The twenty-first century is said to be “an age of international migration.” The United Nations has defined “migrant” as “a person who resides for one year or more in a country other than their country of regular residence.” Even Japanese society, which is deemed relatively more ethnically homogenous than the West, has seen a rapid increase in the number of migrants and in ethnic diversification in recent years. As of 2020, Japan’s population of foreign nationals has exceeded a record 2,900,000, a figure which has nearly tripled over the past thirty years. One in twenty-eight children is born to at least one parent of foreign nationality. In classrooms, children with migrant backgrounds are no longer rare. The number of children and young people born in Japan to parents from different countries, that is, “second-generation migrants” raised in Japan, is increasing. Japanese society is becoming increasingly accepting of migrants due to the labor shortage caused by the declining birth rate and aging population, as well as international marriages becoming more common. Thus, it will come to include an increasing number of children with migrant backgrounds.
Amid such changes in Japanese society, this book is an introductory text aiming to acquaint a wide range of readers, particularly university students, with the lifestyles of migrant children and young adults. Further, it encourages readers to critically evaluate preconceived ideas regarding Japanese education and society from the perspectives of migrants. The preconceived ideas of Japanese society and Japanese schools, in many cases, do not reflect the lived reality of migrant children. In Japanese education and society, however, the lived reality of migrant children tends to be overlooked and negated. When considering the voices, experiences and cultures of migrant children and young adults, it becomes apparent that Japanese education is problematic in that it emphasizes uniformity with little regard for diversity.
This book strives to delineate questions including “Why is the number of migrants in Japan increasing?”, “What issues do migrant children face?”, and “How can schools and communities support migrant children?”, while introducing theories and concepts. The authors are sixteen young researchers who study migrant children from pedagogical and sociological viewpoints. The chapters introduce the latest research by each of the authors, allowing even readers who are familiar with the field to make fresh discoveries. Nineteen columns discuss topics including relevant books and movies, walking guides to ethnic neighborhoods in areas such as Okubo and Kobe, conditions at school sites and support venues in Japan and abroad. Further, they address means of safeguarding the history and human rights of the Ainu and Okinawans and hate speech. The intention is to give readers an in-depth look into the everyday realities of increasing cultural and ethnic diversity, and to inspire a sociologically creative approach to macro-structural issues such as globalization and social inequity.
The title of the book, “Rethinking Education from Migrants,” reflects our approach of reevaluating Japanese education and society from the perspectives of marginalized minority people. We hope that it will serve to safeguard the rights of people in vulnerable positions due to disability, impoverishment, sexual orientation, and so on. Finally, it aims to facilitate the conceptualization of a tolerant educational system and society which respect diversity.
(Written by NUKAGA Misako, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education / 2021)