- Year of publication: 2012
- Source: Show
- Pages: 3-6
- DOI Address: -
Japanese ethnic minorities: an overview of selected topics
Japan is often portrayed as an ethnically and culturally homogeneous country. The myth of homogeneity lies at the foundation of modern Japan, being seen by many people as a clue to the understanding of Japan’s postwar economic miracle. Until recent years Japan tended to ignore the fact that the minorities constitute 3-6 per cent of Japanese society, and the minorities in many respects continue to suffer from social marginalization. This article discusses the policy of the Japanese government towards minorities from the late 19th century until the present. Japan became a multiethnic country in the course of colonial expansion. As long as Japan did not feel strong and secure as a nation state, it was willing to bestow Japanese citizenship upon new peoples and recognize them as Japanese, but this policy changed with the passage of time.
The problem of Chinese nationalism – from the moment of proclaiming the People’s Republic of China
The first part of the text (Asia-Pacific issue no.14, 2011) provided a reader with a systematic insight into traditional Chinese concepts of statehood and practice of relationships with other nations treated as subordinates and vassals.
The second part of the text dwells on ideas of modern nationalism based mainly on foreign concepts put into the framework of China’s own specific conditions. Those ideas were also conducive to the formation of more radical concepts of a nation-state as visualized and implemented by Mao Zedong and his communist government. The text introduces the reader to the evolution of Mao’s concepts over decades of revolutionary struggle and concentration of power after the proclamation of the People’s Republic in 1949 – from a quite liberal stance on nationalities and their status down to a total denial of their self-governance and separation from the unitary Chinese state. Beijing’s policies on nationalities, with all the inherent controversy and setbacks, various types of Chinese nationalism and ethnic nationalisms as well as the Chinese pattern of nominal autonomy confronted with a universal model of autonomy are also depicted in detail at the backdrop of China’s legal framework and ethnic statistics.
The text is a critical approach to and an analysis of the phenomenon of rising Chinese nationalism which is recently becoming an increasingly annoying impediment in China’s relations not only with its immediate and regional neighbors but also with partners further afield. Nationalism has effectively replaced communist ideology in today’s China and the aftermath thereof is already and will surely touch the whole world at the time of globalization.
Distortions in the demographic structures of China and Japan
Japan is the first country in Asia where the economic growth and increase in welfare have brought about a demographic collapse. In 1997 there was a sudden decline in birth-rate and since that time the population of thecountry has been decreasing steadily. At the same time the number of elderly people(about 65 years old) has been increasing and the number of people in the production age (between 15 and 64 years old) has been declining. In 2010 there were 127 million Japanese out of which one third was 60 years old. This is a highly unfavourable demographic structure and Japan may face a shortage of labor force in two decades. Similar trends have occurred in China, mostly due to the one-child policy introduced at the end of the 1970s. One of its most visible effects is the masculinization of Chinese population. In 2009 there were more than 119 men for 100 women (in some provinces even 134). The birth rate, rigidly controlled by the government, also resulted in an accelerated ageing of Chinese population. In 2010 there were 167 million people in China over 60 and in 2030 there will be almost 20 per cent of total population. In order to avoid labor force shortage China has to change its production structure and develop rather capital- than labor-intensive branches of industry and services.
The theory and practice of ethnic policy – the cases of Malaysia and Singapore
Malaysia and Singapore are the two most developed countries in Southeast Asia. They share a similar history with decolonization as a turning point. However, due to the postwar history of these countries their growth proceeded in different ways. In spite of a similar ethnic composition, the two nation-building processes were different.
In this paper ways of ethnic policy implementation are described on the example of Singapore and Malaysia. Firstly, the nation-building policies of Singapore and Malaysia and their evolution from independence to modern times are presented.
The main part of the paper shows the contemporary situation of minorities in Singapore and Malaysia. The article presents the economic circumstances of their life, their socio-cultural and political position as well as legal regulations concerning minorities’ rights. In the last part of the paper, the reader will find conclusions and probable prospects for the future.
Burma/Myanmar. Chances for a national reconciliation
Burma is inhabited by roughly 129 nationalities, being therefore a real melting pot of nationalities. Many of them tried in vain to secede from the Union of Burma, and as a consequence Burma remains the country with the longest ongoing armed conflict in the world. The ruling juntatreats all the minorities with suspicion and disdain. According to Martin Smith, the ruling military regime regards the ethnic nationalist groups with intense suspicion because of their lack of unity and their refusal to submit to Burmese authority in the past. Ethnic groups are economically marginalized while their social, cultural, and religious rights are suppressed. In Burma we can see an open discrimination of non-Burmese citizens in a country where every protest is considered a mutiny: the military junta believes that the minorities are inherently inferior (culturally/ socially) and would split from Burmese authority if given the chance. This was the picture of the country up to 2011. Since August of that year, however, Myanmar has witnessed a liberalization of the press, the release of political prisoners and the initiation of a political dialogue between the regime on the one hand and the opposition and ethnic groups on the other. Another challenge is the complex question of national reconciliation.
