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Terminology related to nationality, race, minorities, and nationalism
By William Wetherall    First posted 8 January 2007    Last updated 18 March 2014

Related articleMixed-blood elcyclopedia: An almanac of words, people, and matters related to mixed-blood in Japan



(1) legal status linking an individual to a polity; (2) raceless, unless with a legally defined racioethnic polity (such as Indian nations in North America, or minority nationalities in China); (3) racialized in ethnocentric usage as a synonym for ethnic identity



(1) people who consider themselves of Ainu descent. Most Ainu are Japanese, some are Russian, a few are of other nationalities. (2) Within Japan, the only people of Japanese nationality the government of Japan has recognized as representing a minority ethnic race (shōsū minzoku) -- but not as constituting a subnational entity.

Ainu Japanese are "an" -- not "the" -- "indigenous people of Japan". The vast majority of other Japanese are no less "indigenous" to the Japanese archipelago in any realistic (non-ideological) sense of the word.

Japanese of putative Ainu descent are best described as "people who consider themselves at least partly descended from several local races, which during the past few millennia had inhabited what are today parts of northern Japan and eastern Russia" -- or, more simply, "members of a minority race indigenous to parts of present-day Japan and Russia". Russia is included in this definition because some Ainu Japanese trace their recent geographical ancestry to Sakhalin (Saghalien, J. Karafuto) or the Kurils (Kuriles, J. Chishima).

In 1987, the government of Japan recognized "the Ainu people" as a "ethnic minority" -- but not as an "indigenous people".

In 1997 the Diet enacted the "Law concerning the promotion of Ainu culture and the diffusion and illumination of knowledge concerning the traditions of Ainu" (アイヌ文化の振興並びにアイヌの伝統等に関する知識の普及及び啓発に関する法律). The law, called "Ainu culture promotion law" (アイヌ文化振興法) for short, was promugated on 14 May 1997 (Law No. 52) and came into force from 1 July.

The 1997 law is also called the "Ainu new law" (アイヌ新法) in view of the fact that it abolished the Hokkaido Former Native Protection Act (北海道旧土人保護法, Law No. 27 of 1899) and the Asahikawa City Former Native Protected Land Disposition Law (旭川市旧土人保護地処分法, Law No. 9 of 1934).

The 1997 law mandated primarily the heads of the Hokkaido Development Agency and the Ministry of Education to oversee the promotion of Ainu culture in accordance with the law. Since 2001, when the agency became part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the heads of this ministry and the education ministry are now the competent ministers.

In 2008, the Diet passed a resolution to urge the government to recognize Ainu as an indigenous people. The resolution did not, however, urge collective recognition of Japanese of putatively Ainu descent as a subnational entity.


aliens, foreigners, gaikokujin, gaijin

aliens, foreigners   Both terms are widely established as legal expressions for non-nationals from the point of view of nationals. Stateless people are non-nationals, and therefore aliens/foreigners, in all countries. Though "alien" appears on a number of lists of politically incorrect expressions, it remains the legal synonym of choice for "non-national".

gaikokujin   (1) Japanese legal term meaning alien or foreigner -- literally "person of an outside [foreign] land" or "outlander". The only way to differentiate Japanese from non-Japanese is nationality. (2) Racialist term for someone who is not seen, heard, or otherwise recognzied as Japanese, used by people who regard being Japanese as a matter of race.

gaijin   (1) Informal reduction of "gaikokujin" as a legal term for alien or foreigner. (2) Reduction of "gaikokujin" as a racialist term. (3) Contemptuous term for foreigners or people perceived as foreigners; sometimes reversed as "jingai" meaning "outside human species" (cf. yado = lodging, doya = flop house; tane = source, neta = scoop; fuda = ticket, dafuya = scalper).

Koizumi Yakumo on "killing foreigners"

Call them what you will, outlanders can be a bloody nuisance. Koizumi Yakumo (1850-1904), who was Lafcadio Hearn until January 1896, ought to know. He expressed his feelings about them in a letter dated 29 April 1896 to his Matsue friend Nishida Sentarō (1862-c1897).

I have been away. I have been at Ise, Futami, and nearly a week in Osaka. . . . Osaka delighted me beyond words. . . . I went to Sakai, of course, -- and bought a sword, and saw the grave of the eleven samurai of Tosa who had to commit seppuku for killing some foreigners, -- and told them I wished they could come back again to kill a few more who are writing extraordinary lies about Japan at this present moment.


alien citizens, alien suffrage

alien citizens   (1) Aliens who have some voice as members of a polity. (2) Aliens enfranchised with suffrage in a polity. See also citizens.

alien suffrage   Enfranchisement of aliens in a polity, giving them the right to vote and hold office.


alien registration

The alien registration system, which required aliens permitted to reside in Japan to register in the municipality where they resided, ended on 8 July 2012.

Municipalities, which formerly separated their ledger for Japanese residents from their ledger for alien residents, now included aliens alongside Japanese on their local Basic Resident Register. Municipalities used to issue alien residents various documents certifying the particulars of their registration status, including a Certificate of Completion of Alien Registration (外国人登録済証明書 Gaikokujin tōroku-zumi shōmeisho) and a Certificate of Particulars Recorded on Alien Registration Master Record (外国人登録原票記載事項証明書 Gaikokujin tōroku genpyō kisai jikō shōmeisho). They now issue alien residents Resident Registration Certificates showing local registration particulars the same as they do Japanese residents. In this sense, alien residence registration has been integrated into the residence registration system originally designed for nationals.

However, the replacement of the alien registration system with the present system has changed only the manner in which an alien is registered as a resident of a municipality in Japan. The actual status of resident aliens as municipal citizens, and their rights and duties as a citizen of a municipality (and of the prefecture to which the ward, city, town, or village belongs) remains unchanged. The former "alien registration system" -- which was partly under the control and jurisdiction of municipalities -- continues in the guise of an "[alien] residency management system" entirely under the control of the Ministry of Justice.

The following remarks describe conditions before 9 July 2012, when the alien registration system was replaced by a system in which the Immigration Bureau directly issues [Alien] Residence Cards to aliens it permits to reside in Japan, and mediates most aspects of alien municipal registration.

See Family and alien registers and Alien control laws in Japan for details.

alien registration   Japan's Alien Registration Law (外国人登録法 Gaikokujin tōroku hō) of 1952 provides that aliens register in the city, town, or village in which they are residing within 90 days of entering Japan, or within 60 days of becoming an alien within Japan (as through birth or loss of Japanese nationality).

Alien registration establishes residential status

Alien registration for foreigners is tantamount to resident registration for Japanese. Just as resident registration establishes the residential status of people who are recognized as nationals of Japan, alien registration establishes the residential status in Japan of aliens other than those who are allowed to enter Japan as tourists or for other reasons are not required to register.

Like resident registration for Japanese, alien registration for foreigners establishes legal status in (affiliation with) the municipal polity from which prefectural and state affiliation derive. Only as a legal (registered) resident of a local polity can a person -- Japanese or alien -- have access to schooling, welfare, and other services administered through the polity. Local registration also determines municipal, prefectural, and national tax obligations and rights of suffrage (as provided by national, prefectural, and municipal laws).

See further remarks on alien registration under resident registration.

Alien Registration Certificate / Card, [alien] Residence Card, Special Permanent Resident Certificate

Alien Registration Certificate / Card

Under the defunct alien registration system which began on 28 April 1952 and ended on 8 July 2012, aliens permitted to reside in Japan carried an Alien Registration Certificate (外国人登録証明書 Gaikokujin tōroku shōmeisho), originally a pocket-sized booklet, later a wallet-sized card which was also called a "certificate" until formally ren, for identification purposes. Certificates were issued by the municipal governents that had jurisdition over an alien's domicile. Cards, introduced from the 1990s in the process of ending fingerprinting for alien registration purposes,

(alien) Residence Card

Under the system of alien control introduced from 9 July 2012, resident aliens carry a 在留カード (zairyū kaado), or "Residence Card" as the expression is translated on the card itself. The term "zairyū", however, is limited to aliens, hence only aliens are issued and required to carry such cards.

In addition to a card number, the card states the holder's "Name" (氏名 shimei). "Shimei" is the term used in Japan's domestic laws for Japanese names, expressed as a family name followed by a personal name. In the case of aliens, the family name may be followed by multiple personal names.

The card also show's the holder's "Date of Birth" (生年月日 seinengappi), "Sex" (性別 seibetsu), "Nationality/Region" (国籍 ― 地域 kokuseki - chiiki), "Address" (住所地 jūshochi) in the municipality where domiciled, "Status" (在留資格 zairyū shikaku) [literally "status of residence"], work limitations if any (就労制限の有無 shūrō seigen no umu) [written only in Japanese], "Period of Stay (Date of Expiration)" (在留期間 (満了日) zairū kikan (manryūbi), and other particulars, ending at the bottom with a conspicuous display of the "Period of Validity of This Card" expressed in Japanese as この証明書は00年00月00日まで有効です (Kono shōmeisho wa 0000-nen 00-gatsu 00-nichi made yūkō desu" meaning "This certificate is valid until 0000-00-00" -- a "Year-Month-Day" date.

Special Permanent Resident Certificate

"Special Permanent Resident" (特別永住者 Tokubetsu eijūsha) is an alien status tied to historical loss of Japanese nationality when Japan formally lost its sovereignty over the territories of Taiwan and Chōsen under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, effective from 28 April 1952.

Unlike other aliens, SPRs are issued a "Special Permant Resident Certificate" (特別永住者証明書 Tokubetsu eijūsha shōmeisho) issuon the basis of applications processed by their local municipal office. The SPA Certificate, a walled-sized card like a Residence Card, is also numbered, and shows the holder's name, date of birth, sex, nationality/region, and address where domiciled in Japan, but no other information except, at the bottom, the "Period of Validity of This Card".

SPRs have all-but semi-national status in Japan, meaning that they are all but treated on a par with Japanese nationals at municipal offices and ports of departure and arrival in Japan. Unlike other aliens, who obtain their Residence Card directly from the Immigration Bureau, and must deal with the bureau when modifying particulars on the card, SPRs apply for their SPR Certificate at the municipal office of the ward, city, town, or village in which they are domiciled, and they obtain their certificate directly from the local office, which mediates between the SPR and the Ministry of Justice for purposes of administrating SPRs. Also unlike most most other aliens, SRPs are not subjected to biometric of their index fingers and face at ports of entry, and they enter through gates otherwise reserved for Japanese.


apology politics

The political climate in which a government or organization is pressured to repeatedly admit to and apologize for alleged acts in the past, in order to appease those who regard past admissions and apologies as insincere, or who otherwise feel that gestures of contrition if not also material compensation have been insufficient.

This political climate affects how individuals in one country regard individuals from another country -- simply on the basis of their nationality. Take, for example, these two scenarios.

Scenario 1

Sugimoto Akiko tells this delightful story of her encounter with a taxi driver in Beijing when she was a student at Beijing University (Sugimoto Akiko, "Going North", Chasing the Moon, Part 5, translated by William Wetherall, The East, Vol. 41, No. 5, January/February 2006, pages 31-35, page 31).

Meeting Zhou Enlai

"You're Japanese, right?" the taxi driver said on we moved through heavy traffic to Beijing University, where I was going to study.

"Yes," I said, glad for the break in the silence and a chance to speak Chinese.

"Hai, hai, Dai Nippon Teikoku, banzai!", he said. I was totally shocked. He sounded like a character in an old war movie about the Great Empire of Japan. Looking back, I see that ride into Beijing as the beginning of my loss of political innocence. For the first in my life, I was forced to think of Japan's responsibility in what many Chinese call "The Greater East Asian War" or "The Fifteen Year War" of 1931-1945.

It was all I could do to understand the drift of what the taxi driver was saying in a language I had not yet mastered. I tried my best to converse with him.

"Why did you say that?" I said.

He started telling me some of the "horrible things" Japan had done in China. The puppet state it set up in Manchuria. The massacre at Nanjing.

"But all that's past," he said. "The Chinese have decided to forgive the Japanese. We'll never forget, but we'll forgive."

Those were the words of Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), the premier of China under Mao Zedong (1893-1976). The taxi driver even looked a bit like Premier Zhou. I remember generously tipping him when he let me off in front of the university.

"But you're Japanese . . ."

Especially during the earlier months of my stay in China, taxi drivers would often guess I was Japanese and say something about the war. They would usually end with Zhou Enlai's words. They wouldn't say "Premier Zhou said blah blah," though. They always spoke as though expressing their own opinion on behalf of all Chinese.

"But what about you yourself?" I would say. "Do you dislike Japanese?"

"I'll never forget what Japan did, but I forgive Japan," they would say, just repeating themselves.

"But it's not something I did," I would say. "The war ended fifty years ago."

"That's true. But you're Japanese, and . . ." many would say, then repeat that they could not forget. When pushed like this, all I could do was apologize.

"What Japan did was really bad," I would say. "I'm very sorry. What more can I say? What can I do to atone for what happened?"

The taxi drivers would brighten a bit.

"Well, it's not something you did," they would say. "And though we will never forget, we'll forgive."

Scenario 2

You are an American in Japan, and one August you find yourself in Hiroshima and decide to visit the Peace Memorial. A young man comes up and asks if you're an American. You would like to say you're a Canadian, but you've fallen into the habit of telling the truth.

A shoe that doesn't fit

"Are you an American?"


"When is America going to apologize to Japan for killing so many people at Hiroshima?"

"Well, don't forget Nagasaki. And Tokyo. But to answer your question, I don't know. You'll have to ask America. I'm just an American."

"But don't you feel responsible for dropping the atomic bombs?"

"Not really. Even if I had been alive then, and had I somehow participated in the bombings and now regretted what I did, I would feel moved to apologize. To the descendants of the people I killed or maimed. Not to the people of Japan as a whole, much less to the Japanese government."

"You don't feel any guilt?"

"That shoe just doesn't fit me. For me, it's just another tragedy, among too many tragedies."

"You don't think its a special case? Japan is only country to be bombed by nuclear weapons."

"And let's hope it's the last. Were any of your ancestors victims?"

"No. My dad's from Iwate. My mom's from Tokyo. They were children during the war. My dad's dad was killed in New Guinea. My mother's home was destroyed in an air raid."

"So you're a tourist?"

"I'm from Saitama."

"Well, I'm from Chiba."

"You said you're an American."

"My nationality, yes. You're Japanese?"

"Of course! What else could I be?"

"Well, you could be Korean, Chinese, American -- anything, really."

Vicarious victims

The Beijing taxi driver is a product of Chinese education, which teaches Zhou Enlai's distinction between states and their people -- but does not teach not to accost individuals as though they are somehow accountable for acts they could not possibly have had anything to do with.

The Japanese tourist in Hiroshima, too, is a product of victimization. He shows mild symptoms of "victimitis" and is a borderline "vicarious victim" -- in that he puts himself in the shoes of the real victims and all but imagines that he is one.

Both the Beijing taxi driver and the Hiroshima tourist would feel good if only the Japanese student and the American resident had simply agreed and spoke as though to personally take responsibility of the acts in question. Such an "apology fix" would have satisfied the Beijing taxi driver until he picked up his next Japanese fare.they found another Japanese or American to accost. The Hiroshima tourist might think twice about striking up the same kind of conversation again.

The only lasting cure for "victimitis" is a good dose of history -- one that sets diamond-hard facts in a velvet-lined box of understanding -- and does not force shoes on the feet of people not meant to wear them.


assimilate, assimilation

"Assimilate" means to absorb or amalgamate something taken in or incorporated, while "assimilate to" or "assimilate with" means to to conform, adjust, or adapt to new or different conditions. "Assimilation" is the process or result of either "assimilate" or "assimilate to/with".

The Sino-Japanese term 同化 (dōka), which literally means "changing so as to be the same" or "becoming the same", reflects the essential meaning of "assimilation" as a "process of becoming similar".

Assimilation and naturalization

"Assimilation" and "naturalization" are very closely related because, as metaphors, both are predicated on a need to accommodate new conditions by embracing the conditions. In other words, as one "assimilates" to conditions in Japan as a non-native place, one "naturalizes" to Japan's manners and customs, including its language.

See naturalization for more about the use of this term in relation to change of allegiance and nationality.



buraku, burakumin, buraku residents, dowa

In historical texts and still in some anthropological writing, a "buraku" (部落) is a village or hamlet. The word has also used to mean settlement, neighborhood, enclave, tract, or even ghetto. For example, a few blocks with a concentration of Korean inhabitants, perhaps with a street of mostly Korean shops, might be called a 朝鮮部落 (Chōsen buraku) -- a Korean enclave within a larger town.

Today "buraku" is most commonly used to refer to a neighborhood which historically had been a settlement of outcastes -- until 1871, when outcaste statuses were legally abolished. However, no village, town, or city in Japan has a neighborhood of outcastes as a matter of legal designation. In other words, the term "buraku" is strictly a label of convenience, most likely used by organizations that claim to represent the interests of people who may be discriminated against because of their present or former residence in a former outcaste neighorhood.

