Race and racism

Authored by: Rotem Kowner

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that race and racism have been powerful factors in the history of modern Japan. Although Japan entered the modern era without a well-defined racist framework, in the late nineteenth century it was exposed to Western racism and soon began to adopt certain aspects of it. As a concept, race held powerful appeal in Japan because it was associated with the West, modernization, and the quest for great-nation status. The concept was ambiguous, though, because it stimulated both civilizational and imperial expansion. Following World War II, the issue of race lost much of its importance, but its reverberations remain today, in particular regarding minority ethnic groups and immigrants.

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