Help (Not) Wanted

Immigration Politics in Japan

By Michael Strausz

Subjects: Immigration, Political Science, Japanese Studies, Asian Studies, Comparative Politics
Hardcover : 9781438475516, 214 pages, August 2019
Paperback : 9781438475523, 214 pages, January 2020

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Shows how Japan’s immigration policy is shaped by the nature of Japan’s economy and elite debates about the country’s national identity.


In Help (Not) Wanted, Michael Strausz offers an original and provocative answer to a question that has long perplexed observers of Japan: Why has Japan's immigration policy remained so restrictive, especially in light of economic, demographic, and international political forces that are pushing Japan to admit more immigrants? Drawing upon insights developed during nearly two years of intensive field research in Japan, Strausz ultimately argues that Japan's immigration policy has remained restrictive for two reasons. First, Japan's labor-intensive businesses have failed to defeat anti-immigration forces within the Japanese state, particularly those in the Ministry of Justice and the Japanese Diet. Second, no influential strain of elite thought in postwar Japan exists to support the idea that significant numbers of foreign nationals have a legitimate claim to residency and citizenship. This book is particularly timely at a moment shaped by Brexit, the election of Trump, and the rise of anti-immigrant political parties and nativist rhetoric across the globe.

Michael Strausz is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University.


"Help (Not) Wanted provides some historical background, rich macrolevel data, and a coherent analysis. It makes a fine appetizer for students setting out to acquaint themselves with international migration to Japan, the various behind-the-scenes entanglements of the current policy output, and the overall question of how policy making in Japan works." — Monumenta Nipponica

"…a well-written book that addresses an important and timely issue. Strausz's original argument and research make it an interesting read to scholars from political science, Japanese studies and migration studies. The accessibility of this book also makes it fantastic for use in an undergraduate course in Japanese society or politics." — Journal of Contemporary Asia

"Help (Not) Wanted contributes greatly to the field of Japanese politics and immigration policies. Not only does the book fill a gap in the English speaking literature, but it also discusses many scholarly works on immigration policy beyond the Japanese case. It will be a standard for advanced courses on immigration politics and makes for a good addition to the literature on contemporary Japanese politics, especially party politics, public opinion, and elections." — Daniel Kremers, German Institute for Japanese Studies