What it Means to be Japanese
Need to be shown how foolhardy racism is??
From the International Herald Tribune web site:
by Ko Unoki – Published: September 7, 2006
TOKYO The other day I received the results of a DNA test administered by the Genographic Project, a joint project by the National Geographic Society and IBM, whose goal is to analyze human DNA samples and understand the route which mankind took in populating the world.
After submitting my DNA – obtained by simply swabbing the inside of my mouth – along with about $100, I received two months later information about my paternal ancestors.
I've always been interested in trying to find the origins of my ancestry. I am a Japanese male, born in Japan. Both of my parents are ethnically Japanese and as far as I know, all my recent ancestors for at least the past three centuries were born in Japan.
The Genographic Project, which I happened to stumble upon while surfing the Internet, gave me an opportunity to satiate my curiosity about my ancestral origins.
The results of the DNA test told me that my earliest human male ancestor was born in Africa about 50,000 years ago.
About 45,000 years ago, another male ancestor came from somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula or present- day Iran.
Five thousand years later, it seems, another ancestor was born in Central Asia. Then, some time 35,000 years ago, my most recent identifiable ancient ancestor was born in an isolated region of central China while the Ice Age was in full swing.
China, according to the Genographic Project, is where my genetic journey ends, or rather, where my most recent ancestor comes from. I now know that genetically I am related to more than half of all present-day Chinese males and that there is someone at the moment living in China with whom I share a common ancestor dating back some 1,000 years.
Despite knowing all this, however, I have no idea when or how my paternal ancestor came over to the Japanese islands. Perhaps he was a merchant who came over from China to trade with the native Japanese and decided to settle permanently in Japan.
In the city of Fukuoka, where my father's family comes from, there is an area called Tojin-machi, or Tang- Town, Tang referring to China's ancient Tang dynasty. I wonder if, many centuries ago, my ancestor came over from China and set up shop in this particular area of Kyushu.
Or maybe he was some kind of swashbuckling pirate who roamed the coasts of China and Japan and was eventually shipwrecked on Japanese shores.
I could go on and on speculating. Interestingly, the research of the Genographic Project tells us that most of the paternal ancestors of the present-day ethnic Japanese come from all over Asia. Many, however, do not have the same gene that I have which indicates an origin of somewhere aside from central China, such as Southeast Asia or the Korean Peninsula.
Some conservative elements in Japanese society take pride in the alleged homogeneity of the Japanese "race," and ardent nationalists and racists look disparagingly upon other ethnic groups. Such DNA test results should make them think twice about what they say or think about other peoples – or about themselves, for that matter.
If we employ notions of racial superiority, look down upon other ethnic groups or consider them as "others," we are in effect insulting our ancestors, who traveled far and wide over tens of thousands of years under unimaginably harsh conditions to get to where we are now.
We may be Japanese according to notions of ethnicity and citizenship, but genetics tells us beyond doubt that we are all related to the peoples of China, Korea and the rest of Asia. And, ultimately, all of us in the human race are Africans.