Groping for Multicultural Society in Shiga, Japan

by Megumi Shishido

I was born in Shiga prefecture and live there. In Shiga I often hear Portuguese. It is because Brazilians live there. Many of them are persons of Japanese ancestry and emigrants. They are often treated as low-priced and exchangeable working forces. So, they are apt to be influenced by economic movements. This makes their unstable life poorer. When emigrants change settlers and live with their family, there are more problems; education, security in their life and the language barrier, etc. Because of their unstable life, they can’t prepare school fees, so their children go to even Japanese public schools. Also, it is difficult to operate foreign schools such as Brazilian and Peruvian schools. Foreign schools are treated private schools, so school fees are too expensive for emigrants. Then they can’t understand Japanese well, but in Japan many things are operated in only Japanese still. Some of their children can’t understand both mother tongue and Japanese. Such semilingual children are increasing.

Thus, Japan is globalizing. In June 2005, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications established the society for promoting a multicultural society (多文化共生の推進に関する研究会) . Its report, “For promoting a multicultural society in regions (地域における多文化共生の推進に向けて),” defined a multicultural society in regions: people who have different nationalities and ethnicity understand each cultural differences, try to build a relationship of equality and live together as a member of regional community. In Shiga, opinions for operating Shiga’s multicultural society are offered. The fundamental objective of opinions is what each foreign residents can display their abilities and try the multicultural society that makes regions more active. So, many opinions are thought; supports for foreign schools, the multicultural society center for children, approach for foreign workers’ stable lives, support for multilingual practice, etc. The local TV station, Biwako ho-so, set to air information programs for foreign residents who speak Portuguese.

The idea of a multicultural society put emphasis on creating an environment for foreigners and relationship between Japaneses and foreigners. In it, the line between Japaneses and foreigners is clear and accurate. I felt it is a little conservative. The world is globalizing more and the idea of states may change, so changes of systems in Japanese society are unavoidable. I think the idea of a multicultural society positions foreigners as outsiders, keep systems as ever in Japan and accept foreigners in only place that is favorable for Japan, so I don’t like the opinion as if old politicians instist very much.

総務省 多文化共生の推進に関する研究会報告書
しが多文化共生推進会議 しが多文化共生推進会議最終提言
滋賀県 外国人住民の現状と課題
びわ湖放送 多言語生活情報番組 KONBANWA SHIGA

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