Ethnosexual frontiers in queer Tokyo: the production of racialised desire in Japan

Thomas Baudinette*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Recent years have seen a worrying rise in anti-Korean and anti-Chinese xenophobia in Japan. This xenophobia has pervaded many aspects of Japanese society, and the gay male community in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ni-chōme is no exception. Drawing upon an ethnographic study of Ni-chōme and interviews conducted with Japanese, Chinese and South Korean men, this article utilises Nagel's theory of the ethnosexual frontier to examine how certain racial identities are rendered illegitimate in Ni-chōme. I argue that the stratification of Ni-chōme into spaces where only certain ‘racialised desires’ (minzokuteki na seiyoku) are legitimated reflects broader ideologies of racial identity that circulate throughout Japanese society. I discuss how Chinese and South Korean men understand themselves as ‘ethnosexual sojourners’ who visit Japan to form long-lasting romantic relationships with Japanese men, striving to adopt Japanese ethnosexual mores. I juxtapose the Chinese and South Korean men's narratives with the voices of Japanese gay men who ambivalently position Chinese and South Korean tourists as a threat to the status quo of the Japanese gay sub-culture. I suggest that these men draw upon neo-colonial discourses of China and South Korea as ‘backward’, which circulate throughout wider Japanese society to position Chinese and South Korean men as ‘ethnosexual invaders’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-485
Number of pages21
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • ethnosexuality
  • queer Japan
  • queer space
  • race
  • sexual politics
  • xenophobia


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