In February, education minister Bunmei Ibuki called Japan “an extremely homogenous country.” Eighteen months earlier, now Foreign Minister Taro Aso described Japan as having “one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, and one race.” What was notable about these comments is that they were largely uncontroversial domestically: they received little attention in the mainstream Japanese press.

Ibuki and Aso were speaking within a local popular discourse which tends to view Japan as relatively homogeneous and migration as a threat to public safety. In a 2006 Cabinet Office survey, 84.3% thought public safety had worsened over the past 10 years, with the largest number (55.1%) putting this down to “a rise in crimes by foreigners visiting Japan.”

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