The plan envisions a new national conference (“Panlong II”), which is something many ethnic politicians have been calling for. This last stage of reforms, which could lead to a new framework for center– regional relations and true federalism, has the potential to solve the long running core-periphery conflict in Burma.
Between a sensitive political matter and a tourist attraction: ethnic minorities in Vietnam
The article presents the issue of ethnic minorities in Vietnam, taking into account two dimensions of their presence in the social and political life of the country. From the begging of the Vietnamese Communist regime, ethnic diversity has been the subject of intense interest of the communist politicians. Different ethnic minorities played a complex role in the times of the First and the Second Indochina War, remaining a challenge for the national policy of the state. Various strategies have been adapted by the authorities in order to gain the support of minorities, as well as to strengthen national unity. In recent years another aspect of the ethnic diversity of Vietnam gained importance – namely the role of minorities as an attraction, receiving attention from foreign and domestic tourists. The importance of both described dimensions can be noted through an analysis of the representation of ethnic minorities present in the Vietnamese Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. This paper will be dedicated to the presentation of the ethnic structure of Vietnam in the above contexts.
Identity problems among the Vietnamese diaspora
Because of the two waves of migration Vietnamese communities in various cities around the world belong to two different groups which can be recognized by their political views. The “boat people”, who arrived to the West at the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s are refugees, who usually continue their traditions of former South Vietnam and maintain their activities opposing the communist regime in Vietnam. The economic migrants of the 1990s, predominantly present in Eastern Europe, present a different cultural and political orientation. They often joined their relatives and village-mates in former Communist countries, where it is difficult to change citizenship, and the Vietnamese embassies enjoy a strong influence in their community life.
There are also illegal Vietnamese workers in South Korea and the Middle East, numerous Vietnamese brides in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as the “forgotten” Vietnamese in Thailand (who previously supported the pro-Communist National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam)and the Vietnamese communities in the former French colonies, in particular Laos and Cambodia.
Each Vietnamese community abroad usually cultivates a mixed identity: it is based on their original provincial/local identity in Vietnam, but they also adopted new cultural traits of the host country. Hence the identities of the Vietnamese communities abroad differ essentially. Moreover, when we try to clarify their identity, we face a particular problem: it is a Western term, which is understood and interpreted by the Vietnamese in numerous ways and could even include opposing meanings.
My study, presented here, based on field studies, aims to discover certain similarities and transnational relations between those communities in order to outline a possible transnational identity among them as a whole group outside Vietnam. The number of t Vietnamese living abroad is estimated as 3 million people in total – the population of three average Vietnamese provinces. Owing to their ties with the native country, with their families and local communities they have a strong impact on their motherland, in particular in the fields of finances and culture. I was interested mostly in the dynamics of how identities are “negotiated”: individually, in a family or group, politically, culturally, and in connection with political movements at home. It appears that a new alternative Vietnamese identity is being formed in these interrelations.
The Chinese diaspora at a time of reform and transformation
The article analyzes the evolution of Beijing’s policy towards the Chinese diaspora starting with the announcement of the policy of „four modernizations” in 1978. The „Cultural Revolution” led to a discontinuation of the relationship between the Chinese state and Chinese residents abroad. The dramatic economic situation on the eve of the country’s wide-ranging reforms induced a radical change in the official line of the government’s policy towards the overseas Chinese. The main architect of this alteration was Deng Xiaoping, who soon after taking over the helm of power began to rehabilitate overseas Chinese and their families living in China (guiqiao qiaojuan). Beijing expected that this policy shift would cause an influx of cash from abroad in the form of remittances, and later - in the form of direct investments. These assumptions proved to be correct, as in the next twenty years the sum of money that was released from the Chinese diaspora to China laid the foundations for the economic boom in the Middle Kingdom.
In 1980 the first Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were launched in the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, as these areas were historically considered to have the highest number of links with overseas Chinese in South-East Asia. Initially the whole production of SEZs was only for export, which consequently allowed China to become the world biggest exporter in 2010.
In addition to activities in the economic field Beijing gradually liberalized the right to leave and return in order to facilitate a possible return of the most entrepreneurial migrants. In the face of devastation caused by the „Cultural Revolution” in the education system the government multiplied efforts to encourage students to go abroad and earn degrees from foreign universities. This initiative was directed at gaining a qualified cadre. As a result, in 2004, China took first place in the world in terms of the number of students studying abroad.
With the opening of China to the world the population of the Chinese diaspora grew from 22 to nearly 35 million in the years 1985–2000. This was largely due to all those Chinese who went overseas after 1978. The governmental documents call them xin yimin. Their emigration and settlement in different countries is accompanied by a renaissance of patriotic feelings among the „old” Chinese overseas, which in turn gives rise to the development of Chinese overseas associations. In recent years, the Chinese government has been stressing the importance it attaches to cooperation with these organizations, greatly increasing the financial support provided to them.
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