Donald Keene, a famed U.S.-born scholar of Japanese literature, acquired Japanese citizenship on March 8 and urged his new homeland not to forget about disaster victims in the Tohoku region.
The 89-year-old Keene has been plying between the United States and Japan for about 40 years as part of his career as a researcher and writer.
Keene had permanent residence status in Japan, but he said he began thinking about naturalization when he learned that many foreigners had left Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 last year triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
"I wanted to tell them, 'I will go to Japan and will stay there forever. I will believe in (Japan),'" he said in Japanese at a news conference in Tokyo on March 8.
Keene has been living in Tokyo's Kita Ward since 1974. While his formal name, "Keene Donald," is spelled in katakana in Japan's family register, he has come up with a four-kanji spelling for that name, which he will use on an informal basis.
"Frankly, I am disappointed," Keene said when asked what he thought about post-disaster Japan.
Immediately following the calamity, lights were turned off and elevators were shut down in Tokyo. "People are acting together to help those in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region," Keene said he thought at the time.
"But now, there are so many bright (electric) signboards that are not necessary. And that is not just in Tokyo. People have probably forgotten about (the disaster)," he said.
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