Education Before Schooling: Picture Books, Stories, and Nationalism

English: Peace Park statue A life size bronze ...

English: Peace Park statue A life size bronze of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who survived the Hiroshima bombing, but later died from radiation sickness at age 12. Children visit the park and bring origami cranes to the statue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Sheena Sasaki

When does education start? The official education may start from the enrollment of elementary school; however, education itself has begun long before. One of the educational tools for children under age of elementary school is picture books and verbal stories. It is not rare to see the scene where mother is telling bedtime stories to her children. The story and picture book the mother chooses deeply influences the children’s education. This post focuses on three well-known bedtime picture books/stories in Japan, and examines the influences of the picture books, stories, and the character of the story to shape children’s beliefs and education.

How do Japanese children learn morals and values, and why do they decide to follow such social rules? Without a question, a person or people who raised the child would significantly influence shaping the base of the child’s moral belief. My mother used the picture book, Ehon: Jigoku by Tsuguo Miya (1980) as part of moral education. The book vividly illustrates many different parts of jigoku, the place similar to the underworld of Greek mythology. In this place, dead people are judged by Enma-daio, the judge of jigoku, about their behaviors when they were alive. Ehon: Jigoku uses very detailed and brutal pictures to graphically explain how the dead are punished for certain bad conduct and crime. Miya (1980) writes in the preview that the purpose of Ehon: Jigoku is to embed the idea “death is very fearful” into children’s mind since fear against death may be coming from human instinct, however, is possible to strengthen through education. He continues that people who lived during the period with underdeveloped medical science taught their children to stay away from danger and to feel deep attachment to their lives by showing pictures telling stories of jigoku. Thus, Miya (1980) concludes that the book may be one of the sagacities that ancient Japanese have created.

The book gives the readers a great impact of punishments for certain misbehaviors. Children who read the book may be traumatized by brutal pictures and strongly feel that they do not want to go to jigoku. As they grow older, those children may not believe in the life after death anymore; however, sense that they are being watched by somebody remains.

The key of jigoku is that people are being punished there. No matter how much people deny and hide their bad conduct and crime, the judge knows. As a result, many children behave better to appeal to Enma-daio that they do not deserve to be sent to jigoku. Thus, building sense of being watched by somebody is important to lead children to follow moral and rules. Without that sense, children may misbehave since their mothers are not watching, and such children may accept shoplifting when no one is near and quickly drive away when they runs over a person with a car.

There is a phrase in Japan which means, “there is ear on the wall and eye in the door.” The phrase addresses that it is almost impossible to have privacy since there is always a third person behind the curtain. Thus, Japanese adults tend to care very much about their behaviors in the public and reputations. Although children will not read picture books after they become adults, nonetheless, the sense which had been planted during their youth that there is invisible judge remains. Hence, picture books largely influence children to build moral beliefs and to follow social rules.

In his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson (1983) states, “to serve the narrative purpose, [the ongoing mortality rate, exemplary suicides, poignant martyrdoms, assassinations, executions, wars, and holocausts] must be remembered/forgotten as ‘our own.’” (p. 206) He argues that people’s memories and images towards history are at many times purposely constructed by the others especially the ones in power. The bedtime stories are also a part of memory construction.

When being taught about World War II, the information given to Japanese children tends to lean towards the Hiroshima bombing. Along with the story of the thousand paper cranes, children are told story of a girl named Sadako Sasaki who survived the bombing itself but passed away due to the effects of radiation exposure.

The story starts with explanation of character Sadako, how she was energetic and healthy elementary school girl. However, she falls extremely sick. Sadako wished upon the paper cranes she folded during her hospitalization that someday she will recover her health. After her death, she became the heroine of a moving tale, as a girl who fought against leukemia and never gave up hope. Today, the story of Sadako is known throughout Japan, and her statue of raising a big paper crane was built as a representation of hope and peace.

However, the story does not end as just the moving tale. Her story overly emphasized Japan as a victim of the World War II, not a fighting actor. Hence, Sadako makes Japanese “remember” about the Hiroshima bombing and the terrifying influence of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it makes the citizens unconsciously “forget” that Japan also fought during the war and killed innocent children like Sadako. With the use of child’s story, the nation cunningly victimized her citizens and successfully represented herself as poor and weak being.

The issue lies where children do not notice the hidden “remember and forgetting” purpose of the story. Their impression would simply be “poor Sadako” as the government has intended. Thus, from youth, people are forced to see and believe an extremely narrow field of vision. They are blinded by the parents, teachers, stories, education, and nation sometimes unconsciously and at many times, consciously.

