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Multicultural Japan in Motion: Identity, Policy, and Translation

Tue, June 23, 9:00 to 10:55am, South Building, Floor: 9th Floor, S904

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


This panel explores different ways of analyzing the discourse and practice of multiculturalism in Japan (tabunka kyōsei). Twenty-first-century Japan has been making use of tabunka kyōsei not only because it has to rely on foreign workers to sustain its economy but also because Japanese nationals have become ethnically more diverse. The diversification of Japanese society, as well as what it means to be Japanese, thus poses conceptual and methodological challenges to understanding Asia in motion. The first paper examines the lives and identities of Chinese migrants, the largest group of non-Japanese nationals in Japan. It uses visual methodologies to demonstrate how identity is made tangible through objects, consumables, and media. The second paper is a sociological analysis of immigrant employees’ organizational experiences in Japanese firms. It tries to capture the creative moments of cultural production in multicultural organizations. Following these discussions on the practices of multicultural Japan, the third paper looks into the discourse of multiculturalism, pointing to the problem of translating it from North America and Australia to the Japanese context. The fourth paper examines immigration policy from a postcolonial perspective, focusing on the majority view of multiculturalism in Japan and tracing the emergence of tabunka kyōsei back to Japanese colonialism. Through these various approaches, we interrogate the histories and current actualities of tabunka kyosei in Japan, and hope to open a debate around the potential future of multiculturalism in an increasingly mobile Northeast Asia.

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