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The myth of homogeneity and its ‘Others’ in Japan: the globalization of Japanese political economy and foreign labour migrations

Conference Paper


Abstract


  • Since Japan’s self-modernization project in the prewar period, conservative political discourse has conceptualized the modern “nation-state” as a racially homogeneous entity. This conceptualization established the cultural and political foundation for both Japanese identity and the country’s relationship with the outside world, deeming the incorporation of culturally and ethnically different “Others” as serious threat to the “security” of a homogeneous society. In this context, the remarkably increased flows of foreign migrant workers into Japan in regular and irregular manners since the 1980s, as consequences of both severe labour shortage and “privatization” of some spheres of labour market formation, have generated heated debates as to whether and how Japan should include this new segment of the population. Here, while undertaking a contextualized and historicized interrogation of Japan as a labour receiving site, this essay will illustrate the concrete, contingent and situated practices of global labour migrations. In particular, through comparatively investigating the everyday struggles and negotiations of Japanese descendents from Latin America and the so-called “overstayers” from various regions within the context of contemporarily globalizing Japanese political economy, it will explore: how and with what consequences have global labour migrations (re)constituted capitalist relations of production and social reproduction? This is the part of my larger project that attempts to argue that global labour migrations are the social practices that not only participate in and depend upon but also contest and negotiate the neoliberal restructuring of the global political economy. The objective of this project is to highlight migrant workers as agential political subject within the social relations of global politics while contributing toward emergent crucial efforts to pursue the possibilities for emancipatory projects and political resistances.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Onuki, H. (2008). The myth of homogeneity and its ‘Others’ in Japan: the globalization of Japanese political economy and foreign labour migrations. Japan: International Studies Association.

Place Of Publication


  • Japan

Abstract


  • Since Japan’s self-modernization project in the prewar period, conservative political discourse has conceptualized the modern “nation-state” as a racially homogeneous entity. This conceptualization established the cultural and political foundation for both Japanese identity and the country’s relationship with the outside world, deeming the incorporation of culturally and ethnically different “Others” as serious threat to the “security” of a homogeneous society. In this context, the remarkably increased flows of foreign migrant workers into Japan in regular and irregular manners since the 1980s, as consequences of both severe labour shortage and “privatization” of some spheres of labour market formation, have generated heated debates as to whether and how Japan should include this new segment of the population. Here, while undertaking a contextualized and historicized interrogation of Japan as a labour receiving site, this essay will illustrate the concrete, contingent and situated practices of global labour migrations. In particular, through comparatively investigating the everyday struggles and negotiations of Japanese descendents from Latin America and the so-called “overstayers” from various regions within the context of contemporarily globalizing Japanese political economy, it will explore: how and with what consequences have global labour migrations (re)constituted capitalist relations of production and social reproduction? This is the part of my larger project that attempts to argue that global labour migrations are the social practices that not only participate in and depend upon but also contest and negotiate the neoliberal restructuring of the global political economy. The objective of this project is to highlight migrant workers as agential political subject within the social relations of global politics while contributing toward emergent crucial efforts to pursue the possibilities for emancipatory projects and political resistances.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Onuki, H. (2008). The myth of homogeneity and its ‘Others’ in Japan: the globalization of Japanese political economy and foreign labour migrations. Japan: International Studies Association.

Place Of Publication


  • Japan