Bedtime story heroes are also used to serve the purpose of government. Momotaro is the most famous hero from didactic fiction in Japan. The story is very simple. Momotaro, who was born from a peach, decides to rescue a princess from creatures. With his three friends—a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant—Momotaro reaches the island of the creatures, defeats the evil, and becomes a hero.

The message of the story is similar to Ehon: Jigoku that the evil will be punished. Additionally, the story also holds the message righteous justice wins. Children are taught from the story to help others. However, this hero was used by the Japanese government in propaganda films during World War II.

Momotaro no Umiwashi and Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei were both directed by Seo Mitsuyo and released consecutively in 1943 and 1945. The earlier movie, Momotaro no Umiwashi is based on the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The main character Momotaro attacks the island of the evil with air force and results in victory. The second film Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei illustrates the civilization and colonization of Japan with musical. The hero Momotaro defeats the creatures controlling over poor animals, takes land away from the evil, and civilizes the animals.

Since both films were animated and used Momotaro as main hero, children and even adults repeatedly watched the film. Pretty characters and comical battle scenes enabled Japanese citizens to watch a war movie without hesitation. However, unlike the original story, creatures were represented in human form, and to be more specific, the Americans and British. The film visually shifted the antagonist from creatures to human foreigners. Thus, children are planted with information foreigners (especially Caucasians) are evil and it is necessary to fight against such evil “people.”

Both films are now considered well-made propaganda films. However, the audiences back in the time did not recognize the films as propaganda. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s famous propagandist, once stated “Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths” (Goebbels, 1928, para. 31). His propaganda principle also argued “To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium” (Doob, 1950, p.426). According his theory, a good propaganda movie is one which would not be recognized as propaganda film. Both movies used a popular hero, evoked interest of the audience with animation and musical, and were transmitted through the communication media of film. As a result, a bedtime hero became a propaganda hero.

In summation, before their schooling, children are educated with bedtime stories which construct their core images of the world. Brutal pictures of life after death structures and make them follow the social rules. Additionally, as tool for “memory and forgetting,” bedtime stories based on real events sometimes are used to victimize the nation during wars the nation also fought.

The character of the story may turn into propaganda hero to make children feel familiar with war. At the level of globalized society today, it is possible to break the wall of “memory and forgetting” of nation’s history and education. However, the study of internationalization and globalization is still considered to be “high level” and is not taught in elementary school. Students face difficulty changing the core beliefs that were planted during childhood; the magic casted by the stories strongly remains in heart.

References

  1. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. New York, NY: Verso.
  2. Doob, L. W. (1950). Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda. Public Opinion Quarterly,14(3), 419-442.
  3. Goebbels, Joseph. (1928, January 9). Erkenntnis und Propaganda (R. Bytwerk Trans.). Speech presented at the Hochschule für Politik, Berlin, DE.
  4. Miya, T. (1980). Ehon: Jigoku [Picture book: Jigoku]. Japan: Futohsha.
  5. Seo, M. (Director). (1943). Momotaro no umiwashi [Momotaro's sea eagles] [Motion picture]. Japan: Geijutsu Eigasha.
  6. Seo, M. (Director). (1945). Momotaro: Umi no shinpei [Momotaro: Sacred sailors] [Motion picture]. Japan: Geijutsu Eigasha.
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Brazil’s income gap and inequality

by Nachika Fujimoto

Through official figures, we can observe the income gap In Brazil still remaining extremely high and unequal. According to the census, the richest 10 percent is still over 20 times higher than the bottom 10 percent. Though there are actions taken by the government but it is yet to reach an equal level of income gain in the country. Another consideration is the educational inequalities in Brazil. Due to the low income, not all have opportunity to attend to a school education. Majority has completed study at a high school however; still nearly 20% of the people have not completed study at a high school.

Labor saving technology has spread all around the world and is now in the hands of many individuals. Majority of the women in the world has access to the washing machine however there are still people that remains to wash by their hands. Washing with hands is very time-consuming and not all have easy access to water. Some have to walk for miles to gain access to the water and return back home with gallons of water, which they have to do for hours every week. The poorest 10% of the Brazilian does not have a washing machine. Are the people without washing machine extreme eco friendly? most likely not. Many wishes to have their own washing machine, however cannot afford one. Far too many people have no running water close by, which makes the problem worse. Theses poor people associate nearly 30% of their life related to washing their clothes or collecting water for the wash.

