Session Abstract: Japan is increasingly opening its borders to migrant workers, tourists, and international students. This panel considers how migration, broadly construed, is managed by stakeholders both formal and informal. As businesses seek labor, universities seek enrollments, and retailers seek customers, their pragmatic embrace of foreign bodies might seem to portend a more diverse future for Japanese society. At the same time, conflict over differing expectations about who is included, how they are included, and whether they are expected to integrate into Japanese society or ultimately return calls into question how further diversification of Japanese society might take place, if at all. Migration and domestic minority populations are not new in Japan, despite notions of Japanese homogeneity. How do new migrants fit into the disjunctures between official expectations of the role they might play, and the actual expectations of the stakeholders who work most closely with them? What happens in the grounded spaces of interaction and negotiation that characterize human movement across borders the time of COVID-19? How are stakeholders like universities, government bodies, entrepreneurs, and unions shaping the conversation around migration, and what are the social forces beyond the influence of intended policy? This panel will address these questions with four papers that take up distinct angles in sociology and anthropology to assess international education policy and employment pipelines, how local communities and farmers have negotiated short-term labor programs and expatriate life, and finally, how occupational- and ethnic- minority communities have engaged boom/bust cycles of tourism in Tokyo's Kabukicho entertainment district.
Paper Presenter: Glenda Roberts – Waseda University
Co-author: Noriko Fujita, PhD – Osaka University of Economics
Paper Presenter: Ryoko Yamamoto – SUNY Old Westbury
Paper Presenter: Nora Kottmann – German Institute of Japanese Studies
Paper Presenter: Nathaniel M. Smith – University of Arizona