Anti-Hanryu Movement in Japan

On the 7th of August, one of the main Japanese broadcasting stations, Fuji Television was surrounded by hundreds of people demonstrating against its pro-Korean bias. The demonstrators prepared their assembly on an internet website. What made them so angry about the bias? Today, there is a massive wave of Korean pop singers coming into Japanese entertainment industry, and it is said that Japanese Production Company can make a lot of money promoting them in Japan. Moreover, it is said that the Korean Government is supporting the flow to spread their cultural industry worldwide. Therefore the mass media always tried to push Korean culture and avoid bad news about them. Fuji television is said to have the strongest bias. The demonstrators say that they do not dislike Korean people or its culture, but they want to see Japanese news on TV.

Historically, however, there lies antagonism between Japan and Korea. The two countries have a territorial dispute, Korea wanting justice for Japanese invasion of Korea during the war, and Japan, violation of intellectual property rights, etc. People still feel deep down unsure about their relationship with Korea, holding many problems. The extremists would sure be feeling uncomfortable about this pro-Korean bias.

For Japan’s benefit, accepting Korean culture is now no going back because they have already created the boom and trend here, and it can be a good influence to the economy. However, the news should not be biased towards only Korea. If the broadcasting companies wanted to share the news from other parts of the world, they should pick it from different countries, not from just one country. It might have been the last choice for them to promote Korean culture, because of the decreasing budget and the viewers drifting away. However, TV is still a credible main source of information for people, so the companies should consider the effects that it can create. Otherwise we are creating more and more Anti-Korean people in our own countries.

by Kumi Nakamura

Non-Japanese Workers in Japanese Society

One Japanese TV show showed an interesting topic. That is the living of the Greek. This TV reported that they finish working in the morning and they can spend the rest of the time enjoying something they want to do. Of course, we don’t know that this is the case, and I think only some of them do this. However, does Japanese have the image that Japanese work much longer than Europeans or Americans? In fact, ILO shows that among five developed countries (the US, England, German, French, and Japan) Japan has the longest time of yearly working in 2005. As this express, firstly, one of the characteristics of the Japanese working environment is the long working hour. Another is that the overtime work is common, and that people do not take paid holidays without hesitation. That is, Japanese work environment which can cause overwork death, karoushi, is different from that of Europeans or Americans.

As markets are being increasingly globalized, many Japanese companies employ foreigners. For instance, FAST RETAILING, UNIQLO, has the plan to employ 1050 people, 80% of the overall graduate recruitment in 2012. On top of that, Panasonic, in 2011, took 1100 people as the graduate recruitment and this is about 80 % of overall. In this way, the number of non-Japanese people who work in the Japanese work environment are certainly increasing now.

I think here is an interesting problem we will be faced with. The issue is that how Japanese companies are dealing with foreigners as their workers. In my opinion, Japanese firms have main 3 measures to deal with this situation. First, they apply this Japanese environment to foreigners. It means that foreigners may work much longer and will not take paid leave. Second, companies have the distinction between Japanese and non-Japanese workers, which maybe shows that Japanese workers still work in the severe environment and foreigners work as if they were spend relatively comfortable time working overseas. Third, the increase in non-Japanese workers changes the Japanese traditional work environment into the place similar to Greek one. This means that non-Japanese workers who have different way of thinking about the labor may destroy deep-rooted environment.

For example, how about Ritsumeikan? Do non-Japanese workers have some dissatisfaction about their work place? I don’t know that. Anyway, that Foreigners work in Japan or Japanese work environment has been gradually common. What do you think about this issue?

by Shinya Shimatani

What Is Nationality?

Where are you from? When you meet with somebody at first time and introduce yourself to them, how many of you tell your nationality? It may depend on the situation and the person who you are going to introduce yourself. However, is it important to say your nationality to recognize you as you? Then, what kind of information do people need to know about you? Maybe your name, sexuality, ethnic group, religion belief, or place you are born etc. Then, what does “NATIONALITY” means? For me, nationality is something that categorizes people and creates difference between others. Is that really nationality is? What is NATIONALIY?

In Japan, there are three situations that a person can become a Japanese national. First, when either parent is a Japanese national at the time of birth. Secondly, when the father dies before the birth and is a Japanese national at the time of death. Third, when the person is born on Japanese soil and both parents are unknown or stateless. Because Japan determine lineage, parents’ nationality and citizenship are important. In other word, if you born in Japan and grew up in Japan, but neither of your parents are not Japanese, you cannot be Japanese. Also, if you born in other country and you never live in Japan and cannot speak any Japanese, if their parents are Japanese, they are still Japanese. Then, is nationality really important to recognize others?  If their nationality and their homeland don’t match, what is the meaning of nationality?

