Dissertation Abstracts

Integration and separation of immigrants in Japan - Teachers' orientations to identity and culture -

Author: Takahashi, Fumiko , fumiko.takahashi@gmail.com
Department: Department of Sociology
University: University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Prof. Anthony Heath and Prof. Takehiko Kariya
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Education , Nationalism , Multiculturalism , Immigrants and Education
Areas of Research: Education , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations , Migration


International Social Survey Programme 2003 found that about 90% of the people in Japan favours the idea of maintaining the ethnic minorities' culture, rather than their adaptation to the dominant majority's culture. It is outstandingly high percentage, compared internationally. The result is consistent with the fact that multicultural coexistence ("Tabunka kyosei") policy is welcomed in many local governments to support the immigrants. However, it contradicts to some academics' argument that Japan puts assimilative pressure to ethnic minorities. Therefore, this thesis analyses why the idea of maintaining the ethnic minorities' culture enjoys such outstanding support in Japan. The mixed method approach of quantitative and qualitative study was used to solve this puzzle. International comparison based on the statistical analysis of national identity and attitude toward the ethnic minorities' culture revealed that (i) about 80% of the Japanese people have ethnic conceptualization of national identity, which is exceptionally high percentage than other countries, and (ii) the vast majority of both the people with ethnic and civic national identity favour the idea of maintaining the ethnic minorities' culture. Therefore, the qualitative analysis of interview data with schoolteachers of the immigrants' children were conducted to examine why, of which aspect and to what extent teachers expect the immigrants' children to maintain their ethnic identity and distinct culture, and expect them to adapt themselves to the dominant Japanese culture. It was found out that it is expected for the immigrants' children to maintain their ethnic minority identity and traditional culture in private, and to adapt themselves to group oriented and rule-based Japanese culture in public. However, such group orientated and rule-based culture is not regarded as "culture", but simply as "rules" to give an order to ethnic and cultural diversity. The findings of this thesis imply that multicultural coexistence is a new form of cultural nationalism in Japan ("tertiary nationalism"), meaning a nationalism which (i) has been brought about by confronting the growing ethnic and cultural diversity within a nation, particularly after '90s in Japan, and (ii) tries to preserve its rule-based culture and to spread it to the ethnic minorities by taking off its label of "culture", (iii) though not incorporating them to a member of a nation, but (iv) expecting them to maintain their ethnic identity and traditional culture in private.