Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.


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Hi Blog.  Alert Reader XY sends me the following cover, for the Nagoya City Next Term General Plan (Intermediate Draft), dated August 2018.

Striking is what’s found on page 62, under official city definitions of terms:

It offers a definition of “Foreign City Citizens/City Denizens” (gaikokujin shimin), which is itself a reasonable category, since we want to attribute citizenry/residency within a city regardless of nationality (which the juuminhyou Residency Certificate system tried to separate and exclude for six decades).

But look who falls under the definition of “foreign” (my translation):

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya City, this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

That pretty much makes it clear that you can’t ever be Japanese without “pure” Japanese blood and culture.  In Nagoya, officially that also means you can’t escape being foreign.  Ever.  Even if you naturalize, or have a Japanese parent (who alas coupled with a foreigner), have any cultural ties to a foreign country, or have any roots in a foreign land.

Any taint or connection means you’re “foreign”.  Not “international” (such as Kokusai Shimin).  Foreign.

This not only defies common sense, it also, like the racist Japanese Sumo Association, violates the Nationality Law.

Granted, the next definition distinguishes between a foreign resident (gaikokujin juumin) and a foreign, er, citizen/city denizen (gaikokujin shimin), where the former is solely made into a matter of foreign nationality.

But in a society like Japan’s that adheres pretty strictly to a binary, where you’re either Japanese or you’re not, i.e., you’re a Nihonjin/Wajin or a Gaikokujin/Gaijin, I doubt that most people will be this sophisticated in their worldview.  You’ve got any foreign ties?  Case closed and door shut.  You’re a foreigner, a gaikokujin.  At best a Japanese with an asterisk.  Even Nagoya City (Japan’s third largest city behind Tokyo/Yokohama and Osaka) officially confirms it.

Therefore, for this blatant and ignorant attempt to further classify, stigmatize, and alienate diverse Japanese away from a mythical “pure” Japan free from any foreign influences, I hereby award the coveted “Dejima Award” to Nagoya City (only the seventh in’s quarter-century of existence), for effectively reviving 19th-century discredited Eugenics theories about thoroughbredness.  That any Japanese tainted by foreign blood, culture, roots or ties is to be classified as a foreigner.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE:  Kawaguchi City’s Mayor answers to say that their intent behind using this term is not to “force” people into “foreigner” categories.

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50 comments on “Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.

  • More disturbingly, will they try using this ‘gakokijin shimin’ classification to deprive naturalized citizens and children with one NJ parent of the rights, protection and benefits currently afforded them as ‘nihon kokumin’ under the constitution?

    Nasty racist right wing move from Nagaya’s nasty right wing mayor no doubt.

  • Just a quick follow-up: The original document that I sent is from 2018, but for anyone who’s wondering, the current version with the exact same wording can be found on Nagoya city’s website here (page 325):

    This document is accessible from this URL:

    Thank you Debito for posting and bringing attention to this!

    [Ed: Screen capture from above mentioned site as of Monday, November 11, 2019, so the 2018 definition is still in force:]

  • That is disturbing. I hope someone in Nagoya makes a fuss about it.The city presumably has some kind of ‘celebrating foreign culture’ angle to this, but it is profoundly wrong.

    • I wouldn’t presume so.
      Kawamura is a notorious right winger who has slammed ‘chinese lies’ about the Nanking massacre and withdrew funding from a Aichi Triennale because it planned to hold an art exhibition about the suppression of freedom of speech.
      No doubt in his oversimplistic right winger brain he just thought (or one of his cronies in the form of sontaku) that you could just put this out there and no one would notice (except of course the other right wingers whose affirmation he seeks) without it crossing anyone’s mind in the least that this is in breach of the constitution (of which right wingers know only one thing; it was written ‘by Americans’), discrimination law, and I would suggest, hate-speech laws.

