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Resilient Borders and Cultural Diversity

Internationalism, Brand Nationalism, and Multiculturalism in Japan

Koichi Iwabuchi

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The acceleration of media culture globalization processes cross-fertilization and people’s exchange beyond the confinement of national borders, but not all of them lead to substantial transformations of national identity or foster cosmopolitan outlook in terms of openness, togetherness and dialogue within and beyond the national borders. Whilst national borders continue to become more and more porous, the measures of border control are constantly reformulated to tame disordered flows and tightly re-demarcate the borders—materially, physically, symbolically and imaginatively. Border crossing does not necessarily bring about the transgression of borders. Transgression of borders requires one to fundamentally question how borders in the existing form have been socio-historically constructed and also seek to displace their exclusionary power that unevenly divide “us” and “them” and “here” and “there.”
This book considers how media culture and the management of people’s border crossing movement combine with Japan's cultural diversity to institute the creation of national cultural borders in Japanese millennials. Critical analysis of this development is a pressing matter if we are to seriously consider how to make Japan’s national cultural borders more inclusive and dialogic.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 148Size: 6 3/8 x 9 1/4
978-1-4985-0225-2 • Hardback • May 2015 • $85.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4985-0227-6 • Paperback • November 2016 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-1-4985-0226-9 • eBook • May 2015 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Koichi Iwabuchi is professor of media and cultural studies at Monash University and director of the Monash Asia Institute.
Chapter 1: Banal Inter-Nationalism and Its Others
Chapter 2: Cool Japan, Brand Nationalism and the Public Interest
Chapter 3: Lost in Trans-Nation: Post-Orientalism and Actually Existing Multicultural Reality
Chapter 4: Making It Multinational: Media Representation of Multicultural Japan
Chapter 5: The Korean wave and the Dis/empowering of Resident Koreans in Japan
Chapter 6: East Asian Media Culture Connections, Inter-Asian Referencing and Cross-border
Iwabuchi's is the only book by a Japanese author to emphasize the sociological link between cultural borders and ethnic minority groups in Japan, especially the zainichi. . . .Iwabuchi distinguishes himself from other mainstream cultural pundits in Japan by openly underscoring how national borders are reinforcing invisible ones within Japan.
Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review


We live in an age of dizzying cultural globalization, and yet paradoxically, wherever we look, nationalism seems to be on the rise. In this book, Koichi Iwabuchi gives a wonderfully nuanced and persuasive analysis of key cultural and political forces behind the paradox. He explores the complex ways in which the consumer branding of the nation by governments and media enterprises re-produces nation-consciousness in new forms. This important and illuminating work should be read by anyone seeking to understand cultural interactions and tensions between Japan and its neighbors today.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australian National University


Koichi Iwabuchi’s new book, Resilient Borders, confirms his reputation as a keenly astute analyst and critic of contemporary Japanese culture as it struggles to come to terms with the complex realities of cultural diversity, transnational flows and globalization.

Ien Ang, Distinguished Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Western Sydney


Koichi Iwabuchi is one of our most important culture media theorists, and this book is an incisive dissection and powerful critique of Japan’s efforts to police and protect its national boundaries in an era of relentless global cultural flows. The old “Japan, Inc.” is long gone, but a new Japan, Inc. has emerged in the 21st century as a national administration of soft cultural power instead of raw manufacturing power. Iwabuchi shows how the banal cuteness of character goods, J-Pop, anime, and other cultural products emanating from Japan disguises a potent “brand nationalism” that suppresses a genuine accounting for the multicultural and the marginal within Japanese society and avoids a serious engagement with its past and present East Asian neighbors.
William W. Kelly, Yale University


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