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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 2 .


Japan's Hidden Apartheid
George Hicks

(Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997)
171pp. Bibl. Pb.: ISBN 1-84014-168-9; 22.50.


This volume on Japan's Korean minority forms an important contribution to the literature which increasingly gives a more balanced picture of Japanese society. It is comprehensive in scope and provides a number of testimonials which bring the issues involved to life. In fact, the volume provides an excellent portrayal of the issues as perceived by the Korean minority in Japan, including the long history of discrimination and the bitterness which remains despite some progress in addressing official forms of discrimination.

The Korean minority is by far the largest of Japan's 'hidden' minorities, though even they constitute only a small percentage of the Japanese population. Koreans, like the other minorities (the Chinese and 'untouchables'), share an outwardly Japanese appearance. The book provides ample evidence that the Koreans have undergone informal and formal processes of assimilation but often find that they are still subject to discrimination. Yet, the book also highlights the Korean residents who openly celebrate their identity, in wearing national dress and using a Korean name for example, which makes them a more exposed target of racial slurs, discrimination, and even physical attack.


James Babb, University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne



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