Identity Politics and Intersectionality: Gender and Ethnicity in Japanese Okinawan Women

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Daisuke YASUI, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan
The paper aims to describe intersectional self-representation of ethnicities and gender of immigrants in Japan. In intersectionality studies, the relationship of gender and ethnicity have often discussed.

My paper is based on field research conducted in an ethnic town of Japanese old industrial area. In Tsurumi ward, Yokohama city, historically many ethnic minorities including Okinawan and Korean(both immigrants came from Japan empire colony) have moved to work in industrial complex of coastal areas. I intensively collected1 life histories of old Okinawan immigrants in this town. Although their ethnic community functions as mutual-assistance network in Japanese discrimination, this community is male-centered and women members are marginalized. They face double suppressed: they are discriminated as Okinawan in Japan society and they are discriminated as woman in Okinawan ethnic community. However, they are also trying out practices to overcome their difficulties in their daily lives.

I conducted participant observations to Okinawa Association. Also I conducted in-depth interviews with some woman in order to understand their identities and their everyday lives. From this ethnographical research, my paper describes the aspects of Okinawan women distress between ethnic identity and gender role based on their biographical research. Through their narratives, I show the details complicated relationship of gender and ethnicity in the context of Japanese society. So I analyze their everyday practice to negotiate the challenge of dual distress.