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Volume 32, 2015

Making and Un-Making Modern Japan

Giorgio Shani
Pages 150-165

Ganbarō Nippon
Tabunka Kyōsei and Human (In)Security Post 3–11

This article illustrates how Japanese national identity continues to be imagined along ethnic lines in the aftermath of the ‘triple disasters’ of March 11, 2011 (hereafter 3/11). It critically examines the ‘new’ discourse of tabunka kyōsei which seeks to incorporate migrants and other ethnic minorities in the nation through an emphasis on cultural difference and argues that the stress on the insurmountability of cultural difference reifies the identities of migrant and minority populations. This in turn allows the State to treat them as homogenous groups with different interests which can be accommodated through the provision of public services at a local level, while effectively excluding them from the national level. In a post-3/11 context, the myth of an ethnically ‘homogenous’ nation is reproduced through the discourse of Ganbarō Nippon with profund implications for the human security of migrant and minority populations.

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