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"Migration to Japan: Focus on Kurdish Communities" Workshop

Date: April 8 (15:00-18:00) and April 9 (10:00-12:30), 2023

Format: In-person only, No registration required

Venue: Sophia University Yotsuya Campus, Building 10, Room 301 (3F)

7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8554

Program (PDF): Download from here

Hosts: Dr. Evelyn Reuter (Visiting Scholar, Sophia University)

Dr. David H. Slater (Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Sophia University)

Inquiries and Contact: Dr. Evelyn Reuter (

Kurdish people have neither an own country, nor do they speak the same language variety, nor do they belong to the same religious community. Thus, they can be considered as several ethnic and religious minorities. Nevertheless, they identify as one group what raises the question of a common identity. The Kurds in Japan are mainly from Turkey and Syria. While the first came already in the 1990s due to political and economic reasons, the latter ones arrived mainly as refugees since 2015. The Kurdish community in Japan is politically active and recognizable in the society. Moreover, they are also connected with their families in their homelands and other Kurdish diaspora communities worldwide what influences their self-understanding and activities. However, up to now, little research has been done on this community in Japan.

This two-day workshop has two purposes: On the one hand, it introduces a minority in Japan that is highly diverse in terms of origins, migration (hi)stories and integration into the society. On the other, the workshop gives an overview of Kurdish Studies in Japan bringing researchers from different fields together such as from cultural anthropology, linguistics, or politics. This event aims at presenting various perspectives on Kurdish communities in their homelands and in Japan. The four panels will shed light on the Kurds in general, on migration issues, as well as on linguistic and religious features. The speakers will give presentations on their research projects.

The hosts of this event are Dr. Evelyn Reuter and Dr. David Slater. Evelyn Reuter is a Collaborative Research Fellow at the abovementioned institute investigating ethnic and religious minorities in broad historical and political contexts with an anthropological approach considering social media. David Slater is professor of Cultural Anthropology focusing among others on immigrants and refugees in Japan, political activists, as well as social and new media.


Day 1 (April 8):

Kurdish Migrations from the Middle East to Japan (15:00-18:00) ・Welcome: David H. SLATER (Sophia University) ・Initial Comments: Evelyn REUTER (Sophia University) Historical and Political Backgrounds of Kurds in the Middle East (15:00-16:00)

Dr. Akihiko YAMAGUCHI (Professor, Sophia University): Kurdish Identity and Image in the Premodern Middle East

Dr. Akiko YOSHIOKA (Institute of Energy Economics, Japan): Emigration from Iraqi Kurdistan: What makes Kurds cross borders?

Coffee Break (16:00-16:30) Anthropological Perspectives on Kurdish Migrants in Japan (16:30-18:00)

Vakkas ÇOLAK (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies): Representation of Kurdish Asylum Seekers in Japanese Media

Sohrab AHMADIAN (Tsukuba University): Kurds in Japan: Diasporic Experience and Politics

Dr. Naomi KATAYAMA (Obirin University): Nurturing the Sense of Shared Responsibility in Multicultural Societies: The Case of Supporting Kurds in Saitama


Day 2 (April 9):

Language and Religion among Kurds (10:00-12:30)

・Welcome: David H. SLATER (Sophia University) ・Initial Comments: Evelyn REUTER (Sophia University) Kurdish People and (Their) Language Issues in Japan (10:00-11:00)

Dr. Abdurrahman GÜLBEYAZ (Professor, Nagasaki University): Language and Social Conflict – The Case of Kurdish Migrants in Japan

Dr. Hiwa ASADPOUR (University of Tokyo): Positioning Kurdish Varieties in Japan within the Dialectal Variation of the Greater Kurdistan

Coffee Break (11:00-12:30) Religion among Kurdish People (11:30-12:30)

Abe TATSUYA (Sophia University): Kurdish Sufi Networks: A Case Study on Naqshbandi Order in Kurdistan

Dr. Evelyn REUTER (Sophia University): Neglecting, Converting, Changing – Does Religion Matter for Kurdish Migrant?



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