TOKYO (majirox news) —Does the most iconic “character” in Japan, Hello Kitty, carry a Certificate of Alien Registration (Gaikokujin Torokuzumi Shomeisho) to show it to any police officer demanding to see it? Quite possibly, it seems.
Hello Kitty, or to call her by her proper name, Kitty White, according to the official biography of her put out by Sanrio Co. Ltd. (her creators), was born in London, England.
Ms. White – the name that no doubt appears on her passport – has now had her nationality (or at least her place of birth) disclosed to those Hello Kitty fans fanatical enough to read her biography. There is a counter-faction, however, insisting that Kitty White is a true daughter of Nippon.
Tatsuya Nakajima, described as a “leader” of the right-wing group Junshinkai, told Jake Adelstein of Atlantic Wire, “that’s the kind of stuff the Chinese say when they pirate our national treasures and goods. It’s outrageous and unforgivable,” referring to the possible non-Japanese origins of Kitty-chan.
Adelstein, better known as the author of Tokyo Vice, the acclaimed close-up look at the Japanese yakuza gangs, is not one to shirk a difficult assignment, and confronted Sanrio with the contradiction of Hello Kitty being appointed the 2008 Japanese Tourism Ambassador to China and Hong Kong, and her overseas birth. After all, it is a fictional cat.
Being the dedicated reporter that he is, Adelstein made contact with the British Embassy to establish once and for all the identity of the mouthless feline.
Although Her Majesty’s Government no doubt told him that cats do not receive British nationality, up until 1975, ships’ cats that served in the Royal Navy were issued identification tags and were even pensioned off to an old cats’ home when age prevented them from fulfilling their duty to Crown and country. Nor did they hesitate to sacrifice their all when called upon to do so.
The cat “Convoy” went down with HMS Hermione in 1942 when torpedoed in the North Atlantic by the German submarine U-205 (sunk with all paws). Before you think the British alone allow sentiment for animals to officialdom, it is well to remember that Japanese towns have often granted honorary citizenship to animals such as seals that have taken up temporary residence in the municipality.
But there is strong circumstantial evidence for Hello Kitty being Japanese, even though Daniel, her boyfriend, is almost certainly not. In the Hello Kitty Guide to Japan in Japanese and English, Kitty-chan (or Ms. White) shows herself to be fluent in Japanese, with an in-depth knowledge of Japanese customs only obtainable by someone born and bred in the country.
Just to take things a step further, it has been pointed out that Minnie Mouse’s full first name is “Minerva” and that her father’s name is “Marcus.” Is an all-American icon actually Greek? Or Roman?
Next time you’re waiting in line at Narita, if you see a small white cat with no mouth struggling to fit her paws into the biometric identification device to get paw-printed, perhaps you will be the one to tell the world the truth about Kitty-chan’s origins.