Language and migration in Japan

Authored by: Ruriko Otomo

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415790277
eBook ISBN: 9781315213378
Adobe ISBN:


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Japan has long been considered as a nation of emigration rather than that of immigration with little domestic linguistic diversity. This discourse circulated widely in public and in part in academia, however, has been challenged by a number of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics work. In this chapter, these contributions are introduced and arranged chronologically in order (1) to highlight changing socio-political and discursive environments under which Japan experiences a historically/socially conditioned flow of migration, and (2) to demonstrate several conceptual shifts occurred on the terrain of language and migration within the context of Japan. Much attention is given to such sociolinguistic themes as language and identity, language shift and maintenance, bilingual education and language for work and settlement. Throughout the chapter, I also present several avenues for sociolinguistic and applied linguistic research that are crucial not only to reveal the currently unavailable/unknown information but also to critically engage with a complex manifold of language issues facing both Japanese citizens and their migrant neighbors.

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