Seeking belonging in organizations

by Ayaka Sasaki

Lacking equal rights and equal status make us seek to belong an organization or group. However, I think that belonging a good organization or a bad organization depends on individuals. In this blog post, I point to bad organizations as organizations that bring bad effect on society, like extreme cults and so on. And I think that belonging elsewhere, like in a good organization is good. By doing this, they can feel relaxed, even they hold a lot of problems that are related to their lives.

From this, I think that someone throw oneself into a dangerous religion or cult group, they require relaxation from the struggle of living. I read an interesting article about cult, and in this article, the reason why people are inspired by cult.

The reason which is given in article was convincing. Because cults fill such a requirements:

  • physical requirements—food, shelter, clothing and job
  • social  requirements, friendship—reciprocal help and love
  • status, the feeling that I have power—this might be attractive to young people especially.
  • dependency needs—they can get a relationship like parents-children.
  • escape from responsibility—the leader take the risk or responsibility.

I felt an odd impression from these requirements. That is, cults fill the social problems in the society. Then, the society cannot fill them, a cult emerges and fills them. Thus, the government or organizations like NGO or NPO should act to fill these requirements.

In reverse, how about those who belong to an organization working for equality and social justice? I feel a good impression, because they try to face the bad parts of society and struggle to get better lives than today.

However, I think only belonging to an organization is not a solution of denizenship or refugeeism. We must face the problems or ugly aspects which Japanese society holds. Moreover, it is an only solution to them, and not only the organizations but also the governments should try to solve them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Making Refugees’ Ibasho

by Ami Nishigaki

In the book Precarious Japan, Anne Allison mentions the net cafe refugees and refugees in Japan. I believe that the government should make a system to solve this problem, and there are three reasons for that.

Firstly, it is impossible to say that the net cafe refugees’ right to life is protected. All the people in Japan have the right to life, and right to be protected it by the government. It is the government’s responsibility to do something to make the situation better.

Secondly, no one except some NGOs or NPOs seems to be interested in this problem, as it is not so directly connected to their lives. It is difficult for people to think about the net cafe refugees seriously. Therefore, it is necessary that the government, as a leader of Japan, pays attention to this problem, and lead people to take it seriously.

Finally, if the government does nothing, people may not do anything. Even though people care about the refugees, they cannot do anything as it is not clear what is the good things for them to do. Also, it is inevitable to mention money and costs. Who will pay for it? I would not. I would use my money for my family, or myself. I seem to be indifferent, but I think this is what most people do, and this is reality. For these reasons, I think it is the government’s job to do something for net cafe refugees.

I suggest one tax system for companies as a solution. If a company makes a shop for refugees that serves a cheap meal and a cheap shower and lets people stay all night, employing some refugees, the government will reduce the tax for this company.

As Allison quotes from Yuasa Makoto (2008), there are a lot of people who do not have a house. Those people do not even have a place to go back, and cannot live ‘ an ordinary life’. Moreover, they do not have enough confidence on themselves.

In order to make their life better and easier to find a job, what we can do to encourage them is not just giving money or helping as a volunteer but make them pay money to have a rest and get ready for job hunting or one day work so that they can get at least confidence in their health and body. They still have to pay money as Japan is a capitalistic country and a charitable work will not last so long. However, making a shop only for refugees may make their feeling better, or easier to go in.

In conclusion, if this system goes well, the government can do its duty, companies can receive benefit as a reduction tax, and refugees can find places which welcome them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Immigrants, Refugees, and Precarious Japan

Japanese painting depicting a group of Portugu...

Japanese painting depicting a group of Portuguese foreigners (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yuki Sakurai

Nowadays the world is globalizing more and more as time passes, so it is easier than before for people to go abroad or move to somewhere in the world. However, there are some issues in order to live comfortably and at the same level as local people. I am going to refer to those problems. After that, I would like to relate their problems with Anne Allison’s opinion in her book, Precarious Japan.