Zainichi Koreans deal with difficult situation and issue of identity now. In Japan, Zainichi Koreans are discriminated in various ways in society. Not only Zainichi Korean, people born and live in other country, they are confused and struggles to recognize themselves. Then, what is nationality? Why we have to classify people with nationality? Is there any meaning by discriminate people by their nationality? I believe nationality can be important information to recognize them, but it also create stereotypes and discrimination.  Therefore, I believe accepting people as an individual is important than classify by their nationality. Look at that person as an individual. Moreover, if people can choose their nationality from lineage or place they are born by themselves, it will be easier for people to recognize themselves and to be recognized by others. I think looking and condemn a person with their nationality or ethnic group is not polite.

by Ayako Kofuji

What Japanese Ha-fu Musicians Produce

There are many of ha-fu musicians in Japan and seen on TV, radio, newspapers, and internet. They usually talk in Japanese and know the culture of Japan same as the other Japanese.

Sometimes we do not notice that a musician is a ha-fu or not. For example, You Hitoto who is a famous singer in Japan looks like Japanese because her father is Taiwanese and her mother is Japanese, which mean they are both Asian. She also sings a song in Japanese and talk in Japanese in some interviews.

On the other hand, there are some musicians who look different from Japanese people. The singer of enka (Japanese traditional music) JERO can be one of them. Although, he is a quarter but still a good example of that. He got black skin and some characteristics that black people have. However, he sings and also speaks very well in Japanese, and the biggest reason of it is that his grandmother is Japanese. He has got many of prizes in Japanese music world and been on TV shows so many times.

Also, the pop music singer Becky is one of them. She has Japanese mother and English father, so her looks is almost foreigner. The difference we can see is the color of her eyes and her skin. It is seen in the picture here. She has been on TV many times and much of Japanese people know that she is a ha-fu.

So, what do they produce? I think the answer is that they make up the images of ha-fu people in Japan. Those people are often introduced specially as a ha-fu person. JERO is in the shows as “the first enka singer of black people.” If there were no ha-fu people around you, you would make images of them what you see in media. Especially in the childhood, the Japanese TV show “Ohasuta” was seen in our generation. Becky was in the show and act really excitingly. I think our fundamental images are coming from those shows.

However, as we saw in the class, many ha-fu people in Japan who do not act in media would be feeling in other way. Some of them are not that exciting or good at something, or even speaking in Japanese. We should more care about this, and at first, it is necessary to know about ha-fu people around us. The images that made by media can be different from the real.

by Junsuke Fujino

Disadvantages of Hafu

During the discussion and in the short films shown in class about hafu, people raised several advantages of hafu, but not many disadvantages were raised. The first thing that was raised as the advantage was that “hafu are bilingual”. However, I find this perception is a disadvantage.

It may be true that hafu have more opportunities of becoming bilingual since usually hafu have parents speaking different languages. However, that does not mean that hafu can naturally become bilingual. Many hafu, especially those who are half Japanese half white or black that live in Japan, face pressure of becoming bilingual, and have a complex that they are not bilingual.

Since half white/black hafu do not look Japanese or Asian, the Japanese people automatically decide that they are bilingual or at least speak English. This becomes a pressure to many of the hafu. Most hafu living in Japan live in a Japanese society, going to Japanese school, playing with Japanese friends, talking in Japanese with their family, and hardly use English in their daily life. If both parents are bilingual, there is a less chance of using English at home. Nevertheless the Japanese people do not realize that hafu kids are living just the way any other Japanese kids are living like.

One of the things I felt unfair was those kikokushijos, who are Japanese but have been living overseas for their whole or part of their lives. Although they are Japanese, if they cannot speak Japanese, the Japanese people will say its “shouganai” because they have been living in an environment without Japanese. Why can’t they apply that to hafu living in Japan?

The best way for hafu to become bilingual is to use English at home. However, because they are living in a complete Japanese society, this is difficult to accomplish since children will dislike being forced speaking in a language they are not familiar with. Another possible way is to make hafu go to an international school which will be difficult for those who live in the countryside and since the tuition is very expensive many parents cannot afford it.

Japanese should realize and consider the fact that hafu are not naturally bilingual, and that hafu also have to make the effort like any other monolinguals to become bilingual.

 by Rashel Phillips

“Would you marry me?” International or inter…what?

Marriage officially gives us the status of connection with somebody. It is more like an addition of something else. Sometimes it gives a different status to somebody. Thus, it is even possible to transform somebody to “another” person through a marriage.

As an example which can obviously gives somebody different status, international marriage can be examined. Some might change their family name to an “unfamiliar” one. Their children might look “different” in some ways. Their marriage life itself might be culturally and socially mixed, as well. Their family connection would include something “different” from “ordinary” ones. Some would say it is difficult to get married with somebody from other countries, because of the complexity of cultural and social background that both s/he has.

