Message posted on 03/05/2024

[ONLINE lecture] May 8 (10am, CET)/ 17:00 JST “From Side Doors to Skill-Level Shifts: Japanese Labor Migration Policy and Its Impact on Ethnic Diversity” by Prof. Chikako Kashiwazaki (Keio University)

Dear members,

We are organizing our first lecture as a part of Research Forum =E2=80=9CDiversifying Immigrant Societies in (East) Asia=E2=80=9D by the In= stitute of East Asian Studies (IN-EAST) in the University of Duisburg-Essen. This forum is co-organized with collaborative research project QuaMaFA (Qualification and Skill in the Migration =C2=ADProcess of Foreign Workers in Asia) funded by = the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF). Prof. Kashiwazaki will give a talk entitled =E2=80=9CFrom side doors to skill-le= vel shifts: Japanese labor migration policy and its impact on ethnic diversity= =E2=80=9D on 8th May 2024, 10 (am/CET) / 17:00 (JST) ONLINE.

You can join this lecture via Zoom (registration): H43O

Look forward to seeing you all online!


The 2018 revision to Japanese immigration control law introduced new residential statuses, =E2=80=9CSpecified Skilled Worker=E2=80=9D Types 1 an= d 2, and was widely reported as a significant policy change. The scheme certainly seemed novel in that it would apparently open the =E2=80=9Cfront door=E2=80=9D for= foreign labor, with a prospect for long-term settlement. However, was it really a major departure from the previous Japanese policy toward labor migration? What implications does this new opening have for the acceptance of ethnic diversity in Japan?

To tackle these questions, I revisit the late 1980s to early 1990s when the question of accepting foreign workers was a subject of heated debate in Japan. There were two major events: the revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which went into effect in 1990, and the launching of the Technical Intern Training Program in 1993.

My contention is that the 2018 legal change was similar to, and an outgrowth of, the pattern observed three decades earlier. Between 1990 and 1993, =E2=80=9Cside doors=E2=80=9D were enlarged as alternatives to the =E2= =80=9Cfront door.=E2=80=9D Likewise, in the 2018 law, skill categories were redefined to incorporate a broader set of occupations into what was acceptable as =E2=80=9Cskilled wor= kers.=E2=80=9D I will also discuss potential negative impact of the drive to increase migrant workers on efforts to develop an ethnically inclusive society.


Chikako KASHIWAZAKI is Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Keio University. She earned a Doctorate in Sociology from Brown University. Her research interests include ethnicity, citizenship, nationalism, and immigration policies. She has published articles and book chapters on the discursive aspects of Japanese immigration policies, social integration policies and programs at the local government level, and citizenship and identity issues concerning zainichi Koreans. She has also collaborated with local governments in conducting surveys and reviewing policy plans concerning foreign residents.

Dr. Aimi Muranaka (=E6=9D=91=E4=B8=AD =E3=81=82=E3=81=84=E3=81=BF=EF=BC=89 Post-doc/ Research Associate Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen Tel (Germany): +49 203 379-2166 Research project website: Latest publications: Muranaka, Aimi (2024): "Being a Foreigner During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Researcher Positionality in Online Interviews". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 25(1). Muranaka, Aimi (2023): "'Framing' and 'Packaging' of Foreign Skilled Workers: Diversity of the Intermediary Actors in the Cross-Border Labour Market Between Japan and Vietnam". Globalizations. DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2023.2165376 Tran, Huy An and Aimi Muranaka (2022): "Editorial - Transnational Flows of Contemporary Asia: Trends and Futures". The German Journal on Contemporary Asia. 162/163: 7-14. Muranaka, Aimi (2022): "Brokerage in the cross-border labour market: Recruitment and training of Vietnamese IT workers by Japanese temporary staffing firms". Asian Studies Review. 46(4): 578-596. DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2022.2093836

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