Contemporary Japanese Migration Process in Spain: Cultural Bounderies and Social Networks

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: Booth 54
Oral Presentation
Jordi MARTÍNEZ-CALLAGHAN , Health Sciences Faculty, Zaragoza University, Zaragoza, Spain
Marta GIL-LACRUZ , Health Sciences Faculty, Zaragoza University, Zaragoza, Spain
Ana GIL-LACRUZ , Industrial Engineering School, Zaragoza University, Zaragoza, Spain
The relationship between flow and fixity in globalization literature, leads to questions about how a sense of belonging is achieved, especially when given concepts such as home, family and nation are becoming detached from physical boundaries. In adding to the literature on migration and belonging, this project focuses on how Japanese immigrants in Spain build new social networks and questions how this process changes the way they relate to Japan and their Japanese identities.

In the history of Japanese migration belonging and identity have been managed in different ways. From the businessman migration system (1970s and 1980s) to the voluntary migrants (1990s, nowadays), migration reasons, interests and lifestyles have changed a lot. However, voluntary migrants are underrepresented in the literature on Japanese migration, and as they do not have the same institutional support structures as the businessman group, it is important to understand the methods through which they create a sense of belonging.

This project employed a grounded theory approach and collected data through semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 44 Japanese living in Spain. The preliminary outcome suggest that Japanese who have created solid support networks with predominantly non-Japanese clusters have a firmer grasp of their Japanese identity. Conversely, immigrants with few Japanese links are more willing to identify their home in the host society. As a result, a Spanish-Japanese identity based on the reminiscence of Japanese traditions and the willingness to become part of the host society is rising.

By focusing on the experiences of Japanese immigrants within the host community the research results provide insights into the construction and consolidation of social networks and how they contribute to a new sense of Japaneseness. Understanding this process and the relevance of identity within the Japanese community can help prevent inter-group and social conflicts as well as promote a multicultural society.