Because they are not here “just for the time being”: Education for immigrant children

Diversity the norm in one German classroom (from

by Kyungyeon Chung

Education is an important block for state and citizen-building. Especially in public schools, what is taught in classrooms reflects what is valued in society, and vice versa. Schools are the first and foremost tool governments will reach out to, when in need of public campaign. Many times, this reflection can regard more overarching values such as democracy; sometimes it can be more particular such as desire for unification in South Korea, or “collective communalism” in Japan (Moorehead 2013). In such cases whereby national education system serves to shape citizens, the incoming flow of immigrant children can pose a big challenge to the state- and the society’s perception of itself.

In the article “Separate and Unequal” by Robert Moorehead, remedial language lessons for immigrant children in Japanese public schools are argued to be an ethnic project. Having come back to the ‘homeland’ from Latin America, immigrant children with Japanese heritage required JSL lessons that were supposed to help them reach an equal footing with native-born students. However, in reality, keeping immigrant children in a separate classroom with little structured support, their potential and possibilities continue to be restricted, while native-born students proceed ahead. The author describes how this system gravely fails the students, further separating them along racial lines, and reflects “particular conceptualizations of the children’s’ future lives as members of Japanese society” (Moorehead 2013). Such particular conceptualization stems, at least partially, from Japan’s societal perception of it as an ethnically and historically homogeneous country that values harmony, uniformity, and collectivism.

This sort of challenge is not only experienced by Japan, though. Germany has also undergone several changes to address similar problems. In the article “From homogeneity to diversity in German education”, Anne Sliwka, a professor at Heidelberg University of Education in Germany, describes the issue in detail.

Since the large influx of immigrants in the 1960s, the German government became increasingly aware that the immigrants of diverse backgrounds were not there temporarily but would settle (Sliwka, 2010). At the time, the fundamental paradigm behind German education is the assumption that the homogeneity of learners in a group best facilitates their individual learning (Sliwka, 2010). Based on this assumption, Germany has long maintained a system divided into four or five general categories in which children were sorted into the “right” type of school for them (UK-German Connection, n.d.). However diverse educational needs of immigrant children came to highlight the shortcomings of this generalized system and unrealistic expectation of homogeneity.

Following the recognition of heterogeneous student population, there have been several shifts in the field: more policies are programed to support individualized lessons; data are collected to account for cultural, socio-economic and linguistic differences; growing research on equity in classrooms (Sliwka, 2010). As time passes, this slow yet growing shift in the education paradigm in Germany from the focus on ‘average’ to acceptance of diversity would further encourage the society-wide recognition and appreciation as well. Sliwka writes “changing the way the German educational system views diversity also entails cultural change in the society at large” (2010).

Both cases of Japan and Germany illustrate how education needs of immigrant children can encourage dialogues in the nations to think twice and hard about their perception of itself as a homogeneous nation. However the immigrant population is here to settle, live, and grow. The process will no doubt take a long time and require more than a change in curriculum or educational agenda. However, schools can be a very good starting point. After all, appropriate teaching from early age can lay sound foundations for healthy dialogues in society for a long time to come.


Moorehead, Robert. 2013. “Separate and Unequal: The Remedial Japanese Language Classroom as an Ethnic Project.” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11(32):3.

Sliwka, A. “From homogeneity to diversity in German education.” Educating teachers for diversity meeting the challenge. Paris: OECD, 2010. 205-217.

UK-German Connection. “The school system in Germany.” UK-German Connection. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2014. <>.

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Oldness is goodness: Is it truly a tradition?

by Sheena Sasaki

What is Japanese traditional food? What is Japanese worldwide known food? I am sure some people would tell me the answer sushi. However, sushi (vinegar rice topped with piece of raw fish), famous Japanese food, began to be eaten since Edo Period. Compared to relatively new nations such as the United States, 400 years of history for food may be long “tradition.” However, compared to Japanese history, which lasts since era of B.C., it is not significantly long. More important, sushi had been eaten only in limited areas of Japan since it uses fresh fish. Referring to Japanese geography as a mountainous land, it is impossible for some parts of Japan to come up with food such as raw fish. However, as the nationalization and globalization have taken place in Japan, sushi has become domestically and internationally known as a ‘traditional’ food of Japan. Thus, nationalization and internationalization have played a significant role in the invention of tradition in Japan.

This invention of tradition is becoming an issue in Japan today. In September 2013, the Japanese Supreme Court finally accepted that the law that limited  children born outside of marriage to inheriting only half the amount of “legitimate” children, as discrimination and a violation of Japan’s Constitution. Japanese denial and rejection of “illegitimate” children, adopted children, divorce, and married couples having different surnames is quite strong even now. It is not surprising to hear that children born outside of marriage were bullied in the school they attended during their youth. Also, some parents tell their children not to play with such children just because they lack real parents or their parents use different surnames.

Why do Japanese citizens strongly oppose different styles of family? Many people answer: “Because we do not want to destroy the traditional family system of Japan.” This traditional system of family is based on “ie (家)” and “koseki (戸籍)” which respectively mean house and family legislation. Thus, many Japanese citizens resist changing what is written on their koseki, with the exception of when a woman is married. However, the history of koseki is not so long as to be called traditional.

Influenced by Germany, Japan created the koseki system during the Meiji Period, the era of Japanese nationalization. The system was to support one royal family, imperial family of Japan. The imperial family is unchangeable, meaning one single bloodline is considered to be imperial. Thus, for this family to hold stronger and more important meaning, member of one koseki was also to pass down one blood. The Meiji-era civil code also stated that an ie must consist of single surname, single koseki, and single bloodline. Here, we see the family system putting an emphasis on one bloodline, which is considered as tradition today. In opposition to the word “tradition,” before the Meiji Period and the creation of koseki system, it was common to see adopted children reign as the head of the household. Compared to the ie system today, the family system used to emphasize more the surname of the household rather than bloodlines. Therefore, what is said to be the traditional family system in Japan has existed for only 100 years.

There is Japanese phrase “furuki yoki (古き良き)” which means that “old is good.” However, the invented tradition of the Japanese ie system does not seem to bring good anymore. Year by year, there is an increase of divorce, child adoption, and single parenting. These shapes of family are not considered proper families, and are targets of discrimination. Although the Japanese government has admitted that the law discriminates against certain children, the law itself has still not changed. The curse of “furuki yoki” still dominates the sense of discrimination.

Some links to news reporting issues of rights for illegitimate children


“婚外子差別の撤廃へ 民法改正案を閣議決定、戸籍法の改正は見送り”

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Global Care Chain Reinforcing Gender Roles

English: photo rhacel parrenas

Rhacel Parreñas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yuri Kasai

I would like to discuss about ‘global care chains’. This concept was first used by Arlie Hochschild and developed by many authors such as Rhacel Parreñas. This concept refers to global processes to exchange care and salary. Care includes child care nursing for the sick and elderly people, and love giver. I will focus on global chains of child care, which we discussed in class.

About child care, women in richer countries cannot raise their children because they are busy from their job and they do not have time to bring up children. Therefore, women in richer countries hire a migrant mother from the poorer country as a nanny. Nannies send remittance to their family to support financially instead of taking care of their children. The role of migrant mothers to care their own children is imposed on their older female sibling or their relative women and most fathers who stay in their home do not help to care children. The distribution of roles attributes gender role in the migrant’s home countries. Philippines are one of the sending countries of nannies and most Philippines’ male families do not help out child rearing. Host countries of foreigner nannies are the US and European countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and Italy (GCIM, 5).

I think the labor exchange of child rearing cannot replace to parental love. Our professor argued that care is not an exchangeable resource like any other products, and hiring nannies lets parents in developed countries to keep two types of illusions: 1) the illusion to have all including work, family, and leisure, and 2) the illusion of maternal love. I agree with this opinion.

Parents’ assumptions let them to spend their time to develop their career or something. The families seek what they want to do, lose strong tie and time to gather around. However, family relations last for many years till parents die in many cases, even though the children do not like their parents.

Family is not collection of blood relations but a tie of human with love. It is better for parents to create good relations with children through rearing them well from babyhood. If not, parents have difficulty that children take to them and children maybe take to only their nanny, considering about the time to spend for children. Their children are not the status of parents but humans who need love. If parents need good relations with their children, parents need to care their children physically instead of hiring nannies for children. To migrant mothers, if they can love children deeply as a nanny, they miss their own children. Parents in developed countries should notice this and think that breeding children need physical care.

In order to reduce the number of children without love from parents, I think we need to make society with smaller gender role. Although migrant nannies give maternal love for children, children need parents’ love to be a good family. In some developed countries, such as the US, Germany or Italy, they seemed to complete better gender-free society. However, children care is depended on migrant mothers and gender role is imposed on immigrants. This tendency does not destroy gender role and gender role in developing countries enlarges to the developed countries. We should make global society without gender role.


Global Migration Perspective: Global Care Chains, A Critical Introduction. Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM). Sep, 2005.

Is multiculturalism really a “failure” in Germany?

by Michelle L.

In our class we came upon the quote of the German chancellor Angela Merkel: “multiculturalism has utterly failed”

Unfortunately we did not discuss about the backgrounds and the deeper meaning of this quote. In this post I would like to take a closer look on this topic.

Germany‘s migration image has been changing tremendously since the end of the second world war. As of 2011, 19.5% of the German population had some sort of immigration background, meaning either being born in a foreign country as a non-German citizen or born to a foreign-born parent in German with or without German citizenship. Nowadays, the largest share belongs to the Turkish community (18.5%), followed by Polish (9.2%).

After the second world war, Germany was in need of labour to rebuild the country. People were encouraged to come to Germany and work there. This applies mostly to Turkish immigrants to former West Germany and Vietnamese immigrants to the former GDR, as for being a fellow communist nation. The government did not invest in language training or did not provide any service to make it easier to adopt for the migrant workers, since they were only seen as temporary cheap labour or so-called Gastarbeiter. Gastarbeiter is a German term for immigrant workers who came to Germany between the end of the war and the 1970s. Literally meaning “guest worker”, it refers to the temporary contracts after which the immigrant workers were supposed to return. In recent times this word got quite a negative connotation.

However, many people stayed and brought their family to Germany or married a German spouse. The government was not prepared for this. Since there literally was no effort in integrating the immigrants, those people were tolerated but not integrated in society. This continued for quite some time and the government somehow missed the turning point of Germany becoming a migration country.

Whereas other cities have a “China Town”, parts of Berlin seem like a Turkish parallel world. Even though some families are staying in Germany for the 3rd or 4th generation, many of them keep close ties to their home country and mixed slangs developed.

However, I do not think that multiculturalism has failed – it is the government who failed in creating opportunities to integrate immigrants into German society. It was only in 2005 that Germany introduced compulsory German language courses to immigrants, in case that the do not have sufficient knowledge of German to work. Moreover bilingual primary education only focusses on languages like French, Spanish and English. Most immigrant children therefore attend a regular school, where teachers are not prepared for them. This creates an environment where it is difficult for them to adopt. Since some districts in Berlin have a very dense immigrant population, people are more likely to stay in there national group.

I see Germany, my home country, as a multicultural society. Growing up in Berlin, I shared my class room with people from many different backgrounds. 24% of Berlin’s residents have a migration background and events in Berlin like “Carneval of Cultures” attract thousands of peoples. This percentage is still quite small compared to cities like Frankfurt (am Main), the heart of Germany’s financial sector and the most important international airport in Germany. The city is home to 42% of residents with immigration background.

Nevertheless, many “native” Germans are hostile towards immigrants. As of 2008, a survey found out that 53% think that “Germany has too many immigrants” and 50% think that immigrants like to stay along their fellows. In recent years, attacks on refugee homes increased and the National Democratic Party of Germany (a far-right German nationalist party) still manages to get many votes by promoting to “send all foreigners home”. Even though they were not able take part in any federal government, they are still active on a local level.

Recently, realizing the problem of demographic change (aging society) and the lack of high-skilled workers marked a shift in Germany’s immigration policies. However, it seems like the government is always only approving of immigration if it is in need. I hope that this attitude will change and Germany’s growing multicultural society will be seen as a benefit of our country.

1) BBC News. “Merkel says German multicultural society has failed”. 2010.
2) Abalı, Oya. “German Public Opinion on Immigration and Integration”. 2009.
3) Statistisches Bundesamt. “Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund – Ergebnisse des Mikrozensus”. 2011.

Immigrant problems in the US, Japan, and Germany

by Noriyuki Tanaka

There are many immigrant problems in America, for example the Flores family, whom we saw in the documentary The New Americans, had hardships from being immigrants. At first, Pedro worked hard for his family to live in Mexico. He earned money in America to support his family, but their family wanted to live with their father. This is a love of family. This is only documentary video, but there are many immigrants who cannot live with their families.

For each country, receiving immigrant has big merits and demerits. The merit is that a public estimation from various countries become good, so many immigrants want to go to the countries and the level of the country, as one state rises because the country tries to deal with the problems of increasing foreign people, for example language education, labors, and taxes. On the other hand, a big demerit is that a country leans to ignore original people in the country. Like an unknown man coming in your house, increasing immigrants in own country makes original people anxiety. They may lose jobs, the security may become bad, own culture may be reigned by immigrant cultures.

I am going to think about specific countries according to immigrants. Japan isn’t positive to receive immigrants or refugees because Japanese people consider Japanese carefully. Of course, it is also important that people treat own countries importantly, but important to live with world people. I think that Germany has good measures to protect immigrants and original people. Germany had many Turkish immigrants after World War Ⅱ. The German government received immigrants positively, so now the percentage of immigrants in German is 19%. However, there are many problems because immigrants are not German, for example difficulty of employment of people who cannot speak German, incidents by immigrants, and women problems. The German government reflected these problems with education. It improves language education, and Germany doesn’t have enough laborers that have special knowledge. By raising the level of education, it tries to solve the difficulty of employment. Plus, to avoiding conflicts of national citizens, the German government made sport activity active to improve sportsmanship, which is the spirit of helping each other. I think these solutions to immigrant problems by German are good. Japan should receive immigrants and think original solutions.

Language education against emigrants in Japan

by Minori Takada

Today, in the world (especially in multicultural countries), the education of the language for the emigrant becomes the problem. Therefore, I report the actual situation of the Japanese education for emigrants in Japan, and in the end I would like to make a suggestion “what we need” for its improvement.

As you know, Japan shows severe posture for immigration intake, and the ratio of foreigner residing in Japan is remarkably lower than other countries. According to OECD, the ratio of the foreigner among the total population in Japan was 1.7% in 2009.

Many of them came to Japan as “emigrants” to get job. And some of them get married after having a job in Japan and get a child, so the linguistic education for the child of the emigrant often becomes the problem in Japan.

To say it plainly, the Japanese education for the children of emigrants is not enough. We can understand this situation from looking at this chart. (Economic and Social Research Institute Cabinet Office Tokyo, Japan. 2012)

Citizenship School attendance (%) Students who go on to high school (%)
Korea 99.8% 93.0%
China 99.4% 85.7%
Philippine 98.1% 59.7%
Brazil 98.1% 42.2%
U.S. 94.3% 87.7%
U.K. 99.5% 98.1%

This is the percentage of students who go on to a higher stage of education.

There are six nationalities’ data, Korea, China, Philippine, Brazil, U.S. and U.K. Here is the average percentage of schools that are compulsory education, and all of them show high numbers. However, percentages of students who go on to a high school greatly falls. This is why that they cannot keep up with classes, because some of children cannot understand Japanese well.

Why does such a result appear? I checked what kind of linguistic education for emigrants is done in Japan.

According to the Agency for Cultural Affairs research, the number of the facilities that teach Japanese to immigrants was 1,832 in 2011. And in addition, more than 70% are accounted by public facilities. And there are four main supports that are done by the Japanese government.

  • Financial support for the administration of the Japanese classroom.
  • Working-out of the research expense about the Japanese education.
  • Maintenance of the teaching materials about the Japanese education.
  • Holding of the Japanese education meeting for the study.

From this, we can understand that “support” by the Japanese government is only basically financial or superficial things.

Then, what kinds of policies do countries (where a lot of emigrants succeed in their linguistic education) perform?

I nominated Germany for an example, because it is said that Germany resembles Japan.

The biggest difference is that there is an enforcement of the native language education at government level. This is called as “intensive teaching methods”, and children can use only German all the time when they are at school. And in addition, German government holds special measures against children who do not have enough skills to speak and write.

“The education for the emigrant” is established in a school law clearly in Germany, and it may be said that such an education is accomplished well.

In conclusion, based on these things, I point out a refinement of the linguistic education for the emigrant in Japan.

I think the government should be concerned with support more directly. The government should perform not only the support that indirect and financial, but also a more concrete support.

And to plan an opportunity to learn Japanese for as a public thing, as the agency for cultural affairs says, it is necessary to calculate numbers from the results of conventional various educational fronts and accumulation of future data, and research about the language use situation of the foreigner and the Japanese ability.


移民統合における言語教育の役割 ―ドイツの事例を中心に― (金箱秀俊 pp.50-76. 2010. 国立国会図書館調査)

日本における外国人の定住化についての 社会階層論による分析 ‐職業達成と世代間移動に焦点をあてて‐ (是川夕 2012. ESRI Discussion Paper Series No.283)

文化庁 海外における移民に対する言語教育

文化庁 世界、日本、地域から見る日本語教育

The Atlas for Emigration: