immigrate to Japan and become a naturalized Japanese citizen.

Some of his friends and co-workers in America expressed concerned that now may not be the best time to move to Japan because of the current nuclear power plant disaster. But Dr. Keene replied that, in his opinion, now is the perfect time to show his support for his intended adopted homeland during this hardship.

What do you think about naturalization? Do you think if someone immigrates to another country, they should become a naturalized citizen? Or is a Permanent Resident Visa enough?
If you immigrated somewhere which would you choose?

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26 Responses to “An American professor is turning Japanese”

  1. Stippy Red November 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    At the age of 88 I don’t think he seriously needs to worry about radiation eh…

    Like

    • tokyo5 November 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

      >At the age of 88 I don’t think he seriously needs to worry about radiation eh…

      Yeah, you’re probably right…but, then again, he looks pretty healthy for his age—maybe he’ll live many more years.

      Like

  2. Ben November 8, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    He is just another, among many self loathing Americans here in Japan. Giving up your nationality! Must hate his birth country or is reall delusional about Japan.

    This is something I know the Japanese hate. Wannabe Orientals, too sad.

    Like

    • tokyo5 November 9, 2011 at 1:03 am #

      >He is just another, among many self loathing Americans here in Japan.

      I doubt there are “many“, if any at all, “self-loathing Americans” here.
      And I don’t think Prof. Keene is one, either.

      >Giving up your nationality! Must hate his birth country

      Many people immigrate to another country and become naturalized citizens of that country. Very rarely, I think, is their reason out of hatred for their country.
      Believe it or not, it’s quite possible to change your citizenship and still love your country of birth.

      Would you make the same accusations to the many people who become naturalized Americans?
      Do you assume they hate their homeland too?

      >is reall delusional about Japan.

      Actually, I think you are simply disillusioned. Are you in Japan?

      >This is something I know the Japanese hate.

      Sorry you’re mistaken. Japanese people don’t “hate” anyone for becoming a naturalized citizen.

      > Wannabe Orientals,

      There are many reasons that people naturalize…and that isn’t one of them.

      Like

      • Ben November 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

        Tokyo 5 you are definitely one of them. You are also soo ready to attack the position of the Politically Incorrect, so your own liberal biases are reconfirmed and comforted.

        I do live in Japan and accept & understand my place as a tolerated foreigner. That’s fine with me, because I don’t try to reshaped a society into something that it is not.

        This an old culture that doesn’t ask or appreciate interference from outsiders.

        Like

      • tokyo5 November 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

        >you are definitely one of them.

        By “them”, do you mean “self loathing Americans here in Japan”?

        If so, sorry, you haven’t figured me out because that doesn’t describe me at all.

        >You are also soo ready to attack the position of the Politically Incorrect, so your own liberal biases are reconfirmed and comforted.

        That’s funny! That’s not me at all, either. I’m not “Politically Correct” or “Incorrect”, nor “liberal” or “conservative” either.
        I have my own style and opinions without the need for a label or a category.

        By the way, you didn’t address any of my questions in my previous comment above.

        Just because someone naturalizes to the nationality of the country that they’ve immigrated to doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like the country of their birth.

        Like

  3. Jose May 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Also many here are wrong about the Japanese naturalization process. Its not that difficult and I have even heard of people who did not renounce their original countries citizenship. From my understanding (please check up on this yourself as it is a serious matter) the only way a US citizen can loose his/her citizenship is if they voluntarly renounce. Japan gov. I hear allows for a 2 year window after you naturalize in Japan to renounce your old citizenship. Some guys never went down and renounced, so I hear. I dont think the US supreme court can force them to relinquish even though he has naturalized in another country, but might be in deep doo doo latter with the J gov. Many people talk out their ass, its whats wrong with the world. Get the facts before you make any moves.

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 16, 2011 at 12:59 am #

      >Also many here are wrong about the Japanese naturalization process. Its not that difficult

      Do you know how to naturalize in Japan? It’s a long process with a lot of paperwork and interviews.

      >Many people talk out their a**, its whats wrong with the world.

      I think your comment is the only one on this post so far with inaccurate information.

      Like

      • Ben December 8, 2013 at 2:42 am #

        Real liberal American loser, Tokyo 5, what a crock!

        Like

      • tokyo5 December 8, 2013 at 9:37 am #

        I’m not a “liberal” or a “conservative”.
        Trying to fit everyone into neat little categories so that you can decide who you like or dislike is childish.

        Like

  4. Jose May 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    I have lived in Japan for several years as a US citizen. I know of several Americans who naturalized here. Most regreted it latter. Why? Japan is not accepting of outsiders. They make you feel welcome at first but latter treat you as an outcast. Anybody who naturalizes here, IMO, is a fool. Dont do it. This old fart can get away with it because he will be shielded from the worst of what is out there, but I can only imagine the lonely existance this guy will feel when he is put into a Japanese old folks home in his latter years. He is a gaijin. In the USA, where all things are touchy feely, he can fool himself and others into thinking Japan is some utopia. Believe me, things are closer to a a utopia in the USA than Japan. So many idiots in the world, dont make their mistake. Im glad I never did made that choice to become a Japanese years ago. PR status is ok, never a citizen, because..duh, youll never be a Japanese unless your born with black hair, mongoloid eyes and flat ass. Keepin it real and saving you misery. Peace.

    Like

    • tokyo5 May 16, 2011 at 12:48 am #

      >I have lived in Japan for several years

      How long have you lived in Japan?

      >I know of several Americans who naturalized here.

      Do you personally know many? Because I don’t “know” a single one…I “know of” a number of celebrities and athletes from other countries who live in Japan and have become naturalized citizens—but no people that I personally know.

      >Most regreted it latter.