      • The whole thing reeks of having been scribbled on the back of a napkin after a few drinks. After all, who gets to define what ‘cultural ties’ means? I can name two imperial princesses that have studied overseas. Are they still Japanese by Nagoya’s standard?
        What about people writing kanji? That has its roots in China, does writing Kanji mean someone has ‘roots in a foreign culture’?
        Does this mean that all the right wingers are going to stop wearing suits and go back to kimono every day?
        No, of course not. The whole thing was put together by people who are incapable of understanding the words they are using.

  • I’D like to know the purpose of this document. If it is to be used by city officials to determine nationality then it must be illegal right?

  • So my adopted daughter who was born in Japan to Japanese parents would be considered a gaikokujin resident under this stupid racist guideline? Great. Another bookmark for the UN council on human rights.

  • OMG. I’m at a loss for words.

    I ran a quick search and nobody else seems to have picked this up. I hope it’s because it’s buried inside a public document, and not because we’re the only ones finding it hugely problematic. ‘Halfs’ and naturalized Japanese are “foreign citizens”, really Nagoya?

  • Joseph Tomei says:

    I’m curious if anyone has any current demographic information about Nagoya. I’m guessing this is aimed at the Brazilian-Japanese population there, here’s a 2009 article about them. In a recent trip to Nagoya, I noticed that a lot of the public signs were also in Portuguese, and I’m assuming that this definition is in reaction to this.

    — I don’t see your 2009 article.
    Here are some demographic stats:
    According to this, Brazilians don’t make the top five nationalities.

    • Did the url not go thru?

      The fact that Brazilians don’t make the top five nationalities _now_ (using the traditional definitions) points to how this works. When the numbers are small, there is no perceived threat, so everyone congratulates themselves on their open-mindedness, but when that group reaches a tipping point, there is pushback/backlash. This underlines why the experiences of someone from a tiny, highly visible minority who argues that Japan is not bad because he has succeeded might not be helpful in understanding the problems, something I understand that Debito might be writing about next…

  • James in Nara says:

    I think in this one, specific case, there is too much being read into it. If you actually look at the finalized document, this definition is relegated to a footnote referenced in the section regarding their goal of promoting multicultural co-existence. As a legal definition of “foreigner”, I agree it’s a travesty. But when discussing multiculturalism it is appropriate. My children, born Japanese, are still not culturally Japanese. Because of me, the white guy who is their father. So the appropriately fall into the that category for multicultural consideration.

    — Wow. Not to read too much into it, but why are you policing your own children’s identity like that? And then deeming that alienation “appropriate” for others?

    • James in Nara wrote:

      “My children, born Japanese, are still not culturally Japanese. Because of me, the white guy who is their father.”

      I disagree with that statement, James.
      Here comes my opinionated harsh reply:

      Your Japanese-citizen 日本人 children
      who even were born here in Japan,
      educated in Japan public schools,
      totally immersed in Japan culture:
      should NOT, due to a parent’s race,
      be wrongly labeled Foreigners 外国人
      (treated worse than modern 部落民).

      No, your Japanese children are 日本人.
      Your Japanese children are not 外国人.

      Calling your kids 外国人 is racist & wrong.
      For that act you should feel shame James.

      And since you have been here half your life,
      you James are now half Culturally-Japanese.

      And how many hours of your old Culture have
      your kids received from you, in comparison to
      the number of hours of Japanese Culture they
      have received from their Japanese mother &
      their Japanese teachers and their Japanese
      friends and their Japanese schoolmates and
      their Japanese role-models and their 120M+
      Culturally-Japanese peers whom they copy?
      Their Cultural ratio is probably 99% Japan.

      Reality: you’re half Culturally-Japanese, and
      your children received only a tiny percent of
      your old Culture from your hours with them.

      Even if you had somehow kept them with you
      16-hours daily and tried to minimize J-culture
      (impossible) even then they’d unconsciously
      or consciously choose to copy the cultural
      behavior of the J-culture they were born in
      much more than the outlier “white” culture
      that you wrongly claimed made them 外国人.

      Anyway, your Japanese children are: 日本人.
      Again: your Japanese children are not 外国人.

