Longer-term consequences of 'youth' migration: Japanese temporary migrants in China and the life course

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines Japanese ‘youth’ in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who participated in temporary migration to Dalian, a northeastern Chinese city, at a turning point in their life course. They left economically stagnant Japan to work in the digital service outsourcing sector targeting the Japanese market, by providing remote customer service in their native language. While the workers enjoy some perks of corporate employment and skilled migrant status, migration reduces their salaries to levels comparable to Japanese minimum wages, and the constantly shifting nature of immigration control and offshore outsourcing renders their presence fundamentally precarious. Based on semi-structured interviews, I argue that geographical mobility affords a temporary refuge from the normative expectations of a settled adult life, but in this liminal time–space, classed and gendered life course norms continue to frame the migrants’ interpretation of their presents and futures. My findings show that the remote service workers simultaneously engage in multiple temporalities of suspended life back home, increasing stasis in the present and anticipated futures through imagined migration. The analysis illustrates that cross-border mobility produces freedom from the constraints of expected life transitions, but also potential entrapment through new modes of exploitation.

LanguageEnglish
Pages658-672
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 2018

Fingerprint

migrant
migration
China
outsourcing
worker
Ministry of State Security (GDR)
minimum wage
salary
exploitation
immigration
customer
Japan
interpretation
Migrants
Life Course
present
market
interview
language
Workers

Keywords

  • Japan
  • Migration
  • digital work
  • life course
  • middle class
  • youth

Cite this

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title = "Longer-term consequences of 'youth' migration: Japanese temporary migrants in China and the life course",
abstract = "This paper examines Japanese ‘youth’ in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties who participated in temporary migration to Dalian, a northeastern Chinese city, at a turning point in their life course. They left economically stagnant Japan to work in the digital service outsourcing sector targeting the Japanese market, by providing remote customer service in their native language. While the workers enjoy some perks of corporate employment and skilled migrant status, migration reduces their salaries to levels comparable to Japanese minimum wages, and the constantly shifting nature of immigration control and offshore outsourcing renders their presence fundamentally precarious. Based on semi-structured interviews, I argue that geographical mobility affords a temporary refuge from the normative expectations of a settled adult life, but in this liminal time–space, classed and gendered life course norms continue to frame the migrants’ interpretation of their presents and futures. My findings show that the remote service workers simultaneously engage in multiple temporalities of suspended life back home, increasing stasis in the present and anticipated futures through imagined migration. The analysis illustrates that cross-border mobility produces freedom from the constraints of expected life transitions, but also potential entrapment through new modes of exploitation.",
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Longer-term consequences of 'youth' migration : Japanese temporary migrants in China and the life course. / Kawashima, Kumiko.

In: Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 39, No. 6, 12.2018, p. 658-672.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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