Until the early 2000s, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan shared restrictive immigration policies, descent-based nationality laws, and exclusionary practices toward immigrants. These analogous policies and practices, however, generated dramatically divergent patterns of immigrant incorporation from the mid-2000s. In Korea, the arrival of migrant labor fueled centralized rights-based movements and, eventually, national-level rights-based legislation. Although few structural reforms followed the arrival of recent immigrants to Japan, social welfare provisions for foreign residents already settled within Japan are among the most generous of industrial democracies. Finally, while Taiwan was the first among the three countries to implement a guest worker program in 1989, it has been the slowest in addressing immigrant rights and welfare, labor protections for migrant workers, and local support services for foreign residents.
How do we explain divergent patterns of immigrant incorporation in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan given the similarities between each country’s immigration and citizenship policies, their overlapping immigrant populations largely from neighboring Asian countries, and their common dilemmas of accommodating social diversity while adhering to liberal democratic principles? Based on in-depth interviews with immigrants, pro-immigrant activists, and government officials, focus groups with the major foreign resident groups in all three countries, and questionnaires, this book prioritizes the role played by civil society actors—including migrants themselves—in giving voice to migrant interests, mobilizing migrant actors, and shaping public debate and policy on immigration. Departing from the dominant scholarship on immigrant incorporation that focuses on national cultures or traditions, domestic political elites, and international norms, I argue that civil society actors drew on existing strategies previously applied to incorporate historically marginalized groups, or what I call civic legacies, to confront the challenges of immigrant incorporation. Rather than determining the paths available to later generations, civic legacies provide civil society actors with ideas, networks, and strategies for making claims to the state, swaying public opinion, organizing activists, and building networks between and among state and non-state actors. As the first English-language book comparing three countries that represent a single model of immigrant incorporation in East Asia, Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies proposes to shed insights into the gaps between policy intent, interpretation, and outcomes.
Erin Aeran Chung is the Charles D. Miller Associate Professor of East Asian Politics in the Department of Political Science and the Co-Director of the Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship (RIC) Program at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She specializes in East Asian political economy, international migration, and comparative racial politics. She has been a Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future Program Scholar (2012-2014), an SSRC Abe Fellow at the University of Tokyo (2009-2010) and Korea University (2010), an advanced research fellow at Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Program on U.S.-Japan Relation (2003-2004), and a Japan Foundation fellow at Saitama University (1998-1999). Her first book, Immigration and Citizenship in Japan, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010 and translated into Japanese and published by Akashi Shoten in 2012. She is currently completing her second book, Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies, under contract at Cambridge University Press.