Towards Local Citizenship: Japanese Cities Respond to International Migration (Working Paper #30)

Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak, New College of the University of South Florida

Summary: The argument I will present is based on research I conducted primarily over a 16 month period beginning in January 1995, which I published under the title “Foreigners are local citizens, too” in a book edited by Mike Douglass and Glenda Roberts, Japan and Global Migration. This paper updates that argument with data I gathered during a short trip back to Japan this past summer. I also want to share some new thoughts I have regarding the consequences of Japanese cities’ responses to international migration for Japanese notions of citizenship.

The central premise of my argument is that since international migration unevenly affects particular cities and regions, politicization of immigration will frequently be driven by actors motivated by local conditions and needs. Accordingly, our studies of the politics of migration should look to both center and periphery, to interactions between institutions of local and national governance.

This paper is divided into four sections. I begin by briefly summarizing the new international migration to Japan that began in the 1980s. Next, I introduce the activities engaged in by four Japanese cities in response to that immigration. Third, I make my argument regarding the political sources of these activities. Finally, I discuss the consequences of these policies.

Working Paper #30»