Reuters: “Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?” Japan asks, but celebrates Nobel author as its own. Very symptomatic of Japan’s ethnostate.


About a month ago, Briton Kazuo Ishiguro, who writes exclusively in English, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Predictably, Japan’s media boasted that a third Japanese writer (with the caveat that he was Japan-born) had won a Nobel. Well, not really. Imagine, say, Germany claiming as their own all the Nobel-laureate scientists of the Deutsch diaspora living abroad, even those without actual German citizenship, for however many generations?

In Japan, this highly-questionable social science is hardly problematized. As noted below by Reuters, a similar claim was laid to Shuji “Slave” Nakamura, inventor of the LED, who due to his foul treatment by Japan’s scientific and academic communities quite actively disavows his connections to Japan (in fact, he urges them to escape for their own good). Same with Yoichiro Nambu, who got Nobelled as a team in 2008 for Physics, who had been living in the US since the 1960s, was a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and had even relinquished Japanese citizenship and taken American.

I suspect this is for massaging a rather insecure national pride. Also because it is largely unquestioned under the concept of Japan as an ethnostate, where nationality is directly linked to blood ties. That is to say, anyone who is of Japanese blood can be claimed as a member of the Japanese societal power structure (i.e., a Wajin). And the converse is indeed true: Even people who take Japanese citizenship who lack the requisite Wajin blood are treated as foreign: Just ask Japan’s “naturalized-but-still-foreign” athletes in, say, the sumo wrestling or rugby communities.

It’s a pretty racist state of affairs. One I discuss in depth in acclaimed book “Embedded Racism”(Lexington Books, 2015). And, as I argue in its closing chapter, one …continue reading