Multicultural Japan

by Wataru Yukita

Japan should become a more multicultural country. It needs to achieve a society that beyond some ideology and controversy in Japan. In this point, two concepts are important. According to Mr. Hiroki Azuma, professor of Waseda University, combining Japan as “flow” and Japan as “stock” is significant in order to achieve multicultural society. He says that we live in the world that network is covering and man and money move across border so quickly. Even though we are welcoming to that world or not, the number of foreigners who live in Japan will increase, compared with now. On the other hand, the number of Japanese who live in other country will become widespread. It shows that Japanese culture doesn’t belong to only Japanese people and other culture come in Japan. Japan as “flow” express the current Japan that many sense of value exist and Japan as “stock” declare identity stored from past years in Japan. Therefore, we need to recognize border come to be fuzzy and reproduce Japanese culture and some legacy in the next generation in this situation.

In this context, I think that Japan should open the door for foreigners by some ways. For instance, permitting local election voting right for permanent foreign residents is one way to make multicultural country. The way is natural in modern and future society that border will be ambiguous as mentioned above.

However, these ways face opposite opinion from some people, especially conservative class. They argue that if we permit local election voting right for foreigners, they might use the right for interest of their countries (for example, permanent residents from Korea vote for candidate who say “Takeshima belong to North Korea”). It is true that there are possibilities like this case. But I think permanent residents will use right to their communities because many of them are together as a collective. In addition, permitting this right is also important when we require some right for Japanese who live in other countries.

It is difficult to achieve multicultural countries. Even United States and many European countries struggle to this problem. Thus, it is more difficult for Japan where construct of mostly a single culture. However, in history, there is aspect that Japan has accepted foreign culture and tradition. Phrase of “Wakon Yousai (Japanese spirit and Western knowledge)” shows these Japanese aspect. This spirit contributed to the great turning point of the Meiji Restoration. Today, we remind this spirit for Japan facing various problems.

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