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Unbenanntes Dokument

ASIEN 124 (Juli 2012)

The German Journal on Contemporary Asia

Editor: Günter Schucher
Editorial Manager: Benedikt Skowasch
Editorial Assistants: Yingjun Gao, Amanda Kovacs
Proof Reading: Carl Carter

ASIEN 2008



Patrick Köllner
A Focus on Asian Autocracies [Full text]




Gabriele Vogt, Ruth Achenbach
International Labor Migration to Japan: Current Models and Future Outlook [Full text]


David Chiavacci
Japan in the “Global War for Talent”: Changing Concepts of Valuable Foreign Workers and Their Consequences [Full text / Abstract]


Glenda S. Roberts
Vocalizing the “I” Word: Proposals and Initiatives on Immigration to Japan from the LDP and Beyond [Full text / Abstract]


Gabriele Vogt, Phoebe Holdgrün
Gender and Ethnicity in Japan’s Health-Care Labor Market [Full text / Abstract]


Reiko Ogawa
Conceptualizing Transnational Migration of Care Workers: Between “Skilled” and “Unskilled” [Full text / Abstract]


Stephen Robert Nagy
From Temporary Migrant to Integrated Resident: Local Government Approaches to Migrant Integration in the Tokyo Metropolis [Full text / Abstract]


Ruth Achenbach
Networks in Transition: Migration Decisions in the Life Course of Highly Skilled Chinese in Japan [Full text / Abstract]


Gracia Liu-Farrer
Ambiguous Concepts and Unintended Consequences: Rethinking Skilled Migration in View of Chinese Migrants’ Economic Outcomes in Japan [Full text / Abstract]


Dietrich Thränhardt
Immigration Challenges in Japan and Germany [Full text / Abstract]




  • Zwei Konferenzen zum 150. Geburtstag von Rabindranath Tagore (Arabella Unger)
  • Jahrestagung der China-AG, Institut für Sinologie an der LMU München, 04. Februar 2012 (Katharina Markgraf)
  • Samoa: 50 Jahre Unabhängigkeit. Konferenz zur Jahrestagung des deutschen Pazifik-Netzwerks, Berlin, 10.-12. Februar 2012 (Andreas Holtz)
  • Sozialwissenschaftlicher China-Workshop „Iserlohn 2012“, Iserlohn, 11.-12. Februar 2012 (René Trappel)
  • Mittelmeer oder Pazifik? Europas Platz im asiatisch-pazifischen Jahrhundert, Berliner Colloquium, Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik, 20.-22. März 2012 (Michael Summerer)
  • 14th Jaina Studies Symposium: Biodiversity Conservation and Animal Rights: Religious and Philosophical Perspectives, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Centre for Jaina Studies, 21.-22. März 2012 (Arabella Unger)
  • Diskriminierung in Indien, Gemeindehaus der Ev. Dreifaltigkeitsgemeinde, Frankfurt am Main, 19. April 2012 (Jona Aravind Dohrmann)
  • New Mobilities and Evolving Identities: Islam, Youth and Gender in South and Southeast Asia, Humboldt-Universität und Freie Universität zu Berlin, 20.-21. April 2012 (Nadja-Christina Schneider)



  • Wilhelm Hofmeister (Hg.): Asia and Europe. Moving Towards a Common Agenda (Armin Müller)
  • Malcolm McKinnon: Asian Cities. Globalization, Urbanization and Nation-Building (Katharina Corleis)
  • Tatjana Thimm, Walter Freyer (Hgg.): Indien-Tourismus. Märkte Strukturen Tendenzen (Dorith Altenburg)
  • Michael von Hauff (Hg.): Indien. Herausforderungen und Perspektiven (Pierre Gottschlich)
  • Akifumi Kuchiki, Masatsugu Tsuji (Hgg.): Industrial Clusters, Upgrading and Innovation in East Asia (Peter Mayer)
  • Gotelind Müller (Hg.): Designing History in East Asian Textbooks. Identity Politics and Transnational Aspirations (Ylva Monschein)
  • Mark O’Neill, Tzu Chi: Serving with Compassion (Lukas Pokorny)
  • Shu-Yun Ma: Shareholding System Reform in China. Privatizing by Groping for Stones (Matthias Stepan)
  • Kimberley Ens Manning, Felix Wemheuer (Hgg.): Eating Bitterness. New Perspectives on China’s Great Leap Forward and Famine (Martin Böke)
  • Björn Alpermann: China's Cotton Industry. Economic Transformation and State Capacity (René Trappel)
  • Aiming Wang: Church in China. Faith, Ethics, Structure. The Heritage of the Reformation for the Future of the Church in China (Manfred Hutter)
  • Suk Hi Kim, Terence Roehrig, Bernhard Seliger (Hgg.): The Survival of North Korea. Essays on Strategy, Economics and International Relations (Nick Gemmell)



