Dealing with Diversity or Developing a Diversion?

By: Julian Chapple  

Despite intense government reluctance and no official immigration policy, Japan is increasingly becoming a more overtly diverse society. While the ‘native’ population continues a steep downward trend, its foreign population stands at 2.49 million; representing a 7.5% increase since 2012. Yet with all the social demands on accepting diversity, it is telling that Japan’s education system still maintains an extremely traditional focus towards assimilation, more than inclusion, in spite of initiatives to foster so-called ‘Global jinzai’ (human resources). In this study, the challenges facing Japan’s education system in terms of dealing with external diversity are outlined. These include issues such as language acquisition and maintenance, identity, cross-cultural competence, etc. Secondly, recent policy initiatives taken in the name of fostering diversity are analyzed. In so doing, the situation of many minority, disabled or ethnic groups, gender and sexually diverse students, and their families becomes apparent and show how the reluctant policies of ‘diversion’ that exist impact society at large. Based on data collected from interviews with teachers and students, the enormity of the present situation is revealed. Finally, based on data and international examples, possible options for educational policies related to diversity and suggestions of how differences can be utilized for all are introduced. That is, how to accept and include diversity from the outside and educate to respect and foster it from within. Having Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) now assessing global competence may just be the catalyst for the formation of a new Japanese approach to multicultural education.

Inclusive Education, Language Diversity And Learning, Policy, Multiculturalism, Identity
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Julian Chapple

Professor, Faculty of International Studies, Ryukoku University, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

Passionate educationalist and global citizen, I've been living, learning and teaching in Japan for 20 years. My recent interests are in international/intercultural education, addressing the 'gap' that exists, minority rights, language issues and links to global ethics.