In Japan, the homogeneous discourse of the society, “Japaneseness,” defines the nation, citizenship, identity, and belonging based on cultural norms of the mainstream ethnic Japanese. However, the presence of immigrants has begun to silently challenge the mono-ethnic view of “Japaneseness.” This article examines how Japanese teachers manage the presence of newcomers and old-time foreign students as they teach under the myth of a mono-ethnic society and experiences of foreign teachers in the larger social context. Sources of data, collected in one Japanese school and one Japanese as a second language (JSL) workshop, were archival documents and school-related materials as well as interviews with ten informants. Emerging themes were teachers’ perception of a mono-ethnic nation, the negative image of Korean students, teachers’ major focus on Japanese students with poor grades, and experiences of foreign teachers in the larger social context. Regarding the theory of hegemony, our data provided examples of consenting, noncoercive force in civil society (Gramsci, 1999; Morrow & Torres, 1995). First, teachers only acknowledged the presence of foreign students as exceptions to the mono-ethnic rule. Teachers’ voices confirmed Lie’s argument (2001). Second, the silence of students with Korean backgrounds, except for Miyagi, indicated an invisible but pervasive pressure of presenting the nation as comprising ethnic Japanese under the hegemony of”Japanesenesss,”as Lee (2006) claims. Third, Japanese teachers prioritized the needs of Japanese students with lower grades over the small numbers of foreign students with limited language proficiency. Their concept of “fairness” to all students demonstrated that their attention was focused mainly on the majority Japanese students. Moreover, teachers demonstrated a hidden transcript (Scott, 1990) about the presence of students with Korean ethnic heritage in their school. Thus, teachers’ acceptance of the myth of homogeneity was not threatened by their multicultural experience with foreign students. Teachers are serving as conduits through which hegemonic ideas of “Japaneseness” are inculcated into students, a process that, by and large, marginalizes foreign students.
|Keywords:||Diversity, Globalization, “Japaneseness,” Homogeneity, Multicultural Education, Othering|
Doctoral Student, Department of Educational Studies, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA
Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies in Education, Department of Educational Studies, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA
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