We call people who leave their home country and enter another country for the purpose of living or working there, immigrants. However, as I mentioned above, there are a lot of problems related to immigration, such as lacking equal rights and status. In Japan as well that is true. Foreigners who work and live in Japan have difficult issues except for some. For example, “3K” work (dangerous, dirty, and hard jobs), low salaries, discrimination, and sometimes illegal arrivals who come to Japan for the purpose of working.

Moreover, I think that most Japanese people do not really consider foreign workers’ problems. Especially, the 3K problem is extremely serious and it may infringe on human rights. However, according to a survey y the Japanese government about what people think about foreigners engaging in dangerous jobs that Japanese dislike to do, 30.7 percent of Japanese think that although it is not good, there is no other choice to do so, and 33.9 percent of Japanese think it is really favorable if foreign workers want to do so. Only 31.2 percent of Japanese think the idea is wrong. Also, foreigners who work in Japan sometimes cannot get statuses and rights at the same level as Japanese people. Despite of that foreigners all are living and working same as Japanese, there is somewhat divides.

Recently in Japan, people are more likely to feel apprehensive about the precariousness of current Japanese society, as Anne Allison says in her book. Due to something difficult including the big earthquake in the east of Japan, now there are a number of Japanese refugees as well in Japan. The whole of this society is unstable, so that means it is more precarious for foreigners. What is worse, it seems that Japanese government is now planning to accept more and more foreigner workers as a big workforce towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. We have to pay more attention to the serious issues about treatment of foreign workers, and seriously improve them so as to treat them equally. Also, in this global world, people have to reconsider refugees who come from all over the world.


Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Japanese Government Report

Yahoo News!外国人労働者受け入れ拡大か?その背景と問題とは?


Enhanced by Zemanta

Equal status and rights

Anonymous student post

Every person in a society has the right to be treated equally, to vote or to work, whatever their sex, religion, or race. I think that denizenship is a fundamental human right. However, if you are migrant or refugee, you may not be allowed those rights. They do not find secure job, citizenship or security at home. This is the strange condition. Every people should be granted those fundamental rights.

A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their home country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster. It is involved in many factors such as social, political or religious. They want a stable or safe life. However, there is a critical reality. I think that they have rights that they live ordinary life as we live. Besides, a migrant is a person who moves from one place to another place in order to find work or make money. They are also said the same thing. Recently, it seems that globalization is advancing in the world. Many companies start to expand overseas. So the mobility of economy is more active. Then a stream of people between nations is also active. I think that the number of refugees and immigrants increases because of globalization.

I think that many people want to belong to elsewhere. As Anne Allison writes, “Everyone needs a place, identity, affiliation. We need an ‘ibasho’ that finds us necessary.” Ibasho is a place where people feel relaxed or comfortable, such as home, school or office. Then equal status or right may lead to those feelings. I do not know that whether it is good or bad. It depends on their thoughts. Then it is difficult to achieve equal status or right.

In Japan, there is a word of ‘kakusa shakai’. It means the present economic structure with severe disparity. There is the difference of salary between regular and contract or irregular worker. Foreign or immigrant workers are also influenced. Many people belong to social organization or company and work there. Some people build private business management. I do not know where belong to elsewhere or work in the future. Then I hope that it is to achieve the equal status or right. In addition, immigrant or refugee live a stable life. There are many issues to achieve. The government or international organization or agency establish some policies about immigrants and refugees or provide some assistance.


Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The problems of the homeless and refugees

by Hitoshi Haruki

In this class, I have learned about refugeeism, such as net café refugees and homelessness. Especially I have been interested in homelessness. Homeless people have little money because they often do not work as full-time employees, but instead have part-time jobs.