Buraku Liberation League (BLL)

The largest and most active such organization is the Buraku Liberation League or "Buraku Kaihō Dōmei" (部落解放同盟). BLL publications are full of expressions like 被差別部落 (hisabetsu buraku), meaning a "buraku that receives discrimination" or "discriminated-against buraku" or just "discrimated buraku" -- and 未解放部落 (mikaihō buraku), meaning an "not yet liberated buraku" or "unliberated buraku".

BLL prefers to speak of "buraku residents" as potential if not actual victims of residence discrimination -- discrimination directed against them because they have, or had, an address in a community associated with yesteryear's outcastes. BLL contends that present and former buraku residents risk being victims of discrimination regardless of whether the resident is a lineal descendant of an outcaste -- meaning someone who was an outcaste at the time of the so-called emancipation edicts in 1871.

To be continued.



class, caste, outcaste

ryomin, senmin; kozoku, kuge, shi-no-ko-sho, hinin, eta; kozoku, kazoku, shizoku, heimin; zokuseki, zokusho

"Caste" is a distinction in status based on ascribed differences in racial, occupational, or other real or imaginary traits. Castes can be high or low or between. Though caste is usually based on birth, it can be gained or lost through upward or downward social mobility, or as a form of reward or punishment.

"Class" is often differentiated from caste as a status which hinges more on economic privilege. However, formal social stratifications, such as those defined by titles of nobility, are caste-like in the sense that they are perpetuated by lineage -- i.e., titles may be inherited, whether acquired by descent or adoption.

Castes in Japan until 1869

Until the reshuffling of higher castes in 1869, and the emancipation edicts of 1871 which ended outcaste statuses, Japan's statutes and customary laws defined three major castes.

"base people" (賎民 senmin), an inferior caste consisting of people regarded as ritually (religiously) polluted; outcastes

"good people" (良民 ryōmin), the general population, consisting of four castes -- warriors, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants (士農工商 shinōkōshō); commoners

"nobility" (公家 kuge), a superior caste of families of courtiers who served the Imperial Family; aristocrats

"Imperial Family" (皇族 kōzoku), the highest caste, which included families of imperial lineage; royalty

Senmin included eta (穢多 much filth), hinin (非人 non-human), kawaramono (河原者 riverbed people), and sanjomono (散所者 itinerants and vagabonds), among others likely to treated differently, and sometimes shunned, because of their occupations, living conditions, or penal status. Under Tokugawa laws, senmin were ranked below warriors, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants, the four social classes of people above the outcastes but below the court nobility and the Imperial Family.

Classes as castes in Japan from 1869 to 1947

In 1869, the domain lords returned their lands and registers to the emperor (版籍奉還 hanseki hōkan). The former court nobility (公卿 kugyō, 公家 kuge), and and the domain lords (諸侯 shokō, 大名 daimyō), who had been the highest ranking members of the warrior caste or (武士 bushi, 武家 buke), became peers (華族 kazoku). The Imperial Family (皇族 kōzoku) remained at the top of this new caste order.

In 1870, other higher ranking samurai became shizoku (士族), while lower ranking "servant" or "pawn" samurai became sotsuzoku (卒族). Some lower ranking samurai and some commoners also became shizoku. Shizoku and sotsuzoku, who had lost their hereditary stipends when disenfranchised as samurai, were given lump sums of money to pursue new occupations.

In 1871, upper and lower castes were allowed to intermarry, shizoku were no longer allowed to wear topknots or swords, and the eta and hinin subcastes were abolished. The domains, with some merging, became prefectures (廃藩置県 haihan chiken), and many former daimyo became governors.

1871 emancipation edicts

Two Great Council of State proclamations (Daijōkan fukoku) were issued on Meiji 4-8-28 (1871-10-12) abolished eta, hinin, and other such appellations, and provided that such people be treated the same as commoners (heimin) in general population registers (ippan minseki).

These two proclamations are commonly referred to in the singular as the "Emancipation edict" (解放令 Kaihōrei) or the "Base appellation abolishment order" (賤称廃止令 Senshō haishi rei). Neither of the two proclamations that these terms embrace, however, uses the term "kaihō" (解放), which means "unbind and release" -- i.e., "emancipation" or "liberation".

For transcriptions and translations of the two proclamations, and related commentary, see Social status laws in Japan: Caste, class, and titles of nobility since 1868 in the "Society" section of Yosha Research.

Recasting class, reclassifying caste

In 1872, the population was reclassified into imperial family (kozoku), peerage (kazoku), former higher ranking samurai (shizoku), and commoners (heimin). A few sotsuzoku became shizoku but most became commoners. Former eta and hinin, though legally just commoners, were sometimes referred to as "new commoners" (shinheimin).

The classes into which people were now to be registered were called "zokuseki" (族籍) meaning "class [caste] register [affiliation]". The term "zokushō" (族稱 / 族称) meant "class designation [name]", and household registers had a "zokushō-ran" (族稱欄) or "class-designation column [box]" in which to write a person's status.

A family's class was attributed to the head of the household, hence the zokushō box was at the beginning of the register where birth, parentage, and other matters related to the head were recorded. Changes of class were also noted in the box. The term for the status was usually brushed in vermillion rather than black ink.

1915 Family Register Law called for recording only the status of kazoku or shizoku (Article 18, paragraph 3). Pre-printed forms reflecting this law showed a "Class name" box with the choice "Shizoku Kazoku" (士族華族) in the box. If neither applied, the box was ignored. If one or the other applied, the applicable class was sidescored on the right in vermillion ink (Idota 1994 and related laws).

Peerage and titles of nobility

In 1884, the Peerage Law (Kazokurei) established five titles of nobility based on British peerage.

Prince (公爵 kōshaku)
Marquis (侯爵 kōshaku)
Count (伯爵 hakushaku)
Viscount (子爵 shishaku)
Baron (男爵 danshaku)

No provision was made for shizoku. Shizoku who received titles of nobility as rewards for meritorious service were sometimes referred to as "new peers" (shin-kazoku). Other shizoku became commoners. Members of kazoku and shizoku familes who established their own registers, as did many second and later born sons, became commoners.

The recording of shizoku lineage in family registers was abolished with the 1914 revision of the Family Register Law. From 1948, the Family Register Law (Law No. 224 of 22 December 1947, enforced from 1 January 1948) required that all notations of such inherited lineage (zokuseki) titles be removed from public records.

A 1904 revision to the 1889 Imperial Household Law allowed lower ranking princes to leave the imperial family and establish a peer family register or become the heir of an established peer family that needed a male heir.

In 1910, when Japan annexed Korea, a number of Koreans, including some members of the former Korean imperial family, were granted titles of peerage.

Only two castes of Japanese today

When Japan unconditionally surrendered in 1945, there were four statuses among Japanese based on different register systems -- Interiorites (prefectural subjects), Taiwanese (Taiwan subjects), Chosenese (Chosen subjects), and Imperial Family members. Aliens constituted a fifth, non-Japanese, class.

Among Japanese, a few Taiwanese and Chosenese held titles of nobility, but the vast majority of title holders were Interiorites. Titles of nobility were constitutionally disrecognized in 1947. Since 1952, when Taiwanese and Chosenese lost their Japanese nationality, there have been only two classes of Japanese based on different household register systems -- one for Imperial households, the other for general households.

Speaking mainly of Interiorites, or prefectural nationals, as of 1945, there were four legal castes with the Imperial Family and general registers, though only three were differently privileged.

Imperial household registers

Imperial Family (皇族 kōzoku)

General household registers

Commoners (former 平民 heimin)

[Former higher ranking] samurai families (士族 shizoku)
Peers (華族 kazoku)

No privileges were legally attached to the status of shizoku. Though families of shizoku ancestry might exploit that status socially, legally they were no different from commoners,

Titles of peerage, too, were often merely titles of little tangible benefit to the people who happened to hold them. Such titles were of four kinds in terms of the social background of the holder (including, for reference, Chosenese (former Korean) titles holders).

titled descendants of court nobles
titled descendants of domain lords
recently titled former commoners and their descendants
recently titled former Korean nobility and their descendants

A title was associated with the corporate family of the person who held the title. As such it could be inherited only by the heir of the title holder, so long as the heir remained in the family.

An adopted heir was also eligible to inherit the title.

Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the 1947 Constitution provides that there shall be no discrimination under law because of social status (in the sense of family relationships) or family origins (in the sense of caste or clan).

Paragraph 2 specifically provides that "Kazoku and other systems of kizoku nobilility shall not be recognized" (華族その他の貴族の制度は、これを認めない Kazoku sonota no kizoku no seido wa, kore wo mitomenai).

This was the foundation for the elimination all "clan" or "caste" or other such "class" distinctions in the 1948 Civil Code and 1948 Family Register Law. The Family Register Law and some family law provisions in the Civil Code, however, do not apply to members of the Imperial Family.

Legal status of Imperial Household

Peer and heimin statuses were effectively abolished after World War II. Today, there are only two legal castes of Japanese -- Japanese whose status is recorded in the Imperial Geneology (皇統譜 kōtōfu) under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), and Japanese whose status is recorded in a family register book (戸籍簿 kosekibo) under the jurisdiction of a municipality. While people in municipal registers are sometimes referred to as "ippanjin" (一般人 general people) in the media, the term has legal significance.

Succession according to Imperial Houshold Law

Japan's 1947 Constitution implicitly recognizes two castes of nationals: members of the Imperial Household (limited since 1946 to the Emperor and his immediate family), and other nationals. This differentiation is implied by Article 2 of Chapter 1 (Emperor), which provides that

The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic and succeeded to in accordance with the Imperial House Law passed by the Diet.

Imperial Family members in Imperial Geneology

Article 26 of Chapter IV (Majority; Honorific Titles; Ceremony of Accession; Imperial Funeral; Record of Imperial Lineage; and Imperial Mausoleums) of the Imperial Household Law (皇室典範 Kōshitsu Tenpan) of 1947 provides that

The matters relating to the family status of the Emperor and the members of the Imperial Family shall be registered in the Record of Imperial Lineage.

Imerial Household exceptionalized in law

Membership in the Imperial Family, and marriage and other matters affecting the civil status of Imperial Family members, are thus determined by the Imperial Household Law. While the general population is governed under a Civil Code that in principle treats all people the same regardless of sex, race, religion, or family origin, the Imperial Household Law explicitly discriminates in favor of male offspring according to their closeness to the reigning emperor and their birth order.

Although the Imperial Household Law would appear to contravene Article 14 of the 1947 Constitution, which provides that nationals will not be discriminated against under law because of race, sex, religion, or family origin, legalists will rationalize the exceptualization of the Imperial Family because the Imperial Household Law pre-existed the constitution and continued to be recognized by the constitution.


China, Chinese

China -- because of its status as an ally in the war against Japan, and Chiang Kai-shek's desire to see it included in the ranks of world powers after World War II -- was a founding member of the United Nations, and has been a permanent member of the Security Council, since the world body came into existence on 24 October 1945.

China was then the Republic of China. ROC was under the control of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang [PY Gúomíndăng (GMD), E Nationalist Party (KMT)]. After World War II, Chiang's forces and their communist rivals resumed a civil war that had started before Japan's invasions and occupation of parts of China in the 1930s.

Status of Taiwan after World War II

On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong (WG Mao Tse-tung) founded the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing (Peking) and declared it the legitimate government of the country. Chiang was forced to retreat with remnants of his army and the ROC government to the province of Taiwan, which had been a part of Japan from 1895 until the end of World War II (1945 de facto, 1952 de jure).

Though ROC continued to claim the other provinces, in effect it left them under the control of PRC, which claimed Taiwan as one of its provinces. The battle between ROC and PRC for international recognition had immediate effects on diplomatic relations between the two governments and the governments of other countries. While PRC has been winning most diplomatic battles, the ROC-PRC war is not over.

The United States and Japan, already closely linked with ROC, continued to recognize only ROC as China. Division in opinion among other Allies, however, resulted in ROC not being invited to San Francisco in 1951 to sign the peace treaty that took effect in 1952. Consequently, Japan signed its own treaty with ROC in Taipei in 1952. Neither treaty named ROC as the successor state, for a variety of reasons, but mainly because the terms of surrender, and ROC's occupation and incorporation of Taiwan, had already resulted in its separation from Japan to Taiwan as the state in effective control and jurisdiction of the territory.

UN recognition shifts to PRC

During the Korean War in the early 1950s, ROC continued to represent China in the United Nations, under whose flag the United States and several other countries defended the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea). PRC entered the war on the side of DPRK, which was also aided by the Soviet Union.

Within two decades after the truce in Korea, however, PRC had gained enough political clout among UN member states that, on 25 October 1971, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which shifted UN recognition from ROC to PRC as China's only legitimate government. PRC now sat in China's seat on the Security Council and represented China in all UN organs.

ROC, no longer a state in the eyes of the United Nations, was not expelled from the UN but simply disqualified. It was not a matter of one China replacing another, but of a newly recognized government replacing a formerly recognized government of the same entity. China was still just China. There have never been "two Chinas" in the United Nations.

ROC's post-UN status

Though the United States did not formally switch its recognition from ROC to PRC until 1979, it virtually switched when it accepted PRC in place of ROC in the United Nations in 1971 and then signed an agreement with PRC in 1972 which committed the two countries to normalize their relationship as early as possible. This de facto switch of recognition from ROC to PRC in 1971/1972 encouraged Japan to formalize its change of recogition in 1972.

Despite the admission of both ROK and DPRK into the United Nations, ROC has failed several attempts to rejoin the UN as a state entity. While ROC is today recognized as a state by barely twenty of UN's nearly two-hundred members, it continues to exist as an entirely self-governed territory and entity.

ROC as a self-governed entity

PRC is offering ROC status as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) -- permitted to maintain its own legal system (like Hong Kong and Macao) and even its own military (unlike Hong Kong and Macao) -- in return for being a province of China rather than a state. Despite pressure to accept PRC's overtures, ROC seems unwilling to give up its independence.

In 1992 and later amendments to its 1947 constitution, ROC has avowed its intent to defend the territory it now controls, which includes not only Taiwan but two groups of islands that are part of Fujian province. Some Taiwanese would like to change "China" in ROC's name to "Taiwan" as a declaration of independence. PRC has said it would militarily intervene if ROC takes a separatist course of action. The United States, backed by Japan, has said it would defend ROC against a forceful takeover.

See The Republic of China as a state: The vicissitudes of recognition politics for a more look at ROC's international status.


Chinese in Japan



citizens, citizenship, elements of citizenship

citizens   (1) Persons with some voice in the affairs of a polity. (2) Persons affiliated with, and enfranchised in, a polity that mediates the rights and duties of the people in its jurisdiction. (3) An Americanism for persons who possesses a state's nationality and presumably "citizenship". See also alien citizens.

US distinction between "citizen" and "national"

US laws define "citizens" and "nationals" differently. Both possess US nationality. Both can also be referred to as "nationals of the United States" when referring to their common possession of US nationality. Citizens, though, are essentially people affiliated by birth or naturalization in the organized territories of the United States -- meaning the states of the Union, the District of Columbia, and several organized but unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico.

In principal, all US citizens and nationals are free to migrate and reside anywhere within US territory. However, rights of representation in the federal government and rights of federal suffrage vary considerably with residential status.

Only citizens who establish a residence within a state of the Union or in the District of Columbia may vote in presidential elections. DC residents did not gain this right until the passing of the 26th Amendement of the Constitution in 1961.

Only states have voting congressional representatives, and only citizens who reside in a state may vote in its congressional elections. Citizens who reside in the District of Columbia or in an organized but unincorporated territory like Puerto Rico, and nationals who reside unorganized and unincorporated territories like American Samoa, elect only a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.

The US distinction between "US citizen" and "US national" is a matter of US domestic law, whereas international law is concerned with "nationality" as token of state affiliation. International law regards anyone who possess a state's nationality as simply a national of the country, regardless of other statuses the person may have under the country's domestic laws or the rights and duties that come with such statuses.

The information page on a US passport, which reflects international usage, identifies the "nationality" of the bearer as UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The Secretary of State request page, opposite, refers to "the citizen/national of the United States" in accord with domestic US law.

In addition to national affiliation, international private law is also concerned with residential status, meaning the country or other legal territory within which a person is legally residing, if other than the person's country of nationality.

citizenship   (1) Condition of being a citzen of a polity. (2) Americanism for condition of being a US citizen; not synonymous with "US nationality" or with "nationality" in international law. (3) Confused in especially American usage with nationality.

elements of citizenship   Rights and duties associated with being a citzen of a subnational, national, or other polity, which vary according to the citizen's nationality, age, gender, mental compentency, criminal record, and other individual traits.

There is a strong tentency to equate "citizenship" with suffrage, to use the word "citizen" to mean someone who is eligible to vote if not also hold office. If so, then there are millions of "US citizens" who are are not really "citizens" because they are too young or mentally too incapacitated to vote, are are behind bars.