  • Konferenzankündigungen: August bis Oktober 2012







Japan in the “Global War for Talent”: Changing Concepts of Valuable Foreign Workers and Their Consequences

David Chiavacci

In recent years, under the influence of the “global war for talent,” labor immigration policies in more developed economies (MDE) have been characterized by a dichotomization regarding foreign workers’ skills. While the immigration of highly skilled foreign workers is now being actively promoted, low-skilled immigration is being curbed by increasingly restrictive regulations. According to official immigration policy, Japan is an example par excellence of this pattern among MDE. However, in contradiction to its official immigration policy and like many other MDE, Japan has been experiencing a continuous inflow of non-highly skilled foreign workers and is structurally dependent on them today. This paper analyzes changing concepts of valuable foreign workers in Japan over the last three decades and their consequences. Who exactly a “valuable” foreign worker is is a highly contested question. It lies at the heart of Japan’s immigration policy debates and is embedded in changing ideational perceptions of immigration. Three reform periods in immigration policy and their long-term consequences are analyzed here: (1) the plan for increasing the number of foreign students as part of Japan’s internationalization in the 1980s; (2) the first reform debate in reaction to new irregular immigration around 1990; and (3) the second reform debate in view of Japan’s long-term demographic development in recent years.

Keywords: Japan, immigration, immigration policy, highly skilled workers, foreign students, foreign trainees, nikkeijin, entertainer visa

Vocalizing the “I” Word: Proposals and Initiatives on Immigration to Japan from the LDP and Beyond

Glenda S. Roberts

In recent years, various influential voices in Japan have proposed that the country open itself to immigration, in one form or another, as a partial solution to revitalize the economy, to prop up the demographic decline, and in recognition of already present streams of migrants who entered through “side” or “back” doors. Where will Japan go from here? This paper traces connections between developments in migration policy in recent years by examining relevant discourses on migration from government policy reports, interviews with bureaucrats, politicians and civil society organization representatives and other stakeholders. While pro-immigration voices are present, the prospect for any “opening up” of Japan remains murky, due in no small part to the failures evident in various policies that have been put forward up to this point as well as to the economic recessions of the past two decades, exacerbated by the disastrous earthquake and nuclear accident of 3/11. The “I” word remains contested.

Keywords: Japan, immigration policy, population decline, civil society organizations, multicultural coexistence, stakeholders

Gender and Ethnicity in Japan’s Health-Care Labor Market

Gabriele Vogt, Phoebe Holdgrün

As the socialization, privatization, and internationalization of health-caregiving proceeds, in many industrialized nations the health-care business, which was often a gendered labor market to begin with, is now evolving as a labor market at the intersection of gender and ethnicity. This paper addresses a bipolar concept of invisibility—and potential vulnerability—of female labor migrants through the lens of gender and ethnicity in the health-care labor market in Japan. It does so by introducing the roles both dimensions play in Japan’s labor market in general and in the health-care sector in particular. Juxtaposing two different groups, namely longtime foreign residents of Japan entering the health-care business as a second career option on the one hand and newly arrived health-caregivers from Southeast Asia on the other hand, the paper first highlights the commonalities and differences in the way gender and ethnicity impact the structures of life and work in Japan for the two groups. Secondly, the paper looks at the interlocking dimension of gender and ethnicity and provides some insights into the intersectionality of these factors in Japan’s labor world.

Keywords: Japan, labor market, health care, migration, gender, ethnicity, intersectionality

Conceptualizing Transnational Migration of Care Workers: Between “Skilled” and “Unskilled”

Reiko Ogawa

The demographic change, resulting from a low fertility rate and an aging society, has led policy makers and business sectors to rethink Japan’s future population prospects. Although Japan has been considered an anomaly among the industrial democracies in not depending on foreign labor to pursue its economic goals, the acceptance of highly skilled migrants is being discussed as one option to cope with depopulation and maintain Japan’s economic growth strategy. In line with immigration policy, migration of nurses and care workers from Southeast Asian countries started in 2008 upon the establishment of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) between Japan and the Philippines, and Japan and Indonesia. The migratory framework was shaped by professional organizations in a way that protects the domestic market and working conditions, and it mandates that the migrants pass the national exam on nursing and caregiving within a certain period of time. This paper will elaborate the policy factors that either enable or hinder the movement of nurses and care workers to Japan under the EPA, especially focusing on the skill of care workers three years after its implementation. Although the EPA theoretically opens up a path for migrants to work under the same conditions as Japanese once they pass the exam, in practice the skills of care workers have often been contested. How Japan defines care work and how it incorporates migrants into the care regime will shape Japan’s future immigration policy, labor policy and social welfare policy.

