The Ethnic School of Korean Japanese Needs Change

Since the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910, a lot of Koreans came to Japan for economical reasons or came by force for hard labor. Now, the number of Korean residents in Japan (in general they are called Zainichi) is expected to reach 60 million. They live in Japanese society as members of society while adopting Japanese culture. However, even though most are second or third-generation Korean Japanese, born and raised in Japan, discrimination is still a factor they have to live with. There are many difficulties that Korean Japanese face now. However, I especially want to focus on the ethnic schools for Japanese Koreans.

After Korea was divided, two ethnic groups, the pro-North Korean residents’ league (Chongryon) and the Korean residents union, were established. Now, there are about 140 ethnic schools of Chongryon and all of 4 of Korean schools of the Korean residents union. The reason that the ethnic school is prevalent is related to the history of Korean Japanese. Because North Korea tried to send an aid fund and award a scholarship every year to the ethnic school, the front of the classrooms were covered with the portrait of the North Korean leader in gratitude for what North Korea had done. However, recently a wind of change is blowing through the ethnic school. In 2002, the portraits were removed from the classrooms. Now they do not need to follow the policy of North Korea through the liberalization of Chongryon. In addition, 60 percent of students have Korean nationality. Although the ethnic school received financial aid in the beginning, those who all the while established and made the school better were Korean Japanese regardless of nationality. In other words, the school is a very valuable asset to them, not to North Korea. This also has great significance in supporting Korean Japanese spiritually and helping to preserve the identity of Korean Japanese society. However, despite the importance of the school, lately student enrollment has decreased rapidly.

Many Korean Japanese do not want their children to go to the ethnic school in today’s fast-paced social conditions because of a thoroughly pro-North Korean education. Also, it is a problem that students cannot have their academic courses accredited in Japan. They usually experience discrimination during their entrance examinations and in finding a job. As well as these, some of students have been faced with ordeals such as having their uniforms torn by rabid right-wing fanatics ever since North Korea recognized kidnapping Japanese during late 1970s and early 1980s. For these reasons, Korean Japanese are worried that their children might not adapt to Japanese society well if they send their children to the ethnic school. Also, they do not want to send their children to the Korean school because the Korean school has been recognized strongly as the school for sojourning employee’s children. Therefore, a lot of them decide to send their children to an ordinary Japanese school. This has lead to the decrease in student enrollment. Now there are lots of problems trying to manage the ethnic school as it faces a rapid decrease in students. If this situation continues, these schools will have to close in the end. Thus, in order for these schools to be maintained, they must change into schools that Korean Japanese parents can trust and want to send their children to.

The ethnic school is important to the link that holds Korean Japanese and in keeping their identity. Also it plays an important role in forming the future of Korean Japanese society. However, because of ideology education and worries that they may not able to adjust to society, parents are reluctant to send their children to the ethnic school. The only way for the school to survive is for that the school to bring Korean Japanese together, regardless of nationality, and to be accepted as a regular school in Japanese society. Many Korean Japanese still feel that they do not belong to Japanese society, and this can make them feel frustrated about their lives. I wish that the schools would help and support Korean Japanese, not only in receiving recognition from Japanese society but also in preserving their Korean Japanese identities.



在日本朝鮮人総聯合会 (


The influence of k-pop in Japan

As you know, k-pop is very popular these days in Japan. For example, TOHOSHINKI and KARA are very famous k-pop groups in Japan. In the beginning, such a popularity of Korean culture started in TV dramas, for example, Fuyu no sonata among elder Japanese women. As time goes by, Korean culture becomes popular in k-pop and TV dramas, for example, Ikemenn dusune among young Japanese girls. Moreover some young Japanese girls began to have interested in Korean fashion, Korean food and traveling to Korea. Some young Japanese girls want to have a Korean friend from interest in Korean culture.

What does this tendency influence to Japanese? I think that good feeling to Korea and Korean people has certainly increased among most of Japanese. These days, Korea is an exciting country for most of young Japanese, and it contributes to this liking that the closeness and cheapness between Korea and Japan when Japanese travel to Korea. The flight to Korea is within about 3 hours, we can go there to pay only from 30,000 yen.

