HomeAsia-Pacific Social Science Reviewvol. 14 no. 2 (2014)

The Paradox of Immigration Politics: Revisiting the Dynamics of Philippine Nikkeijin Labor Migration

Ron Bridget Vilog

Discipline: Culture



Under the 1990 Immigration Control Act, nikkeijin or descendants of Japanese nationals who were born in foreign countries were granted limited rights to reside and work in Japan. Notwithstanding the contradictions of the policy framework,nikkeijin migration remains dynamic and robust. Impelled by socio-economic and cultural factors, Filipino nikkeijin have demonstrated an enduring cycle of migration, indicating socio-economic and cultural embeddedness within the host society. Thus, this paper discussed how Filipino nikkeijin acquired their nikkei recognition, initiated the migration process, and sustained massive flow despite Japan’s problematic immigration policies. Exploring the notion of Tsuda’s (1999) “structural embeddedness,” the paper highlights the role of generation upgrading and transnational practices in sustaining migration. Using the narratives of 60 third-generation nikkeijin workers in Aichi Prefecture, I argued that the paradox of immigration politics remained systemic and detrimental to social integration. Notably, the influx of “opportunity” nikkeijin migrants from the Philippines needs further attention as this movement offers potential remedies to Japan’s demographic problems. It is therefore necessary to scrutinize the “disconnect” between the policy framework and actual migration trends, and the socio-cultural and political landscape that determine the pattern of nikkeijin mobility between Japan and the Philippines.