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Diaspora without HomelandBeing Korean in Japan$
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Sonia Ryang and John Lie

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520098633

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520098633.001.0001

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The Foreigner Category for Koreans in Japan: Opportunities and Constraints

The Foreigner Category for Koreans in Japan: Opportunities and Constraints

Chapter:
(p.121) 6. The Foreigner Category for Koreans in Japan: Opportunities and Constraints
Source:
Diaspora without Homeland
Author(s):

Chikako Kashiwazaki

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520098633.003.0007

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

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