Kikokushijo (帰国子女, lit. "repatriate children") and kaigaishijo (海外子女, lit. "overseas children") are Japanese-language terms referring to the children of Japanese expatriates who take part of their education outside of Japan. The former term is used to refer to children who have returned to Japan, while the latter refers to such children while they are still overseas. They are referred to in English variously as "sojourn children" or "returnees". The term "third culture kids" has also been used, but not without reservations. As of 2002, roughly 10,000 children of Japanese expatriates return to Japan every year, with a total of roughly 50,000 residing overseas at any one time, a number that had remained roughly constant during the previous decade after rapid growth in the 1970s and 1980s. Only 40% attend Japanese schools while living overseas.
The Ministry of Education recognised as early as 1966 that Japan's school system faced challenges in the education and re-integration of children who had returned from overseas. Under the idea of nihonjinron, which stressed the alleged uniqueness of Japanese society, kikokushijo began to be characterised in the 1970s as problem children who needed assistance in readjusting to Japanese society; they were thought to be too Westernised and individualistic. Ironically, much of the image of kikokushijo as "educational orphans" in need of "rescue" came from the parents of such children themselves. During the 1980s, however, kikokushijo came to be seen as a new elite rather than as problems; their language and cultural skills gained respect as valuable tools for the internationalisation of Japan. As of 1997, over 300 universities offered relaxed admissions criteria for kikokushijo, a system which had been attacked as preferential treatment and reverse discrimination. They are often misperceived as fluent speakers of English, though many in fact resided in non-Anglophone countries.
- Fry 2007: 131
- Kanno 2000: 1
- Kano-Podolsky 2004: 76. The term kikokushijo is more well-known both in Japan and in the English literature about them. Awareness in the United States of third-culture kids and the issues they face is much lower than similar awareness of kikokushijo in Japan.
- Kano-Podolsky 2004: 71, 74
- Iwabuchi 1994
- Kano-Podolsky 2004: 72
- Kano-Podolsky 2004: 73
- Kanno 2000: 4
- Kano-Podolsky 2004: 74
- Iwabuchi, Koichi (1994). "Complicit exoticism: Japan and its other". In Tom O'Regan. The Australian Journal of Media and Culture 8 (2). Retrieved 2007-11-09.
- Kanno, Yasuko (2000). "Bilingualism and Identity" (PDF). International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 3 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1080/13670050008667697. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- Fry, Rieko (2007). "Perspective shifts and a theoretical model relating to kaigaishijo and kikokushijo, or third culture kids in a Japanese context". Journal of Research in International Education 6 (2): 131–50. doi:10.1177/1475240907078610.
- Kano Podolsky, Momo (2004-01-31). "Crosscultural upbringing: A comparison of the "Third Culture Kids" framekwork and "Kaigai/Kikokushijo" studies" (PDF). Gendai Shakai Kenkyū 6: 67–78. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- Pang, Ching-Lin (February 2000). Negotiating Identity in Contemporary Japan: The Case of the Kikokushijo. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-7103-0651-2.
- Goodman, Roger (1990). Japan's "International Youth": The Emergence of a New Class of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-827897-7.