Factors Shaping Inter-Ethnic Interactions in Suburban Tokyo: The Perspectives of Japanese and Migrant Residents

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Shigemi OHTSUKI, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan
Global mobility is on the rise and Japan is no exception. Due to its shrinking and aging population, Japanese society, characterized by a high degree of ethnic homogeneity, is faced with a massive shift toward accepting immigration. In particular, in contrast to the way in which the central government has been reluctantly moving forward with immigration for economic reasons, local governments and local communities have increasingly focused on the role of immigrants as community members. Thus, the promotion of interaction between Japanese and immigrant residents has become a significant challenge for community-level multicultural policy.  

This study examines the factors shaping inter-ethnic interactions from the perspectives of both Japanese and immigrant residents. The uniqueness of this study lies in its use of data from a quantitative survey of both majority and minority group members living in the same region. The survey was conducted in 2015 with Japanese (N=6000) and foreign national (N=892) residents of Hamura City in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The proportion of foreign nationals in Hamura City is approximately two percent, which is higher than that in Japan as a whole. In addition, Hamura City is known as an area of visible immigration, given its concentration of automotive and other manufacturing industries, as well as the US military base in a neighboring city.

This paper focuses on the factors that shape the interactions between Japanese and immigrant residents within a local community, and the results of the analysis point to the particular importance of the length of residential history, Japanese language proficiency, and building relationships with neighboring residents. Based on the analysis results, the paper discusses the possibility of multicultural policy for minority residents being promoted alongside QOL policy for the majority group.