Metaphors for "citizen" and "citizenship" -- in the sense of "nationality" and "rights of suffrage" -- have no currency in Japanese law. The term "shiminken" (市民権) contrasts with "kokuseki (国籍) in the phrase "kokuseki mata wa shiminken" (国籍又は市民権) meaning "nationality or citizenship" -- but the phrase is limited to a couple of references to aliens in the immigration control law.

However, "shimin" (市民) has increasing currency as a metaphor for "civil" or "civic" membership in a local or other community. See both Legal terminology and Elements of citizenship for further details.



This term is widely used to translate 同胞 (C. tóngbăo, K. 동포 tongp'o, J. dōhō), which means "same womb" -- a metaphor for "racioethnic sibling" -- a brother or sister of the same ethnonational ancestry.

The term appears to have the most currency among Koreans, including some Koreans in Japan, who feel strongly about racioethnic identity and unification, and solidarity within the global "Korean diaspora". It seems to have have the least currency among Japanese.

See Race in ROK's constitutions for a look at how the Republic of Korea constitution encourages "racioethnic solidarity" through "compatriot love".

See ROK's Compatriots Abroad Act for a look at how the Republic of Korea defines "nationals abroad" and "alien nationality compatriots".


culture, culturalism, multiculturalism, cultural determinism

culture   Content of human life; something anyone can acquire, regardless of nationality, race, or ethnicity.

culturalism   The belief that culture is a national, ethnic, or racial property that should be subject to political definition, control, protection, and dissemination.

multiculturalism   The belief that the multiplicity of politically defined "cultures" in a given society should be the object of public policy and education.

cultural determinism   The belief that culture defines a person, who is consequently regarded as being "of, by, and for" a culture, regardless of the content of the person's character as an individual.



diaspora, diaspora politics, transnationalism

diaspora   A very politically correct -- hence academically acceptable -- metaphor for the spread of a national population beyond its national borders. This usage romanticizes the "nation" as a racioethnic entity which literally scatters its genetic and cultural seeds around the globe.

diaspora politics   National policy related to embracing a diasporic population, and the diplomatic problems which result when such policy upsets relations with states in which the diasporic population resides as nationals.

transnationalism   A variety of nationalism that extends across national borders. Transnationalists typically romanticize the "nation" as a diasporic racioethnic entity. The object of such transnationalism is to solidify racioethnic bonds among "compatriots" in other countries.


discrimination, discriminatory words

discrimination   The word means simply a recognition of difference, or differentiation. In reference to differentiating people, however, it usually implies disadvantageous treatment of the discriminatee by the discriminator -- hence "discriminatory" usually implies "discriminating against".

Rational discrimination

In law, discrimination may be "justified" by causes deemed to be "rational". For example, Japan's 1950 Nationality Law was patrilineal for married parents with nationalities. This meant that the child of a Japanese woman married to a non-Japanese man could not become Japanese at time of birth.

While patrilineality would seem to be contrary to the 1947 Constitution, which guarantees all Japanese nationals equality under law and proscribes discrimination because of sex, courts declined to comment on its constitutionality. Instead, they ruled that the same constitution gave the Diet the authority to determine the qualifications to be a Japanese national by law.

Courts also ruled that the Diet was within its lawful mandate to consider the operation of Japan's nationality law in concert with the nationality laws of other states, most of which were then -- in the late 1970s and early 1980s -- similarly patrilineal. Sovereign states had the right to minimize instances of "positive conflict of nationality" -- meaning dual nationality, which can result when one state has a patrilineal law and the other state has a matrilineal, bilineal, or place-of-birth law.

The lack of a provision in the Nationality Law to resolve the problem of "negative conflict of nationality" or "statelessness" in the case of a child of a Japanese woman married to a stateless man was something the Diet might address. But it was not the court's job to tell the Diet which of many possible solutions to adopt.

discriminatory words   Expressions deemed discriminatory, that are not supposed to be used in mass media in Japan, are called 差別用語 (sabetsu yōgo "discriminatory usage"). They have been compiled by various organizations, including NHK, Japan's semi-public broadcasting network, since the 1950s.

To be continued.



eta, hinin

Eta was one of several category of outcastes defined by law in Japan until 1871, when government ordinances abolished outcaste status. The eta caste was hereditary. Historically, eta are supposed to have been engaged in occupations that resulted in them becoming ritually polluted. Some slaughtered animals or did leatherwork. A few served as executioners. Yet others were ordinary farmers whose families had been stigmatized as eta in earlier generations.

Hinin was another outcaste status abolished by the 1871 edict. Hinin consisted mainly of itinerant craftsman and entertainers. A non-outcaste convicted of a certain crime, such as a merchant who survived a suicide pact he had entered into with a female employee who died in the attempt, would be sentenced to hihin status for a period of years, after which he would revert to his former status.

See also caste.


ethnic this, ethnic that



ethnicity, ethnos, volk, folk

ethnicity   Affiliation with a linguistically or otherwise culturally defined population; commonly used to imply racial affiliation.

ethnos, volk, folk   An ethnic population, usually defined biologically, hence a race, nation (as race), nationality (as race), or people (as race).

Chinese mínzú
Japanese minzoku
Korean minjok



family register, Family Register Law, principal register

family register   In Japan, a family register (戸籍 koseki) records particulars related to birth, death, marriage, divorce and other matters that affect the status (身分 mibun) of each member a family, which in most cases constitutes a biological household but may include adopted or in-law members. The register shows how members are related in terms of lineage (parents, siblings), marriage (spouses), and adoption. At one time a koseki defined a "corporate family" but today the "family" or "household" constitutes a collectivity of individuals who share the same "honsekichi" or "principle register address" and family name. A "family" still has certain collective rights and duties, but it no longer functions as a corporate unit with a formal authoritarian head and hierarchy.

Family Register Law [Family Registration Law]   Japan's Family Register Law (戸籍法 Kosekihō) is, in many respects, the fundamental law of the land. Promulgated in 1871 and implemented the following year in Japan's first national head count, it preceded the Meiji Constitution (1889) by sixteen years and the Civil Code (1896) by twenty-five years. Today, its functions as a master record of Japanese individuals according to their "original" or "principle" domicle addresses are supplemented by the Basic Resident Register Law of 1967, which governs the keeping of municipal records of residents actually domiciled in a locality, including residents whose principle register address are in other localities. The Basic Resident Register Law replaced the Resident Registration Law (住民登録法 Jūmin tōroku hō) of 1951, effective from 28 April 1952, which had replaced the Temporary Residence Law (寄留法 Kiryūhō) of 1914, effective from 1915.

principal register   As a legal term in Japan, 本籍 (honseki) refers to one's "principal register" or "principal affiliation". For Japanese, honseki means the locality (prefecture and municipality) which has jurisdiction over one's family register, thus making the person a national of Japan. For aliens, honseki means the country of one's nationality.

Family and resident registers

Family registers double as national registers

Since membership in a family register affiliated with a local entity within Japan's sovereign territory came to define Japanese nationality, "family registers" (戸籍 koseki) double as "national registers" (国籍 kokuseki) -- which is translated "nationality" when used to mean one's affiliation with a state. Japanese nationals are defined as persons who possess Japan's 国籍 or "nationality".

Family registers and resident registers

Family registration has been the primary tool for nationalization and control of the geographical territories and populations Japan has claimed as part of its sovereign state and nation since the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). While family registers remain the foundation of legal status for Japanese nationals, resident registers have become the means by which Japanese establish their legal status in a municipality for the purpose of exercising rights and duties of citizenship. Until 2011, aliens established their legal status as residents, and exercised their rights and duties of citizenship as residents of Japan, through alien registration. Aliens are now registered along with Japanese on municipal resident registers, which naturally identify them as aliens, who are such because their "honseki" is not in Japan -- i.e., they they do not qualify for registration in a Japanese koseki.

Family registers as "honseki" for Japanese

For Japanese, honseki refers to the prefecture having jurisdiction over the municipality which maintains the person's family register. Since having a family register affiliated with Japan is tantamount to being Japanese, municipal and prefectural honseki affiliations are geographical subunits of Japanese nationality as a demographic territory.

For aliens with a nationality, honseki refers to the state which issued the passport the alien used when entering Japan, or which recognized the person as a national at time of birth or when losing Japanese nationality in Japan.

Though stateless aliens domiciled in Japan have no honseki, they are partly treated as though Japan was their honseki. While treated as aliens for purposes of resident registration and elements of citizenship derived from local registration, stateless people domiciled in Japan, when legally traveling abroad, have certain rights of protection by Japanaese missions, and also have the right to return to Japan with valid documents.





half, quarter, eighth
mulatto, quadroon, octoroon

One commonly reads that "haafu" in Japanese means "half-Japanese" -- but this is not true.

The expression "haafu" is part of a converging geometric series of quantums of "alien blood" in a person who is regarded as other than "pure Japanese". The Japanese series has its exact counterpart in English expressions that denote the fraction of "black blood" in "white blood" -- i.e., how much "pure white blood" has been deluted (rendered impure) by an umpurity like "black blood".

1st generation -- black (fully black)
foreigner -- one-hundred percent alien

2nd generation -- mulatto (half black)
haafu -- half (half alien)

3rd generation -- quadroon (quarter black)
kuootaa -- quarter (quarter alien)

4th generation -- octoroon (one-eighth black)
hachibun no ichi -- one-eighth (one-eighth alien)

The series for blends of black and white continues with"quintroon" -- a person of fifth (quint) generation mixture (four generations distant from the original black progenitor) -- i.e., a person with one-sixteenth black blood (hexadecaroon). In abrogated or dead laws of some southern US states, this quantum marked the legal boundary between "black" and "white". Accordingly, a person with less than this quantum of black blood would be legally white.

The mathematics of impurity

Mathematically, the series consists of fractions generally expressed by 2-n, where n varies from 0 to infinity and represents a person's generational distance from the first generation progenitor of impure genes -- i.e., the "pure alien" or "pure black" who miscegenated with the "pure Japanese" or "pure white" to begin the impure line.

The impurity of the first generation progenitor, for whom n=0 (zero generations distant from the progenitor), is 2-0 = (1/2)0 = 1 -- meaning that the person is entirely (1 = 100 percent) impure -- i.e., entirely alien or black or whatever.

The impurity of the second generation, for whom n=1 (one generation from the progenitor) is 2-1 = (1/2)1 = 1/2 -- meaning that the first person is 1/2 (50 percent) alien or black.

The second generation from the progenitor will be 2-2 = (1/2)2 = 1/4 impure, the third 2-3 = (1/2)3 = 1/8 impure, and so on.

Math students will recognize that the sum of the elements in the series

1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + . . . + (1/2)(n)


1 + 1 = 2

as the distance of descent from the progenitor (n) approaches infinity (∞).

In other words, an infinite number of generations of descendants would have to be born for the fractional quantums of blood of all descendants to amount to one (1) -- the unitary (pure) quantum of blood contributed by the first-generation progenitor.

The quantum of blood in the infinite descendant will be zero (0). However, it will take forever for such a descendant to be born. Therefore, the impurity will never vanish.

Impurity perpetual and increasing

Hence down to very last eon of unbroken descent, there will always be Korean and other alien genes in the blood of Japan's imperial family. Why other alien genes? Because Korean and Japanese genes were never pure to begin with. The gene pools of both populations, like all human gene pools, have always been amalgamations. And both will continue to amalgamate as humans everywhere mix.



The term hapa emerged in Hawaii to describe someone of part white and part non-white, meaning some blend of white and Hawaiian, or white and Asian. This term is widely used today in mainland states too as a label for someone of part Asian ancestry. Offspring of Chinese and Mexican parents might call themselves "hapa".

You can buy Hapa Pride anything -- t-shirts, baby dolls, tanks, buttons, tote bags, magnets, teddy bears, aprons, journals, mouse pads, tiles, coasters, stickers, postage pals, jerseys, sweats, hoods, mugs, steins, caps, calendars, greeting cards, posters, boxer shorts, camisoles, trucker hats, and thongs.

Hapa is also the name of the Hawaiian/haole duo Keli'i Kaneali'i and Barry Flanagan.



illegal stayers

illegal stayers (不法滞在者 fuhō taizaisha) include (1) "illegal remainers [overstayers]" (不法残留者 fuhō zanryūsha) or persons who remain in Japan beyond permitted periods of stay, (2) "illegal entrants" (不法入国者 fuhō nyūkokusha) including those who enter without a valid passport as when using a forged passport or by sneaking into the country, and (3) "illegal landers" (不法上陸者 fuhō jōrikusha) meaning those who have landed without a landing permit.


immigration, emigration

immigration   (1) "in-migration" or "movement into" a country or other region, as (2) migration into a country with the intent of settling; (3) as an artifact in English versions of Japanese laws, the act of either exiting or entering the country

移民 (C. yímín, J. imin)   (1) "migrant" or "migration" without regard to whether movement is into or out of a country or region; (2) "emigrant / immigrant" or "emigration / immigration"; (3) a national who has migrates and settles overseas, or such an act, as used in the "Immigration Act" of the Republic of China (ROC).

出入国 (J. shutsunyūkoku)  leaving or entering the country ("exit-enter-country")

入出國 (C. rùchyūgúo)  entering or leaving the country ("enter-exit-country")


In English versions of the laws of East Asian states like Japan and the Republic of China, "immigration" is shorthand for mmore than what this term often implies in English.

Japan's "immigration law"

In English versions of Japanese laws, "immigration" is commonly used as a tag for what in Japanese law is 出入国 (shutsunyūkoku) -- meaning "exit and entry of country". This term is a compound of 出国 (shutsukoku) meaning "exit country" or "exit of country", and 入国 (nyūkoku) meaning "enter country" or "entry of country".

All three terms denote physical acts without regard to the "intent" of those who are exiting (going, leaving, departing) or entering (coming, arriving). They do not connote "emigration" or "immigration" or "migration" as directional or general movements.

出入国管理 (shutsunyūkoku kanri) or "exit-and-entry-of-country control" is commonly abbreviated to just 入国管理 (nyūkoku kanri) or "entry-of-country control". Both terms are usually dubbed just "immigration control" in English.

Japan's first "exist-and-entry-of-the-country control" (出入国管理 shutsunyūkoku kanri) regulations were issued during the Occupation, under the influence of American law and legal usage. Hence Japan's first full-fleged "Exit-and-etnry-of-the-country Control Order" (出入国管理令 Shutsunyūkoku kanri rei) of 1951 has usually been referred to in English as "Immigration Control Order" -- or, since its 1982 revison, as "Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law" (出入国管理及び難民認定法 Shutsunyūkoku kanri oyobi nanmin nitei hō).

The titles of both the 1951 order (which gained the status of a law in 1952), and the 1982 revision, are commonly abbreviated (also in the laws themselves) to just 入管法 (Nyūkanhō) -- which would be like saying "Im Con Law" in English.

Japan's immigration related laws are enforced by the Immigration Bureau (入国管理局), which is under the Ministry of Justice (法務省). The bureau originated as a department, and then an external agency, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (外務省).

Republic of China's "immigration law"

ROC's immigration law of 2003 is called 入出國及移民法 (rùchyūgúo jí yímín fă), which translates "Entering or Leaving the Country and Immigration Act" in full and "Immigration Act" in short.

This law, which covers entry, exit, and immigration matters, is enforced by the National Immigration Agency (入出國及移民署) and the National Police Agency (警政署), both of which are under the Ministry of Interior (內政部).


indigenous people, indigenous peoples

The "s" is terribly important to some people(s).

indigenous people   A population of native descent but not necessarily racialized as an ethnic nation. This is the term used by the United Nations to designate 1993 as the "International Year of World's Indigenous People" and the start of the "International Decade of World's Indigenous People" in 1994. It is translated 先住民 (senjūmin) in Japanese.

indigenous peoples   A population of native descent racialized as an ethnic nation. This term was intentionally avoided by the United Nations in its 1993 International Year designation. It is translated 先住民族 (senjū minzoku) in Japanese.


Imperial Family




Japan, Japanese


Japan has been a member of the United Nations since 18 December 1956.


jus sanguinis, jus soli, jus matrimonii

jus sanguinis   right of blood; the most common principle of nationality. "Blood" is usually a metaphor for parental lineage. In the past, most right-of-blood were patrilineal (father is a national), though a few have also been matrilineal (mother is a national). Today most such laws are ambilineal (either parent is a national). I know of no laws that have been bilineal (both parents are nationals).

jus soli   right of soil; a less common principle of nationality. "Soil" means that the place of birth is within the country's territory. Some place-of-birth countries are drifting toward right of blood by imposing residency requirements either on the alien parents of children born in the country or on the children.

jus matrimonii   right of marriage; once a common, now a relatively uncommon principle of attributing nationality to an alien through the alien's marriage to a national. In the past most laws provided for an alien woman to derive nationality through a national husband. Japan's law also once provided that some alien males could become Japanese through marriage.