These days many people tend to think homeless people do not deserve human rights. For example, homeless people do not have a home, so they use fast-food restaurants as a place to sleep. They buy a cup of coffee, which is 100 yen, and they stay in a fast-food restaurant all night. For fast-food restaurants, these customers are troublesome because the homeless are shabbily clothed, and customers dislike homeless people. Furthermore, homeless people may be malodorous, so restaurants want to kick homeless people out. I think this action is legal, but the method used to remove homeless people from the restaurants and the correspondence of homeless people should be very careful. In McDonald’s, they made a notice about refusing entrance of homeless people. Some people criticize this as a violation of human rights. I agree with that criticism, because homeless people have the right to enter McDonald’s. That being said, I still think homeless people should not use fast-food restaurants to stay overnight.

According to Anne Allison, in this situation homeless people have no hope and I agree with that idea, so the government should help homeless people so they can have hope for the future. I suggest that the government should help many homeless people to work as regular employees. For instance, the government can increase the number of employment offices and government offices should hire homeless people. Another good idea is to give companies subsidies if they hire homeless people.

In some developing countries, wars are currently happening, and people who live there are in danger. Under the threat of losing their lives they may decide to escape from their country. So, there are many refugees in developing countries. For some people it is inevitable to be refugees. When refugees leave their countries, they have to find new connections such as workplaces. However, many refugees cannot work for a good company. They work in dangerous places and have to do hard work. Moreover, they get less information about workplaces than normal citizens. Therefore, they are less likely to get a good job.

To summarize, these days the number of refugees in Japan such as homeless people and net café refugees as well as the refugees in developing countries rise. In response the government should work quickly to create a policy to deal with homelessness. Also, refugees are less likely to get a good job because they do not know a lot of information about workplaces. Thus, people must think of methods to solve this problem.

Enhanced by Zemanta

My vision of my future as a woman

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Mizuki Watanabe

According to Anne Allison, current Japanese society is absolutely precarious and complicated. Especially for women, it is very difficult to find a stable job such as not a clerical worker but a managerial worker in a company. Therefore it is essential for me to think about my future clearly.

I have been interested in law since I was twelve years old. I became interested in this topic for the first time when I attended a trial my father was conducting as a lawyer. It was a first time to know what is law and what my father does as a lawyer. The topic of the trial was to acquire an application for refugee status of an illegal immigrant from Myanmar. Then I understood that Japanese government was extremely strict toward immigrants and it was really hard for them to settle as well. Actually different from other developed countries, immigrants in Japan are extremely a small number. Later I asked my father about immigrants in Japan and what is law. The more I studied, the more I was interested in that. And I became to think I wanted to be a lawyer like him.

Now my future plan is to be a lawyer and to protect immigrants’ rights in Japan. To achieve my dream, I have to enter law school after I graduate Ritsumeikan University and study three years, because now my major is international relations. I wanted to enter the law faculty however I felt. Nevertheless it is good for me because I can study both of international relations and law. Studying international relations is helpful to understand immigration in Japan. Or I am thinking it is also good for me to work at company for some years before I study in law school because it must be important to know the Japanese social system in companies.

For women, to have qualifications is one key word to make their lives stable. Most women workers in Japan leave their companies when they are married or pregnant. After that, they will stay at home as “a wife” and do cooking, cleaning, raising their children, and so on. There must be many people who think when their children grow up, want to work again. However it is difficult for them to find stable jobs such as a specialist job or a managerial work if they do not have qualifications. I am not sure that I will be married or not. However if I will be a wife or a mother, I must think I want to work as a specialist in society. If I will be a lawyer, it is possible to continue to work after I am married or have children.

Now many people worry about Japanese society because there is a great amount of problems. However I have a hope for my future and have to do what I have to do for my great future.

Planning for the future in unstable times

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Teppei Funatani

I have a clear plan for my future. Since I was a freshman, I have dedicated myself to helping refugees living in Japan. Through this activity I have found that giving them help surely changes my life and also the refugees’ future. Therefore I want to work at an NGO or NPO related to helping refugees.

Of course I want to find refugees helping work and dedicate to the job in my life, however there is a big problem for doing such activity.