What I believe the government should start with is by creating an affordable education. Increase in education will open up the opportunity for the people to gain jobs and this I believe will slowly close the gap of the income gain. As well as to affordable education, government should work on making students graduate without carrying any debt; this allowing people joining into society with a highly educated knowledge. Another action that I believe better to happen is increasing the working conditions and higher wages that will lead to closing the gap between the rich and the poor. Many workers will quit their job due to hard conditions or ruin their health that makes it hard for earning gains.

In Brazil there are still massive gap between the rich and poor. Some live under a condition without a labor saving technology, such as a washing machine, on the other hand rich people live with luxury goods that has made their living conditions better than the past. Brazilian government is working to reduce the gap but yet to reach an answer.

References

世界最大の貧富格差が生み出す諸問題.(n.d). Retrieved from:  http://www.pantanal.rossa.cc/afupm/pobreza.html

UNDP (2011). Human Development Report、人間開発報告書. Retrieved from: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_JP_Summary.pdf

The Death of Language

by Bun Kin

Today, half of the six thousand or so languages are spoken by fewer than ten thousand people. On the other hand, only a small number are spoken by hundreds of millions of people. Researchers believe that no language can survive unless one hundred thousand people speak it.

However, actually the death of languages is not a new thing. Since languages diversified, at least thirteen thousand of them were born and disappeared without leaving any sign. What is new is the speed at which they are dying out. For example, over the last three hundred years, Europe has lost about twelve languages, Australia has only twenty left of 215 languages, and Brazil has lost 500, three-fourths of total languages. This was brought by colonial conquests, whose territorial unity was linked to their linguistic homogeneity.

The effects of the death of languages are serious for several reasons. First, as each languages dies, a part of human history comes to an end. Because we can’t completely understand the origins of human language or solve the mystery of the first language.

Second, the destruction of multilingualism will lead to the loss of multiculturalism. Because a language is not only the main instrument of human communication, it also expresses the world view of those who speak it, their imagination and their ways of using knowledge. And last, the threat to multilingualism is similar to the threat to biodiversity, because many of the worlds endangered plant and animal species today are known only to certain peoples whose languages are dying out. As those people die, they take with them all the traditional knowledge about the environment.

The 1992 Rio Earth Summit made a specific plan to protect biodiversity. Therefore the need to protect languages began to be appreciated in the middle of the twentieth century, when language rights were included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, a number of methods have been adopted and projects have been launched to safeguard what is now thought to be a heritage of humanity. These plans and initiatives may not prevent languages from dying out, but at least they will slow down the process and encourage multilingualism.

The language is not just the main instrument of human communication, it is also the world view, the imagination and the ways of using knowledge of human. We can’t prevent the death of languages, however it belongs to one of very meaningful and important thing for human to heighten conscience about language.

Language is the Key to Work

Anonymous student post

According to Rumbaut (2008), there at least 191 million people who are immigrants all around the world. But many of these immigrants work with low paid work, such as blue collar work, even though they may have a university degree. This blog post will mainly focus on Scandinavian immigrants who have higher education and have to accept a low paid work to earn money. What’s the reason behind this?

First I want to introduce a story about a taxi driver who immigrated to Scandinavia. This taxi driver is from Iran with an education in medicine, he was a general practitioner back in Iran but in this new country, he couldn’t get any job as a general practitioner. He applied to many hospitals, but no one replied. In the end he took a job as a taxi driver so he could support his family.

I don’t know if this is a true story or not, I just remember that I read this story in a newspaper one morning ages ago. The main point in this story is that if you can’t speak the language properly you will not be able to get a job that fits your education. This is also very true with second generation of immigrants. 1/5 of second-generation immigrants that attend a university don’t always find a job fit for their education, and are instead forced to take low-paid work. Why can’t the immigrants get higher-paid work? The answer, I think, lies in the language difference. If the immigrants can’t speak or write properly they have it harder to find a job that fits their education.

Many second-generation immigrants attending the university have a hard time using the language fluently (academic writing and speaking), because many of these people lack the advanced vocabulary of the language. Why? I think this is mainly because these immigrants don’t have the chance to use “advanced” words in their daily life, for example, they can perform a conversation with friends that have similar vocabulary, but rarely do they get the chance to use “advanced” words in a “normal” conversation. If they use an “advanced” word in a conversation with friends or family, they may not understand the word and ask for an explanation or a substitute for the word.

But is the language everything? For the taxi driver it meant the difference between low-paid and high-paid work. He couldn’t speak the language fluently and got low-paid work. This is one of the bad sides; the society misses a lot of valuable resources because the immigrants can’t speak the language fluently, and will probably never do either. From this, another question rises, how can the society take advantage of these highly skilled workers even though they don’t speak the language fluently?

Should the Japanese Government Institute an Education System for Immigrants?

by Megumi Takase

In “International Sociology” class, I was surprised to hear that in Europe, students from other backgrounds take two or three times a week to have lessons in their native languages. In Japan, some elementary schools in which there are many foreign students have Japanese classes for them to understand regular Japanese classes. However, few schools have lessons for immigrants in their own languages. In addition, there are not many ethnic schools in Japan. Even though foreigners living in Japan mostly consist of Chinese, there are only 5 Chinese Schools in Japan. If children from other countries continue to attend Japanese schools and don’t do vigorous effort to learn their history or culture, they will have difficulty in building their identities. This is one of the reasons why foreigners are unwilling to live in Japan for a long time.

In my opinion, Japan should institute an education system for immigrants. For example, it should begin classes for immigrants in their native languages. It not only benefits students from other countries but also Japanese. It will increase the number of immigrants if Japanese education system is reformed in favor of foreigners. Japanese is suffering an aging society, so Japan will face the problem of lack of labor in the near future. Thus, Japan should accept immigrants to solve these problems. In order for foreigners to be willing to come and live in Japan, Japan should create the environment for them to live comfortably. One of reforms which Japan should tackle is education system.

It will also lead to intensification of international competitiveness of Japan if many foreigners immigrate to Japan. It is said that Japanese have difficulty in speaking foreign languages. In the times of globalization, people who are fluent in many languages are needed. If immigrants grow up as bilingual and begin to work in Japanese corporations, they will largely contribute to corporations.

If Japanese government begins to institute an education system for immigrants, many people will come from other countries and live in Japan. They will serve Japanese society. It is difficult for schools to begin classes for immigrants in their native languages because immigrants come from different countries around the world. Schools should create these classes cooperating with the local universities specializing in foreign languages. It will also lead to create Japanese bilingual students.

Reference

[i] Weblio. (n.d.). Retrived October 17, 2013 from http://www.weblio.jp/ontology/%E4%B8%AD%E8%8F%AF%E5%AD%A6%E6%A0%A1_1

On The Stress of Remaining “Neutral” – Reflections By Jeff Kosbie

japansociology:

by Robert Moorehead

I too have been accused … maybe accused isn’t the right word … I’ve had students ask that I be more neutral on the issues we discuss in class. The request is almost always meant in a kind way, since I tend to be rather passionate in my teaching. But I worry that it can also carry with it the idea that we’re reducing talk about science to everyone’s opinions. So, I would need to be open to opinions that are not supported by evidence, even when those opinions contradict decades of research that show a completely opposite pattern.

I try to push students to support their claims, to develop logical arguments that are supported by more than anecdotal evidence. Sociologists disagree with each other all the time, but we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) simply dismiss those with whom we disagree.

Should we be neutral in class? I think a better word is to be diplomatic, to create a classroom environment in which students can freely and respectfully share their ideas and test their understandings. We have to model the behavior we expect from our students, especially when we’re challenging their understandings. When faced with a professor who comes across as dismissive or “biased,” students may become more entrenched in defending their views, as if the classroom were a battle of wills. They also might avoid your classes the next time around. But neutrality in the face of illogical arguments and bad science? What’s the point?

Originally posted on Conditionally Accepted:

Jeff KosbieJeff Kosbie, a JD/PhD candidate in sociology, regularly offers a sociological analysis of the law on his blog, Queer(ing) Law.  In particular, he has offered insight and critique of laws that perpetuate the unequal status of LGBT people in the US.  A few weeks ago, he offered a guest blog post on advancing a critical, social justice-informed approach to his scholarship.  Jeff also reflects on his work in the classroom, especially onteachinggender and sexuality

Below, Jeff has written an essay on a stressful matter that many scholars on the margins face in teaching on issues of inequality: remaining “neutral.”

