The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted at the 2015 United Nations Summit. Interest in the SDGs is increasing rapidly both in Japan and overseas as issues and objectives for all countries in the world, including developed countries. By focusing on universities as centers for creating knowledge and examining research activities by researchers of Chuo University, this special feature explores the role which must be fulfilled by universities in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
This installment is written by Professor Toshikazu Kato (Faculty of Science and Engineering), Director of the Research Promotion Office at Chuo University. Professor Kato examines the feature theme of the role of universities in achieving SDGs while introducing examples of overseas initiatives.
SDGs are the abbreviation for Sustainable Development Goals. The official name of the plan is "Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."*1 The global goals adopted at the UN Summit in September 2015 consist of 17 goals and 169 targets. UN member nations have pledged to leave no one behind. The SDGs indicate universal challenges to be undertaken domestically and on a global scale by both developing nations and advanced nations. In this article, I would like to discuss the role of universities and research in achieving Goal 10 "Reduce inequality within and among countries," while also focusing on domestic issues that specific actions can be taken in Japan.
Then what happened to the stateless person in this kind of era? I would like to particularly focus on the case of Korean long-term residents in Japan, as a case to think about the conditions in Japan.
Under the Empire of Japan, Koreans and their descendants who "migrated" to Japan (hereinafter, Zainichi Korean) came to Japan as subjects of the Empire of Japan. However, Zainichi Koreans were classified as aliens per the Alien Registration Ordinance of 1947. At that time, the term of Chōsen (a Japanese word referring to the whole of the Korean peninsula) was listed in the columns which indicated hometown and nationality. As a result, Zainichi Koreans became people with the nationality of Chōsen; however, Chōsen is not the name of an actual country. Instead, the term indicated roots originating in the Korean Peninsula, and did not confer nationality to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or the Republic of Korea.*2 In other words, at this point, Zainichi Koreans became people who did not belong to any nations (a status called de facto statelessness or unidentified nationality).*3 The political and social status of the people with the Chōsen nationality then were structured in conjunction with the Cold War structure, the international situation in East Asia, and the national systems of Japan. In particular, when diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea were normalized in 1965 by the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, Zainichi Koreans were able to obtain nationality as citizens of the Republic of Korea. However, at that time, permanent residency and qualifications for receipt of social welfare were only granted to people who had acquired the nationality of the Republic of Korea, thus creating disparities among Zainichi Koreans.*4 Afterwards, as Japan joined the International Covenants on Human Rights (1979) and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1982), this system was increasingly criticized by the international community. In response, Japan started its effort to improve the system by introducing residence statuses such as Exceptional Permanent Resident (1981) and Special Permanent Resident (1991). Nevertheless, this series of events clearly indicated an unequal structure surrounding people and countries (including people without a country); namely, the fact that people are tied to a country/countries (including when such ties result in statelessness) and are differentiated and/or discriminated in accordingly.
Upon entering the age of globalization, we now live in a time where people, goods, money, and cultures frequently cross national borders. There are now many people classified as "foreigners" living in Japan. The number of foreigners was 2.82 million as of June 30, 2019, marking the seventh consecutive year in which the number of foreigners increased. Additionally, in April 2019, the Japanese government revised the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the Revised Immigration Control Act) and has stated that it will accept up to approximately 345,000 foreign workers during the next five years. More people are coming from abroad and living in Japanese communities than ever before, which means dramatic changes in the lives of Japanese people who have always lived in those communities. Moreover, the number of Japanese people with "foreign roots" is increasing due to international marriage and the acquisition of Japanese nationality. Today, the boundaries between "Japanese" and "foreigners" are becoming blurred and fluid in Japan.
Amidst such circumstances, what kind of multicultural policies have been implemented by Japan thus far? Fuminori Minamikawa, a sociologist on multiculturalism, introduced that the number of new migrants accepted by Japan in 2017 surged to become the fourth-highest number of all OECD member nations, ranking behind only Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Minamikawa also pointed out that Japan received the worst evaluation among developed countries by research institutions which index the achievement of multicultural societies.*5 From the 1990s, Japanese government have promoted the Internationalization policies (including the "internal" internationalization of Japan itself) and this policy is the foundation of the multicultural coexistence policy that Japan have been promoted today, even in the local governments. Unfortunately, such policies failed to produce the expected results in a variety of aspects. Nevertheless, in addition to the Revised Immigration Control Act, the Japanese government is trying to invest 21.1 billion yen in Comprehensive Measures for Acceptance and Coexistence of Foreign Nationals.*6 Why has Japan failed to achieve multicultural coexistence despite such measures?
Therefore, the first step we need to do in the university is to unveil the complicated boundaries between people and countries. This means understanding historical and actual events, the realities which existed in the past and exists in current times, and the ethnic relationships, social structures, and international relations behind such realities. These research results could be utilized in university education simultaneously. The university education can provide the understanding on how domestic mechanisms surrounding people and countries (including unequal structures) are connected or disconnected with the world, and how we can comprehend an increasingly complex society from a global viewpoint. Fieldwork such as on-site surveys and interviews is an essential opportunity for engaging in such education. It is a great chance for the students to realize and understand the "reality". However, fieldwork must not be positioned as the study of "others"; instead, we must instruct students to ensure that they realize that they share the responsibility for achieving a global multicultural era together with the subjects being studied.
Next, we must create ideas and societies that go beyond the dualistic framework of Japanese citizens and foreigners. For example, in the field of immigration studies, a new concept called the "period of stay" principle has been proposed.*9 This concept questions the conventional way in which people are divided into the categories of Japanese and foreigner based on birthplace and lineage, and then uses such categories to include or exclude certain people. Instead, the "period of stay" principle proposes that people who have resided in a certain country or region for a long period of time should be considered as members of the same collective. Furthermore, an anthropological study by Harajiri Hideki (2019) has pointed out that the traditional society and pre-modern ideas which exist in Japanese regional society actually provide an important viewpoint for achieving a multicultural society in modern Japan.*10 In order to achieve SDGs Goal 10 "Reduce inequality within and among countries" in Japan, it is essential for research and education at Japanese universities to form ideas for creating an inclusive society.
In 1997, Rika Lee graduated from the Faculty of Policy Studies, Chuo University. In 2000, she completed the Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University. In 2011, she completed the Doctoral Program in the same Graduate School (PhD in Sociology). She has served as Visiting Researcher in the Center for Korean Studies of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (United States), Visiting Researcher in the Asiatic Research Institute of Korea University, and Full-Time Instructor and Associate Professor at Tama Art University before assuming her current position in 2019. Currently, she conducts research on transnationalism related to the culture and identity of Korean immigrants in Japan and Hawai’i. She is involved as an editor in the writing of Chosen-Seki (scheduled for publishing in 2020 by Akashi Shoten). Her main research works include “Country-less” Diasporas: Nationalism and identity of Koreans in prewar and wartime Hawai'i, (Kanyou Shuppan, 2015, in Japaanese), “Research on immigration and foreign study by Korean women in modern American regions, (the Academy of Korean Studies, 2019, co-edited by Sungeun Kim, et al., in Korean), “Stateless identity of Korean diaspora: The second generations in prewar Hawaii and postwar Japan”, (the Japanese Journal of Policy and Culture, 2020; scheduled to be published soon, in English ) and more.