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Towards a More Just Educational Policy for Minorities in Japan: the case of Korean ethnic schools

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       Comparative Education Volume 38 No. 2 2002 pp. 225-237
       Towards a More Just Educational Policy for Minorities in Japan: the case of Korean ethnic schools
       abstract Internationally, the simple assimilation of minority students is gradually being replaced by an emphasis on pluralism and multiculturalism, reflecting increased awareness of the value of cultural diversity. How to allow for cultural diversity, however, remains largely undetermined and controversial in various respects. Japan in particular is experiencing the challenge of cultural diversity, even though the country has often been portrayed as ethnically homogeneous. This paper focuses on the situation of Korean residents, one of several long-time minority groups in Japan, and discusses the significance of Korean ethnic schools in light of socio-historical considerations. Factors affecting the bicultural identity of Korean residents in Japan, and minorities in general, are considered. It is concluded that, although separate schooling for cultural minority students is not usually favoured in western societies, a strong case can be made for recognising the legitimacy of Korean ethnic schools in Japan.
       Introduction: minorities and education
       Various ways of accommodating minority students reflect how different societies perceive the existence of their minorities. When a society does not appreciate differences from the dominant culture, such differences are viewed as a 'problem' to be overcome. Assimilation to the dominant culture is then seen as the answer to this problem, and schools are used to help eliminate the differences. Perhaps the clearest example of this process can be found in the experience of indigenous populations around the world. In Canada, for instance, when European missionaries were trying to educate aboriginal peoples from the 17th century onward, what they meant in part by education was to convert the aboriginal peoples to Christianity to 'save' and 'civilise' them (Barman et al, 1986). Especially from the mid-19th century, residential schools were utilised as a means to westernise aboriginal peoples. Large-scale residential schools forced aboriginal students to stay away from their homes and prohibited them from speaking their mother tongue, since their culture was seen as a barrier to attaining western cultural values and identity. Residential education was, in short, the practice of systematic assimilation. However, this method was not effective in achieving its goal. Rather, 'the graduates of [residential] schools ... became marginalised beings, lacking the necessary skills of both White and Indian cultures, confused over their identity, and left to their own devices after their failed school experience' (Wilson, 1986, p. 83). Academic achievements, where they occurred at all, remained at the level of basic literacy because of teachers' low expectations and poor resources (Barman et al, 1986). In spite of these limitations, the practice of treating aboriginal peoples as the target of assimilation through undermining their own culture continued in Canada until very recently.
       Correspondence to: Dr Yoko Motani, International Institute for Global Education, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6, Canada. Email:
       ISSN 0305-0068 print; ISSN 1360-0486 online/02/020225-13 No 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/03050060220140593
       226 У. Motani
       In the case of other minorities, too, cultural differences have often been seen as a source of problems. One of the most popular explanations of school failure among minority students in many western countries in the 1960s and 1970s was in terms of the concept of 'cultural deprivation' (Ogbu, 1974). On this view, minority students fail because their culture--values, attitudes, and approach to learning--is different from that of the school culture, which reflects the culture of the dominant group. This explanation has been utilised in many studies to explain the 'problem' of minority students, in spite of the fact that not all cultural minorities fail at school (Ogbu, 1974).
       A shift is gradually taking place, however, from assimilation to pluralism and multicul-turalism. We have entered the age when cultural diversity is increasingly recognised as a social value. One of the reasons for this change is that cultural diversity, as a demographic reality, has become widespread since around the 1960s. Since then, immigration policies in many liberal democratic societies have been relaxed, allowing the entry of more 'culturally diverse' people (Samuda, 1989, pp. 6-8). In the midst of this change there arises the question of how far society should go to accommodate the needs and rights of minorities. As Grant (1997) says: 'An education system will naturally reflect the norms of the host society ... For the schools, the question is how far they can or should take account of cultural differences, how much variation they can accept and whether they should seek to assimilate the minorities or encourage them to retain and develop their own cultures, or something in between' (p. 24).
       Japan in particular is not immune to this trend, even though it has often been depicted as an ethnically homogeneous country (tanitsu-minzoku-kokka). Japan's minorities are in­creasingly becoming visible, raising their voices and claiming that they have been there and continue to live there as minorities. These minorities include 'new comers' and 'old timers' (Okano & Tsuchiya, 1999, p. 111). Newcomers are, in general, voluntary immigrants who started coming to Japan in larger numbers between the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period special working permits were given to certain groups of foreigners such as: women working in the sex and entertainment industry; refugees from Indo-Chinese countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos); the second and third generation of Japanese nationals who resided or were born in Manchuria, Japan's colony till the end of World War II; and businessmen from Europe and the USA (Komai, 2000). As the country experienced an economic surge in the late 1980s, the number of foreigners working as cheap labour increased dramatically. For instance, the number of foreigners staying in Japan jumped from 2,865 to 145,614 between 1987 and 1991 (Tanaka, 1991). Since many such labourers were working without a proper visa, the Immigration Control Act was revised to respond to the influx of illegal guest workers. The new Immigration Act of 1989 allowed descendants of Japanese nationals who had migrated to Latin American countries such as Brazil {Nikkeijin) to stay and work in Japan with few regulations.
       Even though Japan has been experiencing economic stagnation since the early 1990s, the number of Nikkeijin entering Japan has not decreased and the majority of newcomers are staying longer, with the average stay extending to more than five years (Komai, 2000, pp. 316-317). Indeed, the number of foreign workers in Japan is expected to grow rapidly in the foreseeable future. In January 2000, an advisory panel to the Prime Minister released a report on a future plan for Japan. One of its recommendations was to reform Japan's immigration policy to attract more immigrants (Japan Times Online, 22 August 2000). Confirming this trend, in February 2001 the Ministry of Justice announced that it would ease requirements for qualified Indian information technology experts to work in Japan (Japan Times Online, 10 February 2001). As in other OECD countries, Japan's immigration policy is becoming relaxed, although recent revisions have made it quite

    A More Just Educational Policy in Japan 227

       difficult for certain unskilled guest workers to enter Japan (Okano &Tsuchiya, 1999; Tanaka, 1991).
       Old timers, on the other hand, are mainly the subjects (and their descendants) of Japan's colonisation before World War II. For instance, the Ainu, Japan's indigenous population living mainly in the northern part of Japan {Hokkaido), became Japanese nationals during the Meiji Period (1886-1913) when Japan was expanding its territories in the process of modernisation (Hanami, 1995; Lie, 2000). Similarly, the Okinawans, the inhabitants of the Ryukyu Islands, were originally part of an independent kingdom which became an addition to Japan's expanding territory in the 1870s (Lie, 2000).
       Ever since, these culturally diverse populations have been subjected to the assimilation policies of the central government of Japan, deprived of the opportunity to develop a positive identity as members of a minority group. The systematic undermining of their linguistic and cultural heritage was carried out through formal education for assimilation to Japanese norms. The experience of the Ainu and Okinawans is similar to that of aboriginal peoples in Canada in that the maintenance of their language and culture was discouraged. Ogawa (1997) has shown that, in the late 19th century, formal education functioned as a means to assimilate the Ainu to the dominant Japanese culture. Even today, the teaching of Ainu language, culture and history is prohibited in public schools in Hokkaido (Maher, 1997). Similarly, the Ryukyuan language, a distinct spoken language closely related to Japanese, has no official status in public education and its use is strongly discouraged in some schools (Matsumori, 1995). Revitalisation efforts through restoration of traditional cultural events and heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining spoken languages are increasing, especially at the local level; however, there exists no official policy of multicultural education that recognises the cultural heritage of the Ainu and Okinawans.
       As a result of this systematic assimilation strategy, minorities in Japan have been denied opportunities to embrace their cultural heritage and to develop their cultural identity. For instance, an Ainu activist woman recalls an incident at an elementary school in 1953 as follows: 'I found out [that I was Ainu] when the children around me kept calling me 'Ainu'. Even though they called me Ainu, I still had no idea what it meant. I didn't even know that my own grandmothers had Ainu names, so it didn't dawn on me ... Since we were very poor, I figured that poor people were called Ainu' (Kitahara, 1995, p. 153).
       Finally, there is a Korean minority that was forced to come to Japan around the time of Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910. In this paper, I will focus on the situation of this group as a case study of the broader issues of culture and education. In what follows, the socio-historical context of this Korean minority group in Japan will be described in some detail, after which the issue of whether there should be Korean ethnic schools for Korean residents in Japan will be discussed.
       Socio-Historical Conditions Surrounding the Korean Minority Group in Japan
       Most permanent Korean-national residents in Japan are the direct result of Japanese imperi­alism that ended with Japan's defeat in World War II. The imperial actions and outlook contributed to the view that 'Koreans are intrinsically inferior to Japanese, and that Korean culture possesses nothing of unique value' (Kim, 1979, p. 56). As imperial Japan gained control over the Korean peninsula at the beginning of the 1900s, many Koreans were forced to come to Japan to work as cheap labour. During the war, the forced immigration pushed the number of Korean workers in Japan to as many as 2.3 million (Lee, 1991, p. 141; Fukuoka, 1993, p. 23). As soon as the war was over, the majority of Koreans went back to Korea. According to Lee (1991), a Korean government report states that more than 1.4
       228 Y. Motani
       million Koreans had returned to Korea by the end of 1946 (p. 141). Between 5 and 600,000 Koreans chose to stay in Japan. We can only speculate on the reasons for their decision, but it is likely that they did not necessarily wish to stay. There was economic confusion in Korea due to imperial Japan's rule and the following Korean War. Moreover, the Supreme Command for the Allied Forces in Japan allowed Koreans to take with them only as much as 1000 yen, which discouraged them from going back. With that kind of money, one could not 'buy more than a few cartons of cigarettes in Korea' (Lee, 1991, p. 142).
       The legal status of Korean residents in Japan has changed over the years reflecting the development of relations between Korea (which became South and North Korea after the Korean War) and Japan. Korean residents in Japan were Japanese nationals after they became colonial subjects of Japan. When the San Francisco Treaty was signed in 1952 after Japan's defeat in World War II, the Koreans lost their Japanese nationality (Ryang, 1997, pp. 120-121). In 1965, when diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea were normalised, South Korean nationals in Japan qualified for permanent residency status. However, the legal status of those who identified with North Korea, even though the majority of them were not from the North geographically (Ryang, 1997, p. 81), remained ambiguous until very recently because Japan and North Korea had not established normal diplomatic relations. North Korean residents in Japan were finally granted permanent residency by the Ministry of Justice in 1982.
       Japan's nationality is based on the principle of ancestry (ius sanguinis), not territoriality (ius soli). Therefore, the second and later generations of Korean nationals are not automati­cally naturalised. Nevertheless, as the third and fourth generations are becoming the majority of the Korean minority, the exact number of 'Korean-Japanese' is becoming difficult to grasp. Every year about 5,000 Koreans apply for naturalisation. It is reported that 102,544 Koreans had been naturalised in Japan by 1980 (Lee, 1991, p. 142). Marriage between Korean and Japanese nationals is also increasing. In 1970, among the 6,892 marriages of Koreans, 42.4% were intermarriages with Japanese nationals, whereas 56.3% were with Koreans. But in 1991, out of 11,677 Korean marriages only 16.8% were with Koreans (Fukuoka, 1993). It is estimated that about one to two million people with at least some Korean heritage are living in Japan either as permanent foreign residents or as their naturalised Japanese national descendants (Fukuoka, 1993; Nakajima, 1985).
       Because of the complexity associated with nationality, permanent residents of Korean heritage shall be called zainichi Koreans hereafter. Zainichi literally means 'residing in Japan.' Permanent foreign residents and their descendants are usually called zainichi in Japanese. There are, for instance, zainichi Chinese as well as zainichi Koreans.
       As foreign nationals in Japan, Korean residents had been a target of various kinds of discrimination. They were excluded from social welfare such as national health insurance, national pension programmes, and unemployment benefits (Hanami, 1995, p. 129). They were also excluded from national and local governmental positions, including teaching (Hanami, 1995, p. 129). Large corporations declined Korean applicants as employees. Marriage proposals of Korean residents were often refused when it was revealed that they were Korean, although this trend seems to be changing as indicated in the statistics above.
       Obviously one strategy for overcoming these obstacles for foreign residents is to seek naturalisation. As seen above, many zainichi Koreans choose this strategy. It should be noted, however, that a number of zainichi Koreans resist naturalisation because they perceive the naturalisation process as one of becoming completely Japanese, accepting the dominant social norms of Japan (Bae, 1989, p. 86; Ryang, 1997, p. 121). As mentioned earlier, since Japan relies on blood-ties to determine her citizens' nationality, foreign nationals seem to feel that if they were to be naturalised there would be a very strong pressure to assimilate into the