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The Stress Of Remaining “Neutral”

In addition to all the typical challenges of teaching, scholars on the margins face the emotional stress of remaining neutral when teaching material that we find personally offensive. Just like with our research, academia unrealistically expects that we are not emotionally…

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Separate and Unequal: The Remedial Japanese Language Classroom as an Ethnic Project

Peruvian Student Ricardo Relaxes in the Remedial Japanese Language Room

by Robert Moorehead

My article in The Asia-Pacific Journal examines the remedial Japanese language program at a school in central Japan. I argue that the program systematically denies educational resources to low-performing immigrant students. Despite the Japanese educational model of equality and inclusion, these immigrant students are tracked into a program that is separate and unequal.

Teachers explain this pattern in ethnic terms by referring to immigrant students’ supposed need not for specialized remedial instruction, but for relaxation as a break from the difficulties of learning Japanese.

To read more, please visit The Asia-Pacific Journal, a peer-reviewed, open source journal that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region. Also, check out Language and Citizenship in Japan, an edited volume published by Routledge.

Learning to read hiragana, katakana, kanji, and the air

Celebrate Diversity!by Robert Moorehead

With the spring semester now over, I’ve been thinking about the challenges of getting students to think differently about incorporating non-Japanese into Japanese society. The arguments students make and the ones sociologists usually cite in the research literature are like two roads that never meet.

As I’ve written before, students’ view of Japanese history seems to skip the roughly 100-year period between the Meiji Restoration and the Tokyo Olympics—nothing important happened in Japan between the 1860s and the 1960s, did it? Based on this, students often claim that Japanese people have little to no experience interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds. Plus, Japan is an island and thus was inaccessible to other groups. The invention of boats around the world apparently didn’t impact Japan … but I digress.

Students also state that Japan, unlike other countries, is a “high-context culture,” meaning that much communication in Japan is unspoken. Meanings are implied, and understanding those meanings requires reading between the lines and reading the context of the situation. Those who can’t “read the air” (空気を読む or “KY”) are treated as socially inept and may struggle in their social interactions.

This is a fair point, as communication in Japanese proceeds somewhat differently compared to communication in English, Spanish, or other languages. But, can’t people learn to “read the air”? Is Japanese culture so byzantine, so complex and inscrutable that non-Japanese can’t simply figure out how to talk to people?

Students also claim that because Japanese are not used to interacting with “KY” people, they can only accept people who are just like them. Interacting with non-native Japanese speakers and people who can’t “read the air” is too much work, so non-Japanese are just out of luck.

This inherently conservative argument could be extended to justify excluding pretty much anyone. Japanese women want a right to equal opportunities for employment? Too bad. They could never really understand men’s particular communication style, and their presence might make men uncomfortable—no more sex jokes in the workplace—so women will just have to settle for serving tea and lower pay. The disabled want to work? Sorry, accommodating their needs could be inconvenient, so they’ll just have to stay home. Okinawans and the Ainu want to express their cultural and linguistic distinctiveness in mainland Japan? Sorry.

This approach dismisses the rights of the individual in support of the rights of the majority. That is, the majority only has to respect the individual rights that are convenient. This approach fits with the LDP’s planned revisions to the Japanese Constitution. As Lawrence Repeta notes, these revisions would subordinate individual rights, such as free speech and free assembly, to the demands of public interest and public order.

On the one hand, I should be thanking students for their honesty. But do researchers cite any of these ideas when analyzing immigrant incorporation? I just finished teaching a course on international migration, and we spent the semester reviewing the sociological literature, including the main schools of thought, and issues of gender, education, transnationalism, citizenship, among others.

And not once in that literature did anyone talk about “high-context cultures,” or the whether interacting with cultural others might be too inconvenient.

So, have sociologists missed the boat? Are we just talking in circles, clueless as to the real issues?

Or is communicating across cultural and linguistic lines simply a fact of life for many people on the planet? Don’t we have to make all sorts of adjustments every day, even if we don’t have any foreigners in our midst? We communicate across lines of class, gender, age, and sexuality all the time, so why should we treat communicating across cultural lines as some special case?

As famed anthropologist Harumi Befu (2001) has noted, the United States is often held up as the main contrast to Japanese society. The US is multicultural and a nation of immigrants, while Japan is neither of those things. In the US, people complain about the challenges of diversity, like struggling to pronounce new names, understanding various accents, and talking with people who are still learning English. But … so what?

Seriously, so what? Is learning new names and using a modicum of patience to interact with non-Japanese really that difficult? Is “reading the air” really that complicated? Are foreigners really that inept at communicating in Japan?

Is it more difficult than figuring out how to pay for health care and pensions for Japan’s elderly, when Japan’s population is dropping and postwar boomers are retiring?

