On Friday, August 26th, the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*) hosted Prof. Gracia Liu-Farrer of Waseda University (Japan) in its in-person “Japan Politics & Society” multidisciplinary public speaker series. Dr. Liu-Farrer is Professor of Sociology at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, and Director of Institute of Asian Migration at Waseda University, Japan. Her research examines immigrants’ economic, social and political practices in Japan, and the global mobility of students and professional migrants.
Prof. Liu-Farrer’s campus engagement activities included a public seminar entitled “‘Safety’ in Ambiguity: Japan’s Immigration Policies and Practices,” as well as various meals and exchanges with 21JPSI-affiliated faculty throughout her stay on campus. Despite the unusual time—Friday morning at 10am—roughly two dozen IU faculty, students, and staff packed GA 2067 to hear Prof. Liu-Farrer speak about Japan’s migration and refugee policy.
During her remarks, Dr. Liu-Farrer highlighted the labor shortage and other challenges that Japan faces due to its “demographic crisis” of low fertility and population decline. Though she noted the country’s low percentage of immigrants among its population, she also identified Japan as “an immigrant society without acknowledging it”—often for political reasons. One major consequence is a conflict between perceived economic needs and political imperatives.
Dr. Liu-Farrer then detailed the various ambiguous and “patchwork” of “selective immigration policies through which the government manages to bring in workers from overseas, in many cases with conditions and for set periods of time rather than permanently. These include efforts to court highly skilled individuals, the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP), and the Specified Skilled Worker Program (SSW).
After concluding her remarks, Prof. Liu-Farrer engaged the audience packing the seminar room in a lively Q&A session, which featured questions on topics ranging from Japanese public opinion on migrant workers to the country’s various pathways toward permanent residency and citizenship.
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Seeded by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty line in contemporary Japanese politics and society; facilitated the creation of four new courses on contemporary Japan; launched a new multidisciplinary speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society, national conferences and webinars on U.S.-Japan relations, and academic manuscript workshops; and funded graduate fellowships and faculty travel grants to support field research in Japan. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.