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Mixed-Ethnic Children Raised by Single Thai Mothers in Japan: A Choice of Ethnic Identity

Examines mixed-ethnic children raised by single Thai mothers in Nagoya city, Japan to see whether they show a tendency to assimilate in to the perceived mainstream concerning “whiteness” and “non-white group”; as well as to see how those children deal with a multi-ethnic identity. Gives statistical data on inter-ethnic marriage in Japan or so called ‘intermarriage’, birth of mixed ethnic children, divorce of intermarriage couples and children from divorced foreign mothers. Indicates that children choose their single ethnic identity in accordance with their sense of racial advantage, for instance Japanese-Western children identify themselves as Westerners, whereas Japanese-Thai children identify themselves as Japanese. Reveals that Japanese-Thai children raised by single Thai mothers often develop a multi-ethnic identity when their mothers are independent, socially mature, self-financing and sole guardians of their children which are different from ‘happy Thai madams’. Concludes that the sense of “Western” and “non-Western” embed in the ethnic power relations and subsequently affect the bargaining power of foreign mothers within their family, choice of schools for mixed-ethnic children, and even affect Japanese husbands’ perception to value the powerlessness of their Thai wives.