Typical combinations of "right-of-blood" and "right-of-soil" principles

There is considerable misunderstanding about the meanings of "jus sanguinis" (right of blood)" and jus soli" (right of soil). The later is actually the older and more "feudal" principle. The former, now more common principle, emerged as an effort to break the territorial bonds of "subjects" and "sovereigns" by defining affiliation in terms of parental or family bonds.

"Right of soil" stems from the older and more "feudal" practice of regarding all persons born in a territory as natural inhabitants of the territory, who are therefore natural subjects of the sovereign who rules the territory. The "place of birth" principle of nationality in the United States (whether it results in becoming a "citizen" or just a "national"), is actually a relic of this older feudal concept of territorial based affiliation.

The following tables show how so-called "right-of-blood" and "right-of-soil" states generally determine nationality. Both kinds of states combine right-of-blood and right-of-soil principles in order to make sure that most if not all children born within their jurisdictions will obtain a nationality.

Importance of lineage even in right-of-soil states

The impression is that right-of-soil states do not apply right-of-blood principles to children born inside the country. However, their application of right-of-blood principles to children born outside the country to qualified nationals implies that lineage is ultimately important even in right-of-soil states. In fact, one can just as well view right-of-soil states as states which apply a right-of-blood principle to the children of all their nationals, wherever the children are born -- in addition to which they apply right-of-soil principles to most children born within their borders to non-nationals.

Right-of-blood (jus sanguinis) states

Most countries in the world provide their nationality at time of birth primarily to children whose mother or father is a national. Parents usually confirm nationality by presenting evidence that the child is biologically theirs. The "blood" ties are parental, not racial.

Lineage Where born
In country Outside country
National parent

Nationality primarily derives from birth, whether inside the country or abroad, to a parent who is a national of the country. In the past most right-of-blood laws were matrilineal for the offspring of unmarried women and patrilineal for the offspring of married women. Most laws today are ambilineal, meaning a child becomes a national if either its mother or father is a national. A child born in a right-of-soil country may also qualify for its nationality.

Other parent

Secondary right-of-soil rules usually apply to children born in the country to stateless parents, and to children whose parents are unknown and therefore of unknown nationality. Some right-of-blood states also apply right-of-soil rules to third-generation descendants of immigrants.

Those who do not qualify for nationality at time of birth typically have to naturalize. However, some countries provide nationality upon adoption by or marriage to a national, and for other reasons.

Right-of-soil (jus soli) states

Relatively few countries primarily provide their nationality to anyone who is born in the country. Nationality in such countries is usually confirmed by presenting a birth certificate or other evidence of birth in the country.

Lineage Where born
In country Outside country
National parent

Nationality primarily derives from birth within the country, regardless of the nationality of one's parents. Children born to parents who are nationals of another country may also qualify for that country's nationality under its laws. However, right-of-soil rules are often suspended for children born in the country to non-national parents with diplomatic immunity. In such cases, only the laws of their parents' country of nationality will apply.

Secondary right-of-blood rules usually apply to children born to qualified nationals in the domain of another country. Rules may limit nationality to offpsring of parents who have resided in their country of nationality.

Other parent

Those who do not qualify for nationality at time of birth typically have to naturalize. However, some countries provide nationality upon adoption by or marriage to a national, and for other reasons.





There is some dispute as to whether Karafuto became a prefecture. The evidence is overwhelming that, even if the territory did not become a prefectural entity by name, it was treated like a prefecture on a par with Hokkaido and Okinawa, controlled mostly from Tokyo. It was also placed ahead of Hokkaido on some official statistics showing breakdowns by prefecture. And it was treated as a prefectural entity in postwar nationality settlements.

See Legal integration with interior for an account of how Karafuto became a prefecture, and how Taiwan and Korea were also brought under the wing of the Minister of Home Affairs with the intent of incorporating them into the interior.


Korea and Koreans, Chosen and Chosenese

One Korea, one Chosen, two Koreas

"Korea" is widely used in English to refer to any and all entities on the "Korean peninsula" from early times. Similarly, "Koreans" is commonly used to refer to people associated with these entities by their territorial affiliation, nationality, or putative race or ethnicity.

If we take as our beginning point the late 19th century, then there is a single country on the peninsula, and it was known as the "Empire of Korea" from 1897 to 1910. From 1910, the Empire of Korea ceased to exist as a state when it ceded itself to the Empire of Japan. As a subnational entity of Japan, "Korea" was renamed "Chosen" and "Koreans" became Japanese nationals of "Chosenese" subnationality.

In 1945, Japan formally transferred its control of and jurisdiction over "Chosen" to the Allied Powers, the United States occupying the south and the Soviet Union occupying the north. Japan formally lost its sovereignty over Korea (Chosen) in 1952. By then, two Korean states had been founded, ROK in the south and DPRK in the north, and they were embroiled in a war over the peninsula. The "two Koreas" signed a truce but the peninsula continues to be divided by a demilitarized zone at the 38th parallel.

In the meantime, Japan is home to a number of people I call "legacy Chosenese" -- meaning people whose present legal status is that of an affiliate of Chosen as a legacy entity -- in other words, people whose family registers remain tied to the former Japanese subnation of Chosen.

From Chosen to Korea to Chosen

Dynastic Chos#335; became the Empire of Korea [Han] in 1897. Though its sovereignty was somewhat compromised by extraterritoriality, imperial Korea was in principle a sovereign state.

Korea's competency as an independent state ended in 1905 when it became a protectorate of Japan, thus permitting Japan to act as its proxy in foreign affairs. Though Korea remained a sovereign entity, the delegation of its foreign affairs to another state compromised its sovereignty in such a way that, had there been a United Nations, it would have lost its membership.

Then, in 1910, the Emperor of Korea consigned his sovereignty to the Emperor of Japan, at which point Korea lost even its capacity to govern its domestic affairs. Japan's annexation of Korea was internationally recognized.

From Chosen to ROK and DPRK

Japan agreed to the exclusion of Korea (Chosen) from its sovereignty when it signed the general Instrument of Surrender in 1945, thus agreeing to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. It formally lost control of and jurisdiction over Korea when it surrendered peninsula in parts to representatives of the Allied Powers. Japan's sovereignty over Chosen formally ended the day the San Francisco peace treaty came into effect in 1952.

When Japan signed the general surrender, there was no Korean state to receive possession of the peninsula from Japan. Chosen was occupied by the Soviet Union and the United States north and south of the 38th parallel.

In 1948, Chosenese in the American and Soviet occupied halves of the peninsula became "Koreans" of different Koreas: the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the south and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

ROK and DPRK at war

In 1950 DPRK invaded ROK. The Korean War swept deeply south, then deeply north, then back to the 38th parallel where it ended in a stalemate in 1953.

Though technically still at war, ROK and DPRK have moved toward more cross-border exchanges with an eye toward eventual reunification.

ROK and DPRK as UN members

Both the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) petitioned for membership to the United Nations, claiming the each other's territory and population. Both were finally admitted to the world body on 17 September 1991, with the understanding that they were in effect independent states.

Though technically obliged to respect each other as separate and distinct entities, ROK and DPRK at times still posture as the sole government of a single country called "Korea" inhabited by an undivided "Korean" nation.

Japan-ROK relations

ROK and Japan signed a normalization treaty on 22 June 1965 in Tokyo. On the same day the two countries also signed an agreement concerning the status of ROK nationals in Japan. Ratifications of these and other treaties and agreements were exchanged on 18 December 1965 in Seoul. The normalization treaty came into effect from that day. The status agreement came into effect from 17 January 1966.

DPRK-Japan relations

On 22 September 2002, Japan and DPRK released a joint declaration in Pyongyang, in which the countries agreed to improve their ties with an eye toward normalization. Both sides agreed to discuss property claims related to events before 15 August 1945, while recognizing that in principle both countries would waive all such claims when their bilateral relationship is eventually normalized (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They also agreed to discuss issues related to the status of "Zainichi Chōsenjin" (which MOFA's provisional English version too broadly renders "Korean residents in Japan") (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan).

While Japan supported the entry of both ROK and DPRK into the United Nations in 1991, Japan does not quite recognize DPRK as a state entity. Efforts by the two countries since 1991 to normalize their bilateral relationship have failed and continue to flounder.

Normalization between Japan and DPRK is inconceivable until ROK and DPRK settle their differences. ROK-DPRK reunification will not be possible before a peace treaty between the two countries, and a peace treaty would require normalization of US-DPRK relations and a withdrawal of US forces from ROK.

In the meantime, the status of Chosenese in Japan, meaning Koreans in Japan who are not recognized as nationals of the Republic of Korean -- remains in limbo.


Koreans in Japan, Chosenese in Japan

"Koreans in Japan" -- as an objective label indicating civil (legal) status -- should include everyone who is territorially affiliated with "Korea" and who is in "Japan" -- regardless of their putative race or ethnicity. In this objective legal sense, the meaning of "Koreans in Japan" will vary according to the meaning of "Korea" and "Japan".

Between 1910 and 1945, Korea was a part of the Empire of Japan called Chosen. As such, "Korea" was in Japan. And because "Koreans" were Chosenese by territoriality and Japanese by nationality, Chosenese in all parts of the sovereign Empire (the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chosen) were "Koreans in Japan".

From 1945 to 1952, the Empire of Japan "Japan" was redefined by the Allied Powers without Korea (Chosen), Formosa (Taiwan), Sakhalin (Karafuto), and a few other territories. However, "Koreans" (Chosenese) in Occupied Japan remained Chosenese by territoriality and Japanese by nationality.

From 1952, Chosenese generally, including those in the "Interior" (as the 1952 notification of denationalization reads, referring to all prefectural territories of what had been the Empire of Japan), lost their Japanese nationality. However, under Japanese, Koreans (Chosenese) in Japan remained Chosenese.

From 1966, Chosenese who had anywhere in the world migrated to the nationality of the Republic of Korea (ROK) became ROK nationals in the eyes of Japanese law. However, at the time of this writing half a century later, Chosenese in Japan who have not migrated to another nationality remain Chosenese as a legacy status. Such Chosenese (and even some Japanese) who have claimed to be nationals of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have not been regarded as such in Japanese law, as Japan has not yet recognized DPRK. The few people Japan has allowed to enter the country directly from DPRK, or from DPRK via a third state such as the People's Repulbic of China (PRC), have been treated as DPRK nationals, not as legacy Chosenese.

Since ROK and DPRK are states, people formally affiliated with ROK or DPRK in the eyes of Japanese law (regardless of their recognition status) are their nationals. Chosen, which was not state, became a would-be state after World War II. Hence people who in Japan's eyes continue to be affiliated with Chosen as a former Japanese territory are nationals of this would-be state, which itself is neither ROK nor DPRK.

Since their legacy Chosen affiliation is associated with the entity now claimed by both ROK and DPRK, however, "Chosenese" is regarded as a quasi-nationality, representing the nationality Chosenese would have had were the Japanese territory of Chosen to have been ceded back to a Korean state. Japan has usually conflated ROK nationals and legacy Chosenese in most general nationality statistics, and also includes the few DPRK nationals in Japan in its most general breakdowns of aliens by nationality.

"Koreans in Japan" today therefore include two formal nationality statuses and one quasi-nationality status. These statuses reflect only civil household register affiliations, and not racioethnic qualities, which are personal matters.

The human world, however, is full of impulses to racilize people. Hence "Korean" and "Japanese" continue to be widely racialized, even by journalists and academics who one would think would want to respect the civil standards that matter most in objective reports of how people have been classified and treatied in legal entities like "Japan" and "Korea" -- mindful that the qualities of both of these entities, as have those of like entities, have varied with time.

The pervasive racialism in journalistic and academic reports on "Koreans in Japan" makes the distinction between objective legal status and racioethnic and ethnonational imagination extremely difficult. Most writers tend to confuse what I would call legal usage and racialist usage.

Many writers now use fashionable labels like "Zainichi" and "ethnic Koreans in Japan" as pronouns for "Koreans in Japan" -- without clearly indicating when they are shifting from civil status to racialist imagination. At times they impute racioethnic or ethnonational qualities to Korean and Japanese statuses that are purely civil. Other times they imply that "Koreans" and "Japanese" are defined by "blood" -- and "Koreans in Japan" embraces everyone who has a drop of putatively "Korean blood" in their veins.

Why so many writers persist in confusing or conflating civil and racialist attributes is not an easy question. Some writers seem to adopt passively acquired viewpoints without examining their premises. Others seem intent on maximizing the population of people in Japan they wish to claim are "Koreans" in order to advance an ideology of racioethnic one-drop-rule "peoplehood". Unwitting or intentional, both kinds of writers are inclined to singularize what they call "Zainichi" or "ethnic Koreans" as "a minority group" -- and view this "group" as a victim of "Japanese" racism, imperialism, colonialism, militarism, zenophobia, whatever.

Here is the simplest possible guide to the difference between (1) "Koreans in Japan" in legal usage, referring to a fairly small and objectively defined population of aliens of various legal (civil) statuses all connected with Korean nationality or territoriality but not necessarily with "Koreans" as a subjective racioethnic cohort -- as opposed to (2) "Koreans in Japan" in racialist usage, designating a much much larger subjectively conceived racioethnic population of people representing numerous nationalities but mostly Japanese.

1. "Koreans in Japan" in legal usage

In legal usage, "Koreans in Japan" are defined by their actual or virutal nationality, a civil status having nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Broadly, all such "Koreans" are regarded as affilaites of "Kankoku/Chōsen" (韓国・朝鮮), and since they are "people" (人 jin) who are "in Japan" (在人), then "Koreans in Japan" (在日韓国・朝鮮人 Zainichi Kankoku/Chōsenjin) becomes an umbrella for all aliens in Japan who are legally affiliated with the Korean peninsula.

There are broadly three kinds of Koreans in Japan defined by one or another "Korean" nationality.

1a. ROK Koreans (韓国人 Kankokujin)
Nationals of the Republic of Korea have existed since 1948 when ROK was established in the half of the Korean peninsula as south of the 38th parallel, which had been occupied by American forces in 1945. Japan and ROK did not normalize their relationship until 1965. A 1965 agreement regarding the treatment of ROK nationals in Japan, especially ROK nationals who qualified for special treatment under postwar treaties, did not come into effect until 1966. Hence "ROK Koreans in Japan" did not formally exist until 1966.

Note that historically, in treaties and other formal usage, 韓人 (Kanjin) more than 韓国人 (Kankokujin) has referred to subjects of the Empire of Korea between 1897 and 1910, or to people regarded as "Koreans" before and after the Empire of Korea joined the Empire of Japan as Chosen in 1910.

1b. Chosenese (朝鮮人 Chōsenjin)
This term refers to territorial affiliates of Chosen as a part of Japan's sovereign dominion from 1910 to 1952, or to people who since this period, under Japanese law, have continued to be regarded as residual affiliates of the former Japanese terriorty of Chosen. During the period of Japan's control of and jurisdiction over Chosen from 1910 to 1945, "Chosenese" (and later "Tyosenese" were the terms Japan officially used to refer to "Koreans" who were its subjects and nationals by reason of their territorial affiliation with Chosen (Korea). The Allied Powers referred to Chosen as "Korea" or "Korea (Chosen)". From 1945, Japan surrendered control and jurisdiction of the the northern and southern parts of "Korea" (Chosen) to military commanders of the Soviet Union and the United States, pursuant to the terms of the general Instrument of Surrender, in which Japan accepted that it would lose its sovereignty over Korea (Chosen), Formosa (Taiwan), and some other territories. Consequently, "Korea" was excluded from "Japan" as redefined by the Allied Powers. Japan formally lost Korea in the San Francisco Peace Treaty, effective from 1952.

Chosenese in Japan today remain such because their family registers remain affiliated with the former Japanese territory of Chosen, whether south of the 38th parallel in provinces now under ROK control, or north of the 38th parallel in provinces now under the control of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). They remain Chosenese because they have not migrated to a nationality that Japan recognizes, whether to its own nationality (in which case they become Japanese), or to an alien nationality (in which case they become aliens of that nationality).

Most Chosenese have migrated to ROK nationality, and hence are now ROK Koreans as defined above (1a). Some, though, have migrated to the nationalities of other states that Japan recognizes, and as aliens in Japan are now regarded as nationals of those states.

1c. DPRK Koreans (also called 朝鮮人 Chōsenjin)

Nationals of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have existed since 1948 when DPRK was established in the half of the Korean peninsula north of the 38th parallel, which had been occupied by Soviet forces in 1945. However, a state's nationality exists only in the eyes of that state, and in the eyes of recognizing states. As of this writing, ROK and Japan do not formally recognize DPRK as a state, and hence do not recognize its nationality.

Some legacy Chosenese in Japan (1b), for example, have claimed to be nationals of DPRK, and a few have obtained documents supporting their claim. But Japan is legally unable to recognize such claims because it has not established normal relations with DPRK.

Some ROK nationals in Japan (1a) have also, in their own eyes, migrated to DPRK nationality. But they are unable to renounce ROK's nationality because ROK does not recognize DPRK as a state. In ROK's eyes, permitting renunciation of its nationality would leave such claimants stateless.

