In This Review
Open Borders, Open Society? Immigration and Social Integration in Japan

Open Borders, Open Society? Immigration and Social Integration in Japan

By Toake Endoh

Verlag Barbara Budrich, 2022, 210 pp.

Japan has alleviated its labor shortage by importing workers—currently totaling some three million—from China, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries through a variety of visa programs. Some have white-collar jobs, but most work in low-paid jobs in farms, fisheries, and small factories. Few of these migrants can hope to attain permanent residence in Japan. Those who overstay their visas are deported with little due process. Although Japan acceded to the UN Refugee Convention in 1981, in practice, the country remains almost completely closed to refugees and asylum seekers. Some local governments and NGOs try to assist and integrate immigrants, but public opinion and politicians remain committed to the notion of an ethnically homogeneous country, and even long-term foreign residents are denied access to language training and social services. The contributors to this revelatory volume condemn the country’s failure to come to grips with the fact that Japan is becoming a multiethnic society—whether it likes it or not.