A Claim to Ethnic Homogeneity : A Study of Japanese Nationalism
Case, Lauren J.
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In recent history, Japan has gained the stigma of being fairly xenophobic toward the rest of the world. While the rest of the world seems to be pushing for globalization, Japan in contrast has maintained a heightened sense of its own traditional history and culture. Japan's attempts to withstand the pressures of western culture have gained it much attention for many academics from an array of different fields. Digging a little deeper, these academics stumble upon the ideology of nihonjinron that stresses the distinctiveness of Japanese tradition and culture. Though nihonjinron has an extensive written discourse that spans a whole array of different fields praising Japanese tradition as unique and superior in comparison to other cultures in the world, a second discourse emerged in order to critique these xenophobic perspectives. By focusing on these critiques, the author examines the modes and functioning of national narratives on Japanese society as a whole. The critique section focuses on the experience of minority groups in order to show how Japan's national ideology functions to keep minority populations fairly voiceless. Later in the paper, the author uses survey data to explore the entrenchment of nihonjinron in the subconscious of the wider populace and to see what trends are reflected in the larger Japanese community. The paper examines the degree to which nihonjinron ideology has a hold at the individual level.