Burmese Refugees and Ethnic Business in Japan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Yasuhiro HITOMI , Nagoya Gakuin University, Nagoya, Japan
While Japan is said to be the country which has one of the strictest control for refugees and asylum seekers, Japanese government accept some refugees, especially from Burma. After receiving the asylum, some of Burmese run a small business in their community. How do Burmese become a refugee entrepreneur? How do they run a small business? This presentation aims to explore the factors which foster the refugee entrepreneur from the view point of the opportunity structure theory.
This presentation is based on the field work data carried out in Tokyo, Japan from 2004 to present. The data consists of interviews with Burmese refugees, refugee advocacy NGOs, Government agency, and other related personnel.
Based on the opportunity structure theory, there are some types of Burmese small businesses. One type is a small business serving an ethnic community’s needs. With the help of their colleagues, they mobilized various ethnic resources: capital, labour and skills. Other type is small business serving an open market. They try to attract non-Burmese customers in their shops. However, their businesses are not stable because of the small size of their ethnic market and the intense competition of the service industry.
Following the presentation, I will discuss the economic integration of refugees in the future.