Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Ethnic issues in Japan

Japan, being a nation whose population is greater than 99% born in Japan and speaking Japanese, experiences difficulties in coping with an increasing foreign population (end of 2002: 1,851,758).

The issue of racism, although serious, is not openly discussed in Japanese-language based media whether televised or written. Also, unlike nations like the United States of America, racism in Japan is often not directed so much against people of a particular race or ethnic group (but see Ainu and Burakumin) but rather against those who are non-Japanese. The Japanese language uses the word gaijin (外人 lit: outside person) to express this division. The word can therefore be applied equally to non-Japanese Asians as to white or black people. This is because Japanese do not consider themselves Asians in the same manner that some British people may not consider themselves European (see Jingoism).

Table of contents
1 Japanese Media
2 Japanese Government
3 Racism faced by non-Japanese Asians
4 Racism faced by non-Asians
5 Japan's History of National Isolation
6 Difficulty assimilating into Japanese Society
7 See also
8 External Links

Japanese Media

The media often portrays foreigners as trouble-makers. Television reports often exaggerate the incidence and cruelty of foreign crime and place particular emphasis on Chinese crime and perceived Chinese crime.

It is not uncommon to see the word Gaijin written on billboards or hear it when watching television and no consideration is apparent in its usage, although whether it is actually used with offensive intent is debatable.

Japanese Government

With the introduction of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's new 2003 cabinet and a public perception of an increase in violent crime throughout Japan, there has been a new wave of calls to rein in foreigners who are either in Japan illegally or are committing crimes. Foreign-rights advocates argue that these efforts are disproportionately given that foreigners are estimated to be responsible for only 2% of crime. Referring to Chinese using the derogatory pre-war word "sankokujin" (third-country person) and calling for the SDF to protect Japanese from marauding foreigners in the event of a massive Tokyo earthquake, Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro has become infamous amongst the foreign community for his reactionary policies and inflammatory comments.

Racism faced by non-Japanese Asians

Racism faced by non-Asians

Japan's History of National Isolation

From 1603-1867 Japan enjoyed its Edo Period where its borders were closed to most of the outside world in a bid to prevent external influence, (particularly religious, and economic) from gaining a foothold. Japan did not voluntarily end the Edo Period. Japan was forced open by the U.S.A. Despite the opening, 264 years of being an isolated island nation with an isolationist national policy seeded the current climate seen in Japan.

Difficulty assimilating into Japanese Society

Although not racist in intention there are many differences between Japan and other countries that can cause difficulty for non-Japanese.

See also

Racism against Japanese

External Links

Articles relating to statements made by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara Article relating to statements made by Kanagawa Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa