Fighting for Foreigners: Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy

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9780801447150: Fighting for Foreigners: Immigration and Its Impact on Japanese Democracy

Although stereotypically homogenized and hostile to immigrants, Japan has experienced an influx of foreigners from Asia and Latin America in recent decades. In Fighting for Foreigners, Apichai W. Shipper details how, in response, Japanese citizens have established a variety of local advocacy groups―some faith based, some secular―to help immigrants secure access to social services, economic equity, and political rights.

Drawing on his years of ethnographic fieldwork and a pragmatic account of political motivation he calls associative activism, Shipper asserts that institutions that support illegal foreigners make the most dramatic contributions to democratic multiculturalism. The changing demographics of Japan have been stimulating public discussions, the political participation of marginalized groups, and calls for fair treatment of immigrants. Nongovernmental organizations established by the Japanese have been more effective than the ethnically particular associations formed by migrants themselves, Shipper finds. Activists who initially work in concert to solve specific and local problems eventually become more ambitious in terms of political representation and opinion formation.

As debates about the costs and benefits of immigration rage across the developed world, Shipper's research offers a refreshing new perspective: rather than undermining democracy in industrialized society, immigrants can make a positive institutional contribution to vibrant forms of democratic multiculturalism.

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From the Back Cover:

"Fighting for Foreigners is an interesting and thoughtful intervention on the subject of immigration in Japan. It is crisply written and based on very impressive research. Apichai W. Shipper's exposure of crucial (and disheartening) tensions between ethnic organizations and illegal immigrants in Japan is particularly incisive and valuable. It will be as welcome a contribution to debates about Asian diasporas as it will be to those on Japanese social politics."-David Leheny, Henry Wendt III '55 Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University

"Many scholars have of late concerned themselves with demonstrating the multicultural nature of the Japanese society against the conventional view of a homogeneous Japan. In Fighting for Foreigners, Apichai W. Shipper goes beyond simple demonstration, and paves the way toward an understanding of Japan as developing a multiethnic democracy through 'associative activism,' whereby numerous grassroots Japanese NGOs support illegal foreigners residing in Japan. This is a pathbreaking work in conceptualizing a Japan in which increasing numbers of foreigners, legal and illegal, will be working and staying in the foreseeable future."--Harumi Befu, Stanford University

About the Author:


Apichai W. Shipper holds the Asia Regional Chair at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State and is Adjunct Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University.

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