The problem is a low salary. I met a lot of people who serve in NGOs and NPOs and help refugees. Except for few of them, most of them said that they could only get a small salary even though they worked really hard. They told me that helping the refugees was really a good job, because they could see smiles of the refugee and were cheered up. However, lacking of money was a reality they had to face up to and they could not afford to get marry. They don’t have enough money to save.

I think that I can manage to do everything at first even though I make only the small money, however as time goes by I get old and need a lot of money for many things. For example, I had a surgical operation for a lymphoma twice and it cost about 400 thousand yen each time. If I can only earn the small money, I probably cannot afford to pay for the operation.

I believe that getting the job that what you really want to do is important, however as I said that low salary is surely disturb your decision. As Anne Allison said in her book Precarious Japan, many people can only get an irregular jobs that are very unstable and they worry about their life and future. Both NGOs and NPOs are not irregular jobs, however mostly they don’t have enough money and you can get only the small salary. Of course a motivation to change a social problem is important, however you cannot keep working only with the motivation. Some NGO staff members told me that they got married when they were young and their married lives were good at first. However, as mentioned above, supporting refugees is really hard work with a low salary. Therefore they had no time to spend with their husband or wife and could not afford to have a baby. Finally, they got divorced and one of their ibasho was lost. I don’t think people can live alone. If your ibasho is only the job, after quitting the job what you can do?

In conclusion, I cannot decide now whether or not I should work at an NGO or NPO. There may be some possibilities to work for refugees. I need time to think about my future deeply.

Structural Denial of Ethnic Diversity in Japan

by Sten Alvarsson

Japan’s ethnic diversity is continuing to be denied at the expense of a more equal and inclusive society. Ironically, equality and inclusivity are both at the heart of mainstream Japan’s perceived identity. This could be described as “ethnicity blindness” and is best described by Professor Kondo (2013) who states that, “Japan is still the only developed industrialised democracy that does not have an anti-discrimination law” (para. 6). This can be seen as a result from the belief that racism and discrimination do not exist in Japan so, therefore, there is no need to have laws targeting such behavior. On the whole, however, ethnicity blindness is not the most accurate depiction of the situation regarding ethnic minorities in Japan. Instead, the inequality and exclusivity regarding the country’s ethnic diversity is what I would describe as being “ethnic denial”.

While Japan’s ethnic diversity is fully comprehended by the country’s ethnic minorities, amongst the Yamato majority, however, the belief in a monolithic and homogeneous national identity persists. This belief is structurally enforced which was highlighted by the country’s 2010 census which failed to provide a measure for ethnicity (Japan Times, 2010). Instead, only nationality was measured without the acknowledgment of the ethnic diversity that exists under the umbrella of Japanese citizenship. This structural denial of the ethnic diversity of minority groups includes the Ainu, Koreans, Ryukyuans, Chinese, naturalized citizens and children from mixed marriages. Ethnic minorities are ignored despite the fact that minority groups such as these make up around 10 percent of the local population in areas such as the Kinki region of central Western Japan (Sugimoto, 2010). This structural denial is one of the keystones in maintaining the myth of a national identity that is both monolithic and homogeneous.

Japan’s structural denial of ethnic diversity within the country in order to enforce the myth of a monolithic and homogeneous national identity is not only a domestic issue but is also of international consequence and concern. Japan uses its perceived ethnic and cultural purity to ignore its international obligations as a signature member of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Instead, Japan maintains a policy of neglecting asylum seekers and rejects the overwhelming majority of their claims (Dean & Nagashima, 2007). In fact, from 1981 to 2007 Japan only accepted 451 refugees (Sugimoto, 2010). Sadako Ogata, a Japanese national who served as the former High Commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991 – 2001 stated that one of the fundamental reasons for Japan’s exclusion of asylum seekers is due to, “prejudice and discrimination against foreigners which is based upon the mono-ethnic myth” (as cited in Dean & Nagashima, 2007, p. 497). It must be remembered that this mono-ethnic myth has no historical routes and was brought into popular consciousness after the Second World War.