      My strong opinions go even further than that:
      Nobody born in Japan should be called 外国人.
      Nobody raised in Japan should be called 外国人.
      Nobody should even be using the term 外国人,
      except for when applying for visa permission.

      Bottom line:
      No citizen of Japan should be called a 外国人.
      That is a non-subjective, non-debatable, fact.

    • Wow.
      Way to roll over and play dead. Maybe the masters will throw you a bone?
      And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why apologists need confronting; they’ll happily let others take away not only their human rights without a fight, but also others, including their very own children’s.
      Perhaps this guy like to let hotels photocopy his passport too?

    • It’s the thin edge of the wedge, James. Allow them to call these citizens “resident gaijin” just opens up the field for gaijinizing them in other areas. Do it now and get everyone used to the idea then expand it. Sorry, we have different rules for gaijin.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      So you are saying “I have every right to police my children because I am a white father!?” Sounds like a manifestation of ultimate privilege, to me. It’s so powerful that it makes you believe that you can even influence anyone who may disagree with you.

      Yeah, I think I can see why racism in Japan is so hard to get rid of. It’s been standing like a ginormous border wall in front of us for so many years.

  • James in Nara says:

    Way to read too much into it. In answerm, absolutely not. They can “identify” as whatever the hell they want, a ham sandwich even. But that doesn’t make them one. They are Japanese citizens, but they look European, and they speak both. They are both more outgoing and more outspoken than any of their peers that don’t have the advantage (in my opinion) of a foreign parent. So what that “does” make them is multicultural. They are not of a single culture, so in a section of a plan to advance multicultural support in a city, in which they are grouping people into two groups, my children definitely fall into the non-Japanese section. You can argue that they should have more than two groups, but what benefit does that provide the discussion in question? None

    — I disagree. I think that being able to fall into multiple groups provides plenty of benefit, since that reflects the realities of self-identifications in a complex, non-binary world.

    Especially when one of those exclusionary categories in question is simply demarcated as “foreigner” (gaikokujin). Not “multicultural” (tabunkateki). Foreigner. Study the official invective more closely.

    I’m not going to speak further on this, but I’m glad that you’re not my father sitting in such judgment, essentially telling me I can’t decide who I am, a ham sandwich even. Your children’s identity is ultimately none of your business.

    • Nothing personal James, but you are clearly justifying the exclusion from the “Japanese” group simply because they have a skill or trait that originates from outside Japan. That’s what has us up in arms against Nagoya’s definition.

      My (Japanese) child is only in Elementary School, but they already resent it if another student asks “Which country are you from?”. I’ve never touched the subject but they alone came to the conclusion that they shouldn’t be an object of curiosity or ‘the foreigner’ simply because part of the family is from outside Japan.

      And as a disclaimer, I shower them with foreign influences and we go visit my parents twice a year. They very much enjoy their other culture too, but have an intuitive understanding that it doesn’t diminish their Japanese identity.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      Your argument is a classic example of nativism once emerged in the 19th century of US. And you obviously are NOT the one who knows where the contradiction lies between “市民・国民” and “外国人” in Japanese. You are free to entitle to your opinion, but you have no power to erase the voice of dissent to the city’s problematic framing of citizen. And certainly, it has no leverage over the discernment of cultural identity involving children born to an internationally married couple.

  • ‘but I’m glad that you’re not my father ‘

    Me too. When growing up in South London, I knew quite a few Japanese who. although their parents were Japanese, had lived all or most of their lives in the UK. By this Nagoya classification, they are ‘more’ Japanese than your own children. Have you ever heard of the writer Kazuo Ishiguro? He openly admits that he can’t speak Japanese, yet…………you fill in the rest

  • More bad news confirming Japan’s sad reality,
    now doing a quick search for “取得” + “外国人市民”
    (“Nationalized” + “Foreigner Denizen of City”)
    reveals as Debito has proven here for decades:

    Citizens of Japan who aren’t “Racially Pure Wajin”
    are marked as “外国人” = “Racially Outsider People”
    even with Citizenship of Japan, even ハーフ are 外国人.

