The Foreigner Category for Koreans in Japan: Opportunities and Constraints

Chikako Kashiwazaki

in Diaspora without Homeland

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780520098633
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520916197 | DOI:
The Foreigner Category for Koreans in Japan: Opportunities and Constraints

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This article appraises the Zainichi community's dealings with foreigners in Japan. The generic term for foreigners, in Japanese, is gaikokujin. However, usage of this term for ex-Korean descendants, residing in Japan for generations, does not seem to be natural or prudent. For one, pertaining to this foreigner category does not contribute to group solidarity. Second, the Zainichi Koreans are far from the typical image of gaikokujin as it is used as an everyday Japanese idiom. Nevertheless, politically active Zainichi Koreans and their Japanese supporters have emphasized the foreigner category in their fight against social injustice and to maintain Korean cultural identity in Japanese society. One idea emerges, that in the existence of legal citizenship, consolidating under the gaikokujin umbrella, in the face of social unacceptability, group solidarity and, hence, collective bargaining power enhance. It facilitates a unique instance wherein a minority group appropriates an imposed category.

Keywords: gaikokujin; Japanese idiom; politically active Zainichi; Japanese supporters; cultural identity; imposed category

Chapter.  9853 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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