Contemporary Japan, with its low birth rate and high life expectancy, is an aging society. Furthermore, the country’s population is set to rapidly decrease in the coming decades. For demographic reasons such as these, it is likely that Japan’s immigration of foreign workers will increase in the near future. Concerns have been voiced about the potential challenging consequences of a shift towards greater cultural diversity for a society with limited experience inthe matter. While the presence of distinct minority groups is nothing new in Japan, the country does have relatively limited experience with foreign minorities (who currently constitute less than 2percent of the total population), and especially with tangibly different foreigners with cultures far removed from Japanese mainstream culture.
This thesis attempts to shed light on the current situation of Japan’s tangibly different immigrants, as well as the difficulties and challenges they are experiencing, by exploring the case of Muslimimmigrants. The findings pinpoint a number of specific policy changes that the Japanese government could undertake in order to potentially help improve the current situation of foreign minorities, as well as prepare the country for a future increase in immigrants.
Underlying reasons for the status quo of Japan’s Muslim immigrants and immigration policies are explained in light of contemporary and historical discourses on the nation and ‘Others’. In-depthquality analyses of these discourses are conducted using the discourse-historical approach to discourse analysis, and the results illuminate potential obstacles to the development of futureorientedimmigration policies in Japan. Other findings include discoveries of historically rooted differences between Western European nations and Japan as hosts societies for Muslim immigrants. This suggests that for the future development of multiculturalism- and minority-oriented policies in East Asian nations, a context-sensitive approach might be desirable, rather than merely learning from Europe’s experience.