Globalizing Japan: Ethnography of the Japanese Presence in Asia, Europe, and America

By Harumi Befu; Sylvie Guichard-Anguis | Go to book overview

4

Japanese businesswomen of Yaohan Hong Kong

Toward a diversified globalization of a Japanese "ethnoscape"

Dixon Heung Wah Wong

In a recent article, Befu and Stalker criticized the current theories of global cultural process on two points. 1 The first is methodological. They complained that these theories are always too general, abstract, and unsupported by solid data (Befu and Stalker 1996:104). Second, these theories are in fact totalizing the Western experience of globalization without taking into account that the phenomenon of globalization "is not an abstract process, but is deeply embedded in specific context" (Befu and Stalker 1996:115). They then demonstrated through a detailed, empirical study of the movement and mobility of Japanese businessmen and their families, scholars, tourists, and expatriates into all parts of the world (but mostly the United States) that the globalization of the Japanese ethnoscape did not bring about the homogenization that many theorists of globalization predict. Instead, they conclude:

The Japanese communities abroad are consistently oriented toward Tokyo, resulting in Japanese "villages" abroad, whose residents make maintenance of cultural, economic, and political ties with the Tokyo center their foremost concern. Thus, the Japanese situation abroad cannot best be understood through the landscape model. At least in the Japanese case, this model does not identify the source and origin of activities within the "scapes." It provides a distribution map that indicates the spread of Sumitomo bank offices or Honda employees, as the case may be, but it fails to indicate the genesis and heart of the power relationship, Japan, which directs and motivates the activities of daily life in the periphery.

(Befu and Stalker 1996:118, emphasis added)

Following Befu and Stalker, this chapter offers an empirical study of a Japanese ethnoscape of businesswomen: a group of Japanese female employees of a Japanese supermarket chain, Yaohan, who are sent to work in the company's Hong Kong subsidiary. This study suggests that we cannot treat Japanese businessmen or businesswomen as a homogeneous group with the same orientation toward the Tokyo center across industries and across different sizes of companies within the same industry. Such treatment

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Globalizing Japan: Ethnography of the Japanese Presence in Asia, Europe, and America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures xii
  • Tables xiii
  • Series Editor's Preface xvii
  • Preface xix
  • Acknowledgments xxii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Global Context of Japan Outside Japan 3
  • Bibliography 21
  • Part II - Human Dispersal 23
  • 2 - Objects, City, and Wandering 25
  • Part III - Organizational Transplant 41
  • 3 - Positioning "Globalization" at Overseas Subsidiaries of Japanese Multinational Corporations 43
  • 4 - Japanese Businesswomen of Yaohan Hong Kong 52
  • Notes 67
  • 5 - Neverland Lost 69
  • Notes 89
  • 6 - Soka Gakkai in Germany 94
  • Part IV - Cultural Diffusion 109
  • 7 - Japanese Comics Coming to Hong Kong 111
  • Bibliography 120
  • 8 - Japanese Popular Music in Hong Kong 121
  • 9 - Global Culture in Question 131
  • Notes 147
  • Bibliography 148
  • Part V - Images 151
  • 10 - A Collision of Discourses 153
  • 11 - Images of the Japanese Welfare State 176
  • Bibliography 190
  • 12 - Consuming the Modern 194
  • 13 - Japan Through French Eyes 209
  • 14 - The Yamatodamashi of the Takasago Volunteers of Taiwan 222
  • Index 251
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