This does not prevent such people from being nationals of DPRK in its eyes, or in the eyes of states of supranational bodies that recognize DPRK and its nationality. It does, however, mean that they are not treated as DPRK nationals by Japan or ROK.

A case in point in the soccer player Chong Tese, formally an ROK national in the eyes of ROK and Japan, but recognized as a national of DPRK by DPRK, and by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for purposes of competing in the 2010 World Cup. See Soccer politics: Chong Tese's nationality in Japan and elsewhere for details.

Japan exceptionally admits some DPRK nationals into Japan on short-stay visas related to cultural or other activities, or with visas that permit longer stays for humanitarian reasons, on the strength of their DPRK passports and related documents.

1d. "Koreans in Japan" limited to SPRs

Some writers, such as Tei Taikin, have spoken of "Koreans in Japan" as a specific "group" defined by their status of residence as aliens in Japan, in particular aliens in Japan who are either ROK nationals (1a) or legacy Chosenese (1b), and who additionally qualify for status as Special Permanent Residents (SPRs) under Japanese laws. This status is accorded to residents of Japan who, as affiliates of the former Japanese territories of Taiwan or Chosen, lost their Japanese nationality in 1952, and qualified descendants born and raised in Japan.

The population of SPR Koreans in Japan is rapidly shrinking because of death, naturalization, and nationality laws that treat dual-national children of Koreans and Japanese as Japanese when in Japan. This decline has sometimes been offset by an increase in the number of Koreans who are taking up residence in Japan as general aliens, which means that the total population of "Koreans in Japan" -- regardless of their legal status -- has remained about the same.

Note that "Special Permanent Resident" is not a synynym for Koreans in Japan, and is not defined with specific reference to Koreans in Japan. In fact, the status is held by about fifty different nationalities of aliens.

See permanent residence for more about SPR as a status of residence.

2. "Koreans in Japan" in racialist usage

In addition to the above formal, legal, civil, raceless definition of "Koreans in Japan", there are any number of strictly extralegal definitions based mainly on subjective notions of race or ethnicity. These definitions typically regard biological descent or "blood" as the key qualification for "Korean in Japan" or "Zainichi" (在日) label.

Some racialist definitions recquire possession of a Korean nationality in addition to some degree of "Korean blood". Other such definitions embrace anyone, regardless of nationality, who has a drop of "Korean blood" and resides in Japan. Some even include such people who now live outside Japan, but nonetheless represent the extended "peoplehood" of racially (ethnicially) defined "Koreans in Japan".

Misinformation about Koreans/Chosenese in Japan

There are numerous reports on "Koreans in Japan" in books and journals, and on the Internet. Most reports are laced with erroneous or misleading information. The fact that a report was written by a scholar, or is full of footnotes citing scholarly sources, should never be taken as an assurance of reliability. Academics, in their rush to advocate for minorities, are prone to take the factuality of received accounts for granted and otherwise blur the line between truth and fiction.

"Zainichi Korean" misinformation in Wikipedia

A long Wikipedia article entitled "Zainichi Korean" began with this definition (downloaded 7 March 2007).

Wikipedia Misinformation

Zainichi Korean

Zainichi Koreans, also often known as Zainichi for short, are the permanent ethnic Korean residents of Japan. They constitute the largest ethnic minority group in Japan. Strictly speaking, the term refers only to residents of Japan who have either retained their Joseon (the old, undivided Korea) or South Korean nationalities, not ethnic Koreans who have acquired Japanese nationality through naturalization.

This is a typical example of how writers today are apt to impose racialist "ethnic" meanings on Koreans in Japan with no regard for the raceless laws of Japan's civil society. Koreans in Japan are aliens because they are not Japanese. As aliens, they possess either ROK nationality or the virtually stateless status of legacy Chosenese subnationality -- both of which are legal attributes with no racioethnic significance.

Being a "Korean" in Japan -- whether as an ROK national or as a legacy Chosenese -- is, like being Japanese, a matter of nationality, not race or ethnicity. Koreans in Japan who acquire Japanese nationality become Japanese, and as such are no longer Koreans in Japan.

The appearance of "diaspora" at the start of the section on "origins" in the same Wikipedia article is another clue to the emotional subjectivity that flows beneath the surface objectivity of the article. The increasing use of diaspora is evidence of an undercurrent of what I would call "Korean racialism" -- the impulse to racialize "Koreans" as an ethnic or ethnonational entity.

With regard to Koreans in Japan, such racialism takes the form of what I call Zainichiism. An increasing number of journalists and academics using "Zainichi" as a pronoun not just for "Koreans" in Japan as a raceless civil status, but for "ethnic Koreans" in Japan, with which they embrace everyone in Japan who is thought to have a drop of putatively "Korean blood".




laughter   What people do when they (1) think something is funny or stupid, (2) are happy, sad, in pain, nervous, or frightened, or (3) are crazy.

Levity is an anti-gravity machine. It can lift and transport the willing soul over abysses of alienation, suspicion, even hatred. People need to laugh more, especially when it hurts.

"I'm Japanese. Sumimasen."

The following exchange comes from a YouTube clip called "Korean says 'I'm Japanese' (posted 6 March 2007). The clip is from an episode of an SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) variety show called "Yashim Manman" (夜心萬萬).

The show features a panel of stars and a couple of comic emcees. It is extremely popular and is available in boxed multi-disc DVD collections in Japan, where many Korean stars have become highly commercialized idols. My impression is that the clip, which is subtitled in Japanese, comes from one of these discs. The show was apparently aired during December 2005.

The translation is mine, based on the Japanese subtitles and what I can hear of the Korean.

Star A: "When you do something bad, say 'I'm Japanese.'"

[Stars and emcees break up, audience roars.]

Star A: "Always."

Star B: "If you step on someone's toes, 'Sumimaseeen.'"

Star C: [bobbing head] "'Sumimasen, sumimasen.'"

[Stars and emcees break up, audience roars.]

Emcee A: "That's petite patriotism."

Emcee B: Yeah. Petite.

People spontenously laughed because "sumimasen" -- the most common Japanese apology -- is a common butt of "Japan" humor in Korea. The humor is based on the impression that Japanese think they can get away with anything, even the colonization of Korea, simply by saying "Sumimasen" -- while bobbing the head, which is what Star C does while repeating the mantra. Star B mocks a stronger apology by lengthening "e" to "eee".

"Your use of 'trouble' is better."

On 25 September 1972, China's Premier Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) hosted a state banquet for Japan's Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei (1918-1993), who was visiting Beijing in order to patch things up between the two countries. Zhou spoke of "the terrible calamity that the peoples of China and Japan had sustained because of the aggression in China of Japan's militarists" (日本軍国主義者の中国侵略によって、中日両国人民がひどい災難をこうむった). Tanaka, referring to this remark, said "Regarding the considerable trouble my country recently caused the nationals of China, it is something for which [my country] again expresses a deep sense of remorse" (この間わが国が中国国民に多大のご迷惑をおかけしたことについて,私はあらためて深い反省の念を表明するものであります / 其间,我国给中国国民添了很大的麻烦,我对此再次表示深切的反省之意)

Tanaka's use of "trouble" (迷惑 J. meiwaku, C. míhùo, translated into Chinese as 麻烦 C. máfán, J. mafan), in response to what Zhou called a "calamity" (災難 C. zannàn, J. sainan), caused Tanaka considerable trouble. The following day, Zhou told him that Chinese use 麻烦 (迷惑) only for small matters -- such as when apologizing to a woman on a roadside for splashing water on her skirt. Tanaka explained that the expression 迷惑をかけた (添了麻烦) is used in Japanese when acknowledging that one has done something bad.

Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) later told Tanaka he thought the Japanese expression was better. Mao thus released the tension in what may be considered a moment of diplomatic humor.



matrilocal, uxorilocal

Both terms are used to refer to situations in which a husband lives with the family of his wife.

Matrilocally may also be used to refer to situations in which children live with and are raised by their mother and/or her family, in a setting where the custom is for the mother and father to live apart.

I tend to use "matrilocal" both when a man marries into a woman's family, and when a child remains affiliated mainly with its motheer's family.

majority, majority

majority   (1) A numerically larger cohort (such as a political party or other group) in a given population. (2) A numerically larger racioethnic population defined biologically and/or culturally (including linguistically and/or religiously). (3) A numerically larger nation within a larger nation, such as the Han nationality in relation to other nationalities in the People's Republic of China.

minority   (1) A numerically smaller cohort (such as a political party or other group) in a given population. (2) A numerically smaller racioethnic population defined biologically and/or culturally (including linguistically and/or religiously). (3) A numerically smaller nation within a larger nation, such as a minority nationality in the People's Republic of China.

The distinction between "majority" and "minority" is typically based on population. Among several cohorts within a population, one cohort is larger than all others. In Japan, Japanese outnumber other nationalities by about 50 to 1. In the United States, Americans outnumber other nationalities by about 10 to 1. In both countries, females outnumber males by about 100 to 96 or 97.

While terms like "racial majority" and "ethnic minority" usually imply relative numerical largeness and smallness, the term "status minority" is sometimes used to label a cohort that is numerically larger but politically less powerful, such as black South Africans under Apartheid, or women in many countries. See status minority for other meanings.


minority group, community, member

group   (1) A demographic cohort or entity. (2) A common characterization of a racial or racioethnic cohort or entity.

community   (1) Any demographic cohort or entity that shares some degree of social cohesion. (2) A reference to a racioethnic, religious, or other such cohort or entity, used to give the impression that the cohort or entity is monolithic and cohesive -- though in reality it is mostly likely geographically too scattered, anthropologically too diverse, and socially and politically too fractured to qualify as a single, unified population.

member   (1) A person who is affiliated with a family, society, or other such organization. (2) An ascription of affiliation with a majority or minority group or community, made with or without the consent of the person being associated with the cohort or entity.

"groups" and "communitities" as romantic fictions

A demographic "group" or "community" is rarely the discrete monolithic entity that such collective labels imply. Expressions like "ethnic group" and "minority community" encourage people to embrace romantic notions about the the nature of individual and collective identity and behavior.

Take any country, and locate all individuals who would seem to be "Asian" or "white" or "Jewish" or whatever -- and generally they will not be found to be residing, working, learning, or otherwise associating with each other -- much less identifying as "members" of -- a "group" or "community" of Asian, white, or Jewish people. In the real world, unconstrained by the "race boxes" of government bean counters, individuals simply do not congeal into racioethnic "groups" or "communities".

The increasing use of collective characterizations like "group" and "community" deepens the deception that individuals with putatively similar traits constitute a demographic solidarity -- a dangerous assumption if one wants to understand what binds and divides real people in real societies.


minority nationality

minority nationality   Expression consistenly used in English publications of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to translate 少数民族 (shăoshù mínzú). Here "nationality" signifies an racioethnic subnationality of PRC's raceless state nationality.

少数民族 is used in PRC's constitutions and laws to refer to fifty-five legally recognized racioethnic subnational entities. These entities are differentiated from the majority 漢 (Hàn) entity. Some Chinese are unclassified.

This use of "nationality" should not be confused with PRC's state nationality (国籍 guójí), which is raceless. All people who possess PRC's state nationality are people (人民 rénmín) of PRC regardless of their racioethnic status.

English versions of the constitutions of the Republic of China (ROC) variously render the term 民族 (mínzú) as "race/racial" or "nation/national".


minzoku, minzokusei, minzokuha, minzoku shugi, minzoku chushin teki

minzoku   ethnic nation, ethnic race, nation, race; introduced into Japanese during the late 19th century as a translation for German "Volk", meaning "people" or "nation" as a racioethnic entity, hence "ethnos" or "ethnic group".

minzokusei   ethnicity; literally the "sei" (quality, temperament) of a "minzoku".

minzokuha   ethnonational faction; a faction of nationalists that views the nation as a racioethnic entity.

minzoku shugi   ethnonationalism.

minzoku chushin teki   ethnocentric.


misinformation, Americanization, Internet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

misinformation   Information presented in the belief that it is correct -- but on closer inspection turns out to be incorrect. Everyone is vulnerable -- including this writer, who continues to sift his shifting viewpoints for old and new forms of misinformation -- all resulting from his own lack of vigilance, his own failure to confirm the factuality of all information regardless of the apparent reliability of its sources.

Common false statements about Japan

1. Japan is a small island country about the size of California.
In fact -- being almost as large as California means Japan has more territory than about 70 percent of the world's roughly 200 sovereign entities. It ranks 10th in population and 1st in longevity among highly-populated entities. Its intellectual and economic resources, among other measures of size, also mean that Japan is one of the largest countries in the world.

2. Koreans in Japan are descendants of forced laborers brought over from Korea during Japan's occupation.
In fact -- the vast majority of Koreans in Japan today are people who migrated to the islands as Japanese when Korea was part of the Empire of Japan (1910-1945) -- and their descendants, either born in Japan as Japanese while Korea was still part of Japan, or as Koreans after Japan gave up its claim to Korea (de facto 1945, dejure 1952). The vast majority of those who were brought to Japan to work during World War II returned to the peninsula after the war.

3. There is a minority called the burakumin who have suffered discrimination for centuries.
In fact -- there is no such minority. Outcaste status has not been possible since 1871. The variety of people who were legally outcastes until this time were not called "burakumin" -- a label that (1) was coined many decades after emancipation, (2) has never gained currency in Japanese usage much less had any legal significance, and (3) is used today mostly by journalists and scholars making the above claim in English.

To be continued.

Americanization   A process of change influenced by developments in the United States aka America. Information in English is especially vulnerable to ways in which American scholars and journalists, and US-educated people in other countries, speak and write about social issues.

Internet and Wikipedia   The Internet is awash with misinformation about social and political issues. In many Wikipedia articles, opinions are so thoroughly hidden in a sea of facts and source citations that only the most informed reader will be able to sort fact from opinion.

ethnic Koreans

American academia and mass media increasingly racialize people in the interest of promoting multiculturalism and being politically correct. American labeling fashions have strongly influenced how people writing in English describe minorities in Japan. For example, US media, English media in Japan, and English Wikipedia articles increasing use "ethnic Koreans" to label Koreans in Japan -- even though being a Korean in Japan is a matter of legal status having nothing to do with ethnicity.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs   Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is both the country's "face" and "interface". How MOFA represents Japan in English has huge consequences. Predictably, there are problems.


nation, nationality, national, nationalism, national origin

nation   (1) The demographic territory of a state; all individuals a state recognizes as legally qualified to possess its passport and receive its protection. (2) Racialized by some states in reference to recognized subnational ethnic minorities (US); (3) racialized in ethnocentric ideology.

nationality   (1) Affiliation with a state as a member of its sovereign nation. (2) Raceless for all states. (3) Racilized by some states in reference to subnational affiliation with a recognized ethnic minority (China). (4) Confused in especially American usage with citizenship.

national   A member of a state's nation; an individual legally qualified to possess a state's passport and receive its protection.

national origin   Racialized in ethnocentric usage; also racialized in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

nationalism   (1) State nationalism; patriotism motivated by pride in country as a state; 国家主義 (C gúojiā zhŭyí, J kokka shugi, K kukka chuui). (2) Racioethnic nationalism; patriotism motivated by ethnic pride; 民族主義 (C mínzú zhŭyí, J minzoku shugi, K minjok chuui).


naturalize, naturalization; denaturalize, denaturalization, expatriation; kikajin

naturalization   (1) related to nationality, (1a) legally, acquisition of another nationality through application and permission, other than the nationalities one acquired at time of birth or later through application of the law; (1b) popularly, any later acquisition of another nationality; (2) related to territorial affiliation, (2a) narrowly, any change of affiliation from the territory where one was born, to another territory, based on the principle that a territory's sovereign has the right to rule everyone who was born in (hence native or natural to) the territory; (2b) broadly, any change of territorial affiliation; (3) related to adaptation, the adjustment, acclimatization, assimilation, acculturation, or conformation of a species to a habitat in which it is not native.

denaturalization   In law, the opposite of naturaliation, i.e., a process or proceeding that results in loss of a state's nationality, whether the loss is voluntary or forced; also known (especially in earlier laws) as expatriation.

"Naturalize" as a linguistic fossil

"Naturalize" means to become or make "natural". It presumes that a species which is native to a place because it was born there, when moving or moved to a place where conditions are different, has to adapt or be adapted to the new place in order to commingle and survive with its native species.

The term appears in English from about the 16th century, when it denoted a change of subjecthood from one sovereign to another. Subjecthood -- the status of owing allegiance to a sovereign -- was then considered "natural" in the sense that such status was thought to be ordained by "divine will", hence the "divine right of kings" to claim the allegiance of all inhabitants born in their domain.

The Enlightenment of the 18th century, which began in the 17th century, introduced the idea of "natural rights" as something possessed by all humans as natural beings. Such rights were considered inalienable, inherited, God-given -- unlike the "legal rights" accorded by a sovereign or other legislative authority.