Since Commodore Perry’s black ships forced open Japan to international trade, Japan has gone through the Meiji Restoration, imperial expansion across much of East Asia and the Pacific, multiple wars, fire bombing, nuclear attacks, defeat, occupation, democratization, reconstruction, development into a global economic power, bubble economies, inflation, deflation, stagnation, population booms and declines, earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear disasters.

Change is the constant. In light of all that, talking to foreigners seems like it should be the least of their worries.

References

Befu, Harumi. 2001. Hegemony and Homogeneity: An Anthropological Analysis of Nihonjinron. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.

Undocumented Immigrants in Hiding

by Maki Yoshikawa

In our class, we have studied about undocumented immigrants through video, and reading articles on real-life  undocumented immigrants.

I think it is very difficult to make it clear that undocumented immigrants in Japan should be accepted in this society or not. There are a lot of undocumented immigrants who want to stay in Japan. My opinion is that Japan should accept undocumented immigrants. Indeed, it is true that some Japanese people might lose their job because of increasing number of workers. However I suppose that undocumented immigrants are needed in Japan. Japanese society will not be able to survive on its own without help of foreigners. Some Japanese businesses still need workers to work, for example, farming, caring for aged people, fishing, and so on. In these kind of jobs, most Japanese are not willing to take these jobs.

On the other hand, these jobs are socially needed because the aging society is growing year by year, and the workers in the rice fields are also getting older. As everyone knows, rice is necessary in Japanese food. Who knows how to raise rice according to the changing seasons?  Who will take over the technique? After all, there are many kind of jobs which will definitely need people to succeed to. In addition, from my view, foreigners or immigrants can be engaged in these jobs. This will lead the problems which Japanese society having to be known worldwide and recruit people from all over the world. This will be more effective. However, there is a wall of documents and language when recruiting people from around the world.

It is very complex issue when it comes to children like Noriko Calderon. We have laws to follow, and human rights to protect. It is difficult to put weight on both. When we try to follow the laws, human rights tend to be violated as a term of undocumented immigrants. I insist parents are responsible for undocumented children like Noriko even if they had no choice. Children have no reason to be blamed and be restricted their rights. Therefore, as following the law, parents are supposed to leave the country. There is no way to avoid separation between parents and children. On the other hand, this situation must be changed. As a student like Noriko, I would not want more undocumented children in Japan and other countries to feel like her because they are not guilty, they were just born and raised without knowing they are undocumented.

The Japanese government must do something. However, for government, as a policy it is not appropriate to accept all immigrants without limit. For the first step, the Japanese government needs to promote awareness and interest of undocumented immigrants because a friend sitting next to us who looks completely Japanese might be undocumented immigrant who lives hiding his/her problem.

Is the DREAM Act Good for American Society?

by Satoshi Tanaka

In the United States, the DREAM Act has not yet been put into law. It is the act that the government gives a green card to the youth who have undocumented parents and who satisfy some conditions. These conditions are that they came to the U.S. before they were sixteen and that they have lived there more than five years. Moreover, to qualify, they must have a higher education or serve in the armed service at least for two years. Usually, these undocumented youth have lived only in the U.S., and they can speak English only. Therefore, if they are forced to go back their own countries, they would have a big difficulty from living. While the conditions to get a green card are not so easy for everyone, they would have a possibility to be accepted to live in the U.S. formally thanks to this act.

However, basically, I disagree with this act. First, this act may cause a problem. For example, it is difficult to deal with their parents, and this has been already discussed. Even if the youth get a green card and are accepted to live in the U.S., they have to be separated from their parents if the parents are forced to leave the U.S. During youth age, to be separated from the parents may have a big influence on their life. In addition to the risk of causing a problem, I disagree with the act because immigrating without permission is prohibited in a law. I know that undocumented immigrants left their home countries and came to the U.S. to survive. Therefore, if they are forced to leave from the U.S., they have to have a harder life in their home countries than life in the U.S. However, I think that it is needed to consider the reason why the government passed the law which prohibits immigration without permission. This is because any countries do not have enough capacity to accept all immigrants who they have a desire to come. To keep the social order, the government has to prohibit illegal immigration, and manage the number of immigrants.

Emotionally, I want the government to support these immigrants and their children and it is the best thing that they avoid having a hard life. However, the government cannot wrestle with the problem because of an emotional reason, and they have a responsibility to keep the social order. Therefore, I think that the government should not allow the special case, and they should deal with all immigrants equally.