Confronting diversity: Africans challenging Japanese societal convictions

Capobianco, Paul

This paper examines how sub-Saharan Africans in Japan challenge three Japanese societal convictions: the myth of Japanese homogeneity, ideas concerning contemporary blackness, and inclusivity into Japanese self-identity. The analysis is based on participant-observation fieldwork and in-depth interviews with members of Japan’s African communities. As will be shown below, the particular conditions surrounding African migration are notably different from those of other minority groups in Japan. The African population embodies a phenotypically disparate population that has settled in Japan and engages in work within the core of mainstream society. Additionally, in contrast to other minority groups, African-Japanese children lack a strong ethnic consciousness. As a result it is increasingly likely they will demand greater acceptance into mainstream Japanese identity, thereby questioning some of the essential criteria of what it means to be Japanese.