Vogt, Gabriele GND

Japan faces population aging and shrinking. It is in particular the workforce that sees a rapid numerical decline. The manifold challenges that arise from this development are well researched, and so are most of their potential countermeasures. One of these, however, seems to be only marginally present in the discourse about Japan’s demographic change, if at all: the discourse about international labor migration. De jure, Japan does not allow for larger, systematic influxes of foreign workers. De facto, however, migration does take place through a variety of (mostly legal) channels. The economic impact of international labor migrants is cherished, yet politics and society at first glance still largely ignore their existence. This special issue of Contemporary Japan focuses on how Japan copes with population aging and a shrinking workforce in an age of accelerated international migration flows. Questions that are being addressed include the following: What are the reasons behind the prevailing gap between the positioning of political, economic, and societal actors toward international migration to Japan? How does Japan’s demographic change impact the nation’s migration policy? To what extent does public opinion shape the political developments?

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