However, of course, not all Japanese become to have good feeling to Korea due to this popularity of Korean culture. Older Japanese tend to be difficult to have good feeling to Korea. In addition, there are some Japanese who don’t have good feeling to Korea as the popularity of Korea spreads, because as it spreads, existence of Korean culture becomes emphasized. So this popularity of Korean culture is making two opposite feelings among Japanese, but it is true that the popularity of Korean culture has produced feelings of familiarity with Korea.

Why can the popularity of Korean culture in Japan make not good feeling toward Korea? The reason is that we have a negative history between Korea and Japan. In 1910, Japan colonized Korea, and now there are a lot of Koreans with permanent residence in Japan, who have some difficulties, for example, discrimination, problems about their identity. Moreover some Koreans feel bad to Japanese and some Japanese feel bad toward such Korean’s reaction.

Due to this popularity of Korean culture, Korea is certainly becoming a familiar county among young Japanese. It is pleasant that the friendship between Korea and Japan will increase much more in the future. However, we must know history of two countries and various opinions of various people of these countries before enjoying the products made by culture of other country.

by ayako miyamae

What do you think as a member of Japanese society, which is regarded as an assailant of prostitution?

As the guest speaker pointed out, Japan is regarded as a haven of prostitution even though there is a law which prohibits the prostitution. However, not only place itself, but Japanese people contribute to the sex industry. -Thailand- It is a country where enormous amount of Japanese men go for the sake of having sex.

In Bangkok, which is a capital city of Thailand, there is a place called “Thanon Thaniya” This is the entertainment district especially for Japanese. People who went there felt as if they were in Japan because there are a lot of Japanese restaurants or advertising display written in Japanese. People also can speak Japanese there. There are lines of parlors, and customers enjoy the dance which women perform with almost naked. If a customer takes a fancy to a particular dancer, the customer can take her to the hotel. The customer has to pay a fee to both the parlor and to the dancer.

The number of Japanese tourists to Thailand was the biggest in the world in 2003. There are a lot of factors which attract Japanese people; for example, shopping, and sightseeing, but one of the biggest reasons is “seeking pleasure”. In fact, men’s tourists are almost twice bigger than that of women’s.

High economic growth result in bringing tourism industry into play in Japan. Some tourist agency designed “package sex tour”. Japanese people, as a group, go to the country such as Philippine, Thailand, or Korea in order to pay women for sex. The tour was exposed to criticism, so it is not as popular as before; instead, people go there individually, so the number of people who went there did not decline.

Agnes Chan, who is educator, singer, TV performer, insisted that Japan is an assailant of child prostitution. Mostly, there is an agreement between the dancer and the customer whether they spend a night together or not; however, there are some women who are forced to work at the parlor. From a legal stand point, it is illegal to work at such a place if the women are under 18 years old. Despite of the fact, some girls work there pretending as if they are over 18. The girls work for helping their family, or their parents sold them. As a result of prosperous sex industry, the death rate due to HIV is extremely high in Thailand. Some girls feel isolated and they tend to be chemical poisoning. It can be said that some Japanese people cause such problems in order to satisfy their sex drive. What do you think as a member of Japanese who help to cause such a tragedy?

If you are interested in the prostitution in Thailand, I recommend to read the book called “Yami no Kodomotati” (闇の子供たち). This is fiction novel actually, but it will give huge impact on you, I think.

Makita.(2006). Thai to Nihon no aidanioite zinsinbaibai ga okoru haikei to zinhinbaibai haizetu ni muketa shiminkatudou no genzyou to kadai 16-20. Retrieved from (2011/12/14)

by Sae Tamagawa

How to Live in Multicultural Japan

In Japan, we are rarely exposed to diversity such as cultures and races compared with, for example, America where Whites, Native Americans, Blacks and so on are living. Unlike multicultural countries, including America, Japanese can live without any troubles as long as they can manipulate Japanese; thus Japan can be seen as a monocultural country. In fact, Japan is, however, a multicultural country in which other races such as Zainichi Koreans, Filipinos and Zainichi Chinese are living. If we have opportunities to interact with such minorities without correct knowledge, we might be in trouble as, in the film of Go, the heroine Sakurai said she could not accept his Zainichi Korean boyfriend, because she cannot stop refusing him instinctively. Racial discrimination usually has no clear-cut reasonable basis; for example, no one can prove that difference of muscular ability exists because of difference of races. The cause of discrimination is in our instinct and we need to change it to stop discrimination. How should we change such instinct?

