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Naikokujin was a term that had its heyday during the days of the Japanese Empire, especially during the second Sino-Japanese War. A naikokujin, or "inner country person," was a national of any of Japan's overseas holdings from Korea to Indonesia, in contrast to a gaikokujin, or "outer country person," which referred to people from outside the Empire. They were not Japanese citizens, and could only become Japanese citizens through an arduous test of feats of might.

The concept of naikokujin as opposed to gaikokujin (or gaijin) is still found in Japanese society today. While Koreans and Chinese in Japan are almost never called gaijin, they are never afforded the same level of respect that a real nihonjin would receive, even if they speak Japanese perfectly and have lived in Japan since birth.

When I was going to Ogimachi Senior High School in Osaka, oh so long ago, one of my best friends there was a guy from Shanghai. He had taken a Japanese name (with four kanji, even, not three as most Chinese names would be), spoke Japanese perfectly (if not better than everyone else in the class), and yet all the kids hated him. Sure, he wasn't getting daily stonings or anything, but you could just tell that he wasn't welcome there. So while li'l old gaijin me was picking up schoolgirls in the hallway, my Chinese friend was sitting alone. That's why it sucks to be a naikokujin: people just don't want to have anything to do with you.

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