National Aliens, Local Citizens? Immigration and Integration Politics in Japan in a Comparative Perspective


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


A global discrepancy is emerging between national and local-level approaches to immigrant integration. Nowhere is this more surprising than in Japan, where local governments’ extension of political, social, and cultural rights to foreign residents defies ethnically-defined norms of Japanese citizenship and nationhood, as well as the widely-held image of a powerfully centralized Japanese state. Through qualitative comparisons of six cities in Japan, this dissertation explains: 1) why such opportunities have been created for foreigners in Japan at all; 2) why this has happened at the local level; and 3) why in some places but not others. It subsequently cross-nationally compares the Japanese cases under examination with similar research being done on sub-national immigrant integration politics in other OECD countries.