As mentioned above, we have little chance to be exposed to other cultures as long as we live in Japan. Therefore, it is hard to feel other cultures and we tend to see them as something peculiar and different. In order to stop discrimination toward minority in Japan, however, we need to dispose of such tendency of some kind of prejudice. From my viewpoint, the solution is to have a sense of value that we regard other culture as non-peculiar because if we have the sense of value, we do not dare emphasize minorities.

As a way to have such sense of value, I suggest that we should go foreign countries with cultural diversity, to make us adapt diversity. If we go abroad, we can broaden sense of value in which we can accept diversity as something natural instinctively.

Due to globalization, intercultural interaction will be more and more inevitable. Without proper sense of value, it will be difficult to adapt ourselves to the situation. As a way to adapt both to domestic diversity and to international diversity, it is best to go abroad to have broader sense of value.

by Kosuke Matsuura

Dialects as a nature of Inferiority/Superiority, Minority/Majority?

“Minority or majority?”

This question can be rooted in the sense of difference. However, it seems to be rare to have this type of categorisation on, for example, ethnicity or race in Japan. Of course, as we are taking this class, Japanese Society, at least we have some senses to recognise those categorised groups. Then, is there no consciousness on minority/majority amongst ordinary people in Japan? I would say that it is actually possible to find that sense from what we use everyday. It is language; especially I focus on verbal languages we use with the variety of dialects. As it can be a tool for communication, when people communicate with somebody, they face to their languages. Thus, people meet somebody with their language as a part of themselves.

Then, in what way those languages can connect to the issue of minority/majority?

The answer could be the presence of several ‘accents’.

I’ll point the accents amongst several ‘Japaneses’. There are quite various accents such as Kansai-ben, Kanto-ben, Hiroshima-ben, etc. (‘ben’ is Japanese which means ‘dialect’) For most, especially in university, people respect others regardless their accents from their origins or hometown. Even in some cases, people love to hear accents from their local area as “okuni kotoba”. However, at this moment we should note that there is a presence of predominant language group in each situation when people find someone speak their local accent. It is simply because they speak different one. For example, when a pupil of primary school in Osaka transfers another primary school in Tokyo, s/he finds that everyone speaks different language. Also that pupil would find s/he is different from majority group of people in terms of language. In most of case, the problem is invisible or it does not happen. However, it can actually cause the problem as a nature of difference.

I have a friend who has transferred his primary school in Kanagawa from my primary school in Osaka. Undoubtedly, he spoke Kanto-ben. Then, what happened is some students started mimicking his language as making fun of it. But he did not stop using his Kanto-ben, though he knew he is not “same” as other friends. After a while, that mimic stopped, but it can actually happen in many other similar cases especially amongst those small children. That friend was in same junior high school with me, but different high school.

Then, it happens in his high school. When I met him after 3 months of our entrance of each high school, he told me that the school is quite boring for him. He said it is because:

“It is my first time to see such a annoying condition in the classroom. Many of students point my accent, and they make fun of it, laughing. It is one of my extremely annoying example to be treated in this way on language.”

Absolutely ridiculous, isn’t it??

But this is one of the realities. It can happen. Those “differences” can be a nature of discrimination as like it shows a sort of inferiority/superiority within a group of people, dividing into minority/majority. Look around yourself here in university where embraces variety of students.

Though there are many of students who speak their local accents, there are some of them who hide their own accent. I have some friends who speak “different” accents from me, but hiding them because, they said, it’s embarrassing.

It can be a nature of minority/majority, or inferior/superior even in our daily life. Don’t you think so?

by Jiro Okada

Reality of Zainichi

Japan is the country that considered as a peaceful, equal society. It does not seem as a country with harsh discrimination against minority. That is because, almost every region, there are many foreigners from all around the world and it is not hard to see immigrants. However, the situation in Japan is actually far away from what we know and believe. Ainu and Buraku tell it. They have negative feelings for Japanese society and try to raise their voice as possible as they can. Not only them, but Zainichi, also have same kind of problems. As I went to high school with Zainichi friends, I have seen their sadness. The biggest problem is that many Zainichi students are having the identical agony. Even their ancestors were Korean, they born in Japan and many cannot speak Korean fluently. Their backgrounds are all belongs to Japan. Therefore, in this report, I’d like to discuss about Zainichi situation in two parts: school and society.