    Case #1 (Discovered by Debito Reader XY above)
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得した人)
    and “Mixed” Japan Citizens (国際結婚によって生まれた子ども)
    are labelled Foreigners by Nagoya City

    Case #2
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得している人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Kyotango City

    Case #3
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得していて人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Kawaguchi City

    Case #4
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得している人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Hachioji City

    Case #5
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得している人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Izumo City

    Case #6
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得した方)
    are labelled Foreigners by Ichihara City

    Case #7
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得した人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Yonago City

    Case #8
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得した人)
    and “Mixed” Japan Citizens (国際結婚などによって生まれた人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Tsuchiura City

    Case #9
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得した人)
    and “Mixed” Japan Citizens (国際結婚により生まれた人)
    are labelled Foreigners by Kakamigahara City

    Case #10
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得する人)
    and “Mixed” Japan Citizens (国際結婚などによって生まれた子ども)
    are labelled Foreigners by Aichi Prefecture

    Case #11
    Nationalized Japan Citizens (日本国籍を取得する人)
    and “Mixed” Japan Citizens (国際結婚などによって生まれた子ども)
    are labelled Foreigners by Toyohashi City

    And those 11 cases of racism are even
    found in city PR when Japan is trying
    to show their HIGHEST level of “care”
    for “Foreign (Race) People” residents,
    so imagine Japan’s racism in daily life.

    — Great work. Well done.

  • Loverilakkuma says:


    Wow. I just can’t believe what I am seeing here! The city defines not only anyone who was born outside Japan but also includes those who have a birthright citizenship– the children born to Japanese and non-Japanese parents in Japan. It’s written in native language, and none of those city officials or office staff are aware of any red flag that strikes an apparent contradiction: Neither “日本国籍を取得” nor ” “国際結婚によって生まれた子ども” is the definition of ”外国人.” The power of ignorance tweaking the pretense of linguistic illiteracy by native speakers of Japanese is just astounding. No wonder why Japanese are misconstrued in this day of age for seeming to hold an anachronistic idea of race as a biological construct.

  • ForeignersMyAss says:

    AnonymousOG finds several cities using this ridiculous language: there are more using the construct ‘外国人民’, including Kita-ku ( in Tokyo – the entire document appearing to be an image, which needs to be OCRed in order to search it: those who wish to search can do so here:

    First, we have the obvious definition:

    「外国人: 日本国籍を有しない者」

    Then the writer takes leave of his/her senses: 「外国人区民とは 区内に住む外国人だけでなく、日本国籍を取得していても文化的背景などが外国にある区民を含む」

    We also find in Tokyo’s Ota-ku, now removed and only cached:

    Question: 人口推移のデータについて、日本国籍をとった外国人区民のデータは含まれているか?

    Response: 現状では日本国籍をとった外国人区民のデータや分析はない

    Clearly, there is no such thing as a ‘日本国籍をとった外国人区民’: the act of naturalization extinguishes the foreign status, so the use of the past tense is an unforgivable gaffe, and what is worse is that the government official responding parroted back the nonsensical terminology.

    There are only two explanations. Either all of these writers have jettisoned their brains and lost the ability to understand their own language, or「外国人」is employed as a dogwhistle: the sentence ‘日本国籍をとった外国人区民’ is only acceptable to a racist who does not believe 日本国籍取得者 to be 日本人.

    Additionally, the Kita-ku document bears the signature of the mayor of Kita-ku, indicating his approval of this bilge and the idea that Japanese citizens can somehow be foreigners. That is something that the mayor needs to answer for.

    The second problem is that any of these policies that attempt to treat Japanese as foreigners based on ‘roots’ are themselves doomed to failure. This is because unless one has their family register in the place where they reside, the information necessary to ferret out these ‘foreign roots’ is not available, and Japan does not collect data relating to the ethnicity of its citizens. Bringing the family register data into these kind of foolish initiatives would be a mistake and would likely invite the wrath of the Ministry of Justice.

