Migration and Diasporas
This paper will explore the history, current status and identity of one of the biggest foreign population in Japan-- the ethnic Zainichi Koreans. They are often times subjects of exclusion or "othering" in Japanese society. The act of othering is a manifestation of power relations, as when people united as “we” differentiate those united as “they” are may be using a power weapon to delegitimize the other. Often times, the distinctions are drawn along lines of discrimination and power differences such as gender, ethnicity, race and class.
Currently approximately 570,000 ethnic Zainichi Koreans (excludes those who have obtained Japanese nationality) are living in Japan. Zainichi Koreans’ roots go back to the period of Japanese colonialism when many “migrated” to Japan, but they lose their Japanese nationality after the war. Some chose to repatriate to North or South Korea, but many of them who chose to stay needed to integrate to Japanese society.
This paper examines the historical background, the pressures they experience, and the complexity in their sense of identity by looking at the characteristics of the Korean community and the ethnic Korean schools (Chosun Hakkyo or Chosen Gakko) in Kobe and Sapporo, two of the biggest regional cities in Japan. The paper will argue that though there is a difference in the two communities, the identity created through the education provided by the ethnic Korean schools transcends time and space to create a unique and distinct identity of Zainichi Chosenjins in Japan.