Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Eugenics: Creating a Japanese Race

The idea that the Japanese are "a distinct ‘racial’ group who share the same skin” is disciplined in sport, health, and beauty culture. The use of skin to separate Japanese people from the rest of the world started after the Meiji Restoration. Before adopting the jus sanguinus policy for Japanese nationality,  “heredity was denoted by the term kotsuniku, or bone-flesh” (Robertson, 330). Japanese skin is often idealized as distinctly different from that of other Asian nations and Caucasians. Simply, Japanese citizens perceive their skin as “soft, resilient and slightly moist,” even more so than the skin of any other people in the world (Ashikari, 83).  Through this process of “othering” and the false narrative of “Japanese uniqueness,” nihonjinron (discourses of Japaneseness) was created and forms the backbone of Japanese national identity (Robertson, 288). As evident in Japan’s imperial history,  foreign and other Asian countries are considered inferior or even primitive, thus, it is undesirable to “mix” them into the Japanese national identity.

The history of eugenics in Japan, which was propelled by the adoption of  “‘pure blood’ as a criterion of authentic Japaneseness,” is used to examine the issues of interracial sex or marriage in a social context, but based on biology (Robertson, 332).

Works Cited:
Burke, Rachael S. "Embodying A Multicultural Society?: Mixed-Race (Hafu) Children in Japanese Early Childhood Education." Embodiment and Cultural Differences. Eds.
Bianca Maria Pirani and Thomas Spence Smith. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. 221. Web. 

Robertson, Jennifer. "Biopower: Blood, Kinship, and Eugenic Marriage." A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan. Ed. Jennifer Robertson. Blackwell Publishing, 2008. 329. Web. 

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