Ethnic diversity in Japan needs to be acknowledged and accepted. Unlike the country’s last census in 2010, Japan’s next census in 2015 should strive to measure its ethnic diversity. In order to achieve this, such questions as, “Where were you born?”, “Where were your parents born?” and, “What national origin or ethnicity do you consider yourself to be?” should be included in the census. As a multicultural country, Australia recognises 275 different cultural and ethnic groups in its census (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). For Japan, there is no excuse not to also measure the diversity that exists amongst its citizens.

The structural denial of ethnic diversity in Japan needs to end in order to contribute to a more equal and inclusive society for all its members. After all, in Japan there are over 100 different varieties of the chrysanthemum flower (kiku 菊) with a myriad of different colors, scents, sizes, textures, patterns and durations. Wouldn’t it be a shame if Japan only recognised a single variety of chrysanthemum and denied the existence of the rest?


Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups. Retrieved from

Dean, M., & Nagashima, M. (2007). Sharing the Burden: The Role of Government and NGOs in Protecting and Providing for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Japan. Journal of Refugee Studies, 20(3), 481-508.

Japan Times. (2010, October 5). Census blind to Japan’s true diversity. Retrieved from

Kondo, A. (2013, May 6). Can Japan turn to foreign workers. Retrieved from

Sugimoto, Y. (2010). An Introduction to Japanese Society (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Japanese History: 100 Years of Solitude on Fantasy Island?

by Robert Moorehead

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” Audre Lorde

Repeatedly in the past few weeks, some of the worst parts of 20th-century Japanese history have been in the news. Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto has repeated comments he’s made over the years, including denying that women were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese state during the war. Just yesterday, Lower House representative Nariaki Nakayama joined the party by saying “We need to raise our voices and tell the world that (females) were not forcibly taken away.”

These comments have been widely criticized for their fictional view of Japanese history, but how well do people in Japan understand that history? If there’s hope for the future, then present-day university students would show a deeper, more accurate grasp, right?

One of my classes has been discussing the experiences of refugees, including whether Japan should accept more of them. In recent years, Japan has granted refugee status to only about 0.05% of applicants, for a total of about 10-30 people per year. In contrast, other developed countries have accepted tens of thousand of refugees per year. Japan has ratified the UN Convention on Refugees, and as one of the wealthiest and most populous nations in the world, Japan could be a stronger member of the international community by lending aid to more of the world’s most needy.

However, many students disagreed, and their disagreements show a clear pattern in describing Japan as a special, unique place that cannot be compared with anywhere else. In this version of Japan, there are no foreigners, only Japanese—and all Japanese share the same ethnicity and language. (Well, some say that there are Ainu, but their existence does not refute the dominant narrative.)

How could Japan sustain this monoracial, monoethnic, homogeneous space? Geography. As a series of islands, Japan was inaccessible to the rest of the world. Precisely how the inhabitants of the Japanese islands got here is unclear, because if they used boats, then couldn’t other people have also used boats to travel here? Was there an ancient land bridge that later collapsed, standing the islands in the middle of the ocean? Were the original inhabitants amazing swimmers who made the journey from the Korean peninsula?

The Japanese people have been united through a shared “island mentality” (shimaguni konjō) that instructed them to love each other and to love being Japanese. This mentality prevents Japanese from accepting others into their club. Also, the fact that Japan has always been so homogeneous means that Japanese have no experience living near non-Japanese, and are not familiar with dealing with such people.

I’ve tried to remind my students that in the first half of the 20th century, Japan was the head of a colonial empire that spanned much of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Millions of people from throughout the empire lived on the Japanese mainland, held Japanese citizenship, and voted in Japanese elections. One student later acknowledged that his grandmother told him that as a child many of her friends were Korean.

