Social Stratification and Inequality in Japan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Silvia G. NOVELO Y URDANIVIA , Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Social Stratification and Inequality in Japan

Silvia G. Novelo y Urdanivia


        When one examines the subject of Japanese globalization, it quickly becomes apparent that international migratory movements occupy a special place of interest.  This is due to the characteristics of this country, particularly its insularity, both in the physical and mental plane (sakoku). By focusing on the Japanese migratory phenomenon from a historic and structural perspective, this study would analyze possible Japanese population profile scenarios into the middle of the 21st century.  The study will focus on migratory movements to the Americas, foreign workforce acceptance in Japan and inter-ethnic relations involving Japanese nationals and their descendants. The analysis has the tentative title of: The Sociology of Japan in the Post-Globalization Era.

            Within Japan, the labor market as a whole has not been deteriorating. In fact, workers in the most important firms and in the public sector have been protected, while those on the periphery are exposed to ruthless foreign market competition. The nikkeijin, people of Japanese descent living abroad, fall into the latter group. Generally, this social grouping does not work for large institutions and firms. This phenomenon has contributed to increasing inequality between the two types of workers.      

            Persistent Japanese xenophobia is more apparent during transitional periods and has always been a characteristic of internal and foreign policies of the country.  It has acquired distinctive traits with the opening of Japan to the world -Meiji age- and the consequent development of a colonialist mindset and territorial expansion.

            Will the nikkeijin of Latin America be able to overcome the deplorable mentality of sakoku and become the solution to the serious demographic problem that Japan is facing?        


Key words: Sakoku, Japanese xenophobia, Nikkeijin, Americas, Japanese migratory phenomenon.