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Transcultural Japan (Asia's Transformations)
International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology v. Rubtsov PDF Download. The blond woman at the end of the bar, speaking fluent Japanese and joking about the shellfish, turned out to be a Russian. The night before, there had been two women from the Caribbean chatting with Takeshi in their Jamaican lilt and cautiously trying the sushi.
Ryo, one of the kitchen workers, was from Brazil, the descendant of grandparents who had emigrated there from Okinawa. Jo Jiang-guo , his co-worker, was a Chinese student of engineering at Kobe University. Momoko and Shizuka, the two waitresses, were college students who had recently returned from America and Australia.
And then there were the two of us. While the diversity of origins revealed a new Japan, there were also signs of the old Japan. The red-faced Japanese man to our left treated us as if we were there for his amusement, commenting on the hair on our arms, our tall noses, and our long legs. How amazing it was that we could eat sushi! Clearly to this man we were Others who were not part of Japanese society. We have lived here for much of our lives, however, and have identities as members of Japanese society that are deeply embedded in our experiences. Photo: David Blake Willis When we became members of Japanese society has as much to do with the Japanese and their changing attitudes as it does with us, of course.
Stephen was born in Japan, has Japanese ancestry, and was a national government employee for many years, but it required persistent effort in middle age to obtain a Japanese passport. David reminds his university students who compliment him on his skill at chopsticks or the Japanese language that he has been in Japan longer than they have and that his two grown sons are Japanese. Both of us have watched carefully as Japan has globalized. Takarazushi is a microcosm of a changing Japan, of new cultural flows and old traditions. The fish and other marine products come from the seas around Japan and from all corners of the globe: Africa, Southeast Asia, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and South America.
The customers and workers, too, represent not only a more traditional Japan, but a diversity that forces us to look more deeply at this dramatically changing society. Living in the borderlands Japan is undergoing a metamorphosis, a transformation that began in its cultural borderlands and is now spreading throughout the country. This is a territory being remapped gradually and gingerly, yet unmistakably. And while they are not yet as visible as in multicultural societies like America or Brazil, their numbers represent, surprisingly, about the same level of diversity as the United Kingdom in Lie 4.
More and more Japanese, in fact, even resemble our friend Dennis Chang. Some people assume Dennis is American because of his name, and his impeccable English. But his Japanese is also fluent, and in the spring of , a little over five years after first coming to Japan, Dennis received a letter from the Ministry of Justice informing him that he was no longer a foreigner and had now become Japanese.
For Dennis and many others, including some of the authors in this book, questions of identity and place are not just academic.
We are writing this book because we care about what happens to the people in the cultural borderlands and transnational crossroads of Japan. Many of us live in these borderlands and see them as revealing the dynamic contradictions, complex textures, and multiple levels of reality found in contemporary Japanese society. These new and complex contexts reveal a transcultural world that is overlooked when we are preoccupied with conceptual dichotomies and dialectical oppositions.
What we are seeing instead is a transcultural, transnational society with fluid boundaries, constant change, and often innovative cultural formations.
Transcultural Japan seeks to complement earlier works on difference in Japan by focusing on the social construction of alternative realities in the Japanese context, on questions that lead to reflexive narratives and on cultural transformations in transnational contexts. We are especially sensitive to the social and political manipulations of cultures, their identities, and their representations. We would like to emphasize 1 the changing nature of Japanese society; 2 the increasing openness and countervailing opposition in Japan to difference, whether of oldcomers, newcomers, or those Japanese who come from historically marginalized populations; and 3 the tensions and frictions which are the result of these changes in Japan.
This book is an articulation of how this is happening in Japanese society. Too often in the public discourse of difference in Japan the actual interactions of peoples at the level of popular culture and the agency of minorities themselves have been left out, and these are often the very venues of social 6 Willis and Murphy-Shigematsu transformation. The writers in this volume attempt to avoid or at least lessen the depiction of the diverse peoples of Japan as communities separate from Japanese society, by instead seeing them as integral parts of the whole.
The marginal then becomes of crucial importance to the mainstream. Looking for voices of social-constructive transformation from within and critical perspectives from without, we report the experiences and perceptions of these Others within the chapters that follow. What we hope to do is to reveal at least part of a larger picture by encompassing and emphasizing the linkages, processes, and ties to larger economic and social contexts.
