The Impact of the Recent Economic Crisis on Unemployment Among Immigrants in Japan

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Abstract

This study explores how the contexts of immigrant reception were related to unemployment of immigrants in Japan during the global economic crisis in the 2000s. Little is known concerning what shaped unemployment of immigrants in institutional settings outside of North American and European countries during the financial crisis. This study focuses specifically on unskilled immigrants because this type of migrant worker has been highly vulnerable to economic cycles. We focused on Nikkeijin immigrants from Brazil and Peru and Asian immigrants from China, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam. We explored how immigrants’ unemployment in Japan was linked to immigration control policies, integration programs for refugees, labor market structures, and conditions of social capital. Empirical findings demonstrate that the trainee program strongly determined whether immigrants could remain in Japan during the unemployment period and that a significant difference in unemployment existed between Brazilian and Peruvian immigrants in Japan. Whereas ties with kin and co-ethnic friends did not help immigrants avoid unemployment, ties with Japanese spouses hindered unemployment among male immigrants, although this was not the case for female immigrants with Japanese spouses. Hence, immigrant unemployment depends considerably on how immigrants have been received in Japan. Conversely, we did not find any evidence of a positive role of the state government in mitigating immigrants’ unemployment in this study. Instead, the existing institutional context of immigrants’ reception in Japan has worsened the socioeconomic conditions of immigrants and strengthened their social marginalization, reflecting the lack of public debate regarding—and the lack of institutional support for—the integration of immigrants into the mainstream society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-585
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 1

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Keywords

  • Immigrants in Japan
  • Institutional arrangements
  • The global financial crisis
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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