    A More Just Educational Policy in Japan 229

       mainstream Japanese culture. Indeed, the naturalisation process can be quite oppressive for non-Japanese, as Ryang (1997) describes: 'In the Japanese nationality law, the kika [natural­isation] is referred to as a 'permit,' a benefit bestowed upon an individual who is eligible to become Japanese, not a right to be obtained in exchange for fulfilling a set of requirements' (p. 121). The director of the National Department of Civil Affairs of the Ministry of Justice confirmed this view: 'Naturalisation would be permitted for those who have acquired the Japanese lifestyle and who have succeeded in reducing their original traits, as it is a matter of course that naturalisation requires assimilation [to Japanese society] of the applicant' (Kim, 1990, cited by Ryang, 1997, pp. 121-122, emphasis added). Further, Japan does not allow its nationals to have more than one nationality.
       Some of Japan's extremely assimilationist policies have been revised in recent years. For instance, the strong recommendation to 'Japanise' names in the naturalisation process was revised in 1984 (Tanaka, 1991, p. 157). However, such revisions are hardly enough to be considered as an effort of the Japanese government to recognise its minorities. For instance, as late as 1980, Japan officially declared that there are no ethnic minorities in Japan whose culture is different from the Japanese one (Maher, 1997). Macdonald (1995) describes this lack of recognition of cultural diversity within Japan as follows:
       The Japanese government, despite an obvious ethnic mix in the nation's population, has throughout this century promoted an image of homogeneity--to the extent that a newcomer to Japan might be forgiven for expecting that all people in Japan will look, think, speak and act alike, be the same shape, and share their history, their favourite foods, and one cultural experience. Non-Japanese in the Japanese popu­lation are often conveniently ignored, both within Japan and beyond, as if they have no real part to play ... Japanese people who do not conform to the national images may experience severe emotional or material hardship, (p. 291)
       This means that Japan lacks what Berry (1997) calls the 'ideology of multiculturalism,' that is, 'the widespread acceptance of the value to a society of cultural diversity' (Berry, 1997, p. 11). It appears quite reasonable, then, for non-Japanese to perceive the naturalisation process as a sign denying one's own cultural heritage.
       In general, zainichi Koreans enjoy few opportunities to affirm their Korean heritage in Japan. Their resistance to assimilation to the dominant Japanese culture has been expressed by their resistance to naturalisation, which in turn has limited their status to be fully recognised as citizens of Japan.
       The Origin of Korean Ethnic Schools in Japan
       Educational discrimination against zainichi Koreans also has deep roots in the modern history of Korea and Japan. One form of discrimination has been the oppression of Korean ethnic schools by the Ministry of Education (Monbusho, currently called Monbukagakusho).
       During Japanese colonial rule, in Korea as well as in Japan, the Japanese government systematically suppressed Korean culture and language through Kominka Seisaku (the policy of subordinating people to the Emperor). Korean names were forcibly replaced by Japanese ones, and the teaching of Korean language, history, and geography in schools was prohibited. After Japan's colonial rule ended in 1945, zainichi Koreans established many schools, hoping to restore their suppressed culture and history. It is reported that, within about a year after the end of the war, zainichi Koreans had founded a great many minzoku gakko (ethnic schools): 525 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 12 schools of higher education (Tanaka, 1991, p. 62; Kow, 1996, p. 85).
       230 Y. Motani
       Table I. Comparison of the curriculum of Korean ethnic schools and Japanese schools according to percentage of time devoted to various subjects in elementary and lower

    secondary schools.

