Citizenship and national belonging
The Japanese citizen, the male citizen, the heterosexual citizen, the white-collar citizen, the fertile citizen, the able-bodied citizen: perhaps these phrases seem tautological, too obvious even to mention. What if we were to look at the obverse of these obvious and tautological phrases? What of the alien citizen, the female citizen, the homosexual citizen, the lesbian citizen, the trans-sexual citizen, the prostitute citizen, the infertile citizen, the disabled citizen? Are these phrases also tautological, or rather oxymoronic and contradictory? To what extent are these diverse kinds of citizens thinkable in modern Japan? What can we learn about citizenship in modern Japan by attempting to think through the gaps between the obviousness of the first group of phrases and the strangeness of the second group? The difference between the pairs of phrases above rests on the concept of embodiment. In this chapter, I will focus on how our understanding of citizenship might be transformed if we were to focus on citizens as embodied individuals.
Citizenship may be discussed in the context of the legal and institutional structures which determine who has the right to participate in the political systems of voting and elected governments and the duties which are linked with these rights: the liability for taxation, or in some countries the requirement that men perform military service. From this point of view, Japan apparently has one of the most liberal constitutions in the post-war world, guaranteeing rights to work, choice of domicile, choice of religion, freedom of assembly and association, and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, status, religion or family origin to those who belong to the category of Japanese citizen (Article 14, Constitution of Japan, in Tanaka and Smith 1976).