Keywords: migration, care work, skill, Southeast Asia, Japan, Economic Partnership Agreement

From Temporary Migrant to Integrated Resident: Local Government Approaches to Migrant Integration in the Tokyo Metropolis

Stephen Robert Nagy

In January 2011, the Tokyo Metropolis (TM) was home to more than 420,000 registered migrants, or 3.24 percent of the total metropolitan population. At the micro level, local governments in the TM such as Shinjuku have populations of migrants representing eleven percent of the population or more, implying that parts of Tokyo are becoming significant migrant abodes in a city and country known for its ethnic homogeneity. Local governments in the TM play prominent roles in integrating migrants into the local communities because of their proximity to local residents, legal responsibilities for residents in connection with the Local Government Law, and the absence of a state-led integration program. This paper comparatively examines the integration practices of two wards in the TM—Shinjuku and Adachi—using a policy approach. Specifically, using Esser’s model of social integration, the paper investigates the degree to which current Japanese local government integration practices in the TM overlap with traditional ideas of social integration. Employing Esser’s concepts of acculturation integration, interactive integration, and identificational and placement integration, the author argues that current integration policies are primarily service-based and not truly integrative in nature. The implications of these findings are that migrants will continue to remain in a peripheral position in the TM and indeed Japan in general, as existing policies do not create a bridge enabling migrants to make a transition from being temporary migrants to an accepted, integrated minority.

Keywords: Japan, Tokyo, local government, multicultural coexistence, social integration, migrants

Networks in Transition: Migration Decisions in the Life Course of Highly Skilled Chinese in Japan

Ruth Achenbach

In recent years, Japan has increased its efforts to recruit highly qualified Chinese migrants; on the other side of that coin, China has also made efforts to bring its highly qualified emigrants back home. These students and workers fulfill important functions connecting the two countries economically, culturally and academically. Yet, it is not clear how migrants decide where and when to move. This paper focuses on individual decision-making processes and analyzes the importance of family responsibilities, social and professional networks, and career planning in a life-course framework.

Keywords: Japan, China, circular migration, highly skilled, students, life course, decision-making processes

Ambiguous Concepts and Unintended Consequences: Rethinking Skilled Migration in View of Chinese Migrants’ Economic Outcomes in Japan

Gracia Liu-Farrer

Immigration policy makers tend to have preexisting notions about categories such as “international students” and “skilled” or “unskilled” migrants. They often design and implement immigration policies according to the observable labor shortage at any given time. There are two caveats in this approach. First, these common-sense categories adopted in immigration policy making are in reality highly ambiguous concepts. Such ambiguity leads to unintended policy consequences. Second, migration trends evolve in an interaction between individual migrant characteristics and socio-institutional contexts; it is impossible for national policies to dictate the outcomes of migration. Increasingly globalized and market-driven economic processes render it futile or even counterproductive for national governments to control who they want and who they do not want. This paper uses the migration outcomes of Chinese migrants in Japan to substantiate these arguments. First, it shows the diversity of international students as a category of migrants as well as the blurred boundary between skilled and unskilled labor. It describes the context-specific nature of “skills” and the development of real skills from “unskilled” labor. Second, the economic and social practices of Chinese migrants in Japan, through their niche occupations in Japanese firms’ transnational business, their entrepreneurship, and their cross-border living arrangements all indicate that immigrants, skilled or not, contribute to the Japanese economy and Japanese sociocultural life in ways that are not foreseen or prescribed in immigration policies.

Keywords: Japan, migration, Chinese students, skilled labor, unskilled labor

Immigration Challenges in Japan and Germany

Dietrich Thränhardt

With its stubborn denial of immigration except for the highly qualified, Japan has long been considered a strange outlier among the rich nations. However, it is quite ironic that these days all other rich countries have adopted this mantra: let in the best and the brightest, keep out the unqualified. All over Europe there is talk that “we got the wrong migrants” (Sarkozy). Germany and other countries have developed plans to attract specialists, and to become less attractive for other immigrants. No other country is as effective in deportation as is Japan. The widely praised point systems, particularly in Canada and Australia, are clearly efficient in bringing in highly qualified people but not in placing them into highly qualified jobs. High percentages of qualified immigrants are working below qualification in all countries, and thus do not help countries to become more competitive. In all OECD countries, highly qualified immigrants suffer from “brain waste.” Consequently, Germany and Japan, confronted by particular demographic challenges, should open up their labor markets, set minimum wage standards for immigrants, start large-scale student immigration schemes, and do away with impediments and red tape in both public and private life.

Keywords: Japan, Germany, immigration policy, skilled migrants, circular migration, migration models