The special issue 'Rethinking Race and Racism from Japanese Experiences' explores how racism operates in modern Japan. This article contributes to that exploration by examining how racism is situated within a nexus of interrelated forms of discrimination and marginalization. In the article I propose the notion of 'semi-citizenship' as one framework which can help us to go beyond unfruitful zero-sum-game visions of marginalization put forward by racist groups such as the Zaitokukai in Japan. Rather than envisioning a dichotomous contrast between 'citizen' and 'non-citizen', the idea of semi-citizenship allows us to think of a range of different sets of social positions stretching towards the idealized vision of the 'full citizen'. We can then start to consider how such social positions are distributed within modern societies, how they are influenced by factors such as ethnicity, gender and physical and mental attributes, and how the distribution changes over time. This approach offers a common ground on which various kinds of marginalization may be related and understood together, potentially providing a basis for collaborative work to create a more equitable Japanese society.