Society for East Asian Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Anthropologists and historians of Japan have noted the complexity of ethnic categorization in the multi-ethnic society. This paper will use the lens of the koseki (household register) system to rethink Japan’s unstable categories of “ethnicity,” Japanese identity, and “race” in contemporary society. The koseki system, used to record both citizenship and family membership, reflects citizenship status, but not strictly ethnicity or race. How can the unstable notion of “Japaneseness” help us understand the limits and possibilities of ideas like race, racial formations, and membership in this particular society? What role does the koseki system play in establishing a singular Japanese identity in a multi-ethnic society?