Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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 Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 9: Room 307

Individual Paper Session: Identities

Chair: Koichiro Matsuda, Rikkyo University

1) Barbara Ambros, International Christian University.
Ethnicity and Religion: The Overseas Chinese in Contemporary Japan

During the past decade, the number of registered overseas Chinese in Japan (zainichi kakyô) has grown dramatically to about 425,000, second only to the number of Koreans (625,000) and significantly larger than the number of Brazilians (270,000). Together with this influx of recent arrivals predominantly from Mainland China, there has been a considerable diversification of religious practices. The traditional Daoist and Buddhist temples in the Japan's Chinatowns--Nagasaki, Kobe, and Yokohama--are no longer the only examples of Chinese religious centers in Japan. In the Tokyo area, where the concentration of overseas Chinese is especially high, there has been an explosive growth of Christian churches, Buddhist centers, and semi-religious qigong groups affiliated with Falun Gong. Based on fieldwork among these congregations and groups, this paper discusses the ethnic consciousness as well as inherent tensions among the overseas Chinese community in contemporary Japan

2) David Chapman, University of South Australia.
Zainichi Korean Identity and the Japanese State: Beyond the 1970 Hitachi Case

Belonging and citizenship have a strong nexus for a large number of Koreans resident in Japan. With belonging comes questions of membership and the consequent legal rights and obligations of citizens as members of a community. In this paper I am primarily concerned with discourse produced by intellectuals and public commentators on notions of citizenship since the 1970 Hitachi employment discrimination incident. The Hitachi event is highlighted by some Japan-resident (zainichi) Korean commentators as a crucial point at which a different approach to social change was adopted by the younger zainichi generations. The movements from the mid-1970s onwards focused on rights as citizens inclusive of political representation, access to welfare, public service employment and the exclusionary practice of alien registration. Often these rights are seen in legal terms, relating to obligations and responsibilities as rightful members of the State and equating to progressive steps towards acceptance and inclusion in Japanese society. Other less obvious indicators of acceptance and inclusion, such as cultural and gender rights, that are often located outside the parameters of legal status have also addressed. Through tracing zainichi public discourse, I argue that social change from the 1970s can be expressed in terms of the relationship between the zainichi population and the Japanese state. The primary focus is on the change in subject position, including the changing notion of permanency (teijôka or teichakuka) and belonging in Japanese society.

3) W. Lawrence Neuman, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.
Racial Formations in Japan and China

The minority populations of Japan and China are demographically small, but they are politically and theoretically significant. Most studies of East Asian minorities have been descriptive and focused on a single group Rarely are relationships among race-ethnicity, national identity, and state development examined. This paper applies the concepts of state racialization project and racial formation to explore processes of the creation, modification, and maintenance of racial-ethnic categories, statuses, and relations in China and Japan. China officially recognizes multiple nationalities and promotes ethnic pluralism. The state provides an array of "affirmative action" programs for minority nationalities, grants limited self-rule to minority regions, and encourages the preservation of minority cultures. In Japan, until recently, the state did not acknowledge minorities and ignored/excluded them. The national government treated autonomous organizations of minorities with suspicion and promoted cultural-ethnic homogeneity. We can explain divergent racialization projects, i.e., state practices and policies with regard to minorities, in China and Japan by characteristics of the minority populations in each and the trajectory of nation state development. Nonetheless, the two nations share some critical features. Each nation's racialization project continues to have consequences, some unanticipated, for majority-minority relations and national identity.

4) Mayumi Mizutamari, Hokkaido University.
The Japanese Subaltern: Kazue Morisaki's Re-evaluation of the Coal Miner

According to Antonio Gramsci, subaltern groups, which are deeply interwoven in power relationships at marginalized positions, cannot represent themselves as a unified existence, hence their history is “discontinuous” and “episodic”. While Gramsci’s notion of the subaltern reflects the farmers of southern Italy, Japanese poet and critic Kazue Morisaki regarded the Japanese coal miner in a similar light. Morisaki lived in Chikuho, a region known for its mining industry. She wrote for the magazine Circle Mura and elsewhere about the historical situation of coal miners and their culture. Coal miners in modern Japan were forced to work in dire conditions and included various minority groups: prisoners, the colonized, and people from remote islands. Morisaki not only confirmed the alienating conditions of the coal miners through her writings, but she also focused on their internal divisions. Due to their various backgrounds and identities, along with the shrewd personnel policies of employers; the coal miners tended to restrict themselves to groups of their own likeness, making it impossible to obtain group solidarity among all workers.

Morisaki was able to restore their voices by recording the stories of the (ex)coal miners and reconstructing their culture as separate and distinct from that of the farmer. She also encouraged coal miners to overcome their tendency to subdivide, which proved to be one of the serious weak points in the contemporary struggle against the rationalization of the mining industry.


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