The thirteenth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on April 15, 2021. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Michael Sharpe (York College/CUNY) presented his paper, “Selecting Legal Residents by Unemployment and Ethnicity in the Liberal Democratic State to ‘Control Unwanted Immigration’: Remigration in The Netherlands and Japan 1985-2011.” In his presentation, Sharpe explored why the Netherlands (a country with a relatively liberal immigration policy legacy) has pursued a policy of remigration targeting immigrants from non-European backgrounds while Japan (a country with a more restrictive policy legacy) has pursued a similar policy focused on encouraging immigrants with Japanese ancestry to leave Japan. Sharpe answers this question using archival and ethnographic research conducted in the Netherlands and Japan during 2006-2012 and 2018. During his presentation, Sharpe outlined three arguments: first, that the Netherlands and Japan follow institutional patterns and practices of emigration. Second, that processes of re-ethnicization (reinforcing ties with emigrants across foreign born generations) can be observed in the Netherlands, while de-ethnicization (easing access for all immigrants) occurred in Japan. Tying these two arguments together, Sharpe further argued that said remigration policies are a symbolic attempt by states to control unwanted immigration and address critical “ethnic” social and economic problems with implications for national identity and international law.

Discussant comments were offered by Annika Hinze (Fordham University) and  Michael Strausz (Texas Christian University). The discussion raised interesting questions about Japanese immigration politics and policy. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions pertaining to research methods and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted close to thirty participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/