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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien



Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan

03 – 3222 5077
03 – 3222 5420



Axel Klein
Institute of East Asian Studies, Duisburg-Essen University
Daniel Kremers
German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ)

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The Politics of Migration in Japan

September 17, 2019

Over the last ten years the reported number of migrant workers in Japan has more than tripled, reaching almost 1.5 million in 2018. This unprecedented high number of foreigners migrating to work and live in Japan requires policy makers and academics to understand what is happening, why and how. We will take up the issue from the perspective of political science.

Very much like climate change was well predicted but not met with an early (or at least timely) political response, the need for migration into the ageing Japanese society remained a fringe topic on the political radar of national politics and mainstream media for a remarkably long time. Despite of all the robust predictions demographers made, without a sense of urgency, successive administrations chose to direct their attention to other issues.

An increasing number of Japanese had to deal with the consequences on their own: farmers who could not hire enough hands to work their fields, SME without a sufficient number of employees, care facilities with way too few trained personnel to provide adequate care for a growing number of senior citizens, and foreign citizens, of diverse nationalities and social backgrounds, many of them contributing to Japan’s economy and society by performing physically demanding and often dangerous tasks, not knowing whether Japan will one day become their home or not.

What do political parties have to say about the issue? What are their policy proposals, who is pushing them, and how high does immigration rank on the respective political agendas?


9:00 A.M. - 9:15 A.M.

Barbara Holthus (DIJ)

9:15 A.M. - 12:15 P.M.
Political Parties Present Their Migration Policies

(in Japanese)

12:15 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.
Lunch Break

1:30 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.
Panel 1: Japan’s Recent Immigration Policies and Their Effects

(in English)

Yasushi Iguchi (Kwansei University)
Chieko Kamibayashi (Hosei University)
Gracia Liu Farrer (Waseda University)
Sachi Takaya (Osaka University)

3:30 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Coffee Break

4:00 P.M. - 5:30 P.M.
Panel 2: Policy Making in Japan

(in English)

Kenneth Mori McElwain (The University of Tokyo)
Koichi Nakano (Sophia University)
Jun Okumura (Musashino Institute for Global Affairs)
Axel Klein (Duisburg-Essen University)