Why has Japan’s immigration policy remained so restrictive, especially in light of economic, demographic, and international political forces that are pushing Japan to admit more immigrants? Michael Strausz will answer this question by drawing on insights from nearly two years of intensive field research in Japan. Ultimately, he will argue that Japan’s immigration policy has remained restrictive for two reasons. First, Japan’s labor-intensive businesses have failed to defeat anti-immigration forces within the Japanese state, particularly those in the Ministry of Justice and the Japanese Diet. Second, no influential strain of elite thought in postwar Japan exists to support the idea that significant numbers of foreign nationals have a legitimate claim to residency and citizenship.
In addition to an overview of postwar Japan’s immigration control policy, this presentation provide context to recent developments in Japanese immigration policy – particularly the December 2018 decision to admit more than 300,000 low skilled foreign laborers.
Michael Strausz is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of Asian Studies at Texas Christian University. He earned his BA in international relations and Japanese from Michigan State University and his MA and PhD in political science from the University of Washington. His book, Help (Not) Wanted: Immigration Politics in Japan will be published with SUNY Press in August, and he has published a number of other articles and book chapters about topics including Japan’s immigration policy and Japanese whaling. His research has been funded by grants from the Japan Foundation and the Fulbright Foundation, and he is a member of Cohort III of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation ’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future.