Ethnic nationalism in Japan (Japanese: 民族主義, Hepburn: minzoku shugi)[a] or minzoku nationalism[1] means nationalism that emerges from Japan's dominant Yamato people or ethnic minorities.

In present-day Japan statistics only counts their population in terms of nationality, rather than ethnicity, thus the number of ethnic Yamato and their actual population numbers are ambiguous.[2]

Dominant ethnic-centered nationalism

See also: Racism in Japan

"Japanese ethnic nationalism" (Japanese: 日本民族主義, Hepburn: nihon minzoku shugi) is related to minzoku (民族), the Japanese word that translates to "people", "ethnic group", and "nation". Minzoku does not originally mean "race" in the general sense, and jinshu (人種) means "race", but some Japanese nationalists also use minzoku in a closer sense to "race"; Taro Aso has called Japan a "one race" or "one minzoku".[3][4] Prominent Japanese politicians have often kindled controversies by invoking the images of Japanese racial superiority.[5]


Main article: Minzoku-ha

Minzoku-ha (民族派, lit. "ethnic nationalist group") is a Japanese ethno-nationalist faction that emerged after postwar Japan. Minzoku-ha is considered to be the categories of Uyoku dantai.


Main article: Nihonjinron

Nihonjinron (日本人論: treatises on Japaneseness) is a genre of historical and literary work that focuses on issues of Japanese national and cultural identity.

Yamato nationalism

See also: Racial nationalism and An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus

People of Yamato minzoku.

"Yamato nationalism" (Japanese: 大和民族主義, Hepburn: yamato minzoku shugi) is an based on "Yamato people" (大和民族, yamato minzoku, literally "Yamato ethnicity" or "Yamato race"),[6] the dominant population group in Japan.

During the Empire of Japan, Yamato nationalism is inspired most Japanese soldiers and civilians at the time and made Japanese people feel racially superior to the Chinese people.[7] Today, Yamato nationalism is deeply linked to xenophobic sentiment toward minority races/ethnic groups; due to the influence of Yamato nationalism, Zainichi Koreans who moved to Empire of Japan forcibly or voluntarily during the colonial Korea period and lived in Japan were not granted "citizenship" (国籍, kokuseki, lit: nationality) even after 1945.[8]


Main article: Yamato-damashii

Ainu nationalism

See also: Ainu people

Flag of Ainu people.

"Ainu nationalism" (Japanese: アイヌ民族主義 or アイヌナショナリズム) is a means of asserting Ainu rights over ancestral land and today has been adopted as the favored term for Hokkaido.[9]

Ainu Party (アイヌ民族党, lit. "Ethnic Ainu Party" or "Ainu Nationals Party") is the political party that represents Ainu rights in Japan; it advocates Ainu "nationalism" (民族主義) and "multiculturalism" (多文化主義). Ainu Party supports post-nuclear, designating Ainu as an official language, and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[10]

Ainu Revolution Theory

Main article: Ainu Revolution Theory

Okinawan nationalism

See also: Okinawa Island and Ryukyuan people

"Okinawan nationalism" (Japanese: 沖縄民族主義 or 沖縄ナショナリズム) claims the Ryukyuan people' own identity, also called "Okinawan people". Okinawan nationalism started when the Empire of Japan opposed the destruction of Ryukyu Kingdom and incorporation into its territory. Therefore, while Okinawan nationalism is deeply linked to the Ryukyu nationalism. However, not all Okinawan nationalists are Ryukyu nationalists; Ryukyu nationalists refer to separatists from Japan, but some Okinawan nationalists value regional rights within Japan.

Modern Okinawa nationalism often manifests itself through negative views of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma bases on the Ryukyu Islands. It is also often manifested by local leftists who oppose Japanese nationalism.[11]

All Okinawa [ja] is a representative nationalist organization that requests the demolition of MCAS Futenma.

Ryukyu nationalism

Main article: Ryukyu independence movement


Empire of Japan had Korea, Taiwan, and other colonies. In the colonies, there were anti-colonial nationalists who argued for "national self-determination" (Japanese: 民族自決) against Japanese imperialism.

Korean nationalism

Main articles: Korean nationalism and Korean ethnic nationalism

See also: Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea

Flag of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

Early "Korean [ethnic] nationalism" (Japanese: 朝鮮民族主義, Korean: 조선민족주의) emerged in the form of "resistance nationalism" (Korean: 저항적 민족주의).

Traditionally, the concept of Japanese ethnic nationalism "blood" was emphasized. This form of nationalism was dominant in Empire of Japan and also influenced Korean ethnic nationalism.[12][13]

Korean independence movement

Main article: Korean independence movement

Theory of self-governance

Some Korean nationalists, such as Yi Gwangsu and Choe Nam-seon, insisted on "theory of self-governance" (Japanese: 自治論, Korean: 자치론) rather than independence from Japan. They were criticized as pro-Japanese collaborators by radical nationalists who supported independence at the time.

Manchurian nationalism

Main article: Manchurian nationalism

See also: Manchukuo and Concordia Association

Invading China through the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Empire of Japan established a puppet state called Manchukuo. They promoted "Manchurian nationalism" (Japanese: 満州族民族主義, Chinese: 滿族民族主義) in the Manchuria.

Taiwanese nationalism

Main articles: Taiwanese nationalism § History and development, and Taiwan independence movement § History of Taiwan independence

Party flag of the Taiwanese People's Party.

During the Taiwan under Japan rule, the "Taiwanese nationalism" (Japanese: 台湾民族主義, Chinese: 臺灣民族主義) was stimulated to some extent. However, Taiwanese identities were more complicated at the time, with some campaigning for independence based on Taiwanese nationalism, while others opposed Japanese rule with Chinese national identity. This identity is reflected by the Taiwanese People's Party. (Taiwanese identity is strengthened by the February 28 incident that took place under Kuomintang after the end of Japanese colonial rule.)

Mao Zedong was an early supporter of Taiwanese independence, telling Edgar Snow in the 1930s that the Chinese Communist Party would lend “our enthusiastic help in their struggle for independence.” He changed this position only after the Nationalists started claiming Taiwan with the Cairo Declaration.[14] The Taiwanese Communist Party also emphasized "Taiwanese nation" (臺灣民族) rather than "Chinese nation" (中華民族).

Despite its history of colonial rule, Taiwan's anti-Japanese sentiment today is known to be significantly lower than that of Korea, because Empire of Japan guaranteed Taiwan relatively more autonomy compared to Korea.[15]

Taiwanese Cultural Association

Main article: Taiwanese Cultural Association

See also


  1. ^ "民族主義" can also mean cultural nationalism, depending on the context. Yanagita Kunio and other advocates of Japanese 'cultural nationalism' (民族主義) opposed 'state [ultra-]nationalism' ([超]国家主義).


  1. ^ Ryôta Nishino (2011). Changing Histories: Japanese and South African Textbooks in Comparison (1945–1995). V&R Unipress. p. 26. ... minzoku nationalism rested on the twin pillars of 'blood and soil' and 'proper place'.
  2. ^ 国籍・地域別 在留資格(在留目的)別 在留外国人. 独立行政法人統計センター. Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  3. ^ "Aso says Japan is nation of 'one race'". 18 October 2005 – via Japan Times Online.
  4. ^ "麻生太郎氏「日本は2千年、一つの民族」政府方針と矛盾". 13 January 2020 – via The Asahi Shimbun.
  5. ^ Gerard Delanty; Krishan Kumar (2006). The SAGE Handbook of Nations and Nationalism. SAGE Publications. p. 477. ISBN 978-1-4462-0644-7.
  6. ^ Eiichiro Azuma (2019). Routledge Handbook of Trauma in East Asia. University of California Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-520-97307-7. ... Yamato minzoku sometimes is translated as the "Yamato race."
  7. ^ Diana Lary (2010). The Chinese People at War: Human Suffering and Social Transformation, 1937-1945. Cambridge University Press. p. 80. Yamato nationalism that inspired most Japanese soldiers and civilians at the time and made them feel racially superior to the Chinese.
  8. ^ Kelly, Robert E. (24 May 2010). "More on Asian Multiculturalism: 5 Masters Theses to be Written". Retrieved 10 February 2024. In Japan, the Yamato race is so important that even ethnic Koreans living there for generations can't get citizenship and there's no immigration despite a contracting population.
  9. ^ Ann-elise lewallen (2016). The Fabric of Indigeneity: Ainu Identity, Gender, and Settler Colonialism in Japan. p.5.
  10. ^ アイヌ民族党 ウェブサイト
  11. ^ Ra Mason (February 2016). Nationalism in Okinawa: Futenma and the Future of Base Ppolitics.
  12. ^ Curtis Anderson Gayle (29 August 2003). Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-134-43158-8. ... Japanese ethnic nationalism such as nationalism based on the ideology of "blood," and the imperial expansion of the state for economic and political gain.
  13. ^ Gi-Wook Shin (2006). Ethnic Nationalism in Korea: Genealogy, Politics, and Legacy. Stanford University Press. p. 180. ... Japanese ethnic nationalism is illuminating in comprehending the Korean politics of national identity.
  14. ^ van der Wees, Gerrit. "When the CCP Thought Taiwan Should Be Independent". The Diplomat. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  15. ^ Shinichi Ichimura (29 June 2013). Political Economy of Japanese and Asian Development. Springer Japan. p. 49.