What It Means to be Japanese

4 April 2015
An in depth look at the social, political, geographic and economic influences on being Japanese.

This paper supports Morris-Suzuki’s proposition that a review of history (time as opposed to space) will prove that the definition of Japanese has been a function of time and political, social and economic context in which there were varying strategies which the state used to manage difference and create uniformity for its own purposes.
In Japan in Reinventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation (M.E. Sharp, 1998, p. 10) Tessa Morris-Suzuki proposes that the definition of what it means to be Japanese was not contestant or stable. Instead it was contextual and changing. She argues for her hypothesis and her proposal of re-examining the nature of the nation and the nationalistic concept by presenting an overview of history to support the fact that Japan is not a homogeneous society and never has been. This is to present argument to the contrary position that the Japanese were essentially a homogeneous social group, a phenomenon created by geographic isolation. Instead, Morris-Suzuki proposes that a review of history (time as opposed to space) will prove that the definition of Japanese has been a function of time and political, social and economic context in which there were varying strategies which the state used to manage difference and create uniformity (pg. 34) for its own purposes.

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