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

Hafus: Mixed Race People in Japan (Part 2)

Although social practices such as bowing or writing in kanji can be taught, non-Japanese and hafus cannot morph their body to fit the standard physical description of native Japanese. Japanese schools require regular health examinations to ensure that students are aligning with national body standards, but this alienates hafu children, whose body structures are different. This can create conflict between non-Japanese parents and their Japanese partners, or with Japanese instructors. According to the author, mothers that conform to the practices and expectations of Japanese mothers believe they are “legitimate members of the community” (232). Other mothers feel as though they must defend their children from the “medical gaze,” which labels them as outcasts (231). Foucauldian theory applies on a larger scale because local governments are in charge of setting the standards of diversity teaching in schools, however, the author asserts that these leaders continue to ignore the ethnic “difference within the Japanese population” (234).  Thus, this perpetuates the idea that Japan is a mono-ethnic society and validates the marginalization of mixed-race people living or born in Japan.

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. 

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