Notions of Japanese identity in this era justified Japan’s dominance by emphasizing ties between Japan and its Asian neighbors. One government propaganda slogan professed Japanese unity with its Asian brothers and sisters as “do-so, do-shu” (Same origin, same race). The idea of Japan as a homogeneous nation is a postwar idea to reunite a defeated nation after the collapse of its empire.

These facts of Japanese history are absent from students’ narratives. Instead, they act as if nothing happened in Japan between the Meiji Restoration in the 1860s and the Tokyo Olympics in 1964—100 years of solitude on Fantasy Island. It’s as if Gabriel García Márquez and Mr. Roarke were both Japanese and had 127 million love children.

But somehow their fantastical islands have a few million non-fantastical people, and there are other people whose islands became part of the fantasy more recently—and many of whom are unhappy about this. And many people who pass as fantasy people are, in fact, of non-fantastical ancestry. And let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands of fantastical return migrants, who also brought their slightly less fantastical Latin American family members.

Students express concerns over the challenges of integrating immigrants, refugees, and other foreigners into Japanese society. Those are valid concerns, but their solution is to close the door and to isolate Japan from the rest of the world. Is that a solution? Japan does have a neighbor that is much more isolated and that is largely closed to foreigners—North Korea. But is that the model they want to follow?

In an attempt to get students to rethink the issues, I read Dr. Seuss’s classic story Green Eggs and Ham, which challenges readers to get past their dislike of the unfamiliar. Green eggs and ham are delicious, after all.

Japan’s economic success has come from being embedded in the global economy, and continued success in the 21st century requires accepting not only people’s money, but the people themselves. We’re not scary. We’re green eggs and ham. Try us, you might like us.

Refusing Refugees

by Tomoya Yamaguchi

On my opinion, Japan should not receive refugees from other countries right now. Today, a lot of countries have conflicts politically and they are so serious situation. According to it, the number of refugees has been increased automatically and they are suffering from those situations where the refugees lose family and house.

As above written, refugees are generated by conflicts. In Africa, there are a lot of refugees, and they hope that they can be alive while they feel peace of mind. The United States of America has received a lot of refugees from other countries and the government forces them to live in the U.S. The government gives them many rights. For example the government looks for their apartment, job and gives them the opportunity that they can be educated. The government saves many refugees from serious situation. In 2011 UNHCR reported that refugees who crossed borders were generated at 15. 2million. The U.S. received 264,800 refugees. Germany was the largest receiving country in developed countries and Germany received 571, 700 refugees. As to the U.S., the country has been made by immigrants, many races, and refugees.

About Japan, however it was not a nation of immigrants and multicultural intrinsically. In fact, a lot of people arrived at Japan from Korean peninsula but the era was mainly from 3c to 7c. The situation was not same to today’s Japan. Today’s situation in Japan is so complicated and the ideology of Japanese is so-called homogeneous nation. In my English class, members of the opposite side, which supported to receive refugees, said that Japan would need to get labors, so Japan ought to receive refugees. However this purpose in receiving refugees has likelihoods that hierarchy of labor and discrimination are generated in Japan. Moreover, a lot of countries insist that Japan should contribute to international society and receive refugees as one of the developed country. However Japan has not prepared for receiving refugees yet and if Japan receives them in this volatile situation, both of Japanese people and refugees will not be able to adapt to the situation. Basically, even if politicians in Japan vow to receive refugees as their manifest, Japanese people and other politicians will deny it. I think that it’s because many Japanese have a stereotype including me. I insisted that Japan would not be able to receive refugees and the government should not do that. However I think to receive refugees is not something bad. If Japan prepare for policies about receiving refugees, I think that Japan can make a success about it gradually. Today, the Japanese government educates a little about refugees in elementary schools and Japanese has an ideology that Japanese is so-called “Japanese”. According to it, I insist that it is not “now” that Japan should receive them. It’s because it will cause serious disorder in Japan.