Homogeneity and the group model for interaction among people are two common features in Japanese society in which there are few minority groups. There is a whole body of Japanese thinking called nihonjinron which insists on the uniqueness of the Japanese bound by nationality (citizenship), ethnic lineage ('pure Japanese genes'), language competence, place of birth, current residence, level of cultural literacy, and subjective identity.
Minorities are no more than 5% of the Japanese population. Minority groups because they are disadvantaged, may justly perceive mainstream Japanese society as being materialistic, always seeking to climb up the ladder. This is understandable when the minority communities such as the Ainu, Okinawans, Buraku and Koreans are denied socio-economic opportunities or their homelands and cultures are taken away from them or assimilated into mainstream Japanese. Similarly, other people because they they are foreigners or have lived overseas and come back to Japan, being influenced by foreign ways, are seen as returnees and may also be discriminated against.
The problem when raising issues of racism and discrimination in Japan is that many people say that it does not exist and it is often ignored. A lot of people in Japan just do not care about these issues. There is a lack of interest about the politics of other people and this is one of the reasons why the Japanese government can say there is no discrimination because pressure from the people in Japan is not strong enough yet.
However, Japan is a signatory country of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. It has been criticised for not doing enough to implement it even in the smallest way. Practically, this means that discrimination is not effectively prohibited or properly addressed at any level of society or government.
A pluriethnic and multicultural aspect does exist in Japan - but the people in these minority communities are disadvantaged. By affirmative action to enhance their socio-economic standing Japan and its people will be better off because social equality will be greater and the collective and individual interest will be better serverd. For: "Without ensuring individual comforts through the proper provision of food, light, air, accommodation and medical treatment, the welfare of the collective body can never be achieved. One will have to promote individual welfare motivated by the spirit of promoting collective welfare. The development of the collective mind is impossible without developing proper social awareness, encouraging the spirit of social service and awakening knowledge in every individual. So, inspired with the thought of the welfare of the collective mind, one has to promote the well-being of the individual mind." - PR Sarkar.
Click on these links to find out more about the different minority groups and communities in Japan.