Education About Asia: Online Archives

Japan’s Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity

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Michael Weiner, editor

NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, 1997 272 PAGES

This is an important collection of essays that examines, as the subtitle promises, Japan’s illusion of homogeneity. It does so by balanced and thorough examinations of Japan’s minorities, as promised in the title. It appears at a time when minority issues in Japan have (finally) gained increased coverage: in the Korean experience in wartime, highlighted in the fifty-year celebrations and the public statements of former comfort women; in the increased visibility of immigrant populations; in the continuing legal and public battles in Okinawa, in a few examples. The chapters are both broad and deep, providing historical overviews and contemporary statistical context. They discuss the Ainu, Burakumin, resident Koreans, the Chinese community, Okinawans, and Nikkeijin (second and third generation ethnic Japanese born outside of Japan). These chapters are bracketed by essays that question the conceptual and theoretical issues raised by the discussions. They complement each other to yield a volume that will be effective in a range of teaching situations.

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