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Transnational Struggles over Citizenship: Translating Black Theology into Korean Activism in Japan, 1969-1974

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Abstract:

This paper explores how African American church leaders inspired Korean activists in Japan and helped them engage in battles for equal rights in the late 1960s and the early 70s. Through a case study of the welfare struggles of Koreans in Kawasaki city, located in the heart of the major industrial belt in Japan, it explores the interconnections between black liberation struggles in the U.S. and the efforts of Koreans in Japan (or Zainichi Koreans) to pursue citizenship rights. Kawasaki city has a large number of Korean workers and their descendants who were enlisted by the Japanese government to construct military factories during WWII. These Korean residents, who once had rendered service to Imperial Japan, were deprived of legal rights in the postwar period. The Japanese government constantly used citizenship as a pretext for the exclusion of Koreans from social security programs. By the early 1970s, however, more than three-fourths of the Koreans in Japan were Japanese-born, and these new generation of Koreans in diaspora started engaging in a series of political struggles against the Japanese government and major Japanese companies. Kawasaki city thus became an arena of struggle regarding the definition of citizenship. For Korean residents in Kawasaki, the church became the vehicle for social change. Transnational networks with global church leaders, especially with black church leaders in the U.S., offered a significant framework by which Korean leaders in Japan could challenge a narrow definition of citizenship. This paper examines how Korean activists in the Kawasaki church were influenced by black theology and invested it with new meaning; how they encountered African and African American leaders through world-wide religious organizations such as the World Council of Churches (WCC), and searched for common ground; and how black church leaders helped Koreans in Kawasaki and other parts of Japan win a victory in the Hitachi Employment Discrimination Trial -- a watershed in the history of the Korean struggle in Japan during the postwar period. By closely examining the interactions and exchanges between black church leaders in the U.S. and Korean activists in Japan, this paper demonstrates how a transnational anti-discrimination network transformed a subjugated people’s discourses and practices at the local and national levels.
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Name: The American Studies Association
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p185500_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Tsuchiya, Kazuyo. "Transnational Struggles over Citizenship: Translating Black Theology into Korean Activism in Japan, 1969-1974" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA, Oct 11, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p185500_index.html>

APA Citation:

Tsuchiya, K. , 2007-10-11 "Transnational Struggles over Citizenship: Translating Black Theology into Korean Activism in Japan, 1969-1974" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The American Studies Association, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p185500_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: This paper explores how African American church leaders inspired Korean activists in Japan and helped them engage in battles for equal rights in the late 1960s and the early 70s. Through a case study of the welfare struggles of Koreans in Kawasaki city, located in the heart of the major industrial belt in Japan, it explores the interconnections between black liberation struggles in the U.S. and the efforts of Koreans in Japan (or Zainichi Koreans) to pursue citizenship rights. Kawasaki city has a large number of Korean workers and their descendants who were enlisted by the Japanese government to construct military factories during WWII. These Korean residents, who once had rendered service to Imperial Japan, were deprived of legal rights in the postwar period. The Japanese government constantly used citizenship as a pretext for the exclusion of Koreans from social security programs. By the early 1970s, however, more than three-fourths of the Koreans in Japan were Japanese-born, and these new generation of Koreans in diaspora started engaging in a series of political struggles against the Japanese government and major Japanese companies. Kawasaki city thus became an arena of struggle regarding the definition of citizenship. For Korean residents in Kawasaki, the church became the vehicle for social change. Transnational networks with global church leaders, especially with black church leaders in the U.S., offered a significant framework by which Korean leaders in Japan could challenge a narrow definition of citizenship. This paper examines how Korean activists in the Kawasaki church were influenced by black theology and invested it with new meaning; how they encountered African and African American leaders through world-wide religious organizations such as the World Council of Churches (WCC), and searched for common ground; and how black church leaders helped Koreans in Kawasaki and other parts of Japan win a victory in the Hitachi Employment Discrimination Trial -- a watershed in the history of the Korean struggle in Japan during the postwar period. By closely examining the interactions and exchanges between black church leaders in the U.S. and Korean activists in Japan, this paper demonstrates how a transnational anti-discrimination network transformed a subjugated people’s discourses and practices at the local and national levels.

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