Japan as an Ethno-Nationalist Immigrant Society
This introductory chapter provides an overview of Japan as an immigrant country. Japan has become an immigrant country de facto. Starting in the 1980s, to stave off economic decline caused by labor shortage and in the name of internationalization, Japan has tried different programs to bring in foreign workers. In 2012, Japan became one of the most liberal states in its policies for granting permanent residency to highly skilled migrants. As a result, the population of foreigners has been rising for the past three decades and is likely to increase significantly in the near future. Why, then, do both the Japanese government and people inside and outside Japan hesitate to accept the discourse of immigration and the reality of its transformation into an immigrant society? This hesitation has to do with Japan's ethno-nationalist self-identity and the widespread myth surrounding its monoethnic nationhood, on the one hand, and the conventional, albeit anachronistic, definition of “immigrant country” and the difficulty for people to associate an immigrant country with an ethno-nationalist one, on the other hand.
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