       Korean Ethnic Schools

    Japanese Schools






       Social Studies/Moral Education








       Natural Science



       Physical Education/Music/Art





       Source: Lee (1998, p. 114)
       However, during the occupation period, these 'grass-roots' schools established by Koreans were ordered to follow the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education, except for the Korean language class as an extra-curricula class (Lee & De Vos, 1981, p. 164). Then in 1948 the Ministry of Education decided that Korean children should attend Japanese schools with Japanese children. This decision of the Ministry of Education was forced on zainichi Koreans between 1952 and 1965, even though their children were not guaranteed equal educational opportunity. During this period, zainichi Korean children were admitted only when space and facilities were sufficient to accommodate them. When admitted, they had to pledge that 'they do not disturb the public order' (Lee, 1991, p. 144). Eventually, between 1948 and 1955, many of these Korean ethnic schools were forced to shut down (Lee, 1991, p. 144). After 1965 (the ratification of the San Francisco Treaty), the governments of Korea and Japan formally agreed that all zainichi Korean children should attend public schools, together with Japanese children.
       The decision of the Ministry of Education to allow zainichi Korean children to attend Japanese schools may not sound 'unjust' or 'oppressive'. It could be interpreted as giving zainichi Koreans 'equal opportunity' with Japanese, analogous to the decision of the Brown v. Board of Education case in the USA which ended segregated schooling based on racial differences. However, zainichi Koreans were furious about the 1948 decision of the Ministry of Education (Kow, 1996, p. 88). They saw it as another strategy of the Japanese government to suppress Korean cultural heritage. In Yamaguchi, Okayama, Hyogo, Osaka, and Tokyo prefectures, zainichi Koreans tried to resist the order to shut down their schools (Kow, 1996, pp. 89-89; Ryang, 1997, pp. 85-86). There was only one occasion during the occupation period when a state of emergency was declared, and that was when zainichi Koreans were fighting against the closure of their schools in the Hanshin (Osaka and Hyogo) area (Tanaka, 1991; Kow, 1996; Ryang, 1997).
       As seen above, the Japanese government has consistently discouraged the maintenance of Korean ethnic identity, before and during the war and during the occupation period. The oppression of Korean ethnic schools has been an attempt to continue supporting the Japanese government's strong assimilation policy.
       The Current Situation of Korean Ethnic Schools
       In spite of various forms of oppression, many zainichi Korean schools were re-established after 1956. At present, there are more than 100 Korean ethnic schools in Japan (Lee, 1998,