By the American and French revolutions, the idea that sovereignty resided with the people as one of their natural rights had undermined the feudal logic of "naturalize" as a metaphor for change of political affiliation. Still, "naturalization" survives as a linguistic fossil to describe what is now a legal process of permitting membership in a "nation" that is anything but "natural".

"Denaturalization" is the opposite of "naturalization" in that it involves a legal process of cancelling an person's status as a member of a nation. While a "naturalized person" is one who has been permitted to to acquire a state's nationality, a "denaturalized person" is one who has been allowed to renounce, or has been deprived of, a state's nationality.

"Naturalization" in early East Asia

The term "naturalized" is widely used in historical writing about Japan. It most often appears in references to "naturalized Koreans" in early Japan. These were people who migrated from the Korean peninsula, most as refugees from wars between the 4th and 7th centuries. In English they are described as having "naturalized" in Yamato and thus become subjects of the Yamato Court. Some indigenous tribes are similarly described as "naturalizing" as early early as the 3rd century.

This is more than one millennium before "naturalize" appeared as a metaphor in feudal Europe. Thus a relatively recent European metaphor has been made to travel backward in time to describe a political act that had little to do the "natural" political philosophy in East Asia.

The Chinese term being translated by "naturalize" is 帰化 (kika), which literally meant to "change" one's allegiance by "submitting" to the moral authority of another sovereign. The so-called 帰化人 (kikajin) in early Japan were simply "people who changed their allegiance" usually by registration as inhabitants of local communities.

"Naturalization" in East Asia today

As a legal term in nationality law today, 帰化 (kika) is used to mean what "naturalization" has come to mean -- acquisition of nationality through application and permission, as opposed to acquisition through operation of the law with or without notification.

In 1980, the People's Republic of China began using 入籍 (rùjí) or "enter register" instead of 歸化 (guīhwà). This is a reduction of the fuller expression 加入中國國籍 (jiārù zhōngguó guójí) or "naturalize to China".

In Japanese, 入籍 (nyūseki) generally means to enter a family register. However, it is almost always used to imply "marry", for when when two Japanese marry, one must move to (hence enter) the family register of the other.

Note that 入籍 and 歸化 (帰化) describe act related to registration that result in acquisition of nationality, or change of allegiance, rather than citizenship. Chinese uses 公民入籍 (gōngmín rùjí) to express the idea of naturalization in the sense of "obtain citizenship".

The conventional term for "naturalize" had been 歸化 (guīhwà), or 帰化 (kika) as it is now written in Japanese. This is an old term, used in classical Chinese texts and early Korean and Japanese chronologies to mean "submitting and changing" in the sense of accepting the moral influence of a sovereign. Japan may have been the first East Asian state to use this term to mean "naturalization" as a legal term in its 1899 Nationality Law.

"Naturalized" as a discriminatory word

Some writers describe Japanese who have naturalized to Japanese nationality as "naturalized Japanese". Journalists who write in English are particularly reluctant to call such people simply "Japanese". However, there is no such status as "naturalized person" in Japanese law.

A national of the United States or the Republic of Korea, who naturalizes in Japan, becomes Japanese, and Japanese are not differentiated according to how they obtained their nationality. The Constitution of the United States, however, accords fewer political rights to Americans who are not natural-born citizens.

In Japan it is more a violation of good manners, than simply a taboo, to refer to public figure -- in Japan -- in terms of ethnic or nationality background without the person's consent. This does not stop television personalities in Japan from racializing people in, say, the United States. But it does encourage a degree of racioethnic disinterest that complements the legal egalitarianism.

In the United States, where there is less equality, as in the inequality of naturalized and natural-born Americans, there are more occasions when public reference to a person's citizenship or racioethnic status is perhaps justified -- as detrimental as that may be to the long term interests of American humanity.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not just an American. He is a naturalized American, and that makes him legally different from natural-born Americans.

Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947, and he was an Austrian when he migrated to the United States. He moved to the United States in 1968 and in 1983 became a US citizen, though he is also still an Austrian national.

Schwarzenegger could be called a naturalized citizen of the United States but a native of Austria. Or he could be called an Austrian-born American, or an Austrian American, among many other appelations.

In any event, Schwarzenegger is not simply an American -- because, unlike native-born American, he is not qualified to run for, or be elected to, the office of the President of the United States.

Arai Shōkei

Take, however, someone like the late Arai Shōkei (新井将敬), who killed himself in 1998 in the midst of a scandal. He was born in Osaka in 1948 to parents who were then Japanese. Because their family registers were in Chosen, they were also Chosenese. As such they lost their Japanese nationality when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force in 1952.

Arai, born Pak Kyŏngjae (朴景在), remained Chosenese, a virtually stateless legacy status, until 1966, when he became Japanese. He then graduated from Tokyo University and entered the Ministry of Finance. In 1981, he became the private secretary of Watanabe Michio (1923-1995), who was Finance Minister from 1980-1982.

In 1983, Arai ran for the House of Representatives in the same Tokyo constituency as Ishihara Shintaro. Seals posted by Ishihara's team claimed Arai had naturalized from "North Korea" and insinuated he was a "North Korean spy". Arai sued Ishihara for obstruction of the election though later he withdrew the suit. Ishihara blamed his secretary for the defamatory seals, but he also said the public had a right to know Arai's personal history.

Arai was first elected to a lower house seat in 1986. He left the LDP and was affiliated with a couple of new parties but later returned to the LDP, where he was considered a rising star who might someday become prime minister.

No law in Japan would have prevented Arai from holding the country's top political office.

Naturalization and assimilation

"Naturalization" is very closely related to "assimilation", for as metaphors both anticipate an accommodation of new conditions by embracing the conditions. In other words, if one "naturalizes" to Japan as a non-native place, then one "assimilates" the conditions that are peculiar to Japan, namely its language and customs.

Naturalization as a legal process, of course, need not require assimilation as a condition for naturalization. However, the fact that people who naturalize generally have to be fluent enough in the local language, and familiar enough with local life, to initiate an application, means that they have already assimilated to the point that they can survive in the locality.

See assimilation for more about adjustment and accommodation.


nested polities, affiliations, nationalities, citizenships

National and other polities affiliations, and elements of citizenship that derive from such affiliations, are often nested; e.g., an individual who is domiciled in a town in a prefecture in Japan, which has signed and ratified international conventions, has access to elements of citizenship that derive from these layers of municipal, prefectural, national, and suprenational affiliation

nested affiliations may limit multiple affiliations

Nested affiliations are typically subordinated and serial (voter registration associated with a town within a district within a state), whereas multiple affiliations are in principle independent and parallel (membership in two golf clubs). However, dual (multiple) nationality does not generally enable one to exercise all possible elements of citizenship associated the two nationalities at the same time, for international laws and reciprocal treaty agreements will rank conflicting elements of citizenship as though they are nested.

For example, Japanese and US mononationals can avail themselves of protective services at Japanese or US missions when residing or traveling abroad. However, Japanese-US dual nationals who are domiciled in Japan as Japanese may not be able to obtain the protection of a US consulate in Japan, and vice versa for such dual nationals domiciled in the United States as US nationals.

Also, provisions in the nationality laws of the two countries limit the ability of a national to participate in the political or military affairs of another state.


Nikkei, Nikkeijin, issei, nisei, sansei

Nikkei (日系)  (1) Used in a number of expressions to denote that something is "connected with Japan" or that someone is of "Japanese ancestry"; (2) an abbreviation of "Nikkeijin".

Nikkeijin (日系人)  (1) literally "person connected with [related to] Japan"; (2) originally and most broadly "person of Japanese ancestry" living outside Japan; (3) technically and most narrowly "alien of Japanese ancestry" living anywhere. Sometimes shortened to "Nikkei" (日系). Sometimes expressed as "Nikkei no hitobito" (日系の人々). Often mistranslated as "overseas Japanese" or as "ethnic Japanese".

issei (一世), nisei (二世), sansei (三世) et cetera   (1) first, second, third, and subsequent generations in any succession; (2) concerning migrants (emigrants, immigrants) and their descendants, generational descent counting the migrant generation as either "zero" (e.g., "first-generation American") or "one" (e.g., "second-generation Japanese American"); (3) may have other meanings, as in treaty-based Japanese laws defining the status of aliens in Japan who legally qualify as descendants of former exterior subjects (Taiwanese, Chosenese, and others) who remained in the prefectures after World War II.

See "Nikkeijin" semantics for more about alien descendants of Japanese, including such aliens in Japan.

See Permanent residence in Japan for more about treaty-based alien residents of Japan.



one drop rule, one dropism, one dropist

one drop rule   Criterion of classifying people by a quantum of racial blood.

one dropism conventionally reflects the belief that any dilution of a superior race by ancestral mixing with an inferior race makes one a member of the inferior race. Hence "white" and "Japanese" are standards of purity in racialist and racist notions of who is "non-white" or "non-Japnaese".

Today, however, one dropism is both exclusive and inclusive. People who consider themselves "white" may consider Barack Obama "black" in order to prove they are capable of accepting "black" people. Yet people who consider themselves "black" may also insist he is "black" in order to claim him as theirs. Halle Berry could just as well call herself a "white" actor but she has more value as a "black" actor.

Any number of "white" people have suddenly become "native American" after discovering their great-great-great grandmother was half Cherokee.

one dropist   Someone who classes people, possibly even themselves, according to a small quantum of racial blood. Danzy Senna's first novel, Caucasia (1998), is partly based on her own experiences of being "mistaken" for white, though apparently she was raised "black". Gregory Howard Williams, author of Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black (1995), has drawn criticism from people who wonder why someone who doesn't "look" or "act" black wants to publicize his putative "blackness".


overseas Japanese

overseas Japanese   (1) technically, Japanese who reside outside Japan, meaning nationals of Japan who have a status of residence in another country; (2) racialistly, people outside Japan who are perceived to be "Japanese" by virtue of their putative racioethnic ancestry, including so-called "Nikkeijin".

Because "overseas Japanese" is often conflated with aliens of Japanese descent, its various uses are discussed under Nikkeijin by way of disambiguating both terms.



people of color (and women)



political correctness

Though recent as an English expression, the practice of writing and editing, and censoring, anything with a list of words or phrases that are to be included, avoided, or excluded for political reasons is as old as human civilization.

During the Tokugawa period, "thought police" arrested writers, playwrights, and artists for acts which violated ordinances or edicts that proscribed certain themes in literature, drama, and graphic art. During the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods, from the 1870s to the 1940s, a number of "peace preservation" and "public order" laws gave police the authority to arrest people for expressing thoughts or associating with movements that threatened the state, and for acts of lèse majesté.

Until the end of World War II in 1945, most censorship in media was truly a matter "political correctness" in the narrower sense of being control by power in the hands of the government or those who presumed to speak for the government. After the war, under a constitution that guarantees freedom of "speech, press and all other forms of expression" and prohibits censorship at least on the part of the government (Article 21), the censorship batton was passed to public media.

Since the 1950s, publishers and broadcasters have been compiling growing lists of discriminatory words that serve as filters of usage when editing articles, books, and programming.


polity, nested and multiple polities (affiliations, nationalities, citizenships)

polity   (1) a political community with some form of government that usually operates in accordance with a body of laws; (2) typically a state, province, municipality, neighborhood, or a transnational body (which abides by the laws of two or more states), or a supranational body (such as the EU, which subordinates the laws of member states)

nested polities, affiliations, nationalities, citizenships   polities, affiliations with polities, and elements of citizenship that derive from polity affiliations, are often nested; e.g., an individual who is domiciled in a town in a prefecture in Japan, which has signed and ratified international conventions, has access to elements of citizenship that derive from these layers of municipal, prefectural, national, and suprenational affiliation

multiple polities, affiliations, nationalities, citizenships   Some individuals are affiliated with two or more national polities, and subnational polities within; e.g., PRC citizens, permanently domiciled in Japan, are eligible for elements of citizenship deriving both from their nested polity affiliations in Japan, and from their PRC state (civil nationality) and their substate (racioethnic) affiliations.



Prejudice is the root of most negative feelings individuals have about others they don't know. People tend to view others through passively acquired lenses that shape their vision before they have had an opportunity to see for themselves how others really are. The lenses are formed by rumors and myths, and even by intentionally fabricated propaganda about racioethnic traits, customs, behaviors, language.

Prejudicial acts are often so reflexive and subtle that neither the actors nor those to whom the acts are directed are aware of the prejudice. How many think, for example, that "Jews and other whites" or "Japanese and blacks" are prejudicial remarks?





race, racialism, racism, race boxes, racial privacy

jinshu, shuzoku, -zoku

The above two sets of terms are not being equated. The semantic ranges of the terms in both sets are very complex. The first set is built around the metaphor "race", but "race" is used with a variety of meanings. The second set is built around graphic metaphors that are linguistically unrelated to "race" but may, in some cases, refer to what would be called "race".

race   (1) a socially (politically) defined biological population; mostly a pigment of racialist imagination; (2) broadly, any ethnically defined population; (3) narrowly, a skin-color defined population; (4) synonymous in vernacular usage with ethnicity, nationality, national origin, ancestry, descent, even culture and heritage

racialism   viewing people racially, as a result of being conditioned to believe that races exist and that it is proper to classify and label people according to their putative race

racism   (1) treating people differently according to their putative race; any treatment, favorable or disfavorable, that results from racial differentiation; (2) in vernacular usage, disfavorable differentiation of someone by their putative race

race boxes   Blank lines or check boxes on birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, census forms, various application forms, questionnaires, and other documents to indicate putative race, ethnicity, and the like

racial privacy   The idea that whether a person regards oneself as a racial entity, or what that entity might be, should be a private matter not subject to government or other public interest, query, or surveillance

jinshu 人種 "type of person"   (1) "race" in the narrow anthropological (physical, biological) sense, used in contrast with "people" or "nation" in the narrow sense of an "ethnic race" (minzoku); (2) "race" in broader sense of "people" or "nation" in the narrower racioethnic sense -- in which usage "jinshu" conflates with "minzoku"; (3) metaphorically "race" in either of the above sense.

shuzoku 種族 "clan of a kind [seed, grain]"   (1) "clan" or "tribe" defined mainly by lineage, habitat, language, and customs; (2) "race" in the broader (now older) anthropological sense, very much like "jinshu" and "minzoku" in their more "tribal" or "clannish" than "national" senses.

-zoku   (1) "-clan" or "-tribe" as when differentiating populations defined mainly by lineage, habitat, language, and customs; (2) "-caste" or "-class" as when differentiating families by the inherited status of the head of the family (see zokuseki; (3) "-race" as suffix, abbreviating either "shuzoku" or "minzoku", used to impute a "racial" or "ethnonational" quality to a population; as such, the standard suffix in designations of principal "nationalities" (in the past) or "aborigines" (at present) of the Republic of China, and of "minority nationalities" in the People's Republic of China; (4) metaphorically a "-race" or "-tribe" or "-nation" -- as in a type of "-people" or "-group" or "-gang" or "-set": e.g., "take-no-ko zoku" ("bamboo [shoot] tribe" of fashion freaks and street performers, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, who enlivened Harajuku and Yoyogi Park in Tokyo), "bosozoku" ("speed tribes" that still tear around on motorcycles and souped-up automobiles), and now their "toho bosozoku" ("on-foot speed tribes") that tear down streets on foot; "nagara-zoku" (someone who habitually does several things at once); ad infinitum; (5) "family" or "group" or "set" as a category, as in biological classification between "order" and "genus".

Classifications as artifacts of racialism and racism

Racialism begins with the belief that there exist distinct racioethnic "groups" or "communities" consisting of "members" who share distinct traits. Racialism enables racism, including the act of racializing individuals against their will.

Classifying an individual as a member of a racioethnic cohort or entity, with or without the person's permission, is an act of racialism (making ethnoracial distinctions) if not racism (treating people differently according to such distinctions). Racializing individuals, whether formally (as with government-mandated "race boxes") or informally (when referring to someone in speech or writing), both damages the dignity of persons who do not wish to be treated as racioethnic beings, and violates their ethnocracial privacy as members of a civil society.

Pigments of imagination

Race is a pigment of the imagination. It is real, though, in the minds of many writers and readers, all over the world, of fiction about characters who are racialized according to their skin color, region, nationality, parentage, or religion.

Skin color   black, white, yellow, brown, red

Region       African = black
              Asian = yellow
              Euroamerican = white
              European = white
              Oriental = yellow
              Westerner = white

Nationality  [as racialized in common usage]

              Nigerian = black
              Japanese = yellow
              American = white

Parentage    black/yellow

Religion     Jewish = Jews as race

Never mind that the populations of all geographical regions, and of all countries, are racially heterogeneous. Never mind that nationality is raceless as an attribute of affiliation with a state. Never mind that all offspring are genetic mixtures of their parents' genes, which in turn are mixtures of their parents' genes, ad infinitum ad nauseam. Never mind that no religion is the provence a monolithic population.

