Tolerating Difference: Japanese Experiences with Difference and Multiculturalism


Post-Modernity, Globalization, Neo-Liberalism, many words come to mind to describe the contemporary world, but there is one type of discourse that seems to be gaining hegemonic position regardless of how we describe the present era: Multiculturalism. Particularly in Japan, a country that has since long constructed its identity under the idea of homogeneity, the adoption of the multiculturalist discourse by significant part of the academia, politicians, businessmen and the civil society become even more interesting. In the same context, as Japan`s recent cultural export, the Visual Kei groups, gained notoriety in the international scene contesting many views on Japanese identity with their subversive aesthetics and performances, it bear the question: is Japan changing that much into a society of diversity? As this papers further investigates the question, it becomes clear that ideas of homogeneity and uniqueness, and the rigidity and essentialism of Japanese identity discourses remain unchanged or even worse. So the new question that appears is: How can a country in which multiculturalism discourse is on a rise and Visual Kei bands thrive be experiencing at the same time a rise on nationalism and have its rigid notions of Japaneseness remain unchallenged? This paper argues that what lies under the phenomena of multiculturalism and apparent subversive subcultures is the same ideology, the ideology of tolerance. Through such an ideology, difference is respected and tolerated, it is not made to be interacted with, rather, the concept of heterotopias works well to explicit how such ideology works towards difference in Japan.

Author Information
Rafael Munia, Waseda University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Munia R. (2014) Tolerating Difference: Japanese Experiences with Difference and Multiculturalism ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2014 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon