124.4 Living between two societies: Japanese women's experience in China

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:24 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Chie SAKAI , Sociology, Kansai University, Suita City, Osaka, Japan
Economic relations between China and Japan have been growing since the 1980s, and an increasing number of Japanese are now going to China in search of a larger market. We tend to regard men as the primary migrant, but a number of women are going abroad for various reasons. In Japan, women are expected to marry a breadwinning husband, concentrate on domestic chores, and care for children. The strict gender division in workplaces and families has made them go abroad, recently to China.

Based on my own research since the mid-1990s, this study examines Japanese women migrants’ sense of achievement and their anxieties about the future. They quit their jobs in Japan after working for a few years and found more-satisfying positions intermediate between Japan and China at Japan-related companies in Chinese big cities.

Many of them strongly intended to return to Japan before turning thirty, believing that being any older would make it more difficult to find a job and to marry. However, their stays in China tended to be longer than expected. Growing older, they had to cope with their sense of instability from living abroad caused by, for example, their anxiety for the future, their lack of social security, and their guilt at having abandoned their aged parents at home.

Some of them married local Chinese men and decided to stay in China for a while. However, they felt it became more difficult to return to Japan with a family, and they worried about their children’s education and their own lives after retirement. This study also discusses how female Japanese migrants negotiate these problems and share their information among friends, who have the similar situations. That's why they eagerly make friends in a graduates’ association, in children’s schools, or in the neighborhood to create a network.