Japan's Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity

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Michael Weiner
Routledge, 1997 - Social Science - 251 pages
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The Japanese have traditionally projected themselves as a culturally and racially uniform society, while in reality, Japan is home to diverse minority populations.Japan's Minoritiesidentifies and explores the six principal minority groups in Japan: the Ainu, the Burakumin, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Nikkeijin and the Okinawans. After years of marginalization, many of these "hidden" minorities in Japan are now beginning to challenge this image by reasserting their cultural identities. Examining the ways in which the Japanese have manipulated historical events, such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the contributors reveal the presence of an underlying concept of "Japaneseness" that excludes members of these minorities. The themes addressed include the role of this ideology of "race" in the construction of the Japanese identity; historical memory and its suppression; contemporary labor migration to Japan; and the three-hundred year existence of Chinese communities in Japan. Japan's Minoritiesprovides both a clear historical introduction to the formation of individual minorities, followed by an analysis of the contemporary situation based on original research. The result is a challenge to the nationalist myth of a homogeneous Japan.

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