April 3, 2015/ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

UCLA Haines Hall Room 279

From Sojourners to Cosmopolitans

Narratives of belonging among chinese newcomer immigrants in Japan

Photo: M. Bob via Flickr.


It has been three decades since the onset of contemporary migration from China to Japan. More and more Chinese immigrants have settled in Japanese society. However, Japan is yet to see itself as an “immigrant country”. Institutionally and culturally, it is ill adapted to integrate immigrants into its social and political life. Moreover, both Japan and China embrace narratives of unique ethno-national identities. Recurrent disputes over territories and reminders of Japan’s bellicose past suggest the incompatibility of identifications with both nations. How do Chinese immigrants understand their relationship with the host society and cultivate a sense of belonging in Japan, then? In particular, how do younger generations of Chinese immigrants who have grown up in Japan understand their identities? Based on 120 in-depth interviews with first, 1.5 and 2nd generation Chinese immigrants and participant observation at a Chinese language school, this study sketches different identity types among the first and 1.5/2nd generation immigrants and explains the mechanisms of their formation. It suggests that a form of cosmopolitan belonging has become both an escape and triumph among the younger generation of Chinese in the ethno-national social context.


Gracia Liu-Farrer is Professor of Sociology at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Japan. She leads the Migration and Citizenship Research Group at Waseda Center of Asia-Pacific Studies. Her current research projects include patterns of migration in and out of Asia; immigrants’ economic, social and political incorporation in Japan; identity and belonging of Chinese immigrants in ethno-national social contexts. She obtained her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Free & open to the public!

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA International Institute