The homework club and beyond: a civil society group’s quest to build a place for learning and belonging in a time of migration
The argument for developing intercultural competence (IC) in the Japanese workforce is manifest and persuasive. In order to survive in an increasingly globalised and competitive environment, Japanese businesses must cultivate personnel capable not only of communicating with partners and clients from non-Japanese linguistic and cultural backgrounds, but also of identifying and capitalising on new opportunities beyond their existing domestic markets. A demonstration of the centrality of IC to workforce development can be found in the discourse surrounding the supposed 'inward-looking' tendency' of Japanese youth. The idea of an 'inward-looking tendency' connotes not only reluctance to engage with the world outside Japan, but also a more general self-absorbedness and disinclination to respond to the expectations of mainstream society. As the importance of IC in Japanese workplaces grows and in the absence of any radical realignment of the educational and market relationships described, individual needs and circumstances can only be pushed further from the spotlight.