    However, we can’t leave the national government off the hook. For so many cities/towns/wards to come up with the same ideas clearly points at national involvement in the form of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (総務省). They have an undue influence on local government, and you can see the toxic ideas expressed by the cities surfacing in their documents from as early as 2006 (, with similar phrasing: ‘外国にルーツを有する日本国籍取得者’ – why not ‘外国にルーツを有する国民’ instead?

    All of this dreck is most likely the output of the 総務省 through their 多文化共生の推進に関する研究会. It is a shame that the toxic ideas of these poisonous bureaucrats are being transmitted to our elected mayors and local governments.

  • I would love to see this as a newspaper article on any news site. Has anyone sent this to Japan Today or The Japan Times? If not, please do. My expectations are low from the J-press.

  • Anon says: I would love to see this as a newspaper article on any news site.

    Me too, definitely a Debito piece and not just for the Japanese domestic market. It’s a name and shame exercise and I can’t wait to hear the Japanese apologist brigade excuse this one away. You’d think that 200 years of discrimination against the Burakumin, derived from their Koseki and juminhyo documentation, would have taught the Japanese authorities something. Maybe it has and that’s the purpose of this exercise.

  • Basically, this is proof of what Debito has been saying all along.
    He became a Japanese citizen but was still called a Gaikokujin or Gaijin.

    People raised in Japanese culture pretend (tatemae) “GaiKokuJin means Foreign Nationality Person.”
    But people raised in Japanese culture feel (honne) GaiKokuJin means Foreign RACE Person.

    Even “50% Foreign Race People” are GaiKokuJin according to this culture.
    Just like when this culture refused entry to one of Debito’s children.

    Even “25% Foreign Race People” are GaiKokuJin in this culture.
    This culture is using the “one visible drop of black % equals black” principle.

    This culture still enforces a caste system based on ancestors’ neighborhood.
    So this culture feels perfectly fine enforcing a caste system based on ancestors’ RACE.

    Japanese culture has a hierarchy system of inherent unequal treatment, and they want to keep it that way.

    Equal treatment for all humans simply does not make sense to people raised in Japanese culture, since Japanese culture does not say that all humans are equal.

    Emperor, then Royals, then Semi-Royals, then Rich Erai Hito, then Semi-Rich, then Majority.

    The Majority feels they need someone to be unfair towards so thank goodness for them they had the darker Ryuukyuu and the lighter Ainu to discriminate against.

    Then due to international pressure the Majority lost the ability to legally discriminate against Ryuukyuu and Ainu, so they had to start pretending “We see them as having entered the Japanese Majority group.”

    Now, all the Majority has left to spit upon and relegate their Kiken Kitanai Kitsui (dangerous dirty, damned) work to is the Burakumin group and the Foreign Race group.

    (Oh, and even if you are a “pure-blooded 日本人 race” person, if you live outside of Japanese culture for more than a year, you are now forever labelled a “returnee” which means even though your racial purity(sic) remains intact you are now as a returnee forever placed into a “culturally damaged due to foreign indoctrination, so lower chance of being accepted into a good university / company / position” group, too bad, hope your stay abroad was worth it.)

    The Majority allows a few 千万円 (with Benefits) public-workers to sit in their Ivory Offices and carefully compose various “We care, let’s be nice even to our foreign race factory slaves” propaganda pamphlets, but even then the honne (true feelings) slip out:

    In 2019 Japanese Culture: if even one drop of foreign RACE percentage can be noticed in you (visually racially, or via the name / original nationality / original birth-place of your ancestors) then you are forever in the RACIAL subclass of GaiKokuJin.

