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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Identity and Migration Studies Volume 3, number 2, 2009 22 From an “Internationalist Woman” to “Just another Asian Immigrant”: Transformation of Japanese Women’s Self-Image before and after Permanent Settlement in a Western Country Atsuko KAWAKAMI Abstract. Young middle class Japanese women who speak English identify themselves as career- oriented “internationalist women.” They hold positive self-images; however, their self-images become convoluted with negative images as they experience changes in their lives. When they marry white males and become permanent residents in Western countries, their self- identities transform into “just another Asian immigrant” out of many. Many Japanese wives of white husbands deny their association with their compatriots when they actually do associate with other Japanese immigrant women. They also deny racial factors in their attraction to their white husbands. I argue that these behaviors are harnessed to redevelop a self-identity by renouncing the stereotypical images of Eurocentric Japanese women. This paper will describe the transformation of Japanese women’s self-images before and after permanent settlement in a Western country and the process of their redevelopment of self-identity. Keywords: Japanese immigrant women, internationalist, self-identity, interracial marriage, Eurocentrism 1. Introduction 1.1 Who Are Internationalist Japanese Women? The typical Japanese “internationalists” are career-motivated middle class young females. “Internationalist” is a translated word for “ Kokusaijin, ” which is associated with Japan’s national project of internationalization. 1 Marilyn Ivy explains internationalization as a process of “domestication of the foreign and the 1 Kelsky, Karen. Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 5. From an “Internationalist Woman” to “Just another Asian Immigrant” JIMS - Volume 3, number 2, 2009 23 disseminat ion of Japanese culture throughout the world.” 2 Internationalization “represents a distinct project from these women’s vision of a Japan transformed according to Western liberal values.” 3 Internationalist women express feelings of inadequacy in Japan and search for a place of belonging. 4 However, these feelings seem to be the result of their self-evaluation, in which they are special and different in an awkward way that is mostly positive. They speak their opinions, and therefore they conflict with the stereotypical image of obedient Japanese women. Bilingual Japanese women claim that they can be themselves when they speak English. By utilizing the English language, they develop a new self-identity that is “cosmopolitan” or “internationalist”. The confi dence, vitality, and high hopes of these young Japanese internationalist women are expressed in literature....
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This note was uploaded on 09/06/2011 for the course TOURISM 101 taught by Professor Variety during the Summer '10 term at University of Santo Tomas.
- Summer '10