Colonialism, Migration and Fear of the Foreign in Japan

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    Issues of immigration and the rights of foreigners in Japan have been the focus of much debate in recent years. On the one hand, the spectre of falling birth-rates and declining population have encouraged some far reaching proposals to open Japanese society to much larger flows of immigration. On the other, the current economic crisis and rising unemployment have been accompanied by growing signs of unease about the presence of foreign workers in Japan. Meanwhile, Japan has begun very cautiously to increase its acceptance of asylum seekers, and has quietly allowed the resettlement on its shores of almost 200 "returnee-refugees" from North Korea. In this article, I argue that current debates about immigration, refugees and foreign residents in Japan cannot be understood without tracing a process of repeated border crossings that goes back to the days of the prewar Japanese empire. Beginning from the present and working backward, I seek to trace these border-crossings, and to show how the shadows of empire are still today cast across Japanese discourse about migration and foreigners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-62
    JournalThe Journal of Social Science: Shakai Kagaku Kenkyu
    Volume86, 2010
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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