An immigration policy by any other name: Semantics of immigration to Japan

Glenda S. Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This survey examines the ways in which the Japanese government controls the flow of foreign migrants across and within its borders. It does this in practice by taking steps to admit increasing numbers of migrants from abroad, without using the term imin (immigrants).Although a diverse body of migrants resides in and contributes to the country, the taboo surrounding the use of the word imin allays public concern for increasing diversity while allowing for de facto long-term migration, including naturalization, to occur.Through analyses of key documents, news articles, an interview, as well as through the author's experience as a participant in a government panel on immigration control policy, the survey seeks to demonstrate how important the politics of naming (Parkin, David. 1984.'Political Language'.Annual Review of Anthropology 13: 345-165; Poerksen, Uwe. 1995. Plastic Words:TheTyranny of a Modular Language. University Park, PA:The Pennsylvania State University Press) is to the reality of immigration to Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-102
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 19


  • Immigration
  • Japan
  • Migration
  • Policy
  • Semantics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'An immigration policy by any other name: Semantics of immigration to Japan'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this