Globalization in Japan

by Kaho Nagao

Since our generation has been in school, teachers, the media and so on often say that “Globalism is important and you guys might to be an global person.” On the other hand, the definition of globalism and globalization are very vague and huge. Actually I still do not know what globalization is. In addition, Japan often said that we are not globalized and we need to be hurry and adapt globalization. However, accepting globalization is really important and do we need to be so?

The specific example is mobile phone. For a long time, in Japan many people use normal mobile phone. Main work for them is calling and sending text in special way, which using e-mail address. On the other hand, the other countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Korea, sending text through the telephone numbers was most popular. The introduction of smart phone was delayed both spreading and developing even though Japan was one of the most famous countries for these technologies. Some people said that Japan need to catch up and develop more and more.

In here, the problem is that is it important to catch up to other country or not. Of course, we sometimes need to understand what is happened on the earth and think about problems. However, in Japan, even though some says that some realize and move towards, most people are not move and do not understand the importance of that. Changing people is very difficult about knowing importance is more difficult.

Globalization is recently speed up and some are confusing about that fact, however, cherishing and knowing our own culture and learning about different way of thinking and view will be help understand one of the best way to what is globalization and how to survive international society.

K-Pop Beauty Factory

Korean wave, hallyu in Singapore

Korean wave, hallyu in Singapore (Photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea)

by Adelle Tamblyn

Coming in at US$180 million in 2011, Kpop (Korean pop) has become South Korea’s largest export. After watching a handful of Kpop music videos, it’s not hard to see why it’s become known as Hallyu, or the “Korean Wave“: every music video I watched had addictive beats and perfectly synchronised choreography, and it’s hard not to be mesmerised by a group of twenty year-olds with six-packs and make-up a la B2ST, or the perfect faces of SNSD, all with button noses, delicate, pointed chins, and big, sparkly eyes. Kpop’s main target market are teenagers: teenagers from France to Fiji, Australia to Austria have succumbed to the Korean Wave. Due to the clever utilisation of the internet to market Kpop, entertainment companies SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP (known as the “big three”) have helped create an entirely new generation of teens who sing lyrics they don’t understand. But Kpop has created a new trend: cosmetic surgery.

This year’s contestants for the Miss Korea contest look starkly different to the contestants just 30 years prior. 30 years ago Miss Koreans had a very different face: slumberous, slanted eyes, a round face and a wide nose. In exchange for these features, the Miss Korean contestants today have large, double-lidded eyes, a pointed chin and tiny, pointed noses. The same look can been seen, replicated again and again in the Kpop industry. Children as young as nine or ten get recruited by entertainment companies, in which they are signed into 10-15 year contracts: it is no big secret that along with this, new recruits are contractually obliged to have plastic surgery to “improve” their image and become more sellable. In other words, these children are moulded and manufactured, ready-made and sold globally for company profit. In an interview with Kpop group D-Unit, Charlet of Vice asks what the ideal Korean beauty is: one girl answers that ideally, Korean beauty would be that of Westerners, because of its “distinctiveness”. “Big round eyes, straight nose and round face”, the D-Unit member says. Has this become the template for beauty in South Korea? The “Western” face?

The advancement of cosmetic surgery technology and techniques means that this Western look is readily accessible, and attainable. In a nation increasingly becoming obsessed with notions of Western beauty, boosted by the Kpop industry, one in five South Koreans have turned to plastic surgery, as opposed to one in twenty people in America. Parents in South Korea are helping to encourage the importance of beauty in their society: as a middle school or high school graduation present, instead of luxury goods, it is now quite common for parents to foot the bill for their children’s plastic surgery (typically, double eyelid surgery). Supposedly, this is meant to increase their child’s chances of getting into a prestigious high school or university. It is not only teens who are affected by the cosmetic surgery: some employers make recruiting selections based on physical attractiveness. If Western phenotypes are the ideal Korean beauty, then those who have undergone cosmetic surgery would be the people getting the jobs: such hiring techniques resembles the employment patterns of companies, who give preferential treatment of White people over other types of people.

Kpop is much more than South Korea’s largest export: besides influencing plastic surgery tourism, endorsement deals with a variety of Korean products have helped stimulate the country’s economy, and the deification of Kpop stars has also boosted agriculture. Worshipping teens will make donations of rice at music concerts in order to feed their idols. With so much socio-economic profit, it doesn’t look like the Kpop and plastic surgery will come to an end soon.

Kpop has become the “face” of South Korea, whilst their real faces are hidden behind more than a nip-and-tuck. If South Koreans keep turning to plastic surgery as the answer to their problems, constantly Westernising themselves, they are only telling themselves that White phenotypes are the only type of beauty.

Furthermore, they are ethnically cleansing themselves psychologically and physically through plastic surgery.

References

Lee, H. (2013, October 10). Plastic surgery lifts South Korean tourism. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-10/plastic-surgery-lifts-south-korean-tourism

Stone, Z. (2013, May 24). The K-Pop plastic surgery obsession. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/05/the-k-pop-plastic-surgery-obsession/276215/

Vice (2012, October 23). Seoul Fashion Week – K-Pop to double eyelid surgery [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wWKjxxM6q8

Willett, M. (2013, June 6). Korea Is obsessed with plastic surgery. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/korea-is-obsessed-with-plastic-surgery-2013-5

Yasukuni Shrine and Korean Identity

English: Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

English: Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Lilia Yamakawa

In his research on nationalism, Craig Calhoun talks about when and how nations were formed. Some people say nations are primordial, that they have been around forever, that they are “natural” phenomena. Others, including Calhoun, believe that nations and nationalism are modern and constructed. By 1815, the world was full of nations. He calls nationalism the most momentous phenomenon of modern history. He writes:

In East Asia, nationalism has throughout the twentieth century been the rhetoric not only of anti-imperialist struggles but of calls for strengthening and democratizing states from within. (p213-214) 

Calhoun cites references on China, relating how anti-Japanese imperial protest, the May Fourth Movement in 1919, was both anti-imperialist and served to strengthen and democratize China. This was later to have led to the revolution.

It seems as Korean nationalism has beeb strengthened through protest against Japanese policies. Recently, the Korean president refused to negotiate with the Japanese because Japan refuses to apologize for its wartime actions. One of my Korean friends told me that he cannot talk about the history of his country without talking about what Japan did when it controlled Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Jukka Jouhki (2009) discusses the Japanese politicians’ visits to Yasukuni and the impact of those visits on Koreans. In the following passage he describes Yasukuni as a “wormhole”:

Symbolically, Yasukuni can be thought of as a wormhole that goes through time and space. When this wormhole crops up, the entire Korean nation seems capable of being transported backward into the era of Japanese colonial rule. 

Jouhki says that the Korean image of Japan is as she was in the colonial period, and Yasukuni represents imperial Japan just as if it were now. The image exaggerates the difference between us and them, Korea and Japan. He says that when the Koreans were colonized, it made the Koreans see themselves as “Other”, just as they saw the Japanese as “Other”, and Yasukuni represents an identity that they are trying to work through.

Japanese leaders’ nationalism, such as visits to Yasukuni Shrine and the museum and textbooks that fail to show wartime atrocities, is not only a means to form a certain Japanese identity. It seems that Japanese nationalism strengthens a certain Korean identity as well.

References

Calhoun, C. (1993). Nationalism and ethnicity. Annual Review of Sociology19, 211-239.

Jukka, J. (2009, May 8). The second invasion: Notes on korean reactions to the yasukuni shrine issue. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/179474/The_Second_Invasion_Notes_on_Korean_Reactions_to_the_Yasukuni_Shrine_Issue 

 

Gender Equality Solutions a Problem in Korean Workforce

by Ji Soo Kim

Recovering from Japanese colonization and the Korean War, under the strong U.S influence, the Republic of Korea displayed an amazing yet abrupt economical development throughout the 20th century. Due to the traditional Confucian belief of “men are superior to women, who are expected to attend to men’s every need,” the social status of women in Korea before Western influence was significantly low. As the Western ideology of gender equality permeated in Korean society, educated men lifted their voice to give equal rights to women, and women shouted for their rights.

Beginning with women’s suffrage in 1948, the social and governmental movement for women’s rights rapidly settled in society. As a result, women in Korea now seem to have equal rights under the protection of the whole society. However, the process of achieving gender equality was done too abruptly. People do not understand the true definition of gender equality, thus real problems regarding gender have not been solved in many parts of society, and men are claiming their feelings of reverse discrimination. In this article, I will specifically talk about gender equality issues in workforce, and suggest better solutions to current activities for improvement.

The Korean government set laws and encouraged businesses to protect women from being discriminated against in employment, and in the workplace. An example of the law is that an employer should not consider female employee’s physical looking, or ask about marriage status, which are unnecessary in work performance. Businesses were encouraged to increase female welfare in the company, to provide long maternal leave, menstrual leave, shuttle bus system for safe return to home, anonymous telephone line for accusation of any sexual discrimination, powder rooms and lounges only for women, and extra financial support for child care. An example of Korean company known for fine female welfare is Hyundai Motors. It is one of the most popular businesses where young women wish to be employed. However, uncongenial to its high reputation, women employees consist only 4.3% of the entire company. Why is the women employee proportion considerably low while the company provides satisfying welfare for women? Looking around the young graduates around me, I also see many who wish to be employed by Hyundai Motors, which means that there are sufficient, and even an overflow of applicants.

One valid reason for low constitution of female employees in Hyundai Motors could be employers’ unwillingness to employ women. The cost of hiring a woman in their workforce is much higher compared to that of hiring a man, since they have to provide all different kinds of welfare. If there is a man and a woman in interview with almost the same quality and potential, even if I was an employer, I would choose man not because I am discriminating against woman, but for cost reduction. This possible reason is suggesting that current welfare system is designed just to satisfy the wants of the government and the society, and this is ineffective because it shows a decline of women employment in some business sectors and discourages younger unemployed women to aim for these businesses.

The society demands female welfare because we are taught that women must have ‘equal’ rights to men, and that women had not been treated ‘equally’ in past. With such excessive focus on women, not many people clearly come to understand the true meaning of gender equality. The majority focused only on present discrimination against women around us. The law protected women first, and businesses started to provide immoderate welfares for women, and there’s no specific word as ‘male welfare.’

In workplaces, to stop employer’s unconscious thinking of preferring man over woman for cost reduction, not only female welfare but also male welfare should be considered thoughtfully. Excessive focus on women empowerment in workforce created current system. Companies should concern men and women together and provide what is needed for each fairly. Increase in paternal leave, provision of comfortable lounge for men, or provision of children’s kindergarten in father’s company could be possible solutions. Concern for both men and women in work places would make both willing to work for longer period with loyalty, and lead to better understanding of each other. The change in work places would result in a bigger change in the entire society. Starting with work places, a deep knowledge and discussion about gender equality should be taught and held in public education system. The society would not be able to change at once, but with the effort of current generation, the future generation will grow up with much improvement.

The preference for lighter skin in Mexico and Asia

by Han Si Hun (Jake)

In the book Shades of Differences, Christina Sue talks about the categorization of the color in Mexico (especially in Veracruz), and I believe that this categorization of color in Mexico is similar to the discrimination of races. As Sue argues, “Veracruzanos do not embrace their mixed-race status in and of itself: instead, they strive to ‘whiten’ themselves and their progeny.” It can be said that Veracruzanos have a strong preference for white. Sue also argues that Veracruzanos are looking for partners who have whiter skin for the possibility of the next generation coming out with lighter skin, and that Veracruzanos have strong images of black people related to the history of slavery.

This kind of discrimination and the preference of lighter skin color actually happened to my friends when I was staying in Singapore. I never really had an issue with the light skin or dark skin thing in Singapore. However, I went to of those middle schools where most of the black friends (Malaysian and Indians) dated either light-skinned black women or people of another race (lighter skinned people). I did not have a problem with people preferring light skin but sometimes I feel it people are sort of implying “darker” skin is worse. I used to be able to see people’s preferences for things as simple as that. But I remembered the question that I raised to my friend “why are you preferring to meet lighter skin than you?” and my friend was saying, “It is because I want my kids to be lighter than me.” This can be said that the preference of lighter skin is not only happening in Veracruz, but also in Asian countries.

I found out a report from The Asia Market Intelligence (AMI), which showed that the 68 percent of Hong Kong men are more appealing to lighter skin women (Schwartz 2012). In the case of Korea, white skin is also one of the important points for a beauty of women and it is also a part of men`s preference for their partner as well. We Koreans are also having stereotypes of darker skinned people as the people from the countryside. This can be said that the color discrimination on people is not only happening in Mexico but it is also a problem happening in Asian countries as well.

Works Cited

Schwartz, S. (2012, July). Men find fair skin more alluring. South China Morning Post. http://www.scmp.com/article/374509/men-find-fair-skin-more-alluring

The Latin Americanization of Korean race relations

by Yang Jicheol

The process of Latin Americanization is simply about keeping white supremacy from other colors. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and David Dietrich introduce an example of how the U.S. follows the way of the Latin Americanization for its white supremacy, which is challenged from increasing population of other colors. There is similar example of the Latin Americanization of U.S. race relations in Korea.

As with the United States’ race relations, Korea has also experienced a similar process in terms of racial issues. That appears from young aged population because young aged population tends to be more multiracial. Many Korean consider themselves as a single-race because of same language and skin-tone. However, that single-race nation does not exist anymore. The races are becoming more complex and wider in current Korea. Many western people, whom we regard as white, come to Korea for having job or traveling. Not only western people, but other races such as Southeast Asian also come to Korea for working or marrying with Korean. In that process, a hierarchy has been constructed, which pure Korean place at the top, other western and East Asian people are middle, and others, the Southeast Asian and black people, are at the bottom.

In current Korean society, the interracial marriage rate has dramatically increased between whites with Koreans and nonwhites with Koreans as well. So, there are many multicultural children in Korea now. The multicultural children mean that children have at least two different cultural backgrounds because of their parents’ nations. At the first appearance of multicultural children, it became a hot social issue because of Korean attitudes towards them. The Korean attitudes were harsh to typical multicultural children, who are born from Southeast Asians or blacks. Unlike that attitude, it considered other multicultural children, who are born from the white or East Asian, positively. The multicultural children, born from Southeast Asian or the black, have been considered as negative perspectives such as poor background, dirty, and non-beneficial to Korean children. Nonetheless, other multicultural children have been thought differently. This perspective made Korean society to change its preference towards typical races for equality and norm, which is “We are all Korean”. To solve this problem, schools and libraries have been built only for multicultural children, especially for children having nonwhite parents. Also, government has made public advertisements to make citizen not to discriminate against them. It seemed to work at first because those children have started to respect their identity and have self esteem. Also, the harsh discrimination seemed to disappear. However, those solutions did not work actually. Although people do not tend to show their attitudes directly, they still regard those children as not real Koreans, poor, and shunned children. When we see the surface of that problem, it seems to be solved, but under of the surface, the pure Korean supremacy becomes much stronger and discrimination remains invisibly.

The reason why similar phenomenon appears in Korea is that the world has become smaller that different races are easy to move to other nations where other races are dominant. This makes diversity of race more complex in many nations. So, phenomenon of the Latin Americanization would occur in many other nations like U.S. and Korea to keep position of their majority from influx of immigrant.

 

Why Does Skin Color Matter in Indian Marriages?

by Sho Hamamoto

It seems that having fair skin still matters in Indian marriages. Many Indian men and women are suffering from an obsession with fair skin. Why is it important to have fair skin in Indian marriages? There are three possible reasons for the obsession. Jyotsna Vaid (2009) mentions maintaining the purity of the bloodstream of the upper castes and an association between darker skin and lower class working under a hot sun. India is a very strict class society due to the caste system and sensitive to social classes. This is one of reasons why the percentage of arranged marriages in India stands at 90%. Arranged marriages prevent marriages between different classes. Skin color is one of class symbols. As Glenn mentions, there is an association between darker skin and lower class working under a hot sun in India. Due to the fact that skin color represents one’s class in India, people prefer fair skin (upper class) to darker skin (lower class).

Agrawal (2012) provides another reason for the preference for fair skin is a mind-set by British rule. Under the British rule, Whites were superior to Indians (darker skin people). The legacy of British rule may still remain in the Indian society and create an image that lighter skin is superior to darker skin.

Lastly, media is a major contributor to creating an image that lighter skin is better than darker skin. In media including TV programs, ads, and movies, lighter skin tends to be described as a sophisticated feature. People on media tend to have fair skin and those media create an ideal image of people. As a result, people have had an image that lighter skin is more sophisticated than darker skin.

As seen above, skin color still matters in India marriages because of a strict class society in India, British rule, and an image that fair skin is sophisticated created by media. It is not easy to change the situation because you have to change the structure (class society, media and so on).

An interesting point is that an association between fair skin and “a sophisticated image” can be seen in many other countries, such as Japan, China, Korea, and Singapore. Why is the sophisticated image of fair skin shared in different countries? Personally, a class society has much to do with this phenomenon. Darker skin may be linked to lower class working under a hot sun while fair skin is linked to upper class. This historical image has created the sophisticated image of fair skin and media has bolstered the image. This can be an explanation for the shared image of fair skin in many different countries.

References

Agrawal, V. (2012). Why Indian men want fair skin brides? Retrieved from http://www.bollywoodshaadis.com/article/lifestyle–health/relationships/why-indian-men-want-fair-skin-brides

Glenn, E. (2009). Shades of difference. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Lancy. (2013, April 15). Does skin color really matter in Indian marriages?. Retrieved from http://browse.feedreader.com/c/Makeup_and_Beauty_Home/390094216

Statics Brain. (2012). Arranged/forced marriages statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/arranged-marriage-statistics/

Why Indian Men want Fair Skin Brides from www.bollywoodshaadis.com

Illegal Immigrants in Japan

by Shoki Fujimoto

As we learned in class, there are some people who are called undocumented immigrants in the world. Most of them came into other countries without necessary qualification, so they are illegal. The reasons why they went into other countries are various. Some people decided to go to foreign countries to get job, money and chance to be successful, and another went over boundaries to escape from the threats of the authority like government by political and religious reasons. There are many cases of undocumented immigrants in the world. In this article, I describe about undocumented immigrants in Japan.

According to the Ministry of Justice, in the case of Japan, there are 67,065 illegal immigrants. The country which produces the biggest number of undocumented immigrants is Korea, and Korean undocumented immigrants account for the quarter of the total amount. The second is China. It produces about 10% of the total. The reasons why they stay Japan illegally are various. The most common one is expire of short stay visa, and it accounts for about 70%. Then, why Japanese government permits this situation? I found interesting political reasons. One of them is that Japanese government would like to avoid political troubles between such countries.

Some years ago, there were many Iranian undocumented immigrants in Japan, and Japanese government made them go out from Japan. However, Iranian government took countermeasures to this. Iran stopped accepting Japanese tourists. What if this happen in Japan and China, Korea? Today, the economic connection between Japan and China, Japan and Korea is necessary. Therefore, if these countries government took countermeasures like Iran, Japanese economy and politics will get big damage. This is the biggest reason, I think.

We studied the case of Noriko Calderon. She is a child of parents who entered Japan with forged passports. Noriko grew up in Japan with Japanese environment, she knows only Japanese culture and speaks only Japanese, so there was a debate on what we should do about her situation. The Japanese government decided ejection of her parents and only permits for Noriko to stay in Japan alone.

It is a very difficult problem, but in my opinion, Japanese government should take a strict stance for illegal immigrants. Needless to say, it is a tragedy for the Calderon family to be forced to be separated, and of course I feel sympathy for her. It sounds merciless, but her parents are criminals. Moreover, I think it is not too much to say that Noriko’s human rights were trampled on her parents’ crime. To protect children’s human rights, Japanese government should take strict stance, and even if Japanese government does not hope to have troubles between illegal immigrants-producing countries, Japan should not be worried because it is not wrong.

References

Ministry of Justice [http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyuukokukanri04_00016.html] (retrieved June 27, 2013)

Information on migration [http://www.interq.or.jp/tokyo/ystation/jvisa6.html] (retrieved June 27, 2013)