Race is nonetheless broadly used to designate a different kind of person by whatever measure of difference -- from observable behavior or appearance, to entirely imaginary traits.



refugee   (1) any living thing compelled to leave its habitual niche by events beyond its control, from political or economic upheavel to environmental or other catastrophe; (2) internationally, anyone defined as such by the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951, 1954); (3) in Japan, anyone who qualifies as such under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law of 1982.

Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law

An alien in Japan who is recognized as a refugee (難民 nanmin) usually acquires a status of residence as a Long Term Resident, introduced for several categories of qualifying aliens in the status-of-residence scheme introduced from 1 June 1990.

Japan acceded to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (難民の地位に関する条約) and ratified the related Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (難民の地位に関する議定書) as follows.

Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

Convention created in Geneva on 28 July 1951

Came into effect on 22 April 1954

Approved by Japanese Diet on 5 June 1981

Cabinet made decision of accession on 11 September 1981

Instrument of accession deposited on 3 October 1981

Promulgation and notification made on 15 October 1981 (Treaty No. 21 of 1981, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Notification No. 359 of 1981)

Came into effect in Japan from 1 January 1982

Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

Protocol created in New York on 31 January 1967

Came into effect on 4 October 1967

Approved by Japanese Diet on 5 June 1981

Instrument of ratification deposited on 1 January 1982

Promulgation and notification made on on 1 January 1982 (Treaty No. 1 of 1982, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Notification No. 1 of 1982)

Came into effect in Japan from 1 January 1982


residence discrimination

residence discrimination   Discrimination based on past or present residence. In Japan, some people who live or have lived in neighborhoods associated with historical outcaste settlements may experience such discrimination. Also called "residential discrimination" -- a broader expression which includes discrimination in housing, as when selling or renting a home or apartment.


Resident Registration, Basic Resident Register Network, Basic Resident Register Card

Resident Registration   In Japan, registration in a municipality as a resident of the polity. Registration confirms one's legal status, which allows one to exercise the rights and duties of state, prefectural, and municipal citizenship that derive from municipal affiliation. Resident registration of Japanese other than members of the Imperial Family is administered under one set of laws, while Imperial Family members and aliens are registered under other laws. See box below.

Basic Resident Register Network    In Japan, a nationalwide database of resident registers. The Basic Resident Register Law of 1967 (住民基本台帳法 jjūmin kihon daichō hō) [Resdent Basic Ledger Law] facilitates the needs of municipalities and prefectures to know who is living in their juristictions. The state also compiles national statistics on residence and migration based on basic resident registers. The Basic Resident Register Network System (住民基本台帳ネットワークシステム jūmin kihon daichō nettowaaku shisutemu) [Resident Basic Ledger Network System] began operating in 2002. The Jūkinetto (住基ネット) is essentially a national database of basic residence registers.

Basic Resident Register Card   In Japan, an IC card issued to Japanese to facilitate their exercise of the rights and duties that derive from their legal status in a municipality. Japanese can obtain a Basic Resident Register Card (住民基本台帳カード jūmin kihon daichō kaado) [Resident Basic Ledger Card] from the village, town, or city in which they are registered as residents.

There are currently two types of Jūkikaado (住基カード). The simpler card shows only the name of the registrant and the municipality of affiliation. The more elaborate card shows the registrant's name, address, birthdate, gender, and a photograph. Card memories include the eleven-digit number of the registrant's resident card for use as a database key. The registrant uses a four-digit PIN number to verify identity at points of service. Authentication and transport keys are encrypted to prevent counterfeiting and use if stolen.

Registration as foundation of legal status

Legal status in Japan is established by registration in a municipal resident register (Japanese) or alien register (non-Japanese). Registration establishes the registrant as a legal resident of the municipality which maintains the register. Practically all national, prefectural, and municipal elements of citizenship in Japan derive from one's primary legal status as a resident of a municipality.

Family and resident registration

The Family Register Law of 1871 (戸籍法 Kosekihō) required municipalities to maintain household registers for Japanese domiciled in their jurisdicitons. Article 22 of the 1947 Constitution allowed every person the freedom to choose and change residence. The Resident Registration Law of 1951 (住民登録法 Jūmin tōroku hō) replaced the more restrictive 1915 Temporary Residence Law (寄留法 Kiryūhō), which was promulgated in 1914 to accommodate the need of Japanese to change their residence of record for purposes of exercising rights and duties that derive from their place of residence as opposed to the locality of their honseki (koseki).

Family or household registers (戸籍 koseki) continue to be the primary records of membership in Japan's sovereign nation, comprised of a body of people possessing Japanese nationality, hence the function of such registers as the legal foundation of possession of nationality. Household registers no longer function as registers of family members residing at the register address. Some members -- possibly all members -- may actually reside at another address, or at several other addresses. For purposes of keeping track of who is actually living where, municipalities maintain resident records (住民票 Jūminhyō) on all Japanese who reside in the polity regardless of what polity oversees their family register.

Municipalities formerly maintained separate registration records for resident aliens, but the alien registration system ended in July 2012. Municipalities now maintain resident records (住民票 Jūminhyō) for aliens who possess valid [alien] Residence Cards issued by the Immigration Bureau (see Residence Card for details).

In principle, there is one resident card for each individual registered as a resident of a municipality. However, members of a family living at the same address may be grouped together. Copies of resident records (住民票の写し Jūminhyō no utsushi), which certify that a person is duly registered as a resident of the issuing municipality, may be issued for either an individual or for a co-residing family.

Japanese who choose to reside in a municipality other than the city, town, or village which maintains their family register or honseki also register locally in order to exercise the rights and duties associated with their residential status -- attend public schools, be enrolled in National Health Insurance, vote, pay taxes, among other elements of citizenship. Unless a registrant transfers the honseki to another locality, the honseki address will remain unchanged. Aliens who change their address within a locality, or who move to another locality, are also required to report such changes to local offices.

Japanese who live abroad, whether permanently or for extended periods of time, can file a Notification of Moving Overseas (海外転出届 Kaigai tenshutsu todoke). Filing this notification will usually alleviate the person of the obligation to pay National Health Insurance and National Pension premiums during the period of sojourn, and will affect other rights and duties that derive from residential status in Japan.

Companies and schools usually require employees and students, Japanese and aliens alike, to submit a certificate issued by the hall of the city, town, or village in which they reside, which shows their address in the locality and confirms their legal status as a resident. Japanese and aliens are similarly required to confirm their residential status in the course of certain legal transactions, like those involving real property.

Alien registration

The alien registration system, which required aliens permitted to reside in Japan to register in the municipality where they resided, ended on 8 June 2012. The following remarks describe conditions before 9 July 2012, when the alien registration system was replaced by a system in which the Immigration Bureau directly issues Alien Residence Cards to aliens it permits to reside in Japan, and mediates most aspects of alien municipal registration. Note that the replacement of the alien registration system with the present system has changed only the manner in which an alien is registered as a resident of a municipality in Japan. The actual status of resident aliens as municipal citizens, however, remains unchanged.

Aliens with visas or permits that allow them to live in Japan register locally under the Alien Registration Law of (外国人登録法 Gaikokujin tōroku hō) of 1952.

Aliens who change their address simply notify the hall of the municipality with jurisdiction. If in the same city, town, or village, they apply to have their address of record changed. If in a new locality, they file to have their alien registration transfered. Just as the "honseki" of a Japanese who change address will usually not change (though Japanese of age are free to change their honseki), the "nationality" of an alien who moves within Japan will not change (though aliens are free to seek and acquire new nationalities).

Imperial Family registration

Imperial Family members are registered in the Imperial Geneology under the Imperial Household Law (皇室典範 Kōshitsu Tenpan) of 1947.


Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Rudyard Kipling, born in Bombay, considered himself an "Anglo-Indian" as migrants from England and their Indian-born offspring were wont to call themselves. Though he did not spend that much of his life in India, or elsewhere in the Orient for that matter, he is best known for a poem that is usually only partly quoted and as a result totally misunderstood.

The Ballad of East and West (1889)

Oh, East is East and West is West,
   and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at
   God's great Judgment seat;

But there is neither East nor West,
   border, nor breed, nor birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
   though they come from the ends of the earth!

Kipling apparently changed his mind on the matter of whether the twain can meet, for earlier he expressed a notably more cynical view.

Departmental Ditties and Other Verses (1886)
"One Viceroy Resigns" [Other Verses]
Lord Dufferin to Lord Lansdowne:-

When you . . . that brings me back to India. See!
     Start clear. I couldn't. Egypt served my turn.
You'll never plumb the Oriental mind,
And if you did, it isn't worth the toil.
Think of a sleek French priest in Canada;
Divide by twenty half-breeds. Multiply
By twice the Sphinx's silence. There's your East,
And you're as wise as ever: So am I.



Status of Residence, Long Rerm Resident, Permanent Resident, Permanent Residence, Special Permanent Residence

Status of aliens in Japan

The status of an alien in Japan is determined by Japanese laws, including laws which implement provisions in bilateral treaties and international conventions ratified by Japan. Aliens of different nationalities, and even aliens of the same nationality, may be treated differently in accordance with such laws and treaties.

Status of Residence

In Japan, Status of Residence (在留資格 zairyū shikaku) refers to the status ascribed to an alien when permitted by a competent official of the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, if not by the Minister of Justice, to stay in the country, from temporary visitor to permanent resident.

With some exceptions, all aliens who enter Japan must acquire a status of residence. Persons who become aliens in Japan -- those born in Japan who do not acquire Japanese nationality, or dual nationals who renounce or lose their Japanese nationality while in Japan as Japanese -- must also acquire an alien status or leave.

One class of statuses permits work. A second class does not permit work. A third class permits residence without any restrictions on activities. These statuses are listed and defined in tables attached to what is now called the Immigration Control and Refugee Recogition Act (出入国管理及び難民認定法 Shutsunyūkoku kanri oyobi nanmin nintei hō). This law originated in a cabinet order (No. 319) promulgated on 4 October 1951 and enforced from 1 November the same year.

Unrestricted-activity statuses

Unrestricted-activity statuses allow an alien to live in Japan either permanently or indefinitely. These statuses include -- in the English used by the Ministry of Justice:

Spouse or child of Japanese national (日本人の配偶者等 Nihonjin no haigūsha nado)

Spouse or child of Permanent Resident (永住者の配偶者等 eijjūsha no haigūsha nado)

Long Term Resident (定住者 teijūsha)

Permanent Resident (永住者 eijjūsha)

Permanent residents are allowed to remain in Japan permanenty. The spouse or a child of a Japanese national, or of a Permanent Resident, is permitted to stay for 3 years or 1 year per application. A Long Term Resident is permitted to stay for 3 years, 1 year, or 6 months per application, or for another designated period less than three years.

Aliens with unrestricted-activity statuses are generally considered to be settled in Japan, but no alien -- not even Special Permanent Residents -- have the absolute right of abode guaranteed Japanese. General and special permanent residents never have to reconfirm their status of residence, but they must comply with applicable provisions of alien registration and immigration control laws. Long term and other non-permanent unrestricted-activity statuses must be regularly reconfirmed by applying for an extension of their period of stay, and an extensions may be denied if the applicant for some reason no longer qualifies.

The status of a spouse or a child of a Japanese national may continue to be ascribed to a former alien spouse of a Japanese national after divorce, or to an alien child after the death of the Japanese parent. Children of Japanese nationals can be born anywhere. Children of permanent residents have to have been born in and continually resident in Japan.

Long Term Residents

Long Term Residents include (1) refugees permitted to settle in Japan under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and its 1956 protocol, which Japan acceded to in 1981 and 1982; (2) other refugees (mostly from Indochina); (3) war-displaced persons and their families (mostly from China); and (4) the foreign-born non-Japanese children and grandchildren of Japanese who emigrated to other countries.

The alien descendants of Japanese emigrants are mostly Brazilians and Peruvians, but also include other nationalities of so-called "Nikkeijin" or "persons related to Japan". See Nikkeijin for statistics and further details on such aliens.

The term "Long term resident" (定住者 teijūsha) is commonly misued in mass media to refer to all aliens who have received permission to live in Japan permanently or indefinitely. As a legal term, however, the Japanese expression -- which literally means "settled resident" or "established resident" -- includes only aliens who are permitted to live in Japan semi-permanently without restrictions on their activities.

For more about the statuses of Long Term Resident, Spouse or Child of Japanese National, and Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident, see Long Term Residents in Japan.

For statistics on Long Term Residents, Spouses and Children of Japanese Nationals, and Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents, see Long Term Residents in Japan: By status, nationality, and region.

For a look at the treatment of so-called "Nikkeijin" in Japanese law and policy, including status-of-residence laws, see also "Nikkeijin" semantics.

Permanent residents

Only who have received the status of "Permanent resident" (永住者) or "Special permanent resident" (特別永住者) are permitted to reside in Japan permanently. General aliens apply for the status of "Permanent resident" while residing in Japan with a non-permanent status. Aliens who qualify under special provisions for those who lost Japanese nationality in 1952, and their descendants, file notifications for recognition as Special Permanent Residents.

Once an alien receives a permanent status, there is no need to reconfirm the status. However, permanent residents still need to keep their alien registration residency cards up to date, and they need to obtain reentry permits to return to Japan if they plan to be away from 1 to 5 years.

Permanent residence until 1991

Under the status-of-residence scheme introduced by the 1951 Immigration Control Order from 28 April 1952, and until it the 1952 scheme was replaced by a new scheme from 1 June 1990, aliens in Japan who wished to reside permanently could apply for "Permission for Permanent Residence" (永住許可 eijū kyōka). If approved, they received a "4-1-14" status of residence.

In 1966 the Kyotei (Japan-ROK Status Agreement) PR status was introduced for qualified ROK aliens. In 1982 the so-called Tokurei PR status was introduced within 4-1-14 for other 1952 Potsdam-Law qualified aliens and aliens with Potsdam-Law-related Alien Control Law statuses. From 1 June 1990, aliens with the 4-1-14 status (including Tokurei PRs) became just "Permanent residents" (永住者 eijjūsha). and those with the treaty-based statuses became "Special permanent residents" (特別永住者 tokubetsu eijjūsha).

From 1 November 1991, the present "Special Permanent Resident" (SPR) status replaced all Potsdam Law and related statuses, including the derivative Kyotei PR and Tokurei PR statuses. The SPR status has evolved into a "quasi national" status in that SPRs have all-but nationality rights, compared with other permanent residents (PRs), who are treated as general aliens.

Note, however, that in some Ministry of Justice statistics, "Permanent residents" (永住者 eijūsha) conflates the SPR and PR statuses, which are then differentiated as "Special Permanent Residents" (特別永住者 tokubetsu eijjūsha) and "General Permanent Residents" (一般永住者 ippan eijūsha), which I call abbreviate as SPR and GPR. Such variations in usage invite not a little confusion and misuse in both mass media and academia.

[General] Permanent Resident

This status was first defined in the status-of-residence scheme set down in the Immigration Control Order of 1951. The scheme began from 28 April 1958, when Japan regained its sovereignty, and with sovereignty the right to issue visas and other permits to aliens wishing to enter, transit, sojourn, study, work, or reside in the country.

Special Permanent Resident

This status was defined in a supplementary law that came into effect from 1 November 1991. However, the SPR status conflates earlier special statuses defined in 1966 and 1982, which in turn stem from earlier statuses beginning with "126-2-6" (Law No. 126, Article 2, Paragraph 6), effective from 28 April 1952, "4-1-16-2" (Foreign Ministry Order No. 14 of 12 May 1953), effective immediately, for children of 126-2-6 aliens, and "4-1-16-4" (Cabinet Order No. 404 of 24 December 1953), effective from the following day, for children of Awami islander 126-2-6 aliens.

After World War II, Japanese with registers in Chosen and Taiwan lost their nationality through Japanese government actions related to the effects of the of terms of the the 1945 Postdam Declaration (reflecting the terms of the 1943 Cairo Declaration) and the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Some 600,000 such persons who had stayed in the prefectures, and their descendants, lost their Japanese nationality from 28 April 1952 when the peace treaty and related legal actions came into effect.

The status of aliens in Japan who became aliens on account of losing their Japanese nationality on 28 April 1952, and lineal descendants born since then -- if they meet certain residency and other qualifications -- have been determined by special measures that implement the conditions Japan accepted in the Potsdam Declaration and the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the provisions of related treaties and agreement.

Qualifications for today's Special Permanent Resident are stipulated in the "Special law concerning, inter alia, the exit-entry-country [immigration] control of persons who based on the Treaty of Peace with Japan separated from the nationality of Japan" (日本国との平和条約に基づき日本の国籍を離脱した者等の出入国管理に関する特例法 Nihonkoku to no heiwa jōyaku ni motozuki Nihon no kokuseki o ridatsu shita mono tō no shutsunyūkoku kanri ni kan suru tokubetsu hō). This law, pomulgated on 10 May 1991 (Law No. 71), came into force from 1 November 1991. See Special Law on Immigration Control (入管特例法 Nyūkan tokubetsu hō), as the law is known in short.

The status of Special Permanent Resident developed from two earlier special PR statuses, which themselves derived from the 28 April 1952 Potsdam Law status.

1966 Treaty-based permanent residence (Kyotei)

In 1965, Japan and the Republic of Korea signed and ratified an agreement concerning the status of ROK nationals in Japan, and promulgated a special immigration control law to implement the agreement. Both the agreement and the law came into effect in 1966.

The status created by the 1965 agreement was called "agreement permanent residence" (協定永住権 kyōtei eijūken). As the "agreement" or "treaty" was between Japan and ROK, the Kyotei permanent residence (協定永住 kyōtei eijū) status was available only to Chosenese who were residing in the prefectures at the end of the war and had remained in Japan, and to their descendants born and raised in Japan after the war -- if they had become, and were registered as, ROK nationals.

In other words, the Kyotei status was given only upon application to qualified ROK nationals.

The Kyotei status was not given to legacy affiliates of the former Japanese territory of Chosen who remained Chosenese after losing their Japanese nationality, or to their offspring, who became Chosenese under legacy status laws. Nor was it given to others in simliar situations, such as Taiwanese, who had become ROC nationals.

1982 Special measure (exceptional 4-1-14) permanent residence (Tokurei)

From 1982, a special provision made it possible for qualified aliens (practically all Koreans, some Taiwanese Chinese, and a few aliens of representing several other nationalities) to acquire a status of permanent residence called "Exceptional Permanent Residence" (tokurei eijūken). Note, however, that while the Kyotei PR status was an alien status-of-residence in its own right, the Tokurei PR measure merely facilitated easier acquisition of an exceptional "statute" variety of the 4-1-14 permanent residence, which for general aliens was a "permitted" status.

1991 Special Permanent Resident

In 1991, a new status called "Special Permanent Resident" (tokubetsu eijūsha) was created for all former Chosenese and Taiwanese, and lineal descendants born in Japan, who met residence qualifications defined as of the day Japan surrendered on 2 September 1952 and accepted the conditions of the 1943 Cairo Declaration as embedded in the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, which determined the territorial settlements in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, effective from 28 April 1952. This new category also subsumed all earlier Potsdam-Law and derivative special postwar settlement statuses.

Most Special Permanent Residents (tokubetsu eijūsha) today are nationals of the Republic of Korea and legacy-status Chosenese who are virtually stateless. However, the status is held by some former Taiwanese with Chinese (mostly ROC) nationality, and a few aliens representing over fifty of nearly two-hundred other ationalities. Moreover, the population of SPRs -- a demographic "vesitige" of a receding period in Japan-Korea relations -- is rapidly falling.

Development of permanent resident statuses

The evolution of the 1991 Special Permanent Resident status, from 28 April 1952, is a bit convoluted. Here are links to articles which are bound to both clarify and increase confusion.

For more about changes in the statuses of various kinds of Koreans in Japan after 1945, see relevant articles under "Occupations and settlements" and "Legacy issues" in The Sovereign Empire feature of this website.

For details on the treaties and laws that caused Taiwanese and Chosenese to lose their Japanese nationality, and the treaties and laws that determined their statuses as aliens, including special permanent residence, see Territorial settlements and Separation and choice.

For fuller details on specific alien status laws, see Alien control laws in Japan: The regulation of entry, stay, and residence.

For more about the SPR status as a variety of permanent residence, see Permanent Residents of Japan: "General" and "Special" permanent residency.

For statistics on SPR and other permanent statuses, see Permanent Residents of Japan: By nationality and status.


state, non-state entity, nation state


non-state entity   A country that considers itself a state, in the eyes of a polity that does not recognize it as such. Japan and the United Nations once recognized the Republic of China (ROC) as a state, but now view ROC as a non-state entity. In deference to the Republic of Korea, Japan has never recognized the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a state, but the UN has recognized DPRK as a member since 1991.

non-member entity   Term used by the United Nations to designate an entity that is not a member. An entity's sovereignty status is determined by whether other entities recognize it as a sovereign state. Only entities that are widely recognized will succeed in becoming members of the General Assembly. Some non-member states have only observer status. The Holy See (Vatican), though a sovereign state and therefore qualified to apply for membership, chooses to remain only an observer.

nation state  


stateless, stateless aliens

stateless   Without a state. Mukokuseki (無国籍) in Japanese, literally "having no nationality, having no national affiliation". (1) Legal status of people, territory, or vessels having no nationality. (2) Status of someone or something whose national identity cannot be confirmed. (3) Someone or something regarded as borderless -- international, global, universal.

stateless aliens   People who have no nationality. Term often includes people who claim to have a nationality, but their nationality cannot be confirmed or is not recognized. Under international law, such people are protected by the state which accepts them as a domiciled alien. In Japan, children who are born stateless in Japan have virtual permanent rights of residence and the right to legal travel abroad and return to Japan, though for they are registered and otherwise treated as aliens.


status, status system, status action, status discrimination, status minority, status as identity

status (身分 mibun)   Legal or social position, standing, or rank among others, usually affecting ones legal or social treatment.

status system (身分制度 mibun seido)   System by which people are differentiated according a legally or socially ascribed status.

status action (身分行為 mibun kōi)   An action that results in a change of status, such as marriage or divorce by agreement, an adoption alliance or a dissolution of such an alliance, and recognition of a child, and other changes in family relations that affect one's status in a family register.

status discrimination (身分差別 mibun sabetsu)   Discrimination based on legally or socially ascribed status. While this term is often used to describe discrimination based on putative descent from someone who was an outcaste under laws that were abolished in 1871, it applies to any differentiation of status -- based on, for example, sibling gender or order, legitimacy, marital status -- which accords more privilege in the form rights, authority, or inheritance or whatever, to one status (son, older son, legitimate child) than to another status (daughter, younger son, illegitimate child).

status minority"   (1) A minority defined by a legally or socially ascribed status. (2) A cohort that might be numerically larger but be treated inferior on account of its lower legal or social status; often used to describe women, who generally outnumber men but have less political clout; or racioethnic majorities in countries where racioethnic minorities have more economic or political power.

status as identity   Today in Japan, 身分 (mibun) is most commonly encountered in the expression 身分証明書 (mibun shōmeisho), which literally refers to any "document certifying status" -- in other words, any document that will serve as an "identification certificate" or "ID card".

"Status" in Japanese law

Both "status" (身分 mibun) and "standing (分限 bungen) appear in a number of early Meiji proclamations and laws which to some extent defined what later came to be called "nationality" in reference to state affiliation. The phrase "standing of being Japanese" (日本人タル分限 Nihonjin taru bungen) was used in the 1873 proclamation concerning marriages and adoption alliances between Japanese and aliens. "Status as subject" (臣民身分 shinmin mibun) and "status as national" (国民身分 kokumin mibun) became "nationality" (国籍 kokuseki) in early drafts of a nationality law. "Standing of national" (国民分限 kokumin bungen) in the promulgated but never enforced 1890 Civil Code became "nationality" (国籍 kokuseki) in the 1899 Nationality Law. See further details about such expressions in 1899 Nationality Law: "The conditions necessary for being a Japanese subject".

However, "status" in Japanese laws has been most closely associated with family law.

"Status" in major Japanese laws

Civil Code   身分 (mibun) appears in Part 4 "Family" (親族 shinzoku) of the 1898 Civil Code but does not appear in the 1948 Civil Code.

Family Register Law 身分 (mibun) or "status" appears in the 1915 Family Register Law but not in the 1948 Family Register Law.

1947 Constitution   Articles 14 and 44 similarly prohibit discrimination because of "social status" (社会的身分 shakai-teki mibun). This is a direct Japanese translation of "social status" as it appeared in the 13 February 1946 GHQ draft of the constitution. See further details about this phrase in The semantics of Articles 10 and 14: Keywords related to status and equality in Japan's 1947 Constitution.

Civil Affairs A No. 438 notification (19 April 1952)   Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 of Article 1 refer to "status actions" (身分行為 mibun kōi) in terms of how marriage or adoption alliances might effect the Japanese nationality of Chosenese and Taiwanese, and of former Chosenese and former Taiwanese, upon the enforcement of the San Francisco Peace Treaty from 28 April 1952.

1985 Nationality Law.   Article 3 provides for acquiring nationality through notification by "a child who has acquired the status of a legitimate child" (嫡出子たる身分を取得した子 chakushutushi taru mibun o shutoku shita ko). "Acquire the status of a legitimate child" (嫡出子タル身分ヲ取得ス chakushutushi taru mibun o shutoku su) appeared in Articles 838 and 860 of the 1898 Civil Code.


subnation, subnationality, subnational; naichi, naichijin, interior, interior subject; gaichi, gaichijin, exterior, exterior subject




Japan proper, Japanese proper



Taiwan, Taiwanese, Taiwanese in Japan






victimization, victimhood, victimitis, vicarious victim

victimization   A process that nurtures victimhood.

victimhood   Dwelling on the feeling that one is a victim, and the state of mind thereof. The main signs of victimhood are (1) blaming others for problems that originate closer to home, and (2) passively expecting others to solve such problems.

victimitis   A pathological condition resulting from leaving victimhood untreated. Recovery begins when one (1) stops blaming others for social conditions forged by history, and (2) strives to improve unacceptable conditions.

vicarious victim   (1) A person who is not a victim, but who so strongly identifies with real victims that one begins to think oneself a victim. (2) The victimhood equivalent of a person suffering from hypochondria or another psychosomatic disorder.




和 (wa), usually translated "harmony", is a Japanization of an expression from the Confucian Lúnyu (J Rongo, E Analects). The 17-article constitution attributed to Shotoku Taishi (c574-622) begins with the exhortation to value the use of harmony and honor the absence of opposition to moral principles.

The late 6th and early 7th centuries were fraught with imperial intrigue. Emperors were being assassinated and their sons were battling over the throne. The good prince was merely admonishing his people to stop killing each other.

Today, too, harmony is most likely extolled during divisive times when dissension is imminent or full-blown -- meaning practically always. The "land of harmony" (wa no kuni) is thus a country where the constant call for getting along reflects the undercurrent of discontent and conflict that makes Japan a typical example of just another stressed human society.

See Soga and Fujiwara wombs: The violent birth of Yamato harmony for all the gory historiographic details.


war-displaced, war orphan

war-displaced   Said of those who, as a result of a war, were left in a territory where they were forced to migrate before or during the war, or had migrated by choice but were unable to return to their place of origin after the war.

war orphan (戦争孤児 sensō koji)  A child, or an adult who as a child, was separated from its parents because of death, abandonment, or consignment during a war, or in the wake of a war.

war-displaced orphan (戦争残留孤児 sensō zanryū koji)  A child, or an adult who as a child, was left behind by parents who migrated or repatriated to another territory during or after a war.

orphaned [Japanese] child left in China (中国残留 [日本人] 孤児 Chūgoku zanryū [Nihonjin] koji)  A child, or an adult who as a child, was orphaned and/or left behind in China during or after World War II, usually by Japanese parents who were killed or repatriated. Such persons were generally raised as Chinese and are considered Chinese nationals until they resettle in Japan (if they had been been interior subjects) and acquire or reacquire Japanese nationality.







Yamato, Yamato minzoku, Yamatoism, Yamatoist

Yamato   A name associated with the clan which, between 2000 and 1500 years ago, came to define the polity that later became Japan; the name of the territory the clan ruled, and of the religiopolitical court through which it ruled.

There is considerable controversy over when and where Yamato hegemony began -- whether during the 3rd to 5th centuries in the present-day Kyushu, a candidate for the site of the country of "Yamatai" described in early Chinese accounts -- or whether during the 6th to 8th centuries around Asuka in present-day Nara prefecture, where contemporary Japanese chronicles more clearly locate the Yamato polity that evolved into Japan.

"Yamato" survives in a number of expressions that, depending on their context, could be construed as "Yamatoist" -- including "Yamato damashii" (Yamato spirit), "Yamato danji" (son of Yamato; a man with masculine virtues of old Japan; cf. Nippon danji, Hayato [Kyushu] danji), and "Yamato nadeshiko" (flower ["pink"] of Yamato; woman with feminine virtues of old Japan).

Yamato minzoku (Yamato race)   Japanese people racialized as a "volk" ("race" or "ethnic nation") in the romantic imaginations of late 19th century and early 20th century racioethnic nationalists. The term remains alive and well in the rhetoric of present-day "minzokuha" (ethnonational faction) or "minzoku shugi" (ethnonationalism) nationalists.

Yamatoism, Yamatoist   Terms coined by yours truly (William Wetherall) according to Ian Buruma (God's Dust: A Modern Asian Journey, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989, page 244). "Yamatoism" describes any inclination to racialize Japan's civic nation as "Yamato minzoku" or to boast of "Yamato minzoku" when talking about Japan past or present. A "Yamatoist" is any person who speaks or writes with pride in "Yamato minzoku".

See What's in a word? for an account of the origins of the English terms "Yamatoism" and "Yamatoist" and their Japanese equivalents .



zairyu gaikokujin, zainichi gaikokujin, rainichi gaikokujin

zairyū (在留) refers to a condition of "being present and remaining" in a place that is not where one would ordinarily be -- such as in a country other than one's country of nationality -- hence its meaning of residing or sojourning in another country. Thus zairyū hōjin (在留邦人) is the official term for "countrymen [Japanese] residing overseas" or "sojourning countryman [Japanese]"; zairyū todoke (在留届) is the "overseas residence notification" or "declaration of sojourn" that Japanese can file at the passport section of a municipal office in Japan or at an overseas mission (embassy or consulate) of Japan if they intend to be out of Japan for more than three months; and zairyū gaikokujin (在留外国人) is the official term for "resident aliens" meaning "aliens registered in Japan".

Zainichi (在日) refers to a condition of "being in Japan" or "residing in Japan". The compound is commonly prefixed to nationalities, most generally zainichi gaikokujin (在日外国人), which means "aliens in Japan" but also -- as a less technical synonym of "zairyū gaikokujin" -- "Japan-resident aliens" or "aliens residing in Japan". Zainichi Kankokujin (在日韓国人) are nationals of the Republic of Korea residing in Japan, Zainichi Chūgokujin (在日中国人) are nationals of the People's Republic of China residing in Japan, and Zainichi Naijeriajin (在日ナイジェリア人" are nationals of the Federal Republic of Nigeria residing in Japan. The neighbors of such resident aliens include Zainichi Kaseijin (在日火星人) or "Martians in Japan" and of course Zainichi Nihonjin (在日日本人) or "Japanese in Japan".

Rainichi (来日) means "coming to Japan" in the sense of "visiting Japan". Since the late 1990s, the term Rainichi gaikokujin (来日外国人) has been increasingly used to mean foreigners whose periods of stays and activities in Japan are limited. The expression is sometimes translated "visiting aliens" in contrast to aliens who are considered "settled residents" (定着居住者 teichaku kyojūsha). In National Police Agency (NPA) statistics, "Rainichi gaikokujin" figures exclude settled residents -- meaning Permanent Residents, Special Permanent Residents, and the recognized spouses and children of permanent residents. Status of Forces Personnel (related to US military operations in Japan) and aliens whose status of residence is unclear are also excluded. All aliens with other statuses of residence -- including the alien spouses and children of Japanese and Long Term Residents, as well as illegal stayers (不法滞在者 fuhō taizaisha) -- are included in NPA's "Rainichi gaikokujin" cohort.

Zainichiism, Zainichiist

I have been using "Zainichiism" or "Zainichi-ism" to mean the use of "Zainichi" a label for "Koreans in Japan" based on putative racioethnic or ethnonational "identity" rather than on legal status, i.e., nationality.

A "Zainichiist" or "Zainichi-ist" is a publicist for "Zainichi" as an "ethnic" (rather than "national") minority, defined in many ways but, most extremely, as everyone in Japan with one drop of "Korean" blood in their veins, which supposedly qualifies them as victims of "Japanese racism".

A growing number of writers in Japanese, English, and other languages are using "Zainichi" (在日) as a pronoun for "Koreans in Japan" defined as a "minority group" that shares a history of victimhood.

One problem with such usage is that its value as a label requires viewing "Koreans" and "Japanese" as "racial" or "ethnic" rather than "civil" populations, in an age when Korean and Japanese nationality are increasing embracing people of all putative races and ethnicities.

Another problem is that restricting "Zainichi" to "Koreans in Japan" excludes, and is therefore highly prejudicial toward, other people in Japan who share similar experiences.

See also "Zainichiism": The racialist legacy of a divided "liberation" for a fuller discussion of these problems.

See also Korea, Koreans, Chosen, Chosenese and Koreans in Japan, Chosenese in Japan in this Glossary.



zyappu [jap]   n. -- 1. a disparaging word for Japanese. 2. the name of a fashion magazine in Japan which was first published in 1994. 3. Japanese who have a free and independent spirit.

See Jap, Jappu, and Zyappu: A lexicon of pride and prejudice.