Coexistence in Multicultural Japan: The Livelihoods and Trajectories of Africans in Tokyo

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:09 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Paul CAPOBIANCO , Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
For citizens of the Tokyo metropolis, the past three decades have brought significant change to the economy and ethnic composition of their city.  Initially attracted by Japan’s economic success, thousands of foreigners have since migrated to Japan and have made Tokyo their permanent home.  Of these immensely diverse groups of foreigners, sub-Saharan Africans and their contributions to the Japanese economy and society have remained largely overlooked and unrecognized in most areas of discourse.  Africans work in diverse areas, niches, and stratas within the Japanese labor market and their presence is crucial for sustaining the existing infrastructure within the greater Tokyo area.  This presentation will examine the social and economic roles of the African population in Tokyo and will explain how their presence has had significant ramifications for both the city of Tokyo and Japanese society as a whole.  It will discuss the diverse range of livelihoods of Africans in Tokyo, the community’s demographic composition, struggles with equality and integration, and also the trajectories and future possibilities for this community and their role in the Tokyo labor market and overall culture of the city.