    A More Just Educational Policy in Japan 231

       p. 99; Tezuka, 1995, p. 275). One of the many distinctive characteristics of Korean ethnic schools is that the main medium of instruction is Korean (Ryang, 1997, p. 25). Since the mother tongue of most current zainichi Korean students is Japanese, the education given in Korean ethnic schools is immersion-type bilingual education (Lee, 1998). The quality of education and the curriculum these ethnic schools provide is not inferior to that of regular Japanese schools. The schools focus more on the teaching of Korean language, history, and geography, but this is not to a significant degree at the expense of teaching Japanese language, for instance. The curriculum of Korean schools is quite similar to that of Japanese schools (Ryang, 1997, p. 25; also see Table I). The subjects taught are: Japanese, mathematics, English, natural science, history, geography, physical education, music, and art. The fact that many graduates of Korean ethnic schools pass the universities' and colleges' entrance examinations is evidence that the quality of education at these schools is not very different from that of other Japanese schools.
       In the past, children in North Korean ethnic schools were educated as overseas North Korean nationals (Ryang, 1997), although zainichi North Koreans have always also wanted their children to learn the Japanese language and culture and contribute to Japanese society, if they continued to live in Japan (Park, 1980, 1987). Now that the majority of zainichi Koreans are likely to continue living in Japan, however, these schools are forced to meet the demands of the younger generation. In particular, curricular reform among North Korean ethnic schools in 1993 clearly indicated that their Educational goals were to raise children as zainichi Koreans who could contribute to the Japanese society and beyond (Hicks, 1997; Lee, 1998; Ryang, 1997). In the new curriculum more hours are spent on the teaching of Japanese history, society, and language (Ryang, 1997, p. 51).
       However, the Japanese Ministry of Education does not recognise the majority of Korean ethnic schools as regular schools (ichijoko, schools recognised by the first article of the Education Law). Instead, they are recognised as miscellaneous (non-academic) schools (kakushu gakko), which includes technical schools such as cooking and sewing schools (the notification of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education regarding Education of zainichi Korean children, issued in 1965, cited by Kim, 1992, pp. 248-249). The critical difference between regular schools and miscellaneous schools is that graduates of the former automatically qualify as applicants to higher education institutions, while those of the latter do not (the notification of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education regarding Education of zainichi Korean children, issued in 1978, cited by Kow, 1996, p. 20). As a result, just to qualify as applicants to universities and colleges, the graduates of ethnic schools have either to graduate from regular Japanese schools or pass the examinations for qualifying as applicants to universities and colleges (so-called Daiken, short for Daigaku Nyugaku Shikaku Kentei). Many students at Korean ethnic schools are forced to obtain a regular school diploma by taking correspondence high school courses (Kow, 1996, pp. 21-25; Okano & Tsuchiya, 1999, p. 114).
       Resisting these official policies of the Ministry of Education, some universities and colleges accept the graduates of ethnic schools, and the number of such higher educational institutions is growing. They are accepting these graduates based on the Education Law, not the notification of the Ministry of Education. The Education Law, article 56 (69), states that those who qualify as applicants to universities and colleges are: (1) graduates of regular high schools; (2) those who have finished 12 years of regular education; and (3) those who can be recognised as having the same ability as students who qualify for (1) and (2) (Tezuka, 1995, p. 276). However, national universities (kokuritsu daigaku), many of which are considered as the most prestigious in Japan (e.g., University of Tokyo and University of Kyoto), continue to follow the notification of the Ministry of Education.
       232 Y. Motani
       Zainichi Koreans are discouraged from attending ethnic schools because they are categorised as non-academic schools. At regular schools, on the other hand, there are no official policies for respecting Korean culture or language. The possibility of government-sponsored bilingual education for Korean minorities is unthinkable (Maher & Kawanishi, 1995, p. 168). The only exception is the holding of ethnic classes (minzoku gakkyu) that can be found at some schools in the areas where more zainichi Koreans have traditionally resided (e.g. Osaka). However, although ethnic classes are important for the identity development of zainichi Korean students (Hester, 2000; Kim, 1995, discussed below), their influence is minimal since, in general, they are held only once a week and their activities are limited to the introduction of basic Korean language and culture. As a result, substantial ethnic education is not accessible to many zainichi Korean students (Hester, 2000). In this context, separate schools for zainichi Koreans function as a secure space for them to affirm their cultural and linguistic heritage, which is hard to find in the mainstream Japanese society.
       On Separatism and Identity
       Separate schools may be objected to on the ground that respect for cultural diversity should be assured differently. Separate schooling for ethnic minorities has been a controversial topic in many western, liberal, and democratic societies because it is feared that it would lead to mono-cultural identity based on ethnicity, thus promoting separatism. For instance, Burton-wood (1985) argues that separate schools are aimed only at transmitting culturally specific knowledge and values. He calls the advocacy of this type of schooling a secessionist approach, analogous to Kuhn's normal science model. Burtonwood argues that Popper's more transfor­mative and critical concept of science should be the model for ideal multicultural education, since the secessionist approach diminishes the values of individual freedom and creativity. Many others have advanced similar arguments in opposition to the idea of separate schools (e.g., Appiah, 1994; Gutmann, 1995; Rorty, 1995; Schlesinger, 1998).
       Opponents of separate schooling might argue that educational reforms aimed at more democratic schools for all students, both the Japanese majority and minorities, should be promoted rather than separate schools. This is the position taken by Fukuoka (1996). He conducted intensive interviews with zainichi Korean youths, and identified four types of identity development: Assimilationist; Pluralist; Individualist; and Nationalist. According to Fukuoka, typical zainichi Korean youths with a pluralist identity do not attend separate ethnic schools. They attend regular Japanese schools, and as they grow, they incidentally learn about their Korean heritage, through friends and social groups or with the help of teachers. Those who develop the nationalist-type identity have attended separate ethnic schools, and their ties to Korean communities are much stronger. Fukuoka argues that promotion of segregation (that develops nationalist-type identity) is not desirable, and that mutual understanding (based on pluralist-type identity) must be supported. (Fukuoka, 1996).
       The promotion of separatist identity may not be desirable. But how did this separatist identity emerge? Is it actually as a result of attending separate ethnic schools? Seeking answers to these questions, I would now like to look at the identity development process of minority students. It is a complex process, but a theoretical framework with respect to the develop­ment of bicultural identity in minority children is emerging. According to many empirical studies, minorities typically follow four types of acculturation process, in many ways confirming Fukuoka's results indicated above: separation/traditional, marginalisation, integration/bicultural and assimilation (Berry, 1997; Darder, 1991; Ebuchi, 1994; Garrett, 1996). The separation/traditional type of student is somewhat isolated from the mainstream society, more fluent in the mother tongue; the marginal type may be fluent in both mother

