Absence of Anti-Immigrant Populism in Japan

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Hideki TARUMOTO, Graduate School of Letters, Waseda University, Sapporo, Japan
How to deal with populism is one of the biggest issues for social science in the 21st century. Like most of the Western countries where populist parties and politicians have risen, Japan has experienced victories of them in some elections such as former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Osaka Ishin no Kai and Toru Hashimoto of it. This might demonstrate that populism took root in Japan in some degree. However, a large part of Japanese populism has not taken anti-immigrant issues to win in elections. Even when hate speech movements against Korean residents developed in various parts of Japan, no political party nor major politician exploited anti-immigrant sentiment of the public to enhance their political status. Why is anti-immigrant populism absent in Japan at least at the political surface? Some factors can be supposed. First, there are fewer immigrants in Japan than in other highly-industrialised countries, which produces less social tension in Japanese society. Second, ethnonational citizenship has prevailed in Japan for a long time, thereby making unquestionable exclusion of immigrants from membership of the society. Third, related with the second, major parties like LDP reflect anti-immigrant sentiments of the public routinely and tacitly, occupying any space where anti-immigrant political parties and bodies would take up. Consequently, absence of anti-immigrant populism in Japan is not a positive, happy situation, but the result from the fact that anti-immigrant attitudes are embedded in routine political activities and institutions.