Research Project 4

For the last several sessions of Research Project 4G, we have been reading about and thinking about the issue of “foreigners” who live in Japan as a minority part of Japanese society. Specifically, we have been reading essays by Kim Suok-puom (金石範) and Levy Hideo about what it means to be “zainichi” (在日), i.e. “resident in Japan”. At the beginning of his career as a writer in 1987, Levy Hideo, an “American resident in Japan” (在日アメリカ人) wrote about the affinity he felt with “Korean residents in Japan” (在日コリアン). However, because of the huge asymmetry between Americans and Koreans in Japan, these essays received some harsh criticism. Asymmetry, basically, means that we have differences that cannot be overlooked. Levy’s early essays were criticized because his writing suggested he was overlooking these differences. In our class, we have been thinking about how examples of “border-crossing” result in lots of different, often conflicting, viewpoints from people in various positions, with various social and cultural backgrounds. Through doing so, students are trying to introduce consideration of this topic into their own research.