Citizenship of Long-Term Migrant Filipino Women in Japan: Impacts of Positions in Japanese Families

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Sachi TAKAYA , Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Okayama University, Okayama City, Japan
This paper will argue how the citizenship of long-term migrant Filipino women in Japan is defined and negotiated in the dominant social structure. Regardless of the status of “sexual citizens,” or long-term legal membership based on sexual relations with Japanese citizens as Parreñas (2011) argues, sociostructural locations for these women have been stratifying, particularly between married women and mothers of Filipino–Japanese children. Based on census and qualitative data, stratification is primarily due to the process through which these women are or are not included into Japanese families, which embody the dominant racial and gender structure of Japanese society.

  On the one hand, married women increasingly exercise their agency in not only the family and workplace in Japan but also in a transnational civil society. Despite their exclusion from formal political citizenship, some substantially exercise transnational citizenship by being involved in transnational activities across Japan and the Philippines, which lead to their positive recognition. On the other hand, solo mothers of Filipino–Japanese children tend to face difficulties accompanying marginalization and poverty. The number of Filipino solo mother households has been increasing along with the rise in the number of international divorce. Many of them cannot help but depend on social welfare because of limited access to the workforce. In addition, the increase in the number of divorcees suggests that the status of married women and that of mothers are in a continuum, although they seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.

  This study argues that the stratification among women shows how inclusion into a Japanese family provides the most available means to ensure security among these women living in a dominant racial and gender structure.