    A More Just Educational Policy in Japan 233

       tongue and an official language, but is not necessarily accepted by the mainstream society or within his/her own cultural community; the integration/bicultural type speaks both languages and is accepted by the mainstream society, without losing ties to his/her cultural community; the assimilation type may speak both languages and be accepted by the mainstream society, but s/he has weak ties to the cultural community, embracing only the mainstream culture.
       There exist many variables affecting how minority individuals come to fit one of the above categories rather than the others (Berry, 1997). However, the experience of non-dominant cultural groups includes collective 'identity threats' (Breakwell, 1986), lack of 'recognition' (Taylor, 1994), 'stigma' (Ebuchi, 1994) or, simply, discrimination (Fernando, 1993). It is this type of collective experience that has traditionally resulted in marginalisation or separation, forcing members of non-dominant cultural groups to internalise the dominant group's demeaning image of them.
       In this context, for those who belong to non-dominant cultural groups, asserting the value of one's cultural identity becomes crucial to developing assertive bicultural identity. Darder argues that, in this harsh environment, students from non-dominant cultures need to develop a capacity to encounter critically the dominant view of them and to 'awaken the bicultural voice' (Darder, 1991, p. 69). Without developing such a capacity, students lose their bicultural voice to the dominant culture. Darder (1991) argues:
       The development of voice and social empowerment go hand in hand as bicultural students peel away the layers of oppression and denial, undergo a deconstruction of the conditioned definitions of who they are, and emerge with a sense of their existence as historically situated social agents who can utilize their understanding of their world and themselves to enter into dialogue with those who are culturally different, (pp. 69-70)
       Undoubtedly, there will not be just one universal principle governing how students from non-dominant cultural groups overcome collective identity threats. However, we should not ignore the fact that certain kinds of education affirming minorities' cultural and linguistic heritage are indeed effective in restoring pride in one's distinctive cultural identity, helping one develop an assertive bicultural identity. From a study on identity formation of Korean minorities in Japan, Kim (1995) argues that education which recognises and respects Korean culture is effective in developing positive bicultural identity. Kim conducted a survey on men and women maintaining Korean citizenship between the ages of 18 and 30 in Japan. He established that more than 60% of the participants experienced a negative sense of self-esteem as a Korean (Kim, 1995, p. 5). According to Kim's analysis, the determining factor for such 'identity threats' is discriminatory experiences, and the most memorable ones occur between the ages of 9 and 12. Kim's study also indicates that a factor which contributes to overcoming the threat is ethnic education. According to Kim, attending ethnic classes can help youths regain the confidence to cope with their identity threats in a positive manner.
       Kim's findings are confirmed by Berry's (1997) based on an extensive literature review of empirical studies on the acculturation process of immigrants. He notes that supports for maintaining links to one's own culture, as well as to the host society, can maximise the chance of successful adaptation. Kymlicka (1989, 1995) observes that assuring cultural stability enables members of minority cultures to make meaningful life choices, which is the major concern of liberals. The failure to provide protective measures diminishes such opportunities, disadvantaging cultural minorities. Kim's and Berry's findings support the arguments of Darder and Kymlicka.
       Students attending Korean ethnic schools may seem to develop separatist identity because their ties to Korean communities are quite strong, when compared with other
       234 Y. Motani
       zainichi Koreans. They would not hesitate to identify themselves simply as 'Korean', not 'Korean-Japanese'. Even though Korean identity is central to their existence, however, the fact is that they are bilinguals and biculturals who continue living in Japan (Ryang, 1997). Since the mainstream culture has been very reluctant to recognise cultural diversity, Korean ethnic schools have functioned as one of the very few spaces for Korean students to affirm their cultural and linguistic heritage. What Korean ethnic schools promote, then, is not separatism, as Fukuoka suggests. These schools, rather, are promoting affirmation of the Korean cultural and linguistic heritage, which is lacking in other schools. The result of such affirmation is Korean-Japanese bilingualism/biculturalism (Lee, 1998).
