Japan and the (Cultural) Politics of (In)authenticity

  • Glenn Toh


In describing the cultural politics of language education in Japan, this chapter paints a compelling picture of the particularized manner in which English teaching finds its right of place within the nation’s (seemingly) timeless cultural motifs and hawkish political ethos. The geographical reality of Japan being an island nation is counterposed with the need for it to be repeatedly reinforced rhetorically in official discourse, linked ideologically to monochromatic one-truth understandings of culture and identity. The myth(ology) of Japanese homogeneity sustained by essentialized framings of Japaneseness is seen to be epitomized in an influentially inward-looking genre of literature known as nihonjinron literature. Given its pervasively nationalistic flavor, nihonjinron exerts its influence on tokenized conceptualizations of foreigner subjectivities and reductionist treatments of a non-Japanese language like English.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn Toh
    • 1
  1. 1.Language and Communication CentreNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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