Naichi Zakkyo in Meiji Japan : The Transformation of Japan into a Multi-Cultural Society
Pyo Se Man (Kunsan National University, Korea) [BIO]
Reality creates images; the images thus created, in turn, construct the real world. The needs of that world then beget the myth of the homogeneous nation and of the homogeneous culture. National orthodoxy, as a set of unimpeachable values, promotes exclusive attitudes toward other nations and cultures.
The Meiji Restoration placed Japan into the global system. The influx of Western culture, on the other hand, prompted the formation of a national consciousness and of a cultural identity. In the wake of the 1899 revision of the Unequal Treaties, the implementation of naichi zakkyo ("mixed residence in the inland": allowing foreigners to live anywhere in the Japanese homeland beyond their exclusive zones of extraterritoriality) initiated an influx of foreign laborers, and consequently, the transformation of Japan into a multi-cultural society. Contemporary debates on naichi zakkyo precipitated a larger discourse on Japan's putative homogeneity as a nation and as a culture, while opening up new horizons for those who were at a loss to how to deal with various foreign cultures. Incidentally, one could say that the various issues rising from the dichotomy of national exclusivism versus globalization have continued to haunt Japanese society till this day.