However, is that type of complexity found only in such an international context? Is there no opportunity when those something “different” arises? It actually exists, hidden in the shade of this Japanese society, in the issue related to Buraku. There is a history that people from Buraku have faced to marriage discrimination. They have faced to the discrimination across various fields; here I focus on the issue related to marriage.

 As it is mentioned above, marriage creates something “different” around spouses. Particularly, if it is the marriage between Buraku people and Non-Buraku people, these something “different” often hit them. Marriage gives “different” status on the spouse as s/he has a relationship with Buraku. Their children would be included into that structure, although they do not look different from others or they might not know until they grow up. Even spouses family would be included into this structure, since they would be, for example, ‘parents of a person who have a direct connection with Buraku’. Though there would be much more of examples clarifying discrimination, it is quite comprehensive to see how the impact of marriage between a person from Buraku and not. There are so many cases of tragedies such as suicide.

 Then, what is that something “different”?

 Is this International? –No.

Is that Inter-racial? –No?

Or is that intercultural? –…?

It is basically from the social, cultural, and even historical background of somebody. It is not because of personal failure that the person made; rather it is created by society. So it is possible to say that marriage discrimination towards people from Buraku is quite irrational.

But is it really irrational?

We can see in this way: if the one from outside Buraku married with the one from Buraku, it affects badly in her/his life. Thus, s/he gives up the marriage for their better life. This is a RATIONAL way, isn’t it?

This might be one of the reasons why the marriage discrimination towards people from Buraku still exists. As the discrimination itself is quite irrational amongst the personal life but rational amongst society, how should we consider this issue? Can you marry with people of non-/Buraku? If so (or not), how do you deal with the problem on your life?

by Anonymous

Kabuki Changed a Spanish Man’s Life

Victor Ugarte is the director of Institute Cervantes de Tokio. At the entrance, there are many kabuki characters exhibitions from a glamorous princess to a chic-looking Edo-period merchant. Ugarte says “To understand Japanese, you should first watch some kabuki,” so that he is one of those who was changed their lives by encountering kabuki.

When he was 12 years old, his grandfather brought back a kabuki record and poster for Ugarte after attending an academic conference in Japan. This was his first encounter with kabuki. Although he did not understand why, the traditional theatrical art form soon captivated the boy with the mysterious sounds and words. He listened to the record so many times. Later, Ugarte majored in Art History at Barcelona University and studied Asian arts for receiving a PhD. Besides this study, he also acquired finance because he realized that art alone would not help him make a living. So he worked in the real estate industry as director of two companies in Barcelona, and then moved to Shanghai to work as chief financial officer for a Spanish multinational company in China.

In 2001, the Spanish government opened Casa Asia in Barcelona which was an official consortium to improve relationship between Asian and Pacific countries. Having heard that Casa Asia recruited staff member well-versed in Asia, Ugarte found himself in living in a completely different industry and turned over. He welcomed Casa Asia’s visitors by theatrical performances, movies, anime events and go games. In 2005, finally he came to Japan and saw kabuki in Kyoto for the first time. His love affair with kabuki for 30 years got fulfilled and it made him trembling.

After a while, Ugarte heard that the Institute Cervantes wanted a person who could find suitable location in building a center in Tokyo. He had worked in real estate industry and he is well-versed in Asia, that is, Ugarte was the person. In November 2008, the Institute Cervantes de Tokio was officially opened by Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. There are events ranging from Spanish language lessons to cultural lecture, for example film screenings and concerts, organized by 14 staff members.

Shochiku Co.’s kabuki event was held in this June. Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel laureate, watched the performance by Nakamura Kyozo and said female roles in kabuki came into the inner workings of women themselves, which moved Ugarte deeply. Sometimes an encounter with a foreign language and culture has so strong influence that it can change one’s life into exactly different one. In Ugarte’s case, it was the kabuki record.

by Chisato Morito


In the past, there was intense Burakusabetsu especially in Osaka that means people who are not Burakumin discriminate against Burakumin. Brakumin has lived on the lower ground and specific regions and had unique patterns on their family name. At that time, animal’s blood was taboo, so Buraku people handled such a situation and got meats and hides of animals in the Buraku area. All dirty things are pushed to the Buraku people, so that people who are not Burakumin don’t have to do and even see any dirty things.

Today, there are less Burakusabetsu relatively, but some envy of Burakumin who were segregated in the past because they now get favors from the government as a compensation of the past. Others say to their children as a part of discipline that they shouldn’t   make friends with Buraku children. In some schools, teachers teach students Burakusabetsu as part of class, and the teachers sometimes say that they don’t want to teach this because this is not modern but past affair.