    But hey, please don’t get mad about the above facts, all you (lowly) GaiKokuJin: Japan equally invites you (and any PureJapanese who pretend to like mixed-breeds) to come enjoy a little music and food at the next city-tax-funded “International Gaijin Day” Festival. 😉

    • This.
      Absolutely sums it all up, and could have been written 30, 40 years ago because there has been no social progress what so ever in Japan. If anything, attitudes are becoming more deeply entrenched as Japanese society become more insecure about its dropping standards of living and global relevance. Living in Japan is like being trapped in a giant living history theme park, but the ‘theme’ is red-neck 1950’s, like being Sidney Poitier in In The Heat of the Night.
      Discrimination trumps logic every time here.

  • The word is stupid, but to be fair, it is almost exclusively used when talking about multiculturalism.
    In fact, it is a little bit ironic, because it is the word cities are using to describe basically anyone with a multicultural background, at the same time that they use the word “多文化” to describe the phenomenon itself.
    I don’t think this has much to do with eugenics, or the rise of the third reich, but it is just a misguided word by stupid politicians when trying to look “inclusive” that end up making them look more stupid.

    — Maybe that’s not their intent. But history shows that’s where it logically leads. Ignore it to your disadvantage, if not your peril.

    • Saw his same at the Apologism subreddit:

      “If you read the actual publication, the section that talks about 「外国人市民」is focused on how to help such people better integrate into society in Nagoya, how it’s necessary to increase education options for kids with multicultural heritage, and how to promote multiculturalism in the city in general.

      Sure it wasn’t a well thought out name because it includes people who are Japanese citizens, but the reason they want to include them in this demographic because they could potentially similarly benefit.

      They should have just called it 多文化市民, but they probably had nobody foreign look over the language.”

      He’s fine with the Race-based label “Gaijin”:
      “another gaijin friend”
      “confused gaijin”
      “a lot of gaijins”
      “other gaijins”
      “gaijin friends”
      “gaijin friendly”
      “gaijin-dense areas”
      “employ gaijins”
      “reject gaijin”
      “fellow gyopo”
      “I’m korean american mixed”
      “my girlfriend is Japanese”
      “I moved from Boston to Tokyo in 2016”
      “My background is in International Relations”
      “My grandfather, born over 100 years ago, is Korean”

      Hey Mr. “Gaijin Gyopo Race-Based Label OK”:
      日本人市民 should NOT be called 外国人市民.
      Calling 日本人 「外国人」 due to Race is racist.

      外国人市民 are being excluded from 日本市民
      based not on their nationality: based on race.
      Race exclusion label in “Inclusion pamphlets”.

      It seems you feel this is fine. This is not fine.
      Are you fine with such Race-based exclusion?
      Race-based exclusion starts with 外国人 label.

      Are your future 「ハーフ」日本人 kids 「外国人」?
      Race-based 「外国人」 label leads to 「お断り」.
      Race-based 「外国人」 labeling is inexcusable.

      Such racism allowed by the majority leads to:
      “practices that aim to exclude Genetic groups”
      (Wikipedia root phrase definition of Eugenics)

      • Well, he’s only been in Japan for 5 minutes, and in Tokyo at that.
        Let’s see how he feels about racism in Japan when he’s made a bigger investment of time, energy and effort. Let’s see how he feels when he wants to buy a house and his kids are relentlessly othered by classmates and teachers.
        Apologist tourist. I’ve seen it all before. After a couple of years when the reality sets in, when they pick up enough of the language to overhear all the insults and slights, they all quietly go back to their birth countries and pretend they had a good time.
        C’mon, this guy’s an amateur! I’ve seen the likes of Greg Clark get their bubble burst!

      • I never said I’m OK with the term, in fact I’m against its use.
        The only thing I was saying is that there is xenophobia, and there is ignorance.
        It would be better just to try to contact these cities to have those labels changed.

    • I disagree. Look at the way Shukanshi discuss issues around Japan’s future economically and demographically, and every time it comes down to changing Japanese attitudes about accepting immigrants. And every time the narrative moves on (without missing a beat) to dismissing that because of fears that imaginary national characteristics will disappear and Japanese will be marginalized in their own country.
      And yet, Japan can’t even meet 0.01% of its own immigration targets that are so hopelessly low that they will have no impact on the problems immigration was a solution to.
      Xenophobia trumps self-preservation. Expect the economy and standards of living to get worse whilst the navel-gazing social discourse continues to play up the priceless ‘value’ of being merely born Japanese as a panacea to prevent having to honestly address Japans economic and demographic ills (along with decades of LDP kleptocracy).