      I can’t believe that. Why would they? First of all, Japan is a great place to live. Secondly, the naturalization process is designed to prevent that from occurring…among other requirements, the applicant must live here a number of years, be able to understand spoken and written Japanese and generally have integrated into Japanese society to even be considered.

      >Japan is not accepting of outsiders.

      I have heard some people say that before but I don’t agree.

      >This old fart can get away with it

      Just because you personally disagree with his decision doesn’t mean you should insult him.

      >I can only imagine the lonely existance this guy will feel

      He has said that he has more friends in Japan than in America.

      >Im glad I never did made that choice to become a Japanese years ago.

      Are you eligible? How long have you lived here? Can you speak and write in Japanese?

      >PR status is ok, never a citizen

      Do you have a Japanese Permanent Resident visa?

      I am a “Permanent Resident” but, as I said in this comment above, I have considering whether or not to naturalize.

      >youll never be a Japanese unless your born with black hair, mongoloid eyes and flat a**.

      That’s rude, racist and uncalled for. If you’re unhappy in Japan, why do you live here?
      I get the impression that you’re against naturalization, not because you have any reason that it’s a bad decision, but because you’re “homesick” for America and you personally don’t want to change your citizenship.
      There are many like me, though, who aren’t “homesick” because Japan has become our home. And all around the world, when people make another country their home, they often naturalize.

      >Keepin it real and saving you misery.

      You haven’t supported that claim at all.

      Like

      • Ben December 8, 2013 at 2:36 am #

        You sound like a japanese wannabe, really sad. Pathetic, actually.

        Like

      • tokyo5 December 8, 2013 at 9:34 am #

        You sound like someone who is unable to intergrate into society and resents that some of are perfectly happy in Japan.

        Why do you stay here? No friends in America either?
        Maybe it’s your “winning” personality.

        Like

    • Charlie Baker June 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

      You are absolutely right Jose. Somehow the positive stereotype of Japan has persisted and snuffed out more negative truths–albeit realistic truths–about Japan such as the ones you mentioned.

      You also hit the nail on the head when you mention that things are closer to utopia in the USA than Japan. Despite the problems the USA currently faces, the lifestyle and culture there are far more accepting than Japan’s of all places. It just so happens that due to the way the media works, a lot of bad stuff gets sensationalized. Furthermore, being the pre-eminent power in the world, it falls under media scrutiny constantly. This can produce a skewed image, sort of like how airlines can seem a lot scarier than cars because airline accidents are sensationalized.

      Like

      • tokyo5 June 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

        Do you live in Japan? If so, how long have you lived here?

        What examples of “negative truths” can you give?

        I’m American and I grew up in the U.S. and I agree that America is a great place to live…but I’ve lived in Japan even longer than I lived in America and, although I know that no place is perfect of course, I think Japan is the best place in the world.

        That’s why I’ve stayed here so long.

        Like

  5. gigihawaii April 29, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    I wonder if I saw him at Columbia when I was a student during the early 1970s. I often studied in the Asian Languages Dept library.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 30, 2011 at 12:27 am #

      Well, maybe you have seen him then.

      Like

  6. musings April 29, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    What a coincidence that you would post about this. When I mentioned your blog to my mother she started telling us about some professor wanting to become a Japanese citizen. With her accent, we thought she said Donald King. Ahhh… now I see that it’s Donald Keene. I’m afraid I don’t follow a whole lot of Japanese news like she does daily, so I hadn’t heard of him. When I told her about your knowing so much kanji, she said you must be like Donald Keene… much younger though.

    I think it’s lovely that he gets to do what he wants to. I’ve heard that it’s extremely difficult to become a naturalized Japanese citizen. Perhaps they’re making some accomodations for him? I really can’t see myself changing my allegiance. I’ll always be American.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 30, 2011 at 12:26 am #

      >I’ve heard that it’s extremely difficult to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.

      Yes, it’s a long process with a lot of paperwork and interviews.

      >Perhaps they’re making some accomodations for him?

      I think so. Probably because of his advanced age and the numerous awards that he has earned from the Japanese government over the years.

      >I really can’t see myself changing my allegiance. I’ll always be American.

      You live in America though. Many people naturalize around the world when they immigrate to another country.

      Like

  7. Anonymous April 29, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    how do you even go about becomming a naturalized citizen though? I always thought it was difficult, involving living there many many years before hand. I think its good for him to go there, since 1955 japan has obviously been a huge part of his life.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 30, 2011 at 12:20 am #

      >how do you even go about becomming a naturalized citizen though?

      I’m not exactly sure what the process is in other countries, but it’s an ordeal in Japan.
      If someone has been living in Japan for at least ten consecutive years, they’re at least 20 years old, have no criminal record, have no affiliation with any organization that has tried to sabotage the Japanese government, have financial means to support yourself and are willing to give up your current country’s citizenship…then you’re eligible to submit the massive amount of paperwork and be interviewed to be considered for naturalization.

      Like

  8. tornadoes28 April 29, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Good for him. He loves Japan and wants to live there permanently so why not become a naturalized citizen.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 30, 2011 at 12:10 am #

      Actually, one of the reasons I asked those questions in this post was because I have Permanent Residence Visa in Japan which, as the name indicates, allows me to live here permanently. I have no need to ever go to the immigration office to renew anything…unlike other temporary visas, there’s no problem if my (U.S.) passport expires and I don’t bother to renew it.

      But I have been eligible to naturalize for years and I sometimes consider it…but it’s a big decision and I still haven’t made up my mind.

      I know many Americans feel that if someone immigrates to the U.S. that they should naturalize once they’re eligible.
      But what do most Americans think about someone who emigrates from the U.S.? Should they also naturalize to the country they immigrate to?

      Like

  9. Rachael April 29, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    If I immigrated somewhere it would be Ireland ❤

    Like

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