Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives

By James A. Banks | Go to book overview

11
EXPANDING THE BORDERS
OF THE NATION

ETHNIC DIVERSITY AND
CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION IN JAPAN
Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

IT IS A MATTER OF DEBATE exactly when I became Japanese. Some people would say it happened when I was born to a Japanese mother in Occupied Japan. Since my mother was Japanese, I too naturally became Japanese. By this line of reasoning, having a Japanese parent is what makes one Japanese—it's in the genes or blood.

Others would say, no, since the nationality law at that time required the children of internationally married couples to assume the nationality of the father, my birth to a Japanese mother did not, in fact, make me Japanese. I therefore became an American and did not become Japanese until I naturalized as an adult and started my own family register and received a Japanese passport. In other words, having the proper documents for citizenship is what makes one Japanese.

Then there are those who claim that I became Japanese at some uncertain time when I acquired the undetermined but necessary qualities simply by living in Japan. Being Japanese is neither a matter of biology nor nationality but is something more nebulous that anyone can acquire through residing in a community and participating in local and national culture. One acquires credentials simply by reading newspapers, watching television,

-303-

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