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Open Lecture: Japan in Transition

Open Lecture: Japan in Transition – from Monocultural to Multicultural Society

Associate Professor Ritsuko Miyamoto of Akita University’s Faculty of Education and Human study, will give a public lecture at AUT tomorrow on the transformation of Japanese society from the 19th Century until the present day.

In the 19th Century, the Japanese were led to believe by their leaders that from the standpoint of ethnicity, nationality, citizenship and race they were one, and that the word "Japanese" most concisely described them in all these four categories.

“The Japanese overrode virtually all diversity, negated all internal pluralism, during the Meiji era – 1868-1912 – in order to unite the nation under the flag of the rising sun. The use of local dialect was banned in school. The absurd myth of the middle-class consciousness – the notion that all Japanese share the same tastes and predilections –was invented and foisted on a believing public,” says Professor Miyamoto. The Japanese were given a single racial, national, ethnic and civic identity and they accepted it gladly in exchange for the source of pride, namely a strong nation that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the developed West.

Consequently, the indigenous Ainu people, who had lived in northern part of Japan for a long time, were forced to abandon their own language and cultural heritage.

“The huge influx of foreign labour to Japan (due largely to Japan’s aging workforce) is forcing the country to accept that it has to be a nation of diverse traditions, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles.”

During her lecture Professor Miyamoto will illustrate the change in Japanese society in terms of cultural diversity, by talking about women's roles, minority peoples (Ainu and Korean descendants), and a new flow of immigrants from neighbouring countries.

1pm, Wednesday 26th November Room WH317 Level 3 School of Hotel and Restaurant Studies, AUT (corner of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley St)

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