The goal of the dissertation was to examine various diversity-related challenges domestic/indigenous minority and foreign students in Japanese junior high school encounter and to explore how the school provided for these students. One major problem in current Japanese schools is the gap between the homogeneous discourse embedded in the curriculum and multicultural realities that schools and communities are beginning to encounter with the increase in foreign residents.
This study used a case study approach. The sources of data consisted of document analyses, classroom observations, and interviews. Two elementary schools and one JSL (Japanese as a Second Language) curriculum seminar were also selected to triangulate the data. Data were collected from mid-November, 2007, to early February, 2008. Content analyses were done with school-related documents and relevant national curriculum, teachers’ manuals, and textbooks.
The most relevant subjects relating to diversity, namely social studies, a foreign language, and integrated studies, were selected as the focus. Classroom observations were done for a total of 58 periods in six different subject areas. Interviews covered 18 informants, including the school principal, teachers, a language counselor, students, and parents who provided personal stories related to multicultural experiences. All these data were analyzed inductively through the framework of the literature review and hegemony and social reproduction theories.
My findings among others revealed that the homogeneous policies and provisions are hegemonic to “others,” including domestic/indigenous minority and foreign students, as a result of placing their history and culture at the periphery. By highlighting the distance between ethnic Japanese and “others,” the hegemony of ethnic Japanese is reproduced. On the other hand, the study also showed that social interaction can change ethnic Japanese students’ perception of “others” in a positive direction.
Another way of alienation was the exclusion of foreign residents, in Article 26 of the Constitution of Japan. Teachers adopted double standards in managing truancy cases among Japanese and foreign students depicting strong influences from Article 26. Double standards also applied to school provisions for individualized instruction between special-needs Japanese students and foreign students because of this article of the constitution.