This course introduces students to demographic diversity in contemporary Japanese society through a sociological overview of some selected ethnic groups and minority populations. Japan has long been known – not only by non-Japanese but also by Japanese citizens – as primarily an ethnically and culturally ‘homogeneous society’ due partly to a lack of visible diversity in people’s daily social lives. Japan has, however, historically hosted and socially constructed diverse social groups based on their racial, ethnic, national, and cultural backgrounds, which are considered by the majority of the society as distinctive. This course aims to help students not only to be aware of but also to be familiar with social diversity in contemporary Japanese society.
In this course, students will first learn basic concepts and theories that are important to understanding the dynamics of majority-minority relations and the effects of demographic diversity in society from a sociological perspective. Then, students will focus on each of the selected ethnic groups and minority populations in Japan today and examine the ways in which these ethnic and minority groups experience various forms of assimilation, exclusion, and marginality, as well as privileges, in relation to the majority groups in Japan today.
Overall, students will deepen their knowledge of Japan in today’s world by understanding the ways in which contemporary Japanese society conditions the lives of ethnic groups and minority populations and manages demographic diversity in its seemingly ‘homogeneous’ social and cultural landscape.