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Kan Kimura


Kobe University, Kobe, Japan


Foreign immigrants to South Korea are transforming the demographic map of the nation. Survey findings have revealed that the rapid influx of foreigners into South Korea since the year of 2000 has brought about a population increase that has surpassed initial government predictions. In contrast, Japan continues to restrict foreign nationals, in spite of sharp decreasing of national population. But why did such a difference in the respective policies of Japan and South Korea regarding foreign workers and immigration, and citizenship, suddenly come into existence after the year of 2000? This paper addresses this single question, and answers to the question that the differences of political opportunity structures around immigration policies in these two countries matter. Firstly, in Japan, the business sectors which want to have more immigrants have difficulties in reestablishing the strong relations with ruling parties but South Korean business still keeps the smooth relations with conservative governments. Secondly, Japanese labor unions regard immigrants as a serious threat against their members’ jobs, but immigrant issues are understood as one of the human rights issues against which unions have to work. Thirdly, anti-immigrants groups in Japan are given chances to bring their message through traditional media such as TVs, but the doors of traditional media are closed for the groups in South Korea.


Japan, South Korea, immigration, nationalism

Cite this paper

Sociology Study, August 2016, Vol. 6, No. 8, 490-507


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