‘Multicultural Japan’ remains a pipe dream” (March 27 article) to Chris Burgess because he appears to be puffing on the wrong end of the ideological ruler that he uses to conclude that Japan is not ready for foreigners. Ready or not, they have been coming pretty steadily, and will keep coming so long as there are dreams of schools and jobs here.

Maybe it’s good that Japan does not proclaim itself “multiethnic.” Perhaps we should celebrate social policy that keeps race and ethnicity out of laws, and otherwise allows people to be what they are without making a public fuss about identity. Who cares that “Japan does not officially recognize dual citizenship”? More importantly, dual nationality (not “citizenship”) has never been illegal. True, Chong Hyang Gyun (the first foreigner to be employed as a health-care worker in the metropolitan government) lost her lawsuit against Tokyo, but on legal grounds. Such court decisions have generally inspired favorable revisions of national and local laws.

The race-proud boasting of politicians like Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki I can live with. It’s just there, like background radiation. I worry more about scholars who conclude that Japan is not “multicultural” after saying “Of course, some foreign residents, such as second- or third-generation Koreans and Chinese, are physically and culturally indistinguishable from Japanese” — as if they, too, feel that being Japanese is a matter of appearance or culture.

william wetherall

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