Once boundaries between groups are drawn and perceived, it itself provides an enough environment where conflicts occur. In other words, we humans cannot stay far away from facing conflicts – no matter how good and nice you are. Within the framework given by communication studies, I study how to manage inter-group conflict situations arising from seemingly irreconcilable differences in their values and cultures.
It is often the case that people’s ignorance about and prejudice or discrimination against immigrants and ethnic minorities will lead to ethnic conflicts, and to violence. However, it is also true that we manage to make an inclusive society by changing behaviour or attitudes towards other groups each other through a series of ‘negotiations’ conducted in the course of daily life. My contribution to the conflict studies would be to explore and gather information from field work and document analysis to enhance insight.
Compared with the case of immigrants’ acculturation, international conflicts have fewer opportunities for direct contact, and communication behaviours there tend to be more politically controlled. Countries may intentionally choose to maintain a conflict. Even in such a case, it is critical for them to understand their internal and external information strategy to create a desirable situation for themselves. My study, therefore, focuses on media discourse analysis within the development of conflict situations.
Growing up in a multicultural community, ethnic relations has been always a centre of my interest, but not in an academic sense. My encounter with media and communication studies at the university, however, became a springboard for a serious study on the issue. Since then, I have studied about the impact of mass media in shaping ethnic relations.
How are the adaptation strategies of minority groups selected? Do they decide in the relationship with the majority group?
To see whether an ethnic group takes the same acculturation strategy in different countries seemed to be a good approach for the research question.
Selected study population and method, and conducted
Why does the gap between Japan and Australia remain on whaling issue?
Noticed that there seemed to be a perception gap between two countries.
Research Question & Approach
Conducted a comparative research of media contents, where people can get information to shape the framework of the issue and images of the other.
> Analysing and Sociologising Research Data
> Identifying Further Questions and Problems
> Shifting towards a New Phase of the Research
When I was a postgraduate student, I had a chance to experience and look into two overseas Japanese communities. These were uniquely localised in their own way, while some similarity as Japanese community were also observed. This fact inspired me and I decided to write about it in my PhD thesis. Once field studies were done, I understood that the attitude of the Japanese communities towards their host countries was related to the degree, scope, and method of their localisation. In order to support this findings, I then collected empirical data, not only by general survey method, such as questionnaires and interviews, but also content analysis of ethnic media. The field study findings were supported by empirical study, and my PhD study could confirm the relevance of group acculturation strategy to shared image of host country and/or perceived ethnic relation among the group.
My research on overseas Japanese communities then brought me to interest in the Nikkei (Japanese-Americans) communities, as a form of highly localised ethnic. From my field studies of Nikkei communities in North America, I have learned that the war experience gave a significant impact on the communities to change what they used to be, as well as that new generations have induced further changes for now. Japanese ethnicity was used to be negatively perceived, though young generations have been re-defining being Nikkei, and trying to create a new image and meaning of Nikkei identity. What is interesting is that there are common characteristics in efforts Nikkei communities in different areas make to revitalise their ethnic culture. Fieldworks in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Vancouver revealed some similarities in the way of using cultural elements for identity formation, maintenance, and revitalisation. Nikkei communities are now in the new stage of ‘negotiation’ in their acculturation strategy, accepting ethnicity and communicating with the society at large: establishing Nikkei museums and organising cultural events are facilitating the communication and ‘negotiation’.
Some years in Australia made me feel how the information provided by media would affect one’s worldview. Although it has not resulted in bloody violence, the conflict between Japan and Australia over whaling issue does not seem to be heading towards a better settlement, when seen from the dispute in the International Whaling Commission or the International Court of Justice. Actions Australian government has taken are considered to come from its political judgement supported by public opinion, and the source of public opinion is mainly media information. In fact, I began to somewhat understand Australian version of argument as I had seen continuously exposed to Australian media, and got confused by Japan’s claim instead. I therefore analysed the newspaper articles in collaboration with an Australian researcher to clarify how the media message in the two countries frame public opinion (see figures). The results show significant differences between Japan and Australia in terms of the quality and quantity of information. I am still working on this research project to explain the mechanism how framing effect actually affects public opinion, puts pressure on political decisions, and influences the government policies.
(BA, MA, TWCU, PhD Macquarie)
Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics
A Tokyo-born Japanese.
She obtained BA and MA degrees in Communication Studies from College of Culture and Communication, Tokyo Women’s Christian University, Japan. Then she moved to Australia and received her PhD degree in International Communication from Macquarie University in 2004, under the supervision of Prof. Naren Chitty.
After moving back to Japan, she worked for Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) Special Program Center and Benesse Corporation Educational R&D Center. She joined Saitama University in 2007.
Interethnic Attitude that Matters: The Structure of Japanese Ethnic Distance in the Global Context (2010, LAP)