Making"Koreans" in Japan: Policy, Category and Negotiation

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:42 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Sara PARK , Sociology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Japan is known as one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world, where the population of registered foreign residents remains less than two percent. Having their origin in Japan's colonial rule in early 20th century, Koreans have been a typical ethnic minority in the society. Regarding ethnicity as fixed components of society, sociological inquiries on ethnic minorities in Japan have treated Koreans as one of the explanatory variables in social exclusion, racial discrimination, and immigration policy in Japan.
This paper examines how ethnic/racial category of "Koreans" in Japan was re-defined through postwar immigration policies formed by both Japanese Government and Occupational Forces just after the Second World War. In dealing with migration from Korea, Japanese government developed immigration control and alien registration system.
From documents made by Occupational Forces and the Japanese Government, the following can be pointed out; migration control and the borderlines between peoples were closely connected in both legal and social terms. Alien registration aimed at controlling “illegal” immigration into Japan and later formed an immigration policy of the “homogeneous” society. Alien registration card, which was a crucial ID card for foreign residents after the issue of the ordinance, inherited the registration system that controlled migration during Japan Empire period.
From the interview of former “illegal” migrants from Korea, the following can be pointed out; they made the best use of the knowledge and “common sense” which enabled them to obtain their legal identity, alien registration card, which defined them as “Korean” also thus “foreigners”. In fact, most of the “illegal” immigrants had lived in Mainland Japan for years before the liberation of Korea, and such migration history and knowledge of Japanese society enabled them to negotiation with Japanese as well as their representation of self in everyday life as “Korean”.