Integration and Segregation - Teachers' Attitudes Toward Ethnic Culture and Identity of Immigrant Children in Japan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:22 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Fumiko TAKAHASHI , Sociology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
This paper investigates how the Japanese schoolteachers think about immigrant children’s ethnic culture and identities by conducting interviews with the twenty-five schoolteachers for immigrant children in Tokyo.

For the immigrant children, school is the first-entrance to Japanese society. It plays a significantly important role to determine how they participate in Japanese society both in cultural aspect and socio-economic aspect. In light of cultural aspect, the interaction with teachers is an important process for children to negotiate and develop his/her ethnic identity. For Japanese society, school is a window to look at Japan in the future in terms of how they can integrate the increasing immigrant children and develop ethnic relations.

It finds out that (i) most of the teachers expect both adaptation and maintenance of the immigrant children; following the Japanese social rules and norms in public, while maintaining their traditional culture at home, by knowing that those social rules are not culturally neutral, and (ii) they separate the immigrant children by expecting them to maintain their ethnic identity and culture, for example “Chinese in Japan” or “Filipino in Japan”, rather than “Chinese-Japanese” or “Filipino-Japanese” based on their ethnic and cultural national identity, while they also integrate the immigrant children by treating the immigrant children equally under the name of  “the students in my class” or “residents in the city”.

This case study provides a valuable insight into the discussion of immigrant integration and multiculturalism. I discuss how the theory of multiculturalism is interpreted by the ethnic majority in a society where they recognize the different dimensions of culture and national identity is strongly ethnic and cultural, but not civic.