Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Multiethnic Japan

Ran across an interesting article today that'll probably show you a thing or two about Japan that you didn't know or never even really thought about. The foreign population in Japan is absolutely miniscule compared to the US, but as with other parts of the world, times are changing and there are definitely visible growing pains associated with them. Much like in other parts of the world such as France and England with Muslims and the US with the Latinos, there are language barriers to be overcome as well as many complaining (sometimes blindly) about immigrant crimes.

The paragraph that really stood out to me was this one:

"Consciously or not, ordinary citizens and government bureaucrats still cling to the notion that Japanese society is a unique, homogeneous culture. There is a conspicuous lack of public debate about how this insular country should adjust to the reality that more immigrants are coming—and that those already here are changing Japan. "The government has no [comprehensive] immigration policy," says Marutei Tsurunen. Rather, the approach is piecemeal, with different agencies issuing often contradictory regulations. Tsurenen should know. He's a former Finn turned Japanese citizen and the only naturalized member of the national Parliament, or Diet."

Phrasing it like that though makes it sound as if Japan is already a multicultural society, when the fact of the matter is that even if there is a foreign population (of a whopping 1.5%, the vast majority of which is either Chinese or Korean), they still greatly tie outward appearance and blood ties to nationality. Only ethnically Japanese are truly accepted as citizens and if you find a white person that can't speak English then you'll blow their fragile little minds. As the article alludes to, this "Island Mentality" as it's commonly referred to is slowly fading into history, but it's still rather prevalent. The media around here doesn't help things at all - any time there's a foreign crime it's all over the paper, and in many cases blown way out of proportion.

full article here:

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