Glossary of Frequently appearing Japanese terms
The name of our newsletter. "Shijo" looks like "shijo" in "kikokushijo", but is a different word, and not even a homonym. "Shijo" in "Shijo-Tsushin" means "private sentiments and feelings". "Tsushin" means "communication". Therefore, "Shijo-Tsushin" stands for something like "private communications". We put this name because we didn't want to use any word that specifies our interest area, lest we get stuck in it. Also, We want to keep in mind that this is a private enterprise, and that we don't have to submit ourselves to any other organization, or to stay free from any restrictions that should come with being a "public opinion".
"Kikoku" literally means to come back to one's home country. The word "shijo" is sometimes controversial. In daily usage, "shi" stands for "children", and "jo" for "women". If you are politically-correct-aware, the phrase implies that the children and the women are discriminated against, and to those people who are not very keen over words, it misguides that the "kikokushijo" are only girls. But actually, to few people's knowledge, the phrase "shijo" is a classic and currently legal term for "children", including both boys and girls. The Constitution of Japan, which was drafted in English, says "All people shall be obliged to have all boys and girls under protection receive ordinary education" in its article #26, and "boys and girls" in this article is directly translated into "shijo". Here, "shi" is standing for "boys", while "jo" is meaning "girls". No one, especially those who get to be called by the term, have liked the word because it sounds so beaurocratic, and is often used to label, categorize, and sometimes ostracize the kikokushijo.
The translation for "kikokushijo" as often used by native English speakers who are familiar with this issue has traditionally been "returnees". It sounded more neutral than the Japanese word, especially to those people who are not very good in English, perhaps because they did not catch the nuances of the word. The phrase "repatriated children" is suggested in one of our articles (not yet translated into English) for a change.
The Japanese Ministry of Education takes a statistics of the kikokushijo once a year, and the number of "kikokushijo who came back to Japan after more than a year of staying abroad with their parents, during the previous fiscal year, and admitted in an elementary school, junior high school, or high school in Japan" has been around 12,000 for each of the recent years. In 1976, the number was only 4,598. Most of these children have the experience of living abroad for 3-5 years.
"Kaigai" means "overseas", and "shijo" is the same as in "kikokushijo". Hence, the word means expatriated children. In Japan, the Ministry of Education seems to be responsible to coin the phrase, and it means in particular, the Japanese children who are staying abroad with their parents, while the parents are there for their business, studies, etc. Most likely they are children of international business people, teachers and scholars. Often excluded are the children of emigrants who basically don't come back to Japan.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives statistics every year, and the number of "kaigaishijo who are at mandatory education age (6-15 years old) and are registered at the local embassies and consulates as living in a foreign country for more than 3 months" has recently been around 50,000. In 1976, the number was around 18,000.
Please send in any questions and requests for explanations. We'll try as much as possible to answer them.
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