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The Tortuous Road to My Mother’s Funeral

In the Covid era, navigating Japan's bureaucratic maze to prove I was born in Japan but no longer a Japanese citizen requires patience, diligence and reliance on the kindness of strangers.
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By Junko Yoshida

This is a story in development. As I write it, I still don’t know how it will turn out. Uncertainty is the name of the game.

It started last weekend, with my mother’s death. Kiyoko Yoshida survived many trials in her life — including, when she was a teenager, the A-bombing of Hiroshima. She endured the death of my big sister, Mariko, and stoically took over the job of raising Mariko’s two sons, though she was over 60 at the time. She survived the passing of my father, and ultimately, she even outlasted Covid-19. Finally, she just quietly withered away at the age of 93.

Because of pandemic protocols imposed by the Japanese government, the last time I saw my mother was November 2019.

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