We talk about race, gender, and identity in the context of how these are perceived on a day-to-day basis, in the lived experiences of Others in Japan.
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Whatever the discourse on the social construction of race, gender, and identity might be for anthropologists and political scientists, these concepts have powerful day-to-day salience for those living in the borderlands. Revealing the struggles of on-going multiculturalism in Japan by presenting multiple and diverse narratives of personal and larger social change, we wish to provide a place for articulating the multiple voices of Others who are both being changed by and who are changing Japan.
Landscapes: globalization and immigration in transnational Japan This book comes to press at a historic moment in Japanese history. The first decline in the Japanese population began in October , as the population of Late marriage, low fertility, and economics have all combined to create a phenomenon called shoshika, meaning the trend toward fewer and fewer children.
Alarmed by a population that is rapidly aging and a postmodern economy that has a range of labor requirements if it is to be maintained at or near present levels, the government and the media have begun serious soul-searching regarding the necessary actions to be taken Ajima ; Arudou ; Masaki Clearly implicated in these discussions are the questions of foreigners and immigrant labor in Japanese society.
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As the demographics of the relentless graying of the country and low fertility squeeze the society, immigration has become a prominent new theme for Japan. These reports spoke of annually needing between , and , new immigrants, resulting in a foreign population in Japanese society of over 10,, within 13 years. Various scenarios predicted that there might eventually be anywhere from 14 million to 33 million people of foreign origin in a society of million people by the year Nor will it be for Japan. Human rights issues surrounding foreign 8 Willis and Murphy-Shigematsu Figure 1.
Roger Dahl workers are sure to grow in Japan, too, especially in terms of housing for migrants and schooling for children Arita , where discrimination is often said to be widespread. Indeed, in spite of the obvious economic trajectory and needs, no consensus has been reached on whether this is even desirable or necessary.
see url Yet this debate also appears to include a realization that at least some labor will have to be imported, given the pressing needs of service industries such as geriatric care, nursing, manufacturing, and even agriculture. The depopulation of the countryside, for example, has also meant not only a shortage of labor but also a lack of eligible brides for young farmers. Which foreigners and how many will be a key question for Japanese society. New people are coming, and most of them will likely come from Asia. The data speak of a new Japan in need of a new understanding. We would like to begin disaggregating the possible trends and directions by looking at people and their contexts on the ground.
Transculturalism, multiculturalism and Japan What do we mean by transculturalism? What does this word mean in the Japanese context? We use transculturalism in an attempt to move beyond the confines of the term multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is an important concept for understanding the changes taking place in society today, but it has been riven with Transcultural Japan 9 controversy and multiple interpretations.
Whose multiculturalism are we talking about? Multiculturalism for us is not a reified, abstract notion of bounded, exclusivist ethic units as is often indicated in discussions of ethnicities, particularly of Japan. We believe there is a need to move the multicultural debate beyond such a restrictive view of ethnic identity, typical examples of this discourse being found in numerous academic texts in English and Japanese about different ethnic communities in Japan.
This view of rigid identities and indivisible ethnicities encounters numerous obstacles when faced with what is actually happening on the ground Befu While we will continue to use the words multicultural and multiculturalism as they describe the realities of present-day Japan, we also choose at the same time to use the words transcultural and transculturalism as they describe even more explicitly what is happening, indicating movement across time, space, and other cultural boundaries. Boundaries are of course maintained in many ways, but at the same time there are those individuals who cross these boundaries and who can move freely into different contexts.
Sometimes social class has more salience than culture, for example. Also largely unchallenged in public debate, is the idea of ethnicity as personal property. Human beings, however, are not things. We mobilize our identities and enact them fluidly according to the circumstances. A liberating theory of culture and multiculturalism is a theory about process and dialogue, not about reified tribes, nationalist religions, and communalist conformity. This processual approach vs. All identities are identifications and thus situational.
We will see this in the chapters that follow, which describe flexible, imaginative, and innovative approaches to culture and cultures. Differences are thus relational rather than absolute, and involve multiple rather than singular identifications. Thinking about cultures is then multirelational rather than one-dimensional.