Foreign Labour without Foreign Residents? The question of social integration for migrants in Japan's agriculture.


This presentation questions newcomer migrant labor in Japan, from the perspectives of various stakeholders: the government, farmers and other employers, and local communities. Migrant labor schemes have existed in Japan under the guise ofhomeland visitation (Brazilian Japanese workers since 1990) and ‘Technical Interns and Trainees’ (TITP, widely understood as short-term workers in the guise of ‘training’, since 1993). The latest scheme, however, is a genuine ‘front-door’ short-term labor scheme. Former Prime Minister Abe insisted strongly and repeatedly that this is not a move toward opening the country for immigration. How do the stakeholders see it? What sort of social inclusion, if any, do they envision for these newcomer migrant workers? Do local communities see these workers as desirable or as threats, and to what extent do they influence how the labor schemes are operated? How is the new system coordinated in tandem with TITP? We seek to answer these questions from our fieldwork in Aichi and Kyoto prefectures in 2019-2021, tracing from pre-to post-inception of the new scheme.


Glenda S. Roberts obtained her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1986.  After holding research and academic positions in Honolulu Glenda S. Roberts obtained her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1986.  After holding research and academic positions in Glenda S. Roberts obtained her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1986.  After holding research and academic positions in Honolulu from 1988, she has lived and worked in Japan since 1996, first at the University of Tokyo Institute of Social Sciences, and then, from 1998 to the present, at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies of Waseda University, where she is Professor. Her major areas of research are gender, work, family, and migration policy in contemporary Japan Her current research project on immigration is “Inclusion and integration of diversity:  Employers, newcomer migrant workers, and their communities in Japan,” funded by JSPS. 

Noriko Fujita, Ph.D., is Adjunct Researcher at Waseda University Institute for Asia-Pacific Studies and Lecturer at Osaka University of Economics. Her ethnographic research focuses on gender, labor, and family issues in contemporary Japan. Her publications include articles, “Corporate Transfers for Dual-Career Couples: From Gendered Tenkin to Gender-Equal Negotiations?” (Social Science Japan Journal, 24 (1) [2021]: pp. 163-83) and “Tenkin, New Marital Relationships, Women’s Challenges in Employment and Family” (U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, 50 [2016]: pp. 115-35). Her current studies, funded by JSPS, focus on two phenomena which show signs of change in contemporary Japanese society. One is a transformation of migration policies for new comer foreign workers in Japan. The other is a recent increase of the number of pets in Japanese families. Through qualitative research of the actors and various stakeholders, she seeks to answer why and how these phenomena are occurring, and then attempts to imagine the future of Japanese society. She can be reached at

A recording of this seminar is available here 


The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 


Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute