Some interesting quotes from Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s “Borderline Japan”

9 Nov

The Brazilian (nikkeijin) presence in Japan “has helped to destabilize widely accepted but simplistic notions of the equivalence of ethnic ancestry, culture and identity.” (p. 242). 

“Since there are no public figures on population by ethnicity in Japan, the half a million or so people of Korean descent who have Japanese nationality, whatever they may feel about their own identity, become statistically invisible, and also regularly written out of general statements about ‘Japanese nationals’, whether made by the Japanese government or its critics. Though the term ‘Korean-Japanese’ has begun to be more widely used by the media and by some ‘Korean-Japanese’ themselves, this term (it seems)  has not yet acquired the power to decouple the assumed equivalence of ethnicity, identity and nationality that underlies political discourse in Japan today. The same invisibility even more effectively shrouds the presence of Taiwanese in Japanese society. The normalization Japan’s relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1972, following US president Richard Nixon’s unexpected visit to China, caused concern and confusion in Japan’s Taiwanese community, and persuaded many Zainichi Taiwanese in Japan to become Japanese citizens. Throughout the 1960s, the figures for naturalizations by ‘Chinese’ (which included Taiwanese) had been running at less that [sic] four hundred a year, but in the three years from 1972 this jumped to an annual average of almost four thousand.” (242-43). 

“The reintroduction of fingerprinting was, of course, part of an international push to tighten border controls…In Japan, high-tech and high-profile anti-terrorist border checks have been brought in despite the fact that the only terrorist acts carried out in the country in the past two decades have been by home-grown terrorists, and most indeed have been carried out by members of right-wing nationalist organizations.” (246)

Discussions of border security are “conducted in a quintessentially national, and sometimes nationalistic, framework….The focus is on the relationship between migrants and the nation state.” (246).



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