May 20, 2016/ 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM

2016 Global Japan Forum - Politics of Migration

For three years, the Global Japan Forum will cover the theme of the interrelation between Japan and the world. Japan's relative engagement with or withdrawal from the world has always played an important role in discourse on Japan. Contemporary Japan is seemingly poised at a crucial juncture between these two poles: on the one hand, unprecedented numbers of Japanese live abroad, and Japanese culture enjoys a global popularity. On the other hand, leaders decry the apparent inward turn among younger generations, while the nation's immigration policy is often seen as overly restrictive. These interdisciplinary conferences will examine the history and present the state of Japan's engagement with the world, including the history of the Japanese diaspora around the globe and contemporary issues related to migration into and out of Japan. Despite enduring conceptions of the closed and coherent borders of national and ethnic identity, Japan has always been shaped by the movement of bodies, concepts, and things across national borders. In particular, Japan's entry into the modern world involved massive shifts and displacements of bodies, languages, and cultures as Japanese settlers spread throughout the world and the apparatus of empire brought many to Japan from Asia and beyond. What is the contemporary legacy—both in Japan and beyond—of this great dispersion? For example, what form did Japanese immigrant communities take in different parts of Latin America and Asia, and to what extent do such communities still function today? What kinds of social, cultural, and economic communication exist between Japan and the Japanese diaspora?

Politics of Migration

The Japanese population is ageing and shrinking, and its workforce is shrinking even more quickly. The economic arguments for increased immigration are clear and compelling. But even more than in most advanced industrial countries, the politics of immigration is fraught. Myths of cultural homogeneity and skepticism about foreign influences are deep-rooted in Japan, and if anything, twenty-five years of economic stagnation have caused more Japanese to question the benefits of openness to foreign trade and investment, to say nothing of the movement of people across its borders. Today’s conference, the third in the Terasaki Center’s ongoing examination of Japan in a global context, examines Japanese immigration policies, as well as attitudes toward, treatment of, and discourse about immigrants to Japan.

2016 topics include:

Japanese Immigration Policy in the 1990s: The Front, Side, and Backdoors
by Takeyuki Tsuda, ASU

Policies and Politics of International Students in Contemporary Japan by Ryoko Yamamoto, SUNY Old Westbury

Migration Industries and the State: Guestwork Programs in East Asia by Kristin Surak, SOAS University of London

What Explains Attitudes toward Immigrants? by Seiki Tanaka, University of Amsterdam

The Semantics of Immigration into Japan by Glenda Roberts, Waseda University

Migrant Integration in Japan – A Local Government Perspective by Keizo Yamawaki, Meiji University

The Political Incorporation of Latin American Nikkeijin in Japan by Michael Sharpe, York College CUNY


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