Cultural Diversity As “Global Commons”: A Look into the Case of Japan

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Johanna ZULUETA, Faculty of International Liberal Arts, Soka University, Japan
Borrowing Donald Nonini’s idea of the commons as “assemblages and ensembles of resources that human beings hold in common or in trust to use on behalf of themselves, other living human beings, and past and future generations of human beings, and which are essential to their biological, cultural, and social reproduction” (Nonini 2006), I argue that in an increasingly diversifying and globalized world, the idea of a “commons”, or “global commons”, should not only be limited to tangible resources but also to intangible ones (e.g. cultural diversity) that are created in the process of human mobility and interaction. These intangible resources are deemed essential in the lives of each individual and if utilized in concert with others, they become a valuable resource in the reproduction of future generations. 

This study is an attempt to revisit the idea of a “global commons” in the context of increasing multiculturalism in Japan. While not considered a migration country, Japan is home to a diverse group of peoples that strive to co-exist within this island-nation. It cannot be denied that Japan’s future will be in large part affected by changes in its social and cultural landscape, and the reproduction of the future generation within Japan will in no less be affected by the increasingly diversifying population. 

For this exploratory study, I first look at how concepts such as cultural diversity and co-existence, are also in themselves commons and shared by the whole humanity. I next examine how diversity is considered more as a threat through the regulation of human movement between borders and within nation-states. Finally, I look at the case of Japan by focusing on Okinawa Prefecture’s goal to build an equitable society and argue that multicultural understanding and co-existence are essential to the social and cultural growth and reproduction of Japan.