Being Korean, Becoming Japanese?: Nationhood, Citizenship, and Resistance in Japan

Hardback: $72.00
ISBN-13: 9780824896140
Published: August 2024
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Paperback: $28.00
ISBN-13: 9780824898427
Published: August 2024
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Additional Information

288 pages | 9 b& white illustrations
  • About the Book
  • In Japan the number of “Special Permanent Residents”—most of whom are of Korean descent, the so-called “Zainichi”—is declining according to government statistics. Does this mean Koreans living in Japan are becoming Japanese? This volume presents a compelling sociological analysis of Korean colonial migrants’ and their descendants’ politics of self-identification and their ongoing struggle for social justice. Centering on the social and political exclusion of Koreans, the book asks two fundamental questions: What has triggered the historical transformations of nationhood, citizenship, and migration policies in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Japan? How are these transformations related?

    Hwaji Shin challenges the persistent belief that Japan’s ethno-racial homogeneity is responsible for its restrictive citizenship and immigration laws. She argues that the relationships between nationhood, citizenship, and migration in Japan have always been fluid and historically contingent rather than causal or static. Her work examines the nexus of these three concepts from a subaltern perspective and illuminates the ways in which non-state, marginalized actors directly influenced the state’s development of citizenship and immigration policies. It explores the failures and triumphs of Koreans resisting Japanese ethno-racial oppression through stories of ordinary lives that have been disrupted by wars, elites’ interests, and geopolitics. Being Korean, Becoming Japanese? draws on rich historical data to provide a powerful narrative about how Koreans in Japan have defiantly survived and thrived to impact the country’s ideas and policies of nationhood, citizenship, and migration for more than a century.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Hwaji Shin, Author

      Hwaji Shin is associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of San Francisco.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Being Korean, Becoming Japanese? takes on the 'myth of homogeneity' often used to explain Japan's restrictions regarding nation, state, and belonging, as well as racism toward minority groups in historical and contemporary contexts. Hwaji Shin boldly centers and reclaims the voices of Koreans as active agents in defining what nationhood and citizenship has meant for their community in Japan and asks critical questions about the meaning of 'belonging' for Koreans living there at different points over the last hundred years.
      —Erik Ropers, Towson University
    • Focusing on the case of Koreans in Japan, Hwaji Shin convincingly demonstrates the fluid relationships between nationhood, citizenship, and migration policies. By critically analyzing the interaction of these social forces across the prewar, wartime, and postwar periods, she highlights the importance of not oversimplifying histories and reveals fascinating details that are often lost or overlooked.
      —Jane H. Yamashiro, Mills College at Northeastern University