It is true there are less Burakusabetsu, but definitely this exists. Some people say it’s because of the education about Burakusabetsu and adults shouldn’t teach children Burakusabetsu which is just past issue. People living nearby the Buraku area are taught about Burakusabetsu either by parents or by teachers, but people not living nearby the Buraku area are not taught about it at all because it’s not necessary. I’ m also not the exception of it. It is not until I moved from Hiroshima to Kyoto and entered this university that I learned Burakusabetsu, for there were not any Burakusabetsu around my region. It seems that some people are the same as me.

Then, is it okay to quit education about Burakusabetsu? I don’t think so. It is wrong to annul something previously done. I agree with education about Burakusabetsu if teachers add some more resources to it. As a fieldwork, students should visit the Buraku area, investigate not until partial knowledge but until enough entire knowledge, and consider what people have to do from now on, so that people will never repeat the stupid discrimination.

by Akimi Yano

Korean with Permanent Residence in Japan through A Film

There is a film “Ajia no junnshinn”. This film was finished in 2009, but some difficulties interrupted to show this film to public. Why?

This film shows the situation of Japan in 2002. In 2002, 5 Japanese abductees came back to Japan from North Korea, and negative criticism to North Korea was spreading in Japan. The main character is a Korean girl with permanent residence in Japan who has a twin sister. One day, her sister is killed by Japanese hooligans in a town. Another main character is a Japanese boy who is a high school student, and he looked the scene that she is killed. Two young boy and girl make a plan to make an indiscriminate terrorism to Japanese society with poison gas of old Japanese army.

This film was rejected to show by many Japanese cinemas or film festivals. However this film was showed in foreign film festivals. Some people in foreign countries said “It was a beautiful film.” Then in Japan, a lot of negative criticism about this film was online.

In addition, the actress who performed the main character is a Korean girl with permanent residence in Japan in her real life. She says “This film is not an anti-Japanese film. I think this film is a road movie of youth. I am glad that this film is a part of my memories of last of my teenage.”

Well, why did many Japanese cinemas or film festivals reject to show this film? I suppose two reasons. One is they themselves have negative opinions about revenge to Japanese society from Korean. Another is they afraid of reaction of people who watched the film. Why does such a film have to be disliked by Japanese people? We Japanese who watch this film might feel bad, but discrimination to Korean with permanent residence in Japan exists in real Japanese society. Can you declare that there is no discrimination to them at all? Films often involve exaggeration or dramatization. However we can receive any hint from films. I think we Japanese have to accept both of negative and positive aspect of Japan. It is better that we can think things from two opposite sides. If we don’t try to look negative aspects of Japan, our field of vision becomes very narrow. I think it is not good that such a film is excluded very easily in Japanese society.

by Ayako Miyamae

The New “Ainu Party”: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

A new political party is to be formed early next year in Hokkaido, which aims to give political representation for the Ainu community. The representative will be Shiro Kayano, whose father is the first Ainu to become a member of the Diet. According to the party, they claim that there has not been enough policies implemented to preserve the Ainu culture and community identity.

Indeed, Ainu has long been deprived of legitimate political rights or representation. There is a history of Ainu oppression under Japanese control, and forcing them to abandon practicing or preserving their culture. The Japanese government never publically recognized Ainu as an ethnic minority until 1997. Even then, the governmental advisory board that developed 1997 Ainu Culture Law, Shingikai, did not have a single Ainu person in the committee. It was not until 2008 that Ainu was officially recognized as indigenous to Japan.

It is obvious that the Ainu need more political attention: not in words but in policies. According to Asahi Shimbun, the formation of the party emerged from heightened discontent among Ainu because of the failure of state authority to delivery of public policies for the Ainu.

For any ethnic minority, a proper political representation is an important step for forming a strong cornerstone for the community, and it is the responsibility of all democratic societies to provide such opportunity. In the case of Ainu, however, I wonder if an “ethnic party” could create a greater separation between Ainu and non-Ainu—and if a true representation is even possible.

According to the news article, the candidates for the next election are going to be (but not limited to) Ainu. However, it is difficult to know who is Ainu or not because the Ainu community has been actively promoting intermarriages between Japanese and Ainu in order to lessen the burden of discrimination against their children. Therefore, many people of the Ainu community today would have both Ainu and Japanese identities. Moreover, the Ainu community in Japan is not strictly regional; there is a vibrant Ainu community in Tokyo as well as several places across Hokkaido. Could there be a negative impact on the rest of the society? If there are so many Ainu that are not necessarily “fully” Ainu, how should the new political party reflect this? Is it possible that people of both Ainu and Japanese descent would face a pressure of having to choose one identity over the other?

I believe that the Ainu community needs to have their voices heard properly, and that formation of a political party is a significant step towards a better Ainu community life. This will probably also cause a lot of debates and strong emotions to be aroused within the Ainu community, as well as with the greater Japanese community—so that we could finally evolve as a whole.


by Nanako Kurioka