Since the 1980s the number of foreigners residing in Japan, in particular in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area (TMA) has increased dramatically, precipitating a disruption to the assumed culturally homogenous social fabric of Japan. This disruption is often articulated as Gaikokujin Mondai. Education, living conditions, discrimination and racism, housing, finding work, receiving and paying for social welfare programs, parent-child linguistic and cultural gaps are but a few of the dilemmas that have been associated with Gaikokujin Mondai as early as 1984. To help diffuse this perceived problem, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released a report entitled “Research Report on the Promotion of Multicultural Coexistence: Towards the Promotion of Multicultural Coexistence at the Local Level" in March 2006. The problem is that the meaning of multicultural coexistence remains unclear. In this presentation, interpretations of multicultural coexistence are analyzed demonstrating that (1) multicultural coexistence cannot be seen as multiculturalism and (2) multicultural coexistence interpretations fluctuate between varying degrees of pluralism and inclusionism.
Stephen Robert Nagy is a PhD candidate at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies.