Visions of Community: Japanese Language Spread in Japan, Taiwan and Korea

  • Patrick Heinrich (Autor/in)

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This paper discusses language policy behind the spread of Japanese among Japanese
linguistic majorities and Japanese colonial subjects. The period discussed stretches
from 1868, the year of the Meiji restoration, until 1945, when Japan withdrew from
all its colonies. Policies in four polities are discussed: Ainu Mosir (Hokkaidō), the
Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan and Korea. In Japan, modernization included aspects of colonialism
and colonialist features of modernization. Hence, the policies for spreading
Japanese are found to be similar, if not identical, but the policy effects differ.
Japanese modernization and colonization are best discussed in connection with each
other. This paper discusses the language repertoires that emerged as a consequence
of Japanese language spread in the four polities studied, the limits of language policy
and planning, and the limits of imagining communities on the basis of language.
This allows for some general conclusions about Japan’s present-day problems with
indigenous minorities and its Asian neighbours.