[Via Japan Times] “Are kindergarteners racist? Do they discriminate between children with different skin colors?

“Children are too innocent,” one Japanese mother told me in a survey of parents’ views. Her conclusion: “They do not hold racial prejudices.”

As innocent as children may be, extensive research conducted in the United States and Europe has shown that children as young as three have the capacity to discriminate against others based on race. However, little research on this topic has been conducted in Japan, a more culturally homogeneous society than most in the West.

In the U.S., people of all different races identify themselves as American and not an eyebrow is raised. But in Japan, people who look or speak differently are often labeled a “gaijin,” an outsider. No matter how “Japanese” a person might feel, this label acts to set them apart from the Japanese people at large. This is harmful and unfair.”

All this begs the question:

  1. To what degree are Japanese children racially biased?
  2. Are there differences in the attitudes of Japanese children attending international schools and those that study in less diverse environments?
  3. If a kindergarten-age child is prejudiced, how did this come to be? Understanding the answers could suggest ways of reducing bias and preparing Japan to meet the challenges of demographic change.

Click here for the rest of the story! Photo credit Satoshi Hata