      • I’m always hearing how anti immigration Japan is, yet, in actuality it is actually easier to immigrate to Japan than to the US.

        I’m originally from Mexico. I never would had an opportunity to immigrate to the US, even if it’s closer, both geographically and culturally, but somehow I was able to immigrate to Japan without any family links.

        And I don’t know which magazines you are reading (probably far right ones), because the ones I read are almost always pro immigration, pro double nationality, pro reform of the judicial system.

        There is of course xenophobia, but being clueless of the proper way to describe a multicultural society doesn’t equal xenophobia, even thou it is a symptom of how out of touch the government really is.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      People can still embrace eugenic ideology and craft it into the politics without actually practicing eugenics that haunted the Japanese government for many years. Associating “多文化” with “foreigner’s nationality” is a clear indication of peddling for Japan as homogenous culture “myth.” You call it stupid. I would call it Wilsonian ideology in the 21st century, instead.

      • It is stupid.
        Most of the uses I’ve seen of the word are, for example, when looking for people to participate I some talk about multiculturalism in Japan, and they are looking for people with that description, or just for mere statistical analysis of how multicultural is the city.
        To be honest, unless people come forward and they declare themselves to be “外国人市民” it is imposible to determine by the city this. In your juminhyo, unless you are still an actual foreigner, there is no info about your origins, race, or anything that could connect you to a foreign country.

  • This aptly demonstrates why there needs to be a clear distinction between ethnicity and nationality in language as otherwise they just end up being conflated as a kind of ethnonationalist ideology. We can start doing this in English at least to avoid being complicit in such discrimination. ‘Japan’ and ‘Japanese’ are exonyms for a country that became synonymous with the people that lived there when the island chain was given that name. However, since the terms were created the 和人 living there have also conquered the nearby Ryuku islands and the island of Hokkaido and incorporated the people of different ethnic groups there into their empire. 和人 is an endonym for their ethnicity and non-discriminatory therefore perfectly acceptable for wider use. It was actually more widely used when the empire was expanding into Hokkaido so not that long ago historically speaking, check 和人地.

    I can imagine lots of 和人 will protest and say “But I’m Japanese?!” and we can say “Yes, you are, and you are 和人 too.” They will then say “I don’t want to be called 和人, I want to be called Japanese!” and we can say “Now you know how it feels…”

  • GaijinLivesMatter says:

    “which is itself a reasonable category, since we want to attribute citizenry/residency within a city regardless of nationality”

    This seems to undermine the whole point, since the relevant term, 外国人住民, is actually defined immediately below that as referring to a different, somewhat overlapping, classification of people. Having worked in the international relations section of a local government and coordinated extensively with a local “international association”, I can say with certainty that, when Japanese municipalities organize and provide funding for international exchange events and the like, they do not discriminate between naturalized Japanese citizens who were born and raised outside Japan and can therefore make presentations on the cultures of their countries of origin, teach language classes, and so on, in a way “ethnic Japanese” born and raised in Japan cannot.
    This obviously does not apply to Nagoya, but in more rural parts of Japan, such events (etc.) often rely on naturalized citizens and other bicultural and/or multicultural individuals — either there are not enough “real” foreigners to participate and it becomes just a bunch of local Japanese people talking about how they like to study English, or there are “real” foreigners but not enough who have sufficient Japanese-language ability to participate in a meaningful manner.

    This would explain 外国の文化を背景に持つ人 — the category was apparently created to allow bicultural individuals to participate in intercultural exchange events and the like as bicultural individuals rather than just as “Japanese”. This view actually appears to have been espoused by previously
    I for one want the hyphen. I’m a Japanese. An American-Japanese, an Amerika-kei Nihonjin.

