Enclaves Of Foreigners and Multiculturalism In Japan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:43 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Genaro CASTRO-VÁZQUEZ , Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
This paper analyses the relevance of the construct of ‘celebration of diversity’ to understanding the creation of enclaves of foreigners in Japan. Official policies that have permitted the geographical distribution of foreigners in the country have been largely underpinned by an understanding of multiculturalism that tends to celebrate diversity. Such policy-making acknowledges the existence of a full range of differences between locals and outsiders that results in the ‘colonization of diversity’ (Blackmore and Sachs 2007: 227) and leaves aside issues of equality and citizenship of non-Japanese people living in the country.

The paper contends that celebration of diversity entails a veiled form of colonization. Enclaves of internal others result in an efficient method to manage diversity by ‘confining’ difference within the borders of a particular geographical location. Assimilating into Japanese society appears to be a matter of ‘personal choice’ because foreigners do not have to take on any Japanese cultural characteristic and can enjoy and preserve their language, religion and habits within the margins of an enclave.

Moreover, enclaves of foreigners become a real teaching device that permits Japanese citizens observe a display of the rich tapestry of human ethnic differences and fully appreciate the uniqueness and ‘ascendency’ embedded in their Japanese identity. Expressions such as ‘coexistence’ (kyōsei) and ‘multicultural coexistence’ (tabunka kyōsei) help justify the existence of territorial divisions where internal Others can express their cultural and ethnic differences. As Kibe (2011) contends, the Japanese understanding of multiculturalism tends to present locals and foreigners ‘harmoniously’ sharing the same country.

In conclusion, the paper highlights that multiculturalism à la Japonaise presents an intriguing parallelism with the multicultural approach mirrored in Disney films. This form of multiculturalism conveys a ‘conflict free image of society’ (Kellers 2001) that sanitises historical memory and minimises and simplifies class, race as well as gender differences.