       Inconsistency of the Ministry of Education
       It is also inconsistent for the Ministry of Education to continue imposing an assimilationist educational policy, denying the benefits of ethnic schools. For instance, the Ministry of Education takes special care of Japanese children living abroad. There are Japanese schools (Nihonjin gakko) which aim to assure the same education as the Japanese regular schools in Japan. There are also supplementary schools (hoshu ko) for Japanese students attending regular schools abroad in order to provide an opportunity for them to continue learning with Japanese educational materials, outside regular school hours (after school and on Saturdays). For Japanese schools, the Ministry of Education sends qualified teachers at no extra charge, making sure Japanese children abroad have access to the same quality of education as their peers in Japan (Kow, 1996, p. 168-173). The Ministry of Education does not expect these 'ethnic Japanese schools' to be denied approval as academic regular schools according to the educational policy abroad.
       More recently, in 1994, it was reported that the Ministry of Education is considering treating graduates of a German school in Japan as regular school graduates, even if the school is recognised only as kakushu gakko, not ichijo ko (Kow, 1996, p. 226). However, the Ministry of Education is insisting that such treatment not be applied to Korean ethnic schools (Kow, 1996, p. 227). This is simply illogical, and inappropriate for a country that claims to be democratic and liberal.
       Recognising a certain cultural autonomy for minority groups is still a controversial topic in liberal democratic societies. The fear of divisiveness looms whenever cultural differences are emphasised. In particular, the idea of separate schools on the basis of cultural differences has not been very much favoured in many western societies. However, there seem to exist certain cases where recognising separate schools constitutes a maximisation of liberal ideals, promot­ing the development of autonomous and critical individuals based on biculturalism. The case of zainichi Koreans in Japan confirms this view, because it is clear that the oppression of ethnic schools has been the result of a discriminatory assimilation policy rather than the application of liberal principles that are intended to achieve greater equality and justice. Furthermore, the strong Korean identity found among many students of Korean ethnic schools does not prevent them from being bilinguals/biculturals who continue living in Japan. The Japanese government has been promoting 'internationalisation' in recent years, trying to catch up with international standards in the cultural area. Internationalisation has actually brought about significant changes for minorities--especially foreign national minori­ties in Japan. For instance, the ratification of international conventions such as the Conven­tion relating to the Status of Refugees (1951, ratified by the Japanese government in 1981)

    A More Just Educational Policy in Japan 235

       resulted in protecting many non-Japanese nationals' essential rights (Tezuka, 1995, p. 266). However, oftentimes the discourse of internationalisation has been criticised because it implies no more than the acquisition of practical English language skills. By contrast, these critics have been advocating 'internationalisation within' (uchi-naru kokusai-ka), arguing that the Japanese have to open their hearts and accept culturally diverse peoples as fellow citizens. Gradually, the recognition that Japan needs to face more seriously the challenge of cultural diversity within is growing. The concept of 'culturally diverse people living together' (tabunka kyosei) has emerged as an alternative to an assimilation policy (e.g., Hanami, 1995), although discussion of concrete examples such as whether or not Korean ethnic schools should be more publicly recognised is still uncommon. It remains to be seen what kind of society Japan will envision and whether it will officially support the policy of 'culturally diverse people living together'. How Japanese society views and treats Korean ethnic schools will be an indication of Japan's commitment to cultural diversity.
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