First of all, I want to discuss about Korean schools in Japan. There are two schools in Osaka and one in Kyoto. In this school, students learn not only the history or Korean, but to success Korean culture, it is famous for having traditional Korean dance and music circle. It is very moving that even in Korea, people are forgettable about tradition. Not only Korean stuff, they need to learn some subjects belong to that of Japan. However, although this great system, many of students move to the other when they grow up. Especially, many consider going to Japanese private school before high school. The reason for this is that, it is hard to attain real Japanese education and that leads to difficulty of getting into universities. Moreover, many choose to change their nationality to Japanese, to adjust Japanese society. Those reasons make Zainichi go to Japanese school more and more. Therefore, the Korean schools that exist right now might not be last continuously in the future. The success of Korean school is in crisis.

Next, Zainichi do not have any place to go in Japan. It is hard to get into the company even one has graduated from high level university. That made Zainichi work hard on creating businesses. Most of Pacchinco, the game center for gambling in Japan belong to Zainichi. It might seem that they earn a lot of money; however, it is not according to everyone. And those who want to become a lawyer or government official, they are hard to chase their dream for only reason that they are Zainichi.

More than 1st generation, 3rd, 4th generation have difficulties. However, I want them to have the pride. That is because they can have two countries. It will be helpful to live in globalized society such world now. Moreover, they should raise voices bigger, now the information flows so fast, so if their problems will spread faster than ever. In the last, both governments, Korea and Japan should consider counterplans to Zainichi.

by Sujin Kim

The School Problem with Children from Multicultural Families in Korea

Discrimination and prejudice against Hafu has been gradually vanishing, but they are still around today in Japan. Many Hafu have their identities hurt by discrimination and prejudice. There is the same problem against Hafu in Korea, like in Japan. However, the Hafu problem in Korea is a little different than the one in Japan. In Korea, the Hafu problem is more complicated and has become a big social issue. I will write focusing on the problem of Korea, especially based on multinational family.

These days, Korean society is rapidly moving towards becoming a multicultural society. International marriages have increased to the point of approximately 12% of the total marriages in Korea. Every year, over 3 million women from Asian countries such as China, Philippines, and Vietnam marry Korean men. The number of multicultural families has been increasing for years in Korea. At present, children who are born in multicultural families are reaching around 6 million and, in several years, one in four students in rural areas’ schools are expected to be from those families. However, the failure of Korean society to handle this social change brings many problems in multicultural families. Some of the serious problems are school problems of children.

Most children from multicultural families may suffer delayed language development. They have difficulties in writing, reading, speaking, and listening to Korean. In a bad environment to acquire Korean, where foreign mothers who are poor at Korean and fathers who are too busy working, many children are not able to communicate clearly. This language problem has a bad effect on the school life of children.

On account of lack of language ability and difference of facial features, children of multicultural families are the target for bullying and teasing. They have troubles adjusting to the school. They have a hard time keeping up with classes because of their lower Korean level, and they become the object of ridicule from classmates because they look different. This causes them to lose confidence and to be gradually excluded from school. According to the data of the recent government audit, 39.7% of children in a junior high school course and 69.7% in a high school course do not go to school. Comparing with the average family, these figures are 9.9 times higher in a junior high school course and 8 times higher in a high school course. Eventually, many children even give up their studies because of their lack of opportunities to learn Korean and their difference of appearance.

Recently Korean society has been trying to solve the school problem with children of multinational families. Local government, private organizations, universities and others have started new policies supporting and assisting children with adapting to school. However, it would be more significant to eliminate the social prejudice towards mixed-blooded people that is prevalent in Korean society. Korea has had a strong recognition as a homogeneous nation, one in which education based on homogeneity was provided. Increasing education towards the understanding of multiple cultures for average students in school is one way. It will make students deepen their understanding of different cultures and help them overcome prejudice towards mix-blooded people.

Children of multinational families face problems such as educational obstacles and bullying at school and eventually many of them abandon their studies. Considering that the number of multicultural children is rising, this has become a serious social problem. Although nowadays many organizations work had to solve it, social attitudes towards multicultural families and children are still not positive. In order for these children to feel included in school and society, a lot of effort is needed to be put towards changing the common perception of these children.