Submission Date


Document Type



East Asian Studies


Matthew Mizenko

Committee Member

Matthew Mizenko

Committee Member

Glenda Chao

Committee Member

Xochitl Shuru

Department Chair

Matthew Mizenko

Project Description

Japan is, as former Prime Minister Asō Tarō once put it, commonly described as being “one race, one civilization, one language and one culture.” This statement reflects a popular conception of Japan as a homogenous nation. However, the purpose of this paper, building on earlier research, is to assess what exactly Japanese identity is, how it is constructed / maintained, and who is and is not considered “Japanese.” The impetus of this inquiry comes from my research of the hisabetsu burakumin, a Japanese social outcaste group, who have undergone significant changes throughout their long history as a socially-constructed “minority.” This particular study of Japanese identity and its “Other” should help illuminate how ideology, discourse, and discrimination fuse with social institutions to create a means of self-identification and Other-identification. Using the particular cases of the Zainichi Koreans and the hisabetsu burakumin, I intend to analyze how different identities are incorporated into the larger social apparatus of Japanese society, which recognizes only one notion of “Japanese.”