In This Review

Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies
Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies
By Erin Aeran Chung
Cambridge University Press, 2020, 270 pp.

Shrinking birthrates and growing life expectancy have created a crisis of aging in East Asian societies, but a commitment to ethnocultural purity prevents the obvious fix: immigration. Most immigrants, if they can stay in the countries at all, must retain their foreign citizenship, sometimes for generations; only foreign brides are normally allowed to naturalize. In recent decades, however, immigrants have achieved some new rights in the three East Asian democracies studied in this book—Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In each case, civil society actors drove the process in different ways. Progress has been slowest in Taiwan, where the pro-immigrant movement was overshadowed by stronger movements concerned with protecting jobs, increasing respect for aboriginal communities, and asserting Taiwan’s separate identity from China. In Japan, local governments and volunteer groups provided services for foreigners similar to those available to citizens. The strongest support for immigrants emerged in South Korea, where the progressive labor, religious, and human rights movements that grew out of the struggle for democracy in the 1980s fought for a full range of labor protections for guest workers. But in all three places, even naturalized immigrants continue to face discrimination. Chung’s informative study offers a fresh view on political movements and racial attitudes in Asian democracies.