Constructing Latinamericanness in Japan: An Analysis of the Asahi Shinbun Coverage

By Betsy Forero-Montoya.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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The homogeneity that has traditionally characterized Japan has also led to marked distinctions between Japanese people and the others; that is, those who do not fit the traditional definition of Japanese (same blood, same language, same land, same culture) and are considered outsiders. Although today’s Japanese society proves to be more heterogeneous than previously accepted, there are still pervasive traces of the mental borderlands that separate Japanese and outsiders. Having this context, this paper focuses on a group of non-Japanese, the Latin American other as depicted by Japanese press. The construction of this image was examined by analyzing the coverage of Latin America in one of the Japan’s largest newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, over the last two decades. This study proved that Japan is open to the portrayal of new worlds and that interest in Latin America in this country has been increasing. Moreover, the results showed that the representations of Latinamericanness are framed by a tendency to focus on certain countries and kinds of news. In this connection, the unbalanced image of Latin America in Japan seems to be formed mainly by clear stereotypes that center on crime and soccer. This paper examines the possible relation between Japanese traditional values and this stereotyping.

Keywords: Japanese Press, Latin America, Japaneseness, Stereotyping, Otherness, Content Analysis

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.197-210. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 692.290KB).

Betsy Forero-Montoya

Doctoral Student, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of International and Advanced Japanese Studies, University of Tsukuba, Tokyo, Japan

Betsy Forero-Montoya arrived to Japan as a research student affiliated to the University of Tokyo, and then obtained her Master degree in Global Studies from Sophia University (Tokyo). Her interest in Japan ranges from arts such as butoh to traditions such as the tea ceremony; however, her academic work has been focused on social issues related to multicultural Japan, minorities, gender, migration and media representation. Her main studies have been the analysis of the development of cultural and social identities of individuals of Japanese-Latin American mixed parentage raised in Japan, and the examination of the representations of Latinamericannes in Japanese media and their interpretations by the audience. Currently Betsy is a doctoral candidate in the program of International and Advanced Japanese Studies, at the University of Tsukuba (Japan).