Genealogy of tabunka kyōsei: A Critical Analysis of the Reformation of the Multicultural Co-living Discourse in Japan

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The Japanese government started to accept semi-skilled foreign workers officially under the newly established tokutei ginō status in 2019, and national policies for supporting foreign residents are gradually being developed. However, it is unclear how the principles of tabunka kyōsei (multicultural coexistence or co-living), the official slogan for supporting foreign residents since the mid-2000s, have changed as a result of recent policy trends. In this article, I examine the transformation of logics for legitimizing policies for foreign residents using discourse analysis of the official government documents on tabunka kyōsei. Previous critical studies have revealed that tabunka kyōsei is based on the logic of a binary opposition between “Japanese” and “foreigners”. This was combined with the neoliberal logic of “supports for self-reliance”, a paternalism that sees foreigners as being in need of support if they can live "just as" Japanese. This paternalism has prevented the development of recognizing the human rights and cultural differences of foreign residents as de facto immigrants. In addition, a logic has explicitly emerged in the tabunka kyōsei discourse at the end of the 2010s that sees foreigners as a threat to national security and that their acceptance should be strictly governed by the border control policy and socially controlled from the viewpoint of national interests. To deal with this situation, tabunka kyōsei must be recreated as a principle for recognizing foreign residents as immigrants and guaranteeing their human rights and cultural differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-38
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1


  • migration policy
  • multiculturalism
  • social integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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