Why Does Discrimination Against Ethnic Groups Occur in Japan?

In this class, we learn about the existence of many ethnic groups in Japan. However, they all have common point that they have been discriminated against or experienced bad treatment in Japanese society. I want to look the reasons of the discriminations mainly and consider if it is possible to accept them easily in Japanese society.

I want to classify the reason of discrimination in two categories; psychological perspective and sociological perspective. First of all, psychological perspective is to discover the factor of discrimination in inside of human beings. I think we all have a feeling of wanting to have a higher status than other people. For example, maybe I want to gain more money than other people or I want to get higher score in exam than other people. Also, I think we tend to want to have people who are weaker than us. For example, even though you could not get higher score than your friend, if there are other friends who got lower score than you, then you do not need to suffer a lot from a feeling of inferiority. Also, we may feel proud of ourselves by bulling the weak people. Another aspect of psychological perspective is that it may be difficult for people to accept different way of thinking or sense of values. There is a risk of leading to the thought of “antiforeignism” that people cannot accept the new way of thinking and cling to the traditional thoughts. Therefore, even though ethnic groups increase more in Japan, they may show the reluctance toward them.

Now, I want to see the sociological perspective. Japan is said to be as a “collective society” which means to attach high value to the collectiveness and accommodativeness of people. It is important for us to work or act together so that it can rally the society efficiently. However, because of this characteristic of Japanese people, I think we tend to exclude the eye-grabber things or people. Japan is also a country which is a more ethnically homogeneous nation compared with other nations. When I lived in Paris, I saw many ethnic groups every day and it was a normal sight. However, it is very rare thing in Japan to see that many ethnic groups though they are increasing day by day. Therefore, because of the characteristic and situation in Japan, it may be difficult for them to accept minorities’ way of thinking or sense of values easily and in bad way, it leads to discrimination.

By the advance of globalization, ethnic groups may increase more in Japan and it might be normal to see them. However, I think it takes time to accept them in Japan because our way of thinking may be different fundamentally. Also, if they increase more, there might be the problems of employment, criminals, communication, or many other problems. Therefore, I think discrimination against them cannot be solved easily and there are still many tasks to implement a multicultural state in Japan.

by Mao Shukunobe

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2 thoughts on “Why Does Discrimination Against Ethnic Groups Occur in Japan?

  1. I agree with your argument that all of us potentially hope to be in higher status than others to avoid inferiority. Based on your hypothesis that we hope to be in higher status to avoid inferiority, buraku discrimination also can be seen as a way to fill our desire that we hope to be in higher status than others. If the discrimination vanishes, those who previously used the discrimination as a way to avoid inferiority would be in trouble because of lack of reducing their stress of inferiority. So, perhaps, other types of discrimination would occur just like a chain of discriminations. Your psychological approach is interesting because it leads to consider discrimination from other viewpoint.

  2. Your interpretation to discrimination against minorities in Japan is interesting. Yes, we can be relieved by having someone inferior to us, and feel like bullying someone who are different from the rest as Japanese saying goes “Deru kui ha utareru (A nail that sticks out will be pounded down)”
    But, at the same time, reading your blog post made me feel sad and helpless. Because, if what you said is all true, it is no way to resolve the minority discrimination because we human beings are too weak to stop wanting someone weaker and/or different to pick on. Can we dream that one day everyone will be treated equally?
    One of the keys to resolve social discrimination is the court sentences. I have studied about Supreme Court cases in the United States regarding to discrimination. The ideas mentioned in those sentences have contributed to establish more equal society. After a long time period, today’s America is much less discriminating than it used to be (although there still remains a lot of discrimination issues to minority groups) So I hope Japan will follow the US in the process to more equal society.
    I’m not saying we should leave the issue to the government. I’m just saying that governments have much power than us individuals. In addition to each of our individual conceptual change, we also need our government working on them.

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