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Colonial legacy of ethno-racial inequality in Japan

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Abstract

This essay challenges anti-historicist accounts that sever the link between the colonial past and present, replacing them with a more historically nuanced understanding of Japan’s immigration policies and their relation to ethno-racial inequality. Contrary to the dominant view that transnational immigration is new to Japan, this article shows that Japan already had a history of immigration in the early twentieth century, and this history generated a lasting impact on postwar immigration policies and their integration. While recognizing the impact of structural and individual factors, this essay underscores a path-dependent approach that demonstrates how colonial exclusion led to the formation of a durable structure of inequality against low skilled labor immigrants, and thus how such a colonial legacy has continued to limit the life chances and integration of subsequent immigrants in Japan since the 1980s.

Keywords

  • Immigration Policy
  • Japanese Government
  • Trust Network
  • Korean Immigrant
  • Colonial Past

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Michael Hanagan for his helpful editorial feedback and Michael Schwartz, Daniel Levy, Kiyoteru Tsutusi, Harumi Befu, Ryoko Yamamoto, Jane Yamashiro, and Matthew Augustine for their insightful suggestions on earlier versions of this essay.

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Correspondence to Hwaji Shin .

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Shin, H. (2011). Colonial legacy of ethno-racial inequality in Japan. In: Hanagan, M., Tilly, C. (eds) Contention and Trust in Cities and States. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0756-6_5

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