    • I don’t want any hyphen. I think that is a particularly US culture thing that might work for them but I’d rather it wasn’t implemented in other countries 🙂

      —- Why not?

      • I just find it weird. The whole ‘Irish-American’ who knows nothing about Ireland thing, or ‘African-American’ who has never been to Africa. Why are they not all just Americans, eh? But that works for them, so fair play and it’s none of my business 😉

        If (when) I naturalise, I will be a Japanese citizen and I don’t want any tags added to that, thank you very much.

        — Okay. But since you went out of your way to volunteer your opinion, it would be a bit more convincing to have more thought than just “I find it weird.”

        Speaking from direct personal experience, and after study of how identity policing goes on in multiple societies, my counterargument is simply a matter of accepting reality. No matter what, you (in particular, Sendaiben) as a Japanese citizen will be a Visible Minority. You aren’t going to be able to change that in a society so binary about identity, especially in a racialized sense. So you might as well accept the hyphen. It’s not a matter of “Americanness”. It’s a matter of allowing yourself to not accept the binary and be both. Because you are both.

        • I have no illusions about people’s (or society’s) view of my Japanese-ness, but I think I have the right to determine my own identity here, which will be Japanese citizen, born in Germany, grown up in Spain, previously UK citizen.

          Just because the US uses hyphens doesn’t mean the rest of the world should too. I particularly don’t want them imposed on me by the government, which happily does not happen at the moment (one reason I find this ‘gaikokujin shimin’ thing problematic).

          —- It’s not like the government imposes hyphens on people now.

          • “which happily does not happen at the moment”

            — Well then, why bring up a hypothetical like that? There’s a lot of imagined stuff going on here, not the least an imagined official enforcement of hyphenated identity policy.

            Anyway, let’s just make what’s happening here clear:

            I am in full support of you determining your identity yourself. If you don’t want the hyphen, of course, don’t take it. Nobody here, there or anywhere said you had to, so suit yourself.

            The only reason we’re talking about it is because you brought it up. You volunteered your opinion, apparently for discussion. So we discussed. I wasn’t convinced by your reasoning, and said so, for no other reason but I thought you wanted to talk about it. And I offered a counter-reason I thought was more convincing to me as part of the discussion.

            If it didn’t convince you, no worries. But you’re trying just a little too hard to find some kind of forced identity politics here. That’s not what I’m doing, and your bringing up an official enforcement mechanism that even you admit doesn’t exist anywhere is evidence of trying too hard.

            Good luck on naturalizing and you’ll find me the first in line raising a glass in your honor, and respecting your distaste for the hyphen.

  • Just looking at this from the sidelines, I don’t get it at all.
    If you naturalize, then you have Japanese citizenship. It’s a legal status, not ‘an identity’ IMHO.
    Japanese-American? German-Japanese? Whatever.
    Why would you want to put yourself in some kind of box by subscribing to an identity based on these terms that is defined and controlled by others?
    The color of your passport is merely a matter of legal status.
    Culture isn’t nearly as all encompassing and universal for any nationality as many would like to believe it is. However you live your life, your ‘culture as an American/German/etc’ isn’t nearly as widely shared as you may believe, and in in fact likely to be either more ‘local’ than the nation-state level or more generally ‘western’ (judeo-Christian, democratic, inalienable human rights).
    I don’t understand why people rush to tick other peoples identity boxes.

  • Actually, it was not me but rather GaijinLivesMatter that brought up the hyphen in their comment that I was replying to. They also gave their interpretation of why Nagoya would introduce the 外国人市民 thing, and expressed their approval. They ended by saying that they wanted a hyphen, to which I replied I didn’t, which is where this little subset of the discussion came from.

    — Okay. Sorry.

    • GaijinLivesMatter says:

      Sorry, for some reason I didn’t notice this, but for what it’s worth there seems to have been a formatting problem. The last line of my comment (“I for one want the hyphen. I’m a Japanese. An American-Japanese, an Amerika-kei Nihonjin.”) was a quote from the linked page.


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