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postgraduate thesis: Japan's economic partnership agreement as language policy : creation, interpretation, appropriation

TitleJapan's economic partnership agreement as language policy : creation, interpretation, appropriation
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2017
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Otomo, R.. (2017). Japan's economic partnership agreement as language policy : creation, interpretation, appropriation. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractOngoing labour shortages in the healthcare sector are becoming pressing issues for Japan, a country with an aging population and declining birth rate. In order to secure the nation’s future and further economic development, Japan has now accepted migrant healthcare workers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The EPA has drawn scholarly attention from researchers in the areas of healthcare, policy studies and Japanese language education. Among these disciplinary studies, language has been identified as one of the major, crucial issues. One reason is that migrant healthcare workers are expected to pass the national nursing/caregiving examinations in the Japanese language within three to four years in order to work in Japan on a long-term basis. This dissertation examines the EPA from the perspective of language policy and planning (LPP). The most important approach in the current LPP research – the ethnography of language policy – conceptually and methodologically informs this study. While the EPA is a bilateral treaty to enhance economic benefits of signatory countries, this study treats it as a language policy that is constantly negotiated and played out by social actors situated in a variety of contexts, holding varying goals, interests, and beliefs that are susceptible to wider socio-political discourses and language ideologies. In order to describe processes of policy creation, interpretation and appropriation, the study employs a two-tier research design: document analysis and ethnographic fieldwork. While document analysis focuses on ideologies and implicit practices represented in the policy texts and national policy-making initiatives, ethnographic fieldwork attends to local contexts where the EPA is experienced by local institutional actors, in this study, in one local elderly care facility in Japan. This two-tier design enables me to identify Japan’s persistent monolingualism throughout the operation of the EPA. The creation of the EPA is found to serve the interests of the powerful healthcare industry, by positioning migrant healthcare workers in a discourse of superior us (Japanese) and inferior them (migrants) and reproducing Japan’s monolingual and standard language ideologies as well as widely-held myths of language teaching and learning. In the elderly care facility, too, the monolingual workplace is maintained by efforts of local actors whose institutional roles and attitudes toward workplace language use and language learning differ considerably. While the facility director exerts the major control over language use, education and assessment through the introduction of a Japanese-only policy, other institutional actors exercise limited agency in manoeuvring around the policy while participating in the construction of an imagined monolingual workplace community. This study contributes to the LPP discipline by, firstly, offering a critique of the important top-down-bottom-up and macro-micro policy metaphors and arguing for an alternative view to capture the relationship between policy and practice beyond these predetermined categories. A second contribution is made through my own reflection as a fieldworker, which calls not only for a consideration of power relations between researchers and participants, but also for opportunities that such a reflection might bring for the development of new analytical, methodological and theoretical viewpoints.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectLanguage policy - Japan
Language - Japan - Foreign workers
Dept/ProgramEducation
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/250741

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorGao, AX-
dc.contributor.advisorTollefson, JW-
dc.contributor.authorOtomo, Ruriko-
dc.date.accessioned2018-01-26T01:59:25Z-
dc.date.available2018-01-26T01:59:25Z-
dc.date.issued2017-
dc.identifier.citationOtomo, R.. (2017). Japan's economic partnership agreement as language policy : creation, interpretation, appropriation. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/250741-
dc.description.abstractOngoing labour shortages in the healthcare sector are becoming pressing issues for Japan, a country with an aging population and declining birth rate. In order to secure the nation’s future and further economic development, Japan has now accepted migrant healthcare workers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The EPA has drawn scholarly attention from researchers in the areas of healthcare, policy studies and Japanese language education. Among these disciplinary studies, language has been identified as one of the major, crucial issues. One reason is that migrant healthcare workers are expected to pass the national nursing/caregiving examinations in the Japanese language within three to four years in order to work in Japan on a long-term basis. This dissertation examines the EPA from the perspective of language policy and planning (LPP). The most important approach in the current LPP research – the ethnography of language policy – conceptually and methodologically informs this study. While the EPA is a bilateral treaty to enhance economic benefits of signatory countries, this study treats it as a language policy that is constantly negotiated and played out by social actors situated in a variety of contexts, holding varying goals, interests, and beliefs that are susceptible to wider socio-political discourses and language ideologies. In order to describe processes of policy creation, interpretation and appropriation, the study employs a two-tier research design: document analysis and ethnographic fieldwork. While document analysis focuses on ideologies and implicit practices represented in the policy texts and national policy-making initiatives, ethnographic fieldwork attends to local contexts where the EPA is experienced by local institutional actors, in this study, in one local elderly care facility in Japan. This two-tier design enables me to identify Japan’s persistent monolingualism throughout the operation of the EPA. The creation of the EPA is found to serve the interests of the powerful healthcare industry, by positioning migrant healthcare workers in a discourse of superior us (Japanese) and inferior them (migrants) and reproducing Japan’s monolingual and standard language ideologies as well as widely-held myths of language teaching and learning. In the elderly care facility, too, the monolingual workplace is maintained by efforts of local actors whose institutional roles and attitudes toward workplace language use and language learning differ considerably. While the facility director exerts the major control over language use, education and assessment through the introduction of a Japanese-only policy, other institutional actors exercise limited agency in manoeuvring around the policy while participating in the construction of an imagined monolingual workplace community. This study contributes to the LPP discipline by, firstly, offering a critique of the important top-down-bottom-up and macro-micro policy metaphors and arguing for an alternative view to capture the relationship between policy and practice beyond these predetermined categories. A second contribution is made through my own reflection as a fieldworker, which calls not only for a consideration of power relations between researchers and participants, but also for opportunities that such a reflection might bring for the development of new analytical, methodological and theoretical viewpoints.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshLanguage policy - Japan-
dc.subject.lcshLanguage - Japan - Foreign workers-
dc.titleJapan's economic partnership agreement as language policy : creation, interpretation, appropriation-